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Linux, OpenBSD, Windows Server Comparison: Reliability and Stability Introduction

Stability may by a synonym for reliability but there are some different implications. Both are related to bugs. There are a number of related and overlapping topics that will be discussed here. When someone says stability, typically the first thing that comes to mind is operating system crashes and relative resistance to them. Applications and servers or daemons also crash and how such crashes affect or do not affect, the core OS is significant. Bugs and incompatibilities may cause crashes but both may cause lesser problems with either the OS or a specific server or daemon. Specific functions in either an OS or server may stop responding or may return invalid results. Something that was behaving one way, may appear to spontaneously start doing something else. These odd behaviour changes are more likely to be described as reliability than stability issues. Usually something has been changed. What's been changed, including added (installed) or deleted, may or may not have an apparent relationship with the changed behavior.

All the things related to stability and reliability, affect the availability of systems, to do and keep doing what they are supposed to do, and the amount of time that staff spend troubleshooting problems when they arise.

Regarding all the issues related to stability and reliability, the situation with regards to Windows, Linux and OpenBSD is approximately reversed from the application availability situation. The OpenBSD and Linux kernels, like most UNIX and UNIX like systems, are rock solid. With Linux the further you get from the core system, the more problems you will encounter, but nothing on either OpenBSD or Linux is remotely comparable to the reliability and stability issues of Windows 2000, which is the most stable Windows to date. Microsoft has almost publicly admitted this.

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