Linux, OpenBSD, Windows Server Comparison:
My primary Linux web server was up 336 days as of August 20, 2001
which is far longer than any other computer I've ever worked
with. I accidentally reset it when the Windows NT server next to
it crashed at 3:00 A.M. I don't believe the Linux web server
ever crashed. When Linux was new to me, I used the Windows' way
and sometimes rebooted to make a change.
When faced with problems, I started with the standard Windows'
administrator approach. If a machine is behaving oddly and you
don't know why, reboot it and see if the problem persists. On
Windows, the reboot often makes the problem go away. The
reboot doesn't help you understand what caused the problem, but
since this is often unknowable on Windows and the reboot so
frequently supplies a quick fix, it is a rational response to
Windows' anomalies. Only when the problem recurs relatively soon,
i.e., soon enough that you recall seeing a similar problem
before, do you need to actually start troubleshooting to find the
cause of a Windows problem.
Early on, I didn't know how to restart networking on the UNIX
like systems, without rebooting. Sometimes I'd make system
configuration changes from the command line and break something
that was working. If I couldn't quickly figure out how to undo
whatever I'd done, I'd reboot to get back to a clean starting
Since becoming familiar with Linux, there seems to be no need to
ever reboot it except for a system (kernel) or hardware upgrade or
change. The Linux web server that was up for 336 days was even
moved to a new location while it was running. It was connected to a
UPS and both were moved together. One local virtual console hung,
but otherwise everything was fine when network, keyboard, and
video cables were reconnected.
I have fairly clear recollections of two or three occasions that
networking on the Linux web server stopped for no apparent reason
and that a simple "./ifup eth0" restored it. If I have notes on
these, I can't find them.
I have had experimental Linux machines lock up. With one machine
in particular there were graphics, X Window system, compatibility
issues with both Red Hat 7.1 and Corel Linux. Though all the
hardware was supposed to be compatible, some actions in the GUI
interface instantly locked the mouse and keyboard. These Linux
installs were fine if they were kept in text mode. I'm sure the
kernel itself was not affected but cannot prove it as the Corel
system was not configured for networking and the Red Hat system
had a firewall that prevented network connections.
KVM Compatibility Issues
There were some minor incompatibilities with the Belkin 8 port
KVMs (keyboard mouse video switch boxes) that I use and Linux and
OpenBSD. Windows and Novell are listed as supported on the
original KVM. Linux is also listed on the newer box. No BSD is
listed on either. The model number is identical on both KVMs. I
have no idea whether any minor changes were made or it was simply
tested with Linux by the time I bought a second.
Early on I locked up or thought I locked up the keyboard with
both OpenBSD and especially Linux, on several occasions. I say
thought, because I've gone a number of months without locking the
keyboard on either type of system. A double scroll lock press is
the hot key starter to switch systems. Sometimes it's actually
three or four presses. Early on I'd press scroll lock quickly twice and
then go straight to 01 - 08 to switch to the appropriate system.
I learned to press more slowly and not press 01 - 08 until I
heard the beep. Following a switch, sometimes the scroll lock key
needs an additional press or two to get a keyboard response.
There's no question these were keyboard / KVM issues and not
system crashes. As long as networking was operational, I could
telnet in and reboot the system remotely. Rebooting always
cleared what appeared to be a locked keyboard. Networking wasn't
always available because different IP addresses, subnetting and
routing were some of the things I experimented with.
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