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NT vs. Unix

© October 1998 Tony Lawrence

October 1998

I think it was some Sun piece that said something like: "If all you ever had to do with an OS is install it, NT would be a great operating system".

There's a germ of truth there, but NT is easier to use in ordinary administrator's use, also. What's missing, of course, is the command line control (though that's coming) and the access to anything low-level. There are points that can be made to argue this, but at this time I don't think anyone can really disagree that a skillful Unix person can accomplish more than their equally skilled NT counterpart.

But so what? To exaggerate a tad, all that MOST sites need IS installation. That's as true of Unix sites as it is of NT sites. Again, we can have little skirmishes here and there, but the battle goes to Microsoft: it's generally easier and quicker to get a MS network up and doing useful work than our Unix counterparts.

One reason is that Unix is always behind the curve. When EIDE drives came out, it was ages before there was anything available from SCO to handle them. But it isn't that sort of thing that frustrates me: it's the stupid little things that should have been nailed down and made "easy" years ago. This newsgroup tells the story plainly. The same complaints, the same problems, go on here year after year after year. How many thousand times more do we have to tell people about "mx#0" before it gets into the rlpconf? How many times do we tell people that netconfig has left conflicting entries in hosts before somebody fixes it? How many more people with give up trying to configure PPP when all that 99% of them want is a simple connection to their ISP, a connection that MS manages to accomplish nearly flawlessly with a minimum of information from the user?

True, we have much more control over our setups, and have the ability to do so much more and tweak more performance out of it. We can control every aspect of our PPP connection, from the modem initialization on. Do most folks give a damn? Nope.

Not that we should ever lose that control. We shouldn't. But 90% or more of these things are simple, and the people using them just want to get on with the show. MS gives them that; we don't.

Microsoft writes bloated code.

Advanced hardware lets you do more with less coding effort. That's a good thing, not a bad thing.

I sometimes see a problem in the Unix community that I don't observe much in MS, and that's prissy folks who are very concerned with the "rightness" of code. They remind me a bit of the Apple evangelists who told us all how our user interfaces "must" work a few years back. The code must be "efficient", even when there is no reason for it to be. It must be "portable", even when there is no intention of running it on another platform. And of course, everything must go in /usr/local :-)

MS writes shlock code. MS writes inefficient code. MS scatters their crap anywhere and everywhere. You can't port most MS programs even if you do have the source. But so what? It's unimportant. What's important is making the 90% part easy. Satisfy 90% of the users and the other 10% have to fall in line. Then, slowly, MS fixes and adds features, slowly satisfying the 10%. In the meantime, our Unix boxes work from the other direction, having overjoyed the power hungry among us years ago, and slowly, slowly, oh so painfully slowly, adding the ease of use that makes the majority happy.

See also: https://www.unix-vs-nt.org

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More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

I like the way you cedit/discredit both operating systems and you dont seem to be strongly for one or the other. I have not really played with the NT os, but as I have seen in other microsoft os, it was made to be easy on the regular user to manipulate as with the mouse in all not having to remember bunches of commands. These Apple evangeists are narrow sighted with the interfaces, wanting it to be the same always, however, I do understand there want for the code to be ideal. Anything people write isn't perfict.

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