Linux vs Windows

So here's my latest experience with installing Windows 2000 on brand new hardware. We purchased a several thousand dollar server with the intent of installing Windows 2000 server on it and using it as our mail server. Some simple specs, dual 2.4ghz Xeon, Tyan i7500 motherboard, LSI Elite 1600 RAID card, 2 gigs of ram.

In picking out the system I was sure to make sure it had very speedy disks in a RAID-1 configuration. The machine came with an LSI Elite 1600 RAID Card which is relatively common. Installing Windows on this system requires the use of a driver disk. You must tell the Windows installer at the exact right moment (you have about 2 seconds to hit F6) that you're going to need to use a driver disk. What genius decided that your "have a driver disk" option would be time sensitive? How about you STOP the installer and just wait for my response? Installed RedHat on the box in about 15 minutes no drivers, no configuration at all, it just worked. Redhat used the ultra common megaraid driver.

Also of note was that the machine had 2 2.4ghz Xeon CPUs in it. Pretty standard really. Booting into RedHat detects four CPUs no problem (2 each because of the "hyperthreading") All function, all show up in /proc/cpuinfo not an issue. They also show up in the BIOS no problem, Xeon Processes 2.4ghz x 4 it says. Not a problem, hardware is functioning just fine. Install Windows and it only detects one CPU. Do some digging on the Microsoft site after installing numerous updates from Windows Update (IE6, Service Pack 3, Assorted security releases) all requiring seperate reboots. The reboot count now was up to about 6 since installing, and this thing takes a while to reboot because of all the SCSI. Still no luck, Windows only sees one CPU. There is a setting where you can manually force Windows to use two CPUs. I try that and reboot the box and it locks up. As I'm about to install Windows again for the third time I get a wild idea that I maybe I'll flash the BIOS. I do so and Windows boots flawlessly and shows four CPUs! Argh!

Lastly the box has two built in nics. One is a 10/100 and the other is a Gigabit NIC, both Intel. Intel Pro/100 S Server Adapter and Intel Pro/1000 XT Server Adapter. Neither of which Windows had drivers for. I had to download and install drivers for them. Now the gigabit driver I could maybe understand because it's relatively new, but the 10/100? I think a 10/100 Intel NIC is about as common as they come in servers. Needless to say I had to download and install two seperate drivers to get both NICs working. After installing RedHat it saw both NICs flawless no intervention required on my part.

Conclusion: I never thought I'd say it but I really think Linux has Microsoft beat on hardware support at the server level. All three of the issues listed about were complete non-issues with a default install of RedHat. Had I been able to keep the machine a RedHat server I would have saved myself two days worth of work! So... RedHat 1, Windows 2000 0!
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Nate 2005-03-10 07:48am - No Email - Logged IP:

Windows 2003 32983645826385123851!

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