Friday, April 16, 2010

Windows vs. Linux the candy bar analogy

So I was trying to explain to my significant other, this morning, about why, having worked with both *nix systems and Windows systems, do I dislike working with the OS from Redmond so much? Do I have something personal against Bill Gates? I mean come on man what's the deal yo? I really should like Windows, many of the things I do take much longer in Windows than just about any other OS, so there are more billable hours to be had. As an ethical consultant though, I really do want what's best for the customer. Also billable hours where the customer is in a panic because they are trying to recover important files that were lost because of some weakness in their operating system is not a fun call. I kind of summed up my dilemma in analogy that went something like this.

It would be like being a great chef, able to create any dish that tasted like anything in the world. But all people wanted to order from you, or have you prepare. were deep fried candy bars. They taste yummy to the customers, but the problem is, the customers keep keeling over dead. But it doesn't stop there, because you fed them the candy bar in the first place, you have to round up the Pope, the Local Witch Doctor and a guy from India named Bob to have a lengthly ceremony, where small animals are sacrificed to resurrect the now lifeless customer.

The customers is alive again, they are missing some fingers off of their left hand. Not to worry though, "Give me another candy bar!" the customer cries, "I'll pay anything, I love it!,and besides, it's what everyone is eating, I get a side of deep fried candy bar with almost every meal I order from any restaurant, why not? Oh and do I get a discount on you sewing my spare fingers back on?"

So I send the Pope, the Witch Doctor and Bob home with a healthy donation to the church, a goat and a support contract, or did I send the goat to the Pope? Well, regardless, the very next thing the customer does is order another deep fried candy bar. I say to the customer, "Look man, if you eat that you will just die again, and I'll have to call the Pope and things will get ugly, but you know, I can make you something that will taste just like that other candy bar, it will have the chocolate, the nougat, the caramel, everything the other candy bar has, and it won't kill you, except it's totally magical and organic, made by little elves in a far away land with chocolate rivers and houses made out of gingerbread, at least that's what I might as well be saying when I start to talk to the customer about the advantages of Open Source and the protected memory architecture of a *nix system vs. other operating systems that don't have these nifty features, not to mention the savings in time and money in maintenance, performance, downtime, etc.

You just can't beat a LAMP system (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP) for small to medium sized deployments. I just set up a small store owner with Ubuntu and Zoneminder on an 8 year old PC that would no longer run Windows, and now it's a low cost security camera server replacement for her 3 Axis Video cams in her store. Whenever my friends or family come to me with their Windows machines infected, again, I have just started to wipe them and put Ubuntu on them. If they want to keep their Windows, fine, but I'm not going to try to unravel their messes anymore. Oh and if you want to know what kind of new computer to buy, get a blue one :p

If you've got the dough, nothing will give you that low end torque like a Solaris Risc box running a well tuned Oracle database, oh baby! I put in a Sun box at a large deployment to process credit cards on the Internet a few years back, and it's still running without a reboot, chugging away. The Windows server that was processing credit cards for only a few local machines, had to be rebooted every night or the machine would hang, requiring someone to go down to the server room and hit the reset buttton in the middle of the day while cash registers were pumping and plastic was sliding. The problem was because of a poorly written application, but therein lies the big difference between most *nix systems and Windows based systems. In *nix land, it's much more difficult to write a program that will completely hang or crash the machine. Because of protected memory, which I won't go into detail about in this article, it makes it harder for a regular user to run a program that will cause the system and other users grief, it also makes it harder for virus' and other malicious programs to do extensive damage should they happen to get in.

All that being said, maybe one day, people will start to use an Operating system that is crafted by tiny elves in a far away magical land and forsake the evil king who rules from atop his green mountain of cash, with his armies of briefcase wielding stormtroopers, but then again, to quote a phrase "and maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt". Until then though, I guess I'll just shut up, put a few bills from the mountain in my pocket and go home :p


Peter said...

Great analogy! I really like it!
Recently I started posting interestnig analogies I found on the web on I thought it could be a good idea to create a place where people can share useful analogies such as yours.

Anonymous said...

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