Date sent: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 11:23:17 -0400

Subject: Alternative Operating Systems

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WebProNews September 22nd, 2000 Issue

Alternative Operating Systems



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2.)... Today's Feature Article

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2.) Alternative Operating Systems (1)

In the beginning there was only one operating system (IBM). Then

there was Apple. Soon, however, with the release of Windows 3 the

Holy Wars began. Now whole generations of computer users do not

know another operating system exists for their computer.

The truth is that there are alternatives to Windows, some are even

better. The best known, and best alternatives are Linux, BeOS, and

Solaris. This article will be looking at the merits and disadvantages of

Linux. Future articles will feature BeOS and Solaris.

What is Linux?

Linux (pronounced with a short I) is an operating system for

computers that was created in 1991 by a student at the University of

Helsinki, Linus Torvalds. Torvalds, and a small group of programmers

developed Linux from the UNIX operating system running at the computer

lab. They made modifications to the system, updating it and making it

more useful. Then, they did something unheard of: instead of marketing

the OS and making billions of dollars, they posted the source code (the

code a computer uses to create a file that runs a program) onto the

Internet and asked for suggestions. Programmers from around the world

began, and are still modifying the system. Each new version of Linux

incorporates many of these modifications, with Torvalds himself choosing

from among the changes.

As an operating system Linux has some remarkable advantages over


- Power

Multi-user support

A single computer can have many users working at the same time.

With enough resources a single Linux machine can have hundreds

of users at once.


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Full multitasking

Multitasking means that the computer can run many programs at once

without a decrease in performance. ( Linux is also capable of

handling multiple processors, pushing performance beyond even the

designer's specs.)


Linux was designed to be networked, most users of it are using it

in a network capacity, either as a printer server, or a main server.

- Flexible

Due to its freely available source code, Linux can be changed to suit any

need for an operating system. These changes can even be incorporated into

a commercial version, but the source code still has to be publicly known.

- Reliability

Linux has been rated at 99.999% reliable, handling many of the

functions of Windows NT as well or better, while using less expensive


Linux can be used on virtually any machine, even older, outdated

ones and still be a powerhouse.

Linux can also run for a long time without the need to reboot. Most

sources say that it can run for months, maybe even years, without

rebooting. One source said he has it running on an older system,

and has not rebooted for years, because he isn’t sure the HARDWARE

will reboot.

Ø Price

This is the greatest advantage to Linux: it is free. Linux can be

downloaded virtually anywhere on the Internet. Commercial versions

can also be bought, with RedHat and Caldera being the two largest


The disadvantages of Linux have more to do with a users familiarity

with Windows, than with any inherent flaw in the design. The

installation and the learning curve for Windows users are the main

cited problems. However with each new version, the installation and

interface becomes easier to handle. Linux even has Windows and Mac

emulators (programs that make the OS seem to be another OS).

The advantages of Linux far outweigh the disadvantages. The power,

flexibility and reliability of Linux have assured it a place on the

front lines of the OS Holy Wars.

Here are some Linux links for additional information:


This is a free weekly newsletter offering downloadable software for

the Linux operating system.

Linux Today

Articles and software reviews.


This site watches and reviews the new distributions of the Linux OS.


Robert Harbison ( is a Web Developer for, where he edits WebMasterFree

( and LinuxWebMasterFree


( is his personal site.




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We at the Editorial Team would like to thank all our readers for

reading WebProNews. We hope you find this information useful.


Peter Thiruselvam



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