This is an example of FUD.

Why Windows 2000 Server and the Server Appliance Kit over Linux?

For OEMs considering or planning to enter the server appliance market, the choice between Linux or Windows for a server appliance operating system involves critical trade-offs between platform functionality, incremental engineering and development effort, overall cost, and, most importantly, time-to-market. Ultimately, the OEM's goal is to select an operating system and tool set that enable them to get to market quickly, limit development cost, and differentiate their appliance, all on a reliable platform that delivers superior price-performance. In addition, OEMs want an operating system that delivers proven value from a reputable vendor who will support them for the long term.

Server appliances built on Windows 2000 Server operating systems with the Microsoft Server Appliance Kit (SAK) deliver four distinct advantages over Linux: Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server:

  • Proven, comprehensive operating system platforms delivering seamless integration, industry-leading scalability and performance, broad application support, and solid reliability.

Microsoft Server Appliance Kit:

  • Faster time-to-market via powerful tools and an extensible framework.
  • Ease of deployment, interoperability, and manageability in a heterogeneous environment.


  • Better business alignment with straightforward licensing and clarity of intellectual property ownership.

Windows 2000: A reliable comprehensive and integrated operating system platform delivering seamless interoperability, scalability, and performance, and broad application support.

Seamless integration into heterogeneous environments


Windows 2000-based server appliances deliver seamless integration and interoperability with Windows, UNIX, and heterogeneous networks. For example:

  • Built-in support for Single Sign-On (SSO), which allows end users access to all authorized network resources with a single authentication.
  • Support for both CIFS and NFS in an integrated fashion, easily enabling interoperability between UNIX and Windows-based networks.
  • Integrated support for Windows NT®, FTP, HTTP, Appletalk, and Novell environments, which enables consolidated administration in heterogeneous networks.
  • Via Winsock and other programming interfaces, both Windows and non-Windows-based clients or servers can seamlessly access a Windows 2000 Server-based network attached storage (NAS) server appliance.


Linux does not deliver comparable heterogeneous interoperability. For example:

  • No support for SSO, thus requiring end users to use at least two logon names and passwords - one for Windows and one for Linux/UNIX.

Linux has PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) to support single signon. Linux can authenticate against NIS,NIS+,Kerberos,LDAP,mysql,postgresql or other systems for this capability as well.

Novell also supports Linux with it's Netware Directory Services (NDS) which has been around a lot longer than Active Directory, is a LOT more stable/proven (demos are regularly done with hundreds of millions of objects in a tree), and it runs natively in a Linux only environment - you do not need Netware servers to host the master NDS replica

  • Support for CIFS but only via Samba, not as an integrated, tested solution. Linux/Samba requires additional components and integration work by the OEM to match the integration built into Windows 2000. Thus, the OEM must focus resources on development, integration, testing, and ongoing maintenance of the operating system, increasing development cost and slowing time-to-market.

This ventures into opinion somewhat, but I have serious issues with this. Saying "Linux does not support our proprietary and closed protocol suite as well as we do" is a very stupid argument to make.

  • Aside from compatibility issues with Windows 2000, Samba has known backwards compatibility issues as well as compatibility issues with the underlying Linux operating system. For example, file system quota interfaces have diverged in different versions of Linux 2.4x kernels, which means Samba will work properly on some Linux distributions but not others. This potentially ties the OEM to a particular Linux vendor's distribution and its support programs. Given the recent cutbacks and layoffs at many commercial Linux vendors, including Red Hat's recent 17 percent reduction in it workforce, it is questionable whether commercial Linux vendors will be around to provide support in the long term, thus increasing the business risk to the OEM.


Server appliances built with Windows 2000 integrate seamlessly into Active DirectoryTM network environments. Without any extra administrative tasks, Active Directory creates a two-way, trust relationship between domains, providing single authentication and easier access to information and resources across multiple domains throughout an organization.


Linux does not support trust relationships across domains or forests and thus cannot act as a trusted element in Novell Directory Service and Windows NT Domain-based networks. This makes it difficult to integrate Linux-based server appliances into such heterogeneous network environments.

Utter lies. See NDS notes above.

Industry-leading scalability and performance


Windows 2000-based server appliances deliver industry-leading robustness and scalability with Symmetrical Multiprocessing (SMP) support for up to eight processors and advanced features such as asynchronous and specialized I/O, hot-fix support, and hierarchical storage management. whats hierarchical storage management?


Linux provides support for SMP but supports only synchronous I/O, which introduces contention and thus limits SMP scalability. Furthermore, Linux offers no support for hot fixes and does not have a hierarchical storage management capability. Linux kernels can be easily patched at runtime by use of loadable kernel modules, however it is normal to reboot onto an upgraded kernel, Linux has been used on devices with lots of processors (up to 64), where as Windows scales up to 8 processors.


Server appliances built with Windows 2000 provide native, integrated, mature support for Network Load Balancing (NLB) and clustering (failover). Windows 2000 Advanced Server supports load balancing clusters of up to 32, enabling Windows 2000 Server-based server appliances to scale out to meet peak demand requirements. Furthermore, Windows 2000 Server ships with a file replication service and full support for content deployment and replication for Web farms is provided via Microsoft Application Server.


Linux offers both free and commercially available add-on clustering and load balancing solutions. However, these add-on clustering solutions come from various sources, do not conform to any set standards, and are often implemented on a particular Linux distribution. Do windows add-on clustering services conform to any set standards? Beowulf is a clustering system for linux that is used to form many of the worlds largest super computers, and is vendor neutral. This can tie the OEM to a particular, potentially financially unstable Linux vendor and its support programs, or force the OEM to maintain specific and expensive expertise in-house for self-support. As opposed to locking you into Microsoft Windows? Linux solutions are OpenSource and, if you require support, can be supported by anyone with some Linux skill. Furthermore, clustering solutions are new to Linux, lack some key features, and documentation can be insufficient. For example, Red Hat's High Availability Server is a customized distribution of Red Hat Linux version 6.2 with Red Hat's Piranha clustering package. In its review of the product, ZDNet noted: "Offices without Linux gurus on staff should seriously consider buying Red Hat's service package, especially because the documentation included with the software does not describe how to implement the product with any operating system other than Red Hat Linux 6.2". ZDNet also noted that Red Hat's High Availability Server also "lacks content replication support", a critical feature for Web server appliances in Web farms. The OEM would need to source or build and then integrate and test these technologies itself to build a comprehensive solution. Taken together, these limitations make building and maintaining a clustering solution on Linux a challenge for the OEM and can increase both cost and time-to-market. Being able to customise your product to your own needs is important to the Linux community, Linux comes with many content replication systems such as rsync that can be used, but configuring the one thats best for you is the Linux way.


Server appliances built on Windows 2000 perform better versus Linux on similar equipment in SPECweb tests. A SPECweb99 study found that a Windows 2000 Web server could process more requests and serve more users than a similarly configured computer running Linux. The Windows 2000-based server with Internet Information Server (IIS) 5.0 handled 707 concurrent connections, compared to 545 connections for the Linux-based.

Comprehensive application support


Windows 2000 delivers native support for Active Server Pages (ASP), giving direct access to the IIS transaction engine kernel. Furthermore, server appliances built with Windows 2000 also provide out-of-the-box support for ASP .NET, a rich and very robust framework for creating ASP application code. ASP .NET is a compiled .NET-enabled environment, offering developers the ability to build enterprise-class Web applications in any .NET compatible language including Visual Basic, C#, and JScript.


Linux offers support for ASP but it is non-native and requires an add-on program to Apache or some other Web server deployed on Linux. This means incremental engineering and development effort by the OEM, further impacting cost of development and time-to-market. Linux does not support ASP .NET. PHP is the worlds most deployed Web based ASP. (netcraft).


Server appliances built on Windows 2000 deliver comprehensive application support with an integrated component model for distributed or Web-based applications; multimedia services; and built-in message queuing for asynchronous communications, integrated application integration, and transaction-processing.


Linux has no available framework for developing distributed or Web-based applications and no integrated implementation of COM, DCOM, Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), and no integrated transaction-processing monitor or queuing system. This means the OEM has to source or build this functionality, resulting in extra development, higher cost, and a longer time-to-market. Linux doesn't implement the Windows Technologies COM or DCOM, however Linux does support EJB, and Linux does support several CORBA implementations.

Proven reliability with enhanced recovery and data protection


Windows 2000-based server appliances provide advanced reliability features including a mature, well-tested journaling file system (JFS), which enables easy, dependable file system recovery and ensures no loss of data in the event of unscheduled downtime. Windows 2000 also offers support for Plug and Play, hot-swapping and kernel mode write protection. Windows 2000 also provides system file protection and Windows File Protection, which help speed recovery in case of failure, without any user interaction.


Linux now has over five options for a JFS. All of these are new to Linux and the depth of integration and regression testing can be scattered and the number of real-world implementations limited. The OEM will need to verify for itself the integration, depth of testing, and in-field results. With Linux, the OEM will have to take on the extra integration work to incorporate an add-in JFS or opt for a vendor-specific Linux distribution such as Red Hat, tying the OEM to that vendor for ongoing upgrades, support, and maintenance at an extra cost. Furthermore, Linux offers only limited support for Plug and Play, no kernel mode protection, and no functionality equivalent to Windows File Protection-significantly increasing difficulty and time when recovering from a failure. Multiple options for your filesystem lets you choose a filesystem that is suited to your needs. Lots of small files, reiser, long term proven use, ext3, streaming, XFS, etc... Kernel mode protection? I assume they aren't meaning protection of the kernel from userspace which linux has? Linux has had userspace implementations of PlugAndPlay and has kernel mode PlugAndPlay too.


Windows 2000 Server is a completely integrated, extensively tested operating system with built-in support for an array of protocols and drivers, as well as advanced technologies including Internet Information Services (IIS), clustering, Network Load Balancing (NLB), Windows Management Infrastructure (WMI) and the Active Directory (AD) service. In addition, Microsoft uses powerful stress testing and integration testing with teams of dedicated test engineers to ensure system integrity and that solutions work across multiple features.


Linux distributions are a collection of technologies from multiple sources that lack true integration. Some commercial Linux vendors may provide setup scripts that allow certain blocks of code to load in proper sequence but this is not true integration and does not provide a comprehensively tested solution. Furthermore, given financial and resource constraints, commercial Linux vendors often lack the means to employ comprehensive and extensive hardware and driver testing, trusting open source participants to test on their behalf or leaving the OEM to do the test and quality assurance work, thus increasing the OEM's cost and time-to-market.


Windows 2000 provides support for advanced reliability features, including volume management, which lets storage capacity be transparently extended without interrupting existing services, and volume spanning, which enables more efficient use of multiple-disk systems. In addition, Windows 2000 provides extensive, mature support for both software and hardware RAID. Windows 2000 supports thousands of RAID installations worldwide and the Microsoft Hardware Compatibility List for Windows 2000 lists hundreds of tested and certified drivers for RAID storage arrays, controllers, and systems. Some Linux distributions do ship with Logical Volume Management (LVM), but these implementations are new to Linux and require extra tuning by the OEM, thus increasing development costs and time-to-market. Linux does offer software RAID support but hardware RAID support is less comprehensive than Windows 2000. For example, Red Hat's Hardware Compatibility List has only two RAID storage/device controller certified drivers and Mandriva's Hardware Compatibility List notes only six certified RAID storage adapters. Driver signing in Windows 2000 offers OEMs the assurance that all drivers originate from a trusted source that has undertaken extensive testing and certification. Also, Windows 2000 enables OEMs to utilize standard, widely available hardware along with thousands of tested, certified drivers to build a server appliance.


Driver availability and certification can be inconsistent in Linux. Many of the drivers available for Linux have received little if any testing and are offered as non-supported drivers both from the open source participants and from commercial Linux vendors. For example, Red Hat's most current Hardware Compatibility List has less than 100 certified drivers and most of those listed are complete systems, not hardware components or peripherals.

The Microsoft Server Appliance Kit (SAK) provides OEMs with a comprehensive, powerful tool to build server appliances quickly and get to market sooner.

Faster time-to-market via powerful tools and extensive framework

The Microsoft Server Appliance Kit (SAK) provides a comprehensive, powerful toolkit to help an OEM build server appliances quickly and easily. This allows the OEM to focus its resources on adding value, rather than building an operating system from multiple components and add-on pieces. The SAK also provides powerful tools that include:

  • Powerful Web User Interface (UI) for remote management of headless appliances
  • Framework for supporting a local UI (LCD or LED), desirable on some server appliance implementations
  • NAS-specific tools in the Web UI that enable the creation and management of shares for Windows, UNIX, Appletalk, Novell, FTP, and Web, as well as the creation and management of folders
  • A Multiple Device Manager, available now at no extra cost, which enables an administrator to manage over 100 appliances from a single console


Linux offers no standard toolkit for the development of server appliances. An OEM must invest in third-party tools at extra cost as well as in-house development resources to get the kind of toolkit functionality delivered by the Microsoft SAK. For example:

  • Netmax offers Internet Server Management Suite software for remote Web-based and multiple device management for $139 per-server.
  • Various Multiple Device Management solutions are available from open source participants, but these require extra integration and engineering work by the OEM. In addition, open source components are often licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which may expose the OEM's intellectual property and source code to open source participants and its competitors.


The SAK includes an extensible reliability framework that includes watchdog timers, basic input/output system (BIOS) failover, automatic mirroring, and an appliance monitor service for excellent reliability and data protection.


Linux offers no reliability framework to enhance system reliability. An OEM must source this functionality from third parties at an extra cost or develop it in-house, thus increasing development cost and time-to-market. what is a reliability framework?

Ease of integration, deployment, and administration in a more secure environment


Native support for Active Directory (AD) enables server appliances built with Windows 2000 to integrate seamlessly into a Windows enterprise network.

  • Active Directory provides additional remote management for appliances in addition to the Web UI and automates major portions of deployment by defining directory-based policy to each class of Windows 2000 server appliance.
  • For alternative method of server appliance management, Windows 2000 supports extensive scripting via Windows Management Instrumentation and Microsoft Terminal Services.


Linux-based server appliances can be inserted into Active Directory environments, appearing as Windows NT 4.0 member servers, but, again, only when integrated with Samba 2.2 or higher, thus requiring the OEM to do extra development, integration, and testing work. Linux-based server appliances do not deliver equivalent functionality in an Active Directory environment, as Samba uses the Windows NT 4.0 SAM Application Programming Interface (API) and Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs) to obtain account information from Active Directory. This implementation means server appliances built with Linux/Samba cannot support publishing their share information to Active Directory network. Linux supports LDAP, Active Directory is a broken implementation of LDAP, who isn't compatible with who?


Server appliances built with Windows 2000 offer enterprise-level security with integrated support for Kerberos version 5.0, NTLM v2 authentication and a fast Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) server for data encryption over the Internet.

  • Microsoft invests in and compensates both internal and third-party resources dedicated to rigorous security-specific testing to find and fix security issues quickly. For example, Microsoft has spent significant resources in building, enhancing, and applying automated tools that detect suspected buffer overruns in our code. Furthermore, as a leader in the software industry, Microsoft recently announced a broad, industry-wide effort around software security.


Linux uses clear text for authentication, does not allow the configurations of individual permissions to the file level and does native support standard encryption technologies such as Kerberos version 5.0. Kerberos is only supported on Linux as an add-on solution and is not integrated into the operating system, thus requiring extra development time and cost for the OEM. In addition, Linux/Samba delivers only NTLM v1 support. Kerberos is integrated into RedHat, Linux can use LDAP over SSL, NIS+ and other encrypted login systems.

  • Linux vendors and open source participants rely heavily on source access, taking it on faith that the "many eyes" of open source developers equal a more secure operating system. Recently, a TechRepublic? article comparing security between Windows and Linux reported that up to its publication date in the autumn of 2001, Windows had 24 reported security vulnerabilities. In comparison, Red Hat Linux had 28 vulnerabilities. When you consider the difference in the size of the installed base of Windows 2000 to Red Hat Linux, the percentages indicate a higher degree of security vulnerabilities for Linux.

Security Vunerabilities Found are not proportional to installed base

Better business alignment with straightforward licensing and clarity of intellectual property ownership


The Microsoft licensing model does not contain licensing provisions that require an OEM, and potentially its licensees, to disclose the source code for its intellectual property in a widespread fashion to open source participants. An OEM building a server appliance with Windows 2000 Server operating systems and the SAK has the assurance the software code and added value it develops remain the OEM's intellectual property.

Microsofts licensing model for code is that you may not use it all. Some Linux code is licenced under the GPL which offers you the opertunity to use the source code on the condition that you return that code so others may test it and build on it, other parts of Linux the code is free for anyone to use for any purpose.


To ensure proper management of its intellectual property rights, an OEM must carefully examine an array of licensing complexities around the General Public License (GPL) that govern Linux. These complexities have resulted in embedded and dedicated operating system companies such as Wind River saying that they are seeing "a growing problem due to the growing uncertainty of using GPL-based code in embedded devices". An example of this risk can be taken from NVIDIA. An NVIDIA programmer, in the course of developing a driver for one of its products, used a portion of code from a freely available video driver. The developer failed to realize the code was licensed under the GPL and would therefore require NVIDIA to release the source code for its entire driver. Because NVIDIA did not want to release the source code to its commercial software, the company incurred substantial cost to develop a new driver that did not contain the GPL code.

If the NVIDIA employee had been using source code from Microsoft Windows without correct licensing, the same case would have occurred. Furthermore, if the NVIDIA employee had written the code to start with, it would have cost NVIDIA the same if not MORE than the redevelopment cost incurred through the error

Companies need to recognize that in embedded and dedicated devices, such as server appliances, significant gray areas exist in the implications of the GPL's terms. Some forms of code linking and commingling may or may not trigger legal obligations under the GPL. As Michael Scott and Michael Krieger, a lawyer and computer science professor respectively, recently wrote, "Rare is the month when a lawyer who specializes in technology does not have a new client asking for help in untangling an open source code problem".

The GPL hasn't changed since June 1991, it's a stable, well understood license, Microsofts EULA's change regularly, and almost none of them let you use MicrosoftCorporation code.