Packet Rat | Left at the Altar

Microsoft's announced support for Linux leaves some penguin-philes feeling jilted

Michael J. Bechetti

LinuxWorld has become another one of those snoring boring trade shows ever since Linux became a corporate darling (thanks to IBM and Hewlett-Packard). There are no more FreeBSD booth babes in painted-on red devil costumes, no more T-shirted and top-hatted codephreaks wandering the aisles, no one hacking into the demo servers on the show floor.


'Nope, nothing to see here, folks,' the Rat thought to himself as he perused the news remotely from LinuxWorld Boston while sipping the sludge that passes for coffee in his network command bunker. 'Nothing, except this little thing about Microsoft ... supporting Linux.'


And with that, the whiskered one sprayed coffee on his keyboard. Checking to make sure that this wasn't a late April Fools article (like the one on CNet's News.com claiming that Bill Gates would make a guest appearance on 'Dr. Who'), he looked for other reports.


And, yes, it appears that Microsoft is going to support Linux on its Virtual Server, providing virtual machine add-ins for Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell. And Microsoft is also giving away Virtual Server 2005 Release 2 for no charge as a download.


Disoriented by this news, the wirebiter stumbled back to the kitchenette to warm his coffeelike beverage. Sure, there was a method behind Microsoft's sudden Linux madness'obviously, the company has its sights set on VMware, the mindshare leader in the Windows/Linux virtualization business. If Microsoft is giving its product away, might that not 'cut off the air supply' for VMware?


"Obviously, [Microsoft] has its sights set on VMware, the mindshare leader in the Windows/Linux virtualization business."


Only if Microsoft can convince people (or, ahem, anthropomorphized rodents) that running Linux on top of Windows is an acceptable option, rather than vice versa.


VMware goes both ways (it runs on Linux and Windows, and can support Linux and Windows virtual machines), and is a favorite among the penguin-friendly who have to resort to running Windows for mission-critical things like playing Halo.


Given Windows' checkered past in the stability and security department, there may be a reason why Microsoft may be giving away VS 2005 R2 for free'people might not use it otherwise. 'Do the math,' one of the Rat's Windows sysadmin minions said as they discussed the Microsoft bombshell at the coffee maker. 'Or, more appropriately, the calculus of Windows patch management.'


'You two can talk about the practicalities all day long,' scolded an approaching penguinphile. 'But hosting Linux on Windows is just ... wrong. It violates the laws of nature. And anyone who installs a virtual Red Hat machine on Windows Server 2005 is playing with dangerous stuff. Who knows what evil it could unleash?'
The Rat rolled his eyes. 'Let me guess'I'm figuring some sort of demonic force upwelling from below Helsinki.'


'No, silly,' the Linux box-minder said. 'About 25 percent more trouble calls for me. And I'd have to touch Windows boxes'they give me the hives!'


So maybe Microsoft isn't doing any Linux fans a favor with its free Virtual Server. But maybe the Rat will download it anyway'just so he can see his Linux sysadmin have a psychosomatic allergic reaction.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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