OS vendors sound a friendly note

OS vendors sound a friendly note


Advocates of the three leading enterprise operating systems'Microsoft Windows, Unix and Linux'spent less time sniping at each other than they did promoting interoperability strategies during a FOSE 2001 keynote panel last month.

Anne Thomas Manes, market innovation director for Sun Microsystems Inc., said her company supports Linux on its rackmount Cobalt servers, 'for people who want something simple.' Sun recently acquired the product line when it bought Cobalt Networks Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.

Sun's proprietary Solaris version of Unix 'is the No. 1 operating system supporting the Internet today,' Manes said, and it can run on desktop workstations or high-performance clusters.

The Sun Open Net Environment, or Sun ONE, initiative will combine Extensible Markup Language and Java2 Enterprise Edition to build Web applications for any platform, she said.

Douglas Miller, Microsoft Corp. group manager for the Windows.Net strategy, characterized Sun Solaris and Linux as high- and low-end OSes, with 'Microsoft stuck in the middle.'

He said the company's HailStorm initiative fosters interoperability with software building blocks that will make data accessibility platform-independent.

Microsoft will continue to support Windows NT 4.0 for years to come, Miller said. Not until the latest version of Windows 2000 had Microsoft released a desktop OS incompatible with Intel 486 microprocessors, he added.

Proven design

Jon 'Maddog' Hall, executive director of Linux International of Amherst, N.H., called Linux a new implementation of a proven design that has driven the Internet from the beginning.

Linux users can change the software to make it do what they want rather than change their business processes to fit it, Hall said. And they can fix a bug and give the patch back to the Linux community.

'Linux is a great way to reuse old hardware,' Manes said. Sun expects many organizations to continue running lots of versions of OSes to maintain older apps.

Miller compared the evolution of the Internet in the coming decade to the evolution of the user interface over the past 10 years. Every application's MS-DOS interface was unique, and the Web works that way today, Miller said.

'Security is diligence, and there's nothing that can replace that,' Jon 'Maddog' Hall says.

Anne Thomas Manes says her company supports Linux.

HailStorm fosters interoperability that's platform-independent, Douglas Miller says.

Manes said Sun ONE organizes Java and XML to run on a personal digital assistant, a telephone, a robot or a mainframe.

Miller responded, 'We believe users should be able to use any language, not just Java.'

Microsoft has been licensing its source code to
large software developers for several years, he said, and is now weighing whether to extend the licensing to selected customers. Instead of letting all users manipulate the source code, however, the company prefers to fix its own problems, he said.

Someone in the audience asked the panelists for assurances that their platforms have no security back doors.

'There is no way anyone can guarantee your system does not have a back door,' Manes said, but administrators have many ways to guard against break-ins.

The open-source model of Linux means faster patching when a security hole is found, Hall said, but 'security is diligence, and there's nothing that can replace that.'


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