'Too many patches!' vex systems managers




The GCN Reader survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on operating systems is based on telephone interviews with 100 government readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as IT or systems managers.

Amid the onslaught of malicious code attacking Microsoft Corp. software, it isn't surprising that government IT managers participating in a GCN telephone survey fretted about security weaknesses in their Windows network operating systems.

'I don't like the security holes,' said a Fish and Wildlife Service IT specialist in Cookeville, Tenn., where network servers run Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

'The security is suspect,' said an Air Force system administrator at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, a Windows NT Server 4.0 user.

'There are too many security flaws,' echoed a Navy systems security manager in Mechanicsburg, Pa., another Win 2000 Advanced Server user.

Other users complained about having constantly to download Windows security fixes.
'There are too many patches,' griped an Agriculture Department IT specialist in Washington, whose servers run Advanced Server.

Advanced Server had the largest installed base in the survey sample'half of respondents identified it as their agencies' primary network OS.

Although there were detractors, including those who groused about security vulnerabilities and all the patching, others found much to like in Advanced Server.

'It's very stable and user-friendly,' said an Army computer specialist in Springfield, Va.
In all, 73 percent of managers polled said their servers run a Windows operating system as their primary OS.

And 63 percent said they run multiple network OSes'more than half use Unix in addition to their primary system.

'For small applications we use Windows, for major applications we use Unix,' said a Library of Congress computer specialist.

Seven percent of respondents cited Unix as their principal operating system, and 5 percent named Linux, the freely available, open-source software, as their main OS.

'Linux is better suited for scientific research,' said a Geophysical Laboratory IT specialist in Princeton, N.J. 'It works with our supercomputer.'

'We like the stability and cost savings of Linux,' added a National Park Service IT specialist in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

NetWare from Novell Inc., while occupying only 6 percent of the sample base, still has its fans.

'It's reliable and easy to administer,' said a Justice Department information management specialist in Washington.

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