Operation software has evolved tremendously since the discovery of the first operating system, UNIX in 1969. The evolution has not just been in the structure of the functionality of the software but also in the environment in which these operating systems are used. Advances in programming have necessitated the development of operating systems like Linux that can be deployed in multiple environments. This paper compares and contrasts the Linux server and Linux workstations products provided by three different vendors. The paper also explores issues of total cost of ownership, training, support, performance, reliability, and application availability, as provided for by Linux.

Linux is a powerful operating system that supports a number of applications in different environments. This is made possible due to the open source status that Linux has had since its creation in 1990. As a result, different Linux vendors have found different applications for Linux, even though the functionality remains the same. This paper compares and contrasts the use of Linux server and Linux workstation products between three different vendors of Linux.

Similarities and Differences in Linux Server and Linux Workstation Products

There exist notable differences and similarities among the Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS, HPC with Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS, and the Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS (advanced server). These different products of Linux server and Linux workstation provide services that are similar and unique to a certain extent. For instance, Red Hat Linux Enterprise Server provides payable services that are charged each month. Turnbull, Lieverdink & Matotek (2009) note that there is a great level of similarity in the workstation and server, as both seek to enhance a unified application support, tools management, and user environment.  However, these products only differ insofar as the system level architecture is concerned. 
Similarities

Workstations and servers running under Linux have a number of similarities between all the vendors. The configurations of Linux workstation to a local area network facilitate the sharing of various network servers, regardless of the location. This is because of the requirement of the Linux server to be applied to all client and server software. Linux server and workstation require the user to possess the entire client which is used in the workstation and the server packages to facilitate communication of the two (Turnbull, Lieverdink & Matotek, 2009).

Linux server communication tools, such as the File Transfer Protocol and the Network File Service, are compatible products between the workstation and server, which enables communication of clients in an online environment, either via a local area network or globally, without posing barriers to the messages emanating from a client with a different configuration. As a result, the products provided by different vendors to facilitate work in both Linux server and Linux workstation environment are harmonized to cater for this varied use of protocols by different vendors.

Another important similarity in Linux workstation and Linux server is that they use identical code for all implementations (McCune, 2000). This allows for compatibility of the products at the client server and workstation without giving consideration to the architecture or the model of the two. This feature of similarity is important in the implementation of Linux service through simplified administration and enhanced support of the product by the vendor.

Both vendors’ products do not guarantee performance of their hardware compatibility listing to Linux server or Linux workstation. It is, therefore, required that the client conduct a credible analysis in order to obtain services that will guarantee better services to the organization.

Differences

Some of the products provided in the Linux server cannot be found in the Linux workstation. For instance, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux workstations do not include network server applications, such as Domain Name Service and e-mail. As such, Linux workstation is only suitable to be used in a client environment.

Similarly, not all Linux workstation products can be executed without the need for output devices. This is because the operating system is capable of carrying out commands, just like the Linux server. In contrast, HPC with Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS provides utilities to be deployed in a headless workstation environment without output devices, such as monitor, keyboard, and mouse that are essential with other Linux vendors.

In addition, the kind of environment that Linux server and Linux workstation are designed to operate in varies depending on the work to be performed at both ends. Similarly, the architecture of the machine and their capabilities also defines the use of the products in the workstation and the server. For instance, HPC with Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS requires an architectural environment that will support high-speed computing in the workstation different from the usual Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS (Rogers, 2008).

Linux Use: Cost of Ownership, Training, Support, Performance, Reliability, Application Availability

Linux provides a better option as an operating system because of allowing modifications. As an open source software, Linux provides many organizations with the opportunity of acquiring a compact operating system at virtually no cost. However, it is important for organizations that wish to use Linux as their preferred operating system to consider the related costs of installation and maintenance and compare them with the benefits that can be gained from the use of the software.

Similarly, the issue of training and support on how to use the software by the staff is an important factor to consider. For instance, the company can decide if the staff are going to use the software without the need of training, and if not then the availability of training tools in terms of time and professionals may be necessary. Support is also important, because it will enhance trouble-free running of Linux and facilitate business activities of the organization. However, Rogers (2008) notes that the issue of training and support cannot be a major factor to any organization that wishes to use Linux as its preferred operating system. Instead, he identified the flexibility of the operating system as the major issue. For instance, the package comes with instructions that guide the person installing the software on how to do it quickly and easily. This means that any person with basic computer knowledge will be able to install the software. Nevertheless, problems begin when it comes to support services, such as fixing of bugs, automated updating, unlimited technical support, and product documentation services, for which most Linux vendors like Red Hat charge monthly fees.

Linux is a reliable operating system because of the multiple user applications that it supports. Its reliability is also explained by its ability to coordinate between different operating systems, while allowing them to run on their protocols without interference. As such, Linux acts as a connecting channel to unite different computers in the same network that uses different operating systems, and yet would want to communicate. This function is also helpful on a computer running different operating systems because it enables communication between files stored on the computer.

As an operating system, Linux has gained multiple applications in the area of networking and system administration. For example, Linux allows system administrators to allocate rights and privileges to different people working in the same organization. This is important because it controls how people are interacting with the system and how they modify databases that are important for the operation of the organization. Linux finds its applicability not only in its ability to provide multiple access modes into the database, but also because it provides security in a networked environment through firewalls.

Conclusion

The above discussion has compared three vendors of Linux products, such as server and workstation. Similarly, it has also explored the issues of training, support, applicability, performance, reliability, and support available for successful use of Linux as an operating system. The paper has made it clear that Linux provides many benefits to organizations in terms of their ability to easily communicate with the operating system.

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