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Why UNIX is better than Windows... By Microsoft 974

BenBenBen writes "According to a whitepaper found on "a fairly insecure server", UNIX not only is more reliable and easier to maintain than Windows (2000 in this case), it's cheaper too. These shock results are reported on both The Register and (the source) Security Office."
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Why UNIX is better than Windows... By Microsoft

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  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:16PM (#4723344)
    I think this is good. Seriously. MS is aware its products have problems. This is a nice place to start to work on them.

    Hopefully we can see some movement on them. The whole "services being interdependent" thing is very true. Annoying.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by program21 ( 469995 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:17PM (#4723362) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. Now, if they would just be a little more upfront about this sort of thing, I'd feel a little better.
    It seems like most of what we have in this regard is leaked stuff, so internally MS knows, but their public face would never admit to it (IMHO).
  • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:18PM (#4723375) Homepage
    ...constitute some sort of business tort, like disclosing trade secrets? I'm not trying to give MS lawyers any ideas (like they need them) but I've certainly seen Apple goes nuts over this sort of thing.

    BTW, that it was on a "fairly insecure server" is as much a defense as "his house had cheap locks." :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4723387)
    But Security Office wants us to believe that they hax0red some random MS Server and just happened to find a detailed analysis on Unix vs Windows? And this analysis happened to say "we should eat our own dog food"? Not one analysis I have ever read had such a ridiculous analogy in it.

    And let's look at this:
    The whitepaper, by MS Windows 2000 Server Product Group member David Brooks, has been posted on the Web by Security Office, which says it discovered the item and numerous other confidential MS documents on a poorly protected server.

    So Security Office is admitting to criminal activity? Sorry, I call hoax.
  • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rebelcool ( 247749 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:22PM (#4723417)
    Are slashdotters extremely naive or something? Every company takes a look at the competition and compares it to their own product, distributing memos on whats better about the competition so that they can improve on their own products.

    This isn't news. It's business.

  • by comic-not ( 316313 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:23PM (#4723426) Homepage
    Read the paper - pretty reasonable stuff. The only thing that may raise eyebrows is the origin of the paper. Goes to show that Microsoft has some competent people working for them (did anybody doubt that, it's after all the company policy that is rotten) but also a horde of absolutely brilliant PR weasels which can turn black to white when you're not watching.
  • Seriously, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by platypus ( 18156 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:26PM (#4723452) Homepage
    this seems to be a quite well written paper (as far as I can see from the Register's summary, the server is /.'ed).

    Everything I read there points out things I don't like on windows, much better than I am capable of. While there exist many papers pointing out these things, they are often to "evangelistic" to be seriously considered for convincing management types.

    I'm eager to get the whole document, it might have its worth even without mentioning the originaters (watch the copyright, though).
  • And this is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:28PM (#4723482)
    I am a serious unix neophyte and already had the impression that bsd was cheaper, more secure, and more easily maintainable than windows solutions. Hence my question.

    However, I also understand that we who appreciate and would like to see greater implementation of open-source and gnu need a propaganda engine to rival the marketing machine that is microsoft.

    The fact is that Unix boosters tend to come off as fanatics due to the lack of flash and dollars used to promote our views. Can't we get a team of daemon and penguin-costumed advocates to run through Times Square spray bombing the words BSD and LINUX everywhere? Why should we believe another "white paper" will turn the tide?
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:30PM (#4723492) Homepage
    MS might sick their lawyers, but probably not. Making a big deal out of this will bring more publicity to the incident. They want as little publicity about this as possible.

  • by Hasie ( 316698 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:31PM (#4723499)
    Windows is not intended for servers and UNIX is. That's essentially all that is said. Windows is built for the lowest common denominator (hence all the GUIs) and UNIX is built for people that know what they are doing to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

    If Microsoft were to modify their configuration files to be more UNIX like, and offer a decent UNIX-like shell, most of the UNIX advantages would fall away. But this kind of modification would be difficult because of the way Windows is structured. UNIX, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem. It is much easier to build a decent GUI on top of a fundamentally sound architecture than it is to build a fundamentally sound architecture under a good GUI.

    This represents a tremendous opportunity for UNIX. The UNIX world must develop GUIs to rival Windows' and make sure that the performance is equal to that of Windows. Then one can have the best of both worlds. And then nobody can argue that Windows is better.

  • by quantax ( 12175 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:33PM (#4723523) Homepage
    I do not know what people are acting all surprised. What MS says and what MS knows are two very seperate things. Why do you think they say Linux is a competitor to be watched? Yea, they say 'MS software is better for xyz reasons, yatta yatta' but you better be damn sure that privately they are analyzing their competition inside and out. The first way to get raped by your competition is to ignore it. The second is to assume that you are automatically better than the competition, product quality wise. If a company is dishonest in its internal evaluations of its products against their competition, they will merely alienate their customers even more due to poor design decisions. Remember, MS has a shitload of investors, so going out publicly saying 'our product is subpar to unix' would result in their stocks playing a rollercoaster game. Never mistake self-honesty with PR.
  • by platypus ( 18156 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:34PM (#4723526) Homepage
    Hmm, this explanation doesn't fit well with what I read at the Reg:

    The whitepaper, by MS Windows 2000 Server Product Group member David Brooks,

    Whereas in Win2K: "Some parameters that control the system's [...]

    Cleary, the original hotmail guys wouldn't have thought about W2k, which was non-existant at that time.

    The team was unable to reduce the size of the image below 900MB

    Dito, I doubt any MS operating system's image at that time couldn't be reduced to less than 900MB.

    They also mention Advanced Server, that "at" is deprecated, Interix 2.2 and so on.

    No, I doubt your are right.
  • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:34PM (#4723527) Homepage Journal
    Sorry to bust your bubble. Most big corporations have intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management.

    I am sure managements response to this letter was to start an 'investigation team.' Or send the techs to a '7 habits' seminar or 5S, QS9000, pokeyoke...

    Years later nothing has changed I assure you. They are still using Windows Servers no?
  • by craenor ( 623901 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:35PM (#4723533) Homepage
    ...but being unrealistic isn't one of them. They know what their products are like and they know the golden rule, "You don't have to have the best product to win the product wars."

    Beta vs. VHS...Zip drives vs. Jazz drives...etc, etc.
  • by Pac ( 9516 ) <> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:37PM (#4723549)
    Why bother then? If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.
  • by Hays ( 409837 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:38PM (#4723564)
    You have to remember that MS employees are real human beings. They aren't idiots for the most part. This guy was being very candid about the shortfalls of a windows server, perhaps with hopes of seeing it improved it in the future. It's the higher ups in the corporate ladder and the marketers that candy-coat all things windows and belittle all things *nix.

    Ironically, many of those (perfectly valid) reasons that *nix can make a better server are the same reasons I don't like it on my desktop. Text configuration is a blessing for server farms but a nightmare for newbies with a fresh install.
  • by red_dragon ( 1761 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:41PM (#4723593) Homepage

    Most big corporations have intelligent technicians. However, the message gets lost somewhere between tech and management.

    This, of course, is the basis for the SNAFU principle []:

    In the beginning was the plan, and then the specification; And the plan was without form, and the specification was void. And darkness was on the faces of the implementors thereof; And they spake unto their leader, saying: "It is a crock of shit, and smells as of a sewer." And the leader took pity on them, and spoke to the project leader: "It is a crock of excrement, and none may abide the odor thereof." And the project leader spake unto his section head, saying: "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide it." The section head then hurried to his department manager, and informed him thus: "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength." The department manager carried these words to his general manager, and spoke unto him saying: "It containeth that which aideth the growth of plants, and it is very strong." And so it was that the general manager rejoiced and delivered the good news unto the Vice President. "It promoteth growth, and it is very powerful." The Vice President rushed to the President's side, and joyously exclaimed: "This powerful new software product will promote the growth of the company!" And the President looked upon the product, and saw that it was very good.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:43PM (#4723609) Homepage
    The point of Unix is not the shell. The point of Unix is the kernel, the lack of a registry and the level of transparency when it comes to services/daemons. The shells are only one aspect of the overall point of Unix as an end user interface: CONTROL.
  • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anarchofascist ( 4820 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:43PM (#4723613) Homepage Journal
    Are slashdotters extremely naive or something? ... This isn't news. It's business.

    That's right. I agree. Companies lying about the capabilities of their products is not news, it's just marketing, just business. It's like political promises, we know everyone does it, so please don't draw attention to it - you're disturbing the happy sleeping consumers.

    Nothing to see here. Please move along. Please raise no confusing or irritating questions, citizen. Consume more products. Let us be thankful we have an occupation to fill. Work hard, increase production, prevent accidents and be happy. Let us be thankful we have commerce. Buy more. Buy more now. Buy. And be happy.

    thx1138 []
  • Drivers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:45PM (#4723627)
    Having read their section on Windows' Strengths, there are several bits that I disagree with, but really the hardware issue is the most annoying.

    Better hardware detection. Setting up UNIX on a new PC is difficult, requiring a more intimate knowledge of how the hardware is built. That's an up-front cost; given the existence of multiple identically configured systems, cloning an established system doesn't present the same problems.

    This I don't agree with. Granted that you need a little bit more knowledge to get hardware working, if you do know what you're doing (and this paper is aimed at people who do, or at least should know what they're doing), it is far more reliable. If something goes wrong, there is a reason it went wrong, and a way to fix it. In windows, even the biggest guru finds the hardware detection system to be black magic to say the least. At worst, it can be completely random!

    Plus cloning a Linux is very easy and reliable, because as a general rule there are fewer driver dependencies. Think about a Slackware setup booting into console only server mode. How many hardware/module dependencies are there? All I can think of is the Ethernet card. Other than that, the image is completely transferrable.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:46PM (#4723635) Homepage
    They don't have to.

    They have been immune from market pressures since at least 1987.
  • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:51PM (#4723680)
    I totally agree ... The Register is no more a credible source than Slashdot is. It is entertainment, though.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:54PM (#4723711)
    Do you REALLY think anything Microsoft has ever done has been "better" and "faster" than the competition? You really should be congrating Intel/AMG on building processors that outdid the MS bloat....

  • by Iamthefallen ( 523816 ) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:55PM (#4723722) Homepage Journal

    yes, instead of paying for an OS you can demand to get it for free, you can also see the development of said OS grind to a halt cause of lack of finances.

    If you use it, pay for it and support OSS development.

  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:01PM (#4723763)
    This reminds me of somehting a well known programmer from the days when the Apple ][e was still big said. (I'm sorry I can't remember who it was.) I can't remember it exactly, but he said he had no problem with M$'s success, they had earned it. His complaint was that they had earned it selling 3rd rate software.

    To restate the obvious -- M$ can create a clone of anything quickly, the point is this company has NEVER come out with ANYTHING original, only clones of competitor's programs. The difference is M$ puts out something that looks competitive, with loads of holes in it, but offers it for free, or integrates it with Windows, and stops improving it once they've wiped out the competition.
  • Re:Bingo! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Havokmon ( 89874 ) <rick AT havokmon DOT com> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:05PM (#4723792) Homepage Journal
    And that walks right into the cron stuff:

    For example, TechNet assures us that, "administrators generally find benefit from porting 'cron' jobs to Windows Task Scheduler events. Both Microsoft Interix 2.2 and SFU allow administrators to port 'cron' files to Windows 2000 without any changes in most cases, allowing administrators to gradually transition scheduled events and scripts without impacting operations i.e. at migration scheduled events can still run as 'cron' jobs. After the migration, the 'cron' jobs can be migrated to Windows Task scheduler events. The Windows task scheduler has better integration with event logs."

    Personally, I like consistancy. I use cron, WinCron, and WarpCron. That way, if you want to reschedule something on any OS in the building, you used the same format.

    Easy, Simple, Effective.

  • by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:05PM (#4723800) Homepage Journal
    The idea that a company's employees should eat their own dog food doesn't make the dog food any better. It just ensures that the people who find the idea of eating dog food disgusting will work somewhere else.

    By the way, if MS engineers really have to "eat their own dog food", does that mean the the developers for the Paperclip were required to be running the Paperclip while they wrote their code in MS Word? "It looks like you're trying to declare a variable. Would you like to use a handy 12-step wizard to assist you in writing this declaration?" Hopefully, they remembered to turn off auto-correct and "smart" quotes.

  • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:08PM (#4723824)
    The point of Unix is not the shell. The point of Unix is the kernel, the lack of a registry and the level of transparency when it comes to services/daemons.

    Umm, yeah. Back in the day, the original Unix developers though "Hey! Let's write an operating system without a registry!". NOT. As for transparency, it's all a matter with what you are familiar with. I've just look at a ps -ef on my Octane and there are at least half a dozen daemons running that I'd have to look at the docs to work out what they were - and I've been using Unix for over a decade. If you only knew Unix and you looked at Windows Task Manager, of course you'd be confused, and vice versa.

    Oh, and Windows has a kernel too, btw.

    Unix is better for some things, Windows is better for others. As I've said many times, a skilled engineer has many tools in his toolbox and knows how to use them all, and how to pick the right one for the job at hand.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:08PM (#4723829)
    So someone was portscanning MS, and just bumped into a public server with secret files on it?

    No, not even a little bit. Please READ THE WIRED ARTICLE before commenting further.

    MS had a PUBLIC, ADVERTISED FTP server, which they used to distribute drivers and documentation, and was referenced in many places on MS's web sites.

    Employees at MS didn't know that the server was used to serve files to the public, and started putting sensitive internal documents (such as this one) on it.
  • by oconnorcjo ( 242077 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:09PM (#4723834) Journal
    Why bother then? If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.

    Because it is not the way to make money. 1) They have spent a lot of money on "Microsoft technology" that only works on Windows and they don't want to make that stuff portable(and please people, don't reply back about IE on Solaris and Mac). 2) They invested a lot of PR into branding Windows as easier and better than Unix which will go down the toilet (ok- this leaked but it is not that big a deal). 3) It would cost them less to fix the shit they already have than to go to a whole new system.

    Ok Apple did replace the OS but apple probably has a lot cleaner code and to this day, Apple has not been able to emulate all their old apps. If Microsoft broke compatibility, I could just see all kinds of people jumping ship to Linux or some other OS.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:15PM (#4723897) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft's "public" interface is constantly tearing at the bounds of credibility. Witness Balmer's talk about how they didn't adequately sell their customers on the benefits of Software Assurance:)

    Internally, though, this shows that Microsoft is quite rational and realistic. As a company, they will survive and prosper a lot longer on that course than if too much of the internal management started to actually believe what is destined for external public consumption in the marketplace.

    Let's all learn the good lesson from Microsoft here.

    It should be obvious that if you're in a business that relies on evaluation of information technology that you should rely only very loosely upon what is presented to you publicly.

    Second, keep your internal evaluations

    • private,
    • rational, and
    • closely-based on reality.

    Shoot, I knew years ago that BSD was a cheap solid workhorse after learning about

  • Re:Bingo! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pointym5 ( 128908 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:15PM (#4723899)
    This effectively makes the command line as powerful as it is in Unix.

    You have to be joking. Have you ever tried to actually use the "cmd.exe" program? Are you familiar with the capabilities of even the simplest UNIX shell? The "cmd.exe" program seems to me as if it were written by somebody who overheard a brief conversation about what UNIX shells can do. Just about everything about it is inadequate by comparison: quoting syntax, wildcards, variable expansion, conditionals, iteration, redirection, etc. It's useless for all but the most absolutely basic launching of programs.
  • by mosch ( 204 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:16PM (#4723903) Homepage
    I read the whitepaper, and I definitely don't call hoax. It offers an objective overview of the Hotmail FreeBSD to Windows transition, and doesn't portray either system as being perfect.

    One of the main reasons for the transition to Windows was obviously not only to be able to say 'Hotmail runs Windows', but also to find the places where Windows was weak and to fix them. The paper details a number of places where Windows had trouble (unattended installation, IIS configuration, software distribution, content and code updates, inability to change various parameters without a reboot), but it also mentions that this input was given to the various development teams, to try to make the next version of Windows better.

    Yes, the document explicitly states that there was not a straightforward business case for the transition due to the license fees which would be incurred by customers, and that a number of Microsoft technologies (AD, WLBS) were either useless in that setting, or were not price competitive to the alternatives, but it looks to me like Microsoft was smart enough to use this experience to find and address their shortcomings.

    The whitepaper is real and accurate; the sensationalistic headline on this article, is not.

  • by spencerogden ( 49254 ) <> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:21PM (#4723969) Homepage
    Sorry, but Office does not fit this mold. Word was there from the CLI beginning and along with Excel the suite has stedily progressed. I am always amazed at what I can do in these programs, they just work. The only thing close is OpenOffice and even that is not there. I know other programs are great for writing letters and such, but when you need to do a little layout etc. the lack of features starts to show.

    Now I dislike all of the automatic, wizard clippy crap as much as the next person, but the core of the programs are very powerful.

  • by doodleboy ( 263186 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:22PM (#4723978)
    It would be their death to make an MS/BSD. The whole rationale for windows is that you never have to deal with a cli, or even really know what you're doing. That all goes away if UNIX is shoehorned under it.

    And anyway, why would any rational person chose MS/BSD over MacOS X? Apple did a good job on X, and while not perfect, Apple is much saner about not trying to shove drm or unacceptable eulas or all those other anti-competitive shenanigans MS is so famous for.

    For that matter, why would anyone administering a server voluntarily migrate to windows from bsd in the first place? From reading the white paper, it seemed like a political decision made for propaganda purposes, not one based on technical merit.
  • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:22PM (#4723983)
    If W2000 is so fast and efficient why can't I run it on a P133 with 24MB of RAM like I can Linux?

    If you want to be taken seriously, you have to compare like with like. For example, compare Windows 2000's hardware requirements to that of the complete KDE 2.

    Because you can run MS-DOS on a 286 but you can't run even the earliest Linux on a 286, does that make MS-DOS a better operating system? No, of course not.
  • by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:32PM (#4724077) Homepage Journal

    Not one analysis I have ever read had such a ridiculous analogy in it.

    This report was not written by a marketing department, it was written by someone familiar with the project (probably an engineer). It is quite common for reports written by technical people for a technical audience to include such "ridiculous" statements due to the lack of wordsmithing acumen on the part of people who actually work for a living, as opposed to those who talk (and write) about it. As someone who spends a great deal of my professional time reading and writing such documents, I indeed use this characteristic to determine how close the material is to "where the goats graze":).

    If I'm writing that document, and I know that everyone reading it will understand "eating one's own dog food", I am not going to take the time to translate that to:

    Further, due to the visibility of Hotmail, there existed a marketing concern with regard to using Microsoft server solutions following the acquisition, in that Microsoft's credibility in selling those solutions depended on actually using them.
  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:36PM (#4724107)
    If you want to be taken seriously, you have to compare like with like. For example, compare Windows 2000's hardware requirements to that of the complete KDE 2.

    I don't use KDE on any of my machines, I hate it precisely because it repeats Window's bloat and design errors. I use WindowMaker on even my fastest machines and it will run fine on the P133 as well. Windows 2000 does not give you the choice which is why, if you want to be taken seriously, you would avoid using it.

    Because you can run MS-DOS on a 286 but you can't run even the earliest Linux on a 286, does that make MS-DOS a better operating system? No, of course not.

    But it might make it faster and more efficient (until you want a lot of memory or multi tasking etc), which was the original assertion. "Better" is a broader topic but, given two 32Bit, multi tasking OSes, faster and more efficent becomes a lot closer to meaning "better" than it does when comparing a 16bit single-tasker and a 32bit multi-tasker. Then there's security to consider; DOS and Windows are not secure systems.


  • by Inominate ( 412637 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:37PM (#4724109)
    The windows command line seems to be built as an emergency backup tool, for when it can't be done in a GUI for some reason. It is in no way intended for the system to be USED from the command line.

    Modern unix shells however, are designed to be comfortable, and easy to use. (Easy as in, the lack of the amount of work required from a dos-style shell.)
  • by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:49PM (#4724224) Homepage Journal
    You are, of course, assuming that bigger and more money/resources equates to better-positioned. Bear in mind that with an organization sized like Micro$oft comes a lot of bureaucracy and inertia. And a lot of little political turfs that need protecting.

    I think that part of the reason Apple was able to make the transition to UNIX is because they are a smaller, more agile company. They're not afraid to throw out things that don't work -- OpenDoc, for example. And the Newton. (Sorry, I owned a Newton. It was a piece of dogshit.)

    Even a small company like Apple had to fight to get certain key Apple technologies to work with OS X. Imagine how bad it would be at Micro$oft.

    Add to that the need to support all old legacy hardware, and the WindowsOS X would be just as bad as the current one -- stuck trying to kludge out solutions for every possible combination of hardware and driver.

    Let's face it. MS has gotten to "that" point. The guy in the control tower in Airplane 2 said it best: "First the dinosaurs came. But they got too big and fat. Then they died and turned into oil."

    Micro$oft is putting it's fingers into too many pies. And the brain is getting confused as to which finger is in which pie.
  • by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:49PM (#4724226)
    Anybody who doesn't RTFM _before_ asking is asking for trouble.

    No arguments here, however in my experience the FM is much easier to R in the Unix world than in the Microsoft world. Part of this is the differences in the API. The Unix API was very small and well designed, and while it's had some weird things added, it's still fairly compact. The Windows API tends to have a lot of different ways of doing basically the same thing. For example, under Unix, you have read() which will read a file. Under Windows, you have read() which is a ANSI C way of reading a file. You also have ReadFile(), ReadFileScatter(), and ReadFileEx, which are 3 different windows specific APIs. That means that if I want to do the same task under Unix and under Windows, I've got to read more documentation under Windows.

  • Re:technet article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jungle guy ( 567570 ) <> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:54PM (#4724262) Journal
    In fact, FreeBSD is Unix-like. Due to trademark protection, only products certified by the opengroup can bear the name "Unix". These include Solaris, SCO, Tru64, Irix and HP-UX. FreeBSD is based on the Unix BSD flavor and is a real Unix, but can't be named so.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El ( 94934 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:01PM (#4724332)
    Where have you been? There was the BSD vs. AT&T Unix compatibility issues, the OSF compatibility issues, and in Linux the switch to glibc5 was a major backwards compatibility breaker. Of course, these problems pale in comparison to the incompatibility problems caused by some new releases of windows, but Unix and Linux in particular have never been shy about breaking backwards compatibility in order to improve functionality.
  • by ViVeLaMe ( 305695 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:01PM (#4724334)
    while it's right there under your nose...

    take a look at the footnotes, yeah, the footnotes, especially the 3rd one. ht ml#_ftnref3

    [3] For example, there was a need to reduce the MTU parameter of the TCP/IP interface. There was no command available to make the change, but the code in the network stack was easy to find, modify (one line) and rebuild.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the WHOLE fuckin' point in OpenSource, so casually admitted in a MS Engineering Doc.
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:02PM (#4724339) Homepage Journal
    Your observation holds true in a large number of cases.
    But beware.
    The technician/sergeant with the tactical view of things is not the manager/general with the strategic view.
    The Big Picture and the Little Picture will remain in tension indefinitely.
  • Call me crazy... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:02PM (#4724347) Journal

    If Apple, with far less resources of any kind whatsoever, managed to plug a decent user interface on the top of a free UNIX-like layer, Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster.

    Ummm.... it's called Windows NT. I believe they licensed an AT&T kernel. That's how Win2K is theoretically POSIX-compliant (yes, it actually has /dev, /usr, etc.; there was a piece in the last Phrack about using those).

  • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:11PM (#4724444)
    Apparently you can't handle it either, or do more than skim TFA.

    "No scripting support in windows 2000 because it also includes a GUI? Are you fucking stupid or what?"

    From the article:
    "There are, indeed, many non-GUI administrative programs provided in the core Windows 2000 product and in the Resource Kit. The problem is that
    the collection is somewhat arbitrary, incoherent and inconsistent. Programs seem to have been written to fill an immediate need and there
    is stylistic inconsistency and poor feature coverage."

    "They moved because Windows 2000 was faster and more efficient."

    "The conversion of the Hotmail web servers to Windows is an ongoing
    project with several rationales. The team was hoping for better
    utilization of the existing hardware resources. The superior development
    and internationalization tools are important. A Microsoft property
    should eat its own dogfood. Finally, we wished to use the conversion
    experience as a model for other UNIX conversions that we hope to carry
    out in the future."

    "It is obviously stable as any honest person running W2K/XP can tell you."

    "2) Reputation for stability. Both the UNIX kernel, and the design
    techniques it encourages, are renowned for stability. A system of
    several thousand servers must run reliably and without intervention to
    restart failed systems. For Windows 2000, we must first prove the
    stability in the same environment, and we must then convince the rest of
    the world."

    If it's so obvious, to 'any honest person', why do they have to try and convince anyone at all?

    "That W2K is not utterly and totally flawed and that it actually is a real competitor for other Server OSes. Once you accept this you can drop the zealous approach and do things in a logic, calm and professional manner."

    Getting people who have been repeatedly burned to accept this is a Microsoft problem, not mine. In the meantime, I will continue to use superior software in a quite logical, calm and professional manner.

  • Shock Results? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gavitron_zero ( 544106 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:14PM (#4724466)
    These shock results

    Since when are results like these shocking? The only shock here is that Microsoft would publish the whitepaper.

  • by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:15PM (#4724472) Homepage
    UNIX-like configuration files? Yeah, there's nothing I enjoy more than tweaking my

    Config files in *nix are often inconsistent and obscure. Not that hairy, undocumented registry keys are any better. How about an open, common XML format for configuration files? That way we can edit them in vi, or build whatever fancy GUI you want.
  • Re:Bingo! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:18PM (#4724501) Homepage Journal
    Please don't take my phrases out of context. I was saying that a DOS or Windows system running _bash_, not _cmd.exe_ is effectively as powerful as the command line in Unix. That's right, bash, the Bourne Again SHell, featured in the GNU system. I agree with you that cmd.exe and are horrible, although I have used them for years.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:18PM (#4724504)
    Bear in mind that with an organization sized like Micro$oft comes a lot of bureaucracy and inertia. And a lot of little political turfs that need protecting.

    I actually think that of companies its size, Microsoft probably has among the least "inertia". Is there any question that (his change in formal position notwithstanding) Billy-boy runs the whole show with the assistance of a cadre of highly-loyal, highly-trusted, and like-minded lieutenants ? Is there any question that he can make major strategic changes without going through the bureaucracy and red tape that defines most similarly-large organizations ?
    If you doubt the above, just look at how quickly MS changed its stance on the Net and the Web. Once Gates finally realized how important the Web was going to be, MS turned 180 degrees and moved. FAST. Just ask Netscape.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:23PM (#4724548)
    The irony of this Jobs quote is that without MS - i.e., without Word, Excel, and IE, Apple might be long dead, or at least even more effectively marginalized than it is now.
  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:27PM (#4724587)
    Word is a ripoff from WordPerfect ??? This is no more valid than a claim that WordPerfect is a ripoff of WordStar. Word is, and always has been, substantially different from WordPerfect in ways that people (myself included) chose to use Word in the old days, even though WordPerfect was by far the dominant standard.

    It was SO far from being a clone that the poster's claim is ludicrous. Anyone vaguely familiar with the two systems, their key bindings and document models would know this. They worked COMPLETELY differently.
  • Re:Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shyster ( 245228 ) <brackett@ufl.DEBIANedu minus distro> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:36PM (#4724665) Homepage
    - "Although Hotmail uses Microsoft software without license fees, we must consider this project as a model for real customers. Use of WLBS requires Advanced Server, but Server provides all the other features used by Hotmail. Using list prices, the cost comparison for a farm of 3500 servers is: Using WLBS (hence Advanced Server): $15M+ / Using LD and Server: $6M+"

    The costs issues you quote was between Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows 2000 Server...nothing about *nix.

    As for the whitepaper, it seems to me it was written by a *nix admin with little Windows server experience (which describes a majority of /. readers as well). I mean, what is this:

    - "A service may be hung, and rather than take the time to find and fix the problem, it is often more convenient to reboot [a Windows machine]. By contrast, UNIX administrators are conditioned to quickly identify the failing service and simply restart it; they are helped in this by the greater transparency of UNIX and the small number of interdependencies."

    If it's more convenient to reboot the machine, then what's the complaint? If it's inconvenient to reboot (which describes 90% of the servers I work on), then find the service and restart it. Hint: Look in the Services console...then right click and Restart. Or, if you prefer the CLI, use net stop/start . For bonus points, you can use the short or long name of the service. What's so difficult about that?

    Oh...and interdependencies? Look in the Services console and click on Dependencies. Most even have a short description so you know what it does. If that's not enough info for you, search Google or Technet. Or get a test server. It's not rocket science, nor is it any more difficult than UNIX.

    The CLI is pretty flexible and allows most maintenance work to be done in it, and when that doesn't work AutoIt (3rd party freeware) can script GUI events (pretty easily I might add). WSH scripts can also automate just about everything you can think of.

    "A fact about UNIX is that it is easy for an administrator to ensure that there are no irrelevant services running. As well as giving the potential for maximizing performance, it is useful to be sure that there are no random TCP/IP or UDP ports open that could be used as a basis for an attack," the paper notes.

    Once again, the Services console could really help this guy get a clue. As for random ports being open, that's one reason we have these things called firewalls...not to mention port scanners and knowledgeable Windows admins.

    "...there are many services that have a complex set of dependencies, and it is never clear which ones are necessary and which can be removed to improve the system's efficiency."

    I think what he meant to say was, "it is never clear TO ME OR MY TEAM which services are necessary". Others do quite well at it.

    Imaging servers should be done by multicasting, effectively negating bandwidth concerns. Windows 2000 rarely needs a reboot (though apps and the like will prompt you to do it even if they don't need it), and you can easily stop and restart a service.

    The author does have points on the Task Scheduler/at command which is a real PITA. There are 3rd party utilities to help with that, but MS does need some work done in that department. Also, the GUI and performance concerns are relevant when discussing a web server, which is why I wish MS would just come out with a web server version of Windows (wasn't that in the pipe a while ago?). And I think Windows 2000 has proven to be pretty stable (as long as it's on quality hardware, of course).

  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by warpup ( 611775 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:40PM (#4724706)
    Why would Microsoft publicly state that UNIX makes a better server than Windows? Microsoft is in the business of selling desktop and server software. If they come to you with the sales pitch that "UNIX is better, but we cost more", I doubt that you would generate many sales for them. I highly suspect that Microsoft wishes this document had never been put in front of the public, as it really hurts their marketing.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:46PM (#4724768) Journal

    It does mean that Linux is generally more configurable, though. If you don't want a KDE or Windows-like GUI, only one system will let you remove it. It's not a fair comparison of performance, but it is a fair comparison of customizability.

  • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:46PM (#4724778) Homepage
    I've just look at a ps -ef on my Octane and there are at least half a dozen daemons running that I'd have to look at the docs to work out what they were...

    However, on that Octane, a simple `man ` would probably answer most of your questions. Where is the non-Internet-base on-line documentation for everything in the Windows Task Manager.

    One of the reasons for UNIX's transparency is the fact that UNIX is extremely well documented. Many people who are knowledgeable about UNIX are almost entirely self-tought using the documentation bundled with the OS. For example, I got a UNIX sysadmin certification using only the bundled documentation--nothing else.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:55PM (#4724852)
    in my eyes it's not that that MS sucks because their products are poorly written (even though they are). It's that they are able blatantly lie about their products (re: internal memo vs PR report) and still shovel those products down our collective throat that bothers me. I don't care if MS recognizes that their software sucks, I care that I have to deal with it.

    Before you say "switch to linux" let me say that I am all linux at home, but at work it's a different story and a much more complicated battle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @02:59PM (#4724880)
    "... Microsoft could certainly do the same, only better and faster."

    Looks like you have never worked in a big company. I've worked for a few and heard many stories of others. Usually the way things work in a big company is that there is a huge middle management, something like two project managers per programmer. Time is wasted in meetings and planning trivialities, just to give impression that the middlemen are doing hard work.

    For many reasons in OSS business and smaller dynamic organisations things seem to go much more efficiently.

    -- ac
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:03PM (#4724918) Homepage Journal
    I disagree. The problem is exactly that they _don't_ clone. They see what somebody else does, and then do it their own way. When they made DOS, they looked at Unix for an example. They didn't clone it; DOS is single-user, single-tasking, with no security or proper separation of tasks (why, if it's single-tasking?), in strong opposition to Unix (even in it's earliest incarnations, I think, but these were made before I was born ;-) ).

    When they started to do networking, there certainly were networking protocols. I think there even was TCP/IP, but MicroSoft cam up with NetBeui, which is arguably lacking in features, and certainly incompatible.

    Office software. MS Word has long been competing with WordPerfect (now owned by Corel?), and all the time it was lacking and incompatible. With the advent of Windos 95, _MS_ Word had better integration with _MS_ Windows, and computers started to ship with both preinstalled. It even gets to the point where people buy a computer with Windows XP and assume that it has Office XP installed. Talk about manipulation. (Similar arguments for Lotus 1-2-3 vs. Excel, yada yada.)

    Remote administration. RDP is one of the new killer features of Windows XP. Unix has had X since, what? 1985? And where is SSH or even telnet on Windows? True, there's a telnet _client_, but MicroSoft is still behing on the rest of the world here (which isn't so bad for desktop systems, but it certainly is for servers).

    Internet software. Rather than going with the standards others are trying to establish, MicroSoft rolls its own. Result? ActiveX vulnerabilities, incompatible `Java' runtimes, VBScript exploits, automatic execution of virii by the mail client, ... Apache? Nah. We'll give people IIS (It Isn't Secure) just so the script kiddies can demonstrate the ability of Windows to do distributed computing in the form of DDoS attacks.

    Many of the problems with MicroSoft's software would not have happened if they had stuck with the true and tested designed of others, or hadn't written their own software to do what other software already did better (which I wouldn't call cloning because M$'s products usually are highly incompatible). Morale? Don't reinvent the wheel, Keep It Simple, Stupid!

    Our country has plenty of good five-cent cigars, but the trouble is
    they charge fifteen cents for them.
  • Re:Bingo! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:08PM (#4724964)
    Sorry charlie, but when you get 30 years of population, documentation, classes and sample applications flying around...sysadmins get to hone their techniques. And for FREE!

    When you release a buggy OS every 2-5 years with only semi-backward compatability, and cram every feature into a single interdependent object tree, you get...forced newbies. And for COST!

    Get over it, comparing a business product-for-profit and a public programming paradigm as functional system is absurd. These are two different creatures, which only incidentally can do most of the same things.
  • Re:Exactly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:22PM (#4725086)
    > If it's more convenient to reboot the machine,
    > then what's the complaint? If it's inconvenient
    > to reboot (which describes 90% of the servers I
    > work on), then find the service and restart it.
    > Hint: Look in the Services console...then right
    > click and Restart. Or, if you prefer the CLI, use
    > net stop/start . For bonus points, you can use
    > the short or long name of the service. What's so
    > difficult about that?

    That doesn't work a surprising number of times. It's very easy to get some services in an unkillable state on Windows 2000. When that happens, rebooting is the only option.

    Also, because of the service interdepency, it's possible to kill a service that causes the desktop to crash. Normally the desktop will respawn or log you out, but not always. When that happens, you lose the task bar, lose icons on the desktop, and have no way of launching any other program or shutting down (sometimes ALT-CTRL-DEL allows you to get to the "shutdown" button though).

    The key to all this is complexity. Windows is an integrated system that tries to stuff as much into the OS as possible. When one thing fails, it can effect any other thing. Also, Windows programs tend to be multitreaded since process creation is so expensive. Programming safe threads is *a lot* more difficult than programming safe processes because of memory space isolation. Processes also allow you to be more sloppy with memory management. If there's a tiny leak in a short running process, it will disappear when the process ends. If there's a tiny leak in a short running thread, it'll survive the thread death. If you respawn that thread several times, it'll be a major leak.

    Unix is layered. If one layer fails, you can go to the lower layer to fix a problem. Also, because Unix tends to use multiprocessing (because process creation is designed to be cheap), processes tend to last longer.

  • by benmhall ( 9092 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:30PM (#4725157) Homepage Journal
    I actually read this whole paper yesterday. I was quite impressed with it. My take was that it was a very honest appraisal of the situation. I dove into this paper expecting to get the usual marketing-speak. Instead I was greeted with valid strengths and weaknesses of both Unix and Win32, it tried not to take sides, and presented a very interesting case of a large scale migration from one platform to another.

    As for whether or not moving to Win32 was a wise financial move, the paper concedes that this was not the primary motivation. Obviously, from the analysis given, most companies would have stuck with Unix. It had been performing adequately, and Windows provided no real additional value. However, in this particular case, switching was imperative. Microsoft had been repeatedly laughed at for pushing Win32 yet running one of their largest on-line endeavours on Unix. Switching to Windows was absolutely necessary for them. Despite this, an honest report weighing the pros and cons of the switch was produced.

    This was a very interesting report that any administrator of either Unix or Windows systems would be wise to read.

    I'm not a friend of MS by any stretch (just ask anyone who knows me) but if they actually released papers like this I think it would do much to improve people's perception of them as an organization.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @03:39PM (#4725241)
    Only partially correct. You can run ELKS (Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset) on a 286. From their FAQ (

    "Q1.1. What is ELKS?
    ELKS is the Embeddable Linux Kernel Subset, a project to build a small kernel subset of Linux (which will provide more or less UNIX V7 functionality within the kernel) that can run on machines with limited processor and memory resources. More information on the background, goals and current status of the project can be found at the ELKS home page.

    The initial proposed targets are the Intel 8086 and eventually the 286's 16-bit protected mode. A kernel that can run on this kind of hardware is useful for embedded systems projects, for third world deployment where 80x86 x>0 machines are not easily available, and for use on various palmtops.

    Also, Minix will run on a 286, not quite Linux, but it was used to help develop Linux, much like DOS and its legacy in Win32 (OK, probably not that great an example, but hey...).

  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:02PM (#4725464) Homepage Journal
    To restate the obvious -- M$ can create a clone of anything quickly, the point is this company has NEVER come out with ANYTHING original, only clones of competitor's programs

    Would you mind pointing out anything that's original. We're waiting. {tap tap} Hello?

    Virtually everything is based on the lessons learned collectively from the past, and Microsoft most certainly isn't immune from this, just as no other organization is. Linux is a blatant, overwhelming ripoff of UNIX kernels (well actually a direct rip of a professors MINIX), with a set of tools (GNU) with the explicit goal of being ripoffs of commercial tools. KDE and Gnome steal the best bits from Windows and the Mac. HTML is an obvious progression of Gopher, which itself was an obvious transition from command line telnet. Virtually every game incorporates elements that made prior games successes. This constant griping about Microsoft is laughable because people can slam down, but they always strangely fail to mention those icons that we should praise for their originality: Under the harsh glare of a highly critical eye such a thing fails to exist.

  • Re:Exactly. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 21, 2002 @04:58PM (#4725946)
    You sir are a moron.

    Read that as $6-$15 MILLION dollars in LICENSES. BSD is not mentioned b/c its license is FREE!

    You also seem to miss another major point of the paper. Admin should not have to use a GUI on a 3500 server farm. Which idiot are you going to pay to run around and click Start->Control Panel->Services on 3500 machines? Better yet, buy 3.5K worth of $100 monitors/keyboards and pay for a place to keep them. No? how about a Beowolf cluster of KVM switches.

    You obviously know a bit about NT/2k admin, but not on the scale they are looking at here. I have personally killed 1200 processes on 300 machines with a simple rsh command. I could kill any process. Why don't you close IE on a few hundred machines while I go get a cup of coffee and a massage, and....

    Read the article again, but keep in mind that 3500 machine number.

    Again, MORON
  • by E-Rock ( 84950 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @05:14PM (#4726102) Homepage
    Do not think that any experience from working in any Institutional environment maps to the 'real world'.
  • by SeanAhern ( 25764 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @06:33PM (#4726883) Journal
    Yeah, yeah, this posting was standard Slashdot fare, and didn't really give an accurate portrayal of the article.

    One of the things that I did get from the article was the "Strengths of Windows". There are valid things in there. Just as Mac OS X is a wonderful GUI (which happens to be on top of UNIX), there are some things that Microsoft has done right.

    For those who don't want to wade through the article, here are some salient points (quoted from the article):
    1) Windows has more resources behind its development. It does have greater complexity than the free UNIX distributions, and used wisely (and with knowledge) that can lead to a more effective solution. For example, IIS is more self-tuning than Apache.

    IIS and Windows have many more tuning parameters than Apache and FreeBSD. The problem here is to make them comprehensible to new administrators.

    2) The development platform, specifically Visual Studio, is a major advantage. Even before the conversion to Windows was contemplated, Hotmail developers used Visual Studio on NT4 to develop and debug their code. The code was eventually recompiled for UNIX when the first level of testing was complete. There is nothing approaching the power of Visual Studio on any UNIX, let alone the free ones, with the possible exception of the Java development tools.

    The superior development platform has also had a positive operational impact in the live site. In the first days of deployment, some server threads went into a CPU-consuming loop. Using Visual Studio, Hotmail developers were able to find the application-level problem in a few minutes. That would have been impossible using UNIX tools.

    3) Vastly better monitoring infrastructure. UNIX has some rudimentary event reporting and performance monitoring tools, but nothing to approach the integrated power of the event logging and performance monitoring features. Again, it is necessary to use them wisely; event logging in particular has a human and system overhead that we'll talk about later.

    4) Better hardware detection. Setting up UNIX on a new PC is difficult, requiring a more intimate knowledge of how the hardware is built. That's an up-front cost; given the existence of multiple identically configured systems, cloning an established system doesn't present the same problems.

    5) Internationalization. The software tools available in Windows to provide multiple localized solutions are far ahead of most UNIX systems.
    Now, remember, this whitepaper was written in 2000. Linux has made strides since then.

    But I still think that they're right about a lot of the points.
  • Re:Exactly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shyster ( 245228 ) <brackett@ufl.DEBIANedu minus distro> on Thursday November 21, 2002 @07:06PM (#4727194) Homepage
    You make the assumption that the UNIX admin is a highly skilled dedicated professional, and that the NT admin is nothing more than a high school dropout with no other tools than a power switch and an NT cd to reinstall with. Hardly realistic in the real world.
  • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @08:54PM (#4728063)
    [...]but I don't like reporters hacking into servers for personal gain either.
    Why do you think they did that?

    They found the documents on a publicly announced ftp server. An ftp server that Microsoft links to, that their customers can download all kinds of stuff from. If you say I can take anything from your garage, and you place a stack of 100$ bills in there by accident - does that mean I can't take them? You just told me I could!

    That's why I made the example of them handing out free newspapers and then accidently printing a confidential memo in the paper. That's not my fucking fault, and it has absolutely nothing to do with lousy protection. It does, however, have everything to do with the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

    You can't give me a picture and then tell me I can't look at it when you find out that it's a pornographic picture of you and someone you wish you'd never had sex with. It doesn't work like that. You gave it to me - now it's mine. You still have copyright on it, but you can't claim that I was stealing something that you gave me.

    Now ... was that clear enough as to the difference between stealing and being given something?
  • by seefried ( 211451 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @11:10PM (#4728999)
    Oh dear. How tiresome it is to see that Slashdot story posters are nothing more than pro-*nix spin doctors. That's the only conclusion I can come to after reading the white paper leaked from Microsoft.

    Come on, really. You could just as well have marketed this story as, "A COMPARISON of Unix and Windows, my Microsoft." True, the summed weight of evidence probably tips the scales in favour of Unix, but I find the boastful nature of the title of this article to reveal more about the immaturity of Unix enthusiasts than anything else.

    The person who wrote the Microsoft white paper on the other hand, wrote a reasoned, fairly impartial review of where Unix was better and Windows failed dismally.

    If the Unix community could only apply such self criticism to itself it would benefit rather than suffer. Sure, Slashdot is pro-unix, but it doesn't have to be pompous about it. Blind faith in Unix will eventually lead to oversight. Keep your eyes open to both its strengths and weaknesses.


Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!