Wednesday, April 15, 2009

OS X vs Windows Vs Linux - Part 2

The current computer room in Clongowes doubles up as a study where students can work during specified study times in the evening. It caters mainly for Transition year students who have access to computers most evenings during study. Students from other year groups can get permission from whoever is supervising their study to visit the computer room for a while to perform some specific task. The old computer room was Windows only but when we moved to a bigger room I had more scope for flexability. I decided to keep a bank of Win XP machines for class as that was what the teachers were more familiar with but decided to go with a bank of Macs and some Linux machines as well. I loaded some pictures of the construction of the computer room and the finished product onto the school website.

So what next. I tried a machine on Vista last year for a few months but it didn't integrate properly with XP and ran slower on the fastest machine in the school. The same machne is now running as a Youtube clone where we can run videos on the network. It runs on Linux using PHPmotion . It also runs as a music server that students can link into using iTunes on Windows and Mac machines and Rhythmbox on Linux machines. At one time I figured XP would be the last version of Windows we would use as the future was Linux. Now I'm of the opinion variety is a good thing but we are going to have XP for quite a few years yet as we have a lot of machines that run it just fine but would crawl with Vista. Windows 7? ....... well I'll try it out but I haven't seen anything that excites me too much yet.

On the Linux front I'm planning on moving to Ubuntu 8.04 on servers and clients during the summer. By that time there will be two newer versions, 8.10 and 9.04 but 8.04 is a long term support (LTS) version which means it will get updates through to 2011.

On the Mac front the move from Tiger to Leopard was painless and I suspect the jump to Snow Leopard will be painless as well. I'll probably look at upgrading RAM to 2GB in the Apple machines.

Virtualisation? Nope not yet.

And what do we do with computers here. As with most schools Internet, email, word processing covers 90% of it and all platforms do this equally well. I find Firefox seems to run a lot of the web 2.0 stuff better than Safari and Internet Explorer and web 2.0 stuff is becoming more important all the time. For speed the thin client linux machines win as they are running directly off the server. Apple wins hands down when it comes to more creative stuff with sound and video. This has become more important to us as we now do Digital Creator with the transition year students.

On the server end we are 100% Linux which I have found to be excellent over the last five years or more that we have been using it. I have never used an Apple server other than at a training session. I liked what I saw as much of it was using stuff that was very similar to the way I do things in Linux - in fact much of the software running on the server end is the same but with some extra Apple polish on the GUI. Unless we win the lotto though I reckon we will stick with Linux. I haven't used Windows servers since Windows 2000 server. I know it has come on a lot in the last decade but I reckon Linux is more secure, more robust, less prone to viruses and more cost efficient and so I don't feel any impetus to go back to Redmond.

I'm also wondering will Google's Android carve out a niche somewhere on the network. I keep reading stories like this one http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/15/android_set_top/ that make me think it may well get a role somewhere in the next couple of years.