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Forget the browser wars This years big nerd battle is the server shootout between Linux and Windows NT - and its not just a bunch of geeks nit-picking While both offer more affordable platforms for Web service than in the past Linux and NT are polar opposites on almost every other level They look different run differently support different software and cost money in different places So far though most press coverage of the Linux-NT debate has focused on the competing business models and theres been little helpful information for deciding which OS to use At the other end of the coverage spectrum technical comparisons usually stick to performance tests churning out reams of numbers from the lab and missing the big picture of owning and operating a Web site The most obvious difference between NT and Linux is that NT attempts to bring the familiar Windows graphical user interface to a server environment Ideally a Webmaster could maintain NT and its bundled Web server Microsoft Internet Information Server aka IIS primarily by pointing and clicking NT also comes bundled with a singular set of Microsoft site development tools Linux on the other hand builds from the long varied tradition of Unix command-line culture It can be harder or at least more daunting to learn Unix from scratch than it is to learn a Windows system but Unix users who get over the hump of the initial learning curve rarely express happiness over trying to do the same work in a Windows environment Thats the Windows rage you observe whenever your local sysadmin System Administrator has to get up from his Linux workstation to fix your PC If theres one area where NT stands out over Linux its the willingness of third-party software vendors to develop versions of their software for it Ad-serving software search engines databases application servers and e-commerce shopping carts are almost certain to come in NT versions
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