Letters to Redmond
Readers Respond July 2005
Readers discuss 64-bit, desktop Linux and our new security columnist, Joern Wettern.
The Spaghetti Incident?
What is the over-worn saying about the Chinese ideogram for "crisis" being a
combination of "danger" and "opportunity"? Scott Bekker's commentary on "Why
Longhorn Still Matters
" [Redmond Report, April 2005] seems to focus entirely
on the "opportunity" side of Microsoft's looming mega-upgrade.
I hear a lot of "ifs" to the likes of, "If no new killer 64-bit applications
… suck up all those valuable new system resources." But don't forget that's
after: (a) the customer has been forced to purchase the latest-and-greatest
new PC hardware, (b) the system is now forced to run the resource-hogging new
GUI (remember NT 4.0 moving the video into kernel mode?) and (c) the inevitable
slowness added by a billion new security checks—we can't ignore that "pillar"
of Longhorn. After all, it's Microsoft's "highest priority"! Sadly for most
of us techies, we probably won't get a chance to see the faster hardware ever
run a program that's not straining its resources, because our companies won't
pay for the hardware, software and operating system upgrades until they're desperately
And yet the x64 rewrite of XP and Server 2003 is available today, for those
who've got the hardware. Sure, it isn't a total rewrite of the OS code—but as
the last Microsoft code leak proved and dozens of Microsoft blogs reaffirm daily,
no code the company releases today is free of the spaghetti strings of incomprehensible
bug fixes keyed out by up-all-night caffeine-fueled programmers who quit the
moment their stock vested years ago.
I hardly imagine that performance improvements rank highly on any Microsoftie's
list—except for marketing, of course—when it's clearly at odds with the laziness
and inefficiencies that ever-faster hardware and abstracted, high-level programming
allow and with the resource-hogging No.1 security goal.
Linux: Ready for Prime Time?" [June 2005] is a good roundup of what we at
work discovered too. Seems we all prefer SuSE due to its simplicity compared
to the others, plus YaST, the greatest tool ever. Recently, a couple of us tried
the Novell Linux Desktop (NLD) knowing full well it was SuSE underneath. I would
say it is every bit as good as SuSE by itself but the NLD has a few advantages.
Namely the Windows networking as its mentioned, but also as a remote desktop
client that fired right up and allowed us to manage our Windows farm and Evolution,
the open source equivalent of Outlook. I configured the Exchange connector and
five minutes later had full Outlook-like control. If you can tolerate the big
red N, I would recommend NLD over SuSE (plus NLD includes YaST as well). My
only qualm is: Why did Novell have to move around some menu items?! I hated
having to find where they were moved to. Keep us updated on Linux desktops from
time to time!
the Right Firewall" article by Joern Wettern in this month's issue [May
2005]. I found his article very informative and thorough. In a time when we
are constantly bombarded with security products that promise to secure our networks,
it is nice knowing what's important and what to look for when it comes time
to picking the right firewall.
I truly look forward to more in-depth security articles from Mr. Wettern.