Linux is providing TAB Queensland with a standard operating environment and enabling applications that could not be run on a Windows environment, according to Lindsay Taylor, project co-ordinator of Telebet.
"Windows, it is very useful for some applications," said Taylor. "But it doesn't make the grade for what we are doing."
TAB QLD is using around 300 Linux boxes as telephone betting terminals in their call centre, and an unconventional sound recording solution.
"We have to record customer conversations, which we record directly onto the PC via a sound card," said Taylor. "We then transfer the recordings in real-time to the server."
TAB is using around 50 Linux boxes per sound server for short term storage. For the longer term storage, where taped conversations are kept up to one year GSM compression is used.
"Using Windows, we found that running this GSM compression with sound recording was causing the other applications on that box to lose characters and lose clock," said Taylor. "It wasn't a memory issue, it was a performance issue. The simple problem is that Windows is not very good with multi-tasking."
The decision to deploy Linux came in 1995, when it was discovered that "the branch controller system was creaking" according to Taylor.
"There was a choice between DOS, Windows 3.1, an early version of Windows 95, OS/2, an early version of NT and Coherent Unix," said Taylor. "Most other Unixes priced themselves out of the market when we realised we would be deploying around 1000 boxes."
Forgetting price, and looking simply at whether the system could act as a serial comms concentrator, TAB found that Windows simply was not up to the task.
"All we wanted was two synchronous 2400 DDN lines and four RS-485 32.4 lines, nothing flash," said Taylor. "Windows 3.1 and 95 couldn't do it and Windows NT really couldn't do it."
"Linux was pretty much the answer, and it was cheaper," he said.
"We now use Linux as our WAN, mostly embedded systems for our betting systems, around 300 boxes for our telephone betting systems and 200 QNX2 boxes that will be phased out," said Taylor. "They'll be Linux boxes soon."