Accountant closes Windows on Linux

Linux may be nibbling away at Microsoft's Windows footprint, but one small business has well and truly shut the penguin out in the cold.

Perth-based chartered accountants Marshall Michael Corporate Consultants recently completed an upgrade of its two Windows NT servers and, as a result a Linux firewall was decommissioned.

Marshall Michael account manager Rupert Cheong, who also doubles as the firm's IT manager, said an upgrade was necessary to ensure better business continuity.

"We had two NT4 servers, one for data and one for e-mail," Cheong said. "The data server kept crashing and the mail server would also crash because it couldn't handle the workload."

Cheong said that, on a busy day the server would hang "every hour" which started a chain reaction affecting the whole business.

Seemingly unconcerned about the firm's past experience with Windows, Cheong went ahead with an upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2003 on an HP Intel system. The two NT4 systems and a Linux firewall were consolidated as a result.

"The upgrade was relatively painless [as] the data was transferred overnight and we then put everyone on the new domain controller," he said. "There was a Linux box that acted as a firewall for the fileserver. With Small Business Server 2003 there is a firewall built-in."

Cheong said with Linux as the firewall, hackers and spam still got through and it was "hard to update".

"As an operating system NT4 was bad to what we have now but is slightly better than Linux," he said. "This is my only experience with Linux and I wouldn't use it again. It was hard to update the e-mail list to be blocked and unless you have been trained with Linux you wouldn't know what to do with all the funny commands."

Cheong estimates Marshall Michael, with eight staff and a turnover of $1.6 million a year, is saving $10,000 a year on downtime and reduction of callout costs as a result of the upgrade.

Linux Australia president Jonathan Oxer said there is no one solution that is best for everyone and if a company only has Windows experience in-house then it may be the more appropriate option.

"However, generally, when administered properly, Linux tends to be more reliable and secure than Windows," Oxer said.

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