Caldera eDesktop Edges Out Microsoft Windows 2000 in Functionality - Part II

  • Written By: C. McNulty
  • Published On: June 15 2000



Caldera eDesktop Edges Out Microsoft Windows 2000 in Functionality - Part II
C. McNulty - June 15, 2000

Desktop Operating System Functionality

Technology Evaluation.com has completed its initial technology selection model for desktop operating systems. (A subset of these results is available online, in our patented technology selection system, WebTESS.) We thought the results for product functionality were particularly notable.

This set of criteria defines the intrinsic features and functions of the OS. This note evaluates the features and functions delivered by the product itself, which together with product architecture, often make up over 90 percent of what is considered in the most uninformed, unstructured IT product selections.

The note itself is divided into three parts, each part covering a group of functional subcomponents, as follows:

Part I - Product Development

  • application support

  • fault tolerance

  • file and print

Part II - Administration

  • communications and network support

  • security

  • setup and migration

Part III - User

  • bundled applications

  • usability

TEC's TESS selection methodology includes five additional broad criteria. Although they are touched upon briefly here, they were not evaluated in this report. Further analysis is available online in our WebTESS system.

  • Product Technology (Integration with third party applications and management systems)

  • Product Cost

  • Corporate Strategy

  • Corporate Service & Support

  • Corporate Viability

The Contenders

Red Hat Linux 6.2
Linux is based on a "clone" of the Unix operating system, originally made by Linus Torvalds in 1991 as a graduate student at the University of Helsinki. The core of Linux is "open source"; all version source code is available under open license, and any extensions or modifications must be submitted to the Linux community at large for inclusion in the main, shared body of Linux code. Within the space, Red Hat is the leading provider of Linux "distributions" and service. Red Hat Linux 6.2 was released in April 2000.

Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4
Caldera Systems began life as Novell CEO Ray Noorda's marketing arm for a non-Microsoft version of DOS originally developed at Digital Research, DRDOS. Caldera has made significant inroads in the Linux market. OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4 is high-performance desktop software optimized for the Internet. It also includes powerful Internet-ready applications designed specifically for helping you enjoy and maximize the power of the Internet.

Windows 2000 Professional
Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional is Microsoft's premium desktop operating system. Released in February 2000, Windows 2000 is the successor to Windows NT. Windows 2000 promises cross-compatibility with existing Windows 95/98, while extending the stability and security of Windows NT.

Executive Summary

Based on TEC's weighted scoring, we find Caldera eDesktop 2.4 to have a slight edge in functionality over Microsoft Windows 2000, and a significant edge over Red Hat Linux 6.2. Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional beats Caldera in its application support architecture, security, and usability features, but Caldera's strong showing in all other areas, particularly bundled applications and setup outweighs these advantages. In the following chart, Caldera's baseline scores are compared to its rivals.


[Decision Based on: Product Functionality]

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  Red Hat Linux 6.2
  Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4

 

Discussion of Functional Subcomponents - Part II

This section discusses the functional subcomponents that deal with administration. For a discussion of functional subcomponents that deal with product development see Part I and for the User see Part III.

Communications and Network Support

Few systems exist in a vacuum. This subcriterion evaluates performance and support for the range of methods available for communications with remote systems, for receiving, sharing, and sending data.

Remote Access

Remote access, as we use it here, comprises a set of methods for sharing data across asynchronous, usually serial communications, where a full range of RPC communication is limited by bandwidth and or security/port restrictions. Major aspects of remote access include:

Dialup PPP (Point to Point Protocol) is the principal means for exchanging TCP/IP Internet style net traffic across modems and phone lines.

VPN (Virtual Private Networking) encapsulates a "full" network connection over a narrow, restricted IP channel or "tunnel".

Terminal Services encompass support for remote screen sharing and input control. It is based on Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, derived from the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) T.120 standard and Citrix ICA.

Telnet is a protocol in the TCP/IP suite that governs character-oriented terminal traffic. It supports character terminals, block terminals, and graphics terminals. It is used for remote login on an Internet network.

Telephony refers, generally, to support for phone dialing services and voice call integration.

Of all the desktop operating systems, Microsoft Windows 2000 offers clearly superior remote access.


Network Operating System

Network operating systems comprise a set of programs and services that include remote file and print support, messaging, security and authentication, and directory services. The primary network operating systems are:

  • Windows: All variants of Windows since Windows for Workgroups 3.11 have included some capacity for sharing file and printing resources, based on the legacy Microsoft LAN Manager platform. These services are NetBIOS and NetBEUI-centric. Microsoft has moved heavily towards TCP/IP centrality with its Windows NT Server and Windows 2000 Server products.

  • NetWare: Novell NetWare remains the #1 worldwide network operating system in use around the world.

  • NFS, or Network File System, is a Unix-derived standard for seamlessly mounting remote files and directories as a virtual extension to the local file system.

  • Samba provides Microsoft-style network to non-Windows systems via the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

Again, Microsoft Windows wins kudos for the breadth of its NOS access.

Network Protocol Support

Network protocols provide a common way for exchanging information among similar or dissimilar computing devices. Protocols are part of the infrastructure, seldom considered except by network engineers. Any two devices trying to communicate across a network require the same protocols in use on both ends of the communication, although most modern devices offer multiprotocol support. Major protocols evaluated by TEC include Novell IPX, TCP/IP v4, TCP/IP v6, SNA, X.25, ISDN, OSI, DECNet, Banyan XNS, AppleTalk, and NetBEUI. Microsoft Windows edges out Caldera eDesktop for top scores in network protocol support.

Thin Client Support

Thin clients encompass a range of methods for controlling the remote execution of programs from a simplified user interface. Windows Terminal Services and Citrix ICA both provide methods for remote screen sharing and input control, derived from the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) T.120 standard. Terminal emulations usually provide character-based simulations of traditional mainframe host hardware terminals, such as VT-100 or IBM 3270. XWindows, originally developed for Unix and then ported to Linux, provides a local graphic interface to programs that actually execute on a remote system. Once again, Caldera holds top scores.

OVERALL SCORES
Caldera
Red Hat
Win2000
Weighted Average
69.77
42.50
37.50
Weighted Average Composite Index
0.85
0.81
0.83
Percent Match
59.06%
34.34%
31.25%

Native Workgroup Server

This set of criteria refers to the ability of the desktop OS to also function as a server. Many SOHO or departmental deployments of desktop operating systems find these capabilities almost equally important to application support. For other users, they are completely irrelevant. Accordingly, these criteria can and should be frequently reweighed.

For the purposes of this analysis, Workgroup Server functionality encompasses:

  • NetBIOS File Shares
  • NFS
  • HTTP Server
  • ASP Server
  • JSP Server
  • SMTP Server
  • DNS Server

Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4, once again, is the market leader in workgroup server functionality.

Security

The documents, spreadsheets, databases and other files on personal computers used to conduct business are assets. The OS needs to work in partnership with the hardware to insure that this data is kept secure - regardless of whether the PC is on, communicating with another system, or actively using the data.

Encryption of files and communication is only a first step. An ideal operating system also provides a unified system for authentication and a multiplicity of authorized user roles, administrators, and privileges. Finally, auditing is critical in certain environments, such as finance.

In the end, Windows 2000 provides the best security support, as evidenced by its U.S. Department of Defense B2-C2 classification.

Setup & Migration

In the enterprise, the number of systems involved amplifies the time and difficulty of installing an OS. We have distinguished three broad subcategories.

Installation - Rates factors such as the availability of a GUI and/or text mode installer, and the automation supported by the product.

Migration - In the case of an upgrade, does the OS preserve existing data on disk and users settings? Does an OS upgrade require a reinstall of existing applications? Does the OS permit the existence of alternate operating systems side-by-side?

Requirements - An OS can exact a heavy toll in processor, memory and disk requirements. Sometimes the recommended "minimum" is also well below a realistic level for acceptable systems performance.

We also note, anecdotally, that of all the desktop OS vendors, only Caldera eDesktop installed without a hitch, bug, workaround, or aborted installation. Overall, Caldera eDesktop does tremendously well in any value analysis of price and setup performance, offering the most functions at the best cost:

Price/Performance Analysis - Setup & Migration


Desktop Operating System's [Decisions based on: Setup & Migration] Weighted Average

  Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  Red Hat Linux 6.2
  Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4

Conclusions

The following conclusions are based on the information provided by all three parts of this note. It is repeated with each note. For the details supporting the strengths and weaknesses, see the appropriate part.

Functionality Scores


Desktop Operating Systems [Decision based on: Product Functionality]

  Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  Red Hat Linux 6.2
  Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4

Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4

Caldera wins our analysis of pure, innate operating system functionality, due in no small part to the breadth of bundled applications and support for Novell NetWare.

Strengths:

  • Bundled Applications (see Part III)

  • Communication & Networking (see Part II)

  • Setup & Migration (see Part II)

Weaknesses:

  • Application support Architecture (see Part I)

  • File & Print Services (see Part I)

Caldera also does extremely well in our price/performance analysis (see below). EDesktop already offers the best innate functionality, and this technology lead is magnified when one considers Caldera's role as the price leader. However, we note that Caldera does not perform as well in other selection analysis criteria, (e.g., product technology - how well the OS integrates with third party applications and management systems). Caldera needs to leverage the innate advantages of their OS offering to extend their application support and gain a more advantageous corporate position.

Windows 2000 Professional

Overall, Windows 2000 Professional is a solid offering. It finishes extremely close to Caldera in product functionality.

Strengths:

  • Application Support Architecture (see Part I)

  • File & Print Services (see Part I)

  • Security (see Part II)

  • Usability (see Part III)

Weaknesses:

  • Bundled Applications (see Part III)

  • Setup & Migration (see Part II)

Windows 2000 doesn't do nearly as well once price is factored in. However, TEC has not considered any possible "must-have" product functionality criteria, such as Active Directory support, in which Windows 2000 holds a commanding advantage.

Beyond any discussion of functionality, Windows 2000 tends to do well in traditionally strong areas for Microsoft - third party application support, corporate service, and corporate viability. Microsoft excels at building strong communities around its products, and Windows 2000 Professional is no exception in this regard.

Red Hat Linux 6.2

Red Hat Linux shows the strengths and weaknesses of the Linux distribution model. Red Hat has developed a robust installation, but has relied upon the open source movement and the aftermarket to improve most of Linux's base functionality.

Strengths:

  • File & Print Services (see Part I)

Weaknesses:

  • Bundled Applications (see Part III)

  • Setup & Migration (see Part II)

  • Usability (see Part III)

Overall, however, Red Hat does somewhat better in product technology. As the leading vendor of Linux distributions, most ISV's choose Red Hat, if they choose to develop for a specific distribution. Red Hat also does extremely well in its overall corporate strategy. Red Hat needs to invest in more R&D to improve the base version of the product.

Overall Scores

OVERALL SCORES
Caldera
Win2000
Red Hat
Weighted Average
59.77
56.48
39.39
Weighted Average Composite
0.71
0.68
0.55
Percent Match
42.67%
38.52%
21.86%
 
 
 
 
COST INFORMATION
 
 
 
Base Cost
39.00
219.00
79.95
Other Costs
0.00
0.00
0.00
Total Cost
39.00
219.00
79.95

Price/Performance Functionality

Desktop Operating System's [Decision based on: Product Functionality] Weighted Average.

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  Red Hat Linux 6.2
  Caldera OpenLinux eDesktop 2.4
 
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