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DistributionWatch Review: Red Hat Linux 6.1 - page 10

Red Hat Linux: A Mainstream Linux

  • December 6, 1999
  • By Kevin Reichard

Red Hat Linux has the highest visibility of any Linux distribution, as Red Hat Software has done the most to position Linux as a mainstream product. While we're not so sure that Red Hat Linux is as popular as Red Hat Software propaganda would have us believe, the fact is that a good proportion of new Linux users will first encounter Linux through Red Hat Linux.

But that promotion as a mainstream operating system is a double-edged sword; by raising expectations, Red Hat Software invited comparisons to other older, more consumer-oriented operating systems, like Windows and the MacOS. On that basis, Red Hat Linux 6.1 is clearly a more evolutionary than revolutionary product. When it comes to features that are essentially under the hood--like reliability, memory management, network productivity, Web serving--it is far superior to Windows 95/98/NT and MacOS, all of which are unfortunately prone to system crashes and conflicts between programs. For this reason, anyone choosing a PC-based server platform should look first to Linux and then to Red Hat Linux. There's simply no comparison.

Both Windows 95/98/NT and MacOS, however, feature more advanced and intuitive graphical interfaces; even though the Linux community (particularly the dedicated KDE and GNOME developers) has managed to close a lot of ground between these older operating systems and Linux, there's still a gap. In addition, there's still an applications gap between the Windows world and Linux, although that gap is lessening daily as more and more developers embrace the open-source model.

If you're in a situation where a Linux application performs as well as a Windows-based application--which is certainly the case with GIMP and StarOffice--then we have no hesitation in recommending Red Hat Linux over Windows as a workstation platform. Red Hat Software has done a tremendous job in improving the end-user tools in Red Hat Linux, and so when combined with the underlying reliability of the Linux operating system there's no reason why an end user should assume any longer that Windows or the Macintosh is the superior operating system.

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