I've just started at a college and my main responsibility is to run the project for transisting to Moodle from Blackboard by next September.
I've spent 3 weeks getting my head round a SuSE LAMP system and am now fairly comfortable with Linux, although I was considering a switch to Fedora Core. 2 others in my team have some knowledge of Linux/Unix too. But today the powers that be have told me we are going to use Windows because of the lack of Linux knowledge.
My question is: Is there any good reason to stick with Linux over a WAMP setup?
I've found the mimetex and aspell issues, but I don't think that will be enough, and performance never matters until it's live and people complain, at which point it's too late. So any others?
yes i'd agree... debate like this is dangerous stuff.
At my organisation we're in the middle of a migration TO linux from Win2003... and are finding that even on our development servers (much lower spec than production boxes) we're seeing SIGNIFICANTLY greater performance (yes - even under load)... as well as:
- ease of rollout of php accelerator tools
- really easy installation of spell checking, mathematics filters, etc...
Despite this, for ease of administration outside of Moodle etc we're 100% Windows (Active Directory, ISA Server, etc)...
For mine it's a matter of courses for horses...
system performance- linux is apparently faster and less resource heavy
my personal favourite- win XP and moodle runs like hot knife in butterfield
On the other hand, most of the experienced Moodle admins in the forums use some sort of Linux, so it's easier to get help for that platform.
But at the end of the day it's you who has to do the troubleshooting, so choose what you feel confortable with.
And you can even use the money you save on new hardware.
There's also the whole political issue of freedom, which is important in itself, but at a practical level means the ability to tune/hack a system exactly how you want it in a way that can't be done with proprietary software.
If you happy with linux, stick to it. I think I would refuse (or simply stop) supporting our school's moodle server if someone told me to move it to a Windows OS. I used to run large heterogenous networks and the amount of extra work keeping a Windows machine happy and well fed is only worth it if someone is paying you big money to do it. The end users don't really care what OS the servers are using, as long they get what they want. Security is another point. Keeping your moodle on a separate OS and machine will increase the diversity of your network. Yes, it means you have to do a little extra work, but when the next big virus/hack hits your widows/linux boxes, hopefully only one type will go down. Presently you can run enterprise level backup, print serving, content filtering, messaging, telephony, databases, etc., all with Open Source and save a huge amount in license fees. And the security tools (snort, nessus, ethereal to name just a few) provide protection for all systems on your 'net. And unlike a Windows box, you can run more than one or two services on one box. My crappy laptop was running 2 moodle servers, MySQL, Postgres, SchoolTool, SchoolBell as well as security scanners and 2 versions of Ubuntu while I was testing out stuff.
You said you have some other members of your team who are able to do linux. Great! Convert more if possible. There are some things that simply have to run on Windows, but Linux is becoming more and more useful, so I would try the professional development angle as well. Many of the students I show a linux server (or laptop) to are impressed and want to learn more. Having linux admin skills as well as Windows would be a wonderful addition to any CV.
And I have had experience with Red Hat, Fedora and SUSE, as well as a number of other *inux systems. For easy of use (I am an exceeding lazy sysadmim) I've settled on Ubuntu, as the installs and package manager software are just click and play. Took me all of an hour or two to set up our moodle server from bare metal.
Thanks for the responses everyone. A number of points to make:
I AM a programmer. Have been for about 8 years. This is the first server admin role I've ever taken
It wasn't my choice to ditch Linux. I was really impressed with it
I haven't zapped the Linux box YET. I wonder if someone will provide good reason to take to the powers that be that would mean we have to stay with Linux
Linux Pros: (in addition to the above)
can not even compare to Windows, I have Linux boxes that have not been rebooted in 1-2 years
Server loads are an issue in any setup, with the Linux box, I would venture to say that you get a 50% headstart on this problem
Count number of services running, less stuff to act up by a long margin
Another aspect is that you can intergrate with ActiveDirectory. I have not done this personally but have another system admin that I know well and his experience was actually pretty good (after the initial learning curve of course)
You will need to learn some Linux basics. A course in Unix and another in Linux will certainly get you off to a good start. If you are addicted to GUI's, you are going to have a problem as Linux is very command line oriented (at least as a server)
At our site I was able to find only answers for the reverse:
- Moodle has optimisations (e.g. using du, zip, etc commands) and features (e.g. antivirus) that run under Linux (and Cygwin will not perform as well).
- We needed to run Moodle on a scalable, reliable cluster, and only Linux was able to provide all the components to do this effectively.
- We use symlinks on Linux to map the moodledata directory onto portions of our network shares, which Windows wouldn't do in the way we wanted (NTFS reparse points only work on local drives).
I've never been a programmer, just someone who "fixes" things. I've had about 15 years experience as a sysadmin/IT manager, and have done SANS courses, management courses etc. My advice is if they want you to look after the moodle server, you are the one to make the decsion on how it is to be run. At my present position, they wanted a moodle server, so I said "Sure, not a problem" and they left me alone to do my thing. It is the only linux box at the school and no one has had any issues with it.
This almost makes me want to dust off my "consultant" suit and hit your management with all the "anti-FUD" on what it takes to run an IT based service. I have saved institutions (and some private companies) lots of and provided hardware/software combinations that usually exceeded their expectations and requirements. The end users (and your employers) just want stuff to work. Windows will do it, but I'm sure it will mean more work for you and less bang for the buck for your bosses. Use a *inux based solution and in the long term, you'll be happier and your bosses and users will be happier. A win-win situation.
Just my 2 cents worth (I can increase the charge out rate if you like )
All the best with whatever happens
Thanks for all the replies everyone. I understand and agree with everything that's been said, but sadly I don't see any "management-level reasons" I'll be able to use to stick with Linux.
Looks like it's Windows time. I'll format it FAT32 though, so it's possible to change later
We have an MSDN subscription so get it all at knock down prices. The savings in hardware won't be seen until it's too late, and unless it can be seen, it doesn't exist. And sadly, security isn't a number one priority either.
Sadly, I think I'm going to have to resort to plan B. Saying "Told You So" once it's up and everyone can see!
Must love Windows. Must love Windows. Must love...
Add to all of that the time you'll spent on supporting the architecture and the money you'll pay to Microsoft for assistance (the 2 free calls/year that come with MSDN won't be enough).
I think if you can come up with real numbers you have good chances to win.
PS.We are in a similar situation but on a different battlefield - Groupware solution - having Moodle on LAMP helped us tremendously in getting 2 Open Source solution on the evaluation plate.
As far as I'm aware we still pay for the packages we use, but at a knowckdown price (£20K for everything annualy I think, compared to £28K for Blackboard alone!), and as an educational facility, or perhaps because it's an educational license, we get to install it where we want, even at home.
I don't think this is a battle I can win. I think the best I can do is load the server as dual boot and when they complain about speed I'll disappear into the server room, and when they ask how I made it better I'll tell them I booted it on Linux
That's crazy ... Linux $0 or £0, Moodle $0 or £0 (although a $50 or £30 would make the developers smile).
Tell them to give you the £20K as a part of your salary!