Desktop Linux wins plaudits for stability

CeBIT: Companies who choose open source software over Windows for their enterprise resource planning tend to be surprised by the absence of crashes, according to users and vendors

A company that migrated from Microsoft Windows to Linux on the desktop has praised the open source operating system's stability.

Günter Stoverock, the data processing manager at German import company Heinz Tröber, said on Thursday his firm had decided against running its ERP software on Windows as it considered it less stable than the open source alternative.

"We didn't want to rely on Windows-based systems as they were quite instable and insecure," said Stoverock. "With Linux there is no blue screen and no freezing — that was the advantage for us."

Stoverock took part in a panel of company executives and vendors at the CeBIT trade show which debated whether companies would choose Windows or Linux to run business applications in the future.

Heinz Tröber is running its ERP application on an IBM iSeries server, which is accessed by Linux front-end clients.

Peter Schmitzek, the founder of ERP vendor CSB-System, which offers its products on both Windows and Linux, said that customers who have chosen Linux as a front end tend to be happy with the outcome.

"Customers that are running Linux on the desktop are amazed that it doesn't constantly crash," said Schmitzek.

Stoverock later told ZDNet UK that its employees are much more productive on Linux, as in the past they wasted a lot of time when their systems crashed.

"Out of 65 desktops, around 10 desktops crashed daily," said Stoverock. "Employees wasted around 30 minutes, that's five times 30 minutes per week. That's not acceptable — we had to do something [to solve this]."

Heinz Tröber switched from Windows NT to Linux on the desktop in 2001 and has not had any downtime since, Stoverock claimed. "There are no problems — in the morning you turn the computer on, in the afternoon you turn it off — that's it."

He claimed the main reason for this stability is because the Linux kernel and its windowing system X Windows run independently of the software applications being run by the end user, so if an application crashes, this does not impact the kernel or the windowing application.

The CeBIT panel also included Union Technik, a Microsoft customer, and AP, a company that sells ERP applications for the Microsoft platform. Neither commented on the stability of Windows compared with Linux, but said there were various advantages to Windows.

Jörg Heilingbrunner, the manager director of oil services company Union Technik, said it chose to run Navision, ERP software that was acquired by Microsoft in 2002, as it fulfilled their business requirements. "Eight years ago Navision fit in best with what we wanted and there was no alternative operating system to put it on," said Heilingbrunner. "We would make the same decision today — because we like the application."

For a look at the fun side of CeBIT, check out our CeBIT Digital Living special. Or visit ZDNet UK's CeBIT Toolkit for more enterprise technology stories and pictures from the show floor.