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OS bug survey shows Linux, Win NT in dead heat

Vulnerability laurel wreath up for grabs this year

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A statistical survey of operating system vulnerabilities from SecurityFocus shows that the much-maligned Windows-NT is only marginally buggier than the beloved and putatively superior Linux.

Solaris gets very decent marks for security, with six vulnerabilities reported this year to date, compared with 30 for Linux and 34 for Win-NT, but that's to be expected as it's also been in use longer than most, and has been attacked most vigorously over the years.

The numbers for Linux are an aggregate of most distros. Taken individually, Red Hat leads the pack with 17 vulnerabilities reported this year compared with six for Turbo Linux and five for SuSE.

The stats should be interpreted with caution. "The numbers do not distinguish between vulnerabilities discovered in the wild and those found proactively by developers or security researchers... They do not take into accounts the popularity or impact of a vulnerability. A root shell vulnerability is treated the same as a disclosure of sensitive information," the report notes.

Still, we're tempted to wonder how many vulnerabilities might turn up in Linux if it were ever to become as popular as Win NT, or as hated. ®

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