Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/06/16/ms_hit_team_head_takes/

MS ‘hit team’ head takes on geeks in Linux-NT challenge

And from the sound of it, things could get pretty messy in there...

By John Lettice

Posted in Business, 16th June 1999 16:22 GMT

They're off again - and this time it's personal. The latest round of the Linux versus NT grudge benchmarks kicked off at PC Week Labs in Foster City, California at the beginning of this week, and the results should be out in around a week's time. A couple of press were apparently invited to the opening skirmishes on Monday morning, but as they forgot us again we're beholden to the excellent Salon magazine for its colourful report. The adversaries consisted of the marketing team for Microsoft, appropriately enough, led by Jim Ewel, who is leading the Microsoft Linux destabilisation effort and whose fingerprints are all over the original and subsequent MS Linux benchmarking efforts. Microsoft even had a minder from its scariest and longest-serving PR company, Waggener-Edstrom. Linux fielded two engineers from Red Hat and one from Penguin Computing, and this is probably significant. One of the major Linux beefs with Microsoft benchmarking has been that the tests have been on rather more powerful systems than Linux is yet comfortable with, and that Microsoft's 'NT beats Linux' headlines have been based on tests where the hardware has been specifically of a category where NT is going to beat Linux. Well, Linux hardware vendor Penguin ships 4-way Xeon Linux machines and demoed an 8-way at Spring Internet World two months ago, so it knows a few things about this part of the market. From Salon's report it would seem that the preliminaries were entertaining. Mark Willey, Penguin's representative geek, derided the original benchmark, which was run by Mindcraft and commissioned by Microsoft, as "bench-marketing." He also (this guy sounds fun) persistently mimed finger quote marks every time the term "independent test lab" was used to describe Mindcraft, and provoked Mindcraft president Bruce Weiner into complaining: "You are challenging my integrity." (See below for further challenges) Good stuff, but unfortunately they seem to have kicked the press out before things really warmed up. Salon seems to have a reasonable take on what the outcome is likely to be (unless of course Weiner screws the ZD test's integrity by running Willey through with a RAID controller). Microsoft is likely to win, because of Linux's current weaknesses in the part of the computing spectrum the tests will largely cover. But the Linux community has already begun reacting to weaknesses identified in the earlier Mindcraft test, and in the somewhat more credible ZD tests that followed it. And that Penguin presence is fascinating. Give a geek from a Linux SMP hardware outfit a week's immersion course in ZD labs and you'll probably create the conditions for a serious counter-attack. ® Linux Challenge Bedtime Reading List: Tests cited by MS prove flaws in Linux study Can Linux avoid MS' trap? MS challenge to Linux Linux camp slashes out at 'NT beats Linux' study