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unix users

UNIX or UNIX like operating system offers many flavors. Most Microsoft users are stuck with Windows NT / 2003 only. However, UNIX users can select a variety of UNIX like oses:
+ HP-UX
+ Linux ( Red Hat / Debian / Suse and other distros)
+ Solaris / OpenSolaris
+ AIX
+ BSD (FreeBSD / OpenBSD / NetBSD) etc

Few years back I used work at largest ISP in India and our team used to mange an average 8 operating systems to support our enterprise grade customers. It was headache for me as I had to document, patch and monitor each operating system. These days I recommend selecting one operating system, which may result into saving time and money. But, how do you select perfect UNIX operating system for your business? You should always consider following factors while selecting UNIX like oses:

Ease of use - Must be easy to use.

Reliability & Stability - OS must be stable to run your business and should work under heavy loads.

Budget - No one has unlimited budget or luxury to select fancy stuff. Evaluate pricing based upon your own IT budget.

Hardware / driver support - Does UNIX hardware vendor offer good support?

Application support - Does it run Oracle or ERP software? Make sure all software compatible with os.

Vendor support - Does UNIX vendor offer good support? Does that includes phone support or email support or onsite support?

Security features - Look for security features and past security track record

Addon features - Look for bundled features such as backup utility or special software. Can you modify kernel? Can filesystem hold millions of tiny files and so on.

Expertise - How much experience and expertise you have on staff to manage OS.

Scalability - Will OS scale with your business? How does OS scale when the business grows? Watch out for clustering and HA support.

OS market share - Find out if OS dominates market. A massive user base means good support and lots of skilled workers.

Community support - The best support can come from newsgroup, forums or mailing list.

Patch management - Are patches available immediately? Find out more about security disclosure policy.

Staff training and certification support.

If in doubt, ask other people or admins - Talk to your users and find their requirements. Ask to other admins or people about the requirements rather than vendor. People using UNIX oses for a long time have practical knowledge of many things and they may able to provide guideline.

Recently I started to play with scapy - a powerful interactive packet manipulation and custom packet generation program written using Python. Please note that this tool is not for a new Linux / UNIX users. This tool requires extensive knowledge of network protocols, packets, layers and other hardcore networking concepts. This tool is extermly useful for
a] Understanding network headers
b] Testing network security
c] Write your own utilities using scapy
d] Decoding protocols etc

From the man page:

You can use this tool to check the security of your own network as it allows to forge or decode packets of a wide number of protocols, send them on the wire, capture them, match requests and replies, and much more. It can easily handle most classical tasks like scanning, tracerouting, probing, unit tests, attacks or network discovery. It also performs very well at a lot of other specific tasks that most other tools can't handle, like sending invalid frames, injecting your own 802.11 frames, combining technics such as VLAN hopping+ARP cache poisoning, VOIP decoding on WEP encrypted channel, etc.

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IBM developerWorks published new article for Intermediate Linux/UNIX users. Explore the vast terrain of the UNIX file system with the find command. One of the most powerful and useful commands in the UNIX programmer's repertoire is find. All flavors of UNIX have file systems that can contain thousands of files of many different types. With so many choices, locating a specific file, or set of files, can be difficult. The find command makes this task easier in many ways.

Read the article online.