A Struggle Between Windows And Linux Servers Computer Science Essay

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Internet is playing a great role in the modern world. Billions of people need internet in their day to day life to carry out their duties. Web Servers are the back bone of the internet. These Web Servers are installed mainly on Windows and Linux platforms. Both the operating systems are competing aggressively to conquer the Web Server market. There is huge number of Web sites hosted in Linux OS as well as in Windows Platforms. Basically many features of an Operating System are analysed before it is chosen as the OS for hosting a Web Site. With both Windows and Linux OS keep on developing there are some issues that affect the performance of a Web. This report analyses the essential features of an operating system required for a good web performance. Also the research results on issues with reliability, network security, performance of storage hierarchy and security have been analysed on both Windows and Linux platforms. As the battle keep on going there is a question arises in the field of Web, asking who will win the race of Web Server Market.


Web server is a combine of hardware and software which performs the action between server and client. Web server gets the request from the client and responds to the request.

It enables the user to access the contents of what they want to search on internet such as html pages, media files, databases, Active X Controls, flash files and other kinds of files.

How does it work?

A user who is surfing the internet means that they send the HTTP request to the web server. The server which responds to the client through web browsers via TCP/IP protocol, the Web server contains Software, Hardware, Operating System, Site contents (web pages, images, flash files, media files, Active X Controls and other files) and TCP/IP Protocol.


Web Server Fundamentals


Let's consider an example that you are sitting in front of your computer, and type the URL like "http://www.world-edu.com" on the address bar of the browser and magically, no matter where it comes from, it shows the relevant page on the monitor.

Purpose of Web Server

Web Server is the program which have vital role on the internet.

The Web Server machine respond with web pages, media files, images, database, flash files, and other files.

Browsers can access the web contents and related files from anywhere in the world.

Every web page has a unique URL address, the same URL name cannot be duplicated

Every URL has unique IP address behind the scene which is used to indicate the location.

Web Server acts as a central library that enables the user to get web contents easily.

Web Server Market

Before websites can be used by users on the internet it has to be hosted on a web server. Nowadays, different kinds of web servers on different platforms are available within the web hosting market. Every computer needs an operating system to function properly. Several operating systems select from Windows, Linux, Macintosh, UNIX, and Free BSD and so on. Most of the personal computer today uses Windows, Linux, Macintosh and UNIX. Likewise, all different operating systems for different functionalities.

Leading Web Servers

Here we have some important and popular web server listed below:

Apache Web Server:

It is a HTTP server generally known as Apache web server which is developed by Apache Software Foundation. Apache web server is open source software and can be installed and works almost on all operating systems including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, free BSD and more. About 60 percentage of the web server machines runs on the Apache web serverThe free Apache web server

Apache Tomcat :

Apache Tomcat supports JSP and Java Servlet container from Apache Foundation. Though it can serve as a standalone server, it is basically used along with the popular Apache HTTP web server or any other web server. It is free and open. It can run on different operating system like Windows, Linux, MAC OS X, UNIX and free BSD.Apache Tomcat logo

IIS ( Microsoft's Internet Information Services)

IIS is a windows web server which has been implemented by Microsoft. It provides greater levels of performance and integrity than its predecessors. It is also the second popular web server in web server market.iis.jpg

Nginx web serverNginx web server

NGINX is next popular web server contains IMAP/POP3 proxy server about 7.5 percentage of all domains hosting in the world. It is well known for its stability, high performance, low resource usage and simple configuration. This web server doesn't use threads to handle requests rather a much more scalable event-driven architecture which uses small and predictable amounts of memory under load.


Lighttpd, pronounced "lighty". It comes along with free BSD operating system. This open source web server is secure, consumes less CPU power and fast. It also runs on Linux, Windows, MAC OS X and Solaris Operating Systemlighttpd web server logo


Jigsaw developed by World Wide Web Consortium. It has been written in java and can run on CGI scripts and PHP programs. Jigsaw is free and open source and can run on different operating systems like windows, Linux, free BSD, UNIX, MAC OS X etc.W3C web server - Jigsaw


Klone have a web server and an SDK for creating static and dynamic websites developed by KoanLogic Srl. It is a web application development framework particularly for embedded systems and appliances. No other components required for Klone.Klone web server

Abyss Web Server

It is runs on all popular platforms such as Linux, Windows, MAC OS X and free BSD. Abyss Web Server has two versions are Personal Edition (X1) and Professional Edition (X2).Abyss web server from Aprelium

Personal Edition(X1) is absolutely free and the Professional Edition (X2) have to be on subscription. It supports HTTP/1.1, Password shield, CGI or fast CGI, safe connections and much more. The server also contain automatic anti hacking system and a multilingual remote web management interface.

Oracle Web Server

Oracle web tier includes two web server choices with caching solutions and reverse proxy used to trouble-free handling of http traffic and quick serving of web pages. It is high performance server with enhanced security and multithreaded architecture.Oracle Web Tier

X5 (Xitami) Web ServersX5 logo - Xitami from iMatix Corporation

The cross platform X5 developed by iMatrix corporation is the current generation web server using the client's own multithreading technology that makes it scalable to multi cores. It can maintain thousands of connections without difficulty and it is useful for long connection from client's rest of the extended period.

Zeus Web Server

The Zeus Web Server comes from Zeus Technology Ltd., and its provide Speed, Security, Flexibility and Reliability. It's required subscription for use and its cost more than a thousand pounds. Zeus web Server is used on some of the busiest web sites. It can run on free BSD and Linux operating systems.Zeus web server

Current Survey

Web server Survey status for all (famous) Domains

Graph of market share for top servers across all domains, August 1995 - February 2011

Survey of Top Servers for all Domains

Nov 1995 - Feb 2011


January 2011


February 2011

































The graph clearly shows that for the period from Nov 1995 to Feb 2011 that apache has had a significant increase of usage for the Top Servers Across all Domains compared against the 5 top leaders in the Market as highlighted in the table.

In Nov 1995 Apache percentage was at 5% low and the usage of domain throughout the period has risen and maintained at the highest level. The graph outlines that during the period of Nov 2005 the Apache had reached highest level of 70% then had declined to 50% (a change of 20%) during the period of Nov 2007 and had picked up during the period of May 2010 and have maintained to rise since that period.

In 1996 Microsoft started at the bottom at 0%, by May 2002 it had hit its peak of 30% of top servers and then started to decline from Nov 2003 to May 2006, by Nov 2007 it had started to raise to the highest peak of 40% and then after that it has been declining downwards.

NCSA in Nov 1995 was at the peak of 50% of top servers, then started to decline from the period of May 1999 and has been stagnant since then.

Sun for the period of Nov 1995 stated at 5% (as same as Apache) it had hit a peak level of 20% that had been the highest in May 1996,after which it had declined to a 0% level in May 2003 and has been at it low to the period of Feb 2011.

Web Server Survey status for Busiest Websites


Survey of Top Servers for busiest web sites

Sep 2008 - Feb 2011


January 2011


February 2011



























The above graph compares the Busiest Sites of Top Servers used during the period of Sep 2008 to Feb 2011.

In 2008 Apache had a 66% of usage of the web server used by the busiest site compared to the other leading web servers. Apache's performance has been constant throughout the period where in June 2009 it had declined to approx -2%, this had been the lowest period. By Aug 2009 the site had picked up and stayed stagnant for 12 months then for approximately 7 months the usage had declined and had maintained this level through out

Microsoft has declined exceptionally compared to the other web servers. In Sept 2008 Microsoft had a 20% usage by the busiest sites. In Feb 2009 this was stable for 5 months, and has been declining to its lowest of 15% usage.

We can see that other web servers have been stable throughout the period from Sep 2008 to Feb 2011.Nginx is the only web server that has had an upward rise on the performance used by the busiest sites.

Windows Vs Linux (Web server Market)

When we decide to build a web server, we should concentrate on operating system initially that which operating system will suite for web server. There are lot of operating systems available in the market.

Here we have mentioned some of the leading operating systems below:


It is a popular operating system for its friendly environment, easy to install and it provides lot of supports to the users


Linux is leading server operating system widely and it runs on ten fastest super computers in the world. Basically, it provides secure and stable nature, its not have fragmentation issues, Speed and its cheap to install.


This server is very uncommon. It is a UNIX based server operating system from Apple Inc. If we want to host your site on Macintosh server, we will probably have to look into hosting it ourselves.


It is very similar to Linux but its very expensive cost wise and the hardware's are more specific.

Here we are going to discuss about windows and Linux operating systems because of many following reasons for using both. Unix in very similar to Linux as we mentioned above but Unix and Macintosh systems are few and far between.

Accessing the server:

The initial variation that large number of people observes with web hosting operating system is how you access the server. Both operating systems support FTP access to your files. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a way of sending your files from hard disk to your web server.

Another way of access is Telnet or SSH access which only offered by Linux. We can setup Telnet access on windows as well but few number of network administrators offered it. We can directly open a window on the web server using Telnet or SSH and manipulate files also using UNIX command line commands.

Writing your pages:

Basically, HTML pages and Java script can serve by both windows and Linux. Windows servers use file named as *.htm and Linux based servers use the file named as *.html, but there is not bid deal between them.

Windows server frequently uses FrontPage extension but Linux server offers this service as well.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface):

It is a standard that defines how web servers can envoys the generation of web pages to next based applications. It is also known as CGI scripts. It can be written in any programming language, although scripting language is often used. Its file name extension is *.cgi.

CGI and PERL access are frequently occur on both windows and Linux operating systems, but it is more standard on Linux. You should make sure that hosting service provides CGI if you want to program on forms.

Other Server-side Scripts:

We won't stick with just CGI and PERL if we want to process forms. There are many other scripts available widely like PHP, ColdFusion and ASP. This script gives us a lot of flexibility. PHP mostly occurred on Linux systems while ASP is frequently occurred on windows. ColdFusion can be occurred on both windows and Linux.


If we need to make dynamic website then we will need a database. Two popular databases are MySQL and ACCESS. MySQL can run on both windows and Linux but is more frequently appeared on Linux servers. ACCESS is offered by windows only.


Nowadays security is very significant to web hosting server. Most will argue that windows servers have more vulnerabilities than Linux servers. But the truth is both operating systems have vulnerabilities.

Security is more important at the web hosting services administration level than it is at the operating system level. Server will be more secure when we have good administrators regardless of operating system.

Essential features of a Web Server operating system

Operating Systems servers are made in easy environment for complex deals, application of networks and for various clients. The main point of the operating systems lies in the features security, stable, assistance and standard in spite of user line. The Operating System Server for several user applications arrives in a package with a delivery of general server applications such as web servers, email - negotiations and terminal services.

Some of the common Web server Operating System applications are as follows:

Application Services with database

It provides facility to run the preferred vital applications as required. The server operating system also executes essential database storage and shared location for mutual applications. For an example, fit for fast access on same group.

Printer and File Sharing

Web Server Operating System should enable in such a way that multiple users should be able to use a single printer. For an example, Windows Operating System has features of print and file sharing. File sharing should have wide spread storage for work group's file like a network drive.


The internet browsing files are stored in a cache memory when user surfs the internet initially. If the user wants to browse the same page next time, it should not be downloaded again during the process. Caching server engage Acceleration Server, Microsoft Internet Security, Traffic Server, Border Manager, Inktomi and Squid.

Website Services:

Generally Several Operating System Servers provide html page and Java Scripts. Front Page extension is mainly used by windows but the same service is altered by Linux as well. As per our survey Apache is world's most popular server developed by Apache Foundation. It can run on various platforms. Windows Platform provides Internet Information Server.

Terminal Services:

Allow the users to run efficient applications on a server which recognize the visual result of the application on the screen. For example, basically users' terminal should run MS word on the server from the desktop. Web Server should do all the user process and the vivid changes are transmitted to the terminal. If the user clicks on any hyperlink in the page, it is sent to the server as a request.

This model allows the work groups to share clients that do not have sufficient power of processing and maintain on the file storage on the server in spite of local hard disks. A Web Server needs sufficient memory and a speed processor is essential to run productivity applications for the whole organization. We can use the Citrix Meta Frame, Windows Terminal Server or X windows on almost all the present Web Server Operating Systems which is utilized by UNIX and Novel.

Email, Groupware and Messaging

Email server is the server that enables the users to send and receive emails to and from the organization. It also maintains a separate mail accounts based on a domain. Groupware application such as Microsoft Exchange, Novel GroupWise offer emails, Lotus Notes and Classy Cooperation. The above applications also have database, calendars, Group forums, white board sharing, document version management, mail merger and instant messaging. Send mail from well known open source mail systems.

Some other features of Web Server Operating System

We need a server operating system which handles two or more processes at a time for few users.

Organization need an enormous processing power server is compulsory for large amount of users. So the system should have the enough power to survive the multiple access and mass storage as well.

The server system should have the ability to expand the system facilities in future

Monitoring service is required for server operating system because of system indicates when updates available and any other servers added.

Updated applications like virus update definition, operating system update batches and etc required for good web server.

Security is the most important features of web server operating system for file sharing, Database, Applications and other kind of process.

A good server operating system mainly has the administration network to maintain and provide the tools.

It must provide the fast access hardware platform so that multiple users can access the printer service, file sharing and other services as well.

The system must have to provide HTTP server, excellent processor and huge reliability for fine performance.

Issues on the OS of a Web Server


In general web servers are accessible by public through the internet. So despite the software we use web servers are easily vulnerable. This will enable the users outside of the organization to access the computer which hosts the web server software. Particularly because of this issue, it is most important to protect the public web servers. Also these web servers should be isolated from the other systems in the internal network.

It can be done in such a way like placing them in a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) or else in a perimeter network. Also in order to protect the DMZ from the internet and to protect internal LAN from the DMZ, both front end and back end firewalls should be used.

Front Page Server Extensions (FPSE) will run on both Linux and Windows and Web Servers. However, the security issues related to FPSE differ depending on the Operating System and Web Server software.

Web Server Administrators should make sure that only the authorized users are able to modify the web content. Some web components such as Java Applets and scripts could produce security risks. Another major security risk is, web users connecting to a database to access information.

Protecting the Websites of FPSE

Many steps can be taken to protect front page websites. By configuring permissions, access to websites created with Front Page can be restricted.

Access to a site can be described in three levels:

End Users



For each of the above level users, individual permissions can be set for different web sites. Also in addition to that different permissions for sub sites within a site can be set.

By providing password for Web Pages, accessing them by unauthorized users can be restricted. If a web site is hosted on a Linux Server, by using the Registration Form Handler, can create registration forms and can configure user permissions. However in Windows Platform, Registration Web pages are not supported by IIS.

By configuring the options available in the Database Interface and Results wizards of Front Page 2003, can reduce the risks that occurs while users connect to a database through the Web server. Default settings are used for better security. For example, when a database error occurs, the error information will not be shown to users, because the intruders can gain useful information based on the error.

In addition to that a special account can be set up to be used which access the web page and connect to the database. Also the built in macros should be disabled. To increase the security, HTML content should not be displayed in database columns.


Internet surfers always expect the web pages which ever they browse often, to be up and running all the time. That is one of the main goals which a web server should fulfill. Reliability of a web server should be maintained almost 100%. It will be annoying for an Internet Service Provider if a Web Site fails for few minutes or even for few hours.

Now a days commonly many of the web administrators prefer to host their web sites on Linux OS than the Windows OS. The main reason made people to rely on Linux is the stability of the Linux system. Comparing to Windows, Linux OS crashes less often. Also when Linux crashes in many cases it is easy to recover and restore than the Windows platforms.

In Yankee Group's 2007-2008 Global Server Operating Reliability Survey, it was revealed that the per annum down time of RHEL and SuSE Linux servers decreased hugely and Windows 2003 server's downtime increased by a big margin.


Web Applications should have a dedicated server. When other applications are installed in the Web Server, it will make a big impact on Web Server's performance. However comparing both Linux and Windows platforms for Web Servers, Linux is reported as performing faster than the Windows Server. The main reason for this case is, Windows Server gives its applications and services as all in one package at a time. But Linux doesn't include all the packages initially but it provides the option of extending the application packages later. However with the upgraded versions of Windows Servers from 2000 to 2008, predictability and scalability is getting better. Load balancing technique is used to distribute load on server to increase performance and speed of work designated to particular server. It is being used on both the Linux and Windows Servers. In the latest release of Linux OS its interoperability has been enhanced. As a result integration of Linux into Microsoft Windows Active Directory environments has been simplified.

Who will win the Titanic Battle in Web Server Arena? Linux or Windows?

From the day the World Wide Web created a revolution in the technology, both the Windows and Linux platforms keep on battling to conquer the Web Server Market. The question Will Linux beat Windows? Or vice versa cannot be answered with a yes or no. Both the platforms have established themselves strongly in the market and both are backed up by gigantic companies in the field of information technology. Both the servers have their advantages and disadvantages. For example we can say Windows OS is more compatible with many applications and a lot of programs can be installed easily and used where when it comes to Linux it has compatibility issues with much more applications. It can be checked only in such a way running those applications in Linux and observing the issues.

When comparing the cost, the Windows OS would cost much more than the Linux OS. However, when it comes hosting Web Sites, sometimes hosting in Linux environment can be much expensive than in the Windows environment.

Although Windows Server users like the graphical interface which is easy to use, they worry about Service Packs. Patches installations would increase the down time. In general, it is believed that the windows severs are more vulnerable to virus attacks than Linux. Because the main reason considered is, the large number of client users is using Windows OS. Users believe the stability of Linux is much higher than the Linux Server.



FTP Access



Telnet/SSH Access



HTML & Java Script



Front Page Extensions












Cold Fusion



mySQL Database



Although the contents of the Website make an impact in choosing an OS for a Web server, the performance, reliability and security issues too make significant contributions in the decision.

Considering all these attributes, it is safe to predict that for the next five years the Linux will hold an upper hand in Web Server Market against the Windows, who too will never give up easily.