Im very curious to this..

StackOverflow seems to have a much larger Unix aware user base

At times im very excited to see lots of Unix questions about cool stuff..
However it is often that there is many windows questions..

The question goes out to anyone that is an avid "answerer" to questions

What is your preferred platform/What do platform do you work with.. ????

  • You might want to consider making this community wiki. Nov 12, 2010 at 17:30
  • Wrong place to ask. Try meta.serverfault.com .
    – Juliano
    Nov 12, 2010 at 17:31
  • Will an admin move this for me.. please :D
    – Arenstar
    Nov 12, 2010 at 17:33
  • @Arenstar - it'll be moved shortly.
    – EEAA
    Nov 12, 2010 at 17:41
  • 2
    This should have stayed on SF. sigh Nov 13, 2010 at 12:21
  • 1
    @Garry, this is a question about SO/SF Users, it's belongs on Meta.
    – Chris S
    Nov 15, 2010 at 3:27

7 Answers 7


I've been doing this for a little while. I've administered mainframes, minicomputers, x86 based servers, heaven knows what else. I've administered systems using MVS, OS/400, VMS, more versions of Unix than I care to count and every version/variation of Windows NT Server going.

These days I probably have a preference for Windows Server and/or on the Unix side of things either Mac OSX server or BSD in terms of what I find easiest to work with, but my preference as a professional trying to do a good job is for getting the job done in the best way possible and that means being prepared to work with whatever platforms you have to.

I'm very wary of people who say "X is best" or "W is better than Y" as a unilateral statement, because one size really does not fit all.

  • 3
    I agree with you completely... Im not saying either is better.. i just know what i prefer and what i enjoy.. Point being i wont be answering many questions on Windows specifics, but im constantly having people answer my questions who are clearly Windows admins.. Just seems like a lot more windows is going on here.. :P Its all little back to front :P
    – Arenstar
    Nov 12, 2010 at 18:13
  • I agree Arenstar, my comments were directed at the mindset of "X is best" kind answers, we've had one of those already. For me, I think that having a mix of skills makes you better at your "preferred" one and I'm sure everyone else here would agree with that. I learnt a lot about Windows networking by trying to integrate mac osx clients using samba into the network that I never would have learned about if I'd only ever touched Windows, for example. As for people giving "Windows answers" to *nix questions, are you specifying Unix in your questions?
    – Rob Moir
    Nov 12, 2010 at 18:49
  • Interesting point on my point about having a mix of skills - first time I got myself a mac one of the apps froze hard during my first day's use. I didn't know then how to 'force quit' an application the Apple way, so I ended up opening terminal to do find the app's pid and do a kill -9 on it. Something I always remember when people tell me that macs never crash or that it's totally intuitive to use one from the first second you pick it up! I probably use OSX a lot at home because it feels less like 'work' where we have a mix, yes, but its mostly Windows server.
    – Rob Moir
    Nov 12, 2010 at 18:55

Looking at tag counts, [linux] tagged questions outnumber [windows] tagged questions just shy of 2:1. As for our answerers, looking at who of our top-10 have earned which tag-badges:

Windows: 5/10, +1 silver
Linux: 7/10, +4 silver

So this does show a noticeable preference for non-Windows here on SF. In my experience this is not unusual for sysadmin communities. It is notable that of our top-10, there are several of us who have tag badges in both Windows and Linux, which shows the sort of cross-platform familiarity you have to have to be in this field for any length of time.

Personally, I started as a NetWare admin, and got into Windows when our Windows guy left. That guy was a self proclaimed Solaris bigot who got informed by management that he was getting to manage some new WinNT boxen, which he did for about 9 months before getting fed up and going to work elsewhere. I was not displeased.

I leveraged this dual-stack to get my current job. Now that NetWare is a dead platform (even Novell says so these days!) I've been trying to lever Linux onto my resume to keep that 'bilingual' feature. Unfortunately for me, what I know about Linux is not web serving, high-availability or otherwise, which is where most of the 'Linux' skill-set seems to live (at least judging by SF questions).

At work these days I'm 95% Windows, 5% Linux. At home I'm all Linux, with an occasional pinch of Mac and a dash of Windows.

  • 2
    Nice to see the numbers for the question divide...
    – Rob Moir
    Nov 12, 2010 at 21:38

My prefered platform is what i call the "CTFTJP" ... Correct Tool For The Job Platform


At the low end of the spectrum you'll find people who are really dedicated to one platform or another. At the higher levels you'll find that they know multiple platforms, have a personal preference for one, and have a business preference for one (commonly different from the personal).

Where I work currently we're 100% Windows now. We used to have Novell too. At home I'm split 50% Windows, 50% FreeBSD (which I used at a previous job, and my OS of preference without external considerations). In the distant past I used Linux, but little of that knowledge is still relevant.

Anyone who say "XYZ is the best" is a moron. Each platform has areas where it's stronger and weaker, and there are usually multiple platforms that can fulfill a given need (personal or business).

  • ...says the guy with a very BSD-ish avatar... :-D
    – gWaldo
    Nov 15, 2010 at 14:11
  • @gWaldo, I never claimed to be unbiased; just not unreasonable ;-)
    – Chris S
    Nov 15, 2010 at 14:21
  • ha! Well played, sir.
    – gWaldo
    Nov 19, 2010 at 14:53

My preferred platform is Debian, actually.

To say "Linux" is a trap, because Linux is a kernel used by many different operating systems, not an operating system in and of itself. There is a huge gulf between Debian Linux and Gentoo Linux, for example, and the management of either of these systems and the tools they use to get the job done are very different.

However, to ask whether most Serverfault users are windows or *nix admins, is a tough question to answer accurately without a checkbox in our user profiles. :) This might be a useful feature for fun, but it also has the potential for being wildly inaccurate due to the fact that most of us don't like having demographic information collected on us - it's usually just used for annoying marketing anyway.

  • Agreed, I cringe every time I have to do something on one of our ancient Slackware boxes (90% of our servers are Ubuntu).
    – Andrew
    Nov 22, 2010 at 6:42

I have to work with the complete spectrum (UNIX to linux to windows server). However when it comes down to it everything is virtualized no matter where you go. I think the most common environment I work with is windows, but that's just because developers write their apps on windows and then need a windows machine to host with. However I'm sure most of those apps could have been developed on linux/UNIX with equal effectiveness.

When I want to build a new server to run an arbitrary app, I like to start with Centos, but if that can't meet the requirements I would move to another system.

I think most of the services (DNS, File servers, web servers, proxy servers) are provided through linux. Some of the file servers that need to be fail - safe are provided on UNIX systems - but I'd say the majority is linux based.


Linux is best, even though I like Unix too specially solaris.

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