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Comparative Security Matrix

Below we tried to quantify relative level of security based on the criteria discussed above. Of course this methods has its limitations (we assume equal weight of each component of the metric and the scoring is subjective). Still I think that total scores provide some useful insights into the integral security of the OSes involved. Here are total scores for each OS. The total cores are as following:

Red Hat Suse Solaris on Sparc Solaris on Opteron AIX HP-UX Windows
148 137 176 163 159 150 129 (+12)


Below we will reproduce the whole matrix:

Name Red Hat  ES SuSE Solaris on Ultra
Sola-ris on  Opte-ron AIX HP-UX on  PA RISK Win-dows Server 2003 Notes
Accounts and passwords  security 8 8 8 8 8 7 8 Linux provides reasonable level of account security but it does not support RBAC. Some features of RBAC can be emulated via sudo that is preinstalled in both Red Hat and Suse distributions.
Root security 7 7 6 6 6 6 n/a In Linux root by default has in own directory /root that improves the security of this account.
Filesystem security


9 9
Linux provides an extensive set of filesystems mounting attributes and can mount filesystem as read-only and NOSUID. Still virtualization capabilities are very rudimentary and here Linux is far behind leading commercial Unixes (AIX and Solaris).  Linux has only basic filesystem virtualization mechanisms (chroot)
File Permissions 8 7 9 9 9 8 8 Some Linux filesystems like Ext3 support ACLs but quality of support of ACLs in commercial Unixes is higher.   Ext3 supports BSD-style extended attributes.
Integrity checking 8 7 8 8 6 6 7 Linux approximately equal Solaris in integrity checking capabilities and Red Hat ships with Tripwire as an installation option. Still in Linux there is no MD5 database like in Solaris although some features of it can be emulated using RPM database.
Shell and scripting security 7 7 8 8 8 8 8 Neither operating system have advantages in this area but Linux has some additional vulnerabilities due to a large number of shells and scripting languages installed by default.
SSH support 8 8 8 8 6 6 5 Like in Solaris in Linux ssh is supported out of the box (is an installation option)
PAM support 9 9 8 8 6 6 5 Linux looks quite competitive with Solaris and has wider selection of PAMs then Solaris. Both of them definitely surpass AIX and HP-UX.
X11 security 4 4 6 6 6 6 n/a The problems with X security on Linux are mainly due to lesser security of  its desktop managers Gnome and KDE (especially Gnome).
TCP wrapper support 8 8 8 8 6 6 1 Linux has TCP wrapper functionality ion xnetd daemon
NFS 6 6 9 9 8 8 5 Linux NFS support is rudimentary and is not that stable.  Solaris has a much better implementation.
Built-in firewall 8 8 8 8 6 6 8 Linux has a built-in firewall that is enabled by default
Quotas enforcement and accounting data collection 6 6 8 8 8 8 8 Commercial Unixes are still superior in this area.
Logging 6 6 8 8 7 7 7 All Unixes are approximately equal in this area, but Linux has better log postprocessing tools. Solaris has much better kernel based logging mechanisms that help in the debugging.
Patching process quality






8 8 Patching in Linux involves updating the whole packages. Patching process in both Red Hat and Suse is weaker then Solaris patching process and patching support requires maintenance contract.
The number of Exploits and Hacking Attacks Statistics


4 8 7 8 8 4 As for number exploits Linux is less secure then commercial Unixes; it can be rated as equal in insecurity to Windows.
Process security


6 9 9 10 6 8 Solaris 10 has zones, AIX 5.3 partitions available by default.
Kernel security 4 4 9 8 9 7 6 Security of the kernel in Linux is hampered by the number of contributors and complexity of the built process.  Security-wise Linux kernel does not have capabilities of Solaris or AIX kernels.
Network security


4 8 8 7 7 4 Linux network security is bad due to the number of installed network applications.
Package management 8 7 6 6 4 4 6 RPM is an impressive package manager created by Red Hat and Red Hat RPM based packages dominate among all applications in Linux space.

Education and Security Certifications

9 7 8 7 7 6 10 The number of books devote to Red Hat security is considerable and by an order of magnitude surpass the number of Solaris books. Red Hat offers four security-related training courses (approximately the same as Sun for Solaris). We judge that in this area Linux surpasses all other Unixes and trails only Windows.

Hardware Related Security Issues

6 6 8 7 8 8 6 32 bit Intel hardware is the most hacked hardware in existence and is widely available to hackers of any country on the globe. By just switching to 64-bit hardware we can somewhat decrease hardware-related security risks.




Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Created May 1, 2004; Last modified: March 12, 2019