Ahhh, November. The election will soon be behind us after many months of contentious campaigning. But politics isn't the only area where passions flare. The verbal battles between Democrats and Republicans remind me of the reader comments we've received whenever we've run articles about Linux versus Windows:

"Microsoft should switch to the vacuum-cleaner business where people actually want products that suck."

"This article about Linux is bogus. But how can one expect fair treatment of Linux in a Windows-centric magazine?"

"Your comments are bogus, bud, but what can you expect from a Linux-head?"

Fortunately, times, technologies, and attitudes change. Although Linux loyalists and Windows fans are still passionate, Linux and Windows coexist in many IT environments. Our reader survey tells us that 94% of our subscribers work in multiplatform environments, and 31% run Linux as well as Windows. We're also hearing that readers are hungry for practical, easy-to-apply information to help them handle their expanding job responsibilities that often include managing Linux systems.

Linux Help Is on the Way
Our cover story, "A Linux Primer for Windows Administrators" (page 40), provides the essential information you need to administer Linux in a Windows environment. Contributing editor Dustin Puryear, a Windows−UNIX integration and management consultant and author of Integrate Linux Solutions into Your Windows Network (Premier Press), jump-starts your Linux learning with clear explanations and down-to-earth examples pertaining to Linux user administration, file systems, networking, and software management.

In the accompanying IT Pro Hero sidebar, "IT Saves the Data Center with VMs" (page 41), editor Anne Grubb reports how InfoShare, the IT organization for healthcare provider AtlantiCare, solved the company's "server sprawl" problem. They consolidated applications running under Linux and several versions of Windows on 160 servers onto multiple virtual machines (VMs) that reside on 2 physical servers running Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. It's a compelling story.

Interact!
If you have experiences to share about managing a mixed environment or using VM technology, you'll want to check out several special events this month. (To access these events, go to http://www.windowsitpro.com, enter 44104 in the InstantDoc ID text box, and click the appropriate links in the Interact! box.)

Starting October 26, 2004, visit the Interoperability Zone—a forum led by Dustin Puryear—to explore the challenges of running Windows systems alongside other platforms. I also invite you to participate in our Instant Poll on Linux usage at your company.

Throughout November, we're hosting a Virtualization Technology blog. See what your peers—and Microsoft—have to say about VM technology, and add your comments. We're also holding our first Virtualization Hero Contest to highlight how you've used VM technology to benefit your company. Through November 24, 2004, submit your stories (200 words or less) via the Interact! link described above. If you win, you'll receive a copy of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and your solution will be featured in a 2005 Windows IT Pro Solutions Plus article. Finally, if you want to test drive Virtual Server 2005, access Microsoft's online demo via the Interact! link. Don't miss these great opportunities!

Karen Forster's Hey Microsoft! column, "The Group Policy Product Team Hears Customers" (page 13), also includes Interact! resources and activities. In addition to finding the complete results of Karen's survey and an audio interview with members of Microsoft's Group Policy team, you can chat about Group Policy with ScriptLogic experts at noon EST on November 17, 2004. (To access these Interact! offerings, go to http://www.windowsitpro.com, enter 44096 in the InstantDoc ID text box, and click the links in the Interact! box.)

IT Prolympics—What Is That?
Throughout this issue you'll see references to the IT Prolympics—a fun way to test your skills against those of your fellow IT pros. Here's how: Sign up (go to http://www.windowsitpro.com/itprolympics), take a quiz, and complete a virtual-lab exercise that takes you through an Active Directory deployment and requires you to fix an assortment of problems along the way. We'll select three winners based on combined scores. The gold medalist will win an expense-paid trip to TechEd 2005. We'll feature all the winners in the January issue of Windows IT Pro. Sound like fun? Let me know! Email me at janet@windowsitpro.com.