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Linux Usage in the UK 280

Posted by michael
from the penguins-in-peterborough dept.
pdajames writes "Techies don't seem to understand that businesses want to have a support contract with their usual supplier before they will buy Linux, even though the likelihood is that they may never need support. A survey in the UK showed that support concerns were the No. 1 factor keeping companies from investing in open source software."
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Linux Usage in the UK

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  • by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:14PM (#6321486) Homepage Journal
    Man:
    Evening, squire!
    Man with hat:
    Good evening.
    Man:
    Is your...does your sysadmin support Linux?
    Man with hat:
    I-I...I beg your pardon?
    Man:
    Your...your sysadmin. Does he support Linux, eh? Does he support Linux, eh? Eh?
    Man with hat:
    Huh, sometimes he has to support Linux, yes.
    Man:
    I bet he does! I bet he does! Say no more! Say no more! Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge!
    • Shouldn't that by "Wink, wink; nudge, nudge"?
    • I'm not sure why this is funny. I mean, I know it's from the "Is your wife sporty?" Monty Python sketch. But what has this got to do with UK uptake of Linux?

      OK, I get it, Monty Python is the only recognisable UK comedy in the world. Right.

      I know you yanks like the Python; I'm a fan myself. But there are many other British comedy talents, in general far superior to what I've seen coming from the states (of course, we brits do have the worlds most refined sense of humour).

      Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) and
      • Dont' like Eddie Izzard myself. Too mod. But I do like Peter Cook and oh what's his name... hrmmmm... the guy with the curly hair on Jonathan Creek. Oh well. Not all of us yanks are that limited.
  • by arcanumas (646807) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:17PM (#6321505) Homepage
    Support? Who needs support when you have the LDP! :)
  • No issues here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) * <richardprice.gmail@com> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:17PM (#6321509)
    I can never see the problem, at my place the only support contract we have is for the AIX server. We have a liberal number of OpenBSD and linux boxes around the business, all running semi critical and critical systems, and we have no support contracts. All of it is handled inhouse by moi, we have redundant backup systems, and a good backup procedure. Any issues i get that i cant resolve, i can usually find a good answer from mailing lists, google or IRC. Seriously, how many of these same people have support contracts for their Windows systems?
    • Re:No issues here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sydb (176695) <michael@wd 2 1 .co.uk> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:29PM (#6321599)
      Seriously, how many of these same people have support contracts for their Windows systems?

      What we're talking about here is places like my day job, where we have someone from Microsoft on-site full time. I was most upset when I found out, I mean, how pathetic, but there you are.

      Support matters when you're a large company who is in it "for the long run" as I've been told.

      Yes, we use Linux, but we have support from the supplier (SuSE just now, RedHat to come).

      I can't implement software without a support contract! Isn't it insane? I was going to install a little GPL'd FTP proxy because our Microsoft proxies were failing, first thing management ask is "where's the support coming from?" Heh, a couple of hundred lines of C but it needs supported.
      • Supportability (Score:5, Interesting)

        by The Monster (227884) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @07:39PM (#6321955) Homepage
        Heh, a couple of hundred lines of C but it needs supported.
        I work for the technical support department of my company. Our software was originally sold and serviced by independent vendors, many of which have since been acquired by the company itself. One of the things that makes support difficult is the high configurability of both the application itself and the underlying OS most often used (a flavor of Unix) make it easy for people to write utilities to expedite various common functions, to install system daemons that launch from different-named init scripts,.... When I come across problems at sites that were inherited from the sundry vendors, each of which had its own notion of the right way to do things, I must often waste precious time figuring out the intricacies of these 'couple of hundred lines', which are not documented in any way.

        I have become one of those people who writes a 'couple of hundred lines' here or there (gradually assembling a package of tools that I upload to servers whenever possible) but as I am painfully aware of the Dark Side of infinite customizability, I have gone out of my way to document my work.

        1. I write everything to Bourne shell, sed, awk, grep & Co., even though it might be easier to use perl or compile to binary. Even using a Korn shell is something I've avoided because I want my work to be understandable to as many people as possible.
        2. I make liberal use of comments within the scripts to explain what I'm doing and why.
        3. My scripts respond to -h, --help, or anything remotely resembling either, with some, uh, help, which includes my work email address.
        4. I've set up a documentation web page on a server on our intranet so that if anyone has questions, they can see what's supposed to be happening here, why, and how.
        5. If you don't know that my utilities exist, or they haven't been installed on a site yet, you can get by without them. They in no way intrude upon the functioning of the system so as to be required (as your proxy is).
        6. I've tried to educate others in my department about how these tools can be used, how they fit together,
        And, even though I have the support of at least two levels of management above me in the org chart, I'm STILL concerned that someone high enough up the food chain will some day declare my little skunkworks project officially Evil and ban it, if for no reason other than the notion that nobody but I understand it well enough to keep up with the changes that will inevitably be required. What happens if I get hit by the proverbial bus, or just take a better job somewhere else?
        For example, I wrote a utility to get around something our software people had done that makes logged-in users of our thin client software not show up in a
        who or w. My utility shows those users as well as the ordinary who/w output, and I just found out yesterday that the latest upgrade to our core product changes the rules yet again, requiring me to slightly rewrite the utility to keep it working with all variations of our software and the two main flavors of Unix it runs on.
        There is plenty good reason to not want people to become dependent on my tools being in place, since there is no guarantee that we can make the institutional commitment to maintaining them, even though I have plenty of happy customers and support techs who love what I've empowered them to do. I can only hope that the Guys in the Ties will recognize that deriving this much value from my work demands that we make that commitment, rather than abandon it as 'unsupportable'.
        • I write everything to Bourne shell, sed, awk, grep & Co.,

          Thus ensuring 40 lines of bizzareness and the need to understand multiple similar but different tools to do the same work that 10 lines of reasonably simple perl code could have done.

          (Don't talk to me about 'line noise' looking programs [and, oops, ignore my sig] - most of that is in the regular expressions, and your choice of tools will force you to use more of those (from subtly different regex engines) to accomplish your task.

          Oh, and
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:57PM (#6321749)
      "Support" is just the name they give to their fear.

      They are afraid to use Linux because Linux hasn't achieved the market dominance they feel comfortable with.

      If Linux had 51% of the desktop market, they'd feel comfortable with the risk of having their current Linux support person/company becoming unavailable.

      This is about fear. You cannot remove fear with facts.

      But who cares? The businesses that have people who can evaluate the risks and benefits will make the jump first. And they will reap the rewards.

      As each year passes, more companies will feel comfortable enough to switch.

      Don't sweat the "support" issue. Support is readily available and easily found. But pointing that out will not end stories such as these.

      This is about fear.
    • Re:No issues here (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @07:31PM (#6321900)
      This is the crux of the problem:
      All of it is handled inhouse by moi

      Organisations absolutely, positively hate this. "Single point of failure". They piss you off, you quit and get a better job, you get killed in a bizarre gardening act, and they are up shit creek.

      Unfortunately, this is also an attitude taken by lots of Admins as well (Windows and Unix, I will state). The "fuck off and leave me alone" attitude that many them put forward when asked questions. The inability or unwillingness to document what they've done ("Say, how do we re-install the sendmail installation if we have to?" "Fuck off and leave me alone").

      I have seen many an office who will stick with middle-of-the-road software, even though they figure there's better stuff, because they don't want to risk the chance of getting fucked over by this.

      This is why they want support contracts, this is why they use windows. "well, if Jim Bob dies, we'll just get the support folks to help us until we get someone else", or the (perhaps false sense of) security of "every here knows windows, we can fix things ourselves without Jim Bob"

    • I've been working like that, and I did see several problems. For one thing, I do like to able to take vacations like anybody else. I don't want to go to work when I am really, really ill. I don't like people calling me with job stuff when I am not working. And so on.

      Sure, when I was there, while I was there, there was no problems I couldn't solve via the same procedures as you.

      The windows systems were supported one way or the other, but the linux ones were not, in any other way than by me. Though I docume
    • I agree. honestly, if they need a support contract for every desktop they have, that's a blame policy rather than a support policy. "who can i say is at fault when something craps out." With Microsoft, pointing that finger is easy. With linux, who are you going to point your finger at if the user fouls up something? Linus? nope...try the user. Management, who don't understand computers, are afraid they'll screw something up and have to take the blame. Yes, i've worked places where that was the case.
  • It's an excuse... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by heironymouscoward (683461) <heironymouscowardNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:21PM (#6321533) Journal
    Developer: I'd like to use Linux for this project.

    Manager: I'll check with our suppliers to see if they support Linux.

    Suppliers: hahahaha.

    Manager: sorry, developer, company policy is clear: no support, no project.

    Developer: COM+ gnash MTS splutter IIS damnation.
    • Re:It's an excuse... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spoing (152917) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @08:59PM (#6322378) Homepage
      Or, where I am now the techs and managers hear this;

      On-Site: We'll save $300,000 if we use Linux instead of HPUX and Windows on the servers.

      Home office: You will use HPUX and Windows.

      On-Site: Why? It's more expensive!

      Home office: We are Microsoft and HP partners. We will not be using Linux.

      That said, we're using Linux after the main installation (with Windows and HPUX) goes in. Most of the cost savings and support benifits are lost, though, since the budget has been misspent already.

  • Some companies aren't scared of it.

    It's just a case of time before everyone else gets in on it. [informationweek.com]
    Of course there are still those companies that will always eat the dog food they're given, rushing to pull the money out of their pockets.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:24PM (#6321557) Homepage Journal
    Almost every high level manager I've spoke too, that is their #1 concern.. ' If you are not around, who do I call when its broke?'.

    They understand the stability, the lower cost ( notice I didn't say free. it does cost something to maintain ), and that it *can* replace functionality of the commercial alternative at this point, but being out on their own worries them. And rightfully so.

    Even down to the techies that defend Microsoft, that is their one remaining argument,that they have the huge support team back in Redmond to call on. And scoff as you want about Microsoft support, if you are a big enough dealer they WILL help you, they do have actual competent engineers hiding somewhere.... and the managers know this..

    Having somone like IBM sell support, or even produce their own 'commercial' distrobution + support would go a looooong way to get past this.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:28PM (#6321591)
      And they have for years.

      IBM will sell you worldwide, 24x7x365 support for Linux.
      • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:35PM (#6321632) Homepage Journal
        Then few people out side the industry know about it.. even I was unaware they would.

        Marketing that would help a LOT.

        Even some of their techs and sales guys don't know this.. I've spoken to some at our place on occasion wile they are working on things, or working out costs for the next round of PC upgrades...... they had no clue either..

  • From the article:

    Yates gave the example of an installation of 50 DHCP servers running Linux, which was set up several years ago, and for which the technical support is tenuous. "The people who set them up have gone on to other projects," he said. "People are terrified about what the support would be like if something went wrong."

    I think that pretty much sums it up. Too many people thing computer = Windows and don't know how to use anything else. So if the Linux server (God forbid) breaks, who will be ar
    • It's good that the I.T. industry is in recession.

      It's weeding out a lot of the complete numpties. It's also weeding out a lot of the companies who have absolutely no idea how to manage their I.T. costs effectively.

      One of the companies I worked for were spending half a billion dollars a year on their I.T. systems with absolutely no idea why or what was happening to the money. They haven't been making a profit, obviously.

    • Another way to look at it is that this installation's been running for several years with no problems therefore no need for support...

  • by Faust7 (314817) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:24PM (#6321561) Homepage
    It's not so much about the actual amount of open-source tech support out there -- we know full well there's a hell of a lot of it -- but about about tech support identity.

    Who do you call for trouble with Windows? Microsoft. Trouble with DB2? IBM. Trouble with Red Hat or SuSE Linux? Red Hat or SuSE. What if one of your critical machines happens to be Debian and the one guy that configured it isn't home? Is management going to endorse going to a mailing list or USENET for the solution? What if those sources are wrong?

    Quite simply, the very nature of open-source development does not lend itself to the establishment of centralized technical support, which is exactly what corporations are looking for. Perhaps individual companies whose sole focus is tech support of open-source operating systems and applications could emerge as viable contractors.
    • For years people have been saying there is no money to be made in open source. Why not build a company based on the idea of selling support to companies?

      There are plenty good people out there right now who don't have a job. Set up a company with a couple of other knowledgeable people (you don't want to man the 24x7 phone on your own) and start selling Linux support. It will solve your own problem and the Linux acceptance problem.

      In good slashdot style:

      1. Start a company selling Linux support.

      2. ***

  • Hey... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pinguu (677142) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:25PM (#6321565)
    the UK has computers now?
    • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hogwash McFly (678207)
      Yeah we do have computers but most of them were obliterated by friendly fire a few months ago from rogue smart bombs.

      Note to overly patriotic mods: this is just a [bad] joke
    • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

      now?

      we had them FIRST
      • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Funny)

        by odaiwai (31983)
        I can just imagine the Prime Minister of the time saying: "And who, Mr. Babbage is going to help us when this 'Difference Engine' of yours breaks down? We will stay with our quills and parchment, thank you."
        • Well, interestingly enough, The Science Museum in London has built working versions of Babbages Difference Engine 1 and 2, both work flawlessly.
          Which when you consider poor old Charles never could build versions of them to test, due to lack of precission machine tooling back in the 1840s or Babbages inability to stop tinkering, is astounding.
          Difference Engines were built in the 1870s and inspired the Hollerith punch card machines that followed, but nothing comparable to the Analytical Engine was built unt
    • When my wife's mother in Arizona heard I was English (when we first met), one of her first questions was, "Do they have furniture in England?".

      So I'm trying to work out if the parent is meant to be a joke, or whether you're my wife's mother?

      Own up!

      cLive ;-)
  • by Zemran (3101) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:26PM (#6321573) Homepage Journal
    SuSE offer support [suse.co.uk] to those in the UK (and elsewhere) that want it. It is just more FUD that you do not get support with Linux, it is just an option to save your cash and not buy it if you do not want it.
    • Yes, they support SuSE. If it's not on the SuSE installation CDs, it doesn't get supported.

      Yes, there's lots of things on the CDs, but if it's not there your own your own. Specifically I wanted to use Webmin and Fcheck, neither of these are supported.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:27PM (#6321577) Homepage Journal
    I think the main reason British is such an 'open source third world country' is because of the techie environment here. In regular schools, all you learn about is Microsoft, Microsoft and Microsoft. Why? Because Microsoft supplies the schools and makes money from the schools. [theregister.co.uk]

    I have a lot of friends who are techies who came through the 'proper' way. That is, they were educated at college, did courses, and got qualifications. They're good guys, but when it comes to solving something, IIS and VBScript are almost the only two solutions!

    One friend of mine was whining that he needed to build a new server and migrate and mirror data over to it. I suggested using an NFS server. This isn't rocket science, but concepts like these are unknown to the millions of lower-end techies in the UK. Why? Because Microsoft is #1. I know a lot of people studying for MCSEs, yet they're barely computer literate. They can get around in Windows 2000 or XP, but throw them at any command prompt (even DOS) and they balk.

    UNIX and its variants just aren't considered cool within the larger techie environment in the UK. Microsoft has very deep roots here, unlike in the US technical fraternity, and most UK techies are so stupid they won't leave what they know.

    I can't really venture as to the exact reasons for this... but perhaps it's because the British are used to doing things one way. I mean, we only had a single national telecoms provider, a single national gas provider, and a single national postal service until ten years ago. Therefore, when schools only show that Microsoft is the way.. the average Brit will nod and use it.

    Another problem is the lack of decent IT education in schools. There are very few 'computer clubs' in UK schools, and those that do exist are only there for allowing kids to perhaps do something in Pascal under Windows, or to do their regular homework in Microsoft Works.

    UK schools need to be more open, like US schools. US schools often give budgets to their computer clubs.. I mean, look at the Ask Slashdot thread the other day.. they ponied up $4000 for the guy to build a server system and get some connectivity. What a learning curve his computer club will have!

    In the UK, by comparison, everything is so bureaucratic and purchases are so decided 'by the local education authority' that any choice other than Microsoft Microsoft Microsoft is effectively vetoed.

    Personally I think this is great, because people who DO know Linux, who DO understand Computer Science properly and who DON'T have MCSEs, get rewarded reasonably well in the UK! But.. the knowledge just isn't there, and while Microsoft gets rammed down the wanna-be British techie's throat, Microsoft will prevail.
    • I totaly agree

      im at college in the UK at the moment just finishing off a national diploma in computing

      and i was talking to the sysadmin at out college

      even though it would save the college money and make the network run faster he is actualy forbiden from using non microsoft software to run the college network

      its fucking rediculouse
    • I was going to argue with you, but after editing and re-editing and eventually deleting, I think you have some very good points. Unfortunately I've posted here already so I can't use my mod points.

      I would add: conservatism. A breed of conservatism that I don't think exists elsewhere. I mean, look at our judicial system, we've only just got rid of the 1,400 year old post of Lord High Chancellor.
    • I personally blame the demise of the BBC Master - after that with their fancy Acorn/RiscOS GUIs teachers no longer needed to program anthing at all.

      My school followed the same restrictive policies as most while I was there, lock everything down, don't let the kids play - even though drives can be reghosted fast (you could leave at least one machine for messing around) and screwing up the software doesn't break the hardware. That would have encourage creativity. The computer club was about _using_ software
    • Well I have my mcse and not been properly educated.

      Yes I have been using Linux since 98 and FreeBSD since 2001 so I am not a complete moron.

      You want to know where these important MCSE and A+ certifications got me? An exciting career delivering Sandwiches for $7.25/hr.

      Long live the MCSE's! Now excuse me, my father needs the lawn mowed. Its great being 26 and still living with my parents.

      Now where is some rope so I can hang myself?

      Seriously, AVOID THE MCSE TRAP! ITS A USELESS PIEACE OF PAPER!
    • Bang on. I graduate from Exeter [ex.ac.uk] in 19 days time (get my results tomorrow :erk:).

      At primary school we had a few BBC's and a few Mac's, but this was in the very early 90's. We had a 286 at home when I left. Secondary school, I went to a great school, and naturally got involved with the computer systems there. It was win 3.11/netware. They eventually upgraded to win95. We didnt learn anything apart from how to so stuff in MS Works and Publisher.

      Went to uni, computer science obviously. Aside from one module i
    • Firstly - I live in England and have been educated here between '84-'99 and '02-'03. In the halcyon days of the 80s there were BBC Micros (there still are in primary schools (ages 5-11)). In the early 90s they were all BBC Micros in secondary school (ages 11-16). It was in about '94 that things changed.

      What's scary now is that through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Microsoft supply the local public libraries here too.

      "I can't really venture as to the exact reasons for this... but perhaps it's becau
  • Could many of the people who responded that they didn't have Linux because of lack of support just be uninformed types who haven't done their homework and wouldn't use linux anyway ?
  • I can see this... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dysan2k (126022) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:29PM (#6321592) Homepage
    Well, as one who's had to use support contracts in the past (Cisco and Oracle specifically along with a couple of very poorly built proprietary apps), I've seen the value in this. Being an expert in something does NOT mean you know everything, and it's nice to have someone you can pick up the phone and talk to, getting your critical machines back up and running.

    Even library projects have given me the fits both professionally and non. QT support helps in a LOT of cases where documentation is SEVERELY lacking, but in other cases (kernel issues I had), the support from the maintainer was "less than shining". And people constantly say "Don't expect anyone to get off their duff to fix YOUR problem unless you pay them." Well, that's kind of the line of the support contract. I'd rather my job not be in jepordy due to some individual who could care less about the past work he's done.

    So, support contracts? Sure. Make them reasonably priced, and not read like stereo instructions. Simple pricing, simple support, and simple solutions. And don't expect M$ to give you much support as I've run into massive horror stories (usually related to Exchange). It's nice to have your problem solved, and not spend 3 hours "guessing" you have fixed it. Besides, having a second person to get ideas for solutions from is hardly a bad thing.
  • Start a business selling support for Linux. Sell it by seat, at perhaps $200 per seat per year (or something a bit lower than the business support agreement for Windows). Add a $400 per user install and one time training fee. Pay higher a former teacher to provide education at $30k per year. Word into the contract that additional one day training sessions are available for $500 per day per user.

    Configure a basic user workstation and server set, with scripts to auto update bug fixes first copies to one or m
    • by rusty0101 (565565) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:38PM (#6321645) Homepage Journal
      note also one should remember that when selling services to England, take the value you price at in dollars, remove the dollar sign, add a pound sign, leave the numbers alone, and you just added about a 33% mark on.
    • Hey, need an "American Oversees Expert/Consultant?"

      I'll be happy to be "the voice" on the other side of conference calls explaining what is going on. Hey, I even have an assistant with an Indian accent and a job title at the prestigious "Franklin Institute."

      Heck, being a one man helpdesk/network engineer/IT lap dog for a year, I'm at the point I can get into character while taking a call on the John. (Er, the loo.) I have a couple of phone personas, I can be the hyper-caffinated geek, Mr. Spock, the Toa

  • by PM4RK5 (265536) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:35PM (#6321631) Homepage
    Maybe what Linux needs is a giant support clearing house. By that, I mean that most open source projects don't have the resources to have their own support department, but if one were to form a company or other institution with a handful of linux techies, companies could use OSS and rely upon the said support clearinghouse for their support needs, should they actually need help.

    And in some ways, that might be better, because if you have a handful of people who understand the software itimately, you won't have to cut through 3 layers of workers before you get to the "Engineer" level.

    In addition to that, the cost of support is taken away from the maintainers of the OSS projects, and placed in one company which could take the revenue and pay their own costs, and then distribute profit (if any) amongst open source projects, possibly, to help improve the OSS? I know that's idealistic, but hey, it could happen...

    Anyways, just my thoughts on the issue.
    • What are you saying, that you want a giant monopoly doing free software support staffed by a handfull of techies?

      How about just "let's have some companies offering support"?

      • What are you saying, that you want a giant monopoly doing free software support staffed by a handfull of techies?

        Try not to think of it as a "Monopoly." I prefer "Clue." (That was kernel panic with the named pipe in the ...)

        No, I'm seeing legions of Techies. The major perk, when they aren't taking calls, they get to troll on Slashdot and test out Quake all day. Of course, each one has to build from scratch their own workstation in their given Distro of choice, keep it up to date, and regularly try to h

    • Um, I think they are called IBM, RedHat, and Suse (amoung others.)
  • by Ridgelift (228977) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:38PM (#6321649)
    Techies don't seem to understand that businesses want to have a support contract with their usual supplier before they will buy Linux

    Can you say "business opportunity"? I now only install and support only Linux solutions (I don't do Windows anymore - I have other "grunts" with MCSE's who do that for cheap). The sell is simply two points 1) Open Source products use Open Standards, which will interoperate with anything. 2) The business decision to keep, update or upgrade company software is back in the software buyer's hands. If you want to keep your software, or hire someone to [fix|add] features, or upgrade to the latest version - it's their choice.

    The Redmond camp keeps hammering on the point that Linux doesn't have support. So hammer back on those two points: open standard interoperabilty, and the return of the business decision. It really shakes people up to realise they _do_ have a choice, and that Microsoft is not the safest choice anymore.
    • 1) Open Source products use Open Standards, which will interoperate with anything

      except Microsoft products.

      A bit overdramatic, I know, but MS is usually the vendor everyone needs to 'interoperate' with, and it's harder than it needs to be.
      • A bit overdramatic, I know, but MS is usually the vendor everyone needs to 'interoperate' with, and it's harder than it needs to be.

        Hmm. Yes. Interoperating with MSFT is generally much harder than it need be, especially from Linux. This isn't Linux, though; it's Microsoft. Ask the SAMBA, OpenOffice, or one of the other teams about how easy it is to reverse-engineer Microsoft's ever-changing stuff. And what's more, Microsoft deliberately changes their stuff to prevent interop.

        If you want to interact

  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Brian Kendig (1959)
    Never needing support?

    With Linux?

    Sure, maybe if you're Linus...
    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GigsVT (208848)
      It depends on what you are doing.

      We have been running standard Internet stuff on Linux for years. DNS, Mail, routers, firewalls, FTP, etc..

      Once you get stuff like that set up in Linux, it just runs forever. For a smaller company with standard needs, Linux without any real support is a good choice.

      I did a contract job on the side to set up a server to do firewall/DNS/FTP/Mail/Web server (Yeah, they didn't want to spend any money on breaking it up into more servers).

      Anyway, I set it up, they pay me a ve
      • Aie... leaving DNS/Mail/routers/firewalls/etc. running 'forever' is an extremely bad idea. Exploits are found, security patches are released, these patches must be installed. And if they break existing functionality, someone needs to troubleshoot them.

        It's the 'deploy and forget' mentality which is responsible for old worms living on far beyond when the bugs they exploit have been fixed...

      • I have been doing the same thing --> deploy a linux server/gateway and charge a certain fee for initial deployment & configuration. A monthly fee is charged for security updates & monitoring. Additional add-on support is billed on an hourly basis as needed.

        It works out really nice. Maytag repair guy is just about right. These boxes just run and run and run without problems.
  • by vnv (650942) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:46PM (#6321696)
    Considering that with closed source software, over 80% of the total cost of "business software" today is essentially "support", it is ironic that this is the concern of those moving to open source.

    According to the recently discussed Business Week article [businessweek.com],

    "Analysts estimate business-software customers spend $5 installing and fixing their software for every $1 they spend on software."
    If anything, open source will lower support costs as you can get support from more sources at a wider range of price points.

    With a global support base of people with the same software, open source will rapidly lower support costs. Today people get far more information and many times higher quality information on problems via the net than they do from a manufacturer.

    And beyond support, you can now directly hire people to work on the software changes you need to make your business work. That means you don't have to wait years for your vendor to listen to you. In today's hyper-competitive global business market, the time you save may be the difference between your business succeeding or failing.

    All in all, open source is a giant win for business. Hopefully we can soon move past the incredible amount of FUD the closed source vendors are promulgating in the market.

  • by ohad_l (683421) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ykztul]> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @06:57PM (#6321750) Homepage
    Everything you see here, much like the comment by Peter Cooper describes, is Microsoft. The difference is that England can afford it, and Israel can't (palestenian conflict wreaking havoc on our economy and all). Piracy here is outrageously high, but Microsoft doesn't really care - especially in the past few years: more pirated copies means better lock-in. And they've got a point: Anyone who knows anything about computers here, it's all Windows. True, we have some very skilled hackers here, and people are generally very computer-literate... but Linux's penetration is very weak, mainly due to the fact that bidi (right-to-left text) is extremely hard to implement, and has only recently become usable in Linux. People are working on various distributions - mostly Knoppix-like - for Israelis, the most notable one being Kinneret: a bootable distro geared towards Israeli students. Why? Becaue our teachers openly encourage us to copy our compilers and IDEs from friends. Still, for my 12th-grade C project, I won't be allowed to use any compiler and library but Borland's old DOS one. As for support - the issue is very apparent here. The few Israeli "big-chiefs" who have heard about Linux are extremely concerned with support. Hopefully, our goverment will do something smart about it, like the support they've been giving the OO.o team.
  • ...I don't think the poster has any work experience as tech support.

    even though the likelihood is that they may never need support.

    1. If you make an idiot-proof system, the world will invent a new and better idiot (By who?)
    2. There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupitidy. And I'm not sure about the former (Einstein)

    Despite being a company, many companies don't have the qualifications in-house, or they simply don't want to spend time supporting their OS (it's not usually
  • >> ... the likelihood is that they may never need support.

    Yeah, right. Linux is good, but it's not perfect. What happens when the boss comes back from the last roadtrip having bought a dozen steam-powered Twin Confabulators that she wants on every Linux server in the building?

    Or, when the summer intern drops a coke on the billing server, doesn't tell anyone, and a week's worth of online purchases disappear?

    Unless a business wants to commit to always maintaining an internal support staff regardless
  • My school is having major problems with their "firewall" right now. Namely, there's just too much traffic for the crappy hardware boxes they're using - so they bought a $10,000 Packeteer packet shaper. Anyway, I offered to retrofit one of their old servers as a Linux-based firewall. The sysadmin said no. The reason? "I've got nobody to blame when it breaks."
  • British Empire
    U.S. Empire
    Microsoft Empire

    All have one thing in common:
    "controlled violence"
  • Plenty of companies provide support for Linux:

    http://www-1.ibm.com/linux/
    http://wwws.sun.co m /software/linux/support.html
    http://www.dell.com/ us/en/dhs/topics/linux_linuxho me.htm
    http://www.redhat.com/apps/support/
    http: //www.suse.de/de/business/services/support/
    http: //www.hp.com/wwsolutions/linux/

    I mean... Fucking please...

    There is so much fucking commercial support for Linux that it's funny. And that's 4 minutes googling.

    The real problem is the quality of British middle management. Basically they are
    • I think you overestimate middle management worldwide. I don't think it's a particularly English problem.

      The problem is more likely that middle management is frightened of change as it relates to their careers and employment. A lot, if not most of them, grew up with Windows and perhaps one of the traditional Unices so to speak and have difficulty understanding how anything else could be better. They are used to the traditional high prices of the Microsoft monopoly and specialist Solaris/AIX support costs in
  • The following is from the Zdnet.co.uk link [zdnet.co.uk] provide in the following article: Analysis of SuSE Linux Desktop [slashdot.org]

    First of all, some background. SuSE Linux Desktop (SLD) is one of several SuSE distributions that could be considered end-user oriented: there's also SuSE Linux Office Desktop, aimed at small businesses, as well as the standard SuSE Linux Personal and Professional editions. The key difference with SLD is it uses the same code base as SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES): this is intended to fulfil th
  • I'm responsible for all IT support contracts for my company (no we are not a tiny startup). After seeing how people struggle just to successfully communicate problems to support techs who are usually only 1/10 as intelligent, not to mention familiar with the products, I've mostly stopped buying software support. I'll still buy hardware support, so we can get replacement hardware when it breaks, but otherwise it's just a waste. I don't think I've yet seen a case where a software support contract helped us
  • When the companies that fail to capitalize on the cost-savings Linux can offer start losing business to those that do so, they'll either log on to the clue server or they'll be history. Everybody (alright most people) here know that the "it's not supported" line is unfounded these days. Support isn't free, but it is most certainly available.
  • by JackJudge (679488)
    I've worked in the UK IT sector for 14 years and I can tell you it's about the management running scared. Not scared of OpenSource but fear of their peers and colleagues. The whole business world has very cut throat since the days of Thatcher, it's very dog eat dog, so lower management and above spend most of their time covering their arses. It's inevitable something will go bang at some point their main concern is to make sure they're not in the firing line. So from this culture of fear in the business com
  • Techies don't seem to understand that businesses want to have a support contract with their usual supplier before they will buy Linux, even though the likelihood is that they may never need support

    Wow, I thought we had all grown up a little bit and stopped using this type of term. It seems some of us have not...

    Simply refer to 'those who don't understand the requirements of a professional organisation' - rather than use the term 'techies', singaling out 'technical' staff in the given context is foolish
  • "A survey in the UK showed that support concerns were the No. 1 factor keeping companies from investing in open source software."

    Translation:

    "A survey in the UK showed that support concerns were the No. 1 opportunity to make money from open source software"

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