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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

InfoWorld on Switching to Linux 319

Posted by michael
from the you-will-be-assimiliated dept.
brentlaminack writes "The latest Infoworld is running a lengthy piece about The Real Cost of Switching to Linux, where it makes sense and where it doesn't. As one of their columnists points out, the debate has switched from "if" to "where". One of the big wins for Linux was in the area of remote administration. Specifically noted was ssh. Also of note is the shift in calculating cost from TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) as has been calculated in the past, to ROI (Return on Investment) that focuses more on what you can do with the technology to get work done."
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InfoWorld on Switching to Linux

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  • Long term benefits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:06PM (#6834579)
    Thing that I've noticed is that if a large organization gets into Linux, even if they buy it, it's theirs for the duration and all of the upgrades that they can work into it, instead of requiring either yearly site license fees or massive payouts every so many years for new versions of software to do essentially the same thing. Even paying a consulting company or services company to deploy Debian would make sense in a way, as long as the apt server were the organization's, versus a public server, so that as long as someone is maintaining the package database on the local apt server, they can keep updating the workstations.

    Large organizations usually have some form of IS department, so instead of paying them to run around and fix Windows Millennium or XP problems, pay them to keep the network deployed OS current, and fix the bulk of the problems from their desks.
    • by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:13PM (#6834618)
      "The jury is in. After years of experimentation with Linux in the enterprise, customers, analysts, and vendors are starting to sing a consistent tune about where Linux makes financial sense and where it doesn't."

      They still don' t get it. Even though the article is moderately positive, any article about Linux that starts with "the Jury is in" was written by someone who does not fully understand the dynamics of Open Source. How can "the jury" be "in" on an environment that changes so rapidly as Linux does? How can you say for certain where Linux has a role and where it doesn't? A move in the right direction, but the hacks still need some educating.....
      • by KoolDude (614134) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:25PM (#6834700)

        IMHO, we should not worry about the managers who still don't "get it". They eat all the FUD MS/SCO/IDC is feeding them. All these managers will eventually realise their mistake when their competition adopting Linux/Open Source tools is able to offer better price for same product/service. When they start losing business, they will really "get it". Seriously, there is a change at hand here and the economics will play its part. only question is 'How soon ?'
        • yeah, I agree, but I wasn't talking about managers, I was talking about the journos that talk about OSS. Even good managers can only act on the info they have, and sadly most of that still comes from websites, analysts, and public opinion.

          The price gap is slowly converging, on the hand because Linux is simply costing more then it did 2 years ago, and on the other because Linux is forcing other vendors to drop their prices. The biggest mistake we are all making is hyping up the price benefits, without poin
          • yeah, I agree, but I wasn't talking about managers, I was talking about the journos that talk about OSS.

            You are right. And this brings me a certain crazy idea. OSS advocates shound no longer preach to the IT guys. They are already convinced. To reach Mr Joe Average you have to capture the guy who writes a tech column in a newspaper Mr Average reads. He will write a column "Linux rocks", and Mr Average will agree. Now, it is quite easy to find die-hard Windows fans or die-hard Mac fans among the journalis
            • "So the crazy idea is: why not create a special Linux distro as a gift for the journalist community?"

              Problem: Not enough journalists appreciate GNU
              Solution: Create a new distribution

              Isn't that perhaps a rather "tecchie" approach to the problem, maybe even demonstrating why the journalists don't get it? There's a distinction between direct involvement (handing out TheOpenCD.org, installing dual-boot Mandrake on journalist friends' computers, writing articles in your own magazines) and indirect involvem
          • by TWX (665546)
            "The price gap is slowly converging, on the hand because Linux is simply costing more then it did 2 years ago..."

            Really? Where? I run Debian and Slackware at home and have absolutely no problems with costs whatsoever. At work, we have about 120 linux servers, all tweaked-out Slackware machines. We didn't pay a cent for the OS. We use them for print servers for a massive WAN, for site-based fileservers, and for routing.

            In fact, it was cheaper for us to use a Linux box with a bunch of fiber etherne
      • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelina ... com minus author> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @09:19PM (#6835872) Journal
        They still don' t get it. Even though the article is moderately positive, any article about Linux that starts with "the Jury is in" was written by someone who does not fully understand the dynamics of Open Source. How can "the jury" be "in" on an environment that changes so rapidly as Linux does? How can you say for certain where Linux has a role and where it doesn't? A move in the right direction, but the hacks still need some educating.....
        This coming from someone who's been using Linux on the desktop since 1994, and traditional NIX before that point. But you really miss the point. These guys are evaluating Linux for very large deployments; 1000 - 10000 hosts per organization. I'm sorry, but 'the dynamics of open source', while perfectly valid from a developer's standpoint, is completely irrelevant to these IT guys. And rightly so.

        Look: Suppose you manage an infrastructure of 1000 hosts scattered across a WAN separated by several regional warehouses and a corporate epicenter. I've actually worked (in a previous job) in a situation like this, though I was by no means the CIO. When you evaluate an OS like Linux you're not concerned with what it may do tomorrow. You're concerned with what it can do today and with what deploying that solution costs under Linux compared with any other alternative. Period. You have a list of services you must provide to the organization and a budget of recurring and fixed upfront costs to provide those services. IT is a cost center for a reason - we don't generate revenue in most organizations, we're here to reduce overhead costs across the organization, and justify our existence only in our ability to reduce organizational overhead at least an order of magnitude more than we charge.

        From this perspective, these guys are completely right. They're asking "what do I get today?", "How much will it cost across the life of the platform?", and "How does this compare with any other competitive solution?".

        Now, I'm of the opinion that Linux is a great value in large corporate deployments. I don't think we'll see home adoption of Linux for many years to come, but I do think we'll see large scale adoption of Linux on the corporate desktop. The reason I think this is because Linux gets progressively cheaper the larger your deployment. The more hosts the fewer admins compared with Windows. The security headaches are easier with Linux because the security model was thought through years ago and still works. Also, the per seat licensing costs will always beat any commercial OS. Linux wins, but only if you have an infrastructure capable of supporting the OS, and then only if you're large enough to leverage these skills into a significant cost savings. Otherwise, if you're a small department or a home user you might as well run Windows. Or buy a Mac - my preferred solution. :)

        Cheers,
        --Maynard
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:07PM (#6834583)
    The real value of Linux is it allows an I.T. staff to get a job done in an organization. If it has to work if it has to be done it can be. In more beureaucratic organizations the effect is even more pronounced as no one has to seek approval to get the needed piece of software while the company is down.

    What I would like to see is one of these TCO surveys that consider the cost of software audit compliance and purchase approval on the windows side.
    • by The Monster (227884) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @08:19PM (#6835667) Homepage
      The real value of Linux is it allows an I.T. staff to get a job done in an organization.
      If you have an IT staff that understands it. From the article:
      "There were a lot of costs I didn't expect-- hidden migration costs," says Cedars-Sinai's Duncan. During the migration from NT to Linux, his staff insisted that because
      they had been running RAID disk mirroring and striping on NT they should buy SCSI RAID controllers for the Linux servers. "It was like $1,000 per box extra that I hadn't planned on."
      There are only two possiblilties here:
      1. They were running hardware RAID on NT, then this is a wash, and not planning on it just indicates that Duncan didn't budget correctly.
      2. They were doing it in software on NT but insisted on hardware for Linux. That would indicate they didn't understand how to to software RAID on Linux.
      Either way, there are no 'hidden' costs here, except in the sense that things are 'hidden' from an ostritch when its head is in the sand.
  • by dj28 (212815) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:07PM (#6834584)
    I understand that Linux is the new darling of the tech industry, but why do reviews like this completely ignore operating systems likee FreeBSD (which out performs Linux in several serving tasks, and is in general more mature)? People who write these reviews on TCO and other stats think Linux is the only alternative to Windows servers. It gets annoying after a while.
    • by grub (11606)
      You'll find that some places use Linux as a stepping stone to get into the more mature *nix-like OSes. The switch from Linux->FreeBSD isn't nearly as daunting as the quantum leap from Windows->Linux.
      • The switch from Linux->FreeBSD isn't nearly as daunting as the quantum leap from Windows->Linux.

        But that's beside the point; the point is why Windows->Linux should be any less daunting than Windows->FreeBSD.

        • Because Linux has more commercial support than BSD. I personally like FreeBSD better because I'm a hobbyist and as such the only support I want is from the documentation, and I find FreeBSD's documentation to be much more complete and friendly than Linux. But for someone who is looking for an enterprise solution, backing from a well known company like Red Hat or SuSe is more attractive than a well written user handbook.
        • the point is why Windows->Linux should be any less daunting than Windows->FreeBSD.

          Suggestions:

          Hype - BSD lost a lot of momentum during the USL lawsuit in the mid-90s. If it didn't, BSD would probably be where Linux is now. Incidentally, this is my biggest worry about the SCO thing.

          Hardware support. Linux supports pretty much any device, no matter how cruddy it is. BSD is, generally speaking, pickier about what gets supported.

          Proprietary ISVs - Is Oracle supported on BSD? Is FireWall-1 supported o

        • Linux is the best thing to ever happen to *BSD.

          *BSD gets to benefit from all the Linux development
          (via Linux emulation if all else fails) and Linux's
          visability ensures that clueless users will choose
          it (and presumably stick with it or go back to Windows)
          while the more savy users (who are better able to
          contribute back to the community) will recognize when
          it is advantageous to use *BSD.

          Linux is a buffer that protects the *BSD community
          dilution.

          Think about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I understand that Linux is the new darling of the tech industry, but why do reviews like this completely ignore operating systems likee FreeBSD (which out performs Linux in several serving tasks, and is in general more mature)?

      I'm glad you brought that up because I have a question that has been burning for a while. FreeBSD, like Linux, is an essentially free UNIX. Let's not argue licenses and the like, just look at them both as free in code and price.

      What makes Slashdot readers think Linux will take o
      • Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

        by greenrd (47933)
        Linux has better hardware suppport than *BSD.

      • Let's not argue licenses and the like, just look at them both as free in code and price.

        Saying that is the same thing as aksing why SGI/Apples have been popular for video/CG/image manipulation, but you do not want to discuss the hardware or the GUI.
        The BSD license allows true freedom. It also allows another company to come and take it 100% over. In a way, the mac is a good example. Apple is now the largest BSD retailer. Period.
        In fact, they probably account for about 60% of the market. Right now, they
      • GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

        by qtp (461286) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @07:08PM (#6835400) Journal
        What makes Slashdot readers think Linux will take over the desktop and server markets when FreeBSD didn't?

        Hate to say it, but it's the GPL which will enable Linux to gain in marketshare beyond what BSD has.

        The BSD License allows companies to take the work of the BSD developers, make changes, and not share those changes back with the original developers.

        You could say that BSD codebase has been adopted widely throughout the industry, but it has been through other companies adopting (read: "Embrace and Extend") BSD code into thier own propoietary products without compensating the developers or community that made that code possible.

        In this sense the BSD License is "more Free" than the GPL, but the BSD license does not ensure that that changes to the code will be Free as well.

    • Because FreeBSD has a devil for it's mascot so naturally most people think it is affiliated with Microsoft.
    • the various BSD's don't have the rabid hordes of evangelists that Linux has. So many IT people are fans of Linux, but don't know much and have not tried any of the BSD's. My room mate used to bad mouth the BSD's all the time (after playing with freeBSD for all of five minutes), but after seeing enough posts about openBSD's stability and security, he tried it for his webserver and DNS and he loves it (though he'll still bad mouth freeBSD on occasion).
    • Is it possible that this is due to the lack of news of such a migration?

      While I am sure that there are a large number of companies with deployments of varients of BSD, I would appreciate pointers to articles that show companies making a migration from any operating system to any BSD varient.

      We do not see companies even reporting that they are migrating to all OS X, which uses much of BSD as parts of it's infrastructure, yet we are seeing articles and reports of reasonably large companies that are migratin
      • I would appreciate pointers to articles that show companies making a migration from any operating system to any BSD varient

        And many more to get done. I doubt I'm going to inspire anyone to write an article. I do contract security/admin for a handful of mom and pop ISP's and smaller webhosting providers. I set a bunch of them up with FreeBSD initially when I found ancient slackware or debian. If they needed a new machine for something, I'd use FreeBSD. After a while they started noticing the FreeBSD machin
    • Indeed. I also wonder why they keep plugging away at the 'support' and 'training' issue. Some tech journal's articles seem to be written from a strictly corporate/academic standpoint.

      That was definitely the case at IDG in the late 80's. I then worked at a company that did some Linotronic service bureau work for IDG. Their journalists were hired based on their history as journalists, and not on IT experience.

      Now, we keep seeing articles based on IT buzzwords, rather than people's dirty hands. BSD would g

    • I understand that Linux is the new darling of the tech industry, but why do reviews like this completely ignore operating systems likee FreeBSD (which out performs Linux in several serving tasks, and is in general more mature)?

      They don't. They just use "Linux" as a catchy term to summarize all free UNIX replacements. Only if they write about support by the big names for running their proprietary software, they write "Linux" if they mean "Red Hat Linux" (or "SuSE Linux"). But who wants to run proprietary
    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:49PM (#6834798) Homepage
      Sure, there's Windows and Solaris and AIX and FreeBSD and NetBSD and OpenBSD and OS X and Linux, at least.

      If you look at current history, they normally expect that different OS systems do not play that well together - and normally, they'd be right. Windows + Linux already sounds fishy to them, but something even more obscure than Linux? Sounds like a patchwork of problems to them.

      Linux is starting to have large industry backing, with giants like IBM. What does *BSD have? Sure, Apple took it for OS X, but do they provide any *business* backing to *BSD? No. Without wanting to join the "BSD is dying trolls", Linux is racing ahead while BSD isn't developing at nearly the same pace, because with mindshare comes users and developers.

      Linux is being promised to be the one solution on everything from embedded devices to supercomputers, and with time even the desktop. This study is one of many to see "where" this is true, not "if", as the submitter said. Even if BSD could win such a comparison, it wouldn't have anywhere near the news value or interest. "Linux: Now also good for your servers" does a lot more than "BSD does good in server study".

      Kjella
    • by TWX (665546)
      Well, being the 'new darling' that it is, is gets a lot of attention. It also gets a lot of support and development, however, so it's not vapourware like a lot of other "new hotness" IT developments are. Comparing it to other POSIX OSes, it's development might be younger, but its license ensures that a developer's contribution remains free to everyone until it's replaced by something better, so from a developer perspective I can understand developing for Linux over BSD.

      Linux has also, from my perspecti
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:41PM (#6835047) Journal
      Well I can of course only speak for myself.

      Note the I. This is my experience. I am not claiming this is typical I may in fact be the exception. Anyway.

      I grew up with C64 -> MS-DOS -> Windows. When it was time for me to get into the unixes I first had to work with an AIX with all the man pages removed. Thrust me working with a unix book to figure out a badly configured server with mission critical software running on it does not endear you to a system. Fortuanly I was saved when I learned that there was a support contract for it and the people from IBM really saved my ass. Finding the bloody machine was the hardest thing in getting the man pages on it :)

      Oh perhaps I should explain that the company had lets its unix admin go and failed to hire a replacement since support should be able to handle it. In the end it was I a complete newbie who was landed with the job just because I was knowlegdable about the database on it.

      However I was not soured with IBM/AIX because of the excellent support I got, wich of course the company had to pay for but then they should have hired unix admin.

      Later on at an ISP I wanted to learn more about unixes and of course I went to ask. There were two camps. BSD's on the one hand. Linux on the other. Let me just say that the BSDers I met are the greatest bunch of selfrighteous assholes I have ever met. I needed to setup up and FTP and didn't want to use windows for it. BSDers, FTP is insecure. Linuxers, Okay you can best choose this daemon for it since it has been tested by us in an earlier project oh and here are the installation notes we took then. Guess wich answer helped me get the job done?

      Where linux people always seemed willing to help me out, as indeed the solaris and windows people, the BSD just seemed to think that unless you managed to figure out a system from scratch you suck. I have heard other people complain about this as well. Gentoo fans say they stayed away from BSD apt-get because they found the atmosphere on the forums downright hostile.

      Sure we got linux zealots but so far I never met them in real life. I learn from other linux users and nowadays sometimes manage to point a trick or two out to other users. It feels like a far better community to be in.

      To be fair I only met about a grand total of 5-6 bsders, so it could have been just them but that doesn't change the fact that 100% of all BSDers I met, all of them needed to develop some people skills. I am sure there must be helpfull or even just friendly BSD users out there. I just never met them.

      And this I think answers your question. BSD and in particular its users just never seem capable of appealing to outsiders. And the only way to grow is to get those outsiders. You scare everyone away so you don't grow so noone hears about you so you get all grumpy so even the few that do hear about you get scared away in a vicious circle.

      From your tone by the way you seem really pissed off. You say BSD is superior, but fail to give proof. You claim it is more mature but as I said the attitude given off by BSD users seem to suggest they are anything but. This too gets annoying. It is like the eternal debate on wich distro is best. Answer the best is the one you like.

      So lighten up. After all apple saw the light didn't they? Try to be a little bit more friendly to newbies who really want to learn but have to ask stupidly annoying questions at first. If you can't or don't want to deal with that then take comfort that you are running a truly secure system, despite that fact you never seem able to prove this, and that all the dweebs morons and losers gravitate to linux like the braindead zombies they are.

      In the meantime we enjoy the community of getting things done and helping each other out that for some reason grew up around linux and we welcome with open arms any who escaped from the BSD gulag and nurture them wich friendly users and a cute logo.

    • by nathanh (1214) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:22PM (#6835221) Homepage

      I understand that Linux is the new darling of the tech industry, but why do reviews like this completely ignore operating systems likee FreeBSD (which out performs Linux in several serving tasks, and is in general more mature)?

      Numbers. Simply numbers. It's the same reason that nobody reports on any of the 100s of fringe OSs with user bases measured in the thousands. Linux has more users and therefore gets the most attention. FreeBSD had its chance to have the biggest user base but it lost to Linux. This was despite a significant headstart in the form of 386BSD. There are at least six reasons I can fathom as to why this happened.

      First, the AT&T lawsuit against Berkeley (1992) scared a number of developers away from 386BSD at a very critical time in its evolution. Why invest time into developing 386BSD if AT&T was just going to steal your hard work? And "steal" is the right word here; it really would have been theft if AT&T had won because the 386BSD developers would have lost ownership of code they'd written themselves. Developers were scared away from 386BSD and towards Linux, which was seen as being "litigation-free". The parallels with the claims made by SCO today are frightening.

      Second, the Jolitzes. They were custodians of 386BSD and Bill was notorious for being slow to accept patches (1 year of unapplied patches). The formation of FreeBSD was essentially the "Gang of Three" getting frustrated with the slow pace of 386BSD development. They combined 386BSD plus the existing "patch kit" and sold the result as a CD-ROM. This was unfortunately too little, too late. Linux had a 2 year headstart on FreeBSD by this stage. Also the splintering pissed off a number of developers who stopped contributing to both 386BSD and FreeBSD. Instead they started contributing to Linux.

      Third, the license. FreeBSD advocates say that the BSD license is "more free" than the GPL but to some people (myself included) the BSD license is offensive. Nothing stops a commercial company leeching off your hard work if you use the BSD license. BSD advocates say this isn't a problem: "you wanted it to be free and now it is". The problem is I don't really want companies getting rich off my code. I want them to contribute back with more code. The GPL enforces this. The BSD license does not. In 1991, when Linux was still very much in its infancy, it managed to get more attention from more programmers than 386BSD ever managed. This was despite Linux being technically inferior to 386BSD. The license simply appeals to certain people. If Linus had used a BSD license then I don't think Linux could have ever wrested the #1 spot away from 386BSD.

      Fourth, the Internet. Linux development began at a time when Internet access was appearing in homes. The early adopters of home-Internet access were (of course) technology enthusiasts. The percentage of potential Linux developers in this group was relatively high. This meant from the start Linux had a huge base of developers to draw upon. And isn't it more fun to contribute to a brand new project than an existing project? Linux attracted the developers simply because it wasn't finished.

      Fifth, the installers. Back in 1992 (1991?) I was using Interactive UNIX at home. The software was showing its age so I was looking to get into one of the "Free UNIX" that was floating around the Internet. I'd already used (and dismissed) Minix because it was incredibly limited. I had a choice between 386BSD and Linux. The 386BSD installer required a 40MB download, a SCSI hard drive, and required me to destroy my existing Interactive installation. The Linux distribution came on 2x 5.25" floppies, supported IDE hard disks, and could coexist with existing operating systems. It was a no-brainer. Linux won because it cared about the newbie, even back then when I admittedly needed all my UNIX experience to get the damn thing installed. The FreeBSD distro didn't come until late-1993 but by then it was too late; I'd already deleted my Intera

  • by Anonymous Coward
    will still be an issue in my eye.. once our propritary software will run on linux.. then we'll think about switching.. for now Windows 2000 will do the trick..
  • TCO vs ROI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by manual_overide (134872) <slashdot@duder.net> on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:10PM (#6834595) Homepage Journal
    even if MS's linux myths page was correct about linux having a greater TCO, business types don't care that much about the initial cost. That's why RH can get away with charging 10K for a multiprocessor licence. Businesses will buy it if it will earn them money in the long run. Of course it really helps if there is a low TCO because that will make your ROI go up.

    the linux myths page focuses solely on TCO. Someone should set up a high profile windows myths page that focuses on ROI. It'd be funny if it were full of FUD about windows, but better if it were actually truthfull. Get the PHB's out there to tell the IT guy, "i want one of those lunix boxes on my computers"
    • > even if MS's linux myths page was correct about linux having a greater TCO, business types don't care that much about the initial cost.

      Sometimes initial cost really does matter. For some businesses in some business cycles, getting your manager to sign off on something as small as the purchase of a single PC can be worse than getting your teeth drilled, no matter how badly your group needs the PC to get your work done. If you can take that "outgrown" secretarial PC and load it down with free software

      • Re: TCO vs ROI (Score:2, Insightful)

        yes, but the secretary's workstation has an almost zero ROI. getting a new pc to let the secretary surf the interweb and play solitaire is usually not top priority for managers. having servers that stay up all the time usually is. esp. if your servers ARE the business.

        like we have a product that customers run on our servers via a citrix client. If those servers go down, that's money down the drain. But if they stay up, that's money in the bank. Which is why getting a PHB to sign for a new server is mu
        • > yes, but the secretary's workstation has an almost zero ROI. getting a new pc to let the secretary surf the interweb and play solitaire is usually not top priority for managers. having servers that stay up all the time usually is. esp. if your servers ARE the business.

          Your managers must be more rational than any I've ever had. In my experience the secretary gets a new status-symbol PC every year, if only to stop the nagging. But getting stuff you actually need for doing your work requires jumping th

  • I think it's kind of sad that all that matter is money. Personally I'm not running Linux because it's beer free. I'm running it because speech free. I'm taking some of those ideas into the company I work for too. You can't put a pricetag on everything.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:11PM (#6834610)


    > One of the big wins for Linux was in the area of remote administration. Specifically noted was ssh.

    I admin ~25 machines remotely, most of them in a room that I don't even have access to without special arrangements. With SSH I can do that without ever having to make those arrangements, except in the case of a major upgrade or a hardware failure.

    You can write scripts that will take a shell command as an argument and then step through all your machines executing it on each in turn, greatly simplifying remote management.

    You can also use pipes and redirects to channel information between processes on the remote machine and your local machine, e.g. -

    ssh remotehost cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep flags > temp.txt
    will put the flags in temp.text on your local machine, but -
    ssh remotehost "cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep flags > temp.txt"
    will put it on the remote machine instead.

    Or, if you want to do all the work on the remote machine and only redirect the output to your local machine, use -
    ssh remotehost "cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep flags" > temp.txt
    and the grep will actually execute on remotehost.

    The example is trivial, but you can do some powerful sysadmin stuff that way. However, there are a few gottchas: a few services crap out if you try to restart them with -
    ssh remotehost service xyz restart
    so you do have to be careful about some things. (Sure wish someone would figure out what causes that and fix it!)

    • You mentioned how some things fail when you do

      ssh remotehost service xyz restart

      Be aware that some programs (such as ping) will die if they don't have a terminal to input from/output to. One handy thing you can do is to run the following:

      ssh -t remotehost command

      which will allocate a pseudo-terminal. I can't promise it will work for your situation, but I've found that it has solved similar problems for me.
    • by Quixote (154172) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:53PM (#6834813) Homepage Journal
      One word: screen [gnu.org]

      It is such a handy utility. I can fire off a long job, and detach the screen; go home and reattach to it, to see how its going; and then come back to work and continue. It's so beautiful. <sniff>

    • The biggest benefit of replacing RISC boxes with Linux is the ability to run on generic PeeCee hardware. The biggest problem with replacing RISC boxes with Linux is putting up with the fact that PeeCee's (including x86 servers) are derived from something designed to be a single user computer.

      Remote management with Linux on a typical PeeCee is kind of wimpy compared to Sun box with Lights Out Management (LOM). Provided that you have a terminal server in your server room, it's possible to reboot the machin

    • I administer Solaris for a living, but the same things apply. My old boss actually got upset at me for solving problems from my desk over the phone, rather than going up to the user's desk (one or five floors away) to do it at their workstation. Eegh ... my new boss is actually smart.
    • by Malor (3658)
      One non-obvious application of this is remote backup from one machine to another.

      You can create an /etc/nobackup file that looks like this:

      proc/*
      tmp/*
      dev/*
      var/log/*

      and then you can:

      ssh -l root remotehost "cd /; tar -X /etc/nobackup cf - *" | bzip2 -9 >remotehost.tar.bz2

      This runs the bzip locally; this is good if you're on the same network and your server carries a heavy load. If bandwidth rather than CPU is your limiting factor:

      ssh -l root remotehost "cd /; tar -X /etc/nobackup -cjf - *" >remot

    • ssh remotehost cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep flags > temp.txt

      Have a look at BitCluster [bitmover.com], it opens up a window for each of your remoter machine and allows you to do everything simultanously, over SSH of course.

  • Solid Analysis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by InnovativeCX (538638) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:13PM (#6834621)
    I have to admit, this is definitely one of the better write-ups that I have seen on the subject. Most, as the article states, base all decisions on the TCO (amount spent) rather than the ROI, which allows organizations to determine how much they would save in the long run if they were to switch.

    Main thrust seems to be that the savings increase with the amount of technical resources converted to Linux systems. Perhaps this could be a deciding factor for many companies and organizations considering taking the plunge.

    Favorite Quote:

    "Discount retailing's a tight business, and we're wicked cheap," explains Burlington Coat Factory CIO Mike Prince..."Instead of having a superhorse you have a team of horses -- you don't have to have this genetic [RISC] wonder."

    -CSA
  • Cost discussion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by maxmo74 (597969) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:14PM (#6834630)
    My colleagues and I had several discussions about switching to linux costs during the past years. I am not going to report everything we talked about (especially when we got "hot" and yelled using not very fair terms), but just the essentials. The cost, both for just server or even for workstations, depends a lot upon whether there's at least a professional employed there actively using linux (a geek almost necessarily) and the kind of applications needed to be "ported". In my case, a switch not only would be very expensive (30 workstations using Windows and -gosh- MS Access), but almost impossibile without thinking about an almost complete rewrite of the applications. In many other cases though the switch is not only possibile (email, wordprocessing, spreadsheet) but even very very inexpensive.
    • Re:Cost discussion (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TWX (665546)
      The trick on custom stuff, like MS-Access applications and databases, is timing. If your Access solution is getting near no longer working due to age coupled with Microsoft's abandonment of older binaries, you have incentive to rewrite something. Now, are you going to spend $500 for OS and applications per year per computer, and $2000 porting it to a newer version of Access, to keep spending $500 per per year per computer, or are you going to spend $20,000, as an example, rewriting it entirely for a new p
    • CrossOver Office Available Now for only $54.95

      Handles Access just fine.

      25 licences: $1212.50 US Dollars + shipping

      Admittedly that's a bunch, but when you consider 1 copy of MS Office is somewhere around $500 new, and upgrades are $330, that really isn't much (about 2.5x and 4x respectively)

      Eliminating windows would be about $100 (an upgrade) for $2500 for XP's replacement.

      Overall (and rounding) 3000-1300 = $700 saved on 25 machines, contacing codeweavers would probably get about the same rate on the

  • by chill (34294) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:16PM (#6834639) Journal
    "There were a lot of costs I didn't expect-- hidden migration costs," says Cedars-Sinai's Duncan. During the migration from NT to Linux, his staff insisted that because they had been running RAID disk mirroring and striping on NT they should buy SCSI RAID controllers for the Linux servers. "It was like $1,000 per box extra that I hadn't planned on."

    That wasn't a hidden cost. Linux could have easily handled RAID disk mirroring and striping without the special controllers.

    This was an example of the IT staff knowing they have a much larger than normal project budget and milking it for all it was worth.
    • That or they are familiar with what a crappy solution software RAID can be. Nah, couldn't be that...you didn't think of it! They must be morons.
    • "There were a lot of costs I didn't expect-- hidden migration costs," says Cedars-Sinai's Duncan. During the migration from NT to Linux, his staff insisted that because they had been running RAID disk mirroring and striping on NT they should buy SCSI RAID controllers for the Linux servers. "It was like $1,000 per box extra that I hadn't planned on."

      That wasn't a hidden cost. Linux could have easily handled RAID disk mirroring and striping without the special controllers. This was an example of the IT staff
      • If and only if they were doing RAID 5 (not 0,1 or 0+1) in hardware on NT (don't think anything runs that in software), getting the same for the Linux servers would be reasonable

        I gathered from the article that they had been using a software raid mode in NT and they were re-using the same hardware and the raid hardware was an additional expense. I've used the software striping and mirroring stuff that's built into NT before, and learned my lesson the hard way not to do that anymore! Even though Linux does

    • > This was an example of the IT staff knowing they have a much larger than normal project budget and milking it for all it was worth.

      Ye Gods! They spent it on SCSI RAID controllers instead of new chairs???

  • Ok not to be a nitpicky jackfuck, but isn't "if" and "where" as used in this context (to use linux or not) the same thing? "Where" is referring to what situations/setups make for a proper place to run linux. "If" is just another way of saying that. For example: Where your servers are important to you and you can't afford the downtime associated with microsoft products, linux is for you. OR -- If your servers are important to you and you can't afford the downtime... then linux is for you. Same thing. E
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Finally Linux will be all it can be. It just need improvment from Bill. When MS-Linux is here, you will get 1) DirectX, 2) an intuitive GUI, 3) easy and painless installation, 4) seamless installation of drivers, 5) real apps made by real coding companies.

    The best part? The MS-Linux distriubution will be the only one will all this! None of it will be GPLed, so there won't be any hobbyists to muck up Microsoft's good coding!

    All Linux needs is MicroSoft. And it will come. And there's nothing anyone can do a
  • The key quote in the Inforworld article is the following.

    The benefit of replacing expensive RISC processor-based Unix hardware with commodity Intel boxes is one of the biggest factors driving Linux adoption

    Linux servers and workstations have rapidly increased their share of the market at the expense of Sun Microsystems. According to "IBM steals server sales from Sun [com.com]", the sales of Sun servers running Solaris dropped by a whopping 19% from 2nd quarter of 2002 to 2nd quarter of 2003.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) * on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:29PM (#6834720)
    Microsoft bundles a lot of stuff into Windows, into SQL Server, into the .Net framework ? if you?re looking to build a generic app and deploy it at an all-in price point, Windows is going to win hands down because you get so much bundled in.

    Windows software is cheaper because it has so much bundled in???

    It sounds like the logic used I Love Lucy where she loses money on each item sold but plans to make up for it by increasing the number of sales.

  • Security (Score:3, Informative)

    by wmaker (701707) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:30PM (#6834726) Homepage
    I notice nobody has mentioned security... What about the fact that linux security is a lot easier to matain remotely than Microsoft. What are you supposed to do if some security flaw is released for microsoft and you're at home. You can't just run PC Anywhere... Plus, uptime is so much better on linux.
  • by ODBOL (197239) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:32PM (#6834732) Homepage
    I haven't yet seen a TCO study that includes the risk of a BSA audit in a Windows shop. The TCO for running Windows should include the cost of insurance against the disruption of a BSA audit and the penalties paid for apparently unlicensed software.
    • Is there a lower risk of a BSA audit if you run Linux? Wouldn't the fact that you are buying a bunch of Windowless PCs be more likely to attract the BSA's attention?

      I'm not saying that's a reason to stay with Windows, but how do you figure you are immune from audits by running Linux?

  • One of the big wins for Linux was in the area of remote administration. Specifically noted was ssh.

    Okay, I recently came to be in charge of a small office with maybe 20 machines with different hardware and different versions of Windows. Anyways, I was wondering if anyone has had any success or experience managing a group of Windows machines using the open ssh server or perhaps VNC. I'm mostly looking for more efficient means of patching than walking around from machine to machine after hours. While abo
    • If you use the post sp3 .adm files, I believe you can config local security policy to grab updates from windows update.
    • by hughk (248126)
      Cygwin runs well and does ssh. It will run remotely everything that doesn't need a GUI. For patch installation, it runs fine, it is only on sowftware installations that you may need the GUI, then VNC will help you out there.
  • Stupid assumptions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bun (34387) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:36PM (#6834754)
    [said]Martin Taylor, Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy . "One of the issues that causes people to not take a full picture on [Linux costs] is they download something for free and they invest time to get it where they want it. They don't fully account for the time and effort it took to even get their model scenario up and running."
    Really? And you would have your customers set up an enterprise system WITHOUT evaluating it to the point where they understand it and are fully prepared to use it properly?

    Jackass.
  • Also of note is the shift in calculating cost from TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) as has been calculated in the past, to ROI (Return on Investment)
    And how, might I ask, is one expected to calculate the return on an investment of you haven't yet calculated its total cost? Man, consulting must be a great living.

  • by foyle (467523) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:55PM (#6834826)
    After the MSBlaster worm and SoBig virus activity of the last few weeks, you'd think that there'd be a little more than a passing reference on page 3 of the article saying that Linux is "virtually virus-free".

    I'll bet that none of these expensive studies ever include the cost of cleaning up after the virus/worm of the week that comes with running Microsoft NT/2000/XP. Having everyone in your company having 2 or 3 days a year when their desktop/laptop/server/whatever is unavailable because of cleanup activity should have a definite negative impact on TCO or ROI.

    Yet one more reason to use Linux, *BSD or OS X.
    • > I'll bet that none of these expensive studies ever include the cost of cleaning up after the virus/worm of the week that comes with running Microsoft NT/2000/XP. Having everyone in your company having 2 or 3 days a year when their desktop/laptop/server/whatever is unavailable because of cleanup activity should have a definite negative impact on TCO or ROI.

      Yes, whenever "TCO" is deployed as a marketing ploy there isn't much interest in the total cost of ownership, but rather in the total for that sub

    • SoBig is the result of user activity. It is NOT a Windows hole. It is e-mail attachment stupidity.

      DCOM was patched a month before Blaster hit.

      You are just spreading anti-Windows FUD.
  • "When you're building apps," notes Forrester's Schadler, "it's not a Windows versus Linux decision. It's a Java-on-Linux versus Windows decision. Microsoft bundles a lot of stuff into Windows, into SQL Server, into the .Net framework -- if you're looking to build a generic app and deploy it at an all-in price point, Windows is going to win hands down because you get so much bundled in."
    Is it just me, or is Schadler smoking crack?
  • "There were a lot of costs I didn't expect-- hidden migration costs," says Cedars-Sinai's Duncan. During the migration from NT to Linux, his staff insisted that because they had been running RAID disk mirroring and striping on NT they should buy SCSI RAID controllers for the Linux servers. "It was like $1,000 per box extra that I hadn't planned on."

    Hidden costs? Give me a break. Like he wouldn't have bought a SCSI RAID controller for a new machine no matter which operating system was going to be insta

  • What rubbish! Complete fucking rubbish.

    Microsoft crushes Linux in terms of remote administration:

    - Remote Desktop/Terminal Services (you don't even need a RD client, just a browser, which nearly every modern machine has, unlike ssh [yes, i know putty is just a quick download away, assuming you have rights to do that on a machine])
    - VBScript (horrid, but gets the job done most of the time)
    - WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation, do damn near anything remotely, but be sure to properly secure your network)
    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:45PM (#6835067)
      - Remote Desktop/Terminal Services (you don't even need a RD client, just a browser, which nearly every modern machine has, unlike ssh

      Bzzt. Every modern Linux machine comes with ssh.

      - VBScript (horrid, but gets the job done most of the time)

      VBScript compared to perl/bash etc.? lol.

      - WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation, do damn near anything remotely, but be sure to properly secure your network)

      Compared to UNIX instrumentation tools like SNMP? lol x2.

      - The MMC tools (ADUC, etc etc), which fully operate remotely, as well.

      MMC tools vs. UNIX remote admin ? hahaha

      - The .NET development tools, to quickly code up anything you need that can't be covered by the above.

      $1000 IDE license for the above vs what you get for free in Linux? You don't have a clue as to what you are talking about. And .Net is hardly quick to learn or code in. It's a bloated OOP framework in the Java tradition. Fine for applications, sux for writing sysadmin tools.

      I really love watching Windows admins paging through dialog boxes looking for incorrect settings. It's hilarious.

      Try remote admining your Windows box from a PDA on a train on your way to work, fella.

  • Interesting because while MS could always argue TCO, there's no way they can argue ROI with the price of keeping their software up to date.

    Whereas Microsoft expects you to pay to upgrade every couple of years, Linux can be updated for free with a very little fear that proprietary apps won't work. Or at least companies can expect that their apps won't require much tweaking to get them to work.
  • Rant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hobit (253905) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:00PM (#6835128)
    I've been a Unix user for around 12 years and a Linux user for about 3. Something wacky happened to my Debian set-up so they re-installed the now standard (here) RedHat. During this process I learned (again) about the cost of switching over.

    First of all, it looks like fvmw2, which I've been using for years isn't a standard rpm supported by the RedHat folks. So I moved to gnome, something I'd been planning for a while. Wow, what a nasty thing. You name it, it didn't work. Printing was a mess (it wouldn't change the default printer and it really really hated the 103 printers in the printcap file.) I couldn't figure out how to set things (like turn off the system beep from the terminal) and found nasty hacks to get around them. It refuses to use my good sound card and instead uses the on-board card. Etc. etc. etc.

    My point? I'm still trying to figure out which of these statements is true (may be more than one):
    • Attempts to make linux GUI driven is doomed to failure.
    • Gnome (at least as supplied by Redhat) is has serious problems. (If it is going to ignore me when I set a default printer, an error message would be nice!)
    • GUI unix isn't for us old farts.
  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:12PM (#6835172)
    1- you don't need new hardware. linux runs on damn near any platform, at least those that count. x86-yes, sparc-yes, ppc-yes, big iron - yes (thanks IBM)

    2- the options taht linux gives you are unlimited. with windows, what they give you is what you get. for instance: let's say you have 20-30 older boxen. turn them into thin clients. suddenly adding 30 new cubicles and need a bridge or router. fine. where's that old pentium 120 we had laying around.

    3- with windows you either upgrade when they say, or face EOL'd products. even if yo have an old RH5.2 mail server (and you know who you are!!), you never have to upgrade. and you have the source.

    those are examples that the article missed. i'm sure there are many more. this is where TCO analyses falter. how do you calculate the cost of things like these?
  • by paj1234 (234750) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @06:41PM (#6835297)
    • Risk of the 'Software Police'
    • Timewasting 'licence audits'
    • Microsoft business practices
    • Paying again every 5 years
    • Viruses, worms
    • Staff timewasting on Ebay etc
    • Overworked, frustrated tech staff
    All these are avoidable... as Sternie Ball of guitar string maker Ernie Ball explains here [com.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2003 @07:14PM (#6835412)
    There is no TCO with Windows. You don't own shit. It is licensed to you for your use. Don't forget that. You hand M$ your balls the minute you use their stuff.
  • Cost of conversion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday August 31, 2003 @02:07AM (#6836743) Homepage

    When you ask about the cost of converting from Windows to Linux, there's a companion question: what's the cost of converting from Windows to the next version of Windows? Look at the licensing terms MS has now, and notice that they pretty much either force you to upgrade every 2 years or so or pay huge licensing fees when you do upgrade from an "obsolete" version. Also look at the history of cascading upgrades on Windows, where you need a new version of Word which forces an upgrade of Windows itself (the new Word won't run on older versions of the OS) which in turn forces upgrades of other software because your current versions won't run right (or at all!) on the new version of the OS. This is the dirty little secret cost the MS sales reps will never mention.

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