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Linux In 2009 — Recession vs. GNU 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-as-in-bailout dept.
RealityThreek sends this excerpt from an article at IT Management:"Pundits and business executives alike are predicting gloomy economic times for 2009. But when the talk turns to free and open source software (FOSS), suddenly the mood brightens. Whether their concern is the business opportunities in open source or the promotion of free software idealism, experts see FOSS as starting from a strong base and actually benefiting from the hard times expected next year. ... [Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation] sees Linux and the FOSS ecosystem surrounding it as having insurmountable advantages in any market over its main competitor Windows — advantages that an economic downturn only intensifies. At a time when a search for the lowest possible price point is happening in such areas as notebooks, FOSS is available at no cost. It is easy to rebrand and customize in a way that Windows Isn't, and is also technically more efficient."
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Linux In 2009 — Recession vs. GNU

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:42PM (#26306905) Homepage

    In a recent study of the top 140 corporations in America, 12 were using OpenOffice. That's not exactly much. With the coming recession, I can see quite a few companies deciding to cut their costs and switch to OpenOffice. It beats upgrading to Office 2007, that's for sure.

    We only need another 4 companies in that sample to get a 50% market share increase!

    Linux also will strenghten its dominant position in servers. Sun is going out of business, just like SGI a few years back. Sun is the only one that doesn't know it yet.

    Wait, but if Sun is going out business, who will pay all these engineers who contribute to Open Source projects today? "Houston, we have a problem."

    So this pending recession has some good for FOSS, and some not so good. By the way, don't listen to the pundits that tell you the recession will last years. Those same pundits four months ago were saying life is great. They don't have a clue, they just echo the popular opinion of the time.

    --
    Software Bill Of Rights [softwarebillofrights.org]: transparency, open management, equal rights and revenue sharing

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      The savings from switching to OpenOffice are no better than the savings from keeping Office 2003.

      PS: 4/12 is not 50%.

      • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:58PM (#26307143) Homepage
        My company is doing a mix between keeping Office 2k3 and very slowly attempting to get people using Lotus Symphony which isn't OOo but it uses the Open Document format. That is all we really need.. Imo, this isn't necessarily about OOo beating Office but getting people using something that allows you to use anything so there is no risk of losing access to your data.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *

          My company is ... using Lotus Symphony...

          no risk of losing access to your data.

          Does not compute

          (I kid, I kid)

        • using Lotus Symphony which isn't OOo but it uses the Open Document format.

          Doesn't Lotus Symphony use forked code from an older release of OpenOffice?

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:18AM (#26309119)

        The savings from switching to OpenOffice are no better than the savings from keeping Office 2003.

        For existing installs, it is indeed probably better to keep an older version of Office. For new purchases however, it might be worth looking into OO.o. We've entertained the idea in the past, but so far have continued to stick with MS Office. It just wasn't worth the extra effort of supporting two platforms. Still though, we're facing some definate budget issues. The state recently cut our budget back 3% across the board, and we're looking at further cuts next budget cycle. Just to get us through the current cycle we've already implemented a hiring freeze and have scheduled 3 unpaid holidays over the next 6 months.

        The call has basically come from the higher ups that if we can find a way to save a little here and there, to by all means bring those ideas to them. I'm thinking that I might bring up the OpenOffice option again soon. I'd love to push Linux as a desktop option to really save on the OS licenses, but we just have too many existing proprietary applications to look at it at the moment.

    • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:49PM (#26307017)

      Amazing. It's like they're saying 2009 some special YEAR OF SOMETHING, oh, I dunno, how best to put it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by faragon (789704)
      Sun can support also Linux, much in the same way as IBM supports Linux and mainframes. There is no excuse, and there are reasons that make Sun as a viable company in the near future: services and engine for the 21th century Open Source!

      In my opinion we are in the transition to a change in the business model, similar to the musicians that make money with concerts (services) but not with CDs, in the software arena I expect something somewhat similar: software will be free and open source, and the bucks wil
      • by mortonda (5175)

        (I have savings for 2-3 years, if after deflation don't come hiperinflation, I expect to survive without major problems).

        I just have to say, congrats on making wise choices and saving that money up. if more people and companies would have that foresight, we all might weather hard times a lot better.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AlphaZeta (1356887)
      The main reason people sticked to proprietary software during economic boom time is that that is something that they have gotten used to and there was no reason to look anywhere else. Now it is a totally different story. May be people will start looking at open source software. Sure, while certain functions people got used to in MS office are not present in OpenOffice, but all this is just superficial and when dollars matter, I think the decision is clear and people will get used to working with open sourc
      • by Shados (741919) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:32PM (#26307537)

        but all this is just superficial

        Far from it. In many companies, MS Office is used as a client, data consumer, for the company's server side processes and databases. MS Word or Excel as part of workflows, Excel as a client for datawarehouses, Outlook integrated with customer's systems, ----SHAREPOINT---- development (thats a big one), etc.

        When you're at home using Office to type out a quick document, you may as well be using anything else, doesn't matter much. When Office is an integral part of your processes, you tend to use features that are more..."unique" to it. Its then harder to replace (usually companies that go that route, do so with the idea that the license price of Office is minimal compared to the time saving of using it as a RAD client...). Added to the fact that Office's volume licensing makes it much cheaper than what you'll see if you poke Amazon.com, and in time of recession, its the LAST suite of apps that will be switched over...

        • When Office is an integral part of your processes, you tend to use features that are more..."unique" to it. Its then harder to replace (usually companies that go that route, do so with the idea that the license price of Office is minimal compared to the time saving of using it as a RAD client...)

          Yes, but you assume also that during 2009 both Office along with OOo (and other open source office suites) will remain stagnant. Try convincing a person who already is afraid of their computer that Office 2007 is better when they have to relearn half the program. And who knows what Windows 7 will bring, it may be that in the final release they remove all compatibility with Office below 2007 in which case showing people that they might not have to be retrained with the (IMO) horrid "ribbon" interface of Of

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drsmithy (35869)

            And who knows what Windows 7 will bring, it may be that in the final release they remove all compatibility with Office below 2007 in which case showing people that they might not have to be retrained with the (IMO) horrid "ribbon" interface of Office 2007 but a more familiar one of OOo might be enough to convince your boss to go with the free app even if it might take more admin work to make it work.

            It's always hilarious to hear the various paranoid rants about how Microsoft is going to deliberately break

            • by rmcd (53236) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:49PM (#26308177)

              Here are two honest questions:

              1. Why did Microsoft make the equation editor in Word 2007 incompatible with that in Word 2003? (And yes, I know that they shipped the old equation as part of powerpoint 2007 and you could discover this with enough effort. But in my setting a few people upgraded and everyone else had to upgrade to be able to edit the new documents. No, the docx update for 2003 did not permit editing of the new equation format.)

              2. Why did Microsoft ship Excel 2007 in such a form that it couldn't read old macros (circa Excel 95) [microsoft.com]. In fact they have a simple fix for this, but it's not available unless you contact MS tech support.

              I can see two reasons for these omission: 1) stunning incompetence or 2) a deliberate attempt to drive upgrades. I have a hard time believing it's not #2, but I have no evidence.

              Just because it's FUD doesn't mean the F, U, and D are not justified.

          • by Shados (741919)

            You really missed it. Its not more "admin work". Office has integration features that are either not found in other suites, or are vastly different... By integration features, read: "Using Office as a development platform". Programming.

            Sure, maybe the UI of OOo will be slightly closer to Office 2003...but the app that you'd have to build around OOo will be a heck of a lot more different, and the totally different skillset required to develop for it (Office's API sucks, OOo's API is Lord of Sith level of evi

            • Enlighten me, please. Office as a development platform?

              Do you mean integrating freshly written programs with Office through some API, or using Office as an IDE?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Added to the fact that Office's volume licensing makes it much cheaper than what you'll see if you poke Amazon.com, and in time of recession, its the LAST suite of apps that will be switched over...

          You're mostly right, but OpenOffice can be used in two different ways: as an office suite and as a weapon in negotiations. Most large companies will do exactly what you say they will -- they'll stick with Office no matter what -- but there will be some that tell Microsoft to lower their price or else, even if t

    • Not during recession (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hwyhobo (1420503)

      With the coming recession, I can see quite a few companies deciding to cut their costs and switch to OpenOffice.

      Switching corporate standards causes temporary increase in costs due to retraining and document conversion. Such a move may be fine in good times, but it is counter intuitive during recession.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by David Gerard (12369)

        No-one ever gets training on new versions of Office.

        I have worked for large corporations, I'm working for one now. The last time I got such training was 1997, when I was working for a computer training company.

        FUDsters keep claiming "but what about the training costs" - there are no such training costs because there is no training. I would like evidence that such training is widespread and expected. I would like evidence that it's anything more than negligible. Statistics, please, not anecdotes.

        In add

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      OpenOffice will not take much more corporate share until two things happen:

      1: A workable replacement for Outlook, Exchange, and its calendar service is released. Too many office personnel use it, and it's not a bad calendar service.

      2: Word document compatibility improves quite a lot. Swapping back and forth between OpenOffice and Word still causes nasty layout and compatibility problems, especially for graphics intensive documents and templates made by Microsoft Office users.

      • Does Sun's ODF plugin have the same layout issues?
      • A workable replacement for Outlook, Exchange, and its calendar service is released.

        What do you consider "unworkable" about the alternatives? Off the top of my head, there's Gmail + Google Calendar. There's also at least two open source alternatives that I can think of -- either a full stack, or with Outlook as a client.

        Swapping back and forth between OpenOffice and Word still causes nasty layout and compatibility problems

        From what I've seen, these are exaggerated. Yes, there are problems, but they don't affect most cases. For each worker, there's the question of whether they would actually gain anything from Office, and if so, whether it is worth spending hundreds of dollars on a personal c

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rabbit994 (686936)

          Gmail and Google Calendar are not replacements for several reasons.

          First being despite how responsive and AJAX, it's still a web client and still slower to work then Outlook.
          Second, many companies are not willing to turn over their email to outside party that they cannot control what they do with it.

          Zimbra is a nightmare and there is no reason to use Outlook as client but not use Exchange as backend. It might be cheaper but I've never seen anything that plugins to Outlook work as well as native Exchange.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I've admittedly not worked with Google's calendar. But the alleged 'drop-in replacements' for Exchange aren't, or at least not yet: they just don't work well with real Outlook clients. Replacing the tight integration of Outlook with its calendar tools is very difficult. All of the Exchange replacements seem to require an unstable and unreliable 'Connector' to inter-operate with Outlook, and it costs a lot more to support in IT resources and wasted user time than simply buying an Exchange server.

          A mail clien

      • by pembo13 (770295)
        Or maybe people will start using PDFs more... that would be even better.
    • by theguyfromsaturn (802938) on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:03PM (#26307839)
      This recession will not last years because pundits say so. Unlike other recessions, this one was predicted decades ago. (have a look at the book "Limits to growth" and the neat time line for peak global industrial output peak. The timing match is quite scary actually). It is not a coincidence that the banking system collapsed on the heels of 140$ a barrel for oil. There is no other currency than energy. Without energy (including food to keep people going), there is no economic "activity". Food production has peaked too, on a global scale. What will happen now, is that as soon as the economy starts moving again, demand of fuel will increase until we reach a level somewhat lower than the peak 85 million barrels a day or so, at which point, due the limited oil production, prices will skyrocket again, and a fragile economy will go right back into recession. The only way out, is reducing quickly energy consumption. And increasing alternatitve energy sources.. However, there is 150 years of infrastructure in oil, and even more in coal.... you can't replace that in a couple of years. It takes decades during which global population will continue to grow, and food production decrease (at an accelerated rate with the decreased availability of natural gas and gasoline). It's not the pundits that predict a long recession. It's mother nature.
      • by linhares (1241614) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @12:30AM (#26308889)
        Beautiful. I wish I had mod points

        HERE ARE SOME SLIDES FROM LIMITS TO GROWTH [slideshare.net] that I've uploaded. They concern only scenario#2, which is but one of the scenarios developed in the model (and the one I think is turning out eerily close to reality).

        Slides 11 and 12 are particular sinister to me.

        Obviously, I'm placing them here totally out of context, but when you read the book you see that they do make sense, and how these global variables feedback into each other. (Note. Other slides loosely related)

    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:08PM (#26307889)

      In a recent study of the top 140 corporations in America, 12 were using OpenOffice. That's not exactly much.

      No, that's a lot. You're seeing the cup as half empty, but it wasn't long ago that the cup was completely empty. 12 companies out of the "top" 140 corporations is a big deal. Every single one of those 12 corporations is a big respected company envied by the lesser N-140 corporations. They're the trendsetters, the ones that others watch closely.

      If they're successful with OpenOffice (or other non-Microsoft software) then this will encourage other companies to do the same. Since these are large corporations, that means a large number of users are being exposed to Microsoft alternatives

    • by drolli (522659)

      Sun going out of business? I have heard that before, regularly. One difference to SGI however is that SGI had a single market which borke away. Sun quite diverse products, which fit together. And lets face it: If i want a trouble-free file server, i probably would buy Solaris. So i would guess that they will find some investor in case they run out of cash.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        How many Solaris file servers have you run? I've had noticeable issues with them, most often fixed by buying twice as many Linux servers for the same price and gaining reedundancy.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      And yet, there are those of us who have been saying for as much as a decade that we're headed for some rough times brought on foolish policy after foolish economic policy. We are about to reap the whirlwind of 50 years of low inflation and interest and wanton consumer debt/lending. We can not pay the piper.

    • Even if Sun goes out of business, there are two other potential maintainers who could fill the OpenOffice shoes. Novell are trying their best to hijack OpenOffice now, in a subtle open source way, not a hostile corporate way. They could probably do a much better job than Sun ever did. Alternatively, IBM's revival of Lotus uses OpenOffice at it's core. At present, it's using an old version, but I think I remember reading on the Lotus site that the old version was just a stepping stone to overcome Sun's l

  • The one thing these articles miss out is the massive costs involved in switching over and training staff. The old adage of "Linux is free only if your time is worthless" is especially relevent to the corporate world.

    And as they've already got fully working and paid for Windows setups, why would they incur costs they don't need to to switch?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      To be fair a lot of companies train people on upgraded software whether or not it's FOSS.

      We had Lotus Notes 8 training recently and that's an hour out of my life where I struggled to stay away and could have used to code something useful but no, we have to pretend people are stupid and train them on anything where the UI changes a little.

      So really you can't count training costs because companies will likely pay that whether or not they move from Office 2k3 to Office 2k7 or OOo.

      In regards to going f
    • by vux984 (928602) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:04PM (#26307211)

      The one thing these articles miss out is the massive costs involved in switching over and training staff. The old adage of "Linux is free only if your time is worthless" is especially relevent to the corporate world.

      Office 2007 is both expensive and different.
      OpenOffice is free and different (some would even argue less different).

      That makes it potentially a good value proposition, unless of course you can stay on Office 2003 which is already bought and paid for. But I know companies still on Office 2000 and Office XP and those aren't fully compatible with Vista (and Windows 7) and while they can hang onto WinXP for a bit yet, they can see the end is near.

      For them, OOo is genuinely a good value proposition.

    • by Narcocide (102829) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:37PM (#26307595) Homepage

      Those "training costs" arguments are at least 99% bullshit though. You ever had an office job? How many of those people really know their way around MS Office? I've got news for you - when forced to actually perform anything more than basic tasks most of those trained employees would find themselves hard pressed to even recognize the difference between OpenOffice and MS Office much less find a bit of advanced functionality from the latter that they are familiar with that isn't in the former.

      The same goes for most of the rest of the so-called productivity software - "training costs" really consist of the company now being accountable for addressing incompetence where previously the existing incompetence was just ignored because everyone lies and says they know how to use Office and nobody really knows it well enough to call anyone else out on it.

      So in short my point is this: everyone just fakes it anyway. They should sack up and fake it with cheaper software they'll find its not functionally different for basic features and they can't even make use of advanced features so they don't have the right to be whining in the first place.

      • by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:49AM (#26309309) Journal

        Those "training costs" arguments are at least 99% bullshit though. You ever had an office job? How many of those people really know their way around MS Office? I've got news for you - when forced to actually perform anything more than basic tasks most of those trained employees would find themselves hard pressed to even recognize the difference between OpenOffice and MS Office much less find a bit of advanced functionality from the latter that they are familiar with that isn't in the former.

        I frequently see this argument as an indicator that the costs of switching will be low, but my experience tends to lead me to conclude the other way; people who don't know how their Word Processor works will have only memorized the exact keystrokes to get their job done. It can take hours to days for each of these barely conscious cubicle monkeys to identify train, and support the switch to a new set of rote keystrokes and/or mouse clicks.

        In review, while they can't necessarily identify or articulate the difference between Office, OpenOffice, AbiWord, and Wordpad, they can sure tell that their Macro installed by $TECHGURU back in 1998 no longer works on the Excel sheet they've been copying and saving for the last 10 years.

        Don't believe me? Take a look at some of the user comments from this very recent slashdot article. [slashdot.org] I once drove 9 hours round trip for a baffling support issue when it turned out that the site administrator needed to SCROLL DOWN to find the icon that we kept insisting HAD to be there!

        You don't know until you've spent 2.5 hours discussing the difference between "Save" and "Save As" to a roomful of fearful, distraught staff members of all ages... people who've been using computers every day for 10 years and still don't know the difference...

        The cost of switching is much higher than you think.

    • The one thing these articles miss out is the massive costs involved in switching over and training staff.

      The "Massive Cost" of buying a new system vs. squeezing more out of an existing one by installing Linux?

      What about the training costs - I have news for you when revenue is headed down separate training is a LUXURY and one of the first things against the wall. You can't figure out how to work Open Office vs. Word within a day or two? Then how valuable are you really? Same with server operating systems

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by David Gerard (12369)

      No-one ever gets training on new versions of Office.

      FUDsters keep claiming "but what about the training costs" - there are no such training costs because there is no training. I would like evidence that such training is widespread and expected. I would like evidence that it's anything more than negligible. Statistics, please, not anecdotes.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:57PM (#26307133)

    Fear. Nobody got fired for buying IBM. If you complain enough, they'll cut you a deal. If you bet the farm on some hippy software from Finland, at the first sign of trouble, the blame arrow points to you and you get the axe.

    • Nobody got fired for buying IBM.

      Very true. I recently got "reassigned" for opposing a purchase from IBM.

    • If you bet the farm on some hippy software from Finland, at the first sign of trouble, the blame arrow points to you and you get the axe.

      If you get the axe for the very first mistake you ever make, that's probably not a job or a company you want to keep anyway, even in a recession.

      • by thethibs (882667)

        What part of "bet the farm" did you not understand?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The main thing that has kept the last couple of companies I've worked at from switching from Windows to FOSS is the lack of an integrated mail/contacts/calendar/tasks app that runs on our own servers. For us, this was a show-stopper.

    I haven't been keeping tabs on the latest FOSS offerings, so nowadays are there any replacements for Outlook and Exchange?

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:20PM (#26307409) Homepage Journal

      The main thing that has kept the last couple of companies I've worked at from switching from Windows to FOSS is the lack of an integrated mail/contacts/calendar/tasks app that runs on our own servers. For us, this was a show-stopper.

      I haven't been keeping tabs on the latest FOSS offerings, so nowadays are there any replacements for Outlook and Exchange?

      My site moved to Exchange so I replaced my suse desktop with ubuntu and used Evolution to talk to Exchange. It was working well until just before christmas when my windows password expired. I set a new password then evolution refused to work. I will have another look when I go back on monday.

      In short: its a bit brittle.

  • false economy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436)
    OSS always represents a false economy with the "but it's free" angle. it's NOT free, linux professionals are harder to come by and cost more, they also represent a large risk of taking secret knowledge with them.

    to be fair to MS, the reason business chooses them is they are cost effective, not because they are the cheapest. compared to vendors like IBM and redhat, MS products represent good value for money.

    does anyone seriously believe windows 2003 with sql server 2005 is a bad platform? i'd suggest if yo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      to be fair to MS, the reason business chooses them is they are cost effective, not because they are the cheapest. compared to vendors like IBM and redhat, MS products represent good value for money.

      ...Because having tons of downtime is "cheap"? Because having to buy $5K worth of software licenses is cheap compared to paying some contractor $2.5K to set up a comparable Linux system? Look, whenever a business currently running XP wants to upgrade their machines, they can either pay Vista licensing costs of around $50 per box, $50 for anti-virus and about $25 for other software. Compare that to $0 per box in software with Linux. Sure, someone who knows Linux is going to be harder to find, but really, h

      • Re:false economy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:30PM (#26307497)

        I cost a lot more than the average Windows guy, as a case in point. On the other hand, I replace about 4 Windows guys in personal productivity, and tend to provide a lot more services on the same amount of hardware, so it's a good investment.

        Note also, that $0/box is misleading. Updates cost bandwidth, commercial support costs license money, and some Linux compatible software is licensed in ways requiring payment for commercial use. (The MySQL licenses and their interesting clauses come to mind.) Nevertheless, the ability to do very low-cost or free prototype and testing systems is invaluable in industrial work.

        • Hint: Cache your updates into a local mini-repo, point nearly all machines to that repo.
          That should alleviate your bandwidth issues, unless you mean LAN bandwidth.
          • Oh, I do that! It's an effective approach to reduce wasteful external bandwidth usage. But it's still not _free_. You have to pay for the server space and manpower to maintain the local repository, and the bandwidth for the one-time downloads. And internal LAN bandiwdth is not free, either. 200 Windows desktops, all hitting the server at the same time, can saturate some classes of links and interfere with other operations such as backups.

            Using open source is like eating at home. It's normally a lot cheaper,

        • Updates cost bandwidth

          They also cost bandwidth on Windows. And if you point to WSUS, I'll point to apt-proxy and friends.

          commercial support costs license money

          There you go. But is any commercial support included in the $50/box cost of Windows?

          some Linux compatible software is licensed in ways requiring payment for commercial use. (The MySQL licenses and their interesting clauses come to mind.)

          WTF? MySQL can be had under the GPL. By the time you'd need to use the commercial license, I think you're far beyond what other proprietary offerings will get you.

          • Yes, bandwidth does cost money for Windows. That's partly why the retail price can be so misleading.

            Some commercial support is included with a bare Windows license, including the nominal $50 OEM prices with new machines. Mind you, those OEM prices are a bit misleading, but they do include someone to call and rant to when you can't figure out what happened and you need help getting your machine to boot. That these calls are likely to be more frequent and more devastatingly unhelpful with Windows is a separat

      • Re:false economy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:45PM (#26307679)
        windows 2003 is a perfectly stable OS and easily holds it's own against linux, look at the top uptimes on netcraft for crying out loud.

        and the fact that you think $5k is a lot of money to even a medium sized business shows lack of perspective. whats more important is the ability to get trained staff and software that's compatible with your platform. the typical backyard linux guy you discribe comes in with promises of free software, and leaves with fat consulting fee's and a string of boxes running software that's on the knife edge.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      linux professionals are harder to come by and cost more

      You get what you pay for. Good Windows admins are harder to come by, and cost more. And a good Linux admin can do more -- manage more machines, spend less time doing it.

      they also represent a large risk of taking secret knowledge with them.

      And this is different than Windows admins, how?

      to be fair to MS, the reason business chooses them is they are cost effective, not because they are the cheapest.

      Almost. Business choose them because they believe them to be cost-effective. It's difficult to have an unbiased study back up either as more cost-effective.

      does anyone seriously believe windows 2003 with sql server 2005 is a bad platform? i'd suggest if you do you've never used it.

      I don't have to use it to think that requiring a video card on a server is fucking moronic. And there are plenty of other reasons to dislike

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        I don't have to use it to think that requiring a video card on a server is fucking moronic.

        Why is it any different to "requiring" a serial port or a Lights-out-management card ?

        Incidentally, I doubt the vast majority of hardware engineers are "moronic", yet for some reason they think including a video card is a reasonably good idea.

    • OSS always represents a false economy with the "but it's free" angle. it's NOT free,

      So consider the other angles, such as supporting The Unix Way and helping you stay free of BSA entanglements.

      does anyone seriously believe windows 2003 with sql server 2005 is a bad platform?

      It's perfectly possible for that to be a good platform, but just less good than something like Linux + Postgres (not that I know anything about running databases, I just use them).

  • Didn't the founder of VA Linux give this same argument in the documentary "Revolution OS" all those many years ago?
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:46PM (#26307683)

    We have a pair of products that are customized tweaks of an opensource ERP/POS combo customized for a particular industry. We've snared two customers away from using Netsuite for their ERP needs and being opensource was a huge hurdle to initially overcome. It takes time for people to understand the concept that they are paying us to come in, install the system, tweak/customize the system for their needs, provide training, and after sale support. The way it works with the POS software is an initial one time fee to do the customization then we provide them with a .iso that is tweaked version of OpenSuSE that is designed to boot and load only the POS software. After that we don't care if they install on one terminal or a million. (Granted we do charge a yearly fee per terminal for backup and support services). Very few other POS systems can offer that.

    One of the biggest aces in the hole was PostgreSQL. The cost for us to come in, set up and install everything was cheaper than some other well known DB vendor's cost of database software alone.

    Frankly the hardest thing for them to understand was the lack of vender lock-in. If they want, they can hire their own internal IT people to maintain or improve the system or another firm later on. So no matter what happens to us, they will be able to grow and expand the software with or without us.

    We deploy on OpenSuSE & SLES by default. No specific reason other than a few months ago during development, SuSE happened to be the first distro where everything worked out of the box.

    • by tcopeland (32225)

      > One of the biggest aces in the hole was PostgreSQL.
      > The cost for us to come in, set up and install everything
      > was cheaper than some other well known DB vendor's cost of database software alone.

      Right on. Same goes for Sphinx [sphinxsearch.com] vs any proprietary text indexing setup I've used. And it's fast, and there's good Rails/Ruby support via UltraSphinx [blogs.com] and Riddle [freelancing-gods.com].

  • Don't bet on it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:50PM (#26307721) Homepage Journal

    In a recession, managers will be even more eager to have nothing to be blameable over. Remember, underlings get sacked first. If they go with Microsoft, the managers will feel reasonably safe, even if it drives the companies under. They will be paid the longest and will be the most likely to be re-hired quickly. Going with Open Source will be seen as taking a risk, something that in risk-averse times will not be looked on favourably even if it DID save the company's bacon.

    I see the recession as a time when views will become far more entrenched in existing companies. Start-ups may be willing to go with OSS, as they need to cut costs to a minimum and they don't have shareholders to placate, but expect extreme conservatism to reign supreme. At least for the first half of the recession. After that, some of the brain-dead companies will also be financially dead, and more dynamic companies may well be profiting from their early risks. But that's a year away at best. 2009 will not be a good year for OSS in business, though 2010 might well be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thethibs (882667)

      Bang on!

      Not only will they not be making adventurous switches to FOSS, they'll be milking their existing systems for as long as they can with a minimum of adds, moves or changes.

      On the other hand, who are we to get in the way of a really good self-delusion? It's New Years--the time for resolutions we don't keep, and predictions that we hope no one will remember we made.

      • by jd (1658)
        What we really need is a good recession somewhere around 2032-2033. That way, the idiots won't patch the time_t bug in time.
    • by Shados (741919)

      Straight on the money. Its not just open source vs closed source or whatever that follows this logic. Java shops will push away their plans to make a prototype in Ruby on Rail, dev firms using CMMI cancels their scheduled Scrum implementation... In a recession, companies don't always go for whats cheapest, they go for whatever is conservative and makes them feel secure.

  • FOSS has no cost? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sure, there's no cost to download the software. What about the cost to train people how to use it (both in training sessions and in hours of productivity lost by learning it), the cost to hire someone who knows how to administer it, the cost to hire someone who knows how to fix it if it breaks, etc? Yeah, surely the solution to all problems is to switch to a brand new OS / office suite / etc that most people in the company don't know how to use. Let me tell you what is more likely to happen: Some businesses

    • by westlake (615356)
      For most companies it's just well worth the $200 to install an OS and productivity suite that everyone already knows how to use.

      I will take the odds that classes in MS Office are being offered within a twenty minute drive of wherever you happen to live.

      That competence in Office is the simplest path to full or part time employment above minimum wage.

  • Sure, more companies may be looking for ways to avoid licensing fees, but does that translate into more contributions to FOSS projects? Don't get me wrong, a larger user base is a good thing, but more companies riding the coattails of the open source community won't lead to a golden age of open source. When organizations use their development resources to contribute to projects rather than develop internal applications or hire a commercial vendor's professional services "free software idealism" is realized.
    • but does that translate into more contributions to FOSS projects?

      Probably not directly, but like you said: An increased userbase is a good thing.
      If Linux were to gain a non-negligible market share, software will be ported to it, drivers will be written for it, and MS's formats will no longer be de facto standards.

  • by upuv (1201447) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:55PM (#26308607) Journal

    Some of the classic arguments against FOSS are:

    1. It's not free. You still have to train people and migrate data.
    Response: But you don't have to pay for the upgrade, more licenses and still have the data migration issue.

    2. There is no technical support.
    Response: Actually the technical support is far better. Multiple forums exist for most FOSS applications. They usually have the answers too. Have you ever tried to get and answer to a problem with Notes, Tivoli?

    3. Not as feature rich.
    Response: Do you actually use those weirdo features in MS word? Have you used Firefox lately? Linux almost installs on everything including my fridge! Does Windows?

    4. FOSS applications are not as stable.
    Response: Certainly some FOSS apps pretty much crash 3 seconds after they launch. However the majority of FOSS applications that we use every day are rock solid. For example the most widely used web server is apache and it's variants.

    5. FOSS applications are insecure.
    Response: IE is the most hacked browser out there. Enough said.

    6. The unspoken argument. Who do I sue when the applications wrecks my business?
    Response: To be honest if your business is wrecked by software then you are probably incompetent. Yah there is always a risk. That's what insurance is for. But it doesn't really matter what is in the contract. If your business goes under as a result of IT systems. Well it's under, a law suite won't fix it.

    7. If I contribute to FOSS then I will ultimately loose! As my competition gets a free ride.
    Response: If you're an IT shop developing the next wonder product this may actually be the case. However if you are an IT shop and you want to off load some of the development of the required peripheral software that enables your wonder product it makes sense to support FOSS. If your Bob's Music and Flower emporium and you have a wizz-kid in the back that is contributing both to the company and the FOSS. The long term benefits are greater. As that software this kid made is now being supported and developed by many many people that you could never have a hope of paying for.

    Comment:
    I know I've locked the barn door and soaked the building in gas. Flame away if you wish.

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @01:53AM (#26309329)
      I think most of those arguments are weak, but that's not why foss isn't being adopted by business. lack of support (real or perceived) , lack of speciality apps used by industry and secret knowledge are the main reason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rastos1 (601318)

      6. The unspoken argument. Who do I sue when the applications wrecks my business?
      Response: To be honest if your business is wrecked by software then you are probably incompetent. Yah there is always a risk. That's what insurance is for.

      I work for a software company that develops specialized CAD/CAM software. If our development tools break, that is a unpleasant thing but can be recovered by some overtime work. If e-mails/IM/VOIP, issue tracking or version management goes down, we can continue for a few days

  • Here is how I see it :

    Those companies are full of windows-users, and installing Linux on their computers at work will NOT make them become linux-users.

    Of course, Linux is 'free', of course, it's more flexible, powerful, etc
    Of course, people knowing about Linux will probably be more effective in any ways.

    However, I must insist : it costs MONEY to get someone using Linux at work, as a tool. Are you people forgeting that those employees only used windows for their entire lives ?? It's not something that can be

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @10:35AM (#26311435) Homepage Journal
    FOSS is not demand-driven unfortunately, so higher demand due to a recession does not mean the projects will flourish. On the contrary, the FOSS contributors might no longer be able to provide their time and money due to economic difficulties.

    IMHO, FOSS just needs a lot more guidance, direction, focus, leadership. Experimentation and ad hoc development are good, but the net output is still subpar. We could have fewer, but much better apps with all the manpower spent on FOSS.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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