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Linux Gaining Strength In Downturn 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the monday-morning-slow-ball dept.
gubm writes "A February survey of IT managers by IDC indicated that hard times are accelerating the adoption of Linux. The open source operating system will emerge from the recession in a stronger data center position than before, concluded an IDC white paper."
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Linux Gaining Strength In Downturn

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  • Funny... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZarathustraDK (1291688) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:00AM (#27208937)
    I find it morbidly funny somehow that companies have to experience poverty themselves before they see the same benefits of Open Source as some third world countries have already been aware of for years.
  • Not a great survey (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:09AM (#27208993)

    A survey of 330 IT Managers makes for questionable results as, although it doesn't state the sampling method, it suggests 'these are just the people who could be bothered to reply to surveys we sent out' rather than going for a representative sampling.

    It's headline grabber is from a flawed type of question : "do you plan to...". The trouble is "I you plan to..." isn't the same as "there are currently plans drawn up to...". You're essentially getting a non-commital 'yeah probably' response.

    It's also linking two unrelated questions: "are you planning on increasing linux usage?" and "are you cutting your budget". Whilst their may possibly be links between the two in some cases, it would be a logical fallacy to assume that companies are switching to linux because of budget cuts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:17AM (#27209071)

    ya i'm sure my data center is about to switch over 10 TB of MSSQL to MySql.

    I really wish the Linux based DB servers did half of what MSSQL does, but they don't.

  • The irony is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:21AM (#27209111) Homepage Journal

    That one might think that the very same recession that increases interest in Linux might well put many of the leading vendors out of business.

    Novell's operating margin and profit margins are both negative, according to e-trade. Sun Microsystems looks to be in big trouble, as usual.

    But, on the other hand, Red Hat did well last year, so I guess Linux fans should keep their fingers crossed as their earnings are due on the 25th of March. Oracle is also doing ok and their earnings are due out the 18th.

    IBM is totally kicking ass right now, EPS wise.

    So... you could lose Sun Microsystems and maybe Novell, but you would still have Oracle, Red Hat and IBM to fund OSS development, and, of course, Google.

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:22AM (#27209119)
    Linux admin, or any admin jobs for that matter, will become more of a commodity. In other words, the admin job will be a relatively low paying blue collar type of job - not something that a CS graduate would think of doing unless they're hard up. The admin jobs will be for the tech school graduates. Which, I might add, there is nothing wrong with it. Linux and the low costs associated will lower the overhead of businesses, allowing them to operate more profitably and therefore employ higher skilled and educated people to the higher paying jobs.

    Sounds good? No, the real answer is that the lower costs will end up in the CEO's bonus checks while they continually farm out the admin work to third world countries. After all, Linux being free and all, third world countries can educate those folks for very little money and therefore, flood the market with really cheap tech workers.

    We, in the developed World will be cursing the existence of Linux and the rest of F/OSS one day - mark my words.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:26AM (#27209143) Homepage
    Actually, this kind of thing is somewhat rampant already. I recently worked on an embedded Linux system, and the developers moved to Linux from Windows. It certainly proved that Linux is flexible. You absolutely can run a Linux system in such a way that it totally defeats the purpose.

    Their "build system" required you to log in as root or it wouldn't build. To my complete lack of surprise there were flaws in the script that hosed the build machine when run, since the process was running as root. Luckily I was smart enough to run it in a VM, since their is no way I'm building anything as root on my machine. Had I not known any better my system would be messed up, and I would have no idea why.

    The new question to determine if someone is really skilled with computers will not be "do you use Windows or Linux" (or some other secure OS). The litmus test which served me so well is rapidly becoming invalid. It used to be Windows + Education + a_clue = Linux. The new formula will be Linux + Education + a_clue = Real Linux Guy. Basically, the Linux Guy wannabee pool is in the process of growing exponentially.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:27AM (#27209153) Homepage

    The average user, the average sysadmin and the average developer won't fundamentally change. No matter how they told you in grade school that you can become anything you put your mind do, there's people who can't grok a computer if they'd get Bill's fortune as the prize. Some, for some incomprehensible reason even choose to become sysadmins.

    The only real options are that Linux will adapt to gain wide adoption or it will not have wide adoption. It should be in the cards that if you talk to people that want shiny buttons about the freedom to hack the code and compile your own kernel, you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Why should you be complaining anyway? If 90% became point-and-click Linux admins, who'd he the gurus they'd have to go to when those tools fail them? That's right, you. No longer would you be the sysadmin of some obscure server OS, you'd be the grossly overpaid technical specialist hired it to fix the hard stuff. Oh, what a horrible tradgedy.

  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:29AM (#27209167) Journal

    Tomorrow, in an Indian city where I live... IBM, HP and Dell are showcasing their Open Source operations in an event sponsored by PC Quest magazine. There is a hige glut in Open Source adoption (mainly in the servers and storage segment) in recent times in India. I guess the picture is the same elsewhere as well.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:31AM (#27209189)
    Engineers will always adopt the lowest total cost option because that's what they do. The old saying used to be "an engineer is someone who can do for sixpence what a handyman can do for a pound" - 2c versus 1$ in US terms.

    Those of us who were involved, even peripherally, in metal bashing in Europe during the 90s may remember "Herr funfzehn prozent" - the guy from Opel who would guarantee you a supply contract if you could undercut his present supplier by 15% on price, which included warranty and quality costs. One German company found a way to make fuel injector casings by deforming metal rather than by cutting, resulting in a 50% cost saving. I don't recall anybody saying "What a pity Opel decided to use a cheaper identical product rather than a more expensive one". What they said was "Great, we have a long term contract, a patent and an unassailable technical lead."

  • The new frugality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarkWatson (189759) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:40AM (#27209291) Homepage

    I have recently been writing about what I call the "new frugality." With an estimated 40% of the world's (fake and inflated) wealth gone in the last year, it is finally becoming obvious to many more people, companies, and government that all expenditures need to be judged on value (preferably long term).

    Unfortunately for me, virtually all of my recent consulting work has been taking open source projects, making a few customizations or enhancements, and designing a good deployment strategy. On one hand, this is not good because my revenues are down and I enjoy from-scratch development work. On the other hand, this is good because the profitability of my customers makes my future revenue streams more stable.

    Linux, web platforms + frameworks, etc. all make IT more relevant because they increase the value to cost ratio.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:48AM (#27209351)

    I agree - I don't think it is any one single factor that is spurring the adoption of Linux (If the recession were doing it, why is Apple so strong with their relatively pricey products?). We have the recession, which is contributing to it, but we also had the Vista fiasco which primed people for something different, the debut of several very nice Linux environments (KDE 4, for example) and the move to cloud based computing (Rendering the need for MS Windows secondary to the apps that are run). Add to that the fact that the netbooks running Linux seem to be popular and you have a popular mindset that says "Linux is ready for prime time"...

  • by /ASCII (86998) on Monday March 16, 2009 @09:52AM (#27209389) Homepage

    I strongly disagree. The high cost and abysmal quality of IT services put a wet blanket on innovation and creativity. Without open source software, the cost of starting up an IT company would be significantly higher; without open source Google, Slashdot, reddit, digg and a thousand other companies would likely not have existed.

    I'm excited to see what cool innovations people will come up with if IT costs are further reduced to nearly nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:03AM (#27209501)

    Hey, you guys have better education so it is rightful that you will have do do jobs that fit your education right?

  • by goltzc (1284524) on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:06AM (#27209535)
    I used to think that's what management wanted to hear too, but when they say what does the license cost and you say $0. The products are almost immediately dismissed as being "freeware" and hence not enterprise quality.

    From my experience management really does love to hear buzz words as in, "This product will leverage the existing synergies in your collaborative workspace to create a global presence".

    Now that might be a little extreme on the buzzword scale but my point is, to management it's all about marketing. Open source projects don't typically have big budget marketing departments built around them.

    What you see is what you get in open source and that doesn't always make a good sales pitch.
  • Re:The irony is... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:08AM (#27209547)

    Novells problem is their complete lack of quality in their products developed by outsourced facilities abroad. For some idiotic reason all the linux they support is SUSE, they could just aswell drop all Linux support with that mentality.

    Novell was balancing on the edge of taking over most Linux business in the corporate world but seriously botched it with stupid decisions and shortsighted gains.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:15AM (#27209615)
    This week a relative gave a desktop running Ubuntu to his kids following a recommendation by a computer store owner "ubuntu is best for kids". Yes! This after having a bunch of worm infested unusable windows & vista laptops lying around his home for months! Shows linux has reached a level where it is very much usable by regular folks.
  • by umghhh (965931) on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:42AM (#27210073)

    If my corporation buys services from global player say HP for instance and this in turn gives away whatever flavour linux they currently support then how this is going to cause money staying locally? I mean HP service desks are all over the place and their HQ is thousands KMs away so the money is flowing around or away but not staying?

    Whether windows actually dies is another matter. I think this will not happen or not very soon anyway. All predictions about fast adoption of linux because of it being cheaper have not come true partially because corporate service boys charged a healthy premiums on their linux 'loving' customers. I had problems with that myself too - I had to justify to my box why I wanted to use more expensive product and it was linux that was more expensive than vista installation. The price tags have been set by our IT service support company. If I could install linux box myself of course this would be cheaper but than again maybe against corporate policy too.
    OC when it comes to small business that is able to make decision and switch within days of making it then this OS switch actually may happen. Alas not everywhere and for everybody.
    which is good - we need no mono-culture.

  • by bigtrike (904535) on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:57AM (#27210287)

    I've been using linux for 14 years now and for most of that time it just has not been quite ready for the masses. The Ubuntu team has made gigantic leaps in making the OS easily configurable and consistent, while the OpenOffice people have provided software which makes it compatible with formats which are necessary for business use. Sure there are still some quirks here and there, but in my opinion they are no harder to deal with than any of the commercial operating systems.

    The economic downturn might have something to do with it, but it's only one reason why we're seeing it adopted more.

  • by pxlmusic (1147117) <pxlent@gmail.com> on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:01AM (#27210343) Homepage

    Which (for me) begs the question: How *does* one really become proficient in Linux?

    I can install $Distribution on a spare machine and tinker with basic this and that. Beyond that, what else?

    I am at a loss with a cohesive direction. There are places (locally) where I can take classes on Linux from beginner to "advanced". However, none of the Linux users I know ever took a class; they just seem to "know".

    I'm probably over-simplifying, but I really want to dive into it and really understand it -- but I'm at a loss for any real direction.

  • by jopet (538074) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:07AM (#27210431) Journal

    I have been using Linux for many years nearly exclusively now and everything I need an OS to do is done quite well by Linux.
    The problem is that hardware companies still do not provide support and drivers. And that really pisses me off, increasingly so, since the number of gadgets, devices, peripherals one would like to attach to one's computer has been increasing.
    I am sick and tired of getting "sorry, Linux not supported" canned text responses to my inquiries.
    Developers do a great job to provide what these companies should provide, but Linux users should really show these guys a bit better that they need to do their homework.

    I am planning to buy a Laptop and a mobile phone soon: the laptop company will force me to buy Windows and make no statements about hardware support and the mobile phone company explicitly told me that "sorry Linux is not supported" and not even was able to inform me if I could mount the memory card as an USB drive.

    These companies suck but they won't change until a really big number of Linux users lets them know how much they suck.

  • by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:13AM (#27210555) Homepage Journal

    I'd rather see Linux (or BSD) adoption on a wide scale due to the benefits of the systems, not because they are free.

    Of course we'd all like a "pure revolution," where the proITariat suddenly recognize the superiority and freedom available to them and throw off their proprietary shackles.

    Realistically, however, how are the adopters going to know the 'benefits of the systems' if they are never exposed to them, never try them in a production environment? Years of partnering with the established regime, familiarity with the systems, the trained acceptance of quirks and flaws as the inevitable price of computing, managers and purchasers who believe you get what you pay for - all this is a pretty high barrier to adoption, being slowly overcome.

    I recently had an experience where we needed a new server up and running ASAP. There was some consternation over the Winserver and client licensing costs, and while various channels were being checked, i kept mentioning - you know the old Woody Woodpecker cartoon where the commentator leans into the frame every scene and says, "If Woody had gone right to the police...?" Well, the goal here was a DB, local use only, pretty light load. I said early on, "If i just installed Linux on this box, it would be up and running by now, for no cost other than my time, and i can do it pretty fast." And i said it again when the first Windows price quote came in. And again when they said how long it would take to get it to us. And again, and again, and again...

    Finally, i was asked to explain this newfangled option to my experienced but older boss-folk. I did so. Finally it was determined that this was not the time to drop a large sum of money on something if there was an alternative, and was asked [brag alert] when i could have it ready, to which i responded "yesterday," having already set everything up: to the raised eyebrows, i explained that it was just the matter of my taking the OS and running the install and setup while working on other things, since, if they decided not to use it, it could simply be blown away with no real loss. They got the point. We've been using it ever since, and this success has enabled me to start introducing more FOSS solutions where appropriate [/brag].

    The moral of this novel: i would dearly love if one day, everyone woke up and said "Hey! We're not falling for any more BS! We're smart, informed people making the best decision for any given situation based on its own merits, and no marketing or FUD shall factor!"

    However, until then, i will happily take advantage of every opportunity to step in and say "there's another way, you know," no matter how many times i have to repeat it. And it really drives the point home about the Free part, too, you know. For the cynical who still tie value to cost, feel free to get a support contract with someone for their product, ey? You help support the model, you might even like the support, and the managers feel like they're getting a professional product.

  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:23AM (#27210759) Journal

    Perhaps we can pitch it better.

    Management: "How much does it cost?"

    IT: "Red Hat gives it away for free and sells support contracts for $x, but we are not required to purchase support in order to use it.

  • by neomunk (913773) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:53AM (#27211299)

    Well, the idea that I withheld is similar to that, but implementing an offset to the costs to industry.

    Basically, (remember, I KNOW this is nearly impossible to implement) my idea is to automate every job possible. Fire every single person you can. Now, here's the key, instead of giving everyone unemployment checks, you make "student" a paying job (and "teacher" a WELL paying job). Yep, start sending those university checks in the other direction. You'd still have a massive tax burden for industry, but they would be getting a pay-off in access to the largest and most talented pool of prospective employees ever imagined. Hell, we could even build more universities than prisons then.

    There are flaws, and the changes required are nigh impossible due to our societal momentum, but it would be nice. Not as nice as unicorns that shoot laserbeams out of their horns, but hey, I prefer slightly more realistic fantasies. :-)

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday March 16, 2009 @12:27PM (#27211857) Homepage

    Many of us have firsthand experience that backs this up. Now whether
    or not we can go into gory details without being sued for violating
    some sort of NDA is another matter.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:23PM (#27215991) Homepage Journal

    All predictions about fast adoption of linux because of it being cheaper have not come true partially because corporate service boys charged a healthy premiums on their linux 'loving' customers.

    Oh, I dunno about that. A few months ago, I ordered the hardware for a new "desktop" system from a local computer assembler, and since I ordered it without the default Vista OS, I got a discount of a few hundred $$$. While talking about it with a rep over the phone just before delivery, he asked what I intended to install on it. I said "The latest Ubuntu release", and he said "We can install that for you, for no extra charge." I said "Huh?", and he said "Yeah; we've found that Ubuntu always installs quickly, with no problems at all. Give us an hour, and we can have it all set up for your." I told him "OK", and I got it with Ubuntu running just fine.

    (Well, OK, there was a problem: They forgot to tell me the password that it wanted when I booted it. They were very apologetic about that. They were even more apologetic when I told them that, since they were closed when I got it home, I'd booted a handy knoppix briefly to mount the root partition and set the root password to something I knew. ;-)

    I do sorta suspect that they wanted to do it as a training exercise for their installer guys, as a response to a good number of customers wanting that system installed. But no matter; the fact is that a local system builder took the attitude that "The customer is always right", and wanted their people to be able to install whatever the customer wanted.

    Anyway, this one company didn't charge a healthy premium on a linux-loving customer. They said "We can do that for you for no extra charge." And, needless to say, I told a number of other local friends about it, probably resulting in a few more sales.

    YMMV, of course.

  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday March 16, 2009 @08:18PM (#27219465)

    Sure there are still some quirks here and there, but in my opinion they are no harder to deal with than any of the commercial operating systems.

    Actually, I find them less of a pain to deal with. Why? If something (say playing flv's) doesn't work 100% right all the time on Linux, it's not that big of a deal because it's free. However on Windows, I get rather annoyed because I paid good money for that product.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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