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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

InfoWorld on Switching to Linux 319

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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  • 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 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!)

  • by amcnabb ( 682951 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:19PM (#6834659) Homepage
    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 LordKaT ( 619540 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:27PM (#6834710) Homepage Journal
    You missed the total point of the parent.

    What you failed to understand about the parents post is that he is talking about site license fees, renewal fees, etc ... You don't have to spend $500/seat with Linux every five years as you do with Microsoft. "It's theirs for the duration" means, simply, that they don't need to pay out the nose. Itdoes not refer to the GPL.

    A note about the GPL, which you also missed, is that if you make a change to somones GPL'd software, you must also make your code GPL, or a compatible license. However, providing source code is a provision only when you are distributing. If you don't distribute that work outside of the company, your GPL'd work doesn't see the light of day. Once you distribute it, however, you need to provide a way for the person who obtained the binary to obtain the source code.

    Also, you need not provide everyone with the source code: you only need to provide those who have obtained, through you, the source code in question. Of course, they are also given the right to use, modify and distribute that source code. However, that doesn't mean you need to put it on a public FTP server in a tarball for every person in the world to download. Which, actually, destorys your argument in it's entierty really. You can profit, you just can't have a stranglehold on the world with your technology.


  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:28PM (#6834717) Homepage
    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 []", the sales of Sun servers running Solaris dropped by a whopping 19% from 2nd quarter of 2002 to 2nd quarter of 2003. Yet, the sales of Linux servers increased by a sizeable 40%.

    The bell tolls. It tolls ominously for Sun.

    ... from the desk of the reporter []

  • 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 Quixote ( 154172 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @04:53PM (#6834813) Homepage Journal
    One word: screen []

    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>

  • Re:Bwhahahhaha! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:12PM (#6834910) Homepage
    OK I know you are a troll but I'll educate you anyways...

    First, Yes Lots of MCSE or Windows admins will raise questions about requirements about linux that are incorrect, the "demand for scsi raid cards to replace the scsi striping that was available in windows" was FUD peddled by the IT staff that were pissed they had to retrain, or simply not educated enough abou the OS they are switching to. This brings into question the so called "retraining costs" that are touted so highly by the windows fan club members...

    First off today in corperate america, if ther eare changes, you either learn the changes or expect to ge replaced by someone that already knows it. There are no costs for retraining. you can completely fire your entire IT staff and replace them within 48 hours with linux experienced professionals for the SAME pay rate. Espically now when there are so many out of work.

    Is that a bastard's attitude? yes, only a complete asshat PHB would do such a thing, but that is how it is in corperate America right now.

    "Adapt or there's the door, we'll have your replacement in here signing papers before you pull out of the lot."

    Basically, if yout IT staff are not smart enough to be adaptable, were already learning on their own and watching inductry trends to get ready form them.... you might be better off with fresh meat in that department....

    The days of a company paying to retrain you are over. you retrain you for free if you want to stay employed....

    maybe someday we can get back to the good-ol' days of being treated like humans, but I doubt that we will see it for another 5-7 years....

    Until then.... Adapt, Innovate, and Overcome...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:34PM (#6835012)
    The batteries are there so you can write out the cache after a crash, or even move the controller/drives to another box. It has nothing to do with power failure.
  • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:41PM (#6835045) Journal
    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:


    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 - *" >remotehost.tar.bz2

    This runs the bzip remotely, which puts more of a load on the server being backed up, but sends a lot less data down the pipe.

    Note that this is NOT a perfect backup strategy, unless you stop all your services first. It's a quick and dirty hack that will usually work. You should probably test every backup file you create this way; if a file changes while tar is reading it, it may give up and bail out before completing the backup. (I found this out the hard way, when I needed to restore but my file was incomplete; it stopped at /var/log and didn't get /var/www. This was bad.)

    As far as your service thing goes... I mostly run debian, and I have found that many scripts won't run if /etc/profile hasn't been executed. So I often write quick little wrappers that source /etc/profile and ~/.bashrc and then start or stop my service. That fixes most scripts.

    Probably would be smart to write a generic wrapper that does that and then runs the command I want, but I haven't done that yet. :-)
  • 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.

  • by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Saturday August 30, 2003 @05:45PM (#6835068) Homepage

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

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

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.