Linux for Public Service
Support on the net has been great. The comp.os.linux.* newsgroups carry amazing amounts of information. IRC is good, except for a couple sour grapes: it can be very disappointing on IRC to see someone answer a newbie's question “how do I untar a file?” with alias tar `rm -rf' and then type tar filename. To me, that is one more person permanently turned off of Linux due to someone's lame joke. Nobody said newbies had to ask dumb questions, but then nobody said smarti-alecks had to answer them, either.
The software support for Linux has been outstanding. It seems like any new software package, no matter where I ftp it from, has a specific makefile configuration for Linux. And thanks to FSSTND, most of it plugs right in.
There are a number of reasons why I personally prefer Linux. Since the source code is available for everything, if something is wrong, I can fix it myself—instead of spending hours on hold with a software vendor who may or may not fix my problem (or even understand what the heck I'm talking about!). Have you ever spent hours on hold with a vendor only to get a support person who is perfectly ready to help you—with your VMS problems?
Another major point with Linux is that user licenses are a non-issue—something which has continually come up and bitten us with other commercial operating systems. The user licenses issue is something that should be of great importance to an Internet Service Provider.
From home, I administrate the main dial-in system with—what else—my own Linux box. Since I deleted DOS and Windows from my hard drive and installed Linux, I've never been happier with my PC.
Daniel Hollis is a systems programmer for Pharmacy Computer Services, where he is trying to find ways to slip some Linux boxes into the workplace. He is also the system administrator for the jcic.org domain and is currently involved with authoring the Linux-Public-Access-HOWTO. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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