Migrating to Linux, Part 1
How much does Linux cost? Of course, every introduction to Linux points out that Linux is free to everyone. It costs nothing, because no one “owns” Linux in the way Microsoft owns Windows or MS-DOS. To simplify things, a basic installation CD can be purchased from a vendor or retailer for $30 to $60 US. Plus, to get off the ground, one should really own one of the several fantastic books currently available for the novice Linux user for $20 to $60 US.
At the risk of being branded a heretic, I make the following assertion for the SOHO Linux user: using Linux is more expensive in the short term, but in the mid- to long-term, Linux provides a dramatic cost savings and rewards you with an attractive return on your investment of both money and time.
How can it be more expensive when it is free? Simple—the short-term opportunity costs are higher for the SOHO user who is currently using a commercial OS and is heavily invested in software made for that OS. This is one of the growing pains I mentioned earlier. For a cost comparison and a true story, see the sidebar. What's the moral to that story? For me, Linux is by no means free. I have spent hours learning to use Linux and tweaking my system when I could have been performing billable work. Remember, though, I have yet to lose a client's work or to be forced into redoing tedious tasks at my own expense while using Linux.
Plus, hardware can be used longer under Linux and quite often works much better as well. My aging Pentium 90 with 32MB of RAM is a bit sluggish when running current versions of MS Windows, but chugs along quite spryly under Linux. Linux has given new life to that computer, and I will be able to keep it up and running far longer than with MS Windows.
With all of these considerations, the economic value of Linux is clear. The mid to long-term return on investment more than pays for the short-term opportunity costs of switching to Linux from a commercial OS. Therefore, migrating to Linux is a sound business decision.
Right now, I run my business with a mix of commercial and free software. I am on my third Linux distribution, which I buy on CD due to the high opportunity costs of downloading large package files. I write direct marketing copy for my clients with a commercially licensed copy of Applixware. I dial my ISP using a dialing tool under the GPL. Right now my GUI environment is KDE. I send e-mail and browse the Web with the recently freed Netscape Communicator 4.04. All of these programs work as well, and often better, than their counterparts designed for MS Windows.
So far with Linux, I am able to do almost everything I used to do in MS Windows, with only a few high-profile exceptions. Right now I lack a good WYSIWYG page-layout tool like PageMaker or QuarkXPress, and I cannot get any of the freeware FAX managers to work for me as well as my commercial FAX program works under MS Windows. There are programs like WINE and Wabi that emulate MS Windows and allow you to run 16-bit MS Windows applications on Linux, but I have no experience using these emulators and cannot comment on their use.
What's the bottom line? Are there as many high-quality applications available for Linux as you will find for commercial operating systems? No. Is this situation changing every day, with more and more top quality freeware and Open Source software, as well as commercial Linux applications, released all the time? Emphatically, yes. Developing quality applications for Linux is a consuming passion for many developers worldwide, and that fact gives me the most hope for the future of Linux as a viable SOHO computing environment. With the level of excitement surrounding extremely high-quality programs like GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), commercial vendors are learning they can profit handsomely from porting their products to Linux.
In short, migrating to Linux means more than just getting a stable OS. It means access to a collection of top-quality free and commercial applications, with more on the way each day.
To summarize this first installment, I'll review the practical impressions I've gained during my migration from MS Windows to Linux:
Linux is more stable than commercial operating systems, eliminating the time and expense of redoing lost work.
Linux is more difficult to learn in the very short term, but has a better support system in the long run.
Linux—while “free” in the absolute sense—brings with it a host of opportunity costs in the short term but pays for itself many times over in the long term.
Applications for Linux are growing in number and quality each day.
Now we have a basis for a continued and more detailed exploration of migrating to Linux from a commercial OS for the SOHO user. In the next installment, I'll get into the details of migrating, discussing such vital matters as basic system administration and making reliable backups. I'll get more specific about some of the software that is available for Linux and compare it to software available in the commercial OS world. I'll also discuss how to interface and share work with our colleagues and clients who are stuck with their commercial operating systems.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Rogue Wave Software's Zend Server
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide