Linux and FOSS in a Slowing Economy

In case anyone hasn't been paying attention, apparently the US economy isn't doing too well these days. There is a lot of news lately about banks failing, government bail-outs, and natural disasters that will cost us all a lot of money (thanks, Ike).

I start to wonder if small-to-medium or even larger organizations will begin to pay more attention to FOSS solutions during these belt-tightening times. Instead of upgrading a fleet of outdated hardware that could be renewed with a fresh Linux installation, or paying through the nose for 50 licenses for some expensive piece of proprietary software, will more businesses with their eyes intently focused on the bottom line look to free and open solutions?

My perspective tends toward the web side of things, which leads me to think about things such as open source CMS solutions. With a tight budget, you can accomplish a great amount with Drupal, WordPress, and many others whose community contributed modules allow for many people to benefit simultaneously from a each individual contribution. I would love to see more businesses gravitate to these types of solutions, and give back to their respective communities rather than staying locked-in to proprietary technology.

What say you all? Is your company looking at more FOSS solutions to save money? I'd love to hear from people who are involved in these decisions, and really hear what is going on "out in the trenches."


Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her chatting on the IRC channel or on Twitter.


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FOSS is missing some key points

David Lane's picture

There are few people out there that can tell you how powerful the Open Source community is. I have worked and lived in the Open Source world for more than 10 years, most recently working for a company that provided VoIP to consumers, almost completely using Linux and other Open Source technologies.

With that being said, there are some SERIOUS missing pieces that any major corporation or company with more than a handful of workstation consider essential.

The most significant is the management of the desktop. The Open Source community still does not have a good management system for managing desktops, which includes everything from installing software to verifying patch compliance. This is a CRITICAL step in full acceptance in the Enterprise. Yes, Puppet and its grandfather, cfengine can manage configurations, there is still the requirement to stabilize and control the user and server desktops. This is not trivial. Yes, you can write scripts and put stuff together, but as IT staff are reduced, the time to do this is reduced and the reality of implementation is reduced.

Management of multiple platforms is critical. Management of multiple platforms by a single person who is overworked already is vital to the success of Linux/FOSS as well as the sanity of the SysAdmin who is stuck with the job.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

FOSS and the economy

Anonymous's picture

A company I do consulting work for (though I have had nothing to do with this part of it) has been faced with email integration after a merger. The larger partner has been a nothing-but-Microsoft organization, and uses Outlook. The smaller company has used POP3 with an assortment of clients on Linux and Windows (usually Evolution on Linux and Thunderbird on Windows).

On Friday, the new system was announced: Zimbra. And the reasons given were more capabilities than POP3, and a "very substantial dollar savings" over Microsoft solutions.

Re: Linux alternatives to Windows SBS part one

gnusci's picture

C'mon, GNU/Linux it is not only ready, it is more than that, the fact is that a lot of people are out of date, GNU/Linux is in 60% or more of the server today....

Just read a little bit more..... please, check your facts before to write. Any good answer welcome...

FOSS Is Ready

Chris E.'s picture

Webmistress is correct. I believe that FOSS is ready and I am always the advocate here at work. Pardon the fact that my sarcasm didn't make it through my comment. And to answer the original post's question. I know that we won't be moving to anything open source soon.. despite the fact that we could save lots of money. Unfortunately in my position, I am usually required to justify 'internal support' costs of FOSS. And it's hard to put personal headcounts (application/infrastructuer expertise) up against flat-rate proprietary software support costs. Keep in mind that I don't work for an IT/Tech company, so we usually do not have the tech know-how that usually adopts FOSS easily.

I don't remember...

Webmistress's picture

...writing anything about Linux and FOSS being ready or not. In fact, that really isn't the point at all. I merely pondered the question of whether or not the current economic climate would prove to boost interest in free and open source software.

There are still a lot of companies out there forking over big bucks for proprietary solutions, but how much will they spend this year?

I believe the previous poster's point was that "FOSS isn't ready for primetime" is a response he typically hears that he finds irritating because it very much IS ready.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Probably not

Pseudonym's picture

There are still a lot of companies out there forking over big buck for proprietary solutions, but how much will they spend this year?

As much as they have to get the job done. Quite a few companies can't use the Linux platform.

FOSS isn't ready for Primetime???

Chris E.'s picture

The retort that I always here about FOSS at my (big, oversized, sitting-fat) company is that FOSS is not ready for primetime and we don't have anyone to support it in production. As for support, typically we buy really expensive proprietary software at say $100,000 for a new release. Then we add-on a "maintenance fee" of say 20% per year to secure support in the case of a software disaster or unforeseen bug. What happens after the decision is made... is that we (as a company) still become the app experts on this overpriced, closed-source software and NEVER utilize that support that we pay for. And as for "not ready for primetime".. that says we (as a company) need a scapegoat when things go awry. I'm like a sitting duck over here, pushing for Linux and FOSS. Someday, we'll make it.