Linux for the Long Haul
Five years ago, I made one of the greatest life-changing decisions in my career—I switched my organization to the GNU/Linux operating system and supporting applications. It's not uncommon to read about businesses, schools and other organizations making this switch; however, what happens afterward? How do users adjust, and what about this total cost of ownership (TCO) we always hear of? Is Linux really ready for the desktop? Was it worth it to make the switch?
In 2002, Greater Houlton Christian Academy (GHCH) adopted Linux; you can read the details as to why and how in the February 2003 issue of Linux Journal. It's not an exaggeration when I describe this as a life-changing decision, not just for me, but for the school as well. I used to be a die-hard, Microsoft fanboy; now I use open-source software almost exclusively. Our school, which once had a mish-mash of dilapidated, old, donated computers that barely worked, now is recognized as being a leader in our region because of our computer technology—all of this from that fateful decision back in 2002.
Five years after the article was published, I find myself reflective, pondering where we've been and wondering what the future holds. Did I make the right decision? Would I do it again? There's much to consider in order to answer all these questions. Because that decision initially was based on financial need, let's first look at TCO.
Sometime after we adopted Linux, Redmond released a study claiming that the TCO for Linux actually was higher than for Microsoft Windows—even though Linux can be obtained for free. Microsoft has been pushing this idea ever since with its “Get the Facts” campaign. Had such a study existed in 2002, I might have wavered on making the switch. After all, price was the driving factor for us to use Linux in the first place. In some ways, that initial decision was a desperate decision. Since then, I've had time to consider TCO. So, was Redmond right?
The initial switch saved us money, because it allowed us to put what funding we had directly into hardware while avoiding the Microsoft tax (pre-installed Windows on computers). In fact, we could not have upgraded our computers if we had to purchase proprietary software as well. That's not to say there aren't some hidden costs in having the IT staff install software on bare-bones hardware, but for us, the savings far outweighed any extra labor costs. What is more important, however, is how using Linux and open-source applications continues to save us money today.
But, before discussing this continued savings, I need to stress that software evolves. Applications improve, bugs and security holes are patched (hopefully), and new technologies emerge. With proprietary software, it can be years between major releases, and upgrading to that new release costs money. With open source, applications are improved all the time. After making the initial switch to Linux, one needs to consider how to keep up with the latest patches, upgrades and releases.
Being a tweaker who loves to squeeze every bit of efficiency from my computers, I was attracted to a distribution called Gentoo. Not only did it allow me to optimize Linux and thousands of applications for our computers, but also I found the package management system far superior to other distributions I had played with. It also forced me to learn the under-the-hood details about the Linux kernel, the GNU programs and many other OS management techniques that have helped me as a Linux administrator.
Fast/Flexible Linux OS Recovery
On Demand Now
In this live one-hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for complete disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible full-system recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.
Join Linux Journal's Shawn Powers and David Huffman, President/CEO, Storix, Inc.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
- Back to Backups
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- Google's Abacus Project: It's All about Trust
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction
- Seeing Red and Getting Sleep
- Fancy Tricks for Changing Numeric Base
- Linux Mint 18
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Installation
- Working with Command Arguments
- CentOS 6.8 Released
Until recently, IBM’s Power Platform was looked upon as being the system that hosted IBM’s flavor of UNIX and proprietary operating system called IBM i. These servers often are found in medium-size businesses running ERP, CRM and financials for on-premise customers. By enabling the Power platform to run the Linux OS, IBM now has positioned Power to be the platform of choice for those already running Linux that are facing scalability issues, especially customers looking at analytics, big data or cloud computing.
￼Running Linux on IBM’s Power hardware offers some obvious benefits, including improved processing speed and memory bandwidth, inherent security, and simpler deployment and management. But if you look beyond the impressive architecture, you’ll also find an open ecosystem that has given rise to a strong, innovative community, as well as an inventory of system and network management applications that really help leverage the benefits offered by running Linux on Power.Get the Guide