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.
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!
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
- Rogue Wave Software's Zend Server
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