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By chicagohotdog at 2006-02-01 19:39
by GW Eckrich, 01FEB05

This is the second in a series of articles dicussing the use of open source. The first of these articles can be found here. We continue to look at non-profit organisations and desktop operating systems.

Server OS

Previously we were discussing the major server...

Keeping in mind that a non-profit/small shop has only one server, is Linux a viable operating system (OS)? Big questions: can the job get done using open source? Will the critical application run on open source?1 The donor tracking software mentioned in our previous article has kept up to date2, meaning that Linux and SQL are supported. Thus, the answer is yes, Linux can do the job.

Even if the answer were no, it is probable the database beneath such applications has been or can be recompiled in Linux giving the vendor an opportunity to broaden his product offering. Downside: if the vendor agrees to port over he potentially makes the non-profit a version 1.0 guinea pig (oh, joy).

Desktop OS

What about the desktop? Can we, should we, change to Linux? There are a number of tacts one can take to analyze this issue. But, 'what is the job to be accomplished?' and 'what will it cost?' cover most concerns.

Yes, the OS is not the DTP. Yes, there are three OS's to consider: Linux, MAC and the other one, uh, Windows. Does the Linux approach do the job as well as or better than the competition, and does it do so at less cost?

Linux can be put on the desktop for free, no cost. Windows can not. Even with enormous discounts available to non-profits, XP still costs. The lowest this writer has seen is about $40.00 US. Recall the non-profit mentality.

Does Linux perform better than windows? In a word, yes. Redmond tends not to participate in Linux head-to-heads anymore. Mr. Murphy has some insightful material on his blog.3

Other concerns an IT guy has when considering such a change:

Q: Will management buy off?
A: Save money; demonstrate support; Europeans, Asians already going there.

Q: What about support?
A: In-house, out-of-house, no more cost.

Q: Will it integrate during the transition?
A: Windows integrates via Samba, a service built into Linux which uses Windows native network protocol smb.

Q: How do I convince users to endorse such a change?
A: Explain the Linux benefits to them and to the company.

Q: Will it run what my desktop users need? Want?
A: Yes. More next issue.

1 The term 'open source' identifies a class of software. Linux is a member of that class. This author uses the terms interchangeably, not the most accurate use of the terms.
2 DASCO is the core product of this organization. There is no compensation for this author's mentioning them. They just make good software and stand behind it, too.
3 January 26, 2006 The performance debate: Linux vs Windows Posted by Paul Murphy @ 4:58 am.

Your comments and constructive criticisms will be appreciated. Do you want and need a high level discussion such as this one? Please tell us what your needs may be.


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