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By chicagohotdog at 2006-01-24 17:37
Ah, the change...or, Linux, really?
Gregory Eckrich

This is the first in a series of articles dicussing the use of open source Linux. Today we start with non-profits and operating systems.

All of us have been subjected to the charming personality enhancements which occur in the fairer sex about once a month. The hope for those of us on the receiving end of PMS? Jack Daniels, perhaps; Midol, for the lady fair; and, the fact that it soon will be over (please, Lord). Along with the medications changes must be made to our routine, at least for a little while.

Most humans are creatures of habit. Change is not comfortable. With age the desire not to change becomes stronger. Many times, change is for the better and needs to be implemented.

OSes, DPSes and Non-Profit Organisations

In the corporate world, operating systems (OSes) and desktop productivity suites (DPSes) are two things that need to be re-examined from time to time. For IT types the big question: do the OSes and the DPSes still move the organization closer to the tactical and strategic goals (eternally: less cost and greater productivity)?

Let's look at these from the perspective of non-profit organizations.

What is a non-profit? It is a business, a company, that is not supposed to make a net profit from its activity. The concept is that this entity serves a higher purpose than making a profit and dealing with 'filthy lucre'.

Having worked for two Christian non-profits (a rescue mission and an overseas church planting/scripture placement organization) I think I can speak with some insight. “Money makes the wheels go 'round.” Pure and simple. More money equals more good work. Less money spent on infrastructure equals more good work, too.

Case in point:
In one of these operations we installed a new donor tracking system (hardware and DASCO® software). SCO® was the OS of choice and Corel® WordPerfect was the DPS of preference.
Today, were that evaluation to be made, my recommendation would be open source. From the server side there are several reasons.
  1. It is free. The operating system costs as little or as much as you wish. The starting point is nothing. Whether we are discussing the server OS or the DPS the starting price is the same—zero. These are not gutted OS's nor DPS's but full blown, fully operable, feature rich softwares.

    If you really need to pay someone Red Hat has structured themselves to accommodate you. They can walk you up to $18,000 for software and support (Enterprise AS on an S390 mainframe).
  2. All sorts of choices are available. There are several flavors of OS from which to choose: Red Hat, SuSE, Debian, to name a few. This writer will not evaluate them here. Each has its claim to fame. But, the point remains the same. Download it, install it, run it. Did I mention it is free?
  3. Need support? Go buy it, or not. There are a number of websites (such as LQ) that will answer your questions via its readership. Your response times may not always be the best particularly if you run a critical operation. Your call. But, again, it is free if you wish.

    Really want support? Red Hat makes support available. So do some of the other big names—IBM and HP in particular.

    Smaller local shops support Linux too, but you need to evaluate your needs and their capabilities; not always a match.

    You may also opt for in-house support. Purchase several training courses (not cheap), get a Red Hat certification and maintain your system internally. We mention Red Hat because it is the most revered in the industry.

What about the desktop OS? Every good DPS runs on a Windows platform of some type, doesn't it? What about networking?

We will look at these areas in additional articles.

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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