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Cost of ownership.

Posted 02-26-2013 at 06:15 AM by rich_c

I've noticed over the past week or two, a few of my friends have posted on social media sites regarding issues they're having with the operating system they're currently using. I'm sure when I detail what the problems are, it'll follow that the OS in question is obvious without me naming and shaming it. I thought I'd share in a bit of detail how I think migrating to Linux* might help.

Firstly, familiarity and fitting in with existing working practices. A lot has been said over the past few years about user interfaces that are more suited to mobile devices but have been used as a desktop 'replacement'. A clear case of a square peg in a round hole. I just did a quick roundup of my Linux machines, all of which run openSUSE 12.2. My netbook, which I'm using to write this, has 5 different desktop environments or window managers available to a user when they login. My secondary PC also has 5 while my main PC has 3. On my netbook and main PC, just one of the options is KDE Plasma. My netbook is set up as Plasma Netbook while the desktop PC is set up as Plasma Desktop. Here's more info on that - The point is that most decent Linux distros provide a lot of options to enable the user to make their system fit them rather than the other way around.

Secondly an issue that, in my experience too, causes a lot of aggrivation. System updates that require a reboot. Thankfully, these are a rare thing with Linux distros. The only exception I'm aware of is when a kernel upgrade or update has occurred. As Linux users will appreciate, not only do updates take care of the system itself, but most of the time all your installed applications will receive updates too. Unless you've installed software from outside of your distro's repositories, which happens occassionally. The same cannot be said of other platforms where system and application updates are generally handled seperately and often require a reboot to finish the install process. This is not normal or acceptable. Another point in evidence of this is, when was the last time your smartphone (Assuming Android.) required a reboot to update an application?

“Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing” is a quote detractors often wheel out. Run that by me again? Both these issues illustrate points where Linux wins in a total cost of ownership comparison. Firstly, you can tailor your system to fit in with how you work. It's not a great leap to see that efficient working saves you time and money. Again, it's obvious that maximising uptime saves time and money. Reboots can take anything from less than a minute to 20 minutes depending on various factors. If you're toward the higher end of the range, that's another 20 mins of your life you'll never see again...

* - In my opinion, migrating to Linux is ideally something that should be done with some planning and preparation. For example, start using FOSS applications on your existing OS before doing anything else! Firefox or Chrome (Chromium) for your web browser, Thunderbird for email & Libreoffice for office suite.
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