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Shrinkwrapped Linux

This thread is started in response to a comment I recently saw on a thread below.  The friendly banter is quoted below:

>> "Linux:  half the features for half the price".
>> Whoa!  Windows is free now?

I'm just curious about other's percieved use of Linux in a corporate environment.  Linux is largely touted as a free operating system.  At home, I download it for free, burn it to CD's and install it on my personal computer.  In the corporate environment, I'm finding this process to be much different.

My observation is that Linux is hardly free for corporations, but not because of TCO or support contracts.  When a corporation needs software they go and they buy it shrinkwrapped on a store shelf.  Most recently, a new laptop arrived which they wanted to dual boot w/ Windows.  Rather than download and burn the CD's and install that way (or a network install), they simply order a shrinkwrapped copy of SUSE or RedHat Linux for $100.  The time and effort to download the operating system (several gigabytes) simply isn't worth it.  They would rather spend the money than spend the time.

Does anyone else share this type of experience, or are the companies I've worked for distorted, and most corporations really do obtain Linux for free?

Friday, March 26, 2004

"most corporations really do obtain Linux for free?"

I think the answer is contained within your post.  Time costs a corporation money.  If it takes time and effort to download Linux and burn a CD, then Linux is not free (as in beer) no matter which way it is obtained.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The use of the word free when talking about linux usually refers to the fact that you get the source and is allowed to play with it. As long as you dont redistribute, you can do what you want with it. Should you want to redistribute, the source must be made available aswell.

Many distros dont have freely available isos, yet they are still free in that sense.

My guess is that larger corps buy their linux stuff from IBM, or Novell or something, and that the cost of purchase may not be significantly lower than for windows.
The adavntages of linux has much more to do with not being locked in, and interoperabillity than anything else.. IMHO

BTW: Novell has some interesting things on the stove, take alock at the video here:
Lots of marketing fluff though. Also, I wonder how much they paid linus torvalds to stand around and smile. =D

Eric Debois
Friday, March 26, 2004

The main use of Linux in a corporate environment is for servers and the savings come on client access licenses.

If a company is using a lot of Linux desktops it will still only be buying one CD

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 26, 2004

I've worked at 3 companies that used Redhat Linux and FreeBSD, and it was always downloaded for free and burned to a CD.

Friday, March 26, 2004

We keep the various ISO's on the network.

We are also experimenting with using the Google approach of clustered, low-cost commodity hardware combined with linux to keep our server hardware costs down, and availability up. You can't do this with any non-free operating system since the operating system starts to really eat into the price (when compared to running one high powered server machine).

Rhys Keepence
Friday, March 26, 2004

>>"they simply order a shrinkwrapped copy of SUSE or RedHat Linux for $100."

vs Windows XP Pro ($200)

Linux:  Half the features for half the price.

My Cousin Vinniwashtharam
Friday, March 26, 2004

Time is usually more valuable than money, unless it is a lot of money. But getting a shrinkwrapped version of Linux takes time too.

Depending of the paperwork required in a company you may have to request it, get it approved, sent to purchases, get lost, resent,...

Unless they don't have broadband at the office I don't see the point and whoever thought of using Linux is likely to his own cdroms, so why bother? It is not like retail versions have a lot of oficial support.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Many companies have policies that require the IT dept. to keep track of registered licenses as well as keeping the original box with CD and license certificates on file.

It's a whole lot easier to have the original box and license on hand for the bean counters to find in order to demonstrate that it was not an illegal copy. You and I might know this implicitly, but corporate auditors are trained to be completely clueless.

There's also the documentation which may seem silly to us but to the suits, seeing a hard copy manual is somehow soothing.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I work for a  software company, whose products are Java-based, and support Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, and HP-UX.  About half of our developer desktops are Linux, the rest Windows, and a few desktops of the others.  Our IT group runs most services on Windows, and provides token support for Linux, but we're pretty much on our own.  They do, however, enable the "standards" on the Microsoft products, so us lowly Linux users can use Exchange with IMAP and SMTP, use the printers and file shares via CIFS, etc.

Our Linux users support each other, and as a result, the company saves money by not having to buy as many desktop Windows licenses.

Friday, March 26, 2004

"When a corporation needs software they go and they buy it shrinkwrapped on a store shelf"

Strange. Around here things in corp. are never bought of store shelves. Comes either through volume licencing (bulk), direct negotiation (big ticket) and sometimes purchase order (small volume, low price).

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 26, 2004

"Our Linux users support each other, and as a result, the company saves money by not having to buy as many desktop Windows licenses. "

and of course the self-help group marks all their self-help time as "not working" so the company does not pay them for the time spend self-helping?
A Windows licence costs about 2-3 hours of employee time, right? That is less than 1 hour per year.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 26, 2004

One company I know sold software as a kind of network appliance: they'd write the application software (something to do with voice-processing), buy hardware, load the O/S (Linux) and their application onto the hardware, and sell the unit.

It's not a desktop: it's a high-performance server running a single specialized application.

Linux means they don't need an costly desktop O/S.

Christopher Wells
Friday, March 26, 2004

Do you have any evidence that users don't spend just as much time self-helping each other with Windows?

Here where I work, the IT department is really good.  However, they have a queue.  The queue helps their productivity and throughput, but it means the users have to wait their turn for help.  Because of this and because I'm known to be a smart, friendly, computer-savvy person,  lots of people come to me and other coworkers like me for simple questions about Windows instead of going to IT.

So you claim that time is money.  Let's talk about the time you save with free software in general.

You save time not worrying about contract renogotiations with Microsoft.  (Hello Software Assurance debacle)

You save time and productivity not worrying about whether or not the software you get out of apt or red carpet is legal for you to use.  Anecdote:  I  had 10 users using Visual SourceSafe until I found out later it wasn't included in the site license for Visual Studio.  Despite it's crappiness, it isn't cheap either.  So I had to go around to 10 users and help them uninstall Source Safe (easy) and get VS.NET to stop bitching about their projects that could no longer connect to version control.  Recently set up Subversion without any VS.NET integration and it's working like a charm.

Linux distros (at least the free ones) are much more likely to have backported a security patch than commercial alternatives.  This means you can patch your software without having to upgrade to a new major version that may be incompatible with your existing data or configuration.

I don't see the value proposition of paying enormous amounts to Redhat year after year.  However, I've seen the value proposition of Linux/GNU/OSS workplaces in small and medium-sized businesses in practice.  It *is* cheaper in time and money.

At one company where I worked, they had 50 users, 1 linux expert, and 1 IT helper.  They spent $500 on software licensing fees per year, which just happend to be a single Windows box with MS Office and a few other commercial Windows programs for the extremely rare situation where it was needed (viewing 3rd party documents and testing Windows compatibility).  The linux expert and his helper where well worth whatever they were being paid as I never noticed a minute of downtime the entire time I worked there.

Now, there are perfectly valid reasons (available software, mostly) for going the Windows route.  I work on the Windows side of a mixed Windows/Linux environment now and I like it.  But Linux *is* cheaper in time and money.

Richard P
Friday, March 26, 2004

I had a small "self-help" moment this morning:

"Hey Joe, when setting up an Apache server where do you like to server from.  RH default is /var/something, but what about /home/something..."

I'm not sure if you can even have this conversation in Windows, and if you could, it would still be a self help.

Our perforce users alse self-help each other "Hey Joe, I need to integrate this branch back into main dev..."

See, questions and cooperation are just a normal part of daily business.  Unless you treat you employees like the morons you consider them to be...

Friday, March 26, 2004

2 IT guys for fifty users seems like a considerable expense. One you have to have, but in a well-set up Windows environment you shouldn't need a second, though a lot depends on exactly what the network does.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 26, 2004

The main advantage of Linux is that there're many things that windoze just cant do. No matter how match you may to microsoft, it's just not good enough for script based tasks. You can't rexec, you can't awk, no good shell, you can't work on 10 workstations at a time (it's not over-statement, ir really needed thing) and so on.
And by the way - it takes 1 day to download full blown linux distribution (3 disks) via home dsl modem. And source is always available

Froenchenko Leonid
Monday, March 29, 2004

"The main advantage of Linux is that there're many things that windoze just cant do."

But you list terrible examples.  Most people would say they can't do the things they want under Linux, like run Photoshop and Illustrator and Premiere and Battlefield 1942 and so on.  No one says "I wish Windows had a great shell."

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"No one says, 'I wish Windows had a great shell'."

So "MONAD" is being added to Longhorn just so Microsoft can show off?

Chris Hoess
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

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