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Author Topic: An unrecognized opportunity for the FOSS community.  (Read 8589 times)
tekra1
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« on: August 30, 2010, 09:45:00 pm »

I believe there's an important issue that needs attention. The easiest way to explain it is by example. Some may remember the 'Y2K' scam. What you won't remember are the results of the urgent surveys to determine how many might be at risk. Turns out that most of them were SMEs running legacy DOS apps on 286 boxes! Horrors! Even at that time this was stone-age kit.

There's always been (and probably always will be) a broad disconnect between those who design hitech gear and those who use it. Those ancient 286/DOS boxes were still running for two very good reasons. First, they did their jobs reliably and efficiently, and were easy to maintain and adjust. Second, they offered little scope for 'fiddling about', and as every business manager knows to his cost, an embarrassing amount of supposedly 'technical time' goes into just that. To a businessman, a computer is just a machine that does a job, and is evaluated by most solely on that basis. Now don't get me wrong. My professional career was electronic hardware design, so I'm no tech philistine. Not wanting to surrender yet more of my life to the infernal machine, I avoided software as long as I could; but debugging new hardware with Bill's Bugware is like crap shooting in heavy fog, so I was forced to find an alternative. When I started with RedHat 6.0 it was as reliable as a politician's promise, but I soon became fascinated, not only by the scope and extent of what had been achieved, but even more by the social potential I could envisage, and which still hasn't materialized.

FOSS/Linux is truly one of the great achievements of modern times. Whether considered as a technological achievement, an art-form, an engineering project, a community contribution, or an example of worldwide voluntary cooperation, it's simply outstanding. Yet it receives no recognition, and for very good reasons. It's also the biggest and most successful threat to the corporate philosophy that now dominates everything, including especially the mass media and education, wherefrom it should, by rights, be receiving the highest accolades. Even worse, it proves unequivocally that the profit motive is not supreme, and may not even be viable in the long term. So don't expect this to change anytime soon, certainly not before they've put Dick Cheney up against the wall.

So here's the point of my diatribe. Say I decide to go into business bringing all this technological goodness and nourishment to SMEs, who can surely benefit from breaking their addiction to and dependence on M$, the OS for Dummies. Say I get a contract re-equipping a small company with the latest FOSS goodies, finish the job on time, collect my cheque and get a delighted cheerio from the owner. All well and good. Then, a few months later, the inevitable happens. The owner buys a couple of new machines and invites me back to set them up. I boot up my trusty PCLOS disk, only to find that it doesn't include drivers for the new MB video. No problem! Jump on the net, but find that a new version is out that has the drivers, but the repo for my own trusty version is no longer supported, or even viable. So I take the plunge and install the new version on the new boxes, thus discovering that it's not only a different interface, but has technical problems interacting with the old version. What to do? Reinstall the whole damn lot? Try to fix the technical glitches? Try to persuade the owner and his staff to live with two different interfaces and operational methodologies? Get a gun and shoot the developers?

Even the dimmest can see my point here. What to developers is a superlative art-form that deserves every latitude and indulgence is merely a useful piece of gear to others, but only when it's working. When it's not, it's worse than useless - it can be a frighteningly demanding drain on cash. The solution is simple, obvious, and very inexpensive. Just fork your CVS tree in a couple of places, isolate the most stable versions, and put a geriatric code cutter out to pasture with strict instructions that they're NEVER TO CHANGE, except for keeping up-to-date with the latest driver and library versions. If you're at all interested in grateful, generous voluntary contributions, this is the way to get it, not by flaunting the latest technoporn. Anyone who's set up a string of clients using your eternally stable distro will have a vested interest in ensuring that it remains eternally stable, and if a small percentage of his profits is the cost, it'll surely be thought worth it.

And on this note I must congratulate Vector Linux on retaining KDE 3.5. It is, was, and will always remain a superb achievement, no matter how fashions change. Good code, being an intellectual artefact, does not wear out the way that physical artefacts do, and should not be constrained or discarded due to such ephemeral things as fashion. KDE 4 is the software equivalent of flared trousers, afro hairdo's, the Cadillac El Dorado, or Lady Gaga.

Understand that commercial software vendors do not have this option - they have to 'keep up with the latest', and be seen to do so. One of the biggest advantages of FOSS is that its developers are under no external commercial or deadline pressures - only those that are self-imposed - yet they've never taken strategic advantage of it. It allows them to answer some of the REAL requirements of end users, instead of forcing them into endless upgrade cycles. All except the biggest of them are heartily sick of it - of having to run flat out to stay in the same place, given their limited budgets, technological know-how and enthusiasm.

Tekra1
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retired1af
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 01:19:54 am »

While I agree with you based on principle, reality dictates that your dream will remain just that. No business can set up a model that relies on old technology and hope to succeed. There's a reason why average life cycle estimates for computers has remained at 3 years. First, you can't expect those computers to remain functioning after that point. Second, training dollars are hard to come by, and it's a rare company indeed that actually sets money aside for training their personnel.

While I can easily go in and show an immediate cost savings for a new company by using old computers and open source software, that's where the cost savings ends. Eventually, those older computers are going to die, and most likely, they're going to want to buy new. So now what? Blow off the hard drive and use open source still? And the new employee that I hire that has never used Open Office, what do I do with them? Waste time, or spend training dollars that I don't have to bring them up to speed?

I have to shake my head when the zealots come crawling out of the woodwork and start spouting the anit-Microsoft mantra. Reality is, Linux and open source will never become widely accepted, especially in the business environment. Why? Because in order to stay competitive, a company has to spend their money wisely, and spending it on systems, software, and operating systems that are different from 99% of the rest of the corporate world is the equivalent of suicide. Especially in today's economic environment. While there are those that would say that this is the PERFECT time to go open source, those individuals aren't fighting to ensure their company survives.

Windows is a good OS, especially Windows 7.  To claim that Linux is better than Windows is pure ignorance. Both operating systems have their good points and bad, and as with any tool, have their own unique place in our tool kits. I use both, and will continue to do so. Not because one is better than the other, but because each one does what it does very well depending on the task at hand.
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stretchedthin
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 09:56:50 am »

I would think that with the amount of targeted distributions out there that there would be something that would suite your needs.  The closest I can think of off the top of my head is Ubuntu with it's long term support versions.

You could use the same approach as microsoft does with it's windows 7 professional.  After installing the new OS you could also set up the old in a Virtual Machine, giving your client the best of both worlds.
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rbistolfi
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 01:01:34 pm »

I upgrade to the newest versions of my operating systems. All of them run Awesome Window Manager, and they keep the very same interface because I dont change it.
If for "interface" you mean something else than the graphical one, I dont think it can affect end users much.
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"There is a concept which corrupts and upsets all others. I refer not to Evil, whose limited realm is that of ethics; I refer to the infinite."
Jorge Luis Borges, Avatars of the Tortoise.

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Jumalauta!!
caitlyn
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2010, 12:50:37 pm »

I have to shake my head when the zealots come crawling out of the woodwork and start spouting the anit-Microsoft mantra. Reality is, Linux and open source will never become widely accepted, especially in the business environment.

I have to shake my head at the ignorance in the statement above.  Linux/UNIX have had a majority position (as in greater than half) in the corporate server room for a decade now.  Take a look at the list of customers Red Hat has for their Enterprise Linux products and you'll see a large chunk of the Fortune 500 in there.  Add Novell (SUSE) and the chunk is even larger.  What you dismiss as zealotry actually is a fact of life and has been for a very long time now.

Quote
Windows is a good OS, especially Windows 7.  To claim that Linux is better than Windows is pure ignorance.

Yes, there is pure ignorance in this thread, but not in those that claim Linux is superior.  Of course, it entirely depends on how you define superiority.  For security, reliability and stability, all of which are important for business, Linux is clearly and demonstratively superior.  I could provide you with an endless link of articles that explain why but it seems your mind is made up.
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retired1af
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2010, 05:14:39 pm »

When I speak of "business environment" I'm referring to desktop machines, not servers.

Yes, Linux/Unix servers have been a business mainstay for decades now. Cut my teeth on Sun Sparc machines and have my Netware certs (although they're outdated and most likely not valid any longer).
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Masta
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2010, 07:41:34 pm »

What is this Windows you speak of?  Grin

Every day I am installing a Linux OS on someone's system. Everyday!! I can't possibly count all the times I've heard the "why didn't I use this before" and all the "I'll never go back to using that worthless money sucking OS again" No, my people aren't server running Gurus. They're just the average person using a computer to do the common stuff used in housholds across the world.

I gave up Windows years ago myself, and to this day I do not miss it one bit. I spend more time on the computer getting things done and working with the computer, rather than working on it. Since Vista was released, It pretty much shows that Windows is a "follower" in the technology. Windows 7 is no different in that either. NT will always be NT, I don't care how they decorate it in each release, it's old technology with a facelift everytime.

Everywhere I turn, in my area, I am seeing Linux come about. The local county jail switched off from Windows to a Linux distro, the reasons were more than obvious too. A lot of shops and other buisnesses here are starting to ask about Linux usage in their systems as well. I see Linux has a fairly good dominance in the houshold these days. Much greater than it was a few short years ago. All this from personal experience, not from some paid for poll.  Smiley
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GrannyGeek
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2010, 09:38:44 pm »

If we're going by personal experience, I don't personally know a single person--not one--who uses Linux on a personal computer. I do have cyber acquaintances who use Linux, but mostly they are on Linux forums.

I also have several cyber acquaintances who tried Linux and gave it up--some of them with great relief. The proportion of Linux browsers frequenting Web sites has grown very little for several years. Microsoft's profits are up since the arrival of Windows 7.

None of this makes any difference to me as far as my own Linux use goes. But I fear those who think desktop Linux is making great inroads are not facing reality.
--GrannyGeek
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Murdock
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2010, 12:53:57 am »

I have to shake my head when the zealots come crawling out of the woodwork and start spouting the anit-Microsoft mantra. Reality is, Linux and open source will never become widely accepted, especially in the business environment.

I have to shake my head at the ignorance in the statement above.  Linux/UNIX have had a majority position (as in greater than half) in the corporate server room for a decade now.  Take a look at the list of customers Red Hat has for their Enterprise Linux products and you'll see a large chunk of the Fortune 500 in there.  Add Novell (SUSE) and the chunk is even larger.  What you dismiss as zealotry actually is a fact of life and has been for a very long time now.

Quote
Windows is a good OS, especially Windows 7.  To claim that Linux is better than Windows is pure ignorance.

Yes, there is pure ignorance in this thread, but not in those that claim Linux is superior.  Of course, it entirely depends on how you define superiority.  For security, reliability and stability, all of which are important for business, Linux is clearly and demonstratively superior.  I could provide you with an endless link of articles that explain why but it seems your mind is made up.
These guys think it's pretty damned good.

http://www.debian.org/users/
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bigpaws
Vectorian
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Posts: 1862


« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2010, 05:32:39 am »

I know that alot of my customers use Linux. For business and personal
systems. Not one of my Linux installations have been moved back to
Windows.


Imho the statistics are skewed, due to that fact of multiple that
there are too many variables.

Bigpaws
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