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Making Inroads in Important Places

Linux. You've heard of it on the news. You may know someone who uses it. Have you thought about using it, but were afraid to try it because the boss has been sold on another operating system? Are you the boss wondering if Linux can help your bottom line? Linux is too new, unstable, untested, can't be trusted with mission critical applications. Linux is open source and as such, is dangerous because it allows hackers to modify the software or to find bugs and holes to exploit by creating worms, viruses and trojans- and if someone quits after modifying the code then you are really in trouble, there's no way to go back. Linux is more expensive to administer because it is based on UNIX and administrators demand more pay. You can't sell Linux based software because most of it falls under a viral, cancerous General Public License. Linux doesn't have the applications that are needed to get work done. There is no office suite, it can't be used to access the Internet.

All of these arguments have been used against using Linux in the workplace. One by one, we will dispel these myths or, as they are better known in the industry, FUD. FUD stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. This is a known marketing strategy when truth doesn't work. Details of use of FUD are available in the Halloween Documents.

Linux is not new, it is celebrating its thirteenth birthday/anniversary in 2004. Linux was designed to be a free clone of the proprietary operating system UNIX. UNIX was developed by Bell Labs in 1969 [1]. In the early 1970s Richard Stallman worked at MIT and by the mid 1980s had created the GNU Project which aspired to create a free operating system. In 1991, Linus Torvalds released his version of a free UNIX-like kernel-the very base of the operating system to the world. This kernel became known as the Linux kernel. The combination of the free tools, released by Richard Stallman, and the free kernel, released by Linus Torvalds, created the combination GNU/Linux and the free operating system known most commonly as Linux was born. Because the GNU project and the Linux kernel are both based upon UNIX they were designed with multiple users, administration rights, and security in mind. Thus the maturity of the operating system is in part from the mid 1980s and partly from the early 1990s. The development method used for all parts of the operating system is described by Eric Raymond in his writings The Cathedral and the Bazaar where lots of people contribute to making software better- not because they have to, but because they want to. This helps to ensure that bugs are found, and, if there is a needed feature, it can be coded in.

Linux is stable. It is being used by Ameritrade Amex and NYSE. American Express and the NYSE are testing Sendmail, the most widely used Mail Transfer Agent in use to replace their current systems The Apache web server is the most widely used server on the internet with versions running on Linux as well as other operating systems.

Linux can save you money on the bottom line.

Linux is being used to replace Windows 2000 and to save over $10,000.00. That can be added to the bottom line- is the boss listening? And the City of Largo, Florida has chosen to use KDE as their solution of choice. With impending software audits by MS on customers large and small companies and governmental agencies are choosing to pay up rather than fight with MS over licensing. In our own county there are unconfirmed reports that the only machines that software can't be proven on are the ones installed by techs from MS itself. These will be the machines that MS will charge a new license fee for. Ironic (evil?) that the only machines that the county can't show proof of purchase for came directly from MS. Add to that reports- not in the paper of course- that our new emergency dispatch system doesn't work as advertised, techs blame the incompatibilities of the operating system to the software. Add MSs new licensing scheme and now you have users paying subscriptions for software that they could have just purchased once and upgraded when the time is right for that user.

Linux is not expensive to administer. While UNIX and Linux administrators may demand more money, they also are able to maintain more systems due to the scalability of the operating system and the availability of tools for Linux. Linux admins also don't have to spend as much time running around installing patches for IIS worms, Outlook viruses, or Explorer bugs. Linux does not suffer from the same problems as MS products. Some would have you believe it's because Linux is not as popular, and the most prominent operating system will be targeted. You did click the Apache survey link above didn't you? Apache runs on 60% of all web servers... why is it that Apache is not the most abused, least secure, web server in the world? It is because it was developed using the open source method of development subjecting it to peer review and quick bug fixes.

Need office suite functionality? Try OpenOffice from openoffice.org, StarOffice from Sun MicroSystems, or koffice from koffice.org. All of these options give you; a word processor, compatible with nearly all document formats, spreadsheet functionality, again with the multiple vendor format support, presentation/computer slide show, with multi-vendor support, import/export functions to save in additional formats. Web browsing with Netscape, Mozilla, and Konqueror part of the KDE.org project. The internet and web pages are based upon standards that are agreed upon to be used by everyone so any browser should work, if it doesn't it's normally because the web site owner has chosen to ignore the previously agreed upon standards.
If you need to find out whether other applications are available for your needs browse applications at linux.org or search for a specific tool on freshmeat.

We hope you have found this page to be informative. If you need help, we have a mailing list with many knowledgeable individuals who are willing to help with installing and using GNU/Linux.

[1]History of UNIX development
Linux is Trademark of Linus Torvalds
GNU is Trademark of Richard Stallman
Other copyrights and trademarks may apply to their respective owners