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Linux for Business

When you are running a business or organisation, especially if you have a lot of desks with a lot of people sitting at computers, it's worth knowing that Linux is a good idea. If your computers run Linux, but your rival company's computers are still stuck with Microsoft, you are saving a substantial "per seat" licence fee, as Linux hasn't got the same copyright restrictions that Microsoft has. Also, the technical overheads are much easier with Linux. The computers crash less often, and can be maintained by fewer technical staff.

Secretaries and clerks, executives and customer liaison people, don't mind what kind of operating system is on their computer at work; They just like the computer to work properly and not spend too long with a little hourglass on the screen waiting for some other computerish thing to catch up with itself.

Even for small companies, the advantages of upgrading to Linux are considerable. But for companies sufficiently big to afford to employ at least one technical boffin, the advantages are enormous. From a boffin's perspective, the news that you will be having Linux on your company's computers is to be greeted like a motor mechanic hearing the news that you will be providing proper metal spanners for the work rather than expecting engine repair to be performed using those plastic toy spanners which children are expected to play with.

Here are a few advantages of Linux for business:

* More efficient working.

* Fewer computer crashes.

* Removal or reduction in expensive "per seat" licences, copyright rentals, and other forms of insidious tax.

* Less chance of dawn raids by the anti-piracy secret police trying to find evidence by which to accuse you of copyright theft of Microsoft software.

* Less wasting of staff time watching computers waiting for the next screen to come up.

* Reduction in forced updates to software. Less dependency or "lock-in" to supplier-specific products. eg. dot doc

* Saving of money on hardware, as last year's machines will still work ok, and are probably still faster than someone else's Microsoft-dependent machines. (Staff at Barclays Bank found their new allocated Windows 2000 computers were slower than UNIX machines that were eight years older!).

* Better compatibility with other computer systems (Linux supports open standard in interfacing, rather than proprietary stuff).

Special point on the Linux page: "If you've got an office with a hundred computers, you only need to get ONE copy of Linux and you can have a perfectly legal software system running on all of the machines. This could save a great deal of money".

There are some disadvantages to upgrading to Linux and giving up Microsoft, but these have to be considered in the way in which drug addicts have to consider the disadvantages of giving up the drugs! If you give up smoking, you'll be nervous for a while. If you give up crack cocaine, you might require a padded cell for a while to go through the "cold turkey" phase. And if your company gives up Microsoft, there will be a time during which some of the things seem a little different. This is a temporary phase, and like with the other things, it's worth going through to get to the long-term advantages. Microsoft has built in various things you can get accustomed to, and it sometimes takes a while to get used to the new versions in Linux, but these are very similar. It may take explaining that to STOP a machine you no longer have to click on "START"! Provided your staff haven't become fossilised they will be able to adapt, and will generally be much happier in the long term.

Another disadvantage of Linux is that it's more technical. Or, to put it another way, it's less dumbed-down. Astronauts going to the moon have also found this, that a lawnmower engine just won't do, and that the propulsion systems may require technical experts, rocket scientists, to be on call. However, some of the manufacturers of the different Linuxes have made interfaces of different levels of "user friendliness", so you can choose something according to taste. In the end, it needn't be as difficult as it's made out to be.

Some additional points to consider about Linux: About 70% of the servers on the Internet are Unix-based. And even in the desktop market there are more Linux machines than Apples. There is a much bigger difference in the amount of HYPE however. Microsoft and Apple are willing to pay for advertising, whereas Linux doesn't advertise. Therefore it's all too easy to underestimate its presence in the market.

Finding shops that sell Linux-ready computers, or computers with Linux installed as standard, has for a while been a curious question, but now we have found enough places to show you: Places That Sell Computers. Most of these have Linux available on computers which are new, and Linux compatible peripherals.

Some notable businesses have already switched to Linux. For example Ernie Ball, Peugeot, and Munich Council.

A few references: