A Decade of Linux & Increasingly Stronger
Readers of this article were also interested in:
Will the Empire Last Long?
compiled by Mario Miyojim, for the Reallylinux.com Opinion Section
The GNU Manifesto, the internet, and the Open Source
movement represent a landmark, joining the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. Linux, produced by
patient hard work, has made remarkable progress during the past decade, and is well positioned for substantial growth.
In 1998, I was working for a simulator company, Digitran. Two engineers were
given the task to find Windows 95 tools to produce graphs of the progress of a simulation on screen and on
printer. They tried for 2 weeks and only came up with expensive solutions. I then made a proof-of-concept
demo to the boss using only open source software: lout
and ghostscript, which I had on my dual-boot little Gateway PC
and he was awed that I could do it free of software licenses or a special printer.
It took me a few
weeks to port my solution to the SCO Unix platform, into the context of the simulator, written in C language.
My solution consisted of a few C functions inserted into the simulator library that were called from the simulator,
created intermediate files to be shown or printed by the open-source applications. It was a fascinating
experience that made me feel powerful! My confidence on the ability of open-source to satisfy
any need grew from there, and never left me.
The first corporation to adopt Linux was most likely the Burlington Coat Factory. And the first
city in the U.S. that adopted Linux was Largo, in Florida. More recently, a German metropolis decided to take the step forward to Linux.
It began to replace Windows and MS Office by OpenOffice on Linux on 14,000
desktops of the city in September 2006. The city LiMux team designed its own tool, WollMux, to produce
mastheads, forms and other specific docs. They expect to complete the project below the budget of
US$44 million, and to have 80% installed in 2008. All this, despite Microsoft's offer of an upgrade cheaper
than the Linux project. The offer was rejected likely because they wanted stability, reliability and security that many viewed Windows still lacked.
The Republic of Macedonia is a
country in Southern Europe, one of the parts into which former Yugoslavia was split.
Population: 2 million. Internet penetration: 5%. Software piracy: rampant. In 2003, Microsoft made
a deal with the government about licenses, and irritated Macedonian open-source proponents. Then a
group of volunteers, Free Software Macedonia, translated all major FOSS projects into Macedonian. In 2004,
they deployed Macedonian Gnome on 5000 PC's and installed high speed WiFi Internet in 468 schools and 182 computer
labs. Students and teachers are now encouraged to learn by experimentation. Preparation included training of
10,000 teachers from primary and secondary schools on GNU/Linux and Gnome. Localization of software is a strength
of Linux, because volunteers of each region can do it themselves. In this case, it was the prerequisite for success
of the migration.
Extremadura is the poorest region of Spain. Its government
burned 80,000 CDs with Debian Linux and applications ranging from text editors to an Internet browser, called
Linex, and sent them to 670 schools and to the public, through newspaper inserts. It gave priority to the training
of 15,000 teachers on how to use Linex and to integrate the computers in the classroom. In so doing, the government
has saved US$7 million a year, in comparison with the MS alternative. This project became a model for other regions
of Europe to erradicate dependence on Windows.
Linux desktop avalanche?
The major reason the Windows users give not to migrate to
Linux is its lack of professional applications.
The Portland Project was initiated by the OSDL, and puts
together Linux desktop developers. It is producing a common foundation that ISVs (independent software vendors)
can use to write applications running well on Linux and Windows. It should be functional by 2008.
Ubuntu and Linspire are partners on the use of CNR (Click'N Run).
CNR makes installing any software a one-click operation and allows users to pick out software by generic name,
such as word processor, audio recorder, graphics editor, etc., easier on beginners.
These two tools are bound to cause on desktop Linux
an avalanche effect.
CCA, New York
Associates (CCA) is a large medical facility. It has over
40 physicians, surgeons and providers, 7 offices and 7 hospitals in New York and Mass., and about 200 employees.
In 2003, CCA recorded 128,000 patient visits, 92,000 diagnostic tests, 6,000 catheterizations and interventions,
800 open heart surgeries, over 380,000 billed services, and a revenue of $22 million.
network had been installed in 1997, as a mixed Windows (95, 98, 2000) environment, and required an expansion after
7 years. The options were: upgrade to Windows 2000 or migrate to Linux. Due to the scattered locations, they
needed fast and simple access to all points. Their study reveals that Linux thin clients hardware plus installation
cost half that of the Windows thick clients and that the maintenance plus depreciation costs of Linux thin
clients cost 28% of those for Windows thick clients. Thin clients are diskless, lighter and last longer
than normal workstations, which is desirable for overall reliability. Moreover, Dr. Echt, the CEO, holds resentment
against Microsoft, for monopolistic behavior and price-gouging. The switch over was done on a single weekend
without incidents, and all billing, appointment and clerical software worked flawlessly.
Windows-only applications continued on Windows, and were later run under Linux via "emulator." OpenOffice
on Linux server accessed from thin clients works better, since it is multiuser, while MS Office is not.
There was no downtime and not a single desktop breakdown in 8
months! The CCA story is potentially viable proof that open-source software can solve mission-critical problems, contrary to
the fears of those business people who may believe the MS marketing.
Windsor School, California
The Windsor Unified School District in Northern
California decided that, by this summer, its 5,000 students and 250 teachers will be working off a
Linux thin client running OpenOffice, and servers running Linux.
It was apparently impossible to upgrade its MS Windows environment (70 HP and Dell servers) because it would cost
$100,000 -- deemed too much for Windsor. It was decided to move to a Linux thin client network. Wyse thin-client
desktops run OpenOffice, and Ericom software (similar to Citrix) runs Windows-only educational applications:
Type to Learn, Reading Counts and
Kid Pix. It allows remote management, while with Windows, technicians
had to drive around to reach the terminals periodically. The migration cost is affordable: $2,500
per school! A new computer lab cost $16,000, instead of the estimated $35,000. Therefore, Linux is
a viable, cost-effective solution for any school.
The City Council of Zaragoza, Spain, decided to migrate
from Windows to Linux and save the Aragon capital city nearly €1M/year. The migration, to be completed in 2008,
arises from the need to modernize applications and comply with national and European recommendations.
The stories above took place because the responsible
parties are people who have recognized the risks of staying with Microsoft, or could not afford the costs
of upgrading. These stories tend to spread rapidly. Microsoft has made perhaps some unexpected mistakes and controls
the damages, but is unlikely to see a need to apologize. Linux has grown strong thanks to the attacks by SCO and MS -- perhaps the maxim is true: what does not
kill you makes you stronger. But it certainly seems to have become a refuge for those who don't want MS.
Reflecting back on ten years of Linux growth, it is very likely that the
year 2008 is going to be particularly eventful. Migration to
Linux in Munich and Zaragoza will encourage other cities in the world to do the same. Schools will massively
adopt Linux. The Portland Project will bring professional applications to Linux. Corporations will
thrive by progressively shedding Microsoft, which will struggle futilely to maintain its market share
in all fronts (OS, Office, web services, games, etc.) and will be facing numerous lawsuits.
Based on the historical evidence, by the year 2010 the Linux installed base will surpass
20% worldwide. OEMs will preinstall Linux distributions widely, so Microsoft will have to work for
quality to stay alive, perhaps in a manner similar to IBM and HP. Open-source software will be taught in computer
science colleges and
technical training centers by default. Overall, not at all a bad position for a grassroots movement developed for the fun of writing software!
For further reading and to get the details from this overview compilation, please read the excellent articles:
SOURCE: IDG News Service, John Blau, Munich begins Linux replacement of Windows
SOURCE: GNOME JOURNAL, Macedonia installs 5,000 Linux PCs in schools
SOURCE: Wired News, Julia Sheeres, Extremadura Measures: Linux
SOURCE: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Desktoplinux.com, Is a Linux desktop avalanche coming?
SOURCE: Desktoplinux.com, Martin P. Echt, Real world case study: Linux thin client savings exceed 37% in just 8 months
SOURCE: Searchopensource.com, Jack Loftus, Microsoft Windows ousted at California school district
SOURCE: El Pais, Zaragoza Migrates to Linux to Save €1M Annually
This opinion piece should not be construed as factual information. It contains the opinions and personal
experiences of the author at the time of publication and where applicable includes the references to other
texts for further research. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have
been posted do not necessarily express the opinions of Reallylinux.com. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus
Torvalds. IBM is the registered trademark of International Business Machines. Microsoft, Microsoft Windows are
trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. MS
is used in certain cases to further denote Microsoft Corporation. RedHat is the registered trademark for RedHat
Inc. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft, Windows Vista, Vista are trademarks or registered
trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United Statest and Internationally. All other trademarks or registered
trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.