When I first got into IT back in the late 90’s as a teen, I was always baffled by the landscape in regards to infrastructure and software. And coming from a Linux background, who could blame me? When I went off to get my secondary education, I chose the vocational route and I chose to certify in Novell and Microsoft because they were the two major players at the time. And in my opinion, Novell was actually doing it right with the NDS operating system which seemed way ahead of windows NT at the time.
Now you have to remember that 14 years ago, Linux was not the OS that you see on today’s desktops and mobile laptops/netbooks. It was more like Unix –or even DOS –in that the user interacted with it via the terminal and shell on a frequent basis.
Even so, I could not understand why every shop ran Windows servers and desktops. The money that could have been saved on file servers alone could have paid an actual person’s salary for a year. It all seemed so wasteful especially on the server side, especially when it came to file servers and shares that could have easily accomplished the same thing using SAMBA. Heck, you could even have email up and running with Sendmail and Procmail all for free.
One of the broader complaints I hear from net admins –other than Linux is to hard and complicated, which it is not) –comes in the area of user management and shares –because it’s so hard to do –which is easy enough to manage if you’re on an Active Directory enabled domain. But what is the solution for easy management under linux? This is a question I always hear, to which I say “I have been using Webmin for almost 12 years now –which pre-dates Active Directory –and let me tell you it is a breeze!” It allows you to not only manage users and shares on your network, but pretty much all aspects of your network, from scheduled backups, cron jobs, software packages, and clusters, just to name a few. If you would like to check out webmin, you can download and install it from here.
It is almost as if the U.S refuses to save money on purpose when that money can be used in other areas. This holds true in the corporate world as well as local, state and federal government where adoption of Linux and open source is slow, if at all. Meanwhile countries like France and Germany have embraced Linux and open source and have saved millions!
France’s Gendarmerie Nationale, the country’s national police force, says it has saved millions of dollars by migrating its desktop software infrastructure away from Microsoft windows and replacing it with the open source Ubuntu Linux distribution. A transition which began in 2005 none-the-less, when the police force replaced Microsoft office with OpenOffice.org across the entire force. After Vista launched in 2007, it was decided to phase out Windows and incrementally migrate to Ubuntu.
A report by the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory gave a few details from a presentation given by Gendarmerie Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Guimard, who says that the force has been able to reduce it’s annual IT budget by 70 percent without having to reduce it’s capabilities! Since 2004, the agency has saved up to 50 Million dollars alone on licensing and maintenance costs as a result of the migration strategy which it hopes to complete by 2015 which will encompass all 90,000 workstations on its network.
With figures like that, it’s hard to argue the benefits of open source. The Gendarmerie migration also demonstrates the significant cost savings that governments and even large corporations can get from adopting open source software. As the global recession continues to put pressure on budgets, big corporations and the government need to look to open source software as a way to cut IT costs. No longer can we say “Well I am a windows guy and this is what I suggest”. The people in charge need to make a decision that will benefit the whole of a company and/or a country. Think about it, would you rather buy something for a dollar and sell it for two? Or would you rather get something for free and sell it for two? Microsoft Admins want to preserve their jobs at all costs but the choice is easy, and open source is the way.