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Ask OSDL CEO Stu Cohen About Linux TCO Studies 150

This morning OSDL and OSDL member Levanta jointly released a study done by Enterprise Management Associates called Get the Truth on Linux Management. For years, a proprietary software company in Washington State has run what they call a Get the Facts campaign about Linux, full of studies that invariably show Linux to be expensive, hard to maintain, and less than totally secure. Stu Cohen, as CEO of OSDL, a group "dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise," will happily answer your questions about Linux vs. Windows studies and the myths and FUD that seem to hover over them. Expect Stu's answers to the 10 - 12 highest-moderated questions later this week.
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Ask OSDL CEO Stu Cohen About Linux TCO Studies

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:02AM (#14705371) Journal
    This may seem like an inane question but why don't I see more of a push to get Linux into the realm of academia?

    I know that Ubuntu [ubuntufund.org] has made strides to incorporate themselves into learning environments but where is the effort to alert students (primarily other than computer science majors) to the benefits of Linux?

    When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota, a friend handed me a CD distribution of Debian that would change my life. I knew of the Linux labs in the University but only now did they interest me. I'm now getting my masters at George Mason University and I don't believe there's a single Linux machine on campus. In fact, the whole Computer Science department has only two Sun servers to offer me an account on! Everything else is Microsoft!

    Now you may lay claim that every computer science major these days is running Linux anyway. But how about the other areas of study? I used to take music theory and people would rant and rave about their Macs or one of various composing suites in Windows. I tried explaining that Linux has (certainly more affordable) solutions to offer in this department too but no one would even listen to me. It's not like they were mixing platinum selling records, they were just looking for software to write sheet music with.

    I think that both Apple and Microsoft realize that the toys people have in college become the toys they demand in real life. So there are all these [apple.com] efforts [e-academy.com] to garner the student's interest hoping that they will use them in their careers.

    They make it free (which Linux already is), they make it easy and they make it available.

    So how about it? Why isn't the Linux community minting install discs and distributing literature on campuses? Why isn't Linux tailoring cheap solutions to K-12 schools that don't have the money for Windows anyway? Why do we risk letting someone leave academia without ever experiencing the real fruits of it?

    If you are doing this (and I just don't know about it), what steps have you taken?
    • I do this with my students. We install a variety of operating systems. Since I have technology students I push them outside of their Linux zone into the world of helping others. It's really easy to say everybody needs Linux when you know the OS. It's harder to be a advocate for the users needs over your own. In their sophmore operating systems classes I have them pick a victim, err. friend who is non-technical (even gramps, or grandma). They then have to watch and write down all of the issues of installi
      • Okay - assuming equal pre-effort in equipment choice, and equal exposure to both platforms - I'm betting any modern GNU/Linux distro is easier to install and easier to install software on. Well you did ask me to guess.

        Without OEMed hardware both can be a major pain to install, but Windows is the only one I ever had to custom build my own install disk for, and that required third party proprietary tools for writing the CD image as no one had documented how to do without them.
    • When I think about the human factor in TOC, I see 2 issues:

      • How many human intervention (administration, helpdesk, ...) is necessary to run the system and keep in running and functional?
      • How much does this human intervention cost?

      In the second issue, do you think there's a significant positive feedback loop? And is this significant compared to the entire TCO? I'm thinking about something like:

      The more Linux is used in the corporate world => the more students and people will study and practice Linux t

      • I think you have very valid points. There are two user groups that produce a lot of help desk calls. The general labor force with zero expected computer skills. The Suzy Secretary, and Joe the Janitor user are going to likely be trained only on specific applications. My gut feeling is that their adoption of an OS will be met with some trepidation, but management and expansion (installing programs) will likely not occur. The second group is more difficult and maybe a case for not adopting Linux as a desk
    • Why don't I see more of a push to get Linux into the realm of academia?

      The answer is 'free stuff', or at least very 'cheap stuff'. Microsoft practically gives away copies of Windows, Office, and Visual Studio (for example), so that those fresh out of high school and university are trained in it.

      Ultimately, why go with a less compatible solution when you can have the mainstream one for pretty cheap? Also application support (Adobe, CAD software, Mathemtica, etc are all Windows)


      • My university had a site-licence for a bunch of MS products (including windows & office) and students/staff could get a cheap copy of that stuff as part of the licence (cheaper even than a normal academic copy)

        They also had something called MSDNAA which meant that people doing certain units could get free copies of things like Visual Studio and Access and stuff (not sure the exact details though)

        And, where I work, they have some kind of worldwide site licence for things like windows and office.
    • Hmm -- Lets see ---
      Apples in elementary schools - check
      Apples in High Schools - check
      Apples in Colleges - check
      Apples in business - nope
      Apple tried it in the 80's, and what they found out was business didn't care what you were used to. Meat fresh from campus is low enough on the totem pole to be ground up and spit out if they don't like what the business is using.
      The only reason Apple took over the graphics industry was because it was orders of magnitude better than DOS & WIN3.1 for doing the work
      • Businesses had very different priorities for computers than schools at the time. Schools wanted something that could be a bright and shiny educational tool. Businesses wanted to increase productivity for a minimum cost.

        The IBM PC (and its horde of clones) had one virtue that Apples of the era did not--it was cheap. Its operating system was crude by comparison--but cheap. Its hardware was inelegant--but cheap. School budgets can and often are cut, but not nearly as quickly, suddenly, or viciously as co

    • Here's how to solve the problem at George Mason and other universities: Sic Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter on them for refusing to allow 'alternative viewpoints' in America's universities. If it works for politics, it will work for OSs...
    • Did you know the site you linked to has nothing to do with Ubuntu Linux? Nice program though.
    • Your question is not bad. However, I would just like to point out that OSDL's mission, according to their website is:

      To accelerate the deployment of Linux for enterprise computing through:

      • Enterprise-class testing and other technical support for the Linux development community.
      • Marshalling of Linux-industry resources to focus investment on areas of greatest need thereby eliminating inhibitors to growth.
      • Practical guidance to our members - vendors and end users alike - on working effectively with
    • I would bet that Linux is already well known in most computer science programs. The reality is that many universities see their job as supplying the skills that industry needs. That is not a terrible thing since most people want to leave college with marketable skills. There is currently a lot more demand for people that can develop for windows than for Linux.
      Someone that is graduating from a good but not great university with a degree in IT that doesn't know how to use Windows will have a hard time finding
    • When I was in high school (late '90s), I used to sneak into the Fenwick Library at Mason to read (we lived right up the street). They had a number of Sun boxes up in the stacks--I assume they were SunRay thin clients--for catalog requests and web browsing. They ran Netscape Navigator, and I thought they were pretty darn cool. From that meagre experience, I thought Mason was a bit more heterogeneous, OS-wise, than it is now, apparently

      Windows' dominance on campus, I suppose, is the perfect storm: Univ

    • In my experience there is actually quite a lot of use of Linux as well as other Unices in universities, but the distribution is skewed. You tend to get Unix in the techier departments in which there is motivation to roll your own. Thus, I've seen a lot of Unix not only in CS and engineering departments but in Linguistics and Psychology, but my impression is that you don't get so much in science departments in which people's needs are fairly homogeneous and there is enough money for commercial software to h

  • What I would really like to know is why Linux or Windows? Why hasn't there been a really good study that included BSD, Solaris, OSX, or even licensed variants of Unix? Is it all about Linux or is it about better operating systems?
    • I worked in a mixed environment and it is truthfully a matter of preference. I support Linux, AIX, Solaris, and Windows. The security of any OS is only as good as the person securing it. In all truthfullness, it all boils down to cost, or TCO rather. At home I use *Nix, Solaris, and Windows, each has something that I like that the others don't but I don't really have a preference of one over another.
    • The problem is support. There are large numbers of developers behind Linux at Red Hat, Novell, Mandriva, Ubuntu and so on, vs only a small handful of developers at the UNIX flavours. The result is that when you try to build a real system using one of the Unices, you quickly find that many of the utilities and libraries that you need are either hopelessly outdated, or totally unavailable, or the source won't compile on your flavour of Unix. Been there, tried that.
      • The result is that when you try to build a real system using one of the Unices, you quickly find that many of the utilities and libraries that you need are either hopelessly outdated, or totally unavailable

        Which sort of real system are you talking about? One where you've compiled everything yourself? In commercial unices, you don't tend to have to do that. What you lose in flexibility, you also lose in complexity and maintenance work. I'm not going to tell you that any of them are the be-all end-all,
        • Solaris is a pig until you've installed a load of stuff on it to make it usable (not tried Solaris 10 though.. we don't have any customers on that).

          Once you get outside the Linux/OSX/Solaris 'safe zone' it all goes to hell.

          HPUX? Good luck getting any precompiled software for it, and when you do good luck getting it to work. Compiling? It takes me 3-4 *days* to build a release of the (relatively small) software suite we do, due to constantly having to work around bugs in the compiler/linker/libraries, etc
        • Well, you picked a good example. I think Solaris is the only Unix that is still supported properly. With any of the others, all bets are off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:05AM (#14705391)
    Why would you expect that the answers of someone "dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise" would be more objective, in any way, than any of the reports created by pro-MS companies?

    It just doesn't make sense...
    • God I wish I had mod points, otherwise they would be yours as you have asked the my question.
    • Will 2006 be the year of Desktop Linux?

    • Slight variation. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 )

      Why would you expect that the answers of someone "dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise" would be more objective, in any way, than any of the reports created by pro-MS companies?

      Since it all comes down to what you choose to measure and how you measure it ... I'd rephrase your question as:

      Why would anyone expect that the criteria of someone "dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise" would be more objective or that the measurements w

    • Often those facing a well-financed, established group (whether it's "the establishment" or Microsoft) need only to expose how ridiculous the established group really is ("Linux is cancer!"). Hopefully this venture will do just that.
  • Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:06AM (#14705396) Homepage
    Since almost all of these studies are funded or organised by a party which appears to be inherently for or against one of the things being studied, will it be possible to find anyone willing to compare them impartially? After all, how many people would believe an Open Source company to be any less biased than MS when it comes to comparing their products?
  • So basically this Q&A session is just spin in the opposite direction to the Windows spin?
    Are there any really independent studies on TOC that are produced by fanbois of one side or the other?
  • Security Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:10AM (#14705417) Journal
    How can we fix the problem of the way TCO studies handle security? In so many of them every OSS application under the sun gets tallied against Linux systems, regardless of how obscure, or unrequired that application may be. Yet all of the 3rd party things that have holes in them rarely seem to even get looked at when talking about Windows security. Firefox for example seems to get tagged frequently when talking about Linux security in these studies, but Firefox isn't integreated into Linux, and it runs on both platforms. IE on the other hand is integrated into the OS, sure you can not use it, but there is a ton of junk in Windows itself that requires the various bits and pieces of IE to operate correctly. What is it going to take for these studies to finally start comparing apples to apples in regards as to what really is part of the OS and what is required for it to run?
    • Part of the problem here is that when comparing a Linux OS to Windows, you have to recognize the fact that Windows comes bundled with a browser. It is part of the OS and you know that few users want a computer that cannot browse the web. So, to be fair, you have to compare competing OSes on like terms and this means including a web browser with linux-based operating systems.

      Most distributions include Firefox in their installation. Yes, it's true, Firefox is not linux. But then if you start going down th
      • Go delete all the files related to IE on a Windows computer and see how far you get. That is a big part of how they dodged that whole separation order back in the Browser Wars. They integrated IE so you HAD to have the core pieces of IE to make your OS run. You can delete every file related to every web browser on a linux system and it will happily chug along. Do the same on a Windows system and you will be in a world of hurt. My point is in linux every browser is a 3rd party application and nothing mo
        • You can delete every file related to every web browser on a linux system and it will happily chug along.

          Uh, no. If you delete everything "browser related" out of a KDE-based distro, KDE will break.

          • You are right in part. I don't use KDE so it wouldn't affect me or anyone else not using KDE. Also, it would break KDE, not the system, your mysql server, your apache server, and postfix would all continue to run happily even with KDE in a broke dick situation. I have seen X blow up on a few linux servers, and the rest of it ran fine. In fact, I had to ssh into one to get a console and recover it...and convinced the owner to never put X on a server.

            But in Linux breaking KDE just screws up the user's i
            • But in Linux breaking KDE just screws up the user's interface, it doesn't really takedown the whole OS.

              Which, for people who KDE is the only reason they're using the OS, is the same as "breaking it".

              The "problem" you have with Windows isn't that IE is any more integrated into it than khtml is into KDE (because it's not), it's that Microsoft don't sell a version of Windows that runs without a GUI. In the grand scheme of things, this is a tiny, irrelevant detail.

              • Uhm...no my "problem" is that when talking about the security aspects of this, its a unfair comparison. KDE gets installed by default on a great number of linux distros. I have run into a great number of people who use KDE or Gnome on servers because configuring by CLI is scary because they are primarily windows users. That doesn't mean they don't understand that the rest of the system works fine.

                In the grand scheme of things, it is not a tiny, irrelevent detail, because the discussion here is dealing
                • Including unrequired features, moreso unrequired features with security holes, increases the risk of any given system.

                  How are these "features" going to cause problems when they never get used ?

                  You also insist on comparing KDE to Windows...which is FAR from the case.

                  No, I compare a Linux distro with KDE to Windows.

                  Windows is an OS, KDE is a nice pretty addon thing. You can use a GUI in Linux without Gnome or KDE...just plain ol X server and a WM.

                  Yes, as I said, your complaint is that Microsoft don't s

      • Part of the problem here is that when comparing a Linux OS to Windows, you have to recognize the fact that Windows comes bundled with a browser. It is part of the OS and you know that few users want a computer that cannot browse the web.

        Where the computer is a tool for said user to do their job it dosn't really matter what the user wants. There are plenty of situations where there is simply no need for a web browser. Both in the embedded and "single application" senarios...
    • Because it's *Total* *Cost* of ownership? I don't see the point of making an "apples-to-apples" comparision -- If firefox etc is on your systems, you have patch it, and that has a cost associated with it. (And yes, putting Firefox on a Windows system does also increase TCO).

      Now, this cuts both ways -- Unix/Linux users have long argued that their server system is better for TCO specifically because one can strip it down and not have browsers/etc on machines that don't need them. I think the market recognizes
      • But the patch cycle does start to look pretty different when you start to strip things down. When you count all the patches for the hordes of non essential 3rd party applications towards the linux security/patching. Looking at the numbers it often says that linux has more patches and more critical vulnerabilities in a given timeframe. If you look closer you start to notice that alot of those vulnerabilities are in non essential pieces and could be discounted completely in many setups. Even kernel vulner
        • "Even kernel vulnerabilities fall into this category...with Windows you have all the vulnerabilties, in Linux you can completely bypass vulnerabilities in parts of the kernel by not compiling the code that you don't need."

          But did you ever think that compiling/maintaining/deploying multiple versions of custom kernels to different systems might actually lead to an increase in TCO for some organizations?

          That's the fun thing about these stupid TCO debates. Everyone looks at it from their specific POV and can di
      • Because it's *Total* *Cost* of ownership?

        Except that when you look at such studies you often find all sorts of omissions.
    • "What is it going to take for these studies to finally start comparing apples to apples in regards as to what really is part of the OS and what is required for it to run?".

      When Windows Update patches all the third party applications installed on a box, we can then compare the five minutes it takes the GNU/Linux admins to handle security patches to how long it takes in Windows. Of course by then it'll only be taking the Windows admins 5 minutes a week.

      Simplistic answers are out.

      I can install Windows 2003, an
      • I think one of the biggest selling points for me is that nix tends to give MUCH more meaningful error messages, while Windows just spits out "something broke, contact your administrator" style messages. I can't tell you how many times I have sat screaming at a Windows box "I am the damned administrator, now tell me what is wrong!". This is also assuming you have never dealt with a linux box spitting out the "Printer is on fire" error while dealing with old printer ports.

        I think the biggest reason I have
  • The Total Cost of Owning Enterprise Management Associates is? Willing to bet the folks behind the study know...
  • How many rounds would you go, one on one, against Steve Ballmer in an auditorium full of chairs?
  • In looking at Microsoft's TCO claims in particular, I've been unable to avoid noticing that a lot of the company's material on this subject consists of, to put it simply, straight lies. Aside from anything else, nothing is mentioned by them about their licensing fees. How they can state with a straight face that after their licensing fees, Windows can still be cheaper than Linux is beyond me.

    Legitimate performance competition is one thing, but I'm curious to know how the ODSL is able to deal with Microsoft'
    • I've been unable to avoid noticing that a lot of the company's material on this subject consists of, to put it simply, straight lies

      My interpretation is that some of thew were half-truths. Statistics can be bent to show anything you want. One way is to select the metrics so that they are biased regardless if the metrics are correct.

      For example, in the area of resources, the MS studies state that Linux admins cost more than Windows admins thus appearing that Linux costs more. This is technically true.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:25AM (#14705500)
    Say I wanted to switch from Windows Server 2003 to Linux in a company of about 400 people with the same equipment I already have, generally speaking how long would it take and how much would I need to invest?
    Do I need to hire several Linux experts just to get it up and running?
    Would you expect this to be relatively easy or would it be very complicated and time consuming?
    • Bit of a silly question if you don't provide a list of what you want to run, are currently running, and am planning on running in the future :)

      If you need MSSQL, you're SoL, if it's just a fileserver, samba will work fine, etc.

  • This study is sponsored by the OSDL so it has an initial bias. If it were a study proving Windows to be cheaper sponsored by Microsoft, everyone would be yelling at the bias - rightfully. So it's only fair game to strongly underline this. (BTW, I AM Linux biaised. but that's not the point here ;) )
    • There is certainly bias here, but the ethics issues and conflict of interest issues tend to be larger on the other side of the fence. I think it would be terribly difficult to remove all of the bias from these sorts of studies, because even at the lowest level, people involved are going to have personal preferences. Ultimately, I am going to tend to believe the guy that wants to give me the free (as in freedom) stuff telling me his stuff is better, because the other guy telling me about HIS junk wants me
    • Actually, OSDL did not commission this survey. Levanta did. OSDL only signed on as a co-sponsor after they saw the results and that they seem to support specific positions OSDL has taken.

      Not that this detracts from your point, but it's only fair to clarify.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:25AM (#14705503)
    Especially not in a heated market like the OS biz. Who can tell what's "better" or "worse"? To what scale do you measure? And even if you find a way to compare them, what tells you that we won't see the same phenomenon that benchmarks sparked in the CPU and Graphics sector, companies that trim their products to perform perfectly in the artificial test environment (and really suck sometimes in everyday appliances)?

    Do I need graphics on a server OS? Do I need highly sophisticated user permissions on a single user machine? Do I need support for 10 billion hardware pieces? Do I need flying pages when copying? Is it important that you can trim the system to run even on a P90? Do I want to be able to use the most recent fads in anti-aliasing and pixel shading? Do I need to be compatible with 100 other formats across 20 OSs? Do I need or want to customize my kernel? Does it make sense to cram the GUI into the system (and the internet browser as well)? Is it useful to ram the Mailreader into the system so tightly that it's virtually impossible to get rid of it?

    No offense, but who are you to answer those questions for me?

    So which system is "better"? Neither. Or both. Or it's really one of them. It just depends on who you are, how much you know (or want to know), how flexible you would like to be, and most of all, what you want to do with your machine.
    • No offense, but who are you to answer those questions for me?

      Someone who might provide different answers to Microsoft's answers.

      Given that, as you say, different people will find different products suit their needs better, it makes perfect sense that we WANT everyone who advocates a particular product to perform comparative studies against other products. If they don't perform comparative studies, all they'll do is shout about how great their respective products are, and we won't know which will be better
  • by hweimer ( 709734 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:27AM (#14705517) Homepage
    ... why don't they use it?

    Almost every PDF document on the OSDL website has been created on a Windows PC or on a Mac. Even the Desktop Linux Survey Report [osdl.org] shows:

    $ pdfinfo DTL_Survey_Report_Nov2005.pdf
    Title: Microsoft Word DTL_Survey_Report_v4.doc
    Creator: Word
    Producer: Mac OS X 10.4.3 Quartz PDFContext
    • ... why don't they use it?

      I believe they are advocating Linux on servers and not the desktop at this point. Linux for general end-user desktop consumption still needs a little more work IMHO.
    • Almost every PDF document on the OSDL website has been created on a Windows PC or on a Mac.

      That's as funny as it is sad, especially given that Word regulary generates ugly looking documents, and that Word -> PDF is generally a Bad Idea.

      The only excuse I can think of is the unlikely scenario where they were typed-up by an overworked secretary who didn't know anything else. But that would invite another TCO analysis, wouldn't it? Thirty minutes of LaTeX tutoring (for example) vs. the cost of a Microsoft
      • LaTeX tutoring? Hell, I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Unixhead, but even I don't use LaTeX if I need to create a document quickly.

        I use LyX (www.lyx.org) for that. All of the good-lookingness of LaTeX, most of the flexibility, no cryptic syntax error messages. And the best and best-integrated graphical equation editor I've ever seen.
      • First: I agree, totally with you that LaTeX (and LyX, which is really more what I'm learning to use now) generates gorgeous printed output--far nicer than Word or OOo Writer. However, I don't think that they're for everyone by a long shot.

        LyX and LaTeX are great if you already have the necessary environments and document classes you need, or if you're well-trained enough to generate them yourself as needed. They are not so great if you are a low-level, low-training, "hello my computer's cupholder is br

    • looks like the file was created from Word on the MAC to me. When I run against one of my own PDFs created and managed solely on linux, the creator field says writer, the producer is OpenOffice. Doesn't seem to be any direct correlation to the platform, but then- why should there be?

      I'd agree with value_added that it's likely a machine in use by secretarial staff.

      Can anyone from OSDL comment?

      • I bet we won't hear any comments from OSDL. They're probably too cowardly to admit they don't know how to use Linux.

        I use Linux for all my work. I only play games on Windows, or occationally use OpenOffice or a cygwin terminal and ssh.

        I expect more from Linux advocates. Unless I'm the only one.
    • I'll have to try it when I get home, but I'm 90% certain that's what you get if you open a document in MS Word on the Mac, and then use the native PDF exporter (which you get to through the Print dialog).

      Maybe there's some formatting or something that they were worried about keeping in the outputted PDF that caused them to not want to export using OpenOffice?

      Ironically enough, I don't use OpenOffice on a day to day basis, but I keep it on my work PC for the sole purpose of converting things to PDF when I'm
  • We recently had an issue in which Microsoft Office included unlicensed IP (according to a court settlement). Microsoft did not require us to patch existing installations, rather simply protecting our use via the settlement, agreeing to require future installations to include the patch. This seems like a case in which indemnifications worked (although they could have offered some compensation for the extra work - it's cheaper than litigation). For background, see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversyst [microsoft.com]
  • I believe that if you are OK with the application space that you can have equivalent or lower enterprise TCO on desktop Linux.

    However, in broadcast engineering, we have a problem that there are lots of devices (satellite receivers, video compressors, video effects devices, video monitoring systems) that are using GNU/Linux. Each vendor seems to pick a different distribution version, basically requiring keeping track of patching 10 or 20 different OS versions. And the truth is that vendors seem so sold on
    • Unless they're rolling their own distro, with custom and proprietary drivers, and custom kernels, you can pretty much assume that if it'll run one one distro, it'll run on another. You might have to recompile a driver or two, but that's not unreasonable to get one consistent, easily maintained/patched distro.

    • By insisting on Windows in devices, one can at least know there is a single location for automatic patching.

      If you insist on any single distribution across your system, you will get a single source for all patches. Nothing magic there. Of course restricting yourself artificially to only one system has both advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes you need to have different systems for different tasks because there is no single Operating System that solves all requirements.
  • by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <stdrange@alumni.uchic a g o . edu> on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:51AM (#14705718) Journal
    It's a Serious Question. Don't TCO costs end up coming down to how much you will pay employees, how many employees you need, and the price of software? Shouldn't any capable manager be able to estimate the costs themselves? After all, I'm certain TCO varies wildly from workplace to workplace, considering what kind of system is already in place, what software is readily available for an OS, and what skills your current employees have.

    My question is: is there really a use for these reports other than for 'defense': positive propaganda versus negative propaganda?

    As an aside, do these studies take into account the availability and flexibility of currently extant software? Is there even a way to turn that information into TCO?
    • My question is: is there really a use for these reports other than for 'defense': positive propaganda versus negative propaganda?

      IMO, no, there's not. Any competent manager (insert jokes about how rare that is here) will consider the TCO within the context of their own business before deploying any sort of IT solution, or else they're probably not worth their paycheck.

      That said, just because they're "just propaganda" doesn't mean they're not worth doing and perhaps even necessary, if you're really intereste
  • by Keruo ( 771880 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @10:53AM (#14705731)
    Maybe the TCO summaries are right after all?
    Atleast partially that is.

    Using the linux road, you have to pay competent people salary for actually knowing something about the system they're dealing with.

    Anyone can get windows server up and running after 10 minutes of reading help files, but it won't be secure by a long shot.

    I guess same applies for linux in some ways, but it's like comparing iron ball and snow ball in hell.
    Both will melt down eventually if left unmaintained, but it's just matter of how long it takes.
    And longer it takes, the more profit you make.

    TCO might be higher, but you simply get more work done when your IT department doesn't have to spend 2 days every week reinstalling all workstations.
    And getting more work done increases profits and in the long run, brings down the TCO, even if it's higher at the beginning.

    TCO surveys are statistics, and statistics always tell what the collector wants them to say.
    It's just matter how you count things.
  • TCO Claims (Score:3, Interesting)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:11AM (#14705905) Journal
    Ernie Ball goes Linux [com.com] if you havn't seen it yet. There is alot of noise about these mythical enviroments that are pro windows or pro linux, but here is a good example of a real world switch. Ernie Ball makes guitar strings, so there really isn't any internal bias about who to support beyond it being a business decision. It is also a bit of an entertaining story on how they dealt with the MS strongarming about their licenses.
    • FTA - "Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months."

      No bias there! ;)
  • What does have more impact on the success of Linux, the "Linux management study" or the "Linux desktop survey"? Which of these two areas are more important and should be taken more care of?

    O. Wyss
  • There's certainly been a good few questions asked already, but the one I'd like to get an answer to is,
    how do companies see OSDL? Do they believe it's a trustworthy group that knows what they're talking about, or does it look like another one of those 'fad-like' groups that's going to fade away? I don't mean to say OSDL is fading out, I'm curious to know what the real-world perception of it is. I've noticed that while many of my friends use linux and are generally well-versed in what's going on, they're usu
  • ...full of studies that invariably show Linux to be expensive, hard to maintain, and less than totally secure

    I suspect the first two are potentially true, but that would depend entirely on the situation. Bad choices can always be made, regardless of the systems involved, that turn out to be expensive and costly to maintain. Just because it's open source doesn't make it immune to bad management.

    The third is most definately true. As far as I know there is no OS that is totally secure. It's a lauable goal to b
  • OS Deathmatch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichailS ( 923773 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:28PM (#14707074)
    I'd guess the only fair way to pit one platform against another would be to offer a scenario - client company X has a list of specific needs and requirements - and let teams of experts of either party deploy their solution. Mano an mano.

    Then when the smoke has settled, they are compared with regards to cost for things such as licenses, staff, etc.

    It would also be important to note the differences in the solutions to the client.

    Will the MS solution be simpler to manage, to update? Will the Linux solution require less tweaking a year later? Will there be hacks beknownst only to the people who set up the solution.

    And to make it all worth while - these contests should be arranged regularly and have different levels of difficulty and scope.

    Call it "OS Deathmatch" or something silly like that and offer prices. Host it at sports arenas. Set up a fair with computer gear for sale at the entrance.

    Invite thousands of low- and high-profile geeks. Invite crackers to attempt to find vulnerabilities with the solutions.

    Invite companies with real-world cases to get the contestants to work on their requirements. Let them sponsor the show and in return get the elite solutions.

    Not only would this generate tremendous media coverage and potential income for entrepreneurs, it will also make for much more fair scrutinizing of the software than the current crop of shady "independant experts".
    • The most prevalent critism I've heard from non-technical users of Windows is how the system does not age gracefully. I would dare say that this is almost common knowledge. And I don't think this point would be well addressed by your idea (not that you idea does not have merit, it could be tested to see which OS can be initially configured better).

      I think the best way to convince people to try something new is to get them when they are despairate. Whenever I repair a non-technical user's PC I leave a Live
  • There is a large shout for expanding the amount of desktops running Linux. While most users on Slashdot seem fine and dandy with the way Linux desktop is now, I believe that a lot of changes will have to occur before you can get Joe Sixpack to replace Windows or Mac with Linux, such as making tasks more automatic, improving hardware support, and completely removing the need for the command line/terminal (except for development).

    Do you believe that the desktop needs to change before its user base expands? If
    • To be honest, I've found that Linux is better than Windows for out of the box support for a base system. The only time I've really had problems is with things like webcams and gamepads. (on Windows with this PC I had to download drivers for my audio to work)

      So my question is, what are you addressing when you say "improving hardware support"?
      • When I tried to get Linux working on a machine at work to get some custom programming, I was forced to work with the hardware and spare computers we had. (It was a non-profit, so there was definately no money to get a new system for on-the-side programming.)

        I had to go through three or four different systems, and then a half dozen video cards before I finally got a stable install of FC3.

        Granted, that's just one distro, but from what I've heard, it isn't just that. From my understanding, a lot of the less po
    • My problem with Linux on the desktop right now is lack of support. I don't mean necessarily lack of hardware support (although that's an issue also), but lack of technical support options for the non-enterprise user.

      Let's say I advised someone in a small business environment to switch to Linux rather than upgrade to Vista (or whatever). I, or somebody like me, helps them get everything all set up, all networked and running OpenOffice and whatever else they need. Everything is fine. And then, I go home.

  • In rare cases, servers can be deployed using just about any server operating system (BSD, Linux or Windows). Usually, though, history matters. Applications that originated on a Unix type OS are generally going to be much more easily ported to Linux than applications built on MS Exchange, ActiveX controls and VBA. Similarly, conversion costs from Unix to Windows can be very high.

    There is also the issue of staff retraining. I am aware that the study looked at availability and costs of Linux versus Window

  • The biggest risk to running a MS shop is the proven history of exploits on the platform that can wreck havoc on your network. True, if the patches are up to date your risk is greatly reduced, but we have seen plenty of organizations that ought to have been better prepared get clobbered. It is a real risk, and can be as a result of intentionally not being up to date (because the patch hadn't finished QA), or unintentionally (mistake or oversight by the sysadmins).

    The problem from a TCO point of view: How d
  • Studies are usually designed to prove a point rather than to objectively study a difference. Even when this is not the intent, study designers are likely to subconciously inject their own biases. Only a truly representitive sample, compared totally objectively, can really be considered neutral - and you're simply not going to get that in any study conducted by people. There is also the problem that TCO is not a fixed number. You're looking at a fairly complex function that varies wildly according to a large
  • Vista's impact (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:55PM (#14711700) Homepage
    Do you expect Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista release to help or hinder adoption of linux on the desktop and how can the open source and linux communities best take advantage of the sometimes-artificial commercial software upgrade cycle?
  • I have a sneaky suspicion that a sensibly designed hetrogenous computing environment would have the lowest TCO of all. Sadly, since these studies are inherently oppositional, they'll be more likely to polarise computer users into chosing one or the other. What sort of studies would measure and encourage interoperability instead?

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"