So what about Linux desktop computers within the Library? Does Linux make sense for PCs used by patrons looking for some quick computer access? In this blog post from 2007, we see one librarian who took it upon herself to offer new life to some older PCs with a fresh installation of the Ubuntu Linux. Keep in mind, these PCs were donated. Access to the Linux desktop allowed these older PCs the chance to provide service to the community members who visited that local library.
Non-profits profiting from Linux freedom
Like public schools and libraries, non-profits also have a vested interest in making sure every dollar taken in will be used to its fullest. Therefore using donated hardware and Linux with open source software is the only way to go if the end goal is proper management of the donation received.
What kind of software can today's non-profits expect to find available for Linux? SourceForge is loaded up with countless applications designed for donation management, database work and organizational management needs. Some great examples include the following apps:
AGENCY: Case management software for non-profits.
Volunteer database: Provides front-end control for reviewing and managing non-profit volunteers.
Install both of these applications onto the preferred Linux distribution sought out by any given non-profit, and the rest takes care of itself. Office suite needs are handled by OpenOffice (now LibreOffice), while other default Linux applications will generally fill in the gaps with anything else.
The high cost of switching to Linux
Does using open source software cost more with maintenance and training than its proprietary counterparts? There are those who seem to think so.
Then how have schools, libraries and non-profits managed to make the switch to Linux work for them when clearly they have a smaller percentage of spendable funds available than do their for-profit counterparts? Seems like something is amiss here. Yes, some schools that have switched have moved back to proprietary software in some instances. But there are also many that have not.
Why? What is it that allows these community-based entities to make Linux work for them while big business continues making excuses on how it cannot be done? Sounds like someone is either lazy, disinterested or would rather stick to spending money on the familiar.
At the very least, we need to see much more Linux adoption in the public sector. Clearly hiring a small IT firm or bringing on someone full time to manage the Linux magic is working for many who have switched. Shouldn't those receiving limited funds within local governments also look into this as well? I mean, isn't it time we finally opened up government contracts to all software companies?
So what does all of this mean and how can we as individuals put everything above into perspective? I think making the information about the value of moving to Linux is a good start. Most of us are not working at libraries, running non-profits or handling IT for local school districts. Therefore, we must do what we can to promote the successes of those who do work in this world and have made a successful switch to Linux.
Clearly, not every "switch to Linux" is going to have a happy ending. Sometimes, switching from proprietary to open source mid-stream is not the most cost effective approach. Yet as centralized control in IT management becomes more accessible, I think we'll see a greater likelihood of groups turning away from the proprietary licensing treadmill looking to open source solutions for better alternatives. We just need to ensure that when the research is being done, positive examples are being shown to those who will listen.