Five Reasons for Making the Switch to Linux

Stuck in a world of Windows? Watch the excuses evaporate under the light of newer Linux distros and scores of compatible open source software.

Hardly a day passes where Linux isn't mentioned in IT circles and by techno-geeks everywhere. But why should you care?

In this article, we'll explain why moving to Linux is a smart move for your business and your bottom line.

Reason 1: Productivity

Lets start with how the overall speed and general stability that Linux contributes to productivity. Granted there will be a small learning curve for users that aren't at least a bit computer savvy, but today's distributions are very easy for a Windows user to become accustomed to.

A huge amount of software is available on the Web, many of which are free of charge and some that are driven by large, well-known companies. For productivity it's hard to beat OpenOffice. A free and viable alternative to Microsoft Office, boasts compatibility with its file formats and offers functionality only the most hard core of users of the Office suite will miss. Open Office is free to download and distribute throughout your organization. This could represent a major savings of thousands of dollars in licensing fees that most businesses pay to Microsoft every year.

There are hundreds if not thousands of other free software titles available for Linux that can help with productivity. Wikipedia is a great resource for finding links to free Linux based open source software.

Reason 2: Security

There are constant news reports about the millions of dollars in damages and downtime caused by viruses and Trojans that attack Windows based PC's. Linux is virtually free of these kinds of attacks.

Another consideration is spyware, which generates countless calls to IT helpdesk's across the globe. Spyware is nearly non-existent for Linux. Linux, a variety of UNIX, is by default, a very secure multi-user platform. It is of course, made by humans and therefore not perfect and there are many websitse out there with ways to harden Linux and make it even more secure.

Locked down tight, Linux makes a great file server, proxy server, or firewall and has been used in this capacity for over a decade.

Reason 3: Linux Maturity

As every enterprise-class IT organization knows, Linux is a powerhouse on servers and its abilities have been fine tuned for years. There is no doubt that on low to mid-range servers, Linux is a Microsoft's largest competitor. However, with the recent release of the 2.6 kernel, many new features have been added that make this release even more robust. Take, for instance, tickless idle for power savings, which can translate into lower electrical bills and longer battery life. (For a short overview, see this Wikipedia entry.)

Although the Linux desktop is still not quite as mature as the Windows platform, there have been great strides that deserve a fresh look at this useful and free operating system. When you begin to evaluate whether a move to Linux on desktops is viable for your business, you will need to weigh cost factors like software availability, potential software integration issues, and usability.

If the software you require to run your business is available to run under Linux, you'll quickly see the cost savings.

Reason 4: Availability

There are several mainstream versions of Linux, and hundreds of other, smaller, specialty versions of Linux.

Among the most popular versions of Linux available today is Red Hat Linux, which is mainly a server version. For a desktop version check out the Fedora Project and Novell's SuSe Linux. Both, you will find, are very stable versions of Linux.

A newcomer to the Linux desktop scene and probably the most popular among home users is Ubuntu. The latest version of this OS, called "Gutsy Gibbon", was just released last week and was met with fantastic reviews. We've been running this on our laptops for several weeks with the pre-release copy that we received and we can't say enough about its performance and ease of use.

It's important to remember when pitching these OS alternatives to your senior management that they are completely free for as many copies as your business needs.

Reason 5: Cost

Linux cost range from very inexpensive -- depending on the distribution you choose -- to free. Yes you read that right, FREE. There are several version of Linux which you do pay for, but you are not paying for the software, you are paying for tech support, or documentation. However, one does not always need to purchase tech support from the software developer.

One of the major advantages of Linux is that there is a huge community of people across the globe that dedicate their own time and resources to help keep the community up to date on fixes and bugs.

Usually if a bug is found in Linux, it's fixed or patched within a few hours, versus weeks, or even months as is sometimes the case with Microsoft Windows. Plus you have right to modify the OS as you see fit with some programming experience. Try doing that with Windows and odds are you'll get a nasty cease and desist letter in the mail.

In closing, these reasons sum up how moving to a Linux based desktop or even server system can save your company where it counts most: the bottom line. With the amount of freely available software and support, now is the time to begin investigating how Linux can be a cost-effective component in helping your business to grow and succeed in the years to come.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.






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