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.Is Linux and Open Source software Really Cheaper than Conventional Software

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  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    I am giving a speech on Thursday to an audience about the costs of Linux and Open Source and the costs involved and are they really cheaper than commercial software offerings.  i got pulled into it by a friend and I am enclosing my speech.  I also have a Powerpoint I may put up online later.  This is not a flame war and I am sharing it with C9 only, not part of my blog.  If you want to make sure i never work in the IT industry again, send those requests to my inbox.  Anyone who can offer feedback, positive feedback or corrections please let me know.  Complaining about my writing may be directed to the ol' inbox as well.

    Thanks guys.

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    shooby wrote:

    2) having the source open to anyone helps lessen security concerns, more eyes, more better.

    Logical fallacy, you racist.  Who says any of those eyes are looking in the right places or even know what to look for?

  • User profile image
    Karim

    shooby wrote:

    The popular knee-jerk reaction Microsoft wants you have to this is as follows.

    --

    1)   Open source software may be free, but it requires more people to admin, and 2) there are security risks in having the source available to just anyone

    --

    Of course this is total bullshit, and more bullshit.  There is of course #3) it ends our monopoly.  Didnt they mention that?

    But I digress...

    1) for example, if you add up all the hours spent by everyone downloading and installing microsoft windows updates alone it would total billions of hours. Saying windows is easier to admin is easy to say, in reality with windows, everyone's an admin, and frankly thats not what they are paid to do.  by contrast, I know of people that have run Linux desktops for years (literally!) without even rebooting, or doing any admin at all.

    2) having the source open to anyone helps lessen security concerns, more eyes, more better.



    Number of vulnerabilities in 2005:

    Windows: 812

    Unix/Linux: 2,328

    http://news.zdnet.co.uk/0,39020330,39245873,00.htm

    http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/bulletins/SB2005.html

    I got my numbers from US-CERT.  Where did you get your "billions of hours downloading from Windows Update" number from?  A Ouija board?

    Offhand, I'd say this single comparison seems to lend credence to the ideas that 1) Linux requires more people to admin and 2) there are more risks in having the source available to anyone.

    Tell your friends running Linux desktops who haven't done any admin at all "for years" that they might want to check for updates, given that the platform has over 6 new vulnerabilities a day.

    We know you're running Windows, Shooby, so fortunately you don't have this problem. Wink

  • User profile image
    Karim

    shooby wrote:
    Lets agree to a test, lets put a Windows XP box and a Redhat box on the internet with a static ip and no firewall and see which one lasts longer.  The latest numbers suggest the XP box will last 20 minutes.


    You're confusing this with the Windows v. Linux security thread.  This one's about TCO.  My point was that if you've got THREE TIMES as much crap to patch in Linux, that might affect the cost of ownership.

    shooby wrote:

    Or is that too meaningful for you?  You complain, yeah but who would run without a firewall -- Redhat ships without the firewall on.   I agree, only a fool would do that with a windows xp box.  Case closed again.


    I'm guessing "case closed" translates as "nyah nyah I can't hear you la la la."  <rolleyes>

    shooby wrote:

    So Karim, how about ending your personal vendetta against me, and against everyone else for that matter -- every post you make drips with venom and hate. 


    Shooby baby, it's nothing personal.  I just dislike hypocrites in general.

    shooby wrote:

    And, yeah, I run windows on my laptop, for the moment. 


    Case closed.  LOL

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    shooby wrote:
      You complain, yeah but who would run without a firewall -- Redhat ships without the firewall on.  


    Er, no it doesn't.

  • User profile image
    Cybermagell​an

    shooby wrote:

    p.s. I just read the speech -- you cant seriously say that, call in sick

    While I wont say that I will ask, who is this being given to? It sounds like your going to give your speech to some highschool kids who have never touched a Linux distro ever. Also where is your Microsoft argument? I'm sorry but I have to agree this seems very biased and something I wouldn't consider listening to. Sorry.

  • User profile image
    otech

    You wrote:
    I personally would not automatically walk up to someone and say, “Yep Linux and Open

    Source is cheaper for you” without knowing their needs and what factors may influence their need. So

    I could not corroborate the myth that Linux and Open Source software is indeed cheaper than

    Microsoft or any other commercial software vendors costs.


    ----

    And I agree wholeheartedly, especially once you've read the hundres of 'Microsoft is cheaper vs Linux is Cheaper TCO' surveys and tests around the web - it just depends on what you're doing with your Software...

    I felt above statement is a very balanced and accurate description of the TCO of Linux/OSS vs Commercial (Closed Source) and think you summed it up well (i kinda just skimmed through the rest).

    Hope you dont have too many Linux zealots in your audience or it could turn nasty though Wink

  • User profile image
    TimP

    I didn't even bother reading it based on what you post about Linux here. I hope your company has other more qualified opinions.

  • User profile image
    cheong

    It depends. And I'll use Windows for the convertional software camp and Linux for the OSS camp for demonistration purpose.

    IMHO, the cost for conventional software is a predictable cost. The price of software and the salary for people hired to maintain/use it is easily accessable and can be calculated.

    While for open source software, there is more thing come into consideration.

    1) The software cost is usually zero.
    2) For hardware, since most hardware vendor provide driver for Windows only, you may need to find "supported" hardware. But if all your hardware is already "supported", no additional cost for this one.
    3) Does you, or your staffs know Linux? If you know and plan to maintain the Linux box yourself, this can again be neglected. And if your current staff already know Linux, there is no additional cost (But there is a hidden risk cost that, "What if that staff is leaving?") If both are not true, hiring a staff that really know Linux can be huge cost. (Most Linux "player" are computer fanatics, and most of them also have skill in other field that may not be of your interest but add to the cost)
    4) Support service. Most conventional software company have customer service/technical support centre that can backup you in case of trouble. (They're not always helpful, see my previous post for example) And some of them even offer paid 24 hrs support that suits your need. For open source software, you get paid technical support for the distro itself. But for most other software you use in the box, all you can get is from community. Sometimes if you're lucky, you get helpful reply from experts in the field. While for the other times, your question may sit unnoticed by anyone in the newsgroup. So it's obvious that there is risk involved. Unless you're confident about your/your staffs' skill, it is advised do not use it in any mission critical one.
    5) Cost for transition. This is a matter of inerta. If all your existing application is for Windows, you need to find replacement/rewrite them for using in Linux. The same goes for scenerio from Linux to Windows too. Note that this cost would be considerably lower if your applications are old and you need to replace them anyway.
    6) Operation cost with partner. Consider this: If all your business partners are using MS Office. When you receive a Word file, and need to modify a bit before sending it, if you're also using MS Office, it's as simple as four steps open-edit-save-send. If you're not, things get complicated as you need to find 100% compatible converter(business people don't like document layout get deformed) to convert it in openable format, edit it, convert it back, then send. Things get more complicated when the format is not known by public, so a 100% compatible convertor is not possible. You have to choose: 1) correct the converted layout manually, and reply in file format that you sure your partner have no problem to open. (PDF for example) 2) ask your partners to support open source format (this is only possible if your business is large enough that your partners don't mind add additional machine and hire additional staff to maintain the business relationship. Just like you need to hire someone who know Japanese if you want to have business with big Japanese company)
    7) Sometime it's just of no choice. Take DNS for example. If your company works with Active Directory, you had better use the DNS server inside the master AD server. But if you're setting up DNS for outside, most skillful DNS operators seems to be more familiar with "BIND" in *nix. And for current versions, "BIND" is known to be easiler than Windows' one to configure if you need complex and detailed DNS configurations.

    Note that speed of releasing patch for known holes (This was a major argument) becomes varies. I;m happy with Microsoft's patch release these days, while not quite satisfactory for other companies. But for OSS side, it's also the same. The kernel team and a few other software producer like Mozilla still do a good job, but seems quite some other once popular OSS projects have gone quiet for updates. So I'd say for this point, it's 50/50.

    There may be other points, but I think the aboves are major considerations. Hope these may help.

    Recent Achievement unlocked: Code Avenger Tier 4/6: You see dead program. A lot!
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  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    Its for an audience where someone has taken the pro-Linux choice and have written where they think linux and Open Source beats out Commercial Software vendors.  I took the, its not necessarily cheaper to run than commercial software vendors and heres the problems i see.  Like I said changes will be made and Im also doing staff training costs.  i was hoping for feedback here both pro and anti-Mirosoft.  Also note that I said commercial software vendors so its not necessarily a Linux vs. Microsoft approach as I have seen some cases where OS/2 beats out both Linux vendors and Microsoft.  Later on this month I also have to give a presentation on Mass storage devices and the security risks they represent and on biometrics.

    Cybermagellan wrote:
    shooby wrote:
    p.s. I just read the speech -- you cant seriously say that, call in sick

    While I wont say that I will ask, who is this being given to? It sounds like your going to give your speech to some highschool kids who have never touched a Linux distro ever. Also where is your Microsoft argument? I'm sorry but I have to agree this seems very biased and something I wouldn't consider listening to. Sorry.

  • User profile image
    staceyw

    As you say, it easy to fall into the MS vs *inux thing.  But what about AIX and HP and Sun.  All sell very good unix OSs.  If I am running a big co, and need *nix, I am using AIX and don't care what is costs (in reason).  There is just not time to be futzing with free builds and weird driver issues that only a small number of people may see and never get fixed.  There is something to say for mass and I remember saying this doing PC support at GM (first job) when they wanted to go with a cheaper NIC instead of 3COM. I said it is all about the drivers and bugs and finding them.  If a one guy has a million folks using the driver and finding bugs, the odds are good I will not be the only one having the issue and fixes come out sooner and the issue becomes public instead of me wondering if I am the only one seeing it.  The guy who only has 3% of the market because he sells cheap is just not going to have the resources to research and find all the corner cases.  I saw it happen time and time again. You also want to standardize to reduce costs.  If you have 10 different venders and versions, the support matrix is crazy.  So you eventually get to the point where you really need to pick a good vender with good support and stick with em and don't change every time the wind blows.

  • User profile image
    Detroit Muscle

    rjdohnert wrote:
    I am giving a speech on Thursday to an audience about the costs of Linux and Open Source and the costs involved and are they really cheaper than commercial software offerings.


    It's obvious you are ignorant about the subject, because software being open source and software being commercial are not mutually exclusive.

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    Karim wrote:


    Number of vulnerabilities in 2005:

    Windows: 812

    Unix/Linux: 2,328



    It doesn't really make sense to combine a bunch of OSes together into one big "vulnerabilities" number.

  • User profile image
    zzzzz

    Rjdohnert:  Its a nice speech but it lacks proof and supporting documentation. 

    Like some have pointed out Note what US-Cert has to say and compare the number of patches issued in the last couple years.  Also bring up the speed of patches and ease of distribution

    I would remove the S E X comment from the speech it looks unprofessional and its crude.  I suggest compare using only  locked doors VS  the addition of an alarm system.  One gives no warning the other gets the police out to see what is happening.

    the MS vs Linux debate has become a religious debate nowadays,  with  neither side giving any quarter. 

    On Security it is True Linux has the advantage, not many people are trying to exploit the system.  Why would anyone try and attack such a small percentage of all the computers in the world.  

    Off course these are only suggestions.


  • User profile image
    Cider

    That speech and the shoobster's reply really hurt my head.  This is why developers should not be doing the Linux vs Windows thing - its all frighteningly wrong.

    I have to ask, is this to a technical or a business audience?  I ask because the speech falls between the two seats.

    If you are talking to a technical audience, you'll get torn apart.  For instance, you say in a Linux environment they'll have to hire someone knowledgeable in the Linux kernel.  Rubbish.  I have used many, many operating systems over many, many years and not once, not a single time, have I ever needed to change the kernel.  Has anyone ever bemoaned the fact the Windows kernel is not open source because they seriously needed to make a change to it to make it work in their environment?  OK, there are exceptions - such as Google or companies that embed Linux in a device, but they are so rare, its not worth using as an argument.

    If you are given the speech to a business audience, then almost everything about your argument is wrong.  The entire tone is wrong.

    If talking to a business audience about the choice between Windows and Linux, you can make your case without criticising Linux once.  Your argument is so typical of the techie's argument pro-Microsoft - Linux is expensive because of the difficulties implementing the technnology.  Its as wrong as the opposing argument that Linux is better because Linux is free, and you have to buy licenses.  Both are wrong because both are really tiny costs in comparison to the real costs.  The expense of a Linux migration have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the technology.  The costs come from expenses accrued through the change of business processes, retraining staff, lost of productivity in staff from the change in software (missing similar features, different ways of doing things, etc), loss of productivity from loss of on-job-gained expertise.

    You'd also need to talk about the dangers of migration.  Again, you don't have to criticise Linux itself at all.  Sure, keep in the IP argument - legal issues and the loss of indemnity is an issue.  However, it is a minor issue.  In my opinion, the two major dangers of Linux migration are, firstly:  you might end up in a cul-de-sac.  Take the big business packages - the likes of Sage, SAP, CRM Software, etc.  In virtually every one of these areas, there is no adequate Linux equivilant.  The counterargument would be, well, keep a minimal amount of support for Windows and those packages.  The counter-counter-argument?  Do you really want the finances of the company supported with a minimal level of support?

    The second big argument is simply, What's The Point?  Really, its a big danger.  Say a company decided to migrate to Linux from a Windows environment - they go through a gigantic upheavel, an at-least-temporary loss of productivity and spend a lot of money.  For what?  I've yet to see a good reason.  The reason why I haven't seen a reason, is there isn't a very good one.  No one has yet shown how changing the Operating System on the staff's computers will gain anything, and there is easily as much reason why they may lose.  Let me put it another way, would a company find it acceptable if someone came to them and proposed teaching all sales staff a language spoken by a few hundred thousand people, and it would cost a lot and all sales staff would have to stop selling and go away on a course for 8 weeks?  Of course not.

    This is the sort of thing you SHOULD be saying...

  • User profile image
    Cybermagell​an

    AndyC wrote:
    shooby wrote:  You complain, yeah but who would run without a firewall -- Redhat ships without the firewall on.  


    Er, no it doesn't.

    Hell must be getting cold, I'm going to defend Shooby...

    I think he meant it DOES with it on.

    Which brings up my question, if it's so secure why does it still need a firewall on?

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    Cybermagellan wrote:


    Which brings up my question, if it's so secure why does it still need a firewall on?


    Because defense in depth is always a good idea.

  • User profile image
    zzzzz

    Cairo wrote:
    Cybermagellan wrote:


    Which brings up my question, if it's so secure why does it still need a firewall on?


    Because defense in depth is always a good idea.



    So where does it start saving money if we must maintain all the same 3rd party services???

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