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Cutting costs with Linux

The OS is slowly encroaching on Windows. Linux hed: Cutting costs with Linux dek: the OS is slowly encroaching on Windows.

As the current economic downturn continues, many companies are more willing to look at Linux as a way to save money. Many of these companies would never think to look at Linux before, but a combination of the tight economy and Microsoft licensing changes make Linux more appealing.

For example, the City of Largo, Fla., migrated from Windows to Linux on the desktop in an effort to save time and money. Largo IT officials, for example, saved an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 by using Linux and Bynari’s Insight instead of Windows and Microsoft Exchange.

Much of the cost savings comes on the server side, but Largo also uses Linux on the desktop, despite the widespread perception that Linux isn’t a viable player on the desktop. (Largo also manages to run some Windows applications for users as well.)

Many businesses are drawn to Linux due to the low cost-especially the lack of license fees for most Linux software, and the fact that Linux runs on standard computer hardware.

The licensing changes from Microsoft lead to more frequent upgrades than many companies desire, and that means more frequent payments to Microsoft.

Often, Linux first comes into an organization as a print server. This provides a fairly safe way to try Linux and allows for a nice isolation in case things go wrong. After that, Linux usually starts moving into Web serving, file serving and then e-mail serving.

InfoWorld ran a survey of chief technical officers and found the majority of companies were using some sort of open-source software such as Linux (where the source code for the applications is available). Among the survey’s findings is that Linux can be a prime benefit for IT departments in the form of reduced deployment or development time.

In addition to cost, though, reliability and scalability are big issues. Linux servers often outperform Windows servers, and can reduce costs by combining multiple services on the same hardware. Microsoft recommends devoting a system for each service. Linux servers can usually support multiple services-such as e-mail and Web-on one computer.

The main drawback of Linux, though, lies in its lack of administrators. There are far more administrators trained in Windows than in Linux. There are quite a few Linux training programs and plenty of online documentation to help administrators learn Linux, though. The Linux Professional Institute offers more on certification, while others www.linux.com/learn/, www.linux.org/lessons/ focus more on learning Linux.

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