Corporate Desktop Linux

The trolls who visit my blog and deny that there is any merit to using GNU/Linux on the desktop should save their typing.“W. McDonald Buck, retired CTO of World Bank, believes we need to take a more honest and frank look at the Cost Analyses it will take to put Linux on the corporate desktop. He thinks we may be fooling ourselves now. In this four-part essay he will address the real-world scenarios from small business to the the hard and soft costs that big-business CTOs look at when considering the corporate Linux desktop and what we need to know about making it a successful decision.” It’s all been typed before back in 2005 by the retired CTO of the world bank. He knows what he typed but just like all the trolls he gets it wrong…

Back in 2005, XP was in ascendance/supremacy/peak of its game. Folks with thousands of PCs found it worked for them except for the re-re-reboots, malware, slowing down, etc. It was the accepted standard for IT on the desktop and dozens of lock-ins that M$ conspired to put in place all were working well except where they didn’t.

Munich could have chosen to stick with M$ and adopt XP but they didn’t. The real costs of migrating to GNU/Linux proved less than the costs of staying more than one step on the Wintel treadmill. That’s where Buck got it wrong. While there are thresholds that have to be crossed to migrate a business of any size to GNU/Linux, they have to be crossed only once and then the rest is gravy. Do the maths: N X some cost > some cost for N > 1 . Munich studied all the problems Buck outlined and reduced them to some minimum mix of applications and systems to minimize the overall cost and then just did it. It was a lot of work but it paid off.

In schools where I worked the cost/benefit analysis was trivial. Mostly we needed an OS, browser, office suite and networking, basic stuff which can be combined many ways to accomplish the majority of tasks in our system. Very little training was needed. It was a menu-based system largely with a mouse-pointer. In businesses which Buck was considering, the mix of applications of special purpose was almost certainly more diverse with each department in the business having some set of non-Free software applications designed for their purposes. Still, the cost of replacing/upgrading the hardware and software forever periodically is infinite. With GNU/Linux those costs still exist but after the switch to GNU/Linux the costs at every stage are less.

A business doesn’t need a fleet of GNU/Linux guys to run IT. A few will do because one person can easily manage thousands of PCs with FLOSS. There are no licences to count, no networking limitations, no CPUs to count, … They just have to run the software any way that makes sense.

The application-lockin is illusory. Whatever those expensive applications do, a large business or a bunch of small businesses can get together and replace with FLOSS. Linux, LibreOffice, FireFox, Apache, etc. are all proof of that. Google, SUN, FaceBook, Munich, French National Police, government of Brazil, schools all over the world are proof of that. Whatever software is lacking gets written. The world can and does make its own software. The world has more and better programmers than M$ and all its “partners”. There is no monopoly on intelligence.

So, the trolls can continue to beat their drums as the tide of GNU/Linux adoption continues to rise. Maybe when their drumheads get wet they will stop.

Look at India. GNU/Linux has more than doubled its share of page-views on StatCounter and although the share is still small a lot of it is corporate/government/education.

Does anyone believe that if GNU/Linux cost more than that other OS that India would adopt it?

Look at Germany:

Does anyone believe that if GNU/Linux cost more than that other OS that Germans couldn’t do the maths?

Buck was wrong. A proper cost/benefit analysis works for FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s the right way to do IT. When Buck was typing, the trolls were claiming that only GNU/Linux geeks used GNU/Linux and that it would never exceed ~1%. They were wrong and still are. I could show data from Ethiopia or Uruguay where GNU/Linux has beaten most versions of that other OS and students are doing it.

See Part I: Corporate Desktop Linux – The Hard Truth.

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GNU/Linux Is Catching Fire On The Desktop, But It’s Not Your Daddy’s GNU/Linux

Despite nearly 20 years of enduring FUD and mud-slinging and astroturfing, GNU/Linux is finally taking off on the desktop.“Consumers are hungry for a product that is cost effective but also provides the versatility and functionality of a laptop. The growth of the Chromebook market demonstrates a niche that is gaining traction among consumers.” What M$ feared ~1997 has come true, the world is finally seeing the price of Wintel. Bill Gates’ vision was to hide the price with the OEM so the consumer would not be able to comparison-shop and would not know the true cost. That was then. Now, low-end PCs are ~$100 with no room left for a hair-drying CPU from Intel and a licence from M$.

While the shares of page-views due to ChromeOS recorded by StatCounter are still small, Chromebooks are still not sold everywhere and the installed base of legacy PCs is ~1500 million units. While the base is modest for Chromebooks, at ~100% growth of shipments per annum, it won’t take long to make a big dent.

Chrome OS

If we thought your Dad’s GNU/Linux desktop was a threat to Wintel, ChromeOS is Armageddon. It took a decade for Wintel to ship as many PCs as ChromeOS is shipping in one year and it’s still just starting out. Wintel’s huge installed base is only 6-8 years’ production… Further, it’s not just about price. Consumers and businesses don’t want to be IT people. M$ forced that on them. With ChromeOS, folks will have the freedom they’ve been enjoying on their smartphones on their desktops.

See Chromebook shipments leap by 67 percent.

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Democracy And FLOSS

Sign at a conference on eGovernment:

“Accountability + Transparency = Democracy”

How can you have transparency with non-Free software running the system when you can’t see the code? How can there be accountability with non-Free software when you can’t see the code? These things are about more than source code, but to really start being accountable and transparent, the code has to be trusted by everyone. Only opening the code can do that. Free Software is also about the rights of the user of the software. Non-Free software always restricts what a user can do with his own hardware and how a user uses the software on his hardware and the information therein. FLOSS acknowledges the ownership of the hardware and data. For real democracy, governments and citizens should use Free Software, FLOSS, Free/Libre Open Source Software. Nothing else will do.

For one source of Free Software see the Debian organization. They have many thousands of Free Software packages for just about any purpose of government or citizens.

See Modernizing Public Action through Open Data, Open Government, and Dat….

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Six Years Of Desktop GNU/Linux In Europe

Europe is a very interesting place for GNU/Linux desktops because governments are cooperating to share the joy.
The result is multiple nations have governments at various levels actively migrating to GNU/Linux on server and desktop. Recently, ChromeOS, another GNU/Linux desktop not included as GNU/Linux by StatCounter, is making a move. While these trends are positive, they still have not eliminated the chief bottleneck for GNU/Linux, space on retail shelves.

Nevertheless, any widespread move towards familiarity with GNU/Linux by governmental employees will spread to the general population, particularly through schools. Familiarity by politicians and judges could well ease the acceptance of FLOSS and promote critical views of non-Free software.

Norway has long used GNU/Linux in schools and has the highest share of page-views by GNU/Linux at 3.6%. Norway is not an impoverished nation desperately trying to save money using FLOSS, with the fourth highest GDP per capita in the world, $100K. They do want IT that works for them. So do Czech Republic (2.97%), Spain (2.77%), Germany (2.47%), Italy (2.23%), Finland (2.22%) and France (2%) … Mindshare is growing and expanding to all European countries.

The European country with the lowest share of page-views for GNU/Linux is Denmark at 1%. M$ bullied Denmark over “software patents” and OOXML… I would bet the resentment there is growing. Indeed there were several consecutive weekends where some large organization rolled out GNU/Linux. Signs of life.

See Top 7 Desktop OSs in Europe from July 2008 to Oct 2014.

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Look What Happened To Some Of Those XPed Netbooks

One school district that bought netbooks with XP was having no joy“Students like the faster speeds of the centralized desktop, which runs with 50 percent more RAM and a 33 percent faster processor than any of the netbooks. Boot-up and log-in are complete in 75 percent less time, saving 20 minutes a day which adds up to 60 hours per year, equivalent to about 10 days of learning time. And students all have access to the same applications—many of which wouldn’t run on some of the netbooks before.” so they put GNU/Linux on them and used them as thin clients. Now they get the speed of the server and can have major changes to the software done overnight. That’s how IT should be, fast and efficient. It can happen thanks to FLOSS. Instead of buying newer faster machines, a change of software was all that was required and they saved a bundle.

TFA, linked below, was about thin clients in schools but it appeared in a business-oriented publication…

See School District Uses Stratodesk NoTouch to Repurpose PCs and Save $136,000 on VDI Thin Client Costs.

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The Low Country Aims Higher

The government of The Netherlands is waking up to the cost of non-Free software. A report on “failed” IT projects includes the following conclusions:
“c. The cost savings and societal benefits of ICT policy in general must be made visible. A summary of the amount of taxpayers’ money saved through the ICT strategy, the open source policy and the expansion of digital government should be included in a separate chapter in the annual report of the central government’s operations.
d. The government has already decided to choose open source and open standards wherever
possible. However, this policy is still not being implemented sufficiently in practice. This needs to change: not only can this approach bring about enormous cost savings, but also opens the door to criticism and dissent.”

The Netherlands, alone, has seen billions of Euros squandered each year due to failed ICT projects. It is so easy to sign a cheque and hope problems will disappear but that abstraction allows a lot of waste such as paying for permission to run computers the government owns outright. By using FLOSS a huge slice of costs is eliminated. Better management will take care of the rest but opening ICT projects to competition surely reduces costs and promotes local businesses boosting GDP and tax-revenue. ICT that is a revenue generator rather than a cost is the pot of gold for governments everywhere. ICT should not be a conveyor-belt of money flowing to M$ and “partners”. That’s not the purpose. Finding, modifying, creating and distributing information as efficiently as possible is the only valid justification for money spend on ICT.

See Conclusions and recommendations of the Dutch temporary committee on government ICT projects

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Italian Freedom Comes Through A Door Opened With The Thin Edge Of The Wedge

I love it. After the ruling of the high court in Italy that consumers should not have to pay for software they don’t want bundled on PCs, “FSFE, ADUC and ILS have sent a letter to the Italian competition authorities, calling on them to ensure that vendors will comply with the High Court’s decision, and respect the rights of their customers.”

Yes! I wrote such a letter years ago to Canadian Competition Bureau and was rebuffed for lack of standing, as if being Canadian was not enough. Let’s hope the Italians have more sense.

See Italian consumers shouldn’t have to pay for software they don’t want – Letter to Regulators.

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Bye-Bye Software Patents

The nonsensical software-patent that USA has tried to foist on the world, destroying motivation to innovate and taxing true innovation,“back in January, art units at the USPTO rejected applications based on Section 101 of US Patent law only about 24% of the time. Section 101 covers what is patent eligible, and was the key part in the decision in the Alice case. Effectively, in the Alice ruling, the Supreme Court said that just doing something on a generic computer wasn’t patent eligible under Section 101. Following that ruling, in July, the rejection rate jumped to 78%. Yes, from 24% in January to 78% in June.” is going down the drain. USPTO is rejecting most such applications and invalidating many already issued. In a few years we will wake up an all the trouble M$ and others have caused the world will just be a fading memory.

See Good News: US Patent Office Now Rejecting A Lot More Software Patents.

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Fallout From Munich

The newly elected mayor of Munich and some of his buddies have raised a furor by suggesting Munich migrate back to M$’s clutches.“The city’s IT department, the city council, as well as third mayor Christine Strobl, support the current IT strategy and thus distance themselves from the criticisms of the first and second mayor. Strobl emphasises that "upon careful checking" she still considers the switch to Free Software as the right thing to do.
She has a sound economic basis for this view: Due to reduced licensing expenditures alone, the city was able to save 11 million Euro. The hardware cost alone of switching to Windows 7 would amount to 3,15 million Euro, with Windows 8 being even more expensive according to the IT-administration. A switch would incur additional costs, and mean the loss of the achievements in the support of open standards.”
That’s not happening if they go by the numbers, many $millions wasted for no improvement in IT at all. Meanwhile the migration to GNU/Linux more or less broke even, costing about what one or two rounds of staying on the Wintel treadmill would have cost and saving a bundle with each step Munich doesn’t take on that instrument of torture. It’s interesting that cost was not a prime motivator for Munich to migrate but it may be the reason they stick with GNU/Linux.

see Munich sticks with Free Software.

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GNU/Linux Takes a Bite Out Of That Other OS in Uruguay – 2014

I know statistics lie. Past performance, even recent past performance, says nothing about the future, but you have to appreciate the huge change happening in Uruguay. In the last month that other OS (all versions) has lost 10% share of page-views according to StatCounter and they’ve pretty well gone to GNU/Linux. ChromeOS is still small there and MacOS is static. I love it.

Notice the linear fit. The positive slope for GNU/Linux is very similar to the negative slope of that other OS. Not bad. Uruguay’s government seems to have a lot of good sense. While other countries have had a serious recession, all Uruguay had was a dip in unemployment… Poverty and debt are falling like stones… Maybe the growth of GNU/Linux is associated with this economic good sense. It certainly is associated with Project Ceibal which has delivered one million PCs to students. Amen.

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Yesterday Called And Left A Smile

When I was a boy back on the farm and later in Winnipeg, I loved to “browse” various hardware stores and departments in the city. There were hundreds of them scattered every few blocks so homeowners could buy paint or screws or hinges and fix things. There were gun shops, shoemakers, and mom and pop grocery stores.“Pollock’s Hardware Co-op is one of Winnipeg’s oldest and coolest hardware stores! Established in 1922 we are one of the few independent hardware stores to make it through the boom of big box stores. While thriving in the North End we are committed to staying true to our community, our members and Winnipeg.” Those days are gone, but not completely.

Today, The Little Woman sent me on some errands. I planned a little loop through the city with 3 stops, just before the afternoon rush. Of course, I got lost a bit but managed the first two quite nicely. On the third one, I found the place immediately, an ancient hardware store recently restored and run as a co-op, a community institution supplying smiles, conversation as well as nuts and bolts. A young lady gave prompt courteous efficient service, complete with use of a tape-measure, promising a broken window I brought in would be fixed before the day was done. It was. They phoned a few hours later advising the window could be picked up during business hours.

After my vitreous transaction was done, I had to walk around just to feel the place. The wooden floor moved gently under my weight. The shelves were crowded with unfamiliar products, including a pail of bone-meal I can use for my flowers and vegetables and shrubs next year. I remembered I had been in the place once before to buy a pail of paint and a swede-saw. We used to live near the place. I guess that’s why The Little Woman made the connection. I had long ago forgotten.

Anyways, I visited their website, linked below, and found another item I must buy, a stove-top popcorn-maker. It beats those noisy hot-air things and The Little Woman doesn’t like my technique of shaking a pot on the stove. She has a glass-topped stove…

Just walking around this store which provides great products and service left me with an all-day smile. It just made my day to see that the old ways still have value in our age of efficiency. I love to see a new generation committing to serving the public.

See Pollock's Hardware Co-op.

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There Are “Others” and Then There Are “Others”…

“Others” is a convenient category to put things in when stuff you don’t care about happens. GNU/Linux is something I care about but not Gartner. They lump GNU/Linux in with all that other stuff that’s not from M$, Apple, or Google but, hey, I can subtract.

Let’s do some maths. Usually “Others” is tiny. The biggest, “Others” I’ve seen is about 40% of PCs being shipped by other than the big five OEMs. Gartner has tabulated all the PCs of every kind shipped last year, this year and next year and “Others” in the emerging markets is huge, 520 million units this year. That’s in the operating system category. That’s more than the total number of legacy PCs. Smartphones are the biggest category. In Africa, for instance, according to StatCounter, “Series 40″ smartphones make up about 10% of page-views. Even on StatCounter, “others” is huge, about 12%. Series 40s phones are being dumped there according to one commentator, but that’s a huge number of units… Did Nokia really stockpile that many? According to Wikipedia, BlackBerry still ships a few million and left a few million as “others”. On the other hand, 520 million units is nearly 20% of all devices shipped globally… Conveniently not listing their OS is a little too convenient if you ask me. I’d like to know how many are GNU/Linux.

See Gartner Says Sales of Tablets Will Represent Less Than 10 Percent of All Devices in 2014.

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