According to NetApplications, California is still a hot-bed of GNU/Linux adoption. They report 10% for May, 2012. It was as high as 17% in December, 2011 when the kids were home from college. This shows that millions can live and work with GNU/Linux despite the naysayers.
The endless harangues about why/why not to migrate people to GNU/Linux often misses a key bit of information gleaned from people who have actually done it:
“Linux desktop roll out is easier than expected for properly targeted end-user groups
Those with experience are much more likely to regard non-technical users as primary targets for Linux. The message here is that in practice, Linux is easier to deploy to end users than many imagine before they try it. For the majority of application types, including office tools, email clients and browsers, there is a strong consensus that the needs of most users can be met by native Linux equivalents to traditional Windows solutions. Where this is not the case, thin client or browser based delivery and/or one of the various emulation or virtualisation options are available.”
That’s from a survey of IT people who have done migrations of from 1 to thousands of people. I have done a bunch in the range from 1 to hundreds and it’s always the same. Whatever problems arise are soluble and not show-stoppers. Migrating certain kinds of users is “picking the low-hanging” fruit. It’s easy and quick and saves a bundle on licensing and maintenance. My projects after migration required very little maintenance whereas before that other OS was always breaking down one way or another. The point is you cannot fix anything that’s hidden in that other OS while everything is known about GNU/Linux.
The same benefits people see on servers can be had on desktop/notebook PCs: fewer re-re-reboots, less malware, not slowing down, not phoning home, no need to track the damned “certificates of authenticity” or whatever M$ chooses to call them this year. There’s just less to do since the packaging system and SSH does most of the work.
A big solution to the problem of human resistance to change is that when it is obvious that the system performs better afterward, people are happy with change. Even if all you do is give people new keyboards or monitors, they will love you for changing the system. On many systems, I was able to give users huge increases in performance just by adding RAM to the server or replacing a network switch. I was in one place where the server room had been “moved” but a 100 mbits/s link had been left to the switches… All I had to do was move a few cables and swap a switch and I was a hero. To Hell with what anyone calls the OS, snappy is good. It’s also easier to give schools more seats for the same price, which clearly is better performance for the whole system.
One way or another, a migration will give an organization improved performance at lower cost and is easily competitive with taking another step on the Wintel treadmill. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because of its policies, huge repository of software and great package manager.