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: $latex N X some cost > some cost $ for $latex 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.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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25 Responses to Corporate Desktop Linux

  1. DrLoser says:

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

    Apparently about 97.5% of them can’t do the maths, on the basis of your graph.

    You should write to the Bundestag and get these people stripped of their German citizenship, Robert.

  2. DrLoser says:

    That’s the normal case, I believe, but there could be exceptions as when someone inserts a backdoor deliberately for some purpose. Some governments have been reported to do this for espionage/surveillance but also some companies have breached their product’s own security carelessly or wantonly, rather than in error.

    I think I’d describe that as a deviation from the subject at hand, Robert, although I’d have to admit that it’s a fascinating subject in its own right. And, personally, I would still describe these on-purpose breaches, should they exist, as “bugs.” To take a reasonably neutral example, the Sony DRM fiasco (implemented on purpose by Sony) looks pretty much indistinguishable from a bug to the native eye. But tastes in these things vary.

    Not to minimise the additional layer of (in my terms) bugs and vulnerabilities that are introduced on purpose, but let’s not forget:

    Over the last year and a half, FLOSS has been hauled over the coals, quite rightly, for four massive unintentional vulnerabilities:

    1) The IPv4/IPv6 gaping hole, whereby the lack of a “break” statement completely vitiated the test for security.
    2) The Debian SSL “it’s a secure hash no it isn’t yes it is well only if you consider entropy of about eight bits to be secure” nonsense.
    3) Heartbleed.
    4) Shellshock.

    Every last one of these had the potential to be immense gaping security holes — ironically, because of Linux’ success on Web Servers.

    And any rational person would conclude that we haven’t seen the last of these pitiful Embarrassments To The Cause … because the big underlying hole here is, in fact, not the Four Freedoms at all, any more than the problem with M$ software being that it’s closed-source.

    The big problem, and I would hope we can all agree on this at least, is that the Corporations who happily glom onto FLOSS becase “it’s free as in beer” don’t bother to spend anything more than pennies on testing and verification.

    It would be good for FLOSS if they changed their attitude. It would be good for the world at large, too.

    But if you’re going to harp on about this mystical power of “being able to view the code,” don’t you think that it’s rather unsettling … not so much that you, Robert, fail to avail themselves of this power … but that entire major Corporations out there are also committing this unpardonable sin of omission?

    Coz I do.

  3. DrLoser wrote, “Robert, vulnerabilities are a subset of bugs”.

    That’s the normal case, I believe, but there could be exceptions as when someone inserts a backdoor deliberately for some purpose. Some governments have been reported to do this for espionage/surveillance but also some companies have breached their product’s own security carelessly or wantonly, rather than in error. I think a lot of M$’s insecurity stem from that. Lose ‘9x shipped with little or no consideration of security. XP initially shipped with huge holes in security. I remember it was XP SP2 by the time M$ woke up to the fact that users were mad as Hell and looking hard at GNU/Linux. They’ve been working hard to patch things up but you just can’t have backwards compatibility with an insecure mess and get great security. They’ve had a lot of critical vulnerabilities since XP SP2, despite many radical changes.

  4. DrLoser says:

    We do know that vulnerabilities are a subset of bugs and I see the bug-count for the next release of Debian is plunging rapidly now that we are approaching feature-freeze.

    Per definitionem, Robert, vulnerabilities are a subset of bugs. How do I know this? Simple deduction. If the set of “vulnerabilities” is not a subset of the set of “bugs,” then they would either have to be an intersecting set, or a completely orthogonal set.

    I’m astonished that an acknowledged master of linear algebra such as yourself would even bother pointing out this obvious truth.

    Now, here’s an analogy for you.

    Would you rather have “a case of the sniffles” every other week, or Ebola?

    Different categories of bugs, y’see. You can enumerate the sniffles all you like, but if Ebola hits you — BANG! Kiss your sweet patootie goodbye!

  5. DrLoser says:

    All I can do is set back and laugh at the horror of M$ Windows.

    I think you do yourself a disservice, Dougie. Even lacking any basic educational skills (what with them being an unnecessary expense and all), you can presumably handle a mop and a pail of suds, can’t you?

    Go clean those floors, youngster! Or, failing that, contribute some code back to FLOSS!

    It really can’t be that hard, can it? Just the simple application of reciprocal gratitude.

  6. DrLoser says:

    Anyone ever wonder why the media never says Microsoft when they are speaking about computers being hacked??

    Tut tut, Dougie. Only a single question mark is required. Don’t get all excited about this — you’ll cause yourself a mischief.

    But, a perfectly reasonable question. And here’s my perfectly reasonable answer:

    No, because the name Microsoft crops up all the time.

    Conspiracies just ain’t wot they used to be back in the day*, are they?

    * Theoretically, 1995. August 5th, 2:30pm during a coffee break in Santa Clara. But don’t quote me on that one.

  7. dougman says:

    Anyone ever wonder why the media never says Microsoft when they are speaking about computers being hacked??

    I see all this fluff and drama, but none of that sh1t interrupts my days. My uptime is multiple months and I only reboot for a kernel upgrade. All I can do is set back and laugh at the horror of M$ Windows.

  8. Joe.M says:

    Yeah M$ vulns are quietly swept under the rug. We get logos, tech coverage and memorable names for ours.

  9. DrLoser wrote, “by 2045, we’ll have 60 more total Linux security disasters on our hands!”

    That’s a silly conclusion. Such problems don’t arise at a uniform rate and just because we’ve had a difficult year does not mean we will have a bunch of difficult years ahead. In fact, this year has spawned movements to tune up critical infrastructure in GNU/Linux to reduce the possibilities of further bad years. We do know that vulnerabilities are a subset of bugs and I see the bug-count for the next release of Debian is plunging rapidly now that we are approaching feature-freeze. I expect as GNU/Linux usage/community matures further, good things will happen. The ever-increasing use of GNU/Linux will stimulate the development of all the tools/practices needed for better security.

  10. oiaohm says:

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/srd/archive/2012/03/13/cve-2012-0002-a-closer-look-at-ms12-020-s-critical-issue.aspx
    DrLoser there will be more Microsoft critical exploits over the years as well Why,
    by 2045, we’ll have 60 more total Linux security disasters on our hands!
    By general Windows rates there will be about 80 to 90 over that time frame.

    So what are you claiming Linux is more secure than Windows DrLoser. This is the problem about commenting without prospective. 2012 there were 8 major remote run anything code on Windows. 2013 there were quite a few. 2014 has been a fairly quite year for Microsoft.

  11. dougman says:

    Re Trolls: Whenever anyone insists that there is only one proper way to do something, you can be sure that he’s an advocate (propagandist) rather than an objective commentator.

    “Windows 10 – you hated Windows 8 so much, we jumped an entire number just so you could forget about it and continue to send us more of your money”

  12. Joe.M says:

    ram,

    ROFLAMO!!!

  13. DrLoser says:

    I just stumbled upon it and read it and thought, “OMG! He wrote the book for trolls.”

    Trolls being, I assume, “people who disagree with Mr Pogson.” I wish I’d know about this handy little guide — it would have saved me a whole nine years of learning how to be a troll from scratch.

    Sadly, however, you did not come up with the cite in 2005, did you, Robert? You kept us all dangling until late 2014.

    Still, oldies are goldies. Particularly when you have absolutely nothing recent to bring up, even if it’s just some tired bit of irrelevant reminiscence from a World Bank exec whose name sounds suspiciously like a relative of Donald Duck.

  14. DrLoser says:

    So, these tiny numbers represent ~a million or two people in those countries using FLOSS and GNU/Linux.

    Tiny, indeed. I’d say “inconsequential” is probably a more apt description, Robert.

    There’s no telling what a million people can do.

    Well, we can always guess. Play online Parcheesi? Construct a recipe database? Check out the latest scores in the IPL?

    This is a fun game, Robert. Completely pointless, but fun.

    The fact that the number grows, even slowly, shows the FLOSS community in these countries is thriving.

    Not really, it just shows a more-or-less linear growth from something tiny to something slightly less tiny. Which was my point. Over seven years.

    M$ hasn’t been growing that fast there.

    Really? I looked it up, and the results for India since 2008 surprise even this jaded old M$ shill/troll.

    In only five years, Windows 7 has gone from 2% to 56%.

    I’d be interested to learn what your definition of “growing that fast” might be, under the circumstances.

  15. DrLoser, trying his best to be sarcastic, wrote, “I can’t imagine that any technological advance over the next couple of centuries could possibly get in the way of this inexorable steamroller.”

    Germany is definitely an “established market” for PCs. India is not exactly established but neither is it an emerging market. The big cities are with it and much of the rural area is a growth area. Governments are actively seeking IT to use for the first time to replace paper methods. Schools are trying to leverage IT. Businesses are adopting IT at a great pace. In both countries the usage as indicated by page-views from GNU/Linux is growing steadily. One cannot, by these data alone, properly estimate the future but Germany is on the forefront of FLOSS and India has welcomed Stalman with open arms many times. Governments in both countries are advocating for FLOSS. So, I think it is reasonable to assume growth will continue at least at this speed and quite possibly much faster as students familiar with FLOSS in schools go into the workforce. It might also be useful to consider the number of PCs existing in both countries. According to my databases,

    Domain Country Internet users
    DE Germany 69779200
    IN India 195249000

    So, these tiny numbers represent ~a million or two people in those countries using FLOSS and GNU/Linux. There’s no telling what a million people can do. The fact that the number grows, even slowly, shows the FLOSS community in these countries is thriving. M$ hasn’t been growing that fast there. People are choosing whether to go with FLOSS or M$ and “partners”. Many more are choosing Android/Linux than that other OS. A lot that are choosing legacy PCs are choosing GNU/Linux. The newly elected leader is all about efficiency and using technology… There’s a great liklihood he will kindle the fire of FLOSS much higher. He has national influence whereas the states that have endorsed FLOSS vigorously as more local. Germany as part of Europe is part of the kindling of FLOSS there. I don’t see them slowing down at all. I would bet FLOSS in both countries grows and faster. Combine that with the hatred of things USAian, like the NSA, and M$’s latest products, now passed by GNU/Linux in several countries, and I see lots of upside for FLOSS.

  16. DrLoser wrote, “2005, Robert?”

    I just stumbled upon it and read it and thought, “OMG! He wrote the book for trolls.”

    That’s not to say that Buck had it all wrong but his conclusions certainly were. Here we are almost a decade later and folks are still making that mistake. Meanwhile, GNU/Linux keeps growing, even on corporate desktops.

  17. DrLoser says:

    Microsoft’s real market always was video games and a replacement for a typewriters in bureaucratic organizations.

    Interesting concept, and complete bollocks, ram.

    Your turn to justify either one of these absurd accusations. Feel free.

  18. DrLoser says:

    Any particular reason you are digging all the way back to “W. McDonald Buck, retired CTO of World Bank” in 2005, Robert?

    I mean, surely there’s been some sort of obvious technological progress on the Linux Desktop since then. Please don’t tell me that it still looks like a broken copy of Win98. (Which, we can both agree, was a broken desktop.)

    Now, I am an avid consumer of news, even ten year old news, on the progress of the Linux Desktop.

    But I hope you will forgive me, Robert, when I say that both you and Wm McDonald Buck need about ten years’ worth of updating on the subject.

    Speaking of that, are you still up for an experimental Windows 7 rig at $0?

    I can do that.

  19. DrLoser says:

    Whoops, hooray for Germany and darn my useless calculator skills.

    32 years, it says here.

    Strike that target year for Germany and make it a more realistic 2045!

    Gosh, I can hardly wait. Heartbleed and Shellshock in just one year (this one, in case nobody here noticed).

    Why, by 2045, we’ll have 60 more total Linux security disasters on our hands!

    And that’s presuming that growth is merely linear, as above!

  20. DrLoser says:

    Let’s do the maths, shall we, Robert? But first, my assumptions:

    1) India and Germany are fairly representative of the global corporate world. I think we can all agree on that one.
    2) Both of your graphs show, essentially, linear progression. Over seven years, which suggests that variance is not really important.

    OK, Sesame Street Kids, let’s begin!

    India: an impressive leap from 0.8% to 1.8% in seven years.

    1.8 – 0.8 = 1.0.

    Gap between current adoption and 50%: 48.2%.

    Linear calculation of years left to the point of 50% adoption: ~ 48*7 = The Year Of Our Lord 2351.

    Oh, the Rapture!

    But maybe the roughly 20% of global population living in India are not the way to go. Let’s go to the home of DeHoMag! Guten Abend Deutschland!

    We still need to do the maths.

    Germany: an impressive leap from 1.0% to 2.7% in seven years.

    2.7 – 1.0 = 1.7. Wow! Much more promising!

    Gap between current adoption and 50%: 47.3%. I’m getting goose-bumps just thinking about it!

    Linear calculation of years left to the point of 50% adoption: ~ 47.3*7 = The Year Of Our Lord 2225.

    Well, that’s a bit of a let-down.

    Never mind, I can’t imagine that any technological advance over the next couple of centuries could possibly get in the way of this inexorable steamroller.

  21. Joe.M wrote, “We saw it happen with Android.”

    …and Internet of Things, thin clients, HPC, servers (cloud, web, database, networking…).

    The thing that convinced me to go to GNU/Linux was that M$ did not even bother to produce a good product once they achieved desktop monopoly. You’d think that would have been an obvious choice with the money they had but greed was their priority. They lost more good will with malware and slowing down and re-re-reboots, and the damned stickers and WGdisA and then Vista/”7″/”8″. The bigger their installed base the more millions learned to hate M$ and M$ taught us to hate them. The world really does not want to be M$’s slave yet M$ keeps reminding people that use M$’s OS that they are slaves.

  22. ram wrote, “a replacement for a typewriters in bureaucratic organizations”.

    So true. I always chuckle that the default justification in M$’s office suite was “left”, just like typewriters. I paid big money to a secretary with an electric typewriter to type my thesis. To get full justification cost twice as much because the way they did it was to type once, measure the spaces needed to get full justification and to insert the requisite number of spaces randomly to achieve the result. That’s a trivial operation for a computer and software, yet M$ did not deliver that functionality to the world. They made it optional. I’ve always thought that was the essence of an operating system designed by salesmen: make a product that is somewhat familiar and not too different but keep changing it so folks will be pressured to keep up with the neighbours. Somewhere along the line they ran out of small changes and developed Vista/New Vista(“7″)/”8”. M$ can’t even manage not to offend the most uncritical users these days. They’ve painted themselves into a corner or cut off the limb on which they stood. They did that with no competition because they killed that. They did it themselves like some insane dictator, destroying their own creation. It’s time for the world to move on.

  23. ram says:

    My company, and nearly all my clients (large mineral exploration and extraction companies/organizations, media creation houses, heavy engineering and consulting companies) never used Microsoft anything to begin with. We went from using SUN SPARC’s running SunOS or Solaris, IBM workstations running AIX, or SGI’s running one form of Unix or another, to Linux as a gradual process. The transistion was seamless as essentially all the Unix command set “just worked”.

    Microsoft’s real market always was video games and a replacement for a typewriters in bureaucratic organizations. Video games are moving to Linux platforms or dedicated consoles. Chromebooks are replacing the “typewriters” and browsers (or at least the browsers that haven’t been already supplanted by tablets). Microsoft’s “market” is disappearing and they never did make any significant inroads into real computing.

  24. Joe.M says:

    Windows’s marketshare is built on interia and familiarity. On any new market where they lose this advantage, M$ fails hard. We saw it happen with Android.

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