Apparently, sometimes the answer is “NO!““A leading City firm has halted the roll-out of software that was supposed to streamline its business but became more trouble than it was worth. Specifically, Â£32m of trouble.
Brewin Dolphin, in Smithfield St, London, alleged to investors it encountered â€œissuesâ€ with the "robustness" of a specialist financial application. It started installing the code in 2011 but has now stopped.”
The standard comment trolls make to FLOSS is that non-Free software is better, somehow, because you pay for it up front. I’ve seen several instances of that being false in schools. Here’s an example of a big business rolling out non-Free software. It didn’t work for them and they are stopping the rollout part way through. You don’t always get what you pay for…
I once worked for a school division that depended on several non-Free applications: e-mail, locking down the network and something called Filemaker.
The e-mail application insisted on upgrading to every release along the way from our ancient implementation to the latest version if we wanted to keep our e-mail archive, with payment for each licence for each release… Paying for software is not wrong, but they were essentially charging us for our own files. That is wrong. It’s hostage-ware.
The locking software was a whitelist for the Internet. By default everything was blacklisted, even my GNU/Linux sites. One had to persuade HQ to unblock any useful site. Strangely, microsoft.com was not blacklisted. The head honcho of the company was a microsoftie.
Every now and then someone from HQ would distribute a Filemaker file to every school. The only problem was that none of the teachers had a licence for Filemaker. It worked for the folks at HQ, eh? Try it yourself. Go to their site to figure out what the programme actually does… Thank Goodness for Wikipedia. Apparently it’s a relational database thingy. Must have it. It has a GUI…
So, non-Free software can be a disaster propagated by motivated sales-people and bosses ignorant that Free Software can do what you need done. For Â£32m one could have hired a few PHP programmer and made a LAMP stack work and had a lot of change to spare. The thing is there was no need to pay for functions that are available for $0 or nearly $0. Just pay for the things you need, the script on top that interacts with the user to access the other resources. The worst non-Free software disaster is that other OS, you know the one that wants to run your life at great expense while allowing malware and intruders free reign on your hardware. How much is that kind of performance worth? It’s negative yet hundreds of millions have been forced into using it with complicity by OEMs, retailers and other “partners” of M$.
There is an alternative to non-Free madness. Use FLOSS and GNU/Linux. It’s software built cooperatively by the world for the world and it’s built at cost giving just the features most of us need. If you need more, pay for it by hiring some programmers. My favourite FLOSS is distributed by the Debian organization. It’s a one-stop shop for desktop/server/network/search/database software, ~40K packages in all. It’s rare to find any task of IT that you can’t get done with that. Updates can be automated for OS, drivers, applications, everything… Look there before you even think of paying for non-Free software. The Freedom is not just about price. One can pay for Free Software, software that lets you run, examine, modify and distribute the software with a licence included with the download. You can pay programmers. Why pay for non-Free software that was long ago paid and yet you have to pay huge amounts of money and time to obtain a copy? That’s overpaying.