Sunday, December 7, 2008

Linux is dead. It’ll then rise to save the economy. Long live Linux!?

Linux, the embodiment of most seeable creation of open source to average computer users, is often bullied and mocked as much as Linux itself do the same thing to its rival; the proprietary software.

I’ll get back to what I’ve just said at the bottom of this post, and to why I seemed look like praising Linux with the title of this post but then make fun out of it with the controversial picture above there. But first, let’s clear some things up before I borrow your ears to hear what I’ve got to say later. Or in this case, your eyes to read… Aw, you know what I’m talkin about. ~LOL~

The Linux I’m referring to is not the person who invented the Linux kernel OS, but I’m only symbolizing it as the open source. And it’s not me who actually said Linux or open source is dead, it is taken from a very interesting article by Bill Snyder (InfoWorld, via PCW Business Center). Bill starts his intriguing editorial with this:

Put three geeks in a room and it won't take long to start an argument. ... all three have provocative opinions about the future of software in general and of open source in particular. Dennis Byron, who has 30 years of technology experience under his belt, thinks that the open source era is coming to an inglorious end, with Linux and the like becoming "an asterisk in the history and future of technology.”

Bryon’s words must have made plenty of Linux die-hard fans ears turn to red, sure enough no one has the right to call an end on the champion result of open source like that. But apparently the other geek; Stuart Cohen from BusinessWeek is the one who answer on why we should see Linux could actually is dying: "Open source code is generally great code, not requiring much support. So open source companies that rely on support and service alone are not long for this world."

Cohen then explained what he really meant by that: "The health of open source software has never been better when we are talking about the quality of the code. The number of people using it and the number of enterprises deploying it have never been higher. But the classic open source business model no longer works very well, and so it has to change."

A fine example is given by Cohen: “Red Hat, arguably the most successful open source company, ... It adds substantial layers of software on top of the kernel, a solid piece of software that needs little support,... If Red Hat relied on supporting the Linux kernel, it would go out of business simply because the code is so sound.”

But things have starting to turn around for open source, especially for Linux, because now IBM has started to offer a “Microsoft-free” desktop solution to corporate environments. The package is based on three components:

  1. Ubuntu Linux
  2. Virtual Enterprise Remote Desktop Environment (VERDE) from Virtual Bridges
  3. IBMS’s Open Collaboration Client Solution software (OCCS) based on Lotus Symphony, Lotus Notes and Lotus applications.

The Linux-based software package, which is available now, runs on a back-office server and is accessible to customers on thin clients. With the recent economic depression, IBM is hoping its “Microsoft-free” desktop solution will look more appealing.

According to IBM, market forces are shifting and there is “growing demand for economical alternatives to costly Windows and Office-based computers.” The company claims that “Linux is far more profitable for a PC vendor and the operating system is better equipped to work with lower cost hardware than new Microsoft technology.”

The Virtual Linux Desktop ranges in price from $59 to $289 per user, IBM estimates that the software package could save corporate customers up to $800 per user, when compared with the cost of maintaining Microsoft's Vista operating system, Office suite, and collaboration tools.

Just after reading all of these reports, I remember one contentious argument from an article by Mitchell Ashley (NetworkWorld, via PC World): “You knew the argument had to come up sometime: survive the economic down turn by using open source to help you save money."

Mitchell was responding on a blog post by ComputerWorld blogger Steve J. Vaughan-Nichols, where in Steve’s post claim that we can survive the economy turbulence by ditching Microsoft and switching to Linux. Mitchell argued that the idea is provoking but not likely to take a foothold anytime soon, and he has other reasons too on why Steve’s idea isn’t completely true:

”There's also the matter of practicality. Yep, Linux software is free, but Linux isn't. Especially converting to Linux. Converting could actually lead to laying off people on your IT staff to get the skills necessary to move to Linux. ... Plus there's the cash outlay to replace all the other software you use (systems management, virtualization, etc.)."

Can Linux (or open source) really help us to save more money in these hard times? Is this finally the right time for Linux to rise and shine? The answers may lie on the same stage on why IBM is offering Ubuntu Linux and its Symphony (the “Microsoft-free” desktop solution) free of charge; because IBM wants to make money too with this offering. Besides helping to market VERDE, IBM stressed that it can “help” customers to “out this offering, as well as other customized virtual desktops.”

The next question is; will Linux and open source be able to win the love of computer users who are already too accustomed with proprietary software? IMHO it’ll depend on how Linux is offered…

This take us back to what I’ve got to say that I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post, about how Linux has been presented so far. I’ve been so many times talked and pulled by Linux die-hard fans to convert into Linux, no matter how many times I argued and tried to avoid the subject, they’ll keep on telling me the good things about converting to Linux, very persistent they are.

I’m serious, I’ll physically hurt someone if there’s one more of them forcefully telling me how better Linux is than Windows, or how more user friendly Linux is than Mac OS. Because even though Linux does have the advantages over those popular OS, it also has its own disadvantages; and they are not little in quantity.

I like how Mitchell Ashley put this better in his own words: “Whether it's iPhones, Linux vs. Microsoft, or Macs vs. PCs, there's always a group who are so overly passionate about their favorite hammer that everything else looks like a nail. ... to know that taking your favorite technology too seriously creates other blind spots in your logic and decision making.”

Talking about operating system nowadays, is like talking about religion. The harder you try to convert someone into your belief, the harder rejection you’ll get. Sometime persistent may work if you try to date someone, but more often it felt as irritating than when it works. Can Linux be presented not like this?

Sources are from:

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