At one point or another, you’ve probably asked yourself why you continue to spend hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of dollars on Microsoft products, especially in the downward economy we find ourselves faced with today. It could be that you’re worried about having to learn a new and unfamiliar environment. Or, maybe you feel that there aren’t enough applications available for anything other than Windows to justify switching to something else. Perhaps you’ve already invested a substantial amount of money in software that runs on Windows and don’t want that investment to go to waste.
Whatever the reason may be, there’s never been a better time to migrate away from proprietary software and make the move to Linux, a premium open source solution. Not only are the arguments outlined above irrelevant to the current technological climate, there are many other exciting reasons to consider giving Linux a try.
Linux Does More “Out-of-the-Box,” and It’s all Free!
After installing Microsoft Windows, your first task will always inevitably be to install a lengthy suite of applications before being able to do anything productive, and by the time you’ve finished, you’ll have potentially incurred hundreds of dollars in additional licensing costs. By contrast, any popular modern Linux distribution will come bundled with an office suite, fully-featured mail client, system administration tools and a host of other applications, saving you hours of installation time, all at no added cost. Even if you use a commercial Linux distribution with a price tag to match, the software bundled with it is almost always free and open source, meaning that you pay no extra licensing fees.
Thousands of Additional Applications, all Ready To Install at the Click of Your Mouse
We’ve all gone through the lengthy process of installing our initial set of applications, just to discover that we’ve either forgotten something or that we have additional needs. If you’re a user of Microsoft Windows and proprietary applications, you’ll get to fork out even more money, and be faced with the daunting task of manually downloading executable files and/or swapping CDs back and forth, with every installation method differing significantly from the last.
If you’re a user of Linux, with a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll find thousands of applications, all available from a single repository, ready to automatically download and install. Oh, and have I mentioned that they’re all free?
Running Windows Software on Linux
“I want to use Linux, but there’s one crucial application that’s holding me back.” Those of us who have moved away from Windows know all too well the pain of leaving behind old (or perhaps not so old) software investments. Whether it’s an in-house program for your workplace, an office suite or even a favorite game, you don’t want to lose your ability to run legacy Windows software.
This used to be a very good reason for abandoning open source migration efforts, but fortunately, it’s no longer a serious issue. The WINE project (http://www.winehq.org/), which represents fifteen years of hard work and dedication on the part of open source developers across the globe, has grown to be a very mature, nearly drop-in replacement for the Windows environment, and runs quite a few Windows programs out-of-the-box, including Microsoft Office. In addition, those applications that don’t will often run with minimal tweaking, and for those situations where native Windows libraries are required to make an application work, you have the option of using them in place of or in addition to WINE’s own bundled libraries.
For those rare instances where WINE fails to meet your needs, Linux sports a competitive suite of virtualization solutions (for more information, look up KVM or Xen), which will enable you to run a properly licensed Windows installation on top of your Linux environment at a level of performance comparable to that attained by running Windows natively on hardware.
Security and Your Peace of Mind
Anybody who’s had to manage a Windows machine will know what a hassle it is to have to keep up with anti-virus and anti-spyware updates, and how worrying it can be when we learn about new critical vulnerabilities that could result in a malicious third party gaining control of our software.
By using Linux, you have the dual advantage of working on a minimally targeted platform and of working on a platform that was built on a solid, simple and time-tested security model. Unlike Windows, there is little if any real need for anti-virus software (unless you’re running a mail server that hosts messages which might be read by people using Windows.) In addition, due to the rapid pace of open source software development, if a security vulnerability is discovered, a fix follows quickly. Instead of relying on any single organization to inspect and patch their code — a single point of failure, you have an entire global community with access to the source code, eager to support the software they maintain with a passion for writing good code.
With today’s uncertain economic climate, now is the perfect time to consider migrating to an open source solution. The arguments against it continue to dwindle as open source operating systems such as Linux increasingly prove not only to match Windows for functionality, but surpass it.
We here at eRacks specialize in open source solutions, and are ready to cater to your needs. Whether you’re purchasing servers or desktops running open source software, or you’re looking for help with your open source migration efforts, eRacks provides the services you need to get the job done.
james December 19th, 2008