Now you've read a lot of information about GNU/Linux's advantages and strong points. You're probably wondering, "Why isn't everyone using it -- what's the downside?"
We'll take that in two parts, point #1: Almost everyone is using it! You'll find very few large corporations who are not using GNU/Linux. Ford Motor Company, GM, IBM, Wall Street banks, Google, Amazon.Com, Intel, even Microsoft (yes, I said, even Microsoft) runs GNU/Linux. The reason those large companies use GNU/Linux is because they have large numbers of employees who "think outside the box" and who have the time to research new trends.
At Spartacus Systems, one of the things we'll do is to keep you informed of new trends that can save you money and make your business work better -- even when those trends are "disruptive technology" like GNU/Linux.
Point #2, the downside: Yes, GNU/Linux has some disadvantages and it isn't (yet) for everyone. Let's take a look at those disadvantages:
• Software selection. While there are multiple solutions for almost every common business task, there isn't a solution for everything. GNU/Linux is a newcomer to the operating system scene so it doesn't have the huge variety of programs available for it like Microsoft Windows does. Your applications will have to be checked to see if they run on GNU/Linux and/or that GNU/Linux equivalents exist and are acceptable to you. This is a huge potential issue and it could possibly be a show-stopper.
The good news is that the amount of software for GNU/Linux is increasing fast! Software developers see Windows as a large but stagnant market. Linux is fresh new fields for software developers and many are moving to that new green grass.
Another software issue is that some Linux programs are not as highly-polished as are some Windows programs. This is primarily because the market is so new. And again, things are also changing rapidly on this issue.
The way to deal with these software issues is to only use Linux where it makes sense.
Do you have a secretary who only needs to use a web browser and a typical office suite of programs? Great, that secretary is a good candidate to move to a GNU/Linux system.
Do you have a bookkeeper who has to use an accounting package that is identical to the software your Windows-based accountant uses? Obviously, that's not a good choice and it wouldn't be wise to use a Linux system there.
Since GNU/Linux systems work so well with other operating systems, you can easily mix in GNU/Linux systems. Imagine if only 30% of your systems were converted to GNU/Linux -- that's still a large savings, increased freedom, and a large increase in stability and security.
• Migration of existing systems. Introducing GNU/Linux is change. Migrating your existing systems to Linux will mean creating some new habits and changing old ones; it'll mean converting documents over from secret, proprietary formats to open formats; it'll mean a tense time as we convert from your old systems to the new systems without interrupting business.
However, one should remember that with change comes opportunity.
• Training. With a change to GNU/Linux systems some people will need training. This includes not only training in the actual applications they're using (though many of those apps are very similar to their Windows counterparts), but also training in new maintenance habits and computer-care procedures.
These disadvantages are real -- there are distinct costs associated with this. However, costs can be analyzed and calculated.
We at Spartacus Systems feel that if you examine the reduced software costs, increased freedoms, increased flexibility, stability and security, lower hardware requirements, and total cost of ownership (TCO), and balance them against the risks, disadvantages, and expenses outlined above, a very appealing equation emerges that will not only save you money year after year after year, but will benefit you in many other ways as well.