Linux Here, Linux There, Linux Everywhere

by Pamela Jones

January 07 2004

The Inquirer [ ] has a leaked internal IBM memo, they say from IBM CIO Bob Greenberg, asking all IBM executives to switch their desktops to Linux by the end of next year. After they do it, don't you suppose that will be the end of FUD along the lines of "Linux isn't ready for the desktop"? Everyone will just know that if IBM runs Linux on the desktop, so can any other business. Any more FUD of that nature will be answered immediately and reflexively in everyone's mind with: "But IBM uses it just fine."

That's nice. One more piece of FUD will fall down and go boom. has the story [ ] that Red Flag Linux and Japan's Miracle Linux are going to work together to create a unified Linux for China, Japan and Korea. They'll work together on the development, but each company will have it's own branded distro. Their motive? The article says it's their hope to challenge Microsoft's dominance:

China's Red Flag Software Co. and Japan's Miracle Linux Corp. said they expect to complete the new system, called Asianux, by May.

"We want to have a unified platform throughout Asia," said Miracle Linux President Takeshi Sato at a news conference. Linux is an open-source system, meaning the code on which it is based is freely available to users who can contribute improvements. By contrast, Microsoft's source code is a company secret.

Some Asian governments are uneasy that Windows might contain features that would allow outsiders to spy on its users. They also dislike having to rely so heavily on a single foreign company for the development of their technology industries.

Here's the part that caught my eye: Oracle Corp. owns 58.5 percent of Miracle Linux.

Thinking of Switching?

If you are thinking of switching to GNU/Linux you might find this [ ] web site helpful, "How to Evaluate Open Source Software/Free Software (OSS/FS) Programs" by David Wheeler. IBM has plenty of helpful information [ ] also, but they should, in my opinion, put a link to Linux info on their home page.

Microsoft is also providing some "information" on Linux with its "Get the Facts on Windows and Linux [ ]" campaign. Their use of English gives a gal chills, with its Newspeak overtones. "Facts." Are you sure? It seems a bunch of "leading companies and third-party analysts" have determined that Windows has a lower cost of ownership and "performs better" than Linux. Lower than free? Microsoft finds analysts and companies willing to say they are better, but how could they stretch things around to find lower than free?

If I thought anyone here took what Microsoft says about Linux to heart, I'd bother to debunk it all, but we've cut our teeth on the likes of Laura DiDio, so we're a hard sell when it comes to the opinions of analysts. If you wish to examine the list of their analysts and what they say they found, it is here [ ]. The Industry Case Studies page [ ] is here.

To help you evaluate if Microsoft is providing facts or PR, here's an article [ ] in CIO magazine from September, which evaluated one of the reports, the one from "independent analyst" Giga Research, and also explained in the commentary why the author thought Microsoft commissioned Giga to do the study when it did:

Of course, it’s not shocking that a study commissioned by Microsoft should demonstrate the advantages of that company’s products over Linux, but the fact that the study was commissioned at all is revealing of the big company’s concern. The popularity of Linux—fueled by fear of placing too much control in the hands of a single (notoriously aggressive) vendor and by the widespread conviction that open source software can save you a bucket of money—is rising like the waters of the flood toward the software fortress that Gates built. IDC, a sister company to CXO Media, recently reported that sales of Linux servers now exceed those of Windows servers, and Gartner tells us that while the sale of servers running Windows is up 30 percent this year over last, the sale of Intel servers running Linux is up nearly 60 percent in that same time frame. In short, it’s a very good time for Bill Gates to pull out his checkbook and order up some market research.

How did Giga reach the conclusion that Linux, which is free, costs more than Microsoft? By comparing MS with high-priced Linux distros:

The Giga study found that the biggest cost advantages of Microsoft products came in comparison to the cost of Linux-based products sold by monster software makers Oracle and BEA. According to the study, large corporations paid $80,000 for Oracle’s database, compared to less than $40,000 for Microsoft SQL; and they paid $60,000 to BEA for development tools, compared to $12,500 to Microsoft Medium-size companies, the study found, enjoyed a savings of the same proportions.

What would the cost savings look like if the companies that paid big bucks to Oracle and BEA had used free Linux-based databases and scripting tools such as PHP and MySQL? Giga doesn’t know, because, as Cormier explains, they didn't look at any such companies.

It's a crying shame to have to be so cynical. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do. You can't just believe everything you read.

If Microsoft would like to know what else I like about Linux, here's something: I like it that Linus does his level best to tell the truth and that, no matter how much I dig, I never come up with anything slick, like these "facts" on the "lower cost of ownership".

09:30 PM EST

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