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Linux will continue its soaring success in 2009. Yes, Linux is free and free is good but what about its other advantages over commercial Unix flavors and Windows? Here are the top seven reasons why Linux will continue to smash the competition in the face of the economy, the Cloud, and the smart administrator.

1. Frugality - In the Data Center or on the Desktop, Linux is a frugal choice for those who need to save space, money, and time. If you care about getting the most out of your current hardware, you need to take a very close look at Linux which still runs comfortably on standard Pentium II and Pentium III technology. Don't cast off your old hardware, put it to use. No need for continuous upgrades here. Bigger, better, faster, and more isn't spoken here.

2. Value - Even if you choose to select a commercial support option for Linux through Novell, Red Hat, IBM, HP, or Canonical, you'll have the best support and operating environment that your money can possibly purchase. The best operating system in the world backed by expert support--what else do you need?

3. Leveraged Skills - You already have people who know Solaris, AIX, or HP-UX? Congratulations, you have the necessary skills at your disposal to successfully deploy and support Linux in your environment. Linux is Unix. Sure, there are subtle differences but those are easy to learn. Rest assured that ksh, bash, csh and all their respective commands work exactly the same in Linux as they do in commercial flavors. Success is yours for the taking.

4. Virtualization - Linux is the platform of choice for the major (VMware and Citrix) Virtualization companies who could use or create any platform for their technology. Red Hat and Ubuntu are rising fast in this space and soon you'll have several choices for any virtualization flavor you desire--as long as you desire Linux-powered flavors.

5. Licensing - You won't burn a bunch of money on licensing your operating system or paying out all your hard-earned profits on client access licenses. Play it smart in '09 and save those license fees for something worthwhile like much-deserved employee bonuses, training, or even employee retention.

6. Performance - Quick question. Which operating system performs better on commodity hardware than any other available system today? You guessed correctly if you said Linux. Stellar performance is why Cloud Computing companies like Amazon.com use it for their platform of choice. Need great performance for your Oracle database? Ask Oracle about their Linux solutions.

7. Choice - Do you need a system that's security optimized? How about one that is a great Desktop system? Need an enterprise-class server system? Could you use a customer-operated kiosk? There is a distribution for almost every need or want. Go to Distrowatch.com and take your pick. Don't like any of the 200 or so there? Create your own custom distribution by going to rpath.com or grabbing VMware's Virtual Appliance Studio and have at it.

Can you think of more reasons why Linux will continue its success in 2009? I'd love to hear what you think.

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Last Post by sammy123
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Some day, when I can afford another computer, I'm in.
Been interested in this since I started with Macs.

Just one question. Is it economically feasible for a large law firm to switch to a different OS in the short term? Seems there would be a large expense in retraining hundreds of Windows workers.

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I don't see any big cost in "retraining". Employees can be easily taught that the will access the company's web page or internal web applications from Firefox and they can learn the basics of OpenOffice with a 1 or 2 day seminar. No user needs all the features of MS-Office or OpenOffice. I am considered some kind of "MS/Open-Office Guru" in my work and I guess I know how to use only 10-15% of the features(and this may be an overestimation)

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Linux already is a success which is a very subjective term, so the title may be over stating things. Do you mean on the desktop or in general? It is well behind on the desktop and this is an area where it has the most growth potential.
Frugality has several dimensions. As companies struggle for survival they are less likely to engage in risky practice such as switching operating systems. They want to appear solid and must keep up appearances. In order for them to switch in a tight economy they would need a stronger reason at least as a way of selling it, such as it is more efficient, a subtle but more convincing argument. They also may be hesitant to burn their bridges with Microsoft, etc.
However, individuals may see things differently. As their budgets are strained they may not want to hand over money which is tight to Microsoft or Apple. They have no loyalty or licensing arrangements to endanger.
The problem is that Windows comes with every new PC purchased and until that issue is resolved Microsoft will continue to enjoy windfall profits despite producing an inferior product. Businesses with old computers still have old licenses which are valid. Installing a replacement OS only makes sense if you aren't paying for an OS in the first place.

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@Danarchy,

Yes, it's feasible and I have done these conversions myself. For a large company though, it might be better to switch them to Terminal Services or some type of VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and thin client terminals. The cost and pain savings are very high.

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@L4Linux,
You're right and you echo my point in #3 in the list. Anyone who uses IE can use FireFox and the same goes for MS Office and OpenOffice.org. In fact, most of the Linux applications and tools are built with ease of transition in mind.

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@LinuxCanuck,
Your assertions are well thought out but I think, as I did when I wrote this piece, that Linux will continue its success in 2009 instead of losing ground because of the 7 issues I mentioned. If you've ever been in business and your budget is stressed from lack of client spending, you realize that you have to make some serious decisions and usually that means losing people but it doesn't have to. People, in service businesses, are your greatest asset and also your greatest cost but you can't do business without them.
The next most logical place to look to trim out excess 'fat' is hardware and software--especially if there is a free or cheaper alternative that is at least equivalent in performance and functionality to the pricey one.
Fear is a great motivator. People will do whatever is necessary for their businesses to survive including switching operating systems to save money.

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As a Linux admin, I can understand and respect your comments, but frankly, I can't agree. Although all your arguments are sound, they are leaving out some details which are quite important.

First of all, the thing holding back Linux in most areas is purely 3rd party support. Vendors don't want to spend time porting applications, and users certainly don't want to buy them again even if they do. "I just bought Photoshop for Windows, why would I want to buy it again for Linux?" Or whatever the application might be.

The next option for such a company would be to run a mixed environment. This gets expensive. Linux admins are generally more expensive than Windows admins and, if I do say so myself, Linux admins need to be more skilled than your average Windows admin. I'm not saying there aren't skilled Windows admins, but I've seen plenty of idiot Windows admins that can scrape by, but very few Linux admins that could do the same. So to keep your environment running smooth, you add the cost of another admin, unless you're able to find a capable and willing admin to handle both.

The next problem is hardware. Keeping around hardware so your users can still do the work they need is a pain. No one wants multiple machines, and Windows virtualization generally isn't a viable solution. Mostly because a virtual Windows machine (or a Thin Client) can't handle intensive software.

I happen to work for a large corporation. I'm sad to say that even in this large environment where they can easily afford a mixed environment, they have plans to drop Linux workstations. All Linux users have at least 2 workstation. One Windows and one Linux. Linux is used for some intensive applications where power, performance, and stability are key. Everything else is run on Windows. There are a few users that have made a stand and only use Linux, but require Thin Client access to get to Office and Outlook/Exchange. Those folks are rare. The company has decided that this mixed environment is too expensive. And so, they have made the decision to migrate to a single platform (Vista, of all the things). We still have and will have Linux servers and other unix based devices in the data center, as well as our HPC (which Windows, even with all the work Microsoft puts into HPC, can't touch), but the desktop solution is targeted for elimination. As a side note, applications ported to Vista are 3x slower than on Linux (as if that was a surprise).

I do believe Linux will continue to make in roads, but until 3rd parties find it cost effective to port, it'll be slow. And unfortunately it will need to be more than one as most companies are dependent on several applications, even small businesses.

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I like the details listed in the article. I think if the title was a little different, other people would have less to argue.

May be we could be more specific about which part of Linux is going to succeed this year - Desktop or Server. The article is very clearly speaking about server and enterprise level stuff. A more appropriate title for this article will be - 'Seven reasons why enterprise linux will continue to gain ground in 2009'. Success is something that has to be measured. So, unless we have a set target to say 'if we achieve this, we can call it success', we should probably stick with 'gain ground'.

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"You're right and you echo my point in #3 in the list. Anyone who uses IE can use FireFox and the same goes for MS Office and OpenOffice.org. In fact, most of the Linux applications and tools are built with ease of transition in mind."

Of course, if you run Windows, you can run IE and Firefox and Chrome and Safari and MS Office and OpenOffice and Windows IM, and Pidgin, and Photoshop. and GIMP, and... and... and...

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