Few weeks back, one of my friends working with a big enterprise asked for my help in getting his personal PC to the right health. He would use computers only for browsing, spreadsheets, preparing presentations, and for word processing. His PC had Windows installed all infested with viruses, that was making his daily working trouble. He told that he had installed a free Antivirus , but still was having such problems. Even in the past that he had to get his PC with a fresh installation of Windows, and now it was barely a month after that.
I was more than happy to introduce him to Linux. But he was not readily accepting the call since he had only used Windows, and had not even had a glance of Linux. But because I told him that Linux won't catch a virus, he was ready to go for a dual boot. Just then I took out my Laptop and showed him my Ubuntu installation, and asked him to use it for a while. After sometime he was comfortable to use all of its features that he wanted - the Firefox and the Open-Office met all his needs. To make him further convinced, showed him my installation of Sun's Virtual-Box, in which I had a Windows XP image running. He was so happy at this that he asked me to teach him on how to get on to Linux from the boot.
The next question he asked me was - "Why are we using Windows XP in office? We have to spend a good amount for its licensing every year. Added to that, we also have to spend on purchasing Antivirus and its licensing, while we can actually do it all with Linux."
Spending on the Stack?The question is not only on spending on one or two paid and closed software, but rather the stack of such software that is often built up. Let us not think about geeks who are able to modify the FOSS software such as the Linux to their use, but even from the perspective of end users like my friend, who use computers only to get their daily tasks done. For them, getting a functionality on their system means searching on the net for a software, finding the cheapest of all (many a times a shareware, and if they are not lucky - a malware), and installing them with a questionable security of your personal data. By just considering the Operating System, Antivirus software and Internet Security solutions now seem as an inevitable part of paid and closed software stack. Does anyone know, what is inside a closed software?
Compare this with a Free OS such as Linux. First, you are legally free to copy and redistribute the software. And the software comes for free "as in free beer" most of the time. Even if you spend, compare this to the cost you spend on the closed source OS.
This is true not just for simple end users, but also advanced users of computers. Those software companies who are providing solutions with FOSS stack, can provide their customers with reasonably cheaper solutions (stability - I am avoiding here, because it depends on the solution provider).
Leveraging business with FOSSEven if considering this on an enterprise scale, I am sure there should be enough testimonials to say how much one should have saved when using a Free Software stack. In either case you need a support staff to manage all the software and its maintenance, so then why not spend on a software that are know to contain comparatively lesser security holes, and fewer headaches on licensing, and of course saving on the expenses.
One thing however, is that it becomes necessary to choose a stack wisely that can reduce your overall costs. You have to weigh a lot of factors, but definitely, in your considerations, give a good space to the FOSS stack. I am sure every business can workout a good solution to beat such recessions with an optimal strategy with FOSS stack.
Some questions can come up in your mind when reading through this. I have left those for you to think. I can't cover every aspect of this discussion in a blog post like this. But feel free to post your comment on here.