Sunday, August 2, 2009

At the expense of GNU/Linux.

This article is based on a true story. The names have been changed to protect the individuals involved. It all occurred in a government department where an IT lady had a great idea about converting their computers to GNU/Linux. Let's call her Gillian. Gillian was assigned to research GNU/Linux and found out that it would meet all the needs her department required and could be easily used instead of Microsoft Windows. Moreover, this switch to open source software would save them a lot of money. Gillian made a nice proposition outlined in a paper that documented all the steps she and her IT coworkers needed to take for this transition to happen. A lot of people liked her idea and thought it was feasible. Gillian even managed to convince the higher-ups who thought it was a good idea as well. However, like in all bureaucracies large or small, she still needed to get approval from the management. Little did she know that the management never genuinely wanted to switch over. Instead, they took Gillian's research and did what they wanted to do from the beginning. They used it as a leverage to get the Microsoft representative to get them a much better deal. They said that they were going to switch over to GNU/Linux if Microsoft doesn't give them a discount. The Microsoft representative didn't want to lose this client and gave them a very nice deal comparing to what they were paying before, so they wouldn't switch their computers to open source software.

After Gillian saw what has happened with her idea she was furious. She realized that her boss never intended to switch to GNU/Linux and only played her idea to threaten Microsoft to get a discount. Her thorough research was used for the exact opposite than it was meant for originally. And she could not do anything about it.

A lot of companies are using GNU/Linux as a leverage to get discounts from software vendors. They don't actually care about Linux but use it as a tactic. It is sad that they are not seeing GNU/Linux as a real alternative that could save them money but only as a leverage for a gain from existing software vendors. What they do not realize is that if GNU/Linux was not a viable alternative, Microsoft would not feel threatened and would not offer them discounts. Most of these individuals do not even know what GNU/Linux is but they know that Microsoft and other software vendors listen when you mention switching over several hundred or even thousand computers to open source. Lots of shameless practices were committed in the name of GNU/Linux and this is just one of them. Hopefully in the future, companies will take GNU/Linux more seriously and realize that it is a very good operating system that can benefit their business needs and that even discounts from Microsoft vendors will not be enough to stop them from switching to open source.


  1. Funny how the business, may, make the mistake of changing everything over and losing business profits, just to see if they can get a deal on microsoft product. And if they did, why would they wanna go back. Look at SAP, they run entire outer-space worlds on Linux! Oracle too!

  2. Moronic managers have a lot of responsability in the current Global Economic Crisis.

  3. People need to get over this. Who lost.

    Without the research MS would have got more money. So MS lost from this deal. Ok not as much as many would like.

    Next time around MS will have to sell cheeper again. This is not a never ending game. At some point MS will not have enough income. Its the line I use on a lot of bosses doing this.

    Have you though about what will happen to MS if more people do what you have just done. Most have not. Then show boss the numbers of departments MS is killing. So meaning MS is no longer a company that can be trusted to be around for the long term.

    Cases when boss do this you need to step back thing what smaller projects can we do. Linux introduced slowly if you cannot do fast.

  4. FACT: Microsoft can only offer so many discounts.
    FACT: Free software will always remain free.
    FACT: Free software evolves faster.
    FACT: Its only a matter of time before the discounts mean nothing.


  5. Any chance this so called "Gillian" could publicly post her finding on the net. I'd love to get a copy of her research since I would like my stupid ass company to move to Linux as well.

  6. If you look at this a different way, if you're in a company with technology inept executives who have no intention of saving thousands or millions with GNU/Linux due to the principal-agent problem, you could at least convince them to pay less to Microsoft by making idle threats.

    I'd love to persuade my employer to switch, but the recently got $2+ million from the B&M Gates Foundation, so they don't have much incentive... at least they still have strong opposition to Vista and Windows 7.

  7. Still, Microsoft is not stupid and they are afraid; for a reason.

    But we have a decision to make. Are we going to make open software systems attractive to the non-technical entrenched or aren't we? All the innovation in the world, is lost; without clear, new, stable, benefits and that means without losing anything that they are basically familiar with. Like it or not.

    It's not all that hard to figure out. Most people are still on XP. Therefore we need a distro for XP converts, as job #1. Then, the next one would be for Vista converts. Those two alone are about 80% of all computer users. Then, we need one for OS-X(Ten) lovers.

    Don't give me this "Linux is not Windows" poo. Not only do I understand that it's a different beast, but also, I understand it can't be just like Windows or it would also have it's problems. Well duh. This is not something good to say to the 80-95% of all computer users. I screams that anything "Linux" is not for them. The last thing they want is start over; at square one!

  8. Part duh:

    Therefore, we should present them wit the exact opposite! We should be able to say it is just like XP (in familiarity) and BETTER. This is where the better, BETTER be obvious. ...add no, this doesn't even mean that we need to copy the GUI, pixel for pixel. It simply needs to follow the known placement of things that real people use! All the great ideas about this, in the world, are not helping YET. That comes AFTER 90% of everyone, is on open software.

    Stop putting the cart before the horse and snubbing our noses at the new users. We "ain't" there yet!

    This by no means ignores the great progress in these areas that we have recently made. But still, we're the world best at scaring new users back to Microsoft. If you think about Microsoft, that's pretty lame.

    It simple. You have the tech developers who care, and you have those who could care less! Which one do you think is making a real difference? Microsoft would have you believe, that open software, is selfish based. No, in this, MS is king. Let's show the world who cares, shall we? Slow down on the innovation. Just make a better mouse trap. It can't be unfamiliar, or hard to use. it must work; and better. The competition is the status quo.

  9. The future is coming! Microsoft will eventually turn open source just to stay in the game.

  10. 'Next time around MS will have to sell cheeper again.'

    @Anonymous at 8:02 PM, that's exactly what has happen with Netbook/Notebook makers trying to sell them with Linux pre-installed.

    Cheaper MS OEM licenses, plus some extortion, blackmail, etc.

    MS kinda usual way of make business, you know.

  11. Ridiculous premise. You write as if they don't really consider it an option. Of course they're willing to switch, otherwise they wouldn't be able to use it as leverage. They're willing to switch if they don't get the deal they want, but why go against the path of least resistance when you can still save money? Eventually Microsoft won't be able to keep slashing their prices, and that's when more switchovers will happen.

  12. Gillian should consider this a small victory. The research was sound and worthy of negotiation. A GNU plan was provided that helped the company save money, and in turn was still used to save some money.

    I would strengthen the research ten fold for the next round of negotitations... continue to break them and be ready for when MS says... go open source then...

    Then Do it!

  13. Thought provoking. Thanks for adding to the discussion.


  14. Linux lacks a marketing arm. Beyond low price you need to sell the unique value state of Linux to your boss(es)(assuming it has one other than is not MS).
    You have to retain employees and that involves change. Think of "climate change." That is global warming rebanded because people fear change, even change for the better. So you have to overcome this too, even if you can show Linux to be better.

  15. I am usually pesimistic, but in this case I see "the glass is half-full"...

    As some other already said here, the important thing is that Microsoft is forced to slash down its prices to compete... and the next time they will have to do it again, and again... till, eventually, the switch comes.

    Let's be realistic here, a few years ago Linux was not used even as leverage in negotiations with commercial sw companies. Now it is being used like so and probably, in some few cases the discount is not enogt and the switch is done anyway.

    In de future, more and more negotiations will end with a switch.

    The only thing we have to keep in mind is that "world domination" is a far away target for Linux and FOSS in general. In fact FOSS/Linux SHOULD not get total world domination anyway.

    But just think how great this tituation would be:

    - Year 2015
    - Microsoft "rules" 45-55% of the desktop market and 30-35% of the server market.
    - MAC OS X 30%-25% of the desktop market and 5-10% of the server market.
    - Linux (alone) does 20-25% of the desktop and 40-50% of the server market.
    - Competence pushing innovation and drivers for ALL!

  16. One possible reason why people reject so-called 'GNU/Linux' is that this name is plain UGLY, both written and spoken. This horrible, grotesque 'GNU' with capitals, plus this meaningless slash, hindering the beautiful, light, free-flowing 'Linux', are heavily responsible for the lack of popularity of the Linux operational system.

  17. We just call it "Linux."

  18. Earlier, Anonymous posted:

    >add no, this doesn't even mean that we need to copy the GUI, pixel for pixel. It simply needs to follow the known placement of things that real people use!

    That's largely true. Where I work, Vista was passed over for that very reason. In fact, they do as much as possible to get XP to look and feel just like Win2k. This was done several years ago to reduce help desk load and streamline workflow, in a company of about 1100 employees with dozens of fortune 500 customers with whom they must effectively interact daily (as in exchange MS docs).

    The other significant barrier to corporate acceptance is remote administration/software deployment. MS has tools to do this, but they are expensive. Where I work, they use Altiris to deploy software to PCs en mass and something ePolicy to assure that permissions and desktop configurations are uniform. Although linux already both facilities, making those facilities more accessible/palatable to the windows-minded would be very significant.

  19. The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software.

    Linux is a generic term referring to Unix-like computer operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Their development is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed by anyone under the terms of the GNU GPL[5] and other free software licences.

    Does this not give out roughly the same explanation? Its a unix like operating system. Same thing, different name.

  20. What do you expect when IT Management basically comes from outside IT? 10 years ago or less, management came from either the software development side of IT, DBA side, or the System Admin side of the house.

    Now that many IT managers have little to no exposure to IT operations, how do you expect them to make sound technology decisions? They depend upon seminars, publications, etc. to make their decisions. I encounter this scenario almost on a daily basis. This is just one of the reason so many IT projects are failing today.

  21. This is a true fact of our daily life problems.Most of our decision makers are stubborn enough and money oriented.They think if a deal is made with money that will solve the problem.They are so wrong it will only things worst.

  22. But it is good at long term because more discounts means that Microsoft will have less money to combat linux.

    People should not switch to linux merely to save money but to have more freedom, security, flexiblility and vendor independence. If they are dumb to not use linux whenever it is possible we cannot make anything.

  23. Who is naive enough to find this sory surprising ?

    The main role of GNU is to propose an _alternative_, i.e. a concurrence to the de facto monopoly.

    Thus, with a better concurrence, the client can have a better deal. This is only how real woorld works.

    And when GNU proposes truly equivalent solutions to other systems, and at the same price, then it wins. (it's the case in my company, SLED is gaining our desks).

  24. There are some organizations that actually do switch. It's a small proportion and a lot of them are outside the US, but the number of Linux users is going up ever so slowly. It has arrived at this point from nothing essentially without marketing, as someone wrote. So I say patience, it will happen, somewhere in the world.

    On a related note, I recently talked to a bunch of teachers in a high school. Their Windows machines had been upgraded to Office 2007, and to say that they were displeased with the new interface would be an understatement. I was surprised, because I thought that the new thing was actually an improvement, but these teachers absolutely hated hunting for things in the new menus. Some flatly refused to use it. I don't know how widespread this reaction is, but it might be an opening for OpenOffice.

  25. Same-same thing happened to me. I was supposed to be working on a research Master's degree; in co-operation with my State Government. Did the research.

    I said Linux was more secure and technologically superior. The lawyer in charge said I couldn't say that, but that Linux was a smaller base with fewer threats. I spent another two days and two pages of research to disprove that.

    The next week, my door access was disabled and the government had told my faculty dean I was at risk of being a violent psychotic. The faculty investigated. I was given another scholarship to do a different study.

  26. IMHO for windows converts KDE3 with windows keyboard shortcuts is ideal - menu organised similarily, windows too. I dont know if KDE4 can be configured this way. As for MacOS-X converts - Gnome, or Xfce with Platinum window decorations. Converting from MacOS-X will be easier, because OSX is based on BSD and is ruled by the same principles.

  27. "Microsoft would not feel threatened and would not offer them discounts" Isn't it telling that Microsoft knows its products are of very poor quality as compared to GNU/Linux and the only way they can be in the business of selling software is by selling their software at a forced discount. I would not be surprised as to one day if they start giving away their OS's just to do GNU?linux in. Without the freedoms of course. Like they did with Internet Explorer just to take Netscape down.