What Do Oracle, Hilton, Merrill Lynch, and Boscov’s Have in Common?

Written by jeremy on April 24, 2003

What Do Oracle, Hilton, Merrill Lynch, and Boscov�s Have in Common? This is a very good question and inside is a great answer. This article explains what linux is to not only the business type but also to the average computer user. The writer of this article Steve Elzey is a computer consultant that relies on the stability and cost effect solutions of linux.

Q:
What Do Oracle, Hilton, Merrill Lynch, and Boscov’s Have in
Common?

A:
Linux.

It’s true, some of the biggest companies in the world have switched their
computer operating systems to Linux. The list of companies making
the change goes on and on, and ranges from global companies like IBM
to local companies right here on Delmarva. In the past decade,
Linux has taken the technology industry by storm, boasting
outstanding security and dramatically lower costs, but most of
America still is in the dark about this “Alternative Operating
System”. Many small and medium sized businesses are still
wondering what exactly Linux is.

Early in my
career, I remember a long night of repeatedly re-installing Microsoft
Windows on a company pc because the operating system had corrupted
itself. At every turn, something went wrong and I was left with
cryptic error messages written to baffle even the most educated of
technology workers. Thoroughly frustrated, I was left wondering
“Isn’t there something better than this?”

Soon after, Ibegan looking for another option. What I found was GNU/Linux: a
unique operating system, distributed freely via the internet,
continuously updated by an enormous fellowship of technology experts,
and built on industry standards which allow for total customization.
Moreover, users around the country reported dramatically lower
reboots, virtually no virus vulnerability, and significantly less
server maintenance. I was hooked, and have since immersed myself in
the Linux system and in the open source community. It has fully
exceeded my expectations.

In my
consulting today, I find that Linux is perhaps one of the biggest
enigmas in today’s current computing climate. My customers ask
“What is it?”, “Why is it free?”, “Who
owns it?”, and “What can it do for me?”

I’ll
tackle the easy question first. “What is it?” Linux is
an operating system written by volunteers around the world. People
also refer to the collection of tools and software found on the
operating system as Linux. This is technically incorrect as those
tools are examples of Open Source Software. Open Source Software,
including Linux, is software that when either given away or sold,
also has the source code with it. Source code is the underlying
instructions which are inherent in all programs. The benefits of
this are huge because it allows for total customization of your
software to fit YOUR needs. Could you imagine using Microsoft Word,
and after it reformatted your document in a way you didn’t
intend for the 4th time, being able to simply edit the
programming source code so it would NEVER do that again?

Who owns it?
No one owns the Linux source code. It has been licensed under the
G.P.L. which allows individuals and companies alike to use Linux
royalty free. Why is it free and why would otherwise intelligent
people work on something for which they don’t get paid?
Actually the idea behind it makes perfect sense and has been
happening for hundreds of years. Think Amish barn raising. The
community will all pitch in to build neighbor Johnson’s barn, because
when they need a barn, neighbor Johnson will be there to help them.
It’s that simple. I don’t have the time to build an
email program from scratch. However, I do have time to contribute
work on a project with many others to create that program. What I
get in return is a robust email client that is equal to anything a
software company can sell me for a lot of money.

What Linux can
do for the small business or even enterprise is impressive. The three
most important areas are stability, security, and customizability:

  • To end
    users, Linux stability means that it rarely crashes, and it is
    written so rebooting is infrequently needed. Less downtime makes
    for greater productivity. This makes Linux perfect for the server
    environment. The worlds most popular Web Server in the world is the
    Apache Web Server, which is Open Source Software.

  • Security.
    Because of continuous updates by thousands of highly skilled
    technical experts, Linux has top notch security. The framework on
    which it is built is uniquely designed to minimize the ability of
    anyone to damage the operating system itself, or the software
    running on top of it.

  • Customization.
    Businesses are realizing that when you don’t pay multiple
    license fees for software, and you can customize that software as
    desired, you save huge sums of money. No need to buy module after
    module of add on’s, then pay fees for every pc in your
    offices. Buy (or download for free in many cases) ONE copy of the
    software, customize it, then copy it to as many computers as you
    like.

“Initially
it [our change to Linux] was about cost savings but it has been a
benefit to the business because we’re profiting from being more
flexible,” says Steve Yatko, CTO at Credit Suisse First
Boston in a recent Forbes interview. “Our trading volume has
increased [twenty-fold], and our customers are seeing better pricing.
And things that used to take days [like installing applications and
doing management tasks] now take minutes.” (Wall Street Embraces Linux: Forbes, 3/27/2002)

Did I find
that elusive “something better” I was looking for?
I think so. So has the entire business world.

Buffer

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