Why Linux will win the OS battle

These are the notes from a talk I gave back in '03. Of course the points are still all valid, perhaps more so today.

View this page as series of slides through the magic of xslt.

  1. Preview of Topics
    1. History of Linux
    2. Demo of Desktop apps
    3. Disadvantages
    4. Advantages
    5. Future

      Interrupt at any time with questions and comments - we are all friends here.

  2. A wee bit of history

    What is an operating system? What are examples?

    Linus Torvalds released his hobby version of Linux to the net on Aug. 25, 1991.

    Many different flavors of Linux: RedHat, Lindows, SuSE, Caldera, Corel, Slackerware, Debian, RedFlag and a zillion others.

  3. Battle for Desktop and Server Markets
    1. Servers, what are they? where are they in the foodchain? [Dell].

      In Goldman Sachs article Fear the Penguin they claim Microsoft has much to fear from the penguin for the fight for the server arena.

    2. Desktops
  4. Demo of Desktop:


    1. GUI
    2. Games
    3. Ximian Evolution - email, calendar, contacts
    4. Phoenix (or Firebird) - latest incarnation of Mozilla browser
    5. Opera - mouse gestures, multiple tabs openings
    6. Writer - a Microsoft Word replacement
    7. Draw - simple draw program
    8. Gimp - Image editing like Photoshop
    9. gFTP - standard GUI ftp client
    10. Calc - an excel replacement
    11. Impress - a powerpoint replacement
    12. Project - a Project planner program
    13. Eclipse - an IDE
    14. mySql 4.0 - a free, open source database

    Are these ready to replace Microsoft Office on your desktop now?

  5. Disadvantages:


    1. Software availability/compatibility (WINE)
    2. Training - staff needs to be retrained in use of new tools
    3. OpenOffice is 95% compatible with Microsoft products

      This is annoying and bad (but perhaps better than different versions of Word). Office 11 with its emphasis on XML may make things easier, but may make things worse.

    4. Fonts! - Could somebody please load some decent fonts?

      Ok, you can download TrueType fonts and install them, but its a hassle.

    5. Cut/Paste and Drag/Drop issues
    6. Desktop users still have to be fairly computer savvy
    7. Very customizable
    8. More skill is needed to maintain a Linux server than a Windows2000.
  6. Advantages:
    1. Total Control

      The operating system can be optimized for particular applications like robots, and embedded devices. 'Road Map' of the future is open for debate. [Disappearing Tools story, Microsoft and the Orange phone deal.]

    2. Cheaper Hardware:

      From businessweek: Online stock trading site E*Trade Group Inc. (ET ), for example, replaced 60 $250,000 computers that run on Sun's Sparc chip with 80 Intel-based Linux machines costing just $4,000 a pop.

    3. Stable royalty future (no concerns about Palladium)[Movies,Email,Asia,TurboTax]. No concerns about what Microsoft will charge for its software next year .
    4. Fewer virus attacks (for now)
    5. Free Office Suite Available

      "We already have all of the tools, in open-source software, necessary for 80% of office workers in the world: an office suite including spreadsheet, word processor, and presentation program; a Web browser, graphical desktop with file manager, and tools for communications, scheduling, and personal information management," - Linus Torvalds

    6. Help available via web sites and forums all over the world
    7. You don't have to worry about being sued for not having enough licenses for Word or Windows98 in your school or company
    8. Free Operating System

      Does this imply cheaper 'Total Cost of Ownership' (TCO)? or even a better 'Return on Investment' (ROI) than Windows?

    9. Very customizable
  7. What is going to push Linux into the mainstream in the next few years? It's not going to happen from within the US.
    1. Foreign Governments
      flag flag flag flag flag
      1. National Security
        1. No backdoor security concerns for foreign governments with Linux. Can someone at the N S A read their Microsoft computer's contents? (n s a.dll). Remember the Boeing Jet?
        2. No concerns that their licenses will be turned off during a war if they use Linux.
        3. (Would the US government have used an operating system written by the Russians during the cold war?)
      2. Don't like having to send millions of dollars to Redmond
      3. The new Licensing 6 plan makes it more expensive and software may be getting more difficult to pirate with Palladium
      4. National Pride - "nous n'avons besoin d'aucun logiciel ├ętranger"
    2. Foreign Outsourcing

      The current trend is to ship software development offshore to countries like India [V.J].

      In some cases it makes sense to offshore the hosting of the application also. [Medical Info Site story].

      If hosted in the foreign country, would an Indian company pay license fees for Windows Advanced Server Edition on hundreds of servers? The economic pressure would be to use Apache, JBoss and Linux. This will give added support to open-source application servers. As more Indian firms use these open source tools, they will develop more extensions and new families of tools to pump back into the open source family of server tools.

      The next generation of Office productivity tools may well be written in Germany, India, China, and Czech Republic.

    3. US Computer Science students

      Many students are leaving college with an avid open source view.

  8. What may derail Linux?
    1. Fragmentation of the many distributions
    2. The SCO lawsuit
    3. Microsoft's Longhorn (2005-2006) and Project Green
    4. Microsoft may go on the offensive with price deals
  9. "I am a friend to anyone who is the enemy of my enemy."

    Microsoft is in so many markets, that many major software companies are their competitors. That gives some incentives for them to release their software on linux. For example, Oracle knows each dollar spent on a Windows operating system is strengthening their most serious competitor for Oracle's flagship database product. It's in Oracle's best interest to encourage everyone to use Linux or Mac so as not to feed their competitor. Microsoft's problem is that almost everyone is their competitor.

    Market Microsoft Product Competitors
    Databases SQL Server Oracle / IBM
    MiddleWare .Net BEA, Oracle, IBM, Sun
    Office Suite Office Corel, Sun,
    Search Engine MSN Google, Overture
    Personal Finance Money Intuit
    PDA OS Windows CE / CDNF Palm, Linux
    Phone OS Stinger Symbian
    Computer OS Windows Apple, Unix
    Games XBox PS/2,???
    Business Software GreatPlains SAP,
    Media MediaPlayer9 Real
  10. From an economic view, what should be the response to Linux from the US?

    We can try to encourage the rest of the world to use Microsoft for as long as possible. This will increase our country's wealth, since foreign companies will be buying an American product. But long term, we are better served by joining in early and learning to use Linux better and write applications that we can sell to the rest of the world.

  11. Notes:
    1. Winners and Losers:
      Winners: IBM, Dell, BEA, Oracle, Intel, AMD.
      Losers: Sun(?), Microsoft.
    2. As of 2003, its fairly easy to install
    3. "You can fix it yourself"

      If your mission critical app has a problem with the Operating System, you can cut your own release and fix it.

    4. IBM and Oracle are behind Linux bigtime.
    5. You can buy service contracts from many different companies (Red Hat, IBM, HP,...)
    6. OpenOffice.org

    7. Ideal for public schools

      Often school who have all sorts of different donated computers. The school can install the same OS on each box.

    8. Conversions

      Provincial German town drops Microsoft for Linux

    9. Retraining and porting to a new OS

      Although costly to convert to Linux, most people forget that you have to convert between Windows versions as well. Its not free to train and port from NT to XP.

    10. Project Mono

      Miguel de Icaza's project to create an open source version of Microsoft's .NET framework - the C# compiler, run-time and class libraries

    11. dotgnu.org

      Another clone at dotgnu.org

    12. Lindow's RevShare Program

      Lindows offers a new revenue stream for PC builders.

    13. Apple's Darwin is based on open source BSD unix
  12. Some references:
    1. A Seattle Times reporter's comparison of Windows XP and RedHat Linux.
    2. Linux overview.
    3. A user's story of his switch to desktop linux.
    4. Thanks to http://www.sjbaker.org/tux/ for the pictures of tux
    5. Market Share of Linux and Windows
    6. SuSE or RedHat.
  13. Review of Topics
    1. History of Linux
    2. Demo of Desktop apps
    3. Disadvantages
    4. Advantages
    5. Future

      Final Comments: Is Linux appropriate for all situations? Is Linux going to cure cancer? Is Linux going to bring about democracy in the third world? Will Linux topple Microsoft as the dominant operating system world-wide?