20 Reasons Linux Will Boom in a Post-Recession World

Monday Oct 4th 2010 by Matt Hartley

Linux will benefit due to total cost of ownership, cross platform compatibility, security, and other issues.

The economy, as everyone is well aware, stinks. Yet the one factor that isn't being discussed enough in the media is how different technologies will likely evolve due to these new economic conditions.

One major change: while the days of costly software and expensive licensing is not likely to come to a complete end, I suspect we will see a sharp decrease in this area.

In this article, I’ll sharing twenty reasons why I believe we will see Linux "booming" in a post-recession world. Even though it's unlikely that the economic turmoil will prompt everyone to stop using proprietary operating systems completely, I am confident that a significant reduction in proprietary operating system usage is on the horizon.

1) Total cost of ownership – Despite what the marketing material from select proprietary software companies might like you to believe, the software provided by proprietary vendors comes at a cost. There's something to be said for having the ability to control the cost of your data and the software that runs it.

By using Linux, one can be assured that the future of any projects enabled by this open source solution will be in firm control of those who are running the controls. No faceless company is going to come along and suddenly change the rules as to how you run your projects or how their software can be used. With Linux based options in your arsenal, you're in control of your data. From beginning to end, you have control over how much or how little your company spends on Linux solutions.

2) Updates are automatic – For many desktop Linux users, it's something that we often take for granted. When we go to update our desktop operating system, we also have the option to update the software installed on our system as well...automatically.

This saves time and hassle for everyone involved as no one is left wondering if they have the latest application updates or if they need to be installed. In a post-recession world, time will be more valuable than ever. So anything that can be done to expedite keeping things running smoothly is a benefit for everyone.

3) Utilizing existing hardware – This point of using existing hardware might seem overly obvious to us. Yet one cannot ignore the fact that there is more involved with acquiring new hardware for new and existing computers. Being able to run with hardware already in our possession saves both time and money.

With this extra time saved, installs will run more smoothly as any hurdles can be tackled without needing to split time between tweaking things and checking on new hardware purchase orders, all in the same day. Linux allows existing computer towers and laptops to realize a second life with Linux distributions designed to run on the oldest hardware.

4) Utilizing existing peripherals – Ignoring the myth of Linux peripheral support being rather lackluster, the truth of the matter is that today's modern Linux distributions provide the very latest in CUPS (printing) and SANE (scanning) support.

There are seemingly unlimited numbers of peripherals out there that will work as needed on today's Linux desktop. Even for casual Linux enthusiasts such as myself, I have found nearly anything USB-based to be ready to go out of the box with little to no configuration required. Once again, no need to spend unnecessarily on the latest and greatest peripherals. Chances are very good that what you have will work without any extra effort.

5) Community supported – Perhaps one of the best kept secrets with modern Linux distributions is the unparalleled support available to non-profit and for profit groups alike. You’ll find forums and chat rooms for those not in a position to spend money for assistance. There are consulting firms and paid-support companies for users in the enterprise market needing something addressed right away.

At the heart of all solutions available is the belief that support should never be unobtainable due to a lack of financial resources.

6) New employment opportunities – Jobs. It's the one thing we all want to see more of – and as quickly as possible. The proprietary software world had a great run of it, now it's time to allow the open source world of Linux to continue its already wide-reaching expansion.

This means new job opportunities for those looking to support the growth of Linux for server and desktop-based solutions. Existing IT personnel may also find that by expanding into the Linux realm of expertise, they become more valuable to their existing employer.

7) New business opportunities – For those who've had enough of competing in a post-recession job market, there are self-employment opportunities abound for those willing to work the extra hours.

For example: consulting, administration support, book writing, documentation creation, and the list goes on. While the real money is clearly in supporting the enterprise world, those looking to get their feet wet could find alternative avenues. Training existing computer techs who support home users to also offer Linux-based offerings, in a seminar-like environment, might also be an effective income stream for techs looking to increase their bottom line.

8) Sustainable desktop and server platform environment – One of the things we have been criticized for here in the U.S. is spending money we don't have. And it seems self-evident that proprietary software spending may slowly become an expense that is difficult to justify. Some applications are arguably "mission critical," while there are just as many that are easily replaced with open source software running on Linux-based offerings instead. This in turn offers choices as to how we place importance on software.

In short, we can begin utilizing software that is not company dependent, thus allowing us to maintain a more sustainable software ecosystem in our offices and at home.

9) Room to grow in a tough market – Dell, along with smaller PC vendors, is selling Linux-based computers these days because the demand is growing. Clearly it's not at the same level seen with Microsoft Windows, but users of desktop Linux are proving to be a force to be reckoned with.

Linux offers no glass ceilings, the growth rate for this platform is completely dependent on where the community wishes to take it. Bundle this with its low barrier to entry and there will always be tremendous room to grow despite the tough economic market.

10) Cost friendly for those in need - Linux is free as in freedom. And in almost all cases, most distributions are free as in free beer as well. This means that any potential for economic reasons preventing someone from use Linux are completely nullified. So even if you're flat broke, nothing is stopping you from asking a friend for a blank CD, grabbing an ISO of some popular Linux distribution and installing it on a PC you already own.

11) Vulnerabilities dealt with quickly – I suppose most people would like to believe that when a security issue or related vulnerability is discovered, the issue is dealt with quickly. Unfortunately on the proprietary side of the fence, this is not always the case. With Linux as your platform of choice, you can rest assure that when a security flaw is discovered, it's being dealt with quickly and securely. Rather than waiting for the usual corporate talking head to give the right team the go-ahead for a patch to be released, you’ll find security vulnerabilities in Linux are dealt with swiftly, without excuses.

12) More choice in desktop management – You say KDE, I say GNOME. Others might instead point out that Xfce or LXDE is where it’s at for the ultimate desktop experience.

However you define your desktop environment, each of the selections for the Linux desktop is designed because Linux enthusiasts expect choices to be available. With proprietary operating systems, you’re stuck with whatever the OS you've selected gives you. This is not the case with Linux.

13) No proprietary vendor lock-in – Among the top five reasons I love the Linux desktop, one has to be the lack of any concern over proprietary vendor lock-in. With some proprietary applications, you might find yourself out of luck should you wish to export your data to a competing application. This is not the case when using open source software designed for the Linux platform.

Using agreed upon standards of cooperation, exported data from most Linux software translates into portability with the greatest of ease. And as more people seek open source alternatives to legacy software, portability is a critical piece of the software puzzle in this changing economy.

14) Plays well with other operating systems – Despite proprietary operating systems opting against working well with their open source counterparts, Linux is compatible with alternative operating systems by design. Whether it’s Windows virtualization on a Linux server or allowing Windows users to install Linux onto their PC through something like Ubuntu's Wubi, Linux makes platform cooperation simple. Distros bundled with Samba support provide file and printer sharing across the OS spectrum

One can only conclude that any perceived challenges with daisy-chaining operating systems comes from the proprietary side of the fence. Linux has certainly done more than its fair share to make cooperation an obtainable goal.

15) Linux is better for students – Linux is in my opinion, better for students than Windows or OS X. Without diving into the "we live in a Microsoft world" mentality, consider this. Anyone can run Microsoft Windows. But to master the intermediate options presented by a modern Linux distro will translate into that student being able to run any operating system without any problems. Combine this idea with the fact that if properly maintained, Linux can provide schools with savings on licensing costs, which in turn translate into funds for other school needs.

And finally, the nail in the proprietary coffin. Ten years from now, Linux is still Linux. The basics of how to get things done, largely unchanged and familiar. With proprietary operating systems, it's a learning curve with every new release.

16) Strong development – Similar to the issues raised with proprietary vendor lock-in, development with proprietary operating systems is dependent on the health of the companies that support them. There is no real partnership here, outside of the usual software developer outreach we've all come to know and love. If a company such as Microsoft or Apple finds themselves in dire straights for some unforeseen reason, development is likely to suffer.

With Linux things are different. Many of the components built into this platform are already done by people working on a shoestring. And any corporate involvement is done through a community-based shared approach, among multiple companies. Should one fall down, another is there to take up the slack.

17) Distribution choices – One of the founding pillars behind the concept of Linux on the desktop or on the server is choice and the ability to move from one to another with little hindrance along the way. The one thing that had me sticking with Linux years ago when I was still getting used to the differences was the option to "distro hop."

Despised by some, distro hopping when done by new users can provide for a perfect vehicle to discover which Linux experience is right for that person. In these trying economic times, it's refreshing to see that a new sense of discovery can be made available without the need to stop by the local big box store for the latest software.

18) Security – Having discussed the fact that vulnerabilities are addressed early with the Linux platform, it’s worth noting that anti-malware and firewall issues are taken seriously by Linux developers and users alike. Currently, malware is not really a threat to Linux or its users. Obviously as popularity ensues, this will begin to change.

On the firewall front, Linux uses something called iptables to address any firewall protection needs with Linux. And like most things with this platform, there are a number of front-end software applications to make managing firewall effectiveness as simple as they would be on Microsoft Windows.

19) Software is available free of charge – For the most part, software available to Linux users is provided free of charge. This means anyone with the desire to learn the application's learning curve is free to utilize it and, if need be, enhance any existing documentation to further the adoption of the software in question.

20) Ownership - If there was one single draw that keeps me using Linux on my desktop and for my web server, in addition to media delivery and other tasks, it’s ownership. With Linux, I not only own my data without concern of being locked out, I'm able to tweak my installations to meet my needs. This provides me with a sense of ownership I had never experienced with Windows or OS X.

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