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Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 08:01 AM EST

You know how Microsoft FUD hammers home the idea that total cost of ownership of using GNU/Linux is higher than with Windows, because of needing to train administrators? Well, look at this EU FLOSSpols survey of FLOSS use by 955 European local governments, which found that "FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than non-users – FLOSS use appears to reduce administrator workload per PC, and IT departments with high workloads are more likely to want a future increase in FLOSS use." The survey was done in March of 2005.

So even if everything Microsoft and buddies said were true, it appears that it would be a one-time expense that, once resolved, leads to perpetual savings thereafter, because you'll need fewer administrators, as they have less to do and so can administer more PCs. And there are administrators already trained and available.

What? Microsoft didn't tell you that part? This makes perfect sense to me, because it matches my personal experience, switching from Microsoft Windows to GNU/Linux. There was an initial adjustment, but not huge, thanks in my case to Mandriva and Knoppix, but the relief from not having to deal with all the malware and endless problems was palpable. Some other findings as you read on.

It was interesting to see that some use FLOSS but don't know it, not realizing, for example, that Apache is Open Source. The other findings:

  • Roughly half (49%) of local government authorities report some intentional use of FLOSS. However, a large additional population (29%) reports using FLOSS software, such as GNU/Linux, MySQL or Apache, but are unaware that these are FLOSS.
  • Within organisations, partial use on servers dominates (40%) followed by partial use on desktops (16%). 20% experiment in pilot projects. Complete use is very rare, whether on desktop or server.

  • Demand exists: 70% of FLOSS users and 38% of non-users want to increase FLOSS use. Awareness of FLOSS leads to increased willingness to use it regardless of current use/non-use.

  • More than a fifth of those wanting to increase FLOSS use want a complete migration to FLOSS.

  • Perceived advantages of FLOSS include: customisation and the ability to combine it with existing proprietary systems. Barriers perceived by non-users include cost of training and being the first among peer organisations to adopt FLOSS. The experience of current users leads them not to see such barriers, and to appreciate the advantages more strongly than non-users.

  • Organisations valuing interoperability are much more likely to increase FLOSS use.

  • For non-users, who are more likely to use external maintenance services, a sense of vendor dependency and the need to customise software are strong drivers to future FLOSS use.

  • Small budgets lead to “unaware” FLOSS use rather than intentional use or non-use of FLOSS.

  • Licence fees account for 20% of IT budgets. Half of all respondents find this too high. This perception leads to increased future FLOSS use, especially among current non-users.

You can get the survey and policy paper, "Results and policy paper from survey of government authorities", as a PDF, if you prefer, here.


  


Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD | 266 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 08:46 AM EST
Two Corrections threads in one day. Where is every one :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: ThrPilgrim on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 08:47 AM EST
Keep links clickable

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: tredman on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:08 AM EST

To me, the only thing new about this story is the scale, since we're talking about the European Union government. But this is not unprecedented.

If you want to know how you can reduce support costs with Linux just ask The City of Largo, FL (5 separate links provided). I used to be a Largo city resident (wonderful city; I live about a dozen miles north of there now, but still work in the area), and remember when this story originally broke. None if it suprised me, but it was good to see somebody actually create some concrete numbers in a practical exercise.

---
Tim
"I drank what?" - Socrates, 399 BCE

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:08 AM EST
It is probably because I have an MCSE that my flesh creeps at the very thought
of a flock of MCSEs flocking into Linux and/or BSD.

I see more hope and more substance in the engineering schools' graduating scads
of Linux-savvy students.

This is not to say that pigs will not fly and that MCSEs cannot be trained into
rock solid Linux people - After all, I am one of the oinkers.


---
Know your enemies well, because that's the only way you are going to defeat
them. And know your friends even better, just in case they become your enemies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:19 AM EST
Also, in my experience, *nix admins seem to be more effective
admins because there is so much versatility in *nix. In
Linux, this is especially true because it is all open.
However, the learning curve can be steep, but the rewards
are tremendous. It feels good to be able to say "I can
make Linux do anything I want. If I cannot its only because
of my lack of knowledge, not because it can't be done."
:)

[ Reply to This | # ]

HOW can you use Apache, etc, and not know they're FLOSS?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:20 AM EST

After all, they do have license files in the package and/or on the download
page. Installing software without understanding the licensing can lead to
expensive lawsuits and your head on a platter. So, if these people are using
Apache, GNU/Linux, etc without understanding the licenses, then how much pirated
proprietary software are they likely to be running, that they just
"found" or made extra copies of?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anti-FUD: Linux is Easier to Both Use and Administer
Authored by: Prototrm on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:25 AM EST
Even when you only have a single user to administer, Linux is the better choice,
in my experience.

A few months ago, my wife (who had never touched a computer before) wanted to
start using a computer to write letters, keep a simple spreadsheet with
financial data, surf the web, and use email. Instead of going the obvious path
for a novice, and give her Windows, I gave her Linux instead (in this case, Suse
10, the same distro I use).

First, there wasn't anything she needed Windows for. Her needs were simple, and
she was uncomfortable with all the problems she was seeing in the news about
Windows. She was afraid that she would let something attack her machine that
would affect the entire home network, and put *me* out of business (I work at
home). She knew she wasn't familiar enough with a computer to recognize when she
was doing something stupid.

Linux solved the problem for both of us. And, thanks to Yast, she is even
comfortable with keeping the OS up to date. I have very few problems with the
machine, and most of the time, can just forget she even uses a computer (which
she now does all day). If Linux is this easy to administer with a total n00b as
a client, I can just imagine how simple it is with an office full of people who
know what they're doing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freakish Karama
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 09:36 AM EST
As I'm reading the report I get an email that's advertising a MSFT Bus Event. I
thought this was funny:

"Microsoft's Mobile Event Experience is rolling into town with a load of
exciting technical products that can help you achieve your business goals"

They're definitely rolling into town with a load of something, but I'm not sure
it's useful for anything beyond making compost.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 10:35 AM EST
This part of the report caught my eye.

"The survey has been conducted in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,
Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and
the UK, in 10 local languages."

14 countries. About 380 million people give or take a few million. I cant recall
the total GNP for this lot at the minute but Im willing to bet it exceeds that
of the US.

In short thats (1) a lot of people and (2) a huge potential market.

This sort of response in a market this size is a marketing depts dream. Clearly
its down to the sales teams.

--

MadScientist

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux to the rescue!
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 10:35 AM EST
While the story it off-topic, it is relevant to this line of discussion.

I bought an external DVD burner yesterday and plugged it into my work laptop to
do a backup. All night last night I fought with that thing, and I couldn't get
it to work right at all. I had driver problems, I had to update to service pack
2, it didn't want to connect thru a usb1.1 slot, couldn't get the software that
came with it to recognize the drive and had to go to the store and buy Nero only
to have it burn coasters, and around 11pm I gave up. This morning I booted the
PCLOS 9.2 livecd and used KB3, working flawlessly the very FIRST time.

Yeah, windows is great :|

[ Reply to This | # ]

"FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than non-users"
Authored by: pogson on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 10:46 AM EST
"FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than non-users"
In most of the systems I work on, the before-pogson situation is a raft of thick clients (standard PCs with drives, booting from the drives), while the after-pogson situation is a raft of thin clients (no drives, booting from a single server). With this technology, one has only to administer a single server to manage a large number of clients. M$ can do that too, but still charges a per-client licence fee, and the number of re-boots skyrockets. With *nix, an administrator becomes like a Maytag repairman... With the multi-core/multi-processor servers loaded with RAM, perhaps in a fault-tolerant cluster, I do not see any limit to how many clients an administrator can handle. Some of the new servers have tens of gigabytes in RAM sockets with 16 processors and can handle hundreds of clients. Some of the new thin clients have no fans or drives and are essentially as reliable as an LCD monitor, so apart from vandalism, catastrophe or a rare hardware failure, a *nix admin rarely has to leave the server room, and with SSH or other remote admin software, may not even need to leave home. Robots can do some routine things like scanning for processes not permitted to use more than x% of resources, backups at 0200 and configuration can set resource limits and user lists. Once the system is set up there is little work to be done. A simple installation takes only a few hours and a typical installation with many services takes only a few days.

I do not understand why so many are so reluctant to move from the desert to the garden of Eden. I think it is a matter of size. If you can look around the room and conceive all the problems and solutions instantly, the change is conceptually easy. If the empire extends to several geographic locations and uses diverse configurations, the change is conceptually difficult. My advice is to make the change in each small part without worrying about the whole picture. It will work because of the standard connections.

---
http://www.skyweb.ca/~alicia/ , my homepage, an eclectic survey of topics: berries, mushrooms, teaching in N. Canada, Linux, firearms and hunting...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Only the Oldies should need Training
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 11:07 AM EST
total cost of ownership of using GNU/Linux is higher than with Windows, because of needing to train administrators

Even this assumes that the administrators need training. These days, a good proportion of up and coming administrators are likely to be familiar with Linux already from use at home or college.

One could even say of a college leaver going into IT, who has not used Linux (at least alongside Windows), that they do not have their finger on the pulse, and that they lack some of the inquisitiveness and initiative that might be expected for the career. I would be doubtful about employing one such, even for a Windows job, because using Linux cetainly leads to and demonstrates a deeper understanding of the subject.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Both Microsoft taxes...
Authored by: pogson on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 11:52 AM EST
Licence fees account for 20% of IT budgets. Half of all respondents find this too high. This perception leads to increased future FLOSS use, especially among current non-users.
OK, this is not really a correction but this detail is in the original article and it separates the licence fee from the other Microsoft tax of having to replace hardware sooner by design. If we consider that a Windows+Office licence may cost $750 for a $750 PC that must be replaced every time Billy suggests it, the % of IT budgets due to using that OS is much higher than 20%. If we follow Bill's advice every 3 years, the cost of licences is about $250 per year and the extra cost of hardware is abut $125 per year assuming hardware can last six years, so the % due to Microsoft is more like 30%.

Put another way, the return on investment for switching to Linux is astronomical. If we get the value Microsoft claims, $375 per year per client for $125 (hardware cost only), we have a 300% per year rate of return. With the cost of installation and maintenance, which should be less for Linux than Windows because we rarely have to re-install, and some retraining, I think this is realistic. If we switch from thick to thin clients at the same time, there is nothing at all to debate as thin clients have fewer moving parts and a ten year life is reasonable. If we use Windows terminal server and the hardware costs drop, the return on investment for switching to Linux skyrockets as we get the same value for even less. e.g. a thin client may cost $750 but save $250 worth of electricity over its lifetime by using LCD and fanless/driveless low power CPU configuration netting $500. Over ten years, that is $50 per year so we get $375 value per year for $50. Seems like a no-brainer. 8-)

---
http://www.skyweb.ca/~alicia/ , my homepage, an eclectic survey of topics: berries, mushrooms, teaching in N. Canada, Linux, firearms and hunting...

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think the biggest problem with MS TCO FUD is this:
Authored by: Mecha on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 11:58 AM EST
Most of the time, those companies that are switching to Linux are doing so at
the advice of those Sys Admins within the company that are already familiar with
it. MCSEs that have no experience with it are not going to recommend it. Why
should they, it threatens their jobs. So the cost of training your IT staff is
minimized and can be spread out over time. Also, they most probably already had
a linux server or two (in my experience that has been the case).

---
** This is my signature and I happen to like it **

[ Reply to This | # ]

Unix is more efficient for the sysadmin
Authored by: RealProgrammer on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 12:07 PM EST
Unix (including Linux) machines allow me to leverage my time better. There is
just a lot more hands-on time required to set up and manage a Windows machine.

A hidden factor is licensing. It takes me about as much time (and mental
energy) to deal with the licenses for the software on a Windows machine as it
does to do the actual work. With a Unix machine, the licenses (if any) are for
network-wide applications. I don't have to keep track of which machine uses
which copy of the license.

Even with Windows' Remote Desktop, I find I have to physically touch the Windows
machines a lot more often than the Unix ones when the machine requires service.
Couple that with the higher level of problems on Windows generally, and I have
to visit the Windows boxes a lot more.


---
(I'm not a lawyer, but I know right from wrong)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 01:52 PM EST
"So even if everything Microsoft and buddies said were true, it appears
that it would be a one-time expense that, once resolved, leads to perpetual
savings thereafter"

I've been making this point repeatedly on Slashdot and elsewhere: the cost of
paying for Microsoft MUST inevitably be higher than the cost of OSS, almost
irregardless of the cost of conversion (which don't have to be anywhere near the
costs people believe if you do it right - which means doing it on a planned
basis over time.)

The future is commodity hardware running open source software supported by OSS
IT services companies. This is the ONLY way we're going to get cheap,
ubiquitous, high quality software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Self-assembly Linux-for-Windows screensavers
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 01:56 PM EST
Get your self-assembly Linux-for-Windows screensavers here IBM DeveloperWorks

Leave your Windows machine alone for a few minutes, it starts running Linux. Wonderful !

[ Reply to This | # ]

Windows What?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 05:37 PM EST
We've had an engineering department Linux server farm that has been running
flawlessly for five years. Essentially all we have to do is change the backup
tapes every day and once and a while dust out the machines. Our MIS department
once asked when we take them down for system maintenance. When? Never! They
work 24/7/365 with no downtime on commodity hardware. The corporate Windoze
servers are tempermental at best - and the setup using a domain controller is
guaranteed to cut your system speed by two-thirds. Whenever we receive a new PC
from MIS, we promply disable the domain controller to workgroup and connect them
to our Samba server.

No amount of M$ fud could ever change my mind that switching back to Windoze
servers is best.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Windows What? - Authored by: Wol on Friday, January 20 2006 @ 08:33 AM EST
    • Windows What? - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2006 @ 10:38 AM EST
FOSS not FLOSS
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 06:05 PM EST
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)--a term used to refer to both movements (not software per se). Where did you get "FLOSS"??

Richard Stallman has been very adament that there are two movements--the Free Software Movement is about preserving the rights of software users' Freedom; the Open Source Movement is, according to him (per my own personal email conversations with him), a movement stressing the technical and business benefits of source availability, modifiability, and redistribution. Most Open Source Softare is, therefore also Free software. It's kinda like you are German or you are American--you're still a person, though.

I don't have a link for you but my recollection of first use of the term, FOSS, was from a U.S. government study of some kind... back a few years..

Matthew C. Tedder

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: LarryVance on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 08:23 PM EST
For a few years I worked as the unix admin (and some linux and some M$). I
worked for AT&T Broadband doing their database administration and got to see
a joint venture between AT&T and M$ that was interactive TV through their
cable television settops. The server farm was constructed from MS-Windows
'servers'. There were 50 servers and a huge network structure and several
spares preconfigured to slip into place to support the workload of the ITV. The
system was way underpowered and when I left there 3 years ago it was mothballed
because it wourl not run.

I also had the oportunity to support the development environment there with
linux boxen. With a small cluster of 3 machines we were able to simulate the
workload that the 50 MS-Windows machines could not.

And on top of that the linux software that was developed was not restricted to
only the WinTel platform. It could run on machines from lowly desktops to our
multi-CPU highly available servers.

Linux is definitely more apt for servers and for administration. I still have a
few gripes about linux when it comes to configuring things that are not directly
supported in the distributions I use. Hardware vendors and software vendors are
less than helpful in supporting linux.

---
Never underestimate your influence!
Larry Vance

[ Reply to This | # ]

Windows TCO: Infinite?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 11:48 PM EST
There's something that's been bothering me for awhile now about TCO comparisons
involving Windows.

That is the fact that, unless you happen to actually BE Microsoft Corporation,
you cannot own a copy of Windows. At most, you can have EULA-granted rights to
use a single copy of Windows, under certain specific conditions.

(If you've ever read about what happens when you try to donate obsolete
computers bearing Microsoft software to a charitable organization, you know what
I'm talking about.*)

I might be able to walk into CompUSA and "buy" a copy of Windows XP,
but Microsoft might not let me sell it to someone else -- so is it really
ownership? Perhaps in the DRM-friendly, Nouveau-IP Business 2.0 sense, it is --
but not in the traditional real-property common-law sense that we've developed
over the last thousand years or so, which is where I live.

To me, this means that ANY claims of TCO related to Windows are automatically
suspect, because one cannot legally (or practically) "own" a copy of
Windows.

Am I completely off base here?

* This is a situation where a decent Linux distribution could pick up a lot of
good press; I'm disappointed that it hasn't been exploited yet. But I know that
the idea of supporting "quaint" hardware well is still pretty radical.
Sex sells, even in FLOSS.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Too many acronyms
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2006 @ 01:31 AM EST
I think it's fair to say there's too many acronyms in the title. This is getting
isolationist.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Survey of EU Government FLOSS Use Rebuts MS TCO FUD
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2006 @ 05:53 AM EST
Yeah, you need fewer people to administer FLOSS systems because they are
'administrator friendly'.
But what do you do with the excess people?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poor companies with few administrators favor 'free' software, maybe?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 20 2006 @ 09:50 AM EST
"FLOSS users administer 35% more PCs per IT administrator than
non-users"

Could it be that companies with limited funds and, hence, less administrators
per PC, are more prone to use FOSS because it free as in beer?

Just an alternative thought that might explain the statistics ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

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