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Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 10 October 2002

Note: the comments below are the unabridged submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.


From: Peter Harrison
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Linux in Business

With the use of Linux by companies such as Air New Zealand,
the TAB, Government departments such as Housing New Zealand,
and Banks like the TSB, Linux has really come of age in
terms of providing real choices to the current market leaders.

Linux is in second place in the race for servers of Internet
sites. Apache, an open source web server, is the market
leader web server on the Internet, with about twice the
market share of the closest rival.

For mail serving the open source Sendmail and other open
source mail servers hold the overwhelming dominant share of
worldwide email servers.

Linux is now making a strong move into the corporate
environment. A primae example of Linux advantage is the
Linux Terminal Server Project, which allows companies to
leverage their investment in older computers, allowing these
older machines to remain productive for longer.

Several companies in Auckland have already implemented, or
are in the process of implementing terminal server
installations essentially replacing their current desktop

Apart from the cost advantages these companies are also
reducing their exposure to hidden risks. Current desktop
platforms have had major changes requiring upgrades to
entire company IT infrastructures over the last five years.
The licensing plans from the current market leader
perpetuate risky and unnessasary upgrade schedules,
providing little certainty for IT managers to plan for the

By implementing a Linux platform you take back control of
your upgrade schedule and license costs, eliminating both
the risk of forced upgrades, and the costs associated with them.

There is not much need to go on about the excellent security
and stability of Linux, since these are well known by now in
the IT industry.

Linux is not simply a desktop and server OS either. It is
now moving into embedded devices where it can be customised
to fit into the constraints of the embedded devices being
released. An example is the tablet PC's that are available
for Linux - right now!

This isn't to say that issues do not remain for Linux. There
are issues porting legacy applications written in older
languages to more modern portable languages such as Java.
The current challange for Linux and the open source movement
in New Zealand is the lack of accounting systems that are
customised for New Zealand conditions.

Of course, Linux is only a single element of the larger
collection of open source projects. There are now
alternatives for all major productivity software. The
classic example is OpenOffice and StarOffice, which allow
you to perform word processing, spreadsheets, presentations
etc, but for a fraction of the cost of the market leaders,
but with all the functionality and interoperability.

For futher information about open source and Linux in New
Zelaand please visit the NZOSS site at:

From: Peter
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: OSS Support

I don't know about business, but my experience as a home
user is that OSS has much better support and documentation
than Microsoft.  Free support is available 24/7 via
newsgroups, project home pages, howto docs, and others.
Linux also installs with more helpful documentation on your
PC.  Support is by volunteers so is patchy and limited by
their availability and competence - still I've found it
much better than equivalent support for MS products.

Also, you can buy Linux support from international or NZ
based companies.  I won't name them as I'd probably
unfairly miss some, but you could do a search or ask on the
nz.comp newsgroup.

As for suing someone when things go wrong, have you read
the Microsoft EULA?  Has anyone ever successfully sued MS
for damage caused by the admitted faults in their software?
(eg virus problems, security exploits, etc)  I don't see
any practical difference here.

Linux isn't easy, because it is different for someone used
to MS Windows.  But I've found it better for home use, as
it is more secure, reliable and configurable.

From: patrick cain
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: newzealand.biz

Some useless trivia:

I work just down the road from the address you published as
being attached to the newzealand.biz registration. I popped
down to Marylebone High Street today. This is a right posh
street with many expensive botique shops. The
restaurant 'The Providores'  run by
the famous kiwi chef Peter Gordon is just a few doors down.
And the fence featured on the site
www.whatshouldiputonthefence.com is just around the corner!

Unfortunately it didn't turn out to be some interesting
business -- just a private postbox shop:
www.oddboy.co.uk/nzbiz.jpg (postboxes are very uncommon in
the UK - virtually everyone, including businesses, have
their mail delivered direct to their address - wonder what
this person has to hide).

I didn't bother asking the shop who the box belonged to -
not sure if they legally have to divulge that info.

From: peter harrison
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: Answers to Linux Questions:

> And just where does the manager of a medium to large
> company turn if they want to replace all their Microsoft
> systems with OSS in a reasonable timeframe?

There are several copanies in Auckland providing this
service now - one of them my own. I won't mention it by name
here - since this isn't an advertising space.

> Who's going to provide the 24/7 on-site support they
> currently get for their MS software?

Are you kidding? When was the last time you tried to get
support for MS products. As far as Linux is concerned you
can get 24hr support by NewsGroups, LUGS, web etc. You can
also purchase services from local companies, and even - if
you are a larger company - the big vendors such as IBM, HP,
Sun, and Oracle.

> Who's prepared to stand up and take the blame when
> problems occur?

Okay - so how many people have take MS to court over their
broken and insecure machines after a virus hits them due to
a neglegent flaw in MS software? MS to not take the blame.

In the case of Linux, if you have a IT service provider you
can call of them to fix your problem. At least these
companies have access to the source, so they can fix any
problem rather than depending on patches from vendors.

> Who can be sued when promises are broken and
> expectations are not met?

Once more - I don't think there are many cases of customers
sueing MS - primarily because the EULA actually limits this.

> What third-party technical training resources are
> available to bring a company's own IT staff up to speed
> with OSS tools and systems?

Training providers in Auckland include Zombie, Spherion,
Ammes and perhaps a few more. There was a ComputerWorld
article a week or two ago about Linux training - and of
course there are a huge number of Linux resources online for
free, and many good books.

> They say that many a fortune is made during a
> recession/depression. I wonder if there's a really strong
> opportunity looming here?

Yes :-) I'm doing okay from Linux and Open Source.

From: Nathan Mercer
For : The Editor (for publication)
Subj: disagree with your comments on Linux hardware requirements today

Saw your comments on www.aardvark.co.nz on Linux vs Windows
hardware requirements:
"Switching from Windows to Linux will mean that many of
those scheduled hardware upgrades can be deferred. Unlike
Windows XP, Linux doesn't need acres of RAM, a mega-meaty
CPU and a hard-drive the size of a small country"

FYI according to the Red Hat 8 system requirements
recommended is
200 Megahertz Pentium
2.5GB hard drive
192MB for graphical installation

Meanwhile the Windows recommend system requirements are

PC with 300 megahertz
128 megabytes of RAM
1.5 gigabytes (GB) hard disk space

Its nice to see that you have fair and balanced reporting
on Linux vs Windows hardware requirements :)

From: David Mohring
For : Right Of Reply (for publication)
Subj: Linux Vs XP hardware requirements

Nathan Mercer, who BTW works for Microsoft , has quoted the
*recomended* not the *minumum* requirements for Redhat 8.0,
and does not mention that it is possible to create a
Linux-based network of computers for peanuts.

From: Stan Low
For : Right Of Reply (for publication)
Subj: Windows XP recommended / minimum specs

Meanwhile the Windows recommend system requirements are

PC with 300 megahertz
128 megabytes of RAM
1.5 gigabytes (GB) hard disk space

Its nice to see that you have fair and balanced reporting
on Linux vs Windows hardware requirements :)

He's kidding right???? XP running on 300 Mhz Pentium? And
with 128 MB RAM!!!!  That specs is barely enough for my
current WinME laptop.

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