Have you ever wondered how many business people don’t utilize a PC computer in the running their businesses? On the other side, how many of the business people that utilize a PC use them over an one-hour a day? Of the people who use a PC over one-hour a day, how many people experience some type of computer crash (computer lock up, freeze, or worse), at least once per week? How about those people that spend four or more hours a day on a PC and experience an average of one to two crashes per day? And, how many PC computers are running on Microsoft Windows? And, what about all those upgrades we purchase to supposedly fix the crashes? I figure, if I could collect just one penny for every Microsoft Windows crash, within one year, I would surpass Microsoft’s Bill Gates annual income and become Forbes new “Richest Man In The World.”
If we don’t want to play Microsoft’s game, there are options. Historically, there are only two choices for PC computer operating systems; Microsoft DOS/Windows based or Apple’s proprietary MacOS. Although, Microsoft’s operating system has the majority of the market, from my experience (and I use both operating systems) the MacOS has been exponentially more reliable with fewer crashes. Most large software companies produce
software for both operating systems environments; however, many software companies do not support the MacOS operating system. MacOS’s lack of support originates from Apple’s unwillingness to license their operating system freely outside of their own company. That is why you don’t see Dell, IBM, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard Co. or any number of PC manufacturers building MacOS operating-based systems. Apple’s narrow mindedness has cost them a great deal of their market share. There are pros and cons with both operating systems. But, with billions of dollars spent in the PC market, why do we have only two choices? Does anyone really wonder why Bill Gates is a billionaire? Can you say “monopoly”?
Good news, a new operating system has arrived on the scene, LINUX. It is free. This operating system is gaining wide and rapid acceptability. It is based on a Unix-type operating system and created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of multitudes of developers from around the world. This free operating system is rapidly gaining enough credibility to merit a look from users at major companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. and government users like Medina, Washington (see sidebar story, it’s a hoot). Up until recently, Linux, as a desktop operating system, has been more for the computer geek than the average PC user. Unlike Microsoft and Apple’s operating systems, multiple versions or distributions of LINUX are available. To make a version, a vendor takes the basic LINUX operating system and utility programs and adds value to the systems and programs, as well as technical support. The difference between the versions is in many ways like the difference between Ford and Chevy. They work pretty much the same with a different “name plate” and a few optional features. Leading Linux versions, Caldera Systems and Red Hat, have came up with two new versions that offer better installation programs, broader hardware support and new graphical interfaces that bear a striking resemblance to Windows. Analysts, who note the exciting interest and growth, say companies are taking notice of announcements from major PC vendors like Compaq, Dell, IBM and Hewlett- Packard Co, all who have agreed to support the operating system.
Some of LINUX strengths include:
Adaptability – The source code for LINUX is freely available to anyone. That means
you can make modifications.
Interoperability – LINUX interoperates with other systems, including Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Unix, and Novell Netware.
Multiuser Support – Unlike Microsoft and Apple’s operating systems, LINUX is able to support multiple users concurrently. A single system, supporting many users, runs programs, accesses files, and other services at the same time, seamlessly, whether on a network or directly attached consoles (screens and keyboards).
Security – LINUX’s Unix roots supports security transparently, not as an after thought, but as a way of life. In order to work a LINUX computer, you have to sign on to gain access.
Full Multitasking – Innate to LINUX is it’s excellent juggling ability.
Networking – The network is in deed the computer. Information exchange via email, the web, and other means is an everyday fact. LINUX, today, powers many
Internet service providers (ISPs) and the users who access the ISP’s services. Price – Free. LINUX is licensed under the GNU Public License (GPL).The GPL ensures that the code can be redistributed; you can get it off the internet or
someone else’s CD and you can share it with others.
What does that mean to you and me? Did I say Linux is free? More PC operating system means more competition and more choices; and, hopefully, fewer frustrations and downtime from computers crashes, resulting in greater productivity.
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Talk about Irony
“Recently, the city of Medina, Washington (population 3,082) selected OpenLinux to implement its document management system. The reason for this move was related to the 40,000+ construction permits, blueprints, change orders, and other documents related to the construction of the $53 million home of Microsoft’s Bill Gates built there. The city’s choice came at the realization that there was no more room for any future paperwork, and it would
be required either to build a new town hall or to install a document management system. Naturally, Microsoft Windows NT was looked into as a potential solution, but after realizing that the OpenLinux solution would cost less than 10% of the Widows NT solution,
Open OpenLinux won the city’s business.” The proceeding is a quote from noted computer writer and author, Manuel Alberto Ricart.