Software // Enterprise Applications
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9/8/2004
12:04 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Even The Button-Down Crowd Loves Linux

A recent study of Linux usage found overwhelming support and user satisfaction. The study of computer-using organizations looked at 281 sites and found that 90 percent were using Linux, with a high degree of customer satisfaction.

A recent study of Linux usage found overwhelming support and user satisfaction. The study of computer-using organizations looked at 281 sites and found that 90 percent were using Linux, with a high degree of customer satisfaction.

What I find most interesting about the study is the source: Our button-down pals at InformationWeek magazine. This wasn't a study sponsored by long-haired hippy-dippy Grateful-Dead-listening, tree-hugging Birkenstock-wearing, smelling-of-patchouli, Ben-&-Jerry-eating, Phish-following open-source idealists. No, InformationWeek is all business. They're very corporate over there. They wear three-piece suits even to company softball games.

So an article in InformationWeek plugging Linux on business, rather than technological or ideological grounds, is significant.

The mainstream media often writes about Linux with a condescending voice, describing open source as kind of cute in its own way, but not suited for serious business. But how's this for serious: Sixty-four percent of Linux users in the InformationWeek study describe themselves as "extremely satisfied." Only two percent said they were dissatisfied. How many proprietary vendors can claim the same level of customer satisfaction for their software?

The case for open source is often made on idealistic grounds: don't give money to Microsoft. Don't support the oppressive software patent structure. But the InformationWeek study presents a pragmatic, business reason for using Linux: there's a two-out of three chance you'll be extremely satisfied with it as a product, and only one chance in 50 you'll be dissatisfied.

Also: There's no organization more serious about business than Microsoft, and the company recently gave Linux and open source a backhanded compliment. In its annual 10-K filing to the SEC, Microsoft warned that Linux and open source present a threat to the company in every business sector.

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