Selling Linux to management
The task? Persuading people that Linux is the equal (or better) of any of
the commercial alternatives for reliably running a set of chemical analysers
in another state...
PS. I am going to assume that you are not dealing with management at
the Dilbert level!
Point out the large number of technical advantages, such as:
Selling Linux as the basis for our project was relatively easy given that
I had been using a Linux box for:
- Excellent reliability
- Full source code
- Multi-tasking, multi-user, threads, SMP, etc...
- Rapid bug and security fixes (very rapid compared with some
commercial operating systems)
- Support for a very wide range of hardware
- Vast amount of free software is available
- Fully-featured networking
within the Water Studies Centre, and it has worked flawlessly since day one.
- Web server
- Internal FTP server
- POP mail server for temporary accounts (eg. visitors)
- Centre mailing lists via Majordomo
- Appletalk/SMB file and printer services
Bottom line (especially for academic institutions) is usually the dollar!
Linux is a big winner here in that you have:
The very low cost of Linux can be a great asset, but can also scare people
off when they associate free software with junkware.
- Minimal start-up costs (note that it's not zero costs, as someone
has to pay for FTP time, CD-ROM, printing documentation, etc.)
- Negligible upgrade costs
- An O/S that happily works on 'antique' hardware, such as those
old 386s with 8 MB of RAM that have been junked because they are
too slow for Windows 95/NT (a familiar story?)
The commercial distributions
The fact that you can buy Linux "off the shelf" in a nice box with a pretty
manual and a CD-ROM is a big selling point for many people.
Caldera are probably the two more
well-known commercial releases.
The wide acceptance of Linux
It sounds daft, but in my experience, people will often accept Linux when they
see how widely it is being used. The Linux Journal often runs articles on
companies or organisations using Linux, and there are plenty of people on
the net happily extolling the virtues of Linux in a particular application.
Some of the more interesting Linux users (outside of the bevy of ISPs and uni
web servers) include NASA, Cisco, DejaNews, Virginia Power and the US Army.
A critical factor in the success of Linux is the wide amount of support
available; in fact, there is more support available for Linux than there is
for many commercial operating systems:
- The Linux Documentation Project
- The Linux Journal
- Linux books from companies such as
- The comp.os.linux. news hierarchy
- The various mailing lists, eg. linux-security,
- Various companies also offer some level of technical support
Even if we set aside the vast amount of free software available for Linux,
there is also a large amount of commercial software available, for example:
The Linux Journal 1997 Buyer's
Guide is an excellent reference to commercial Linux software, and is a
very good tool for combatting people who will only use software that has
a price tag!
- 'Office' packages: Applix and StarOffice
- Mathematica and Matlab
- Windows (WABI) and Macintosh emulators
- Comeau C++, SQL tools, etc.
Selling Linux to fellow technicians/programmers
The technical details
As listed above.
Of particular importance is the complete source code, rapid rate of bug fixes,
the large amount of software available and the LDP.
The programming tools
- Languages galore: C, C++, FORTRAN, Pascal, ADA, Perl, Python,
Lisp, Smalltalk, Java, Awk, BASIC, Tcl, assembler, Scheme,
- Wide range of programming tools: yacc, bison, flex, indent,
EMACS, RCS/CVS, etc.
- DOS emulation is available for DOS-based embedded programming
tools (such as 68HC11 compilers)
- There is no Visual BASIC/Visual C++/Delphi type environments.
Depending on your approach, this could be an upside!
- Linux/Unix has a learning curve!