Software license costs can be prohibitive for small business owners. Linux is an alternative operating system to Microsoft Windows, and can be acquired at a little to no cost to the small business owner. Linux is supported by a large army of volunteers from all over the world who contribute and maintain not only the source code but also hundreds of packages available free of charge.
Linux comes with lots of free useful software for small business. For example, OpenOffice is a complete office suite complete with a word processing program, spreadsheet, database, media presentation and a graphics package. Mozilla.org offers Firefox for browsing the web, Thunderbird for email, and Sunbird, a calendar client. Dell offers the vUbuntu desktop edition 7.04 Fiesty Fawn. Not wanting to be outdone, some major software vendors such as Adobe and Oracle provide Linux versions of their software.
There are differing opinions about whether Linux has a lower TCO (total cost of ownership) than Windows. However, Linux is enjoying a increasing following all over the world. The French parliament, some UK city councils, and the city of Munich are among organizations which have dumped Microsoft Windows for Linux on its desktops.
Decide whether Linux is for youFor the technology averse, switching to Linux might be challenging. Despite its relative popularity in the server market, Linux is yet to be an overwhelming choice for the desktop.
Learn more about LinuxThere are lots of resources available to learn more about Linux. You can join a Linux user group in your area. There are also lots of tutorials available on the Internet to help you get started.
Go to your local bookstore and pick a book on Linux. Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon carry a lot of Linux books.
Get LinuxNow that you have decided to deploy Linux, you will need to decide on a Linux distribution. Linux has many distributions which are either vendor supported or not. Vendor supported distributions cost extra for technical support, whereas non-vendor supported distributions cost practically nothing.
Some vendors provide computers with Linux preinstalled. This might limit you to a particular distribution.
For the strong willed and the curious, you will need to choose a distribution. Distrowatch contains information about Linux distributions. Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu are some of the common distributions.
Find useful and free softwareWork smarter not harder. Chances are that if you need particular software, a version is available for Linux. A typical Linux install will contain most of the software you will need. Even if not, there are many places to find useful Linux software for your small business.
Secure your Linux computerLinux is less vulnerable to viruses and malicious attacks than Microsoft Windows. Dr. Nic Peeling and Dr. Julian Satchell’s Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software estimates that there are 40 known Linux viruses compared to over 60,000 for Microsoft Windows. Linux itself is considered secure but some software packages written for Linux can contain vulnerabilites.
- Dont be intimidated by Linux. If you are skeptical, find an old computer and test Linux.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Go to the user forums and ask questions.
- Unless you have a high speed connection, install Linux from a CD or DVD.
- Choose only the applications you need. You can always add more later.