Linux and free and open source software (FOSS) are mainstream and you are probably already using them. If not then you need to make them a part of your business strategy. They can help reduce your bottom line as well as letting your business reap some of the benefits enjoyed by larger businesses without potentially huge capital expenditures. It goes without saying that you have probably heard of Linux, free software, and/or open source software at some point in time. It’s important for small business owners to understand these options. Knowing what they are and what role they can play is key to developing a smart and flexible strategy for your business.
What are Linux and FOSS?
Linux is an operating system like Windows from Microsoft or OS X from Apple. Linux is a Unix-like and POSIX-compliant computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. Linux is essentially a clone of Unix. Unix is the time-tested operating system that has powered the some of the world’s most powerful servers down to small department servers since back in the early 1970s. There are many different flavors of Linux. Some are community supported, such as Debian, and some have commercial support such as Redhat Enterprise Linux.
FOSS is a type of computer software that is both free software and open source. That means that anyone is free to use, copy, and change the software in any way and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to do such activities. This does not mean that potentially harmful changes can simply be added to the software. There are many controls in place to maintain security and allow scrutiny of proposed changes prior to being published.
Who uses Linux?
Linux has overrun Unix and even Windows all over the planet, but it is not as visible. Linux literally powers the most of the Internet such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Netflix. The world’s 500 fastest supercomputers are 96 percent Linux. The Android project which may be running your phone or tablet is based on Linux. Your set-top TV box is likely running Linux as are your networking routers, firewalls, and gateways. Many automotive entertainment systems use Linux and even the factory automation robots that built your car are probably powered by Linux. The Large Hadron Collider, London Stock Exchange, IBM mainframes, and much, much more: all powered by Linux. Linux is main stream and has been powering all of our ways of life for several years.
In fact, the single arena where Linux does not dominate is the PC desktop which is still all but owned by Microsoft Windows. This is unfortunate as many Linux distributions make great PC and laptop operating system. Linux is more stable, more secure, and you can install and use many quality applications with easy.
How can I use Linux and FOSS in my business?
This unfortunately is a very broad question as Linux and FOSS are very flexible in how they can be used and either can be suitable for a multitude of roles. To help determine which Linux distribution will fit your needs best you can refer to this article on Linux.org. Once you are using Linux, you can check The Linux Alternative Project to see what options are available to meet your current software needs while using Linux. Overall the migration from Windows to Linux, commercial software to FOSS, or both can sometimes be quite a bit of work and may involve testing and experimentation. If you are not confident in your abilities or would like a consultation with an expert in the field, please feel free to Contact Us.