os wars

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On the cost of Windows vs. Linux

Filed in LinuxTags: , , ,

Just posted this to slashdot and thought I’d share it somewhere it’ll actually get read:

in re: Windows vs. Linux costs to implement and why Linux will never be “free”.

The ‘free / not free’ argument is meaningless. You will pay for licenses and support from Microsoft plus the cost of IT support staff and engineers. You will also pay either support contracts from Redhat, etc… plus IT support staff and engineers or pay more for better IT support staff and engineers and use community supported Linux.

When all the bills come due, you’re going to pay about the same for the same functions and scale regardless of the OS. The curve for the cost of Linux flattens out earlier as you move into the hundreds of servers or very large or widely dispersed infrastructure, but the cost of a competent staff to support Linux is higher.

It is easier to support Windows with less knowledge and experience, therefore making Windows staff less expensive. In truth, there are probably 10 middling competent Windows engineers for every solidly competent Linux engineer in the marketplace. The Linux engineers tend to stay employed longer as well.

When all you’re looking at is the base cost of a software license, or piece of hardware, then you’re not looking at the most important, vital and expensive part of the bill; the people.

Linux admins and engineers I’ve worked with and around have tended to be problem solvers by nature. Windows admins and engineers I’ve worked with and around have tended to be implementers by nature. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and you have to pick based on a strong understanding of your company’s needs, not just on the flashy marketing tripe from Microsoft or the FOSS communities.

TL;DR: In the end, Windows and Linux will cost you the same. Which one is best for your company depends entirely on your company.

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April 2024