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The Future's So Bright For Open Source I've Got to Wear Shades

I recently broke my glasses though I admit I don't wear them much and I started to notice that I was squinting more

I recently broke my glasses though I admit I don't wear them much and I started to notice that I was squinting more. Sometimes I could make out what was going on on my Linux desktop, which is set to a whopping 1920 x 1200 resolution, but I couldn't quite make out some items without closer inspection.

That's like the way I think businesses and government agencies have come to view Linux and Open Source. They've been squinting at the "Open Source movement" knowing that there's something worth looking at there but not quite making out the details. I think those days are ending since the drought in IT spending has left the wary IT buyer looking for more efficient and cost-effective solutions that give them big returns on their IT dollars - or at least don't waste them on what, in hindsight, turns out to be frivolous solutions that don't return what was promised.

What I think is happening is that the business and governments around the world are finding their glasses, so to speak, with respect to Open Source software and the picture is coming into focus. They're realizing that there's an opportunity to leverage their IT dollars on value-added services that expand the capabilities of core Open Source technologies like Apache and Tomcat as is the case with JBOSS or databases like MySQL, which is a proven alternative to many proprietary databases. They realize that the market for IT dollars is becoming more competitive and that leveraged Open Source products are allowing vendors to provide competitive offerings at lower prices.

Besides our print magazine, our publisher SYS-CON Media is trying to improve our ability to tell these stories and for you to tell yours by introducing new features like blogs from our editorial staff. You should check out our new blogging Web site Blog-N-Play (www.blog-n-play.com) where you can get your own LinuxWorld blog. I've moved my blog to http://mark.linuxworld.com and you can check out blogs from our popular LinuxWorld author's like Dave Taylor (http://blog.linuxworld.com), Dee Ann (http://dee.linuxworld.com), and book reviews from MC (http://books.linuxworld.com). We are also adding new authors like Jon Walker and Greg Wallace who are both executives at Linux companies and can share stories about the enterprise Linux users they work with.

I also want to encourage our readers to share their stories of their Linux successes as Jim Klein at Saugus Union School District in Saugus, California has. He took the time to document his Linux success to encourage other schools around the country (www.saugus.k12.ca.us/migration). His story about how he used Open Source software to provide an infrastructure for 800 users (and 11,000 students) running Windows and Mac desktops should inspire those of you who want to take the Open Source plunge. He shows how he managed a 14-site Linux migration and a total of 42 servers in six weeks to Linux. I'd also like to point out that while Jim's success has been fairly recent, there are tons of long-term Open Source success stories like the City of Largo, Florida, which used Linux thin-client desktops for years before Open Source software came into vogue www.largo.com/index.cfm?action=dept&drill=it.

Yup, Penguins, blade servers, and kernel compilation are as popular as Versace in South Beach. Well, maybe that's overstating the case, but I will say this - millions and millions of people use Linux every day whether they know it or not. People who bid on eBay auctions, bought items from Amazon.com, or searched the Web with Google are using Linux albeit indirectly. And some are using it today at home by virtue of their TiVo or Sony PlayStation, both examples of embedded Linux systems.

So back to my glasses, I've gotten them fixed and things are coming into focus just like I think Open Source is coming into focus in the enterprise, as well as government and non-profits around the world. Based on the data I've been getting and the stories I've seen in mainstream press and industry pubs like ours, I think the future of these installations is so bright I might have to trade in my glasses for a pair of shades.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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