We would be considered one of the moderate sized firms (roughly a dozen employees), many of the employees are excellent website copywriters, accounting or human resources but not necessarly programmers. This means that a change like this has to be weighed against the inhouse skill set.
We would consider ourselves the average American company, when you weigh all the mom and pop shops vs the IBM’s of the world, the chances are you will see something along the lines of our firm as the norm.
We don’t want to tie employees down with training on the new OS for any extended period of time. Also as a smaller firm every penny counts, so cost was a factor. Another factor was productivty. We couldn’t have all our clients e-mailing us a Microsoft Word Document or a PDF file and we would not be able to open it. So we had to make sure that anything we upgrade to will play well with our clients and partners.
So we had to weigh the following.
1) Cost and Performance
2) Learning Curve of the New OS.
3) Compatibility with other firms that we deal with.
Initally we looked at it from a hardware standpoint, what would it cost us to upgrade to Windows Vista from Windows XP. We purchased a copy of Windows Vista and installed it on a P4 with 1/2 a GB of RAM. The machine moved like a Commodore 64 loading from a Tape Drive. In essance the hardware would have to be upgraded. We felt that the processor speed would work, but the ram would have to be upgraded to at least 1-2 GB in order to get the same speed that we have currently with XP.
Cost to upgrade hardware per machine – $200
Cost of Vista (upgrade price from XP to Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium) – $175
Total Company Cost (Hard Cost) – Just under $5000 for the company ($375-$400 per machine 12 machines)
We installed Ubuntu on a lower powered machine, a Intel Celeron with 256 Mb of Ram. The machine booted up faster than the P4 Machine running XP, forget Vista in terms of speed and horsepower required. Any machine we had in the office could run this effectively.
Software cost : $0
Hardware cost: $0
Total Cost (Hard Cost) to Company : $0
From a cost perspective, Ubuntu won hands down.
Learning Curve: Ubuntu vs Vista
This was the actual shocker for us. Vista took longer overall than Ubuntu for a non-technical individual to learn, as an upgrade from XP. When we mean took longer we were not kidding. In many cases 300% longer to figure something out in Vista than in Ubuntu when upgrading from XP. Vista was as ‘alien’ in several situations as was Ubuntu when it came to changing a setting.
We thought that this was the deal breaker, Ubuntu is not Windows and how could it really open Word Documents correctly? Ubuntu comes installed with Open Office something that many of us have been using due to the high price of Microsoft Office and the company drive to reduce costs. This is where it got interesting. After the basic install of Ubuntu we wanted to open up a Microsoft Word Document and see what happens. The problem was at that exact moment we didn’t have one on a jump drive. The person doing the testing (we had one of the non-technical individuals working on the test on purpose) noted that she had one on her shared drive on her XP machine. So without even thinking about it, she browsed though the network (a Microsoft Network) and grabbed the Word Document in question, copied it to the Linux Desktop and opened it. It opened without a charm, and without any instruction. In essance what we are noting is that the usablity of it, and the compatiblity of it went without a hitch.
We ran into some problems with Quickbooks running on it correctly, but as Quickbooks noted, their program does not run on Vista as well.
Moving forward, all machines bought new will be purchased without an OS so we can install Ubuntu or another flavor of Linux or FreeBSD. There will be some Legacy Windows Systems in the firm for testing purposes and in case there is an application that must be run on Windows, as well as in cases where our clients are running ASP and things need to be tested locally. Overall however our firm is moving to Linux.
We wanted to say thank you to the Open Source Community for creating such a wonderful product.