[nSLUG] Re: Any nsluggers in Valley?

Michael Taylor mctaylor at privacy.nb.ca
Sun Aug 28 20:57:17 ADT 2005

On Fri, Aug 26, 2005 at 09:48:16PM -0300, Bob Ashley wrote:
> I'm moving to Berwick next week. Any nsluggers in the Valley area? 

Yes, while I no longer live in the Valley, you can find two very small
pockets of Linux users in this area, primarily around Greenwood (CFB 
Greenwood) and Wolfville (Acadia University).

> I'll be working for the Town office. I envision a small OSS
> pilot project, maybe just a single desktop or two (like, say, my desk!) to see
> if it
> piques
> office and council curiosity. The objective, of course, would be to save
> taxpayers' money, and to raise consciousness about the OSS alternative. I have
> some discretionary authority, albeit

To most non-IT people, computers are expensive typewriters, using and 
learning a new set of applications could be considered simply a burden 
unless there is a large benefit to justify the slow-down of learn 
difference applications to replace their current practices.

That said, there are several ways to improve your odds of success. Stick 
to small well defined projects that replace tasks that are not done well 
currently, or are very expensive to do under a closed source / commercial 
environment. Examples might be replacing IIS (Internet Information 
Services, the standard Microsoft web server for Windows 2000 and Windows 
2003) with Apache and a simple to use Content Management System (CMS), 
perhaps even an wiki if it is for an intranet site. 

Replacing Exchange with Sendmail or Exim will have problems, because 
Exchange implementation also typically includes a Directory Service 
(Active Directory, "Global Address Book") which would to be also included 
and synchronized with account maintenance issues. I haven't even touched 
on the other Group-ware functionality such as Calendaring.

Desktop OS license costs are normally considered the a "computer tax" or 
just the cost of doing business, and since many small organizations do 
not do centralized OS lifecycle updating of all systems but do OS 
upgrade through hardware replacement purchasing, desktop OS licenses 
are nearly moot. What can make a small office feel pain, is Client 
Access License (CALs) and Server OS licenses and Business Services 
Application licenses. But in my opinion, the real cost (or drain) is 
in license auditing and enforcement, or fines / settlements for 
non-compliance. My small IT group saves approximately 0.25 FTE by not 
having to do much license auditing for our distributed office environment.

One of the most resonant areas of government groups "winning" with 
open source is by using Open Source, is the prevention of vendor lock-in. 
So many small businesses and small government departments feel that 
they could be or are being held hostage by Value Added Resellers (VARs) 
the idea that a vendor can be directed to deliver services using open 
source, and cannot prevent a never ending spiral of maintenance contracts. 
I think books could and should be written on this topic, but I think to 
a total non-technical person, this is the easiest and perhaps biggest 
plus of using Open Source Software. If VARs use Open Source, then awarding 
a tender or contract to company does not mean you have to continue to 
pay ransom to them if you want the system to keep working. If the 
company fails to deliver, they are replaced, without the spectre of 
"propriatary code" or the company's "intellectual property" even if
the development was paid for by the client.

Anyhow, moving on. The last thing is you need support of the other IT 
people, a lone star "selling" Open Source could be thought as trying to 
steal jobs or upset the current "production environment." If the IT staff 
feel they are being empowered; given more and better tools to centralize 
control and deliver a rock solid, reliable computing environment that they 
can be proud of and take the credit for, then they will hopefully support 
your efforts to make them over-achievers that can go home at the end of 
the day and not the fall-guy of the office who has to stay late every 
night to reboot the servers to apply services packs or reinstall Windows 
on Reception's desktop PC.
That's my opinion, and should not be interepreted as representing 
my employer's views.


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