What would be the costs, and what would be the benefits, of moving to open-source software for our public workstations?
Here I’m talking mainly about changing from Microsoft to Linux — which would also mean ditching MS Office software on computers and replacing it with OpenOffice, and ditching Internet Explorer and replacing it with Firefox, Opera, Epiphany, Konqueror, IceWeasel, or Flock (or all of them).
It wouldn’t have to mean dispensing absolutely with any closed-source products — many of them are available for Linux. And my understanding is that there are is Linux software (Wine) to allow you to run Microsoft programs if you really need.
A few years ago, Arizona State University West did this and reduced the total cost of ownership by nearly $1,000 in the first year. (Summary at www.ala.org/ala/lita/litaevents/2004forum/CS_Linux_West_Library.pdf.)
Given Microsoft’s record on security and their speed with releasing patches, could Linux machines be the way for us to go in the next few years? Heaven knows, most of us already use Firefox rather than the dread Internet Explorer…
And here’s Jessamyn’s update on how the new computers are doing.
Couldn’t we do that? Maybe just have a fourth-floor pod of Linux machines?