I am a Linux Convert

December 7, 2009

I’ve been using Windows operating system since Windows 3.11 and Windows 95. Although I’ve tried out Linux a few times but getting the system up and running is very tedious and cumbersome.  Furthermore, it lacks good web browser and Microsoft Office replacement. That was the time before Firefox and OpenOffice were developed.

Now, the situation has improved a lot. For the past few years, I’ve been trying a few versions of Linux and I must say that we’ve finally got a working operating system with a suite of workable software. Now you could install a Linux operating system together with a suite of free software and use it as replacement for Windows operating system. More and more hardware vendors are also writing drivers that support Linux.

Linux in Enterprise IT

Automation

As a former Windows system administrator, I would appreciate Linux/Unix more due to its automation capabilities. I started to dislike mouse and click features. It is so much more powerful to use the command line with scripting. Using shell script, you can automate almost anything. In fact, Microsoft realized the power of scripting and develop Power Script for Windows server. Windows 2008 servers also come with some basic version that uses only command line instead of Windows.

Scalability

Linux is harder to setup and configures but once it is configured, you could replicate the configuration for multiple servers. In fact, you would appreciate the power of Linux when it scales. Therefore, I think Linux/Unix is good for large enterprise.

Open Source

It is easier for you to study and examine Linux under the hood. You can even study the entire kernel source code. Windows and Unix (non open source) system will always remain a black box. As an IT professional and a hardcore computer geek who likes to learn what’s under the hood; I support Open Source Movement and I prefer Linux over other proprietary Unix operating system.

Support Community

What frustrates me with Windows operating system is that, you could not do anything when system crashes other than re-installation. You need to call Microsoft help desk and find some workaround in the meantime. If you encountered major system problem in Linux, you have a choice of using help desk or you can debug the code line by line since Linux is open source. You can also choose to get help from the Linux forum. I am surprise by the wealth of knowledge and active support from the Linux community. It is easier to search for solution in Linux than in Windows.

Windows Appeal

In the enterprise IT arena, I believe that Linux is the solution. However, I don’t think Windows will lose its market share because Windows has its own appeal. Although you need to restart the Windows server every now and then, it is easier to use and the most important factor is that it is easier to get cheaper worker who knows Windows.

Linux for Enterprise

As an IT Manager, I think that Windows server is more appealing to small and medium companies that lack the scalability. It is easier to get worker who know Windows server at a cheaper rate. For companies that are growing fast and large enterprise, I would recommend Linux.

Linux in Desktop and Personal Computing

Although now Linux has a range of application that could replace Windows operating system, Linux is not going to replace Windows any time soon in the desktop market.

The main reason is the lack of killer apps. In today’s desktop computing, there are a few essential killer applications that could make or break an operating system. They are office productivity suite, web browser, contact manager and PIM (personal information manager), and media content organizer.

Microsoft obviously wins in the category of office suite. OpenOffice is adequate for normal usage and in fact is it recommended for infrequent user.  However, Microsoft Office is still a better quality product compare against OpenOffice.  Furthermore, Microsoft has the advantage of familiarity in usage.

Firefox wins in the category of web browser and it supports Linux. Firefox is one of the reasons Linux is getting more attention. I did not find any winners in the category of PIM and contact. Personally I did not find any PIM software that compels me to switch OS. ITunes is the winner in the category of media content manager. It supports only Mac and Windows.

Among all the killer application, only Firefox supports Linux. As long as there is no application that is better than MS Office and iTunes, Linux would not take over Windows or Mac.

Personally, I am still using Windows as my main computing platform, although I’ve been using Linux more for every other thing such as web browsing. Professionally, I prefer Linux on the server and I also support Windows client operating system.

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Current Trend in Technology and Crisis

December 5, 2009

If you have followed the podcast of Mr. Jack Welch, you should have known his comment about the current economic crisis and its implication. He said that business will emerge differently when the economy recovered. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Jack Welch. In fact, I believe that the current crisis will force business to change rapidly in the way the business is conducted. I predict that business will adopt and use technology to change the way business is done more rapidly and abruptly than before.

Let me deliberate a few points on the current condition.

With a tighter budget, companies will be forced into looking at online advertising. The cheaper alternative of online advertising will increase and eventually replacing traditional advertising as the main advertising medium. In addition, as more and more teenagers using various electronic devices, companies will look into ways to advertise online so that they could reach out to the younger generation.

With the decline in advertising sales in newspaper; newspaper companies will be forced to retrench its worker and the company might be forced into changing its business model towards online information service. With the bankruptcy of Tribune, more and more newspaper will adopt New York Times model.

The same goes to magazine, a popular computer magazine ‘PC Magazine’ had stop its print circulation and go completely online. I would predict more magazines would be forced to go online. The magazines that would be the last to stay are pictorial magazine such as fashion and home decoration magazine. Informative magazine such as Newsweek, Times and Businessweek will be the first to go online.

The retrenchment of journalists and writers from newspaper and magazine will force these writers to become independent journalist. The entry-level is very low for them to do their own journalism. Few of them might group together to provide online information service. More will adopt models like http://www.huffingtonpost.com where they aggregate online news and information from various sites and provide their own commentary.

Television companies will still stay in business but with the decrease in advertising sales, less successful companies will be closed. This means that fewer competition in the television business. With lesser advertising budget on the table, there will be intense competitive to keep the larger pie. In fact, advertising sale might hold steady for very good TV station with attractive programs. This is because with the shrinking budget, people will go out less often and prefer to stay in the home watching television. I do not think online services such as YouTube will take much business away from the television.

Advertising companies and even the most traditional ones will be forced into embracing online advertising. This means that those copy writers and graphic designers who do not have computer skills will be either force to adopt the technology or go jobless.

For publishing business, few publishers will be willing to take the risk of publishing books for the less established writers. Popular writers will still remain the publishers’ favorite because they constitute lesser risk in the publishing business. This means that there will be fewer books on the market. This will forced the up and coming writers to look at online book. The most obvious choice will be Amazon’s Kindle and some writer will explore options provide by http://www.lulu.com.

From the simple analysis above, it is obvious that jobs for the printing workers will not come back upon recovery of the economy. In fact, the whole printing industry might be downsized significantly. Eventually, there will be some good printing companies with good color printing skills and technology left. Online and web service companies will be the less expose to downside risk, if there is a drop in business, it will be much lesser compare to other business and they will likely be the first to recover when the economy recovers.

With the strong sales from online retailer like Amazon and Zappos and closure of Circuit City, online retailer is here to stay for good. This could spell troubles for traditional retail shop and also the real estate in the retail market when the economy recovers.

In order to survive the current economic condition and beyond, traditional retailer must give incentive for shoppers to travel miles to their retail outlet. Retailer should focus on personalize service and total retail experience, such that the shoppers would feel the trip worthwhile in comparison to online retail experience. Well, logistic companies such as FedEx and UPS should enjoy certain growth with the increase in online sales.

In general, companies will adopt cost saving practice or technology to be more efficient. This I think is the silver lining in the current crisis, companies will change the way business is conducted, technology adoption will be more rapid and the America economy will emerge stronger than ever.