I would really like to be able to recommend to a small business client that they adopt Linux because it is lower cost. I have been able to recommend OpenOffice.org to a number of folks, and have even had it accepted. That is because for most users it will perform all the functions for which they use Microsoft Office, and will do so consistently.
After I converted my own desktop to Ubuntu a few months back, I was thinking that we were getting close to the point where I could recommend to some folks that they just go for broke and run Linux in a business environment. I’m probably optimistic, but that is what I was thinking. Gutsy Gibbon worked well for me, and I carried out practically all my regular work tasks on it, with the exception of video editing.
With Hardy Heron several things happened. First, my sound is less reliable than it was before. Having done a good bit of searching around the web, I understand part of the reason for this. PulseAudio is supposed to be wonderful, and my most used sound program, Audacity, doesn’t work with it. But in addition, the version of Audacity included with Hardy Heron is a beta. The reasons for including a beta package in your release OS is incomprehensible to me. It reflects thinking that your OS is only for computer fanatics who will want to be testing the latest stuff. Between the sound system and a few other things, I’ve gone to doing my audio work on a separate box running Gutsy.
Then there’s this web browser, again a beta version. It’s not ready for business use yet. It still has a number of bugs, yet it’s in the release version of Hardy Heron. I have had enough glitches with it that I know I’d be hearding complaints from a business customer if they had to work with it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset about this for my personal use. If they hadn’t shipped these betas with the release version I would have installed them myself by now. But that’s the point. I’m the type of guy who likes to play with them. I don’t mind looking around for the answers to annoying problems with sound just because I’m using a card with a questionable driver, a sound system that may not quite be there yet, and a bet audio program. I have a nice little box across the room that I built from spare parts and on which I installed Gutsy, and I can do anything I need to over there.
Well, anything I need to except to tell a customer who only needs basic office functions that he should save a bunch of money by buying a machine with some version of Linux, OpenOffice, and perhaps GnuCash or something similar. I could build him such a machine, and without paying even OEM prices for the OS, he could save a few hundred per machine. The businesses I work with run more than one but generally less than a dozen stations. They don’t have huge budgets. Some of them would like those options.
Along the way, I need to play with more Linux releases, and I will do so. For now, however, I must sadly stick to recommending Windows XP (please not Vista unless I can’t avoid it), and OpenOffice for those who are willing.