Is Open Software the BEST way to unlock the value of IT? Ask someone objective.

That scraping sound you hear is the sound of my soapbox being dragged out of the corner.
Ask the head of the OSI (Open Source Initiative) whether Open Source is the best way to unlock the value of IT (Information Technology), and what answer do you expect? Right.
How about an opinion from someone who really wants to use open source? From someone who’s technically inclined? From someone who has an organization that specializes in implementing technology for clients?
How about my opinion, for example?
Here goes: open source is definitely coming of age. In the next few years (0.5 to 3 or so), I expect that you’ll see a number of businesses move toward open source. In today’s world, say “open source,” and the product that comes to everyone’s lips is “Linux.” So the experience you have with Linux may tend to rub off on everything else that’s open source.
And here goes: I’ve installed the Debian and Ubuntu versions of Red Hat on several machines (and virtual machines). The installation goes fine. The operating system comes up. I can use email, web browser, and the Open Office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, etc.). As long as I’m working with what comes in the box, I’m Ok.
Now I need to use a wireless adapter to connect to my home network on Debian. Debian doesn’t come with a compatible adapter. Begin an endless circle of trying to find websites with the correct (and up-to-date) information about how to re-compile the kernel or build a self-contained and self-loading package with wireless support. I’m sure I could have figured it out, but
after 2-3 hours invested in it, I’m not sure it’s worth it.
So I load Ubuntu. It comes up and recognizes my wireless adapter. Problem: I have WEP ennabled, and the wireless adapter driver in Ubuntu doesn’t seem to like it. Begin another endless search on the Internet.
So one of the guys here gives me a copy of Fedora…
Linux isn’t the only open source software. Because it’s an operating system and has to interface directly with the hardware, it’s probably not even a good example to use or to compare others to, but it illustrates the issue with open source.
Here’s the reality: once open source goes mainstream–really, truly mainstream as in millions of desktops–problems like this will go away. Someone will pay somebody like me to figure out how to make it work, or to write software to make it work, and then it will be contributed to the public domain.
As for now, in order to avoid the issues I’m having with Linux, I’ll pay for my operating system.
Is Open Source the Best way to Unlock the Value of IT?

Unix Dead?

The survey house / think tank Gartner believes Unix is about to be replaced by Linux. I think it probably already has been replaced, with a few bastions of support left in companies that just don’t want to upgrade. Gartner’s point, here, though is that the applications specifically developed for Unix will wane after 2009. That makes sense. Most people don’t make tires for Model A’s anymore.
Linux is stable and mature enough (and similar enough to Unix) that it makes perfect sense to move from Unix boxes to Linux boxes.
Gartner: No New Unix Apps to Emerge After 2009

Is this the end for SCO?

Twenty years ago when I started in this business, SCO Unix was around. It was a complex little operating system that not many folk used in business. There were, of course, exceptions. For the businesses that found software that ran on Unix, it was a good deal. Dumb terminals at a few hundred dollars rather than PCs at a few thousand.
And for all it’s complexity and the steepness of its learning curve, it wasn’t bad software. When Linux began to gain popularity, it was easy to prophecy the downfall of Unix, and many did. Novell’s purchase of SUSE Linux seemed to seal the deal, but Microsoft’s investment in SCO produced a lawsuit against Novell that seemed to be the battle of two insignificant market forces. The SCO lawsuit distracted Novell, and occupied time.
Now it appears that SCO is losing the lawsuit. Perhaps SCO still has a few tricks up its increasingly tattered sleeves, but not many more. We’ll see.
For now, this looks like the last stand of an industry icon.
SCO Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection — The SCO Group — InformationWeek

ERP “Mess”

I just saw this blog post. Don’t know how I missed it. I’ve been fussing for years about the companies that implement (or don’t implement) ERP. The issue that’s raised here is important: ERP systems in some installations fail, and fail miserably. In others, they produce productivity increases. The initial difference in many cases is the implementation methodology, but also the willingness of the business to absorb the change in business processes required to get the most benefit from the software.
The blog post points out that IT expenditure is going up. That ERP system go-live seems to be linked to improvements in operational measures (e.g. turnover, employee productivity, etc.), but not to increased corporate income or better financial results.
I think this results from the fact that ERP systems are generally designed to ennable more work and more accurate work with the same employees. Take a look at the full article below.
サ The ERP mess we窶决e in | Irregular Enterprise |

Your PC is Thinking For Itself (er actually Microsoft is thinking for you).

An article showed up yesterday in eWeek that claims end users have verified that Windows is updating end user systems without notification, even if Microsoft Update is set to notify before installing updates. Methinks this is a bad thing. Particularly given the fact that sometimes those updates break other things. Security updates that shut down custom software. Plugged holes that prevent internal support personnel from getting into the systems remotely, or cause printers to stop printing.
All in all, we want control over our property. And my PC belongs to my company, not to Microsoft!!!
Maybe that’s the confusion: Microsoft thinks it owns the world!!
There’ll be more backlash from this one for Microsoft.
Microsoft Watch – Operating Systems – Windows Update’s Sneaky Updates

Interesting Printers??

Are printers interesting? Be careful, your response may brand you as a “Geek!” But that’s ok. I’ve been studying printers at the office supply stores near me, and on-line. It seems that the prices have come down substantially. The first color laser I had for business was in the range of $3000 to $4000, and printed 4 full-color pages per minute on a good day. The last one I bought was at least twice that fast, and cost around $400. And they’re getting cheaper and faster, with more features and better results every day.
Take a look at eWeeks roundup of 20 “interesting” printers.
The 20 Most Interesting Printers of 2007 (So Far) – Introduction