Linux TCO?

Slashdot has an article dispelling some of the myths about Windows vs. Linux. Just reading the Yankee poll makes me seethe. That aside, now you know my camp.

Do you really want to know the TCO breakdown for a small business? I’m the IT Administrator at a charter school, so I would say that we are a classified as a small business. Let’s take a look.

I have 4 Compaq Proliant servers running Windows 2000, as well as running IIS, ISA, Exchange 2000, and Veritas Backup Exec. They cost the school very little, because they were paid for by a grant. They cost the grant roughly $30,000. That includes the price of the hardware, 300 Windows CALs, 300 Exchange CALs, Windows Servers Licenses, Exchange Server Licenses, and Veritas Licenses. We bought it all in 2002. Now it’s 2005. The hardware is doing great, but Windows 2000 is clearly being pushed to the back at Microsoft. Windows Server System has been out for a while, a new service release for 2003 will be out this year, and Windows Longhorn Server should be available sometime within the next decade (okay, 2007, really).

Needless to say, it is time for an upgrade. This will be a real world upgrade, and does not get confused by things such as “value” and “features.” Those words are very defined in the real world, and only get muddled when found in surveys, studies and polls. Since our hardware is doing great (4 dual 1.4Ghz PIIIs with almost 1 terrabyte combined total in hard disk space), we’re only going to upgrade the software. The obvious options are: Windows Server 2003 with Exchange Server 2003, or Linux. Note that I cannot use Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition, because it has a user cap at 75, and we need at least 300 seats, including staff machines and lab machines.

Windows Server 2003 Upgrade Path (prices from microsoft.com)
Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (includes 10 CALs) – $1,199 x 4 = $4,796
Windows Server 2003, CAL 20-pack – $799 x 13 = $10,387
Exchange Server 2003, Standard Edition – $699
Exchange Server 2003, user CAL – $67 x 300 = $20,100
ISA Server 2004, Standard Edition – $1,499
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Training with 2003 Server Path – approx. $10,000
A technician to run it all (me) – same in all situations; does not affect TCO.
WINDOWS TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP = $47,481

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Upgrade Path (prices from redhat.com)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 – $3,196
Red Hat Certified Engineer Training for RHEL4 – approx. $4,496
RED HAT TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP = $7,692

Looks like Windows costs about $39,789 more for our business. Let’s take it a step further.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux (prices from /dev/null)
Ubuntu Hoary 5.04 CD – $0.00, including shipping and handling
Apache Web Server – $0.00
MySQL – $0.00
PHP – $0.00
Samba – $0.00
Postfix Mail Server – $0.00
OpenLDAP – $0.00
Jabber IM Server – $0.00
Horde Web Mail – $0.00
Squid Proxy Cache – $0.00
Mondo Rescue Backups – $0.00
LINUX TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP – $0.00

A word to Ballmer and Gates: no more FUD! It doesn’t make any sense!

More Fun with Kubuntu

This is a continuation of my original Kubuntu usability post. I’ve dived much deeper into Kubuntu juice now. Here are some fun things I have working:

  • DVD Video playback, with full 5.1 audio, in Kaffeine
  • Media playback on the Internet, such as Apple’s Trailers and NPR Radio. However, media only plays embedded in Konqueror. Firefox opens Kaffeine (and then crashes – don’t worry, I filed a bug). I think to solve this we need a working generic xine plugin for Firefox. That way Ubuntu users don’t have to wait for a totem-mozilla plugin, and Kubuntu users can stop worrying about Firefox crashes.
  • Full 3D acceleration, using an ATI 9700 Pro. Some people in the forums have said that I won’t be able to use compositing with 3D acceleration enabled, especially on an ATI. But we shall see.
  • digiKam – a great photo organizer for my wife. It accesses all her photos on a FAT32 partition shared with Windows.
  • DOSBox – I can now play all my favorite abandonware, such as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Duke Nukem, and Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure.
  • ZSnes – I can play all my old ROM images. Hurray! Although now I really need to find good NES/Genesis/TurboGrafx emulators.
  • BibleTime – Bible study software
  • Asaph – A Java-based worship database
  • Scribus – Desktop publishing software

However, here are some areas that need a lot of work:

  • Kynaptic needs a serious overhaul so that it more closely matches Synaptic. I want to be able to see what repository a package is from, and I also want to be able to see the packages sorted by how they are laid out on the KMenu. There also needs to be an update notifier that can sit in the system tray.
  • The package makers need to remove all the unnecessary GNOME requirements from the Firefox package.
  • Can we get Gecko into Konqueror? If so, maybe we can forget this Firefox business.
  • gtk-engines-gtk-qt needs to be on the default installation, possibly with the Clearlooks Crystal theme applied, so that when an unsuspecting user installs a GNOME app, he doesn’t know the difference.
  • There are a few KDE Improvements (kio-locate, kio-ipod, etc.) that have made it high on the list at kde-apps.org and should be considered for default inclusion.
  • OpenOffice.org looks awful. Please, please, please recompile it using the KDE OpenOffice project’s build. That one uses KDE widgets, themes, and dialogs. We’re a KDE distro, right?
  • amaroK needs to add iPod shuffle support.
  • Is Krita in universe? If not, it makes a decent KDE Gimp replacement.
  • That’s all for now, folks. Tootles!

Ubuntu Review

DistroWatch just announced this Ubuntu review on a weblog: “Ubuntu is the latest and greatest operating system built on the Linux kernel, Gnome, the GNU utilities, and the Debian packaging system. Ubuntu 5.04, otherwise known as “Hoary Hedgehog”, was released a little over 48 hours ago. It is the first Linux-based system I have encountered that is tolerable enough for me to use for everyday work. That is a great achievement. But Ubuntu is still rife with design flaws, some of them severe.” Read the full article “My first 48 hours enduring Ubuntu 5.04”.

“This one is pretty realistic, and shows standard bugs inherent in most mainstream Linux distros today.”

It also has a surprise ending. Enjoy.

There’s Hope For Desktop Linux

I’m listening to Shane Barnard’s The Answer in full 5.1 surround sound. It’s playing from my iPod Shuffle.

“You mean from iTunes, right?”

No.

“Oh, so you’re playing it directly from the Shuffle in Windows or on your Mac.”

No.

“So what then?”

I opened gtkpod, selected all the songs, and added them to my amaroK playlist. And yes, I have full control of my Creative SB Audigy 2 sound card, including the rear, center, and subwoofer channels.

“How is that possible?”

The beauty and ease of Kubuntu Linux.

“How can I do that?”

See my howto on the Ubuntu Forums.

Short Weekends Should Be Outlawed

Every weekend should have at least 3 days. Especially for those in ministry. In fact, anyone who does major ministry work during a weekend should be given another weekend to compensate. I’m not complaining about lost time, I’m just worried about a lack of energy to make it in to work tomorrow.

Friday, the Priority band drove up to Phoenix and played for a Valley Rim Association youth lock-in. It was at North Phoenix Baptist, which is nice, but it started at 10:30pm, which ain’t so nice. The worship in concert, or “Overflow 2” as we affectionately called it, was a success. There were some internal band issues regarding preparation of the heart when leading others in worship, but I think it has been resolved. And of course, we led worship Sunday morning and evening at the Priority College Service. This morning a guest speaker preached, Dr. David Johnson of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. A good word on “the most important thing in life”: taking God seriously.

Later on we’ll be going to Chipotle and then Jenny and I will try to catch this week’s Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. Hope that Monday doesn’t come tomorrow.

Kubuntu 5.04 Rocks!

I can’t do a full review of Kubuntu yet, since it is a full-fledged Linux desktop. I’ll need some time to make a final decision. I installed Kubuntu 5.04RC onto an Athlon 1600+ desktop. I can tell you that this is how painless my installation/setup has been so far:

  • Installation was the old Debian fake GUI, but it was so easy!
  • It recommended a partition scheme for me
  • Xorg set my resolution to 1280×1024. Cool, but I actually wanted 1024×768.
  • The wired-network autoconfigured itself
  • It detected and installed my Audigy 2 automagically. I’m listening to my mp3 collection now.
  • To install my HP Photosmart 7350, I went to the KDE Print Manager. It had a lot of drivers, including the one I needed! Awesome!
  • To install my Gravis USB Gamepad, I plugged it in. Seriously.
  • I’m downloading all the updates to the packages I already have via Kynaptic. I also opted to install kde-games :)
  • Next, I’ll install the Gimp, Scribus, Inkscape and rdesktop packages
  • I’m almost afraid to plug in my iPod… I think it will actually work!!
  • No 3D rendering yet, because I’m using an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. I either need adjust some glx settings or install the ATI proprietary driver.
  • I effortlessly copied a music CD using K3B. That’s amazing!
  • This is actually fun! I like Linux when it works.

Update: Using Kynaptic, I easily upgraded all my packages, and then installed Firefox, Gimp, Scribus, nmap and rdesktop. It’s like I press a button and I get a new program! Kubuntu/Ubuntu is the Linux desktop ready for the masses.

Kubuntu Live Review

I have tried my hand at Kubuntu 5.04 Live, and now I’ll try my hand at a review. Warning, this gets fairly technical!

My laptop is a tough cookie to play with:

Sager 3760
Intel Centrino 1600Mhz CPU / Intel BG2200 Wireless Card
ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 / 1280×800 LCD / 64MB VRAM
1GB RAM

Extra stuff to make things harder: USB floppy, USB mouse, Blackberry handheld (via USB)

Pretty desktop, slow start
I booted the Live CD without a network cable plugged in. I wanted to see if I could get wireless working easily. I also didn’t have the floppy drive plugged in. The system booted into a nice looking KDE 3.4 desktop. It was a little slow starting, compared to Knoppix or Slax. But that’s a trait of Live CDs, and I don’t really care. I like KDE 3.4! It has nice new popup tooltips on the kicker. They animate into view, but it is tasteful, not too flashy. The Trash icon has been moved from the desktop to the kicker, and good riddance. The KMenu has a nice default configuration, especially when compared to Slackware’s. It is clean and void of useless GNOME configuration utilities. It also only has one PDF viewer, instead of 7. I like.

Linux hates wireless
Next, I opened Konqueror, just to try my luck at the Internet. Remember that my network cable wasn’t plugged in, but I had a working Access Point about 2 feet away. And… nothing. Dang. I opened of KWifimanager, went into Administration mode, and put in the proper settings. Okay, that’s fair, I have WEP set, and I need to put in the WEP key. My bad. Once it was all in, I hit apply and closed KWifimanager. Ack, the KDE crash handler! What the heck was that? After testing, I discovered that whenever I open a KControl part, and go into Administrator mode, once I close it I’ll get a crash of some kind. I saved a crash log here. Okay, the wireless network settings are in. Open Konqueror, and nothing. Let’s plug in the network cable, because I’m getting bored. I went to the Konsole, brought up the eth0 interface, and noticed that it wouldn’t give me an IP address. Oh, for Pete’s sake! Restart…

Kubuntu, reloaded
After rebooting, with the network cable plugged in, the eth0 device did just fine and I could get on the Internet. I still can’t get eth1, my wireless device, to work. I never tried it without WEP, because I can’t easily change settings on my Orinoco AP. The device driver ipw2200 and all related device modules were loaded, they just didn’t like me. I don’t like them, either. Once on the web in Konqueror, I browsed to 3hive to listen to some music. I clicked on the first mp3 download I saw, and instantly I heard music. (?) The song loaded in Konqueror using some plugin, I guess. It sounded great. It was even showing me a visualization, albeit not comparable to those in iTunes. Next, I went to Macromedia to see if Flash or Shockwave were installed and working. They weren’t installed.

Fun with mounting
Actually, this section should be called “No fun, because nothing mounted.” I was very happy to see that when I plugged in my external USB floppy drive, an icon appeared in “media:/”. But lo and behold, it didn’t have an entry in fstab, so it wouldn’t mount. I added an entry into fstab (which a normal person should NEVER have to do), but I guess I did something wrong with the UID, because I couldn’t mount as anyone but root. I went ahead and mounted it as root (I had to make a /mnt/floppy directory). Also in “media:/” was my 60GB internal hard disk, but it wouldn’t let me mount it either (no entry in fstab). Methinks the Ubuntu Live folks need to go study Knoppix. I expect at least read-only access to my NTFS drive, as soon as I boot the live cd. But again, missing fstab entries are another quirk of Live CDs and this doesn’t apply to the real Kubuntu.

First Kontact
After a few minutes of configuration, I had Kontact connecting to my Exchange email via IMAP, and the calendar component connecting to my Exchange calendar resource. Kool! Hey KDE guys, KMail still looks ridiculously funny compared to Evolution, Thunderbird and Outlook/Outlook Express. Just to try (I knew it wouldn’t work), I plugged in my Blackberry. I was surprised to see that it even started charging. Windows 98 won’t charge a Blackberry without a device driver. But KDE-PIM and KPilot, to my disappointment, had no means of communicating with the Blackberry. I should’ve gotten a Palm.

Final Outcome
Kubuntu Live doesn’t quite meet my needs, but mostly because of Live CD quirks. Tonight I will wipe out my Slackware installation and try actual Kubuntu on my desktop.

Good

  • Solid, sensible default configuration
  • Kynaptic is awesome!
  • KDE 3.4 is prettier and faster
  • Trash icon is on the kicker instead cluttering the desktop
  • mp3 playback works grrreeat!

Bad

  • Media won’t mount without the help of root
  • No Rdesktop?!?!?! They have Krdc, but not Rdesktop? Krdc doesn’t connect to Windows desktops without Rdesktop
  • No Macromedia Flash or Shockwave installed by default
  • No Firefox (I know, there is Konqueror, but Firefox is better and you know it!)
  • Kopete had trouble receiving messages

Ugly

  • Slow boot time
  • Broken WEP support?
  • KControl parts are crashing, eek! (This is a KDE issue, not Kubuntu)
  • No Blackberry support (This is a Linux problem, not Kubuntu)

Well, Kubuntu Live survived my scrutiny, but now I’m off to do the real thing. I’ll post a diff to this review for Kubuntu-installed. Until then, Adios!

Kubuntu?

WANTED: New Linux distribution. Must be user-friendly, up to date, secure and compatible with all my peripherals. KDE desktops only, please.

Kubuntu

Yeah right, huh? Well… I may have found a winner. I think Kubuntu will work for me. The final release comes out tomorrow. It isn’t a fork of Ubuntu (of which I’ve heard good things from Gnome users), it is simply the latest Ubuntu with Gnome/apps removed and KDE 3.4 added. It uses Linux 2.6, so I’m happy about that. Ubuntu is apparently better than Debian because they keep their base set of packages up to date. I assume Kubuntu will be the same.

I’m just tired of Slackware not using Linux 2.6 by default (for wireless, automount, and boot screen betterness) and being more Linux and/or security friendly than user friendly. Although maybe now that Gnome is gone, Slackware may become the KDE distribution I’ve been waiting for. But I doubt it. When installing my wlan drivers, fglrx ATI driver, or even my HP photosmart drivers, I want it to work the first time!

I’m excited to see the to-do list at Kubuntu’s wiki. They mention adding the KDE improvements found at KDE-Look which have been accepted by the majority of KDE users, but haven’t been accepted into the main KDE tree. They even mention unifying the artwork and making KDE easier to use. That’s what I’m talking about. Plus, they are free (open source) and free (of charge). There is no version of Ubuntu/Kubuntu that you can pay for; the principals of this project are highly agreeable.

Have I found a grail? I’m downloading the torrent now, so we’ll see…

Who do you worship?

Who do you worship? Is it God, or is it Christian culture? Maybe you worship Hollywood. Didn’t Ben wear that outfit you have on, or wait, was it Elijah? {sarcasm}That Elijah is so hot right now!{/sarcasm} Or, maybe you worship all your cool stuff. (I’m assuming you have cool stuff, because if you live in the US, in spite of recession, war and poverty, we always have cool stuff.)

I worship God. At least, every Sunday I go to church and play my guitar, and sing. But every other day, I really like to watch movies. I just watched “Grave of The Fireflies.” It’s a sad story, but worth the watch. Most evenings, I vegitate in front of the television like a mindless zombie, and I don’t even have cable. Of course we try to limit how much we take in, and I don’t watch the trashy stuff. But on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being Trashy, most television doesn’t know how to score below a 5. So why does anyone watch this junk anyway? I wonder how different I would be if I had never watched television.

Which brings us to cool stuff… I like cool stuff. I have cool stuff. I have a laptop, two cell phones (one is a Blackberry), and I have 5 guitars. Some might see that as materialism. But, in defense of my cool stuff, I use all of it for God’s glory some of the time, and some of it for God’s glory all of the time. I started writing a new worship song last night, using my acoustic guitar and my laptop. I’ll post it here when I finish. Hey, I even wrote this post from my Blackberry. For some people, there is a thin line between materialism and using modern technology. I’m sure the same was true back when modern technology was a sword and armor. Or back when the latest and greatest farming tool was a shovel.

Here’s the bottom line: God deserves more than our Sundays. We owe God our lives, which includes the other 6 days of the week. Remember, though, that He doesn’t owe us anything, except for hell. It’s only because of His grace and our faith that He even gives us the time of day.

So, who do you worship?