re: Anologs and issues
First to the person who said busnesses don't worry about operating systems (or copy paper)... Technicly you are right.. the bricks and cement don't care about anything but the Managers are a diffrent story.
Hi, that would be me. What I meant was "corporate buyers" don't give much thought to O/S's. They buy out of habit to some extent, as you pointed out with your example of buying No.2 pencils. My point was that if you tried to convince a corporate buyer to switch O/S's their eyes would glaze over and you would lose them in 30 seconds. Their reply would be something like "Too complicated. I understand that we need 20# letter size paper. I'll shop for best price, and cross a brand off my list if their paper jams in the copier, laser printer, fax machine, etc. Operating system? Oh, is that what Windows is? Nobody else makes that so we have the Microsoft version. Applications? Is software available for anything other than Windows? Oh, yes, there is that Mac thing, but we don't use them. So we always order the Windows versions. Now, what were you saying again?" They couldn't tell you what brand of paper they bought - just that it works.
I've run a busness so I know how this works.
I know how this works too ;-) I am the IT manager for my company, and I am the biggest Linux evangelist in the building. Believe me, I know first hand the interesting conversations that get started when you put Linux on a Purchase Requisition. I put Linux online here about 4 years ago with no regrets. The secret behind my success? Sell the solution in non-technical terms. Tie the solution to the business or project goals. Provide a service that you can support. Hopefully, how it is supported is up to IT and they have bought into the benefits of Linux. Let the end users keep Windows, but convert your server solutions over to Linux where appropriate.
I can't always sell the Linux solution. Sometimes I have to decide which battles to fight, and which hills to die on. Would I suggest replacing Oracle with MySQL? Nope. But I wouldn't hesitate to replace Oracle on NT with Oracle on Linux. (Been there, done that, works great - well, great as far as Oracle goes). BTW, we like and use MySQL too.
A problem with analogies
I've learned that when I use an analogy that is too specific, the argument drifts into the details of my example and away from the point I wanted to make. I made the mistake of taking the bait provided by the original author and made a comment about Rush. See what happened? The conservatives jumped first. If Mr. Fulmer had used the Rev. Jesse Jackson for his example instead, the Liberals would have jumped first. (Did anyone else catch the pun from Rev. Williams about Matthew 7:3-4?) But this takes away from the original point. (Perhaps I should've said "office supplies" instead of copier paper ;-)
I'm fortunate to be in the IT position that I am. However, I still can't write the checks, so I'm accountable to higher management for providing solutions that work and are supportable. We are also a Solaris shop, so we have built-in Unix support. Your mileage may vary.
The Importance of Avoiding Poor Analogies to Express a Worthy Message
Is this about proper and effective Linux advocacy, or an anti Limbaugh political statement? The author seems to be unsure which of these topics he is more angry with and which is his main focus at times. Another way to make his point (assuming it is about Linux advocacy) would be to compare the O/S holy wars to the politicl climate and debate in general.
His lead comments about Limbaugh specifically, and Conservatism generally, are incorrect. I believe they hurt rather than help the analogy. Referring to Windows advocates and users as "weenies" seems to contradict his own message. So, is this really just a political statement from the author?
Let me offer a dissenting opinion about some of the author's statements:
> (You know he'd [limbaugh] be a Windows advocate. Give your code away? That smells of communism.)
Rush has claimed to primarily use a Mac. Open source is (partially) about competition in an open market with peer review and support of freely available source code. The best software survives without subsidy. Many Linux distributers also sell what they give away and provide support and consulting services for revenue. I smell no communism here. I doubt Limbaugh would either.
> (My theory: If people are screwing off on the Internet, then they remain at their desk where work is accomplished...)
We refer to these employees as being "Retired In Place." Screwing off is screwing off whether you are at your desk, the mail room, the paint shop, or assembly line. These employees are clueless as to why opportunities seem to pass them by, and begin to deeply resent "the system."
> The reality is this: IT buying decisions have been taken away from the people most qualified to make them. If you want to use Linux at work, you'll have to play by the rules, and the rules are different for technical people than they are for corporate buyers. Business people think this about technical people: What do they know about business?
Well, what DO we know about business? Most businesses do not exist to provide an environment for geeks to live in. Unless IT is a part of your company's core competency, the corporate buyers don't care about O/S's any more than they care where the copier/printer paper comes from. As long as it gets the job done effectively in a cost effective manner, why should they care more about it? If Windows applications are available to meet all of their needs, why should they put another computer on someone's desk to do cool Linux stuff, and keep the Windows system to do "business" stuff? Sounds like another expense to me, and to the business. (I actually have Linux running VMware on my laptop, so I can be effective and add value in both worlds).
The easiest way to bring Linux into a business is to explain the value of open source projects to the IT folks. You need their buy-in, so to speak, for support of "free" systems. IT budgets frequently are very tight. Given the chance to provide IT services without making a dent in the scarce IT budget would seem to be a no brainer, politics aside. You must follow the IT rules. Without their support, you are an undefensible nuisance and security risk.
> Business people need to be deluged with....
"Business people" (in your company) don't need to be deluged with anything. A concise and accurate business proposal showing costs and benefits should be succssful when compared to a more expensive proprietery proposal - as long as you get your facts straight and tie the solution into the needs of your company. If that doesn't work, you are dealing with a political environment where a deluge of information will never help anyway.
> As Al Franken said, Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot.
And the author closes as he began. What does this have to do with anything??? Unfortunately he has laced his editorial with exactly the same kind of rhetoric that he condems.
Mr. Fullmer, I agree with your concern for proper Linux advocacy. However, your analogy needs a little work.