March 15, 2001

Virus plague causes charity to consider Linux

Author: JT Smith

By John Leyden -
- The Register -

Development charity ActionAid is developing plans to switch all its desktop
computers to Linux, as a way of avoiding the viruses that continuously assault its
Windows PCs.

The poverty relief organisation, which operates in 30 countries, is on the brink of
the move after becoming increasing fed up with the effort needed to deal with
recent virus outbreaks, and suffering infection from the Emmanuel bug.

Kerry Scott, IT director at Action Aid, said the effect of viruses on the charity had
pushed him to consider using Linux far more seriously after initial reservations
about the availability of suitable applications, particularly word processing

"We're seeing an increasingly large number of viruses from a number of sources
which are causing a great deal of problems and inconvenience. Linux might be a
way around that and also of reducing the cost of operating a desktop," said Scott.

Dealing with viruses has hit the charity in the operation of its email system, which is
its most important communications method, and left it unable to contact some remote
offices over the Internet. Staff resources have also been wasted mopping up from
the effects of virus outbreaks.

As well as promising "virus free" computing, adopting the open source operating
system might also save the charity much needed funds particularly with the
increasing cost of Microsoft's software.

"Is paying software licensing fees the best use of supporters funds? If we run our IT
more efficiently, and pay less on software licenses, we'll have more money to give
the poor," said Scott. "Dealing with viruses is very much a hidden cost and if it gets
worse we'll push harder on the Linux side."

ActionAid has 1,000 desktops scattered around the world and many of them are in
locations with poor Internet connectivity, which makes it difficult for the charity to
update the antivirus software it uses with the latest virus definition files.

Desktop software licenses cost the charity £60,000 a year but this might be offset
by the costs of making the move to Linux, and Scott wants to establish by the end
of the year if there's a business case for embracing the open source operating

All Content copyright 2001 The Register

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