December 3, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: How much money do you save by switching to Open Source?

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

This week's news featured a couple of conflicting studies about the cost of using Open Source or Free Software in business settings. In the more scientific study, the CRN news weekly's Test Center found that a small Linux network of computers cost 93 percent less to set up than a similar Windows network.

The CRN Test Center concluded: "Linux and associated Linux applications can accomplish many of the same tasks as the Wintel standard at a much lower initial cost." That's something many Open Source/Free Software advocates have been preaching for a long time, but maybe studies like this will open the eyes of more businesspeople.

On the other hand, some people are still talking about the "hidden costs" of Open Source/Free Software. An article at (warning: not viewable in some browsers) suggests that running Linux and Free Software can be time-consuming. But the article doesn't really put a cost to that time. Now if someone would do a study combining the cost-savings of Open Source software and the time spent, that might be really interesting. My guess, after you factor the time a business' computer dudes spend on the security problems and frequent Blue Screens of Death that haunt Microsoft products, Open Source products save time after the initial set-up.

DMCA foes take a beating

Backers of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which many in the Open Source and Free Software communities have opposed for its anti-circumvention provisions, won a couple of battles in court this week.

A New York court ruled that could be banned from publishing the DeCSS code, which allows Linux users to decode and play DVDs on their systems. Of course, dozens of other sites -- we won't name any names -- have published or linked to that code, and it's even been printed on a T-shirt.

This same week, a New Jersey judge dismissed the lawsuit of Princeton Professor Ed Felton's research team against the music industry and the U.S. government over threats the team would be prosecuted for publishing its research on anti-copying technology. An appeal is planned.

As summarized: "Copyright law foes lose big."

IBM talks up grid computing

IBM this week announced that a computing grid, using Linux for critical functions, will help several university hospitals diagnose and research breast cancer. IBM execs are pitching grids as the next big thing in computing, and the company is using Linux with those grids.

Success story of the week

NewsForge freelancer Daniel P. Dern looks at how Turner Consulting Group is saving money and building affordable custom solutions for its customers by using Open Source software.

Newly reviewed likes the Galeon 1.0 browser (I'm using an earlier version to browse while I write this story) so much that the reviewer says it spells doom for competing Opera.

Freelancer Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reviews the handful of options for running Windows programs on Linux, detailing each one's strengths and weaknesses.

NewsForge's Tina Gasperson checks out the qtella file-sharing program for Linux and finds it faster and more advanced than the competition.

New at NewsForge and

Other stories that NewsForge and reported first this week:

Gasperson reports that Lineo has granted unrestricted use of the CP/M technology, bringing a popular site about the operating system for microcomputers back online.

Business columnist Jack Bryar has some advice for Sony: Embrace Linux because Microsoft is out to get you.

NewsForge's Robin "Roblimo" Miller addresses the problem of lack of hardware support in Linux by telling Linux fans to sell more people on the operating system.

Stock news

It was a mixed week for the tech-heavy Nasdaq index and Open Source-related stocks this week. Nasdaq ended the week at 1930.58, down Friday 2.68 points, but up from 1903.20 Nov. 23. Open Source-related stocks were mixed, but Linux-related companies Red Hat and Caldera both rose sharply this week, possibly because of IBM's announcement it would support Red Hat on its server products.

Among Open-Source related stocks going the other way this week: TiVO and MandrakeSoft.

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 11/23 Close 11/30 Close
Apple AAPL 19.84 21.30
Borland Software Int'l BORL 13.50 14.46
Caldera International CALD 0.50 0.77
Hewlett-Packard HWP 20.94 21.99
IBM IBM 115.35 115.59
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e5.84 e5.40
Red Hat RHAT 5.84 7.98
Sun Microsystems SUNW 12.81 14.24
TiVo TIVO 5.80 5.21
VA Linux Systems LNUX 2.43 2.67
Wind River Systems WIND 18.57 17.20
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