We asked if open-source software had a part to play in increasing technological innovation in the UK. It seems that for a nation with such a great engineering heritage, we have too easily passed the tech leadership flag over to the US and to the emerging economies. Steve George from Canonical speculated that open-source software …
quote people who are clearly clueless.
Open source is what powers our modern technologies. Closed source is the De Lorean of our modern world. All shiny sales gimmicks which doesn't work properly.
"Every computer comes with Windows anyway"
Really? I didn't see any Windows discs with:
- my desktop computer and web server (both bought as components; I bought no OS with these)
- my Lemote Yeeloong netbook computer (came with Debian)
- my Apple MacBook (came with MacOS X 10.5)
10 out of 10 for being pedantic
0 out of 10 for honesty
My $MEGACORP laptop came with Vista. $MEGACORP pay M$ a fee to put XP on top - every year. The cost of Vista was not refunded.
Care to point out where?
The only computers that come with Windows, are IBM clones, or specialised devices (running embedded versions of Windows) purchased from OEMs. Admittedly this is the majority of the computing market today. It is however not *all* the market.
If you're calling me a liar for complaining my Lemote netbook did not come with Windows, I'd love to see you demonstrate one running Windows. Outside of using Bochs or QEMU, those things will never ever run a desktop edition of Windows worth using... and will never run i386 Windows at any useful speed. Why? Because the vast majority of Windows applications are written for i386 processor architectures, and this particular machine is a MIPS. I did hear of someone porting Windows CE to one of the predecessors, but again, what applications are you going to run?
Also, on the MacBook; again, you calling me a liar for claiming it did not come with Windows? If you're in Brisbane, get in touch and I'll happily show you the box with all that it came with. Apple computers are one very notable exception to the statement of "all computers coming with Windows" -- they don't for obvious reasons. They can run it these days (in fact they always could; PowerMacs can do cross-architecture emulation using Bochs or QEMU) but you'll find in general they do not come with Windows, they come with MacOS X.
This is not typical of most computers (particularly IBM clones), I recognise, but it illustrates a flaw in the argument that was presented... unless some smart alec is going to suggest the above two systems are not "computers" on the grounds that Microsoft did not write the OS they run.
People are slowly waking up to the idea that a computer is not just a thing that comes with this other thing called "Windows". It has taken a long time, but we are slowly getting there.
[open source ...] car from the 50s
"[closed source software is] more reliable and less interference from me"
I fail to see any evidence to back up this line. Let's take a simple example shall we. I have Windows XP and Linux dual boot. Using both equally. I perform similar tasks on each. Windows XP needs significantly more maintenance than Linux; from disk defrags, reinstalls, fixing virus problems, etc etc. Linux was installed and has needed *no* maintenance since it "just works" (TM).
In last 5 years I have re-installed Windows (XP - but put on 64 bit Vista instead) once because it needed it (corrupted USB drivers - sure was TomTom related)
I haven't run defrag more than once or twice and then after installation of new apps
haven't seen a BSOD other than hardware issues
Supporting a few small companies - the only virus issue was one scareware and a bloke in into gambling and pornography (all of which seem related to trojans requiring user input)
Have had several major upgrades that insist they need installing
On dual boot on Laptop for some reason just hangs when browsing (something about waiting for xwindows failing to correctly switch terminals so dies – seems to be something Linus looked into several years ago and still rears it's head :s )
In my experience, both Windows and Linux pretty much work out of the box so to speak - put a decent anti-virus package on and Windows gives very little issues
I'd argue that...
Windows XP is nearly 10 years old. Are you running Redhat 7 or Debian 3? I'm guessing not, and so would assume your comparison is unfair.
At work I manage a thousand or so client systems plus about 30 servers. My monthly reports show uptime and reliability metrics for all systems, and there's simply no evidence in them that Windows systems are less reliable than the Macs or Linux systems (mostly servers).
The biggest gripe that my users had about the MS systems was the way systems needed to be restarted after a patch. Solution: Wake-on-LAN at midnight, deploy patch then shutdown.
I support open-source in principle, but the current offering from Microsoft is good quality and since upgrading to 7 I find I rarely boot into Linux these days.
Re: I'd argue
Windows XP is what came with the PC ... bought 5+ yrs ago ... and that was what manufacturers were putting on machines then. It had the current version of Mandriva installed at that time. Totally apples to apples comparison then. Yes, Windows does slow down over time (no idea on Win7, this applies to all up to and including Vista, since i've used those and clients have them). All clients I have observe the same.
“It seems that many in the UK still regard technology as something to be played with, rather than something that is worth learning about."
Presenting these options as mutually exclusive seems way off beam to me.
I don't know about any other Reg readers, but I learned a tremendous amount by playing with technology, with tinkering.
Even today, when the SME I work for started considering a CRM, I downloaded SugarCRM Community edition, installed it and essentially played with it to see what it could do.
The line between learning and playing is a fine line indeed.
Lost in translation?
I think he probably meant "played with" in the sense of "derived entertainment from in the manner anticipated/dictated by the manufacturer", whereas I suspect that you mean "played with" in the sense of "tinkered with". Of course, having an interest in playing games on some device doesn't preclude having an interest in how it works, but I'd suggest that it does little to teach you how the device works, and in that sense they are mutually exclusive.
Lack of Interest
It doesn't help that for many years, UK innovators have had to look abroad for VC funding because there isn't much of it available in the UK. This inevitably pushes the technology overseas, to the point where American VCs are happy for development to take place in the UK but consider that Silicon Valley is the place for product design so there's inevitable transfer of knowledge, and in some cases people, and the perception that it was produced in the Bay Area.
Pipers, tunes and all that.
re Every computer comes with Windows anyway.
you are obviously not the average PC buyer. To them, that statement is very true.
Don't confuse your slightly rose tinted view of the PC market with what the majority of PC buyers see & think. After all, they are the ones that go into PC-World to buy their PC's.
Written on my MacBook whilst waiting for an RHEL 6 Server build to complete. I have one system running windows and that is Server 2003 simply for some old legacy apps.
Your twisting "every PC comes with Windows" into "every consumer thinks every PC comes with Windows" and then arguing your own new point.
The point really is: every PC does not come with Windows
And to argue your new point, you're suggesting that the average PC buyer has never heard of an Apple computer?
This is a title - it could have been auto-generated, but it wasn't.
Most pre-built PCs which "come with Windows" no longer come with a Windows Install CD, they come with a "recovery media set" which installs not only the OS, any included Service packs, and a base set of drivers for the hardware in question.
They also come with a TONNE of branding, bloatware, trialware, and the like.
The recovery volume for my HP-Branded Vista machine was 3 DVD-R. The recovery volume for my Gateway-Branded Windows 7 machine was 3 DVD-R + 1 DVD-R of "reference" drivers + 1 DVD-R of Gateway Bloatware. My HP-Branded Windows 7 laptop was, in fact, an "out of box" model used for demo by the shop from which it was purchased, and as such the 3 DVD-R recovery volume could not be created by me (the shop did, however, unbox another laptop of the same model and use it to generate the discs for me.).
Still, feel free to believe that Windows comes with off-the-shelf PCs. It's just the same as believing that your Macbook is the be-all and end-all of Computing technology - A nice lie if you can believe it, but a lie nonetheless.
Isn't part of the problem the degredation of ICT from learning how to program in BASIC / FORTH / machine code or whatever into how to format a Word Document or embed a picture?
I've had a few conversations with my older daughter's ICT teacher on the merits of 6502 / Z80 or using VDU25,85 and a lookup table to draw circles on the Beeb B, as well as researching undocumented oswrch calls by hacking Basil's Copyall :)
This kind of bread and butter stuff may make the kiddies more prepared to use bash or a cron job.
Building false expectations
This change to ICT gives people a very warped idea of what computer technology is about. Computer science is one of very few fields where the universities expect that the students have absolutely no experience and indeed have very strange expectations of what the subject is about.
My son is in first year computer science and I had a discussion with one of his lecturers, which provided some alarming stats:
Of the intake, around 6% had done a lot of programming, about half had never programmed and the rest had done a little programming.
Computer science has the highest failure rate of any first year subject in the science/engineering area.
First year doesn't really get into proper computer science. It is really there to weed out those with the aptitude and desire from those who thought: "Hey I like playing with Facebook, maybe I should study computer science."
Given that so few kids actually go into university with any understanding of what CS is about, it is no wonder.
Fatal flaw, perhaps not.
But I know that when the economy went through the floor the IT department I work in couldn't take advantage of open source because of severe Windows lock-in. Less reliance on Microsoft in the years before would have meant that Linux desktops would have been a real, and much cheaper, choice than renewing some extremely expensive MS licenses, or at least been a bargaining chip to bring the price increases down -- that could have saved a few jobs in the IT department.
So, not a fatal flaw, but certainly an expensive strategy.
If we had tech groups like we have arts groups...
... Then we'd have collections of mixed skilled people capable of working together to take on projects. Everything from street buskers, through the local panto soc. to repertory companies and commercial theatres have an organisation, funding model and a recognised place in society. Compare that with the OS scene: Just for example you can't have a panto where everyone is the dame and nobody sells advertising for the programme. Any 'programming' project of any size needs a host of backstage people some beginners a small number of 'stars actors' and a producer. See a full article at http://vulpeculox.net/ob/repofknow.htm
Its not about open or closed source...
...its about reliability and continuity.
And quite frankly I think the article is way too broad. The main advantage of "closed source" vs "open source" is that - in general - closed source environments tend to offer a longer lifespan. For example; Windows 2003 server was released in.. 2003 (what a surprise) and an updated version (R2) got released approx. 2 years later. Yet at this time it is still supported and (security) updates are still being released.
That is something you won't see with hardly any open source project. In most cases a new version is released which replaces the previous one and as such support for the previous version is dropped. Sometimes this isn't always for the better (depending on your goals of course). For example; changed hardware requirements, changed interface, etc, etc.
While "open source" has many advantages it also comes with disadvantages. As such its IMO a bit silly to generalize like this. Commonly put; there are places where I'd prefer Linux (or BSD) as a server environment, just like there are places where I'd push a Windows server forward as the better solution for the job.
Its not as black/white as some of the fanboys (meaning all of 'm; both Windows, Mac OS & Linux / BSD) want us to believe.
Can it "change" the British way? It would heavily depend on what exactly that British way is.
As someone who works for a highly innovating software development house the taxman is one of the big disincentives to innovators in this country.
Did you know that you can claim tax credits for development work? Well *legally* you can claim this but if you actually do this the tax man gives you 20K credit (off corporation tax only so not much good for most of the SMB's) but he then sticks a 25K charge on your tax bill.
You then spend the next six months fighting with the ohmbudsman to get the charge removed,
You win and the tax man removes the charge then replaces it withanother spurious 26K charge.
Moral: UK tax rules are not for SMB's and deffo not for SMB innovators - if you want to innovate move to canada!
What the UK needs to do is show engineers that they are valued
Too true, and they also need to stop lying in their job adverts. I've applied for innumberable jobs advertised as requiring competancy and experience, only to be passed over for, as is obvious from seeing the products in circulation, incompetancy and inexperience.
IT in UK
As a Brit, it strikes me that the country and most of it's citizens have completely given in to becoming controlled dupes of large - mostly American - corporations in regard use of technology.
Why else would some commenters make inane statement about proprietary applications such as Microsoft Windows being modern when compared to Linux as an ancient relic. True ignorance and stupidity.
This explains why the education systems here would chose to spend tens of millions of Pounds in purchase of US software - like AutoCAD and Microsoft Windows Server, when far superior programs - as Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) are had for pennies or even gratis.
Countries like India, Brazil, China, most of continental Europe and even little Vietnam have swept past us in technology, why we sit reminiscing about the glory days of the British Empire. sic!
It gets worse.
"we have too easily passed the tech leadership flag over to the US and to the emerging economies." You can't evdn claim leadership at that! Australia has been doing it for many decades.
"But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I’d literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust him, and I still do."
I hope IP-encumbered closed stuff gives similar warm and fuzzy feelings to people who need to play Gimp to someone.
Using Linux is still read-only. Progresss comes from modifying it to control your vacuum cleaner or your greenhouse. And from contributing that work back to the community.
“It seems more likely that proprietary software does well in the UK because we can afford it, while the ‘Chinese rural communities’ cannot,” he writes.
Piracy is rampant in both (many/all) nations. Possibly more so in China than in the UK.
I've never met anyone with a legitimate copy of Photoshop (Photoshop LE free with a printer excepted).
I don't think I've ever met anyone with a legitimate copy of Office either.
Microsoft don't care, Adobe don't care. A person using a pirated version is still a customer helping to maintain the market domination, and the few who go on to work in the industry will, of course, end up with a legitimate copy of their software.
Anyone with any experience in computing knows why things are as they are - it's mostly down to what the average man on the street would call "bribery and corruption". Microsoft bribe corrupt politicians to make sure that Windows is the only option available in schools, colleges and Government Departments, knowing that if those three are in the bag, the rest will follow. Corporate IT is somewhat separate, although an honest accounting of IT history cannot deny that in many cases Microsoft were first to get computers into many SME environments and so "protecting their business" is understandable, if not actually forgivable, given how they went about it.
That we don't push Linux along side Windows, particularly in schools and colleges is lamentable, but entirely in line with our super dumbed down school programs.
My own daughter goes to one of the better schools in the city where I live, it used to be a grammar school until this year when they could no longer resist the lure of becoming an Academy - their IT program is appalling - 15 year children, all above average in intelligence, doing written projects on "how to use a search engine" and "how to use Microsoft Office".
This is one reason.
The other is the utter lack of socio-political education in this country. Blame whoever wants generations of "good little consumers" instead of thinkers and experimenters.
This could be turned around quite easily.
Whether it will is another matter entirely.
rant - "I've never met anyone with a legitimate copy of Photoshop"
I must get out more.
Does it really cost more in support ?
"It’s more hassle for an IT department to request Linux, or receive rebates on Microsoft licences, or deal with a deluge of user support queries, than it is to just accept the cost."
Having worked for small PC repair companies in the past I know that all home users and small businesses expect Windows to be installed on their computers. My partner works for a local authority where all users computers are expected to have Windows installed on them. We both realize what the working knowledge of the average PC user is and it wouldn't make any difference what operating system or what application they were using, their ability to do their job would be equally as bad and the support calls would be equally as numerous.
At least if open source products were used organizations and individuals could cut down on some of their IT costs.
The real problem...
...is that Linux documentation is written by the same people who do the programming which doesn't make the transition easy.
An example: Windows software websites usually start with a description of what the program is; what it does and often comes with screenshots. You get more information as you dig deeper and you can eventually assess whether that piece of software will do what you're looking for.
A lot of Linux software sites just jump straight into command-line switches and other esoterica without covering the basics.
And it's this sort of thing that makes the transition so hard. With Linux documentation there's -more often than not- the assumption of knowledge that may not be there. Even when it's step-by-step instructions, there's often missing stages and a complete lack of what to do if something goes wrong.
Lack of knowledge != stupid.
You see, I'm interested in computers for the results and deliverables, and not as an end in themselves. Often -particularly for something I've not tackled before- Windows is quicker purely because there's less dicking around with the documentation and much less time taken to work out what the hell a piece of software does and whether it'll fit the needs of whatever project I have in mind.
I *want* to go Open Source (and do have Ubuntu in a VM that I'm gradually chipping away at); but as things stand getting results is quicker in Windows because I know how to work it. (Or Macs). All the information can be got -piecemeal- from the net but again it all takes time. And the documentation is the main reason (IMO) that Linux hasn't hoofed Windows and MacOS from their perches. The somewhat flattering assumption of knowledge that I don't possess (or those elitist bastards being smug...depending on just how jaded I'm feeling at that point) is very off-putting for a n00b and is turning potential converts away in droves (again IMO).
Impatient? Lazy? Possibly. But as I say, I just want results. The OS and software are there to do my bidding and not the converse. Missing stages and otherwise impenetrable documentation; casual footnotes that you'll have to write yourself a device driver with no further explanation (yes, I have seen this...can't remember where, but I just closed the tab and gave up on Linux for ages); and anything else that stands between me and the end result score minus points for doing things that way.
Make the documentation friendlier, is all I'm saying. One way of approaching things is to talk a total n00b through your app/OS and document THAT; but obviously this would take time and resources. Dunno what to suggest otherwise.
The latest Ubuntu is a big step in the right direction, but still some way to go to make things accessible enough for total global domination.
Peeple buy what they're sold
Peeple buy what they're sold. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Dell, etc, line up armies of incentivized sales people who go out and sell what's in the catalogue.
That's why there's so much crap out there, it gets SOLD to peeple who buy it. To keep selling things and maintain that all important revenue growth new things have to be developed to be sold.
Those of us exercising free choice are in the minority, often because we are actually informed about a requirement and, consequently, how to fulfil that.
Every computer comes with Windows anyway.
Yes - and look at all the effort Microsoft expended over the years to make people believe that.
On a related note, has anyone ever heard of a pirate installation of Windows being disabled by Microsoft? I think they've threatened to do this and could, in fact. But the interesting question is, would they want to?
If all of those millions of PCs in the world running unlicensed copies of Windows were unable to do so any longer, their users would either have to give up computing or adopt another OS. That other OS would almost certainly be a Linux of some description.
You would think the fact that Linux is free, whereas Windows costs a fairly large lump of money, would give it quite an advantage in the market, wouldn't you? And yet I see that only 1.22% of visitors to my website in the last 12 months (or of the ones that don't disable cookies, anyway) used Linux.
I conjecture that there's a good reason for this. Linux has an invisible competitor. It's free, like Linux, but unlike Linux it's 90% compatible with Windows. It's called "Pirate Windows".
...OK, you can't upgrade PW, and it won't play that newest mega-game, but my cousin told me they're working on a hack for that...
91.4% of my visitors used Windows of some sort. Does that mean Windows has 91% of the OS market? No, because a market is about selling things, and my web stats count users, not purchasers.
I don't know how many, but I'm sure a lot of those Windows users didn't pay for the product. You could say they stole it, but is Microsoft screaming Thief? It's actually good for Microsoft that all of these people are using PW. They may not be generating revenue, but neither are they defecting to the Linux camp and making those user numbers grow.
It would be interesting to know roughly what percentage of the world's Windows systems are licensed. Microsoft probably has a pretty fair idea. Do you think they'd tell us, if we asked nicely?
There's another angle to this too - since unlicensed copies of Windows can't be updated, every one of those illegal machines is vulnerable. I wonder how significant this is in terms of general net security. Is Microsoft effectively encouraging botnets?
The kids with their salvaged machines don't care, of course. As long as the lag's not too bad, you play. But if it's a bit slow, because of the spambot running in the backround, and the keys are a bit slow to respond because of the long chain of keyloggers hooking the keyboard events, you call your cousin and he comes, reformats, reinstalls PW, and you're good to go again.
Turned off Windows
"On a related note, has anyone ever heard of a pirate installation of Windows being disabled by Microsoft? I think they've threatened to do this and could, in fact. But the interesting question is, would they want to?"
Yes I have. At one time a customer approached me with "a laptop which background never remained the same". After looking into it it turned out to be a laptop which contained an illegal version of Windows XP. While the OS remained running the background got automatically turned into a black color stating that the Windows version was an illegal copy.
So the version kept on working (sorta anyway, I didn't bother to dive into all details) but MS did indeed notice that the version was fraudulent and took action.
It can happen.
If you do not let "Windows Genuine Advantage" onto your pirated copy of XP you still get all the security upgrades. You cannot get updates for Office etc. but you probably wouldn't want them anyway.
All you have to do is use the "Custom Update" option and uncheck WGA and check "Don't ask me again".
Once you have WGA you are stuffed, it is impossible to remove without buying a license.
I still think that our politicians should prevent MSoft from installing Windows on almost every PC but not giving a refund if you don't want it. It could easily be changed to a system where you pay to register or it just would not work. i.e. a trial version.
Napolean got it right...
...nation of shopkeepers.
We sold all our talent down the river in the 80's and continue to do so to this day.
Best way out of this mess is out of the country. France and Germany value their engineers (and ours) very highly, if you can't learn the lingo, then the US, Canada and our antipodean cousins always seem to be welcoming.
Linux doesn't care.
Nor does any other FOSS project. The coders of these are not especially interested in what 'Mr Average' (tm) wants. They have an itch to scratch and are quite happy to share their scratching stick with a pal with a similar itch. They are quite chuffed <- good old English word - if they get their stick back with an enhanced double-bend mid-back module attached.
That simple fact seems to go about 40,000 ft over the heads of most commentards.
And it's mighty satisfying when you've either been able to scratch your own itch, and/or someone else's.
Windows and MacOS X both frustrate me as there are itches I lack the ability to scratch (more for Windows than MacOS X... the latter has been pretty good so far), and I know neither Apple nor Microsoft are interested in scratching them for me.
Closed source; you're boned. Open source, even if you don't know about programming, you can take the code to someone who does and either for money or gratis, have the itch scratched for you in just the way you like.
Everybody is paying the Microsoft tax
It is quite simple Microsoft managed to convince (bribed/extort) OEM's to deliver their hardware with Windows in such way that you hardly can buy a PC without it. So yes the average PC-buyer always has Windows on its PC and has no real incentive to change from operating system.
Can I blame the Schools?
I'm a self-taught user, and I've used Linux, MS-DOS, Windows, and Macintosh. I've networked computers using 10-Base-T. But I needed a formal piece of paper for job applications. That course was Windows-only.
There were recent school-leavers struggling with the course. Yes, they'd used Windows at school.
A quarter-century ago, the schools were using the BBC Micro, and nobody seriously thought schools could, or should, teach people to be office workers on a standard OS and software suite. That's the aim today, it seems. Teaching touch-typing would be worthwhile, and the basic concept-level skills surrounding such things as files and folders. But how can anyone think that the version of MS Office at your new employment will be the same as the version used at School? Is the system missing the point on the need to adapt?
I learned by figuring it out for myself, even reading the manual. It would probably startle my teachers that I could succeed at NaNoWriMo: I've a feeling that nobody really knew anything about teaching the mechanics of writing, such as the structure of an essay which could answer an exam question in a half hour.
Open Source isn't zero cost, but maybe it makes it affordable to teach the kids haw to adapt to the unfamiliar. You don't have to pick one word-processor to use in the classroom for ever after.
The IT world is being held back by lazy teachers, and lazy employers who want pre-trained staff.
For a few golden years schools with BBC micros & RM mp/m machines taught people to programme.
Nowe the teach them to type with MSword, skipping the use of styles, automatic TOC & master documents.
I blame the educators
In today's "Windows" mentality, people can control a technology that they don't understand. With a click of a mouse, they can start a process in which they can see a result, but have no idea how that result was obtained. That is very dangerous for our society today. Almost daily, I read in the Register about people who have had their checking/saving accounts compromised, viruses, Trojans, phishing scams, cars being hacked via the internet, and the such. Perhaps, the emphasis should be on requiring schools to teach more about computer technology. A high school graduation requirement would be that a student must learn, minimally, one programming language, how a computer works, and how the internet and networking work. That would help people understand a little about the technology that they have. Open Source would get the programming support that it deserves, and society would be made generally better.
re: In today's "Windows" mentality, people can control a technology that they don't understand
They have been able to do that with cars for several decades - it is going to get worse
A quantum leap is needed,...
for anyone to gain enough benefit to jump top open source; simply paying less is not enough.
If someone (for example) took my patchset, application stack and config, then ran its own custom tests and reported back with some level of assurance the validity of the next patch bundle, then I would be impressed and potentially prepared to move.
I recall in the dim dark 80s when support engineers at my work knew what they were doing, were well trained on the innards of the proprietary vendor and knew how to troubleshoot problems. This was when IT was still a relatively rare beast and monies were freely available for training / decent staff. Now we have for the most part trained monkeys who google questions on the interweb and deny, deny, deny any problem is their fault because they simply can't fathom how the damn things work anymore.
Open Source is the tech for the 10s that requires techs from the 80s, and will stay so I am afraid.
<quote But Jones rebuffs this. “I do not think you can ascribe that to New Labour,” he writes. “It has been a generic British thing. Yes, New Labour helped out in certain ways (IR35, for example), but the UK would not have been much better off under the Conservatives or any other government.” />
What on earth does IR35 have to do with the open/closed source debate, exactly?
So what you are saying ....
" ... “It’s more hassle for an IT department to request Linux, or receive rebates on Microsoft licences, or deal with a deluge of user support queries, than it is to just accept the cost. ... "
So what you are saying ...
... is that stupid and/or lazy people cost less? Both in the IT department and as users? And are therefore better for businesses then smart hard working people? No wonder this is happening.
As to the "hassle" for an IT Dept to "request" Linux ...
They don't have to "request" Linux. You go on line, download it, burn it to a CD/DVD/thunbdrive and install it. You only need 1 copy for all of your computers. One "Free", as in beer and Freedom, copy. Need Support? That you can pay for, and get quality support.
And " rebates on Microsoft licences " ...
You can buy hardware WITHOUT any OS. The vender you use wont/can't sell you hardware without an OS? Then maybe it's time to find a new hardware vendor. Or threaten to find one, if you are planning to spend a LOT of money. And see just what they can and can't do.
Want to change the world? Then do it by changing YOUR world. Eventually the rest of the world will catch up with you.
Change the "British way", one Brit at a time.
The question is not open source vs closed sourse
The question is unixoid vs windowsoid. The Unix philosophy offers a very simple way to learn.
With very little effort you can write small shell scripts to get any job you want done.
On the other hand you have the Windows(-like) philosophy, where every bit of programming takes huge amounts of effort. Therefore you buy software even for trivial tasks, even when the cost of that software is a lot larger than writing a small shell script. So you spend more money then you would otherwise do and haven't learned anything.
The reason why we often credit the advantages to Linux is that it simply is the most common decent unixoid system. Unix vendors made the mistake of being to expensive in the past. The remaining vendors (like Apple) made the mistake of trying to copy Windows/MacOS. Today only open source software has the resource and will to bring out proper and usable unixoid software.
If Microsoft would have pushed their Xenix instead of Windows there would be next to no open source.
Am I mistaken or was the article about INNOVATION
From the comments you'd have sworn the article was about how much better proprietary software was compared to open source or the converse.
I didn't see anyone arguing that we produced superior products that sold to the rest of the world.
I did see lots on how we buy a superior software set that is not innovated here, i.e the "read-only" mentality quoted in the article.