Friday, July 30, 2010

10 reasons why your kids should be using Linux

 As It professionals and Educators, we speak mostly of the professional aspects of our jobs. The problem is, when we go home and, in many cases, our IT work continues. Part of it involves keeping our children’s computers running and running well. Sometimes, that job can be a bigger challenge than the task of keeping the adults in our business up and running.
But why put yourself through this when you can install Linux on a machine for your child/teen and avoid the headaches? article , are 10 good reasons why you should do just this. In the end, you can decide for yourself whether they’re reason enough to migrate those young users away from other operating systems

1: Viruses/malware

This reason is always at the top of our list. We all know kids are prone to opening and installing things they shouldn’t. Because you can’t watch your children 100 percent of the time, you can’t know where they’re getting those applications or attachments from. You can make sure those machines have antivirus and anti-spyware, but why even take the chance? When your kids are using the Linux operating system, this concern becomes moot.

2: Security

This can be summed up easily. If you don’t give your children the root password, they can’t run with root privileges. Of course, you hit a little snag when using a distribution like Ubuntu. For any sudo-based operating system, you will need to edit the /etc/sudoers file to give your young users the privileges they need.

3: Cost effectiveness

Let’s say you have a younger user who is getting a hand-me-down machine that needs an OS reinstall. If you don’t have that copy of Windows around, you’re stuck purchasing a new copy. This can also be applied to any number of applications you might have to pay for. Avoid these costs altogether by handing that child the same machine running Linux. You won’t have pay for the OS license or any application that child might need or want. On top of that, they’ll have the Add/Remove Software tool ,where they can hunt around and find just about anything they would need… all on their own! You can also run a modern distribution on much less hardware than you will need for Vista or Windows 7.

4: Age-specific tools

Did you know there are distributions/software groups designed specifically for young adults and children? There is Sugar, geared for K-6, Edubuntu, for ages 3-18,LinuxKidX, for ages 2-15, Foresight Kids, for ages 3-12, and many others. These age-specific tools are well suited for the group they target with graphics and language tuned for the age range. And some of the distributions geared specifically for younger kids lock the operating system down tightly so that only certain tasks can be run.

5: Netbooks

Little kids make great netbook users. They have smaller hands and fingers that can handle a cramped keyboard, and they can easily sit with a small machine in their lap. And the Linux operating system is ideally suited to run on netbooks. You can install either a full-blown OS or a netbook-specific OS, along with whatever software you need on the netbook, making it an excellent choice for the younger audiences.

6: Agile learners

If you put a Linux-based machine in front of a young user, you won’t hear complaints like, “Why can’t it run Quicken!” or “I need my custom payroll app to run on this!” Most kids will master the Linux operating system quickly (and adroitly), with a minimal learning curve. Young minds adapt so well, your kids won’t have any trouble adjusting to any differences. You could probably sit a child down with a Gentoo box running CDE or AfterStep and he or she would have it figured out in less time than it took you to explain what Linux means.

7: Staying in step

I know this one will bring out the ire in many readers. I’m not saying any operating system is used more than any other. But Linux is used worldwide. Many countries as a whole have adopted Linux. The future of Linux is very bright — and it seems to be getting brighter. So why not give your children a head start on what could possibly be the future of the PC? This also applies for those fledgling IT pros out there. If Windows is so user friendly, kids spending most of their time on Linux should have no problem grasping Windows. In fact, I would argue that it will enhance the child’s ability to fully grasp the operating system and how the PC really works.

8: Learning opportunities

Open source emboldens education. It practically screams, “Open me up and learn!” What better way to help youngsters learn than by giving them the ability to do just that? With really curious children, the desire to learn is extraordinary — so why lock them down with closed source software? When a child is exposed to open source software and an open source operating system, the educational opportunities are limitless.

9: A lesson in community

This one might seem a bit of a stretch… but I am an idealist, so I hope you’ll go with it. Teaching children the value of open source software helps them understand community. Although your young users aren’t likely to open up the source code of the applications they’re using, in today’s constantly evolving, community-driven world, they need every advantage they can get as they grow up. Having a sound understanding of open source will help them to understand, at an early age, what it means to really work with and for a team. Using Linux at such an early age also indirectly teaches children the benefit of volunteering — something many of us need to learn more about.

10: Content filtering

Linux has numerous ways to handle content filtering for your young users. FromDansGuardian to SquidGuard to the manual editing of the /etc/hosts file, you can filter content in Linux far more granularly than you can in Windows — and just as easily. Add to this the ability to lock down what your young user can and can’t do (without having to add third-party software), and Linux quickly becomes a safe computing environment for your child.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How to sell clients on Linux

By Jack Wallen
(Jack Wallen shares tips on how to pitch Linux to clients. He also explains how convincing a client to go with Linux can have long-term benefits for your consultancy )

This article pas taken from TECH Republic. Something Foss Advocates should consider
In such a Windows-centric world, pitching Linux to clients who are not tech savvy is not as hard as you might think — you just have to know the product and know where (and how) the product fits into the client’s infrastructure. Here are some examples.
A client (an SMB with 25-50 users) comes to you with the following needs:
  • Desktop for each user
  • Networking infrastructure
  • Server for email
  • Server for Web
  • Server for storage
The client states up-front that keeping the price as low as possible is key. Although this client may not be a cash cow for you, you know they are connected to a plethora of other possible clients, so you want to do as much for them as you can. Here’s how you can break this down to save them money, keep their systems up and running (with little maintenance), and ensure they refer you to their peers.
  • Desktops: You will want to keep these machines on Windows; you don’t want to add Linux into the mix in such a way that will confuse the client’s employees.
  • Networking infrastructure: This could be a grab bag of any hardware you want.
  • Servers: You could go the Windows SBS route, but then you will have to deal with CALS and maintenance, which will raise the cost. Instead, this is where you can deploy Linux. You can either run all three systems on one machine (using a LAMP server with the inclusion of Postfix for email, ClamAV for antivirus, and rsync for storage). That server machine is going to run like a champ, costing the owner next to nothing in maintenance fees. So the client will save the cost of the OS and the CALS, as well as the cost of maintenance calls to effectively keep the server up and running.
However, let’s say that you have a client who shows an interest in Linux as a desktop environment, but he is concerned about that one application he must use that only has a Windows version. The client likes the idea of the stability and reliability of Linux, so he wants his employees using that desktop, but there is still that one application. What do you do? Virtual machines. This is a selling point that many consultants overlook. With the help of VirtualBox, your clients can run (with only the cost of the Windows license) that one application within a virtual instance of Windows on top of a Linux OS. To sell this approach, you should outline the following benefits:
  • The stability and reliability of the Linux OS.
  • Running the Windows application in a virtual machine means that, should something get corrupted (or break in any way) within the Windows virtual machine, the user can simply close that instance and open a previously saved, working, state.
  • The virtual machine could be served up from the Linux server so that any user would have access. This doesn’t mean everyone can be running the same image at once, but it would make deploying an image easy (e.g., copy the image from one virtual machine to another).

Let clients try Linux

If a client wants to play around with Linux to see if it will fit their needs, a really good approach is to give the client a Live CD of a distribution and tell them to boot it up. The Live instance will not change their current OS, and they could get easily get an idea if Linux will work. You can take this one step further by rolling your own Live CD (with a tool such as SUSE Studio) and adding your branding to the desktop, as well as to applications you think the client will want and/or need.

See long-term benefits

There are so many ways to sell Linux to your clients. The biggest selling point is the reliability of the operating system. Will you make a lot of money using Linux? Not directly. But the customers you satisfy will keep coming back and send new clients your way.

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