Linked by Howard Fosdick on Sat 24th Nov 2012 17:52 UTC
Editorial Do you depend on your computer for your living? If so, I'm sure you've thought long and hard about which hardware and software to use. I'd like to explain why I use generic "white boxes" running open source software. These give me a platform I rely on for 100% availability. They also provide a low-cost solution with excellent security and privacy.
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Comment by joekiser
by joekiser on Sat 24th Nov 2012 19:03 UTC
Member since:

Still, when I see how some companies operate, I wonder if they're wasting money.

Absolutely. I once contracted at a [large company] and saw first hand how the IT department was screwing the rest of the [company] out of money. An exclusive contract with one of the name brand PC manufacturers required upgrading every single device every three years. There were 30,000+ devices in this company. Each device was sold with a Windows 7 Professional COA that went unused because the company had also purchased an Enterprise license from Microsoft for Windows XP+Office 2k7. As of last year, we were still rolling out a standard 32-bit XP image, on quad-core machines with 4GB+ of memory, because legacy software required XP to run.

You might imagine that a place that invests so much $$$ in its hardware and software stack would be using a lot of specialized software, right? Well, kind of. Most users either used a Java application that ran on a remote server, or another software that was a Telnet session to an IBM zServer (the telnet client was proprietary and required a separate paid license).

How did I fit in? The 30k users had all sorts of daily issues with their machines, not due to hardware issues (rare), but due to viruses and malware. Remember, these are full Windows XP systems being used to launch a Java Application and Telnet session. In the background, they still have IE7 (IE8 was still "unproven" as of 2011) which allows them to download whatever the fuck they want onto their system. Thus, end users would render their machines completely unusable due to the shit they were downloading. Standard practice was, if after two hours, you couldn't remove the malware (which you couldn't because you were required to use the same antivirus that let the fucking machine get infected in the first place), the solution was to re-image the machine. Five hours of work total, and yeah, we billed by the hour.

I realized early on that a lot of the environment could be replicated easily and cheaply using FOSS. Any five year old Linux system could run the Java app and Telnet session (I tried this as a proof of concept) and would be much cheaper to support. In fact, most of the software devs were running RHEL in a virtual machine on their devices. At the very least, the company didn't need to purchase two versions of Windows for each Machine (I later found out the decision-maker behind this policy was given her choice of free take-home machines by the hardware manufacturer and also given a MSDN subscription so that she could brag about how she had the awesome new Windows 8 before everyone else).

I have since moved on to a less demeaning job at a place with a much more sensible IT policy, but I completely understand how the IT department can be a ponzi-scheme that sucks the lifeblood out of the company. The place I just described was a hospital, one of the top-rated hospitals in the country at that, and the cost of all that IT bloat was being rolled into the bill for the end customer, which is really a sick child, cancer patient, or a dying grandparent. Wasting money? Not for them. Somewhere in that $5k a night you are paying for this kind of nonsense.

Reply Score: 22

RE: Comment by joekiser
by REM2000 on Sat 24th Nov 2012 19:16 in reply to "Comment by joekiser"
REM2000 Member since:

i have seen that scenerio so many times, i will add that many will also let the SA expire on a Microsoft volume contract thus costing the company more.

Ive been in the same position although my approach was different, i replaced the Antivirus with a better solution, it found all of the viruses and killed 99% the 1% we reimaged. I then upgraded the machines hardware and OS to Windows 7 and so far no viruses or malware, in part due to the antivirus but in part also due to the better administrator privilege mechanisim in Windows 7 which allowed us to put users as standard users without messing up there apps and easy escalation to administrator which only the IT administrators could do.

Both i think are good solutions, i did look at FOSS however it couldn't meet the requirements of the organisation.

The only other thing i would add to the article is to make images or backups of the software your using, in particular the OS, in many cases and indeed illustrated in the article you can fix Linux/'inx's easily, it's a powerful feature, however in the cases when you have to reinstall it's best to install to the same OS your using, what i mean is that there are new releases all the time and some of the newer releases break things (wifi etc), so keeping the ISO of the OS you installed and was working right is a must as relying on a distrubution to keep a copy of the same OS may cause you to be out of luck.

I would go further and say that if your job depends on your work then stick to LTS, or other long supported systems.

(also i appreciate a lot of users will also mirror there setups onto DVD/backup disks).

The article was a good read though and i agree on all the points, i would like to have a job where i wasn't so reliant on Windows as i like to have a good mix of OS's and would like to work where Linux was in more use just to spice things up, however im not going to whine about it as Windows 7 is rock solid and does what i need it to do!

Reply Parent Score: 6

jabbotts Member since:

I just wish Office 2003 wasn't completely broken on Win7 64bit. (why an MS product won't work on an MS OS.. I'll never understand) Can't buy winXP licenses, can't afford to migrent everyone to Office 2010 at the same time.. weeee.. fun.. every week starts with another "XYZ froze on me and I lost work" complaint.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by zima on Wed 28th Nov 2012 10:52 in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
zima Member since:

im not going to whine about it as Windows 7 is rock solid and does what i need it to do!

If Win7 is so nice, maybe it's time to change your avatar? ;p

Reply Parent Score: 2