Open Source

Open source usage equals monetary and environmental gains

In October of 2004, a U.K. government-sponsored study concluded that substantial long-term monetary and environmental gains were accrued from using computers running the Linux operating system.

In October of 2004, a U.K. government-sponsored study concluded that substantial long-term monetary and environmental gains were accrued from using computers running the Linux operating system.

In a report titled the "Office of Government Commerce: Open Source Software Trials in Government- Final Report," the authors stated that long-term open-source software usage allowed longer utilization of hardware resources as opposed to proprietary software (read Windows).

An excerpt from the article at SoftPedia:

"A typical hardware refresh period for Microsoft Windows is 3-4 years. A major U.K. manufacturing organization quotes its hardware refresh period for Linux systems as 6-8 years."

Also, there are substantial green benefits to be gained. With hardware needing to be replaced less frequently, there is less e-waste and hence less energy consumed in replacing and consuming resources.

Microsoft's Windows does not exactly enjoy a huge fan following, but if software consumes and exhorts more out of hardware, then that should force hardware makers to work harder at getting the next best technology into market.

I am not siding with the goodness of bloated software, but is it not in business interest to have a cycle that gets out hardware, then software that runs on it and loads it, which in turn results in better hardware and then more software, and so forth?

Would that imply that what is best for business may not be the best for the environment?

7 comments
JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

The IT world is (or should be) application driven. Yeah, of course Linux is technically far more effiecient. But what if your task at hand requires something that is only avilable under Windows? Here's a more fun question: It's been demonstrated that Windows Vista is half as fast as XP on the same hardware. Ergo, it takes twice as many CPU cycles to do the same amount of work. So wouldn't replacing an XP machine with Vista also be a crime against the environment?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't think there's enough information in the SoftPedia article to evaluate the "greenness" of Linux vs. Windows. In addition to the operating system, the applications must be taken into account. If a system is used only for basic office suite and web apps, it will last longer than one that requires regular updates driven by application upgrades. This is true regardless of the OS involved. We have a CAD package called Solid Edge, and pay for a software update subscription. Periodically one of the upgrades will require an upgrade to the next version of Windows. In some cases it's also required additional RAM or replacing a CD drive with a DVD. While these changes may require replacing a system, it's the application that's driving it, not the OS. My limited experience is that you get better performance with newer hardware regardless of the OS. Linux may be run on a wide range of hardware, but are there any cases where it runs better on a old box than a new one?

j-mart
j-mart

My argument as regards to constant upgrade cycle of these products is that more resources are consumed by upgrade cycle which is a negative, but it is rare for these upgrades to have any increase in productivity. I have used solid edge in the past and from version 7 through to version 12 a few cosmetic changes but no dramatic increase in productivity. I have not used more recent versions but in the case of your organization are these upgrades producing productivity gains. If the company I work for was considering the upgrade of a machine we would require an extensive report showing positive gains that would return investment within a reasonable time, with software "upgrades" productivity gains are often, as I see it not taken into consideration. Often with these products they are so good to start with there is not much that can be done to make them better, so "upgrades" soon become cosmetic just to keep revenue stream going.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Unfortunately, there are times when our customers specify in the contract that the output must be in a specific format generated by a specific version of software. This happens far more often than I'd like, usually with drawings. I'm waiting on one that requires us to submit the documentation in Word 07 format...

pr.arun
pr.arun

The PDF in the article details on the exact study. Several factors such as the scope of Open Source Software and the effort of implementation were taken into consideration. The question is whether using Open Source would require an upgrade at all? This is assuming that it should give a better performance on the new machines but the question is whether that performance was absolutely crucial from a general perspective.

pr.arun
pr.arun

The PDF in the article details on the exact study. Several factors such as the scope od Open Source Software and the effort of implementation were taken into consideration

pr.arun
pr.arun

Would that not imply that what is best of business may not be the best for environment?

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