The Linux vs. Windows Cost Debate

Some agencies are reportedly thinking about skipping Windows Vista in favor of an open source operating system. That makes this commentary from Jack Schofield, computer editor of the London newspaper The Guardian, very pertinent for the federal market here. He writes about whether Dell, the world's second-largest global computer manufacturer, should offer pre-installed Linux on its mass-market PCs. He says it shouldn't.

The arguments against it include the many Linux distributions (“everyone seems to want a different one,” Schofield writes), and the cost. Linux support doesn’t come cheap. "Saying 'Linux is just a kernel, so that's all we support' isn't going to work, but where in the great sprawling heap of GNU/Linux code do you draw the line?" Schofield writes.

Pre-installed Linux systems actually cost more than Wintel machines, Schofield adds. "This is partly because Linux has high overheads on minuscule sales, and partly because of the fees that PC sellers collect for bundling ISP connections, free antivirus and multimedia software, browser toolbars and so on," he writes. "The great collection of crapware that comes with a home user's Windows PC probably knocks at least £20 [about $40] off the price, maybe much more."

Hat tip: Slashdot