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Thread: My savings using Linux

  1. #1
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    My savings using Linux

    Writing this post got me to thinking: discussions about the advantages of Linux usually revolve around qualifiable concepts like its robustness, reliability, lack of malware, etc. So I thought it would be also be interesting to quantify how much I've saved using Linux over the years.

    Here's how the math works out for me.

    My household has three desktops, four laptops and four servers. For the OS alone, that's 11 seats x $250 per seat.
    Five of those machines run full suites of software: office, graphics, drafting, accounting, assorted apps and utilities. A conservative estimate for proprietary equivalents is $2,000 x 5 seats.

    That's $12,750 on initial outlay.

    I've been using Linux as my primary OS for 14 years. Assuming that, in the proprietary world, one would have to pay for upgrades every three years, and assuming that upgrades are about 40% the cost of the initial outlay. This results in the following:

    14 years ÷ 3 ≈ 4 upgrade cycles (rounded down to integer value)

    $12,750 x 4 x 40% ≈ $20,400

    So, my software outlay in the proprietary world would have been ≈$33,000 over the years.

    On the HW side, Linux has allowed me to continue using old HW that I would otherwise have had to replace a number of times by now (expecting Windows to run on my 12-yr-old laptops or workstation is just a bad joke). So, conservatively assuming only one replacement cycle in the last 14 years:

    3 desktops ≈ $3,600
    4 laptops ≈ $4,000
    4 servers ≈ $6,000

    Total HW ≈ $13,000
    Total SW ≈ $33,000

    Grand total ≈ 45,000

    Let's say I've grossly overstated things—I don't think I have—but let's be really conservative and reduce that by ⅓. That still leaves $30,000 of savings I didn't have to spend. The price of a nice car. Or a down payment on a house.

    Note that this analysis doesn't include the VMs that I routinely run, which would each require a separate license (at a further cost) in the proprietary world. Nor does it include proper costing for server software. I simply assumed a basic OS install on all of them, which isn't remotely accurate and would cost much more in the proprietary world.

    People who ignore Linux's monetary savings simply don't want to do the math.

  2. #2
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    Most of this is assuming people not running Linux would only use software that requires paid licences. Most of the free software that you mention, will also work with other OSs.

  3. #3
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    I've been running 13 xubuntus at our local library for 10 years and a bunch at home. Your math sounds good and adding the benefit of not needing therapy every time a windows update sets me back several hours and the estimate goes way up.

  4. #4
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    Quote Originally Posted by crip720 View Post
    Most of this is assuming people not running Linux would only use software that requires paid licences. Most of the free software that you mention, will also work with other OSs.
    I know of no one who runs Windows and yet substitutes FOSS alternatives like LibreOffice, GIMP, Inkscape, GnuCash, Scribus and LibreCad in lieu of the leading proprietary apps (MSOffice, MS Project, the Adobe suite, Quickbooks AutoCAD, etc). Users of proprietary OSes practically always also use proprietary apps—I would say almost exclusively. Moreover, in the interest of estimating conservatively, I have deliberately watered down the costs of these apps at the outset: for example, an AutoCAD licence was running $5,000 back in my working days. Last but not least, I left out the cost of proprietary server backup software, back office software, OS licences for my 18 VMs… If anything, I have undercounted significantly. Therefore, I believe that my analysis is a more than fair approximation to real world costs. Even if your observation were valid and I have overestimated proprietary outlays, my reduction of the initial estimate by ⅓ should more than cover that.

    The point of the post was not to arrive at an ironclad and unarguable number, but to highlight how much Linux users take their financial benefits for granted. I find that it is human nature to shrug off the value of anything that's "free". When we don't actually pay for anything, there is a tendency to denigrate its inherent worth. Exercises like this one are needed to reattach proper value to what is too often psychologically neglected.

    Lastly, even if these apps run on Windows, they are definitely a part of the FOSS ecosystem. The underlying and unspoken theme of the post was not solely about Linux, but about the larger FOSS ecosystem of which Linux is not only the most visible component but is its leading component.

  5. #5
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    I agree on the number, my scale is smaller. I've moved at least 10 friends to linux, 1000 bucks right there vs a windows home version. At home, not including software I'd ballpark another 1000 bucks on a windows server essentials and 4 desktops with windows home. Without software included it has already saved me 2 grand in 6 years or so. Scary. Doesn't include my containers running as full vms either.

  6. #6
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    Unfortunately I'm the only Linux user in my household.

    The Wife refuses to use anything except Windows and fortunately Windows 10 update / upgrade was free and since she has a Microsoft account she can use Office 365 online for free.

    I do have Windows 10 free update / upgrade on several computers for family members whenever they need one.

    All the computers in our house are others discarded computers and never had to pay for a Windows OS or other Windows software so cost only my time getting them working.

    We haven't bought any new computers or software since 2006 / 2007 days and as long as people keep giving me their old computers I doubt I'll ever have to.

    Zero cost in my house and everyone's happy I'm happy.
    Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
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  7. #7
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    12-yr-old laptops or workstation ... have you looked at how much you could save in electricity by reducing this number and buying new, more efficient, systems?

    I've found the savings to be noticeable on the house power bill after retiring a 2009 Core i7.

  8. #8
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    @TheFu

    I'm wondering about savings on electricity. Anyway to calculate how much power a system would draw over a month? Better than calculate --- is there anything within the Linux system that would be able to calculate this parameter. I've found the biggest hit to my electrical bill is my refrigerator(s) and not necessarily the computers I keep up and running most of the time (this would include, modems, routers, switches, etc).

  9. #9
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFu View Post
    12-yr-old laptops or workstation ... have you looked at how much you could save in electricity by reducing this number and buying new, more efficient, systems?

    I've found the savings to be noticeable on the house power bill after retiring a 2009 Core i7.
    Buying new desktops isn't going to save enough to justify the cost of 2 brand new computers and I'm not impressed with the cheap quality of today's electronics.

    We bought a new flat screen TV and it took a crap after the first year because of bloated capacitors in the power supply.

    My neighbor bought a brand new Dell desktop and took it back 2 times before he got one that finally worked.

    I'll stick with my old reliable desktops as they work well and do what I need.

    If the Wife would turn the lights off in the rooms she's not in I'd save more money than 2 new computers would save me.
    Last edited by poorguy; 1 Week Ago at 12:27 AM.
    Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
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  10. #10
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    Re: My savings using Linux

    Who buys complete, new, computers? I'm not made of money!

    Reuse the case, HDDs, monitor, keyboard, mouse, GPU (if needed), any PCI cards, PSU, RAM ... the goal is to upgrade only those parts that have to be upgraded, nothing more.

    So, a new CPU and new motherboard might upgrade your computing to be 2x faster, 3x faster for older systems.
    * Ryzen 2600 + B450 Motherboard bundled for $153. The Ryzen 2600 (65W) has 13500 passmarks.
    * optional - 16G DDR4 RAM - only if you don't have some - about $60. DDR4 RAM prices have dropped 50-75% over the last year.

    So, a huge upgrade for about $165 or $240 if you need DDR4 RAM. I found those prices locally at a retail computer chain here. There were other MB+CPU combinations for $5-15 more, if you prefer.
    That's all we need.

    For measuring power use, my UPS has a display that show it, updated every few seconds. There are $10-$20 devices like a Kill-a-Watt that can do the same thing.

    Power costs less than the national average where I live, so we aren't as crazy about saving power as people in more expensive places. Anyways, there are lots of ways to save money. For desktops, it usually isn't THAT pronounced, but I've seen people who got old Dell 1950 servers for free freak at the power use. Some of the old HP and IBM servers will easily use 350W of power. These days, it is best to get the cheapest, fastest, desktop you can for home use. We all have different ideas about "cheap" and "fast", but be certain not to confuse a device using 200W of power all the time with one that uses 70W all the time. Our power bills certainly will not be confused.
    Last edited by TheFu; 1 Week Ago at 04:58 PM.

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