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Thread: Your own company based on Ubuntu

  1. #1
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    Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Hi there,
    I'm thinking of starting a company based on open source and ubuntu in particular.

    The concept would be to support small and medium-sized businesses with:
    • ubuntu in general
    • migrating from windows
    • supporting software (cms, groupware, wiki's, backuping, communication, ...)
    • schooling
    • etc.
    What do you think about that? Do you see any license problems with ubuntu?

    Would you have any more good arguments to change to ubuntu (free software, no virus problems, secure)?

    Cheers, borobudur
    --- borobudur ---

  2. #2
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Quote Originally Posted by borobudur View Post
    Would you have any more good arguments to change to ubuntu (free software, no virus problems, secure)?
    Straight to the point, Compiz fusion, stable

    There not any license problems. You can modify Ubuntu in any way legal!
    ➙ Synchronize all your files across Windows, Linux and Mac OS with Dropbox (2GB free storage!). By signing up via this link I'll get some extra space also, thanks!

    Multiseat on Ubuntu 10.04

  3. #3
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Quote Originally Posted by Martje_001 View Post
    Straight to the point, Compiz fusion, stable
    what?

  4. #4
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    I'm an IT contractor by trade, and support a number of businesses' IT needs. My focus is on replacing legacy non-free systems with free-software alternatives as an upgrade path.

    I use Ubuntu for a few reasons:

    1) Easy to use desktop - Yes, GNOME is GNOME (ditto for KDE, XFCE, whatever), and SuSE and Fedora and many other distros have easy to use desktops too. But Ubuntu certainly emphasises the need to make the non-technical end-user a real focus.

    2) APT. I hate RPM/YUM. Portage (Gentoo) is nice, but not for those pressed for time, nor the non-technical. APT still reigns supreme as the best package manager I've ever used. Simply put: if Ubuntu was RPM based, I wouldn't be using it. That would be a show stopper for me.

    3) Consistency - pre Ubuntu I was a Debian and occasionally Gentoo user (again, for APT and Portage/USE-flags). Now that I have clients needing Linux desktops as well, Ubuntu means I can do both Desktop and Server on the same platform, which means simplified support. Also it means neat things like using a single in-house apt-proxy configuration for an entire building of people, or a single LDAP config file for single-sign-on locations.

    4) Sensible release schedules. Debian (and others) have a "when it's done" approach. That's fine, but businesses get nervous when you say these things. Ubuntu means knowing when to expect change, and Linux in general means not being forced to change if you don't want to.

    I use free software in general for a few reasons also:

    1) No license management nightmares. It's not about up-front cost. It's about long-term management. Windows has a thousand and one licensing schemes for all different sizes of businesses, and they are a pain in the ****. I know, because I used to be an IT Manager for a large multi-national corporate that was 100% Windows. I spent more time managing licensing than I did doing real work, and that pissed me off. With free software, I can just install software and know it works, and will never be restricted by something as non-technical and intangible as a "license". That just makes good business sense, and stops wasting everybody's time, letting them get back to making the business work.

    2) Performance. I can get such enormous longevity out of hardware with Linux it's not funny. I can run firewalls with squid-proxies on hardware that is 3 years older and/or on fifth the cost compared to if I used Microsoft ISA. Likewise for Samba vs WinNT/Win2K-AD domain controllers, PHP/Perl/Python+MySQL vs VB/.Net+MS-SQL Server, etc, etc.

    3) Simple hardware migrations. I never re-install anything anymore. If I buy new hardware, I migrate existing machines to a disk image, and run them from a virtual server using Xen. Moving whole servers around from one bit of physical hardware to another takes minutes, not days.

    4) No forced upgrades. Canonical will never ring me and tell me I can't use Edge Eft any more. Microsoft have already told a number of my clients that they are not allowed to downgrade their Vista licenses to WinXP. Likewise, Apple have told several of my clients that they must use OSX 10.4 that was shipped with their Macs, despite the fact that the other 1000 machines in their network are still on 10.3 and some of the in-house software won't port across without significant effort.

    5) Multi-platform. Microsoft have Active Directory. Apple have Open Directory. They're both wonderful, but only if you have 100% homogeneous networks. Most of my clients have 3 or more operating systems in their building, and OpenLDAP means building something that everyone can talk to. Likewise, MySQL, Apache, PHP/Perl/Python, etc, etc - all of these are multi-platform. If the in-house developers absolutely refuse to move away from Windows, that's fine. They can keep their install, but still play ball with the rest of the business on other base platforms but with the same client apps.

    6) Cost. No, not the upfront cost (although that does make some folks happy - especially accountants). But the cost of maintenance. As one individual I assist around 6 businesses on a regular basis, and another 10 or more on a semi-regular basis. I can remote-access all of these businesses using secure technology (OpenSSH, OpenVPN, etc) and offer complete systems maintenance on an hourly rate. Some of these companies have told me that they've saved well over 80% or more on their IT maintenance bills since moving away from non-free software. Likewise, they are happier with the faster turn-around thanks to the remote access. Whereas before they regularly needed support, and had to wait hours for it, now they need it less frequently, and when they do problems are solved in minutes, not hours.

    7) Redundancy. This ties in to "licensing" and "cost" as well. It's common sense to build two (or more) servers in a business. Nobody in their right minds would put all their eggs in one basket. That's risky business. Painfully, under non-free software you are required then to pay for everything a second time. Pay for a second database server, mail server, file server, etc. Despite the fact that you will (hopefully) never use these things, you still owe your pound of flesh. With free software, that goes away. There's no charge for a second copy of MySQL, Postfix, Samba, etc. Your redundant systems are no longer dead capital. Instead you can spend that money on something far more beneficial to the business.

    8 ) It's open and honest. Free software wears its heart on its sleeve. The term "full disclosure" comes to mind. I'm never left second-guessing if, as a customer, I'm being lied to or having certain things withheld. Good or bad, free software bares all to anyone who will listen. Look through any changelog, bugtracker, todo list, etc of a free software system, and you'll get a pretty good idea pretty quickly if you can trust it. Free software never claims it's perfect. And any software that does isn't worth risking.

    Well, that's quite a long post. I'll stop it there. If you have any specific questions on how I deal with specific problems, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to describe my solutions.
    Last edited by elvis; September 23rd, 2007 at 01:10 PM. Reason: spelling
    Australia's cheapest PC pre-bundled with Ubuntu:
    http://www.cheapestpc.com.au/

  5. #5
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Wow really good post!

  6. #6
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Just found an interesting article called "Can Ubuntu Linux really run my small business?"

    One of the authors conclusions is that the Ubuntu community saves him money because it provides IT support. "What is so great about Ubuntu? 'It has the best user community built around it.'"

    I also agree with the author that Ubuntu's biggest shortcoming is that it lacks a good accounting program like Quickbooks.

  7. #7
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Really good post, elvis!

    I have a small business in the very early stages - currently part time. That puts me in a grey area where I'm not a non-commercial user of software - and so not eligible for home-user/student concessions - but neither making enough money to support commercial licence fees. I don't think I'd be the only one in this situation.

    Friends have told me that I'm being over-scrupulous, but I'd really rather not have to worry about it if I have a choice. Free software gives me that choice.

    Irihapeti
    Ubuntu membership via Forums contributions
    BACKUP before installing or upgrading.

  8. #8
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu


  9. #9
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Quote Originally Posted by JAPrufrock View Post
    I also agree with the author that Ubuntu's biggest shortcoming is that it lacks a good accounting program like Quickbooks.
    As well as GNUCash mentioned above, there's:

    KMyMoney: http://kmymoney2.sourceforge.net/

    SQL Ledger: http://www.sql-ledger.org/

    Grisbi: http://www.grisbi.org/

    Plenty of options available. With that said, I have a lot of clients who still stick with an Australian product called MYOB due entirely to the "support" they offer. When I say "support", I mean they send out up-to-date tax tables on a semi-regular basis. Their actual telephone support is utterly useless.

    True story: One of my clients was refused support from MYOB when they rang up to complain about a performance issue. They use MYOB Enterprise on a Win2K Terminal Services box, and their Linux desktops connect to that via rdesktop (which I should add is how the product is designed to be used). The tech on the support line was utterly convinced that because Linux was being used somewhere in the equation, all support and warranty was void because (and I quote) "they were running on an emulation layer, and therefore the problem is with Linux". After a lengthy argument, I spoke to his superior, and the problem was solved. The MYOB package itself is a low-quality product (slow, kludgey, ugly, non-intuitive), and the phone support sucks. If it wasn't for the updated tax tables, they'd be out the door.
    Australia's cheapest PC pre-bundled with Ubuntu:
    http://www.cheapestpc.com.au/

  10. #10
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    Re: Your own company based on Ubuntu

    Gnucash doesn't include a POS. I've looked at other linux compatible accounting packages and, so far, I haven't found any that are as good as an old version of Quickbooks that I have.

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