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How to convince the boss to switch from Windows to Linux on the desktop

My problem is getting my boss (the CIO) to get on board with Linux desktops. Our Microsoft license costs are out of sight, besides all the IT hassles M$ causes. I have been using Linux in a desktop setting since 1998. Last year, I switched to Linux as my primary desktop operating system. I think my company should do the same. What are some good arguments, besides cost, for why Linux and OpenOffice would be better than Windows and MS Office?

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Ultimately, it all boils down to cost. Your question addresses the two components of cost: license and administrative/operational costs. CIOs typically think in terms of costs, and will ultimately have to justify changes like this in terms of costs, so it makes sense for you to begin strategizing how you will depict this change in terms of costs.

There have been a number of studies published that portray Windows as less expensive than Linux, so I think you should frame this discussion as what costs in your company will be. Come up with hard costs of what it takes to administer a Windows box vs. a Linux box. Create a spreadsheet with the costs documented in black and white. That's the kind of ammunition you need.

Keep in mind that your CIO is probably going to be concerned with human switching costs (i.e., the costs to get less technically-sophisticated users up to speed on Linux/Open Office/Evolution -- and don't forget e-mail! Do a small study with a willing end user about how much effort it was to switch. Emphasize that OpenOffice supports Office file formats, so the content of the organization can be retained.

This was first published in June 2005

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