Whilst millions of people use free and open source packages such as Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the perception of free and open source operating systems, namely Linux is very different. In the UK there is a strongly held view that you have to be some sort of geek to use a Linux operating system.
So who is using Linux instead of Windows or Apple?
The simple answer is millions of people! There an estimated 22million Ubuntu users.
Ubuntu is the official operating system of China, a few users there then!
Indian companies make huge use of Linux and free and open source software.
So countries that are keen to keep their overheads down and undercut the rest of the market, and they are saving a fortune on software.
Ok but who closer to home? Well to start with Ubuntu is made by Canonical who are a London based company.
Last year the French Gendarmerie moved from Microsoft to Ubuntu and OpenOffice, a move that saves them 2million euros a year.
Earlier this year the German City of Munich was distributing free copies of Ubuntu to local residents, so that they had an alternative for when Windows XP support ends.
Yesterday Germany’s upcoming coalition Government stated that it is committed to using open source software, rather than the existing “closed digital ecosystems”.
The Andalusian Regional Government, Spain, wanted to improve access to IT in schools throughout the region and now has 220,000 Ubuntu-based workstations in more than 2,000 schools throughout the region.
The UK Cabinet Office has published Open Source Options as part of its Open Source Procurement Toolkit, providing guidance for the public sector on Open Source Software. This covers areas such as operating systems, databases, content management, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM).
So despite all these users, savings and success stories, very few UK companies are aware of the software or the savings. Why is this? I think mainly it is because we do not have the option of walking into a high street computer shop and buying a PC with Ubuntu on. Most of us like to try before we buy, and we don’t have the opportunity to experience Linux. Whereas in the US and China you can buy PCs with preloaded Ubuntu operating systems, and not have to pay for a Windows one.