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FOSS: Breaking the Chains of Apple and Microsoft

It has been a few weeks since I posted an article here at The ERACC Web Log. I have been kicking around some article ideas, but nothing has gelled until today. I do have some projects going that I will be writing about once they are done. I do not believe in writing articles just to have new content. In that direction lay mediocrity. I prefer actually having something worthwhile to write about. At least something I think is worthwhile.

A recent event with a local client has started me thinking, again, about Microsoft, Apple, FOSS and vendor lock-in. I am not a proponent of vendor lock-in. This screen capture of my VirtualBox Windows XP Professional test VM speaks to that.VM with XP-pro on fluxbox window manager under linux

This local client had decided to abandon Microsoft and change out their office systems for new hardware with new operating systems. Thus already requiring retraining and all that comes with such a change. Of course, I made the pitch for Linux with all FOSS. In general, they only use their systems for e-mail and creating quote documents for clients. Under FOSS systems, the e-mail is covered with any number of FOSS e-mail applications, while the quote documents are covered with LibreOffice to create PDF files. One of the systems does run accounting software for billing and payments. But they do not do their own payroll, so LedgerSMB would work for their billing and payments accounting system.

However, their office manager is an “Apple Person”. She and her husband just adore all things Apple. Her husband once told me they have six Apple systems in their home, not including their iPhones and iPads. He said to me he “hates” Microsoft and Linux. Although as far as I know, he has never even tried a Linux distribution. Since his wife is an insider with the ear of the business owner, and I am just the outside consultant, you can guess which system they picked. Yup, they went all-in for Apple on the desktops, an Apple server and QuickBooks for OS X. The new systems do look nice and do the job required, but at a price that I personally find repugnant. That price is more loss of freedom.

As far as I am concerned this client has switched one set of chains for another, prettier set of chains. Apple is no friend of freedom when it comes to software or hardware. If anything, Apple is even more binding than Microsoft because Apple refuses to open up their operating system to run on 3rd party hardware systems. In the few cases where a 3rd party vendor has tried this, Apple has done everything within its power to stomp on that and kill it.

Apple fanatics appear to suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome. They are chained down by Apple and chained to Apple products, yet seem to love and revere their Apple overlord. These poor folk seem to believe Apple is the apex of excellence in computing. This perception of Apple as the arbiter of excellence in the computing market place is a fine piece of marketing by Apple. It is not Truth, but the Apple Believers think it is Truth. In the world of the mind, perception is reality.

I do my best to “market” Linux as a “computing excellence” system that is open and provides freedom. Unfortunately, I am just one businessman running one small business with no budget for large advertising campaigns. All I can do is make the pitch for Linux on a small scale with a hope that the listener is open minded and will give it a fair shot. Too often, I am up against the big marketing machines of Apple and Microsoft that pay big bucks to advertise on television, internet and radio and the True Believers for same in a business setting. The chained True Believers can point to any large computer store chain to support their claims that Apple and/or Microsoft are the way to go. There is no such “proof” for Linux use.

So far, I have some small successes getting Linux into use in some settings. Those end-users have come to appreciate their freedom with Linux. However, until there is an organization with big bucks to market “Linux” and gain mind-share with the public, the chains of Microsoft and Apple will still be unbroken for many people who are unaware of the opportunity to break free with Linux and FOSS. I do not mean marketing a specific end-user distribution such as *buntu or a business distribution such as Red Hat, I mean marketing the entire idea of FOSS and all Linux distributions.

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6 comments to FOSS: Breaking the Chains of Apple and Microsoft

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  • Nick

    "Apple fanatics appear to suffer from a form of Stockholm Syndrome."

    Can I suggest a cursury observation through out the entire population will reveal increasing incidents Stcokholm Syndrome in all sorts of critical areas, most notibly the handover of kids welfare and wellbeing to education systems that have only Building subordinates in mind, not developing and empowering citizens to improve our society.

    People locking themselves into a comfort zone is entirely consistent with people that see no other aletrnative but to submit.

    This seems a drastic and dramatic conclusion. Stockholm Syndrome is relative to the volume of choices available. FOSS provides the widest possible set of choices and people have demonstrated time and time again that when faced with a level of choice that they are ill-trained or not skilled at they will revert to delegating that choice to others.

    Vendor lock in exactly that. It also has the added benefit of being able to outsource liability for missjudgement and poor choice.

    “It’s the Vendors fault” why my computer is not working.

    Sad, so very sad from a supposidly educated and wise population.

  • Stan Brown

    IMHO, it comes down to what the customer wants. “Better” is one of those slippery words that escape definition.

    I do only FOSS, have done for the past 5 years. But, I understand people need their comfort zone.

    The selling point for FOSS is lower downtime, or “slowdown time” as somebody called it. The time wasted struggling to get Windows to do something, or waiting for it to come back from one of its guru meditations.

    I’ve got all my users on Slackware desktops. They are quite comfortable now. It’s very stable and doesn’t slow down. It was an all-Microshop 5 years ago. Now, we have one Windows machine left.

    Four offices, three companies in two countries and one sysadmin. That’s the power of FOSS.

    But, I always say, “You can’t solve people”.

  • Rich

    On the topic of being a small business vs. huge marketing machines. The thing is, there are lots of individuals promoting FOSS and/or Linux. A constant trickle will erode the hardest rock over time!

  • Gonzalo

    Excellent text. We experience such things regularly. Personally I don’t sell anything, but help friends solve their problems with w$ and have see many fancy users migrate to Macs because they are nice looking machines with a fame of good quality. In fact, any good machine with a well customized GNU/Linux distribution would be faster, safer and cheaper! But they are flies following the blue light.

  • notzed

    Ultimately for small business it will come down to economics. If a competitor is has cheaper/more stable/more flexible/less obtrusive software, then they will be able to provide better service/improve their margins/undercut you.

    These are all important competitive advantages although many small businesses manage to struggle on regardless of how competent their proprietors may be by sacrificing themselves to their cause (or cheating). So overcoming the inertia wont happen overnight, but it will happen.

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