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Choosing Linux for business is something that many companies consider, depending on the applications they require. Whether it is for back-end operations or a high-tech company needing an operating system for its latest gadgets, Linux is a versatile operating system across multiple platforms. While many companies appreciate the support and software products available with systems like Microsoft Windows® and Macintosh® systems, Linux offers a number of possible advantages including price, security and versatility. Cons include limited hardware availability and very little technical support, which could be big issues if a company's own IT department is not up to the task.
One of the main advantages to using Linux for business has to do with the cost. Operating systems are not the most expensive type of software on the market, but are generally not cheap either. Linux, on the other hand, is available for no charge as a download from the Internet. It is also available on compact disc for a nominal charge. This may be an important consideration for startup businesses, or those who have many workstations to outfit with operating systems.
Another advantage in using Linux for business is its security. While other operating systems can have some major security flaws, Linux is considered a relatively secure system. This means that the system is not as susceptible to viral infections, which could possibly lead to less downtime. Thus, production is not compromised because the system is more reliable.
Versatility is another reason why some companies may choose Linux for business applications. Whether a company wants to use it for its sales applications, word processing, or even inside the products it sells, it can be done. For example, some GPS units run using a Linux operating system. Many people may be familiar with certain aspects of the system and not even realize it.
That being said, a big limitation to using Linux for business is in the software that is available. While older software generally runs on a Linux system without any problems, there may be other newer types of software that do not. A company used to running a different operating system may not find all of its software compatible with Linux systems. That could lead to more expense if the software needs to be replaced.
Another con to using Linux is in the area of technical support. Larger companies, who have their own information technology departments, may not consider this a disadvantage. Smaller companies, however, may rely more heavily on software support from the operating system manufacturer. Linux does not offer a great deal of support for the product.
The major problem with using Linux for business has to do with the fact you just can't get a lot of the most popular business packages with it. The Microsoft Office Suite, for example, isn't available for Linux, although most companies should get by just fine with open source packages such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice that can read and write Word, Excel, etc. documents just fine.
While it is possible to run Windows software through the WINE emulator, that isn't always a good solution. WINE simply doesn't handle more complex programs very well. I'd hate to try to run Office, QuickBooks or Adobe InDesign under WINE, for example.
The best thing to do before running Linux in an
business setting is to install it on a computer and try it. Most flavors of Linux are free and you can run them from a USB drive to see how you'll like them and the software packages (office suites and such) that come bundled with them. It's also a good idea to check on support -- who can come out and help you if things go wrong?
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