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Adam Wiggins: Open Source on the Business Desktop

Jan 25, 2002, 05:29 (32 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Adam Wiggins)

[Adam Wiggins writes:

This is my writeup of my employer's transition to open source on the desktop over the past 12 months.

"Numerous articles have appeared in the media and online on the subject, but the vast majority seem to be speculation: a lone writer or SOHO worker who declares that such a thing is probably possible, in theory. (Obviously some examples such as the City of Largo are an exception.) They then go on to list the various Open Source/Free Software desktop apps available, and leave the reader wondering if one can really do business with entirely Free/Open Source software. (With apologies to GNU and RMS, I am going to use the term "open source" to mean Open Source and Free Software collectively for the rest of this essay.)

My employer, TrustCommerce, has been making a slow transition to open source desktops over the past year. Today we have removed almost all proprietary software from the company desktops, and we're doing business just as well (and arguably better) than before. Surprisingly, the majority of our customers are not members of the open source community (though a good portion of them are). In fact, most of our customers have no idea what the the terms "Open Source" or "proprietary" mean, and would think we were crazy if we took Richard Stallman's suggestion and rejected the many .doc and .xls files that are sent to us each day.

This essay will be in two major sections: first, the story itself, to share the ups and downs of this transition. And second, the specific applications and technologies that we have evaluated for doing business in a Microsoft-dominated world."

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