As part of my attempt to explain the reasons why SMEs should use Linux and free software in the previous article I clarified the sense in which I use some words and what is the fundamental difference between proprietary software and free software. Now, after a couple more definitions, it's time to get down to business.
A Linux distribution is a collection of software that includes from the programs in charge of making the computer usable by the user to the applications that the user uses in his work. That is, from the boot manager to the office suite through the video card driver. Of course, since this is an introductory article, we are leaving aside the nuances. There are Linux distributions for different uses and needs and that makes the content of the programs vary.
Basically, the difference between an operating system like Windows and a Linux distribution is the same between buying a commercial premises and then doing the necessary works to turn it into a restaurant or buying a restaurant that is working.
The second definition is that of an acronym that I am using a lot. An SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) is an independent organization that meets certain criteria in terms of number of people, amount of profit, or volume of business.
For the European Union, the limits to be considered SMEs are:
- Less than 250 employees.
- Annual earnings less than 43 million euros
- O Business volume less than 50 million euros per year
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Why SMEs should use Linux and free software
The web is full of studies comparing the cost of continuing to use proprietary alternatives or switching to free software. The conclusions vary depending on who has paid for it.
In my own experience, In the case of SMEs, the cost of training personnel for the change is not so great in the case of general purpose tools. like an office suite. Above all, if the reasons for the change are explained and an incentive is given.
Yes it can be a bit more complex in the case of specific tools like computer aided design software. In this case, unless illegal copies are being used, a specific study should be carried out on whether or not it is appropriate.
In 2012 my mother was operated on for rectal cancer. That meant that for the next 7 years I had to go to the oncologist twice a year to ask for authorization to carry out the control studies and twice more to see them. That meant a long afternoon of waiting to see the doctor for 5 minutes.
Any analyst of organization and methods would have detected the root of the problem.
- The amount of time a patient who is receiving treatment needs is not the same as one who only needs control.
- Attention slows down due to the number of patients without an appointment who needed to solve bureaucratic problems or doubts that did not admit waiting.
The big obstacle to solving the problem is the proprietary scheduling software used by the hospital.
- Use the same turn assignment criteria for all specialties.
- Assign the same length of shifts to each patient no matter how long each case takes the practitioner.
Since it is proprietary software, it is impossible for each institution to adapt it to their needs. so they must implement patches such as allowing patients or putting different variants of the doctor's name as if they were different doctors.
The point is that companies must adapt to proprietary software and not the other way around.
And this brings us to the second advantage.
There is a concept that I like to use, that of technological vassalage.
It was used by an Argentine judge in the 80s to void a contract between an SME and a computer manufacturer and IT service provider. I don't remember exactly what the case was about, but the concept itself is very clear. If you take the trouble to read the license to use the proprietary software, you will realize that except for keeping your wife and selling yourself as a slave, they have the right to almost everything. Even in the case of the least restrictive ones, you always run the risk that the application will be discontinued or that new versions will no longer be compatible with your files.
Generally Free software programs use common formats (Also open) so you will always find a program that can open or modify them. And, if a program stops having new versions it is almost certain that someone will release their own project to continue it.
One by one the countries of the European Union are recommending to stop using commercial software or cloud services due to the close collaboration of the developer companies with the United States government (or China in the case of Apple)
Although the CIA is unlikely to be interested in a Badajoz manufacturer of disposable dishes, it is best to keep sensitive data away from the eyes of third parties. You never know where they may end up.
Since the free software code is available to everyone, it is very easy to detect what data is being collected and where it is going.