Small Businesses Resisting Open Source?

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Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet wonders aloud why small businesses resist Linux.

“I do know that inertia keeps me from making more use of Linux than I do. Distribution channels for open source systems are thin, and the assumption is help will be hard to come by.

So I want to throw this open to our small business readers, especially those who continue to use Windows in their operations. Is it inertia, can that inertia be broken, or is there another reason we don’t give Linux a chance?”

Well, I happen to agree with one of the comments to the above blog post, commenter number 76, Otto_Delete. He says “Most businesses can save a lot of time and money using Linux for their servers, but it isn’t ready, IMO, for most desktops.”

One thing I’ve learned from reader input here at Small Business Trends is that significant numbers of small businesses are using Linux at the server level — and they may not even know it. Small businesses rely on their technical gurus to choose the right server technology. All that business executives care about in that situation is whether the servers work properly for a reasonable price.

On the desktop, however, it is a completely different matter. There the advantages of using a software platform in common with the rest of the business world win out. Small businesses don’t want to have to train employees on new software. Most have neither the time nor the technical skill to install new desktop applications, figure out how to maintain them, train their employees how to use them, deal with all the extra integration to make multiple applications work together, and still run their businesses.

UPDATE JULY 13, 2005: A reader emails stating that FireFox is more-or-less taking over the world. Certainly many more people are using FireFox these days. But a browser is a limited application and doesn’t need training to use it. It’s not the same as Word, for instance, in a law firm, where it is crucial that employees be power users of Word in order to rapidly turn out lengthy legal documents, or Excel in an accounting or consulting firm, where the professionals create complex, multi-tab spreadsheets for clients.

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Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

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