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Re: [Fsfe-uk] The threat of a good example continued

From: Ramin Nakisa
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] The threat of a good example continued
Date: Wed, 8 May 2002 19:17:33 +0100

On Wednesday 08 May 2002 10:45, Marc Eberhard wrote:
> On Wed, May 08, 2002 at 10:22:55AM +0100, Andrew Savory wrote:
> > Not :-( but :-) ... it's the best thing that could have happened. Moving
> > to free software on the mistaken assumption that you can do away with IT
> > budgets is the worst possible thing that can happen.
> ... seems schoolforge currently concentrates on the cost argument. :-(

The cost argument is a good one.  I think it's one we should use, but
only if we back it up with plausible numbers.  I found a link to this
linuxjournal article on NewsForge's newsvac:


My summary: An Australian company called Cybersource has done a study
which tries to estimate the total cost of ownership of a GNU/Linux
based system compared to a Microsoft-based system.  Microsoft claims
that the cost of license fees is negligible compared to the total cost
of ownership of an IT system.  Many clients of Cybersource had asked
them how much they would save if they switched to a Free Software
based system.  As the CEO says in the article:

   Many of these customers approached us with the question: "How much
   will we save if we move groups, departments or the whole company to
   Linux?" We didn't have an answer for them then. We do now.

The numbers are calculated for a medium-sized organization of 250
computer-using employees and include staffing, software, hardware and
connectivity costs.  They also look at expenditure over a 3 year
period (the life-span of most computer systems they say), and amortize
purchase and installation costs over that period.  The bottom line is
that over 3 years Free Software saved about 30%.

We could adapt these numbers to suit our own campaigns.  Here's the
article itself at Cybersource if you want to see their calculations:


> Free Software is a real investment, because the available source
> code grows as money is invested. However, you start from zero (or
> probably more, given the already available amount of free source
> code) and build up your later capital continously. Proprietary
> software on the other side is like an interest only mortgage. As
> soon as you terminate the licence agreement, you have to return
> everything. It's just like borrowed money for some time.  Does that
> make sense? Is this comparison stupid? Would an average MP
> understand that?

I would use something more tangible.  For example, imagine that a
company build rail track networks.  The government could pay to have
them build a British rail system, but after they stopped paying
license fees for the track they tracks would belong to the company
that created them.  Software should be thought of as infrastructure,
not a commodity.

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