The Q&A sections below are reprints of the Tech Valley Times "Open Source Authority - Ask the Expert" column.


Q: My company is due for a major computer system upgrade. The Microsoft licensing costs have me concerned. Are there any Open Source software packages that we can use to reduce costs?
A: Yes, there are several which may meet your needs. Note that there will be inconsistencies and you MAY be better off in the short term to stick with Microsoft for the Desktop. File and Print Server replacement is usually straightforward. If you use MS exchange, several commercial alternatives exist - not free but you do get support. With any Open Source solution expect a huge decrease in vulnerabilities to viruses and malware.

Desktop choices. 1. Stick with Microsoft and keep an eye on Open source - investigate it with a pilot project. Use it as a bargaining tool :-).

2. Replace SOME of your desktop applications with Open Source - use Open Office to replace MS Office for instance. Note that there is no direct replacement for MS Access.

3. Bite the bullet and go all the way with Open Source. Buy Rolaids. Riskiest but has the most benefits. Only recommended if you spend time and money with a pilot project. For an example look at Capital Cardiology Care's experience (200 Linux thin clients) www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS4215776234.

This months Open Source Authority was brought to you by Richard Gerlach of Computer Service Solutions


Q: Isn't Open Source Authority just a little presumptuous?
How can anyone be an Authority on OSS (Open Source Software)?
A: Hmmm. Good point. Perhaps Open Source Pundit would be more appropriate :-). I'll try to keep my ego in check. In that vein please note that this column will be shared with others who deploy OSS, so at least I don't think I have all the answers.

Q: Why should I trust my business to OSS? Isn't it run by a bunch of old UNIX Hippie Programmers with Socialist Ideals?
A: Well lets see - I've been a conservative party member since 1972, and IBM, a bastion of conservative business practices has embraced Linux wholeheartedly and put Billions into its development. Governments of all political stripes make good use of OSS. For a few it may be a political statement but for most of us who use it, it is just a workable, cost effective business tool to get the job done.

Where is Open source Software most often used?
A: I see it most often used in network devices and utilities, File Servers (RedHat, SuSE and others), and as a replacement for MS Office.(OpenOffice and KOffice).

Links
http://www-1.ibm.com/linux/links/index.shtml
http://www.openoffice.org
http://www.suse.com
http://www.koffice.org/
http://www.compservsol.com (Computer Service Solutions - the authors company)

This months Open Source Authority was brought to you by Richard Gerlach of Computer Service Solutions


Q: I just had my office server go down because it's motherboard fried. It was days before my IT guy could restore the tape data to a replacement system. I lost time and money. There's gotta be a better way, right?

A: Tape is good, but better solutions exist. Many IT administrators are opting for primary and secondary servers. The idea is that the two servers are identical in every way, except the backup server is at a remote location. (often the owner's home). Every day the primary server data is replicated to the secondary backup server over the Internet via an encrypted connection, typically a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Should the primary server go down , the identical backup can be installed in the amount of time it takes to retrieve the backup server from its remote location. And most importantly, no IT guy is required to do it !

If you are running Linux servers, you can use the rsynch utility program to keep the secondary server replicated Viable commercial Windows solutions exist from companies like Veritas and Checkpoint.

This months Open Source Authority was brought to you by Ed Kear of Kear Consulting

Ballston Lake, NY • Office 518 935 4895


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