Linux is far more mature than Windows 3.1, 95, or even 98 and those OSes were all adopted by business users. So what's the problem with Linux? Well it's still not fool-proof and so fools buy Windows home edition software which comes already fool-proofed. But many non-fools buy Windows products because they run that certain piece of software that we require. In my case, it's a Point of Sale system.

We chose our POS long before Linux or FreeBSD were usable in a business environment. Being a small Mom&Pop operation, cost was a very big factor, but our requirements are every bit as mature as any BigBox retailer. Only a few POSs were available on any Unix system at the time and those were very expensive. I found one or two Open Source systems, but when I tried them I found them to be amateurish and wholly inadequate.

It may now be possible to find a good POS which runs on Linux for a good price, but we have ten years of history with our current one and it works perfectly well. Our key employees are so far from being computer literate that it would amaze most of you who read this. That's not what we hired them for. It was difficult to train them on the current system and it would be even more difficult to UNTRAIN them and then retrain them on a different one.

MS Office has also been a secondary requirement. We switched to FireFox a couple of years ago, Thunderbird is barely becoming useful, we tried Open Office and were disappointed, though I'm sure it will keep improving. So the end of the Office requirement is nearing.

Altogether we have eight computers and some storage devices on three LANs in three different cities interconnected by VPNs. I maintain all of that on a part-time basis. I also take out the trash, build displays, remodel houses, maintain 9 websites, etc., so it is important to me that all systems be as similar as possible. Since the POS dictates Windows we've spent a lot of money keeping them all at Windows XP-Pro level, but recently had to buy two with Vista and I am extremely unhappy with that fiasco.

I was quite happy with the stability and functionality of Windows XP Pro. But it's on its way out and the replacements don't look very good at all. If our POS supplier came out with a Linux version which would use the current database, then I would probably spend this coming winter qualifying it and switching our whole business over to Linux.

But that won't happen. Why? Because our POS supplier is also a small business and they don't have the bandwidth to duplicate their product on another OS. Some day they will feel pressure to do so or we will feel pressure to switch. Until then it's the status quo for us.

Except for this one little box which will now be running Linux. Who knows what kind of doors it will open?

--FatBear