Sir Meili I completely agree with you. I myself use a mixture of MS and Linux. Let's face it, the average user could not handle the complexities of Linux. Even the simple task of installing a program can become a nightmare. I just recently purchased a new computer system for my grandparents. Never in a million year would I have considered setting them up on Linux.
I also do web development and find it absolutely necessary to know a bit about Linux. You are correct that in most cases a network admin would deal with issues on a Linux host machine. (especially if you use a host company)
My first job in IT was as a tech for a Construction company. We had a tech, (me) a programmer/manager, a guy who split his time working with us and assisting the project managers and also an engineer who worked closely with IT to track job information. The IT Manager left and I moved into the IT Managers job. I quickly found that there was no need for four IT guys and consolidated the four jobs into two positions. (after hiring and firing several idiots who claimed to be proficient programmers/web dev's and were not) 9/11 had a huge impact on construction companies. The economic slow down, coupled with the fear of another attack caused developers (land developers) to put their projects on hold. The company I worked for lost 2 mil in fiscal year 2002. Layoffs, selling of assets, and cost reductions were the only way the company would be able to stay in business. The remaining two IT jobs became one job. I was left with the work of four. I admit four IT guys was excessive and even three IT guys gave all of us too much spare time. With two in IT we had some long hours but in time our efficiency increased and the workload was very manageable. I have been rambling along for a bit, but really wanted to illustrate my point and allow you to see this from my perspective.
So now, what about small/med businesses who can't afford to pay multiple IT guys? And what about trying to keep costs down for these same companies? Isn't it part of the responsibilities of IT to cost control? (If you say no, you're fired) Where an IT budget isn’t the priority and you as the IT guy would like to use the current products, what do you do? (I assume you are like me and are constantly trying to keep up with the new technology and programming languages)
Software licensing from MS can be outrageous. For anyone who has worked in IT, you will know the complexities of moving an organization to a new OS. (NT to W2K, W2k to XP) Our accounting software forced the company to upgrade. What’s the impact of that? All users must move to W2k in order to run to accounting software. Servers needed to be upgraded, some systems had to be replaced, etc, etc, etc. Soon this 10,000 upgrade becomes 25,000 or more. But that’s not all, the increase in web traffic forced us to increase to a T1, which was very expensive in 2002/03. (T1 with another fractional T1 to a remote office) You can see how quickly money is funneled into areas of need, not areas of want.
Open source becomes a very attractive alternative for the lone IT guy or the IT dept in a small to medium organization. How much is MS SQL these days? Got a guess? What about MS exchange? What about Symantec Enterprise edition? You not only have the initial cost of the software but also the licenses. So a few k for exchange and then 40 – 50 per license. Same with Symantec, the accounting software, etc.
Back to the discussion of web dev and Linux verses Windows. What’s the cost of MS Sever 2003 + licenses + sql ? What is the cost of Linux, Mysql and Apache? The Linux, Apache, PHP, MYSQL, option becomes a very attractive alternative for an IT guy with a non-existent budget. (and works great too)
Is Linux practical for the average user? (at this point) I would say, definitely NO. Is Linux the answer to a businesses budgetary woes? I would say, Nope. (with the exception of something I mentioned, so on a limited scale) But, is it smart for some teenage tech geek who is interested in IT to learn Linux? Absolutely. Linux is fun. Linux users learn more about the OS than MS GUI geeks. Linux users can be rude, self-absorbed, know it all pricks who think Linux is the answer to world hunger and over taxation. The multitude of unstable distros flooding the market makes research and testing critical for the IT department wanting to deploy Linux, but that’s what we do. You don’t purchase and deploy a antivirus solution without research and testing. (if you do, then once again you are fired!) Just like anything else we in IT do, you research, test and deploy. Linux is no different. Do your research, test the product and deploy if it works for your situation.
This has been a long winded babble by Big fat dummy.