When people think green IT, they think about technologies such as virtualization. But one Linux proponent claims that Open Source software such as Linux is even more key to green IT -- and she has plenty of good points, even if some of them are stretches.
Tina Gasperson, in Datamation, argues that open source software is vitally important to greening IT. How green is open source software, she asks, and then answers her question:
Pretty green, if you ask me. In fact, companies that already use open source software are well on the way to greening their IT departments.
Her first reason: "Open source lives in cloud." She says that open source software is generally distributed via download, and that the documentation for it is electronic as well. She says:
Open source software documentation, if it even exists, is almost always online or distributed inside the program, and almost never printed into an actual book, meaning even more trees get to live and no plastics were killed in the making of your favorite Linux distribution or Microsoft Office replacement. Because open source software lives mostly in the cloud, fuel costs could decrease dramatically since downloading eliminates fighting traffic to get to Best Buy. Not only that, but it eliminates daily UPS shipments.
Next, she claims that open source software uses power more efficiently than does commercial software. I'm not sure that I completely buy into this, but some of her points here are true, notably that open source software can typically run on less powerful hardware than commercial software. That means that you can keep your servers and computers longer, and that you can use recycled equipment instead of buying new equipment, which is certainly a green technique.
Her next point is somewhat debatable as well:
Open source software is developed organically by people, not by corporate entities, which means those people are writing software right where they're at. Because open source software development lends itself to telecommuting, developers don't need a special commute, a special office, or even special clothes to create open source software. And even if they do all those things already because they have a "real job" at a corporate software development company, they only have to do it once.
There are certainly a number of open source developers that are corporate entities, so this argument doesn't quite stand up. She also argues, tongue firmly planted in cheek, I assume, that because open source software leads to fewer lawyers, it's greener, for among other reasons, "Do you know how many natural resources it takes to manufacture a three-piece suit like lawyers wear?"
Will moving to Linux and other open source software immediately green your IT? Certainly not. But using it as part of an overall Green IT strategy makes plenty of sense.
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