Computer World HK on Linux and Firefox

Computer World Hong Kong (CWHK) recently ran an article about alternatives to the Microsoft platform, focusing on Linux and Firefox.

The article mentions the browser wars and quotes the WebSideStory statistics that we’ve all read so many times. When discussing the adoption of other open source software, it points out that the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MinDef) has already installed OpenOffice on 5,000 desktop machines (20,000 by March 2006), running alongside Office 97. MinDef had this to say about it:

“With our limited budget, we are always exploring opportunities to maximize the value for every dollar spent…We also intend to experiment with Linux desktops, but there are no concrete plans to replace the Microsoft Windows OS on the desktops at this point in time.”

Linux vendors are thrilled at the prospect, and MandrakeSoft’s Francois Bancilhon believes that as soon as customers start using OpenOffice and Mozilla, a switch to Linux is a no-brainer. Microsoft naturally maintains that Windows plus Internet Explorer is more compatible [me: okay, I can give them that], more secure, has a lower TCO, and that Internet Explorer remains the choice [me: emphasis mine] of customers and businesses worldwide.

CWHK examines Linux adoption amongst Hong Kong companies, and talks to Yusuf Goolamabbas of Outblaze, who also happens to be an avid Firefox advocate:

“We started our business in 1998,” said Yusuf Goolamabbas, managing architect for Hong Kong-based outsource-messaging provider Outblaze. “And we’ve been using Linux since Day One.” Goolamabbas noted that at that time, Windows 98 wasn’t suitable for his firm’s needs.

At work, Goolamabbas said that his firm’s engineers use Linux exclusively, while the marketing department uses Windows machines to stay in step with the firm’s 35 million users.

But Goolamabbas uses Red Hat Linux on his desktop machine at home. “My five-year-old daughter uses it without any problems,” said the Outblaze IT architect. Goolamabbas remains wary of IE’s reputation for Swiss-cheese-security and bemoaned the productivity lost as users spend time “killing viruses, squashing worms and keeping out Trojan horses.” He also declared that the HKSAR government could do more to promote usage of open-source software among its Netizenry. “The Hong Kong government says, ‘oh, everyone uses IE, but it’s not the case.”

The article is very detailed and covers a lot more topics as well. It’s well worth a read for anyone who is interested in learning about both the challenges of adopting open source software in Asia and the extent of its deployment there.