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Do We Spend More On Linux Or Windows?

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the interesting-comparisons dept.

The Almighty Buck 468

jmcneal writes with this chin-stroker: "My colleages and I have been debating this for a while at work: 'Do people spend more money on Linux Distributions or on windows?' The limited sampling we have is that users buy distros almost every six months, at full price, at retail outlets. We have only one person who has gone out and purchased Windows at a software outlet, the rest of us only get a new copy when we purchase a new PC, about every 1.5 to 3 years. Is this behaivior common? How much have /.ers spent on distro's vs Windows in the last 2 years?"

I know I've spent more money specifically on GNU/Linux distros than specifically on Windows, buying various boxed sets and books-with-disks, but when an operating system is part of an OEM package, some costs are hard to tweeze out. (Not to mention whether, and how much, Windows users would have to pay for the functionality of the nice free, Free software that comes with typical Linux distros. And that in a workplace, support costs more than the OS's initial purchase price.)

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There is no comparison. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2175094)

In a boxed distro, you get thousands of programs in addition to the Linux kernel.

Such a complete software package would cost thousands of dollars in Windows-land, if anyone cared to try and compile one in the first place.

There is no comparison.

Re:Could be (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2175095)

Piracy stinks.

I agree. I hate it when robbers attack ships on the high seas and steal their cargo. But what does that have to do with the topic under discussion?

Neither. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#2175103)

We spend the most on MacOS.

Buying and Supporting (3)

Phaid (938) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175107)

Other than at the very beginning of my involvement with Linux, when I downloaded everything onto floppies, I've always purchased a copy of the Linux distros that I use, mainly to support the vendor and also to get cute stickers to put on my computer.

As I recall, I've purchased Slackware 2.3, Slackware 96, Red Hat 4.2, Red Hat 5.1, Red Hat 6.1, Slackware 7.1, and now Slackware 8.0. In most cases, I actually downloaded the distribution first, tried it on a machine, liked it, and bought it.

I suppose the total cost of these must have added up to around $280. When I compare that to buying boxed versions of Windows 95 and Windows 98 for all three machines, it really doesn't look too bad.

Not typical behavior. Anyway, you need Debian! (5)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175120)

HP finds that most of its Linux customers download their Linux. We also find that Linux usage is consistently under-reported because the install happens after the sale, and the installation has no correspondence with a shipped unit of an operating system. This will probably change as the character of customer changes and more of them go for enterprise-quality support, as we ship our own load more often, etc.

I'll tell you what I'm doing on my personal system. Every day, I type

apt-get update

apt-get upgrade
and my system is updated to the latest version of Debian [] . No charge, ever, and the software quality is best-of-class. I have my choice of "stable", the released version, or "testing", or "unstable", with "unstable" being the least tested (and the one I use) and "testing" being leading-edge packages but ones without show-stopping bugs. Over the past 5 years or so, I've really had only one situation where I had to stop and fix my system before I could get work done, because a package was badly broken. If I were running "stable" or "testing", I would have avoided that.



I pay $0 (1)

Nafai (4472) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175121)

I have never paid for a GNU/Linux distro. Back when I used Mandrake or Redhat, I got copies of the CD's from friends. Now that I use Debian, I don't even have a Debian CD, I just use the boot floppies. I'm not sure how important it is to support things financially. I contribute to the Free Software community in other ways.

Could be (2)

mortonda (5175) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175123)

I know it is convenient to have a real boxed set, and I have certainly spent more money on Linux than on windows. I do spend money when the software is worthy. Piracy stinks.

The Answer. (1)

rew (6140) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175124)

Do people spend more money on Linux Distributions or on windows?

Let us assume that Red Hat has a market share of 50%. Then if the amounts spent on Linux were on the same order of magnitude as the amount of money spent on Windows, then Red Hat would earn about the same order of magnitude as Microsoft.

Red Hat however, earns around 0.1% of what Microsoft makes. Even if Red Hat has a 5% share instead of 50%, that makes "spenditure" on Microsoft about 100 times more popular than spenditure on Linux.

Simple math.


(I checked the SEC filings for the gross income numbers $20 billion per year for MSFT, $100M for RHAT).

Well, nothing in either case (2)

JanneM (7445) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175130)

I've never directly or indirectly bought Windows (there's never been any problem buying an OS:less PC here); on the other hand, I've never bought a distribution either.

That's not to say I've never spent any Linux-related money; O'reilly has gotten guite a lot of my hard-earned money over the years, for example :-) I've also bought games from Loki and some sundry other documentation (GTK+ and Gnome programming manuals, for instance).

Re:Do you count piracy? (1)

TilJ (7607) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175131)

Exactly. A better question might be: "how much have you /had/ to pay to get a fully-functional workstation?"

Payment given is not the same as payment required. I tip based on performance, whether it's a street performer or my OS.

Purchase Distros (1)

david614 (10051) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175139)

Well. When I look around my house and see how many different linux distros, from suse to redhat to mandrake I have around, I guess *I* spend more on linux than I have on windows 9x or others. The only windows operating systems I have around here either came with machines I purchased, or are left over from machines that died.

The Real cost doesn't lie in the Box (1)

Carbonate (13973) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175147)

The real cost of any operating system doesn't lie in the box and on the price tag. It is in how long it takes to configure and setup and then how long it takes to maintain. Of course this is offset by the benefits it provides for example Linux can mean hoirs of headaches but it can also mean extremely high flexibility in the software available. Then there is Windows which is fairly easy to install for the average user and easy to maintain. Although it's flexibility is extremely low.

Retarded logic. (1)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175155)

You (meaning, the average user) may only be buying Windows off-the-shelf infrequently, but you're buying it every time you buy a new computer that you don't assemble yourself.

We aren't like most people. Most of us assemble our own machines from pieces. The vast, vast majority of people have no idea they can do this, so they go out and buy PCs, and surprise-surprise, Windows is factored into the cost of that PC.

Besides.. some of us have broadband. Takes me about 4 hours to download an ISO of any new Linux distrib. For free. And, as i'm sure many other people will point out to you, you can take even the most ancient Linux boxes around and upgrade them incrementally without having to tear the whole thing down every time. I have problem with your assertion--it just doesn't hold water.

Bowie J. Poag
Project Manager, System 26 GUI Component Stockpile []

Re:I've never spent money on windoze (1)

jimmyphysics (16981) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175156)

I've purchased boxed copies of every version of SuSE since 6.4. Not because I'm not "smart enough to actually learn how to use it," but because I believe in supporting companies that I appreciate. People that are smart enough to use Linux, but not smart enough to understand basic economics (or don't give a rip about the company that makes their distro of choice) are the ones that don't buy boxed sets. Its in my best interests to keep SuSE around, so why not cough up the money?

Linux is close to free (broadband) (1)

F.O.Dobbs (17317) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175158)

Winders 95 came with my first PC (1995), and that was the last time I paid the M$ tax. Ever since I got broadband (3 years ago) I haven't bought a Linux CD.

Before that I shelled out $10 for a Redhat install manual with free Redhat 5.1 CDs ( and once I got free Debian Slink CDs from LSL (plus $9 for shipping).

But I have bought a lot more Linux shwag (thinkgeek and the lot, tshirts, hats and stickers) than windows (none).

Not like they really give a damn, is it? (2)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175171)

Microsoft that is. A few copies of Win98 here and there don't really show up, particularly when it's the /. population were talking about. What they're interested in is the corporate desktop, OEM deals and servers.

Kick 'em in the servers, that's what I say.

My 2c: I've bought a couple of FreeBSD distributions, and got the original Win95 upgrade when it came out. Hey, I was young, I was experimenting, I didn't inhale.


Linux wins hands down, but... (2)

GroundBounce (20126) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175172)

the important thing is that it doesn't have to.

I spend a lot more on Linux than Windows, even if you count the Microsoft tax payed with each new PC I bought in the past (I build them now).

The important distinction, however, is that I spend the money becuase I want to, not because I have to. Even if I download a distro, I eventually buy the boxed set when I happen by a computer store because I want to support the Linux distro companies, but unlike with Windows, nobody is compelling me to do so.

download baby download (2)

Irie (21539) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175173)

im a sysadmin by trade, i have a burner at work and more bandwidth than your choice of european contries piped into the site, so nope i dont HAVE to pay, but i do have a slackware subscription 'cuz some folks do deserve the money, otherwise we'd never get new quality distros

You choose to purchase it.. (1)

primetyme (22415) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175176)

The fact that you and your colleages purchase a new distro every X months is a choice, and thats the difference.

You could just as easily choose to download the very same distros(in most cases) that you're purchasing. Sure it may take more time and energy but the fact that you're in control of what you do and do not buy pretty much answers your own question for you.

I often download the distros... (1)

Egoine (22800) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175178)

or burn a CD borrowed from a friend.
I remember buying slasckware a long time ago.

PS:This post is meant to be in the obvious category.

my datum (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175184)

Assumptions: dl'ed distros cost $1.

Work: I've spent about $100 on Linux software. Probably about $10000+ on M$ stuff (sorry, until Gnumed is ready for use, I'm stuck.) On a per box basis, it really gets ugly. About $150+ per M$ box. Even figuring for having bought two actual distros (and dl'ing tons more, and buying many through CheapBytes) I've spent perhaps $25 per Linux box. On software.

At home, between wife and I, we've spent around $300 on M$ software (full retail on Dos 6.22, Win '95, and Win '98. Gotta play them games. No bundles. I build my PeeCee's). I've spent maybe (at the far outside) $15 on distros. Most of the Linux I've used at home have been from those work CD's. On a per computer basis: $7.50 for Linux. $150 for M$.

Books: Many hundreds Linux specific (maybe $300). About $200 on M$ stuff (mostly for NT networking stuff. Turns out it was easier for me to put the tricky stuff on Linux boxes rather than pay for CAL's on the M$ boxes). And about another $300 for program specific things (Apache, NFS, Samba, etc.)

So, there is a bit more actually spent on the M$ stuff. But here is the interesting bit: Even if I had paid around $1000 each for the distros for work, I would still save money. How? CAL's. I don't need to work through and pay for weird licensing things to run services on a Linux box like on NT boxes. I can let 1 or 1000 people hit Apache on Linux. Not so for IIS.

Anyway, there's another point. And given that my data is no more useful than anyone else's, I'll even forego the +1.

Re:I've never spent money on windoze (1)

jgilbert (29889) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175190)

There really isn't much of a need to buy a linux distro 'off-the-shelf' for most people who use it (maybe the first time). All documentation is online, and you can download the software as well. Why spend $30-$50 on something I can download in a few hours over the cablemodem?

Because you want the creator of your distribution to remain in business and continue releasing quality software. If you don't support them some how they will go out of business.


Re:DSL (1)

synx (29979) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175191)

good call man! I havent purchased a linux distro for years as well. I think it was debian 2.0 last time or something. "hamm" if i remember correctly.

with fast bandwidth, purchasing CDs is generally pointless, espeically if you're keeping up on sid ;-)

Bizarro World questions (2)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175207)

This question is straight out of Bizarro World.

With a Windows release, you get Windows. That's it. It might be enough to get your mother on the internet, but not much more. (Unless your systems come bundled with Office, in which case you're spending closer to $500/system than $100.)

With a Linux distro, you get the OS, editors, compilers, databases, web servers, mail servers, etc., in that base price.

If you're the average business user and only need Office and a single application (e.g., an accounting package), your software costs might be as little as $500/system. Still far more than the cost of CD bought in a store and shared among the systems. The only reason people don't squeal, loudly, at this price is that it's largely made to look like part of the cost of the hardware.

But if you're a developer, the cost of your tools (compilers, database engines, source control programs, libraries, etc.) can easily hit tens of thousands of dollars.

It depends... (4)

ElJefe (41718) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175211)

... on how much you value your time.

I've spent a grand total of $0 on Linux (if you don't count CD's to burn). However, I'm not very skilled with Linux, so it takes me a long time to get everything installed and configured correctly.

Windows, on the other hand, has a fixed cost, but (for me at least) requires much less time to get to an operational state.

Like everything else in life, there's no easy answer. If you've got plenty of free time, Linux is "cheaper". But if you're like me and a lot of your time is spent on other things (homework, drinking, Counterstrike, etc.), then your time is too valuable to spend figuring out options in a config file.


(and yes, I am running Windows and Linux on two separate computers. but I use Windows most of the time.)

Neither (1)

EEEthan (41747) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175212)

I've bought a few boxed distro's but not for awhile.

I've been downloading .iso's--it's far better, if you ask me, since you can get the instant gratification(if you have enough bandwidth.)

I did buy Suse a couple of times--so $80 in the last couple of years vs. $0 for windows.

So linux by a nose for me, I guess...

Depends how you look at it (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175216)

I used to buy full editions of RedHat when it got me priority FTP access. Since they switched to that useless bandwidth consuming updater and shipped the bug-ridden 7.x series I've thrown away the last $70+ that I'll be feeding them.

I now use Mandrake, bought the full 7.2 release, and am about to pay for the 8.0 release (already installed, but I want to support their excellant work.)

I've spent about the same on WinXX operating systems, but you have to consider that I have 3 completely legal Linux boxen, and only one multi-boot WinXX box so I don't get anywhere near the utility/functionality. If you add in things like MSVC, MS Office, etc, I'd estimate I've spent over 10 times as much on WinCrap as on Linux.

If it weren't for paying customers that need WinXX support, I'd only have my old Win98 install from M$, and that's just my Wintendo game partition.

The question misses the point... (2)

mike_the_kid (58164) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175224)

In my opinion, what is payed for a distro is only a small portion of the total cost of ownership. If you pay $39,999 for a CPU license of commerce server, and $50 for a box of redhat from compusa, its easy to look first and say, ok, one is costing me less. Lets suppose, though, that you have to hire a full time admin. For the MS server, you get an MCSE and pay him $50,000 per year. To find a good Unix / Linux admin you might have to pay $75,000 per year. Figure out what you spend in 2 years, and thats a little more revealing. (There are fewer qualified admins who know there way around a shell prompt than there are people with MCSE's, thats why the one's salary is higher.)

Unfortunately, this is where most people stop reading, and decide that for their money, they will get MS, pay more now but have less TCO down the road. Anyone who works with the stuff enough knows that you get what you pay for. If you want to get the less skilled MCSE's, its your business.

I still do not get what the point of the original question is. I get Windows from my University, burn my distros. Otherwise, I would pay $2000 for the windows MSDN license or nothing for a linux distro. Hmm, let me think...

Windows vs Linux (1)

vbrtrmn (62760) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175227)

Well, I refuse to pay for Windows, so I guess that means that officially I don't use it, but I seem to use it anyway.

As per Linux, I think I have paid 20 bucks in the last 2 years for distros.

microsoft, it's what's for dinner

poll (3)

matman (71405) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175238)

This is a good topic for a slashdot poll: how much money as a consumer have you spent on Linux distributions? 0, 1-100, 100-500, 500-2000, 2000+

Well then... (1)

antisocial77 (74255) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175243)

I spent 30 bucks on a retail package of Mandrake about 2 years ago, and I've never bought Windows. I think I bought MS-DOS once, though. Does that count?

Re:My insightful response ... (2)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175256)

Slow news day, /. ?

At last check, 344 articles pending review. I'd say not. Bad editing? Maybe.

Silly Slashdot... (3)

Moonshadow (84117) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175257)

...warez sites are for Windows!

I spend less....although (2)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175270)

I only ever bought one version of Windows (95 cuz I HATED 3.11 that came with my Pentium 100). Since thern I have been fortunate. I got 98 with my current machine which has a new brain (everything from my old Pentium 450 except MB, CPU and heatsink which have been all been replaced with a Duron 700, matching heatsink and ASUS A7V MB), and I won a copy of Windows ME in the launch contest for Windows ME. I had my CD one day before the launch. With Linux I have bought Caldera 2.3, a slew of Cheapbytes CD's, RedHat 7.1 and then I have downloaded various distros....Debian, Redhat and Slackware. Total spent on Linux, counting blank CD's, about 70 bucks (30 times 2 and about 10 bucks on blank CD's). For the 96 copy, I paid approximately 90 bucks (plus or minus 10 bucks). So, I spent more on Windows, especially since you consider the 98 I got with my machine was probably rolled into the cost of it. That said, I usually try to buy every other version of my current favorite Distro, RedHat. Missed 7. 0 and have not bought 7.1, but I may wait since it's been rumored, and denied by Red Hat that there's a beta floating around. Maybe they are trying to hype up things for 8.0??? (new GCC 3.X and other things....)

I buy distros at work, download them at home (1)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175271)

I tend to buy the distros for my company because we use the heck out of the books that come with. For us, it sure beats surfing around the web looking for the docs, or using pico or something to read the READMEs. Red Hat ships a great set of docs with 7.1 I think. Windows.... well, honestly I've never bought a copy.

$20 (1)

mindriot (96208) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175273)

I haven't spent more than $20 on Linux distros. I bought my first Linux three years ago, and half a year later a Mandrake CD. Since then the 10 MBit line in my college dorm does it all... or, for my other box, apt-get are better than any CD.

hmm (1)

niekze (96793) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175274)

I buy OpenBSD twice a year. $30 + shipping every six months...

Debian costs me 2 blank cds (sparc & x86)

Windoze...I got the 3.11 version with my old computer...that's about it.

Not Even a Question (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175283)

Linux *can* be free, if you're willing to take it the old-fashioned way, instead of in a shrink-wrapped box with a glossy manual. You can download just about any distribution for free, install it for free, use "Linux tech support" (Usenet, chat rooms, man, etc.) for free, and so on.

Windows *can* be free, but only if you steal it. Assuming that this is not an option (especially in a commercial environment), there's no way to acquire, implement, and support a Windows system for free.

Clarification (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175284)

Some people have stated (and even been modded up for stating) that they never paid for Windows because it came installed on their systems.

When you purchase a pre-OSed system, you're still paying for the OS!

Sorry, someone had to say it.

DSL (1)

Broadcatch (100226) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175286)

I bought RH 4.2 but have used free versions since.

Now that I have a DSL line and Debian's apt-get, who needs to buy anything?

First post?


This has to be true... (1)

CosmicEntity (100265) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175287)

I can't imagine possibly waiting to download a distro anywhere other than my old college dorm. My Cable connection at home wouldn't come close to staying staying stable for that long (yeah, yeah, download managers work), and I don't have to patience to download a distro over a week. Over a modem? My heart breaks for anyone who's had to try it.

On the other hand, I've never "purchased" a version of windows in the sense that I've gone out and bought it (or any other MS product) off the shelf.

At least you'll feel good about yourself supporting a cash strapped distro instead of The Beast of Redmond.

one time purchase (1)

quackPOT (100330) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175288)

I bought SuSE 5.3 back in the day. Ever since I have always dl'd whatever distro I wanted to run. The "evaluation" SuSE distros work fine for what I need. I've never bought any M$ OS's seperate, they've always been included in the new computer I buy. I generally purchase a new computer every 3 years or so. I definately spend more $ on Windows machines than I do Linux. My job spends tons of $ on M$ and Adobe stuff. Thankfully my boss is open to Linux and we are migrating several of our services to being linux based. In doing this, we are saving lots of money.


Sure. (3)

Punto (100573) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175289)

Of course people that run linux will spend more on linux, because they use linux (not windows).

Being a windows and linux user myself, I _should_ be spending more money on windows, because I have to buy the software I use (eudora, X server, etc), but I don't. And linux I just download, and it's not illegal.

It's about the money, but it's also because it's more confortable to download the cd and burn it without having to go to some store with salesmen.


I know I have... (1)

Korgan (101803) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175292)

spent a lot more money on purchasign Linux distro's, books, software than I have on Windows anything.

I pre-order my distro's from the various sites (inc Redhat and SuSE) so that when they are released, they're shipped to me as quickly as possible. I purchase update CD's instead of downloading a whole heap of software.

I only have a simple dial up and home, no DSL or cable, so its a lot easier for me to support the software I actually enjoy and have a strong passion for by purchasing it than downloading it. The way I see it, if you truly like something then you don't really have a problem spending a bit of money to get that item, and help those that put it together. This applies to anything, not just software.

download (1)

oddrune (102921) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175297)

Most people download their open source OS. After all it _is_ free :-)

Why buy??? (1)

DESADE (104626) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175304)

When you can download. I also never buy Windows of any kind. I always find friend with a CD. I'd rather die than give MS a friggen dime. (Guess I'll have to jack up a delivery truck to get my XBOX).

OpenBSD purchases (1)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175306)

$30 bucks every six months for OpenBSD. Add in a couple of shirts, and 6 posters... probably more than a Windows license.

Does anyone know if the "white album" OpenBSD 2.9 cover will make it onto a poster?

Hard to tell, really (1)

ebh (116526) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175321)

On the bare OS front I've spent more on Linux (RH 4.1 and 6.1, maybe SuSE next) than Windows (one PC, whatever the OEM price was).

But I've spent a lot more on application software for my Windows box. (Call me when GNU Cash can replace Quicken and the GIMP knows about Pantone and CMYK. Admittedly, GNU Cash is getting Really Close.)

Oh, and I'm still sad about losing FrameMaker on Linux. I'd pay more for that than the Windows version, if only Adobe hadn't canned it (or let it fizzle, like the Irix version of Photoshop).

My next computing appliance would be a Mac (for color management), except that I work for a Big Evil Closed-Source PC Maker, so I get Wintel boxes cheap enough to give away as Christmas presents. I'm probably still paying the full Microsoft Tax, though. :(

all costs (1)

gr3g (119302) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175325)

I think a more broad look would be helpful. I mean yah I bought a debian distro for $9. But then I had to purchase a book to learn how to use. Then I have to pay for bandwith to download the latest kernel. ad naseum. There are a lot of little costs with linux. However I don't believe they compare to the initial costs of windows which can be quite large. And then the bandwith for downloading all the patches. etc, etc.

I don't spend money on either (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175327)

The last PC that I bought with Windows on it was a Win95 Pentium-based laptop, way back when Win95 first came out.

As for Linux, it seems like two or three times a year, someone "gives" me a complete distro, either as an advertising promotion or bundled with a magazine. In between times, I download updates at work, burn them onto CDs, and take them home.

Wake up. You're being manipulated, and y'all don't even know it.

$0 (1)

Rydor (129335) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175330)

Debian + Cable + Apt == Free Upgrades For Life

My observations. (1)

PrimeNumber (136578) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175336)

I have noticed that newbies mainly purchase distros (and many more at that) than the older more experienced linux users.

This is due to the following reasons:
  1. Newbies usually have to buy 2 or 3 before they "settle" on one they feel comfortable with.
  2. Most usually dont know how to use RPM let alone recompile a kernel, KDE or Gnome version, etc.
  3. Bragging/Newest toy factor. Talking to friends about having "newest" KDE etc. (even though most of us know that rarely happens :) )
  4. Last but not least, convenience/bandwidth. This is the reason even season linux veterans buy distros semi-regularly

It is kind of sad in a way that the newest GUI's for Linux are so good. I have talked to 3 different people in the last month or so that use linux alot but really have little or no inkling "what lies under the hood". (graphical logins, great KDE and gnome interfaces on the newest distros, auto-update features etc.) They have never had to tinker so they are in essence becoming virtual clones of the users they were with M$ gui's.

It's true... (1)

olmuckyterrahawk (137825) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175337)

I have two shelves full of old Linux distros, starting with the 0.99pl14 Ygdrassil release, and progressing through the Morse Telco, SLS, Slackware, and RedHat, and finally my current favorite, SuSE.
For a while I was buying every InfoMagic multi-CD release as well, and sampling the various systems on them. I've never bought any Windows software or operating systems, except Academic versions of Office, and Encarta for my daughter in college.
Every other piece of Microsoft software I have came with the systems I purchased, except a Visual Studio '97 I won at a Microsoft demo in a local bookstore.
Geez. I've spent more money on Linux-related T-shirts than Microsoft software, and I don't have a single piece of pirated Microsoft software. Don't need it. Eventually, my house will be entirely Microsoft-free. Good riddance.

I don't spend anything. (3)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175340)

I think ca. 1994 or so I bought a Slackware subscription, but I haven't paid for Linux since then. I've downloaded Debian and RedHat distributions ever since.

Re:Purchase Distros (1)

FrankNputer (141316) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175342)

I think we have to remember that when we bought a PC that "came with" Windows, we bought that copy of Windows, too.

Do you pay for something you love? (2)

akiaki007 (148804) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175348)

Here is how one should really look at it. How much money do you spend on something you really like? I'll use music as an example. I will ALWAYS buy CD's by certain groups, but NEVER by others. If I care about something enough, I will spend the money for it. If you only like one-third of something, I doubt you're going to go out and purchase it. If you are worried about legality, you will do what you have to.

You break it, you bought it... (1)

creep (150035) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175349)

I've only ever bought three Linux installation CDs, and that was before I got a broadband connection. I got them for $3.00 or something at Linux Mall.

I see one of the benefits of Linux (and any other open-source software) being the ability to download ISOs, with the only cost of an installation suite of CDs being a $0.15 CD-R.


Here's my expenses (1)

jreilly (163624) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175355)

For windows: $90 for an upgrade to Windows 98 and $300 for a full version of Win2k (plus 5% Maryland sales tax)

For Linux: $3 (+shipping) for Debian 2.2r3 and 2 blank cds for Mandrake 8.0

Do the math.

CALS and Licensing (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175361)

It really has nothing to do with buying distros. MS CALS and enerprise licensing is where the real money is spent. Take for instance we just built a web application that used MS SQL. We then found out that it would cost us a enterprise SQL license at 50 K just because a web application was hooked to it. We converted the application to use Postgres in a few hours and saved the 50K. Nuff Said!

My 2 cents (2)

boaworm (180781) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175366)

I bought one copy of slackware a while ago (slack 3.1 ;-). I needed something good to start with, so I wanted the Manual and the CD (modems suck :-)

Since then I have not purchased any linux distribution. On the other hand, I've only bought one version of windows aswell, a retail version of Windows98 (First Edition). It's getting really old now though...

My guess is that many people buy their first Linux distro just to get some setup help, manuals, a nice bootable CD, floppy tools etc etc. Later, they realize it is cheaper to download it.

I also guess that some people care to buy a Linux distro for like 50 dollars (perhaps cheaper then downloading for most people), but doesnt really care to buy a windows licence for 150 dollars.. If the price is low enough, it is always more convenient to buy a cd then to download it.

Re:Buy Windows? (2)

boaworm (180781) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175367)

Dont forget most PC's sold for the last 5 years has come bundled with Windows. Almost every PC owner in the last 5 years (or perhaps 10 ?) has bought a copy of windows.
Perhaps you need to get outdoors a bit more ? ;)

Well as for me... (1)

azephrahel (193559) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175375)

I've spent about $70 so far for Linux, I paid an extra $40 on a scsi card a few years back to get one that had good stable linux drivers, instead of a cheaper one that had no/flakey linux drivers. I count that as spending money on linux (although woudln't you know it, that card works fine in linux and win98, but win2k won't boot with it in..but I digress)

An other was for an $8 copy of LinuxPPC because I had a modem.

The rest? Blank CDRs that I have filled with my favorite distros, and my very own source/binary collections of utilties.

Thats all I've spent on linux in 5.5 years of using it as my primary OS.

In that same time I've spent an estimated >=$350 on windows, by being forced to pay for the bundled win98, winnt and win2k with machines over the years.

And that doesn't even include the money I had to spend for new pci cards when I found out my mac-pci cards woudln't work under Windows. They won't without hacked drivers .... of course they worked off the bat in a linux-based PC.

You seem to know about slack (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175376)

Damnit...pressed enter... real issue: you seem to know about slack. I want to customize my distro hard...only what I need. I have an old laptop who doesn't need much and a modern computer that can cope a lot of things.

Is the slack CD just another of those fancy 'I wanna install Linux' installs or can I do whatever I want? If I am at the mercy of an installer I'm not interested. (Moderators: mod down my post without text, I deserve it!)

I buy... (2)

VivianC (206472) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175386)

I have been buying Linux distros from the start. I have Slackware, Corel, Red Hat and Mandrake sitting in my desk. I also picked up a copy of NetBSD at Comdex just to toy around with. I think that if you like a product and want the company to keep producing, you should buy the product.

Now I'm not saying that I've bought every OS that I've used, but I buy major upgrades when they come out just to show someone cares.


Reasons folks might pay more (or more often) for L (1)

amoken (207870) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175388)

People don't generally pay for new versions or upgrades to Windows, while they might for new versions or distributions of Linux, for several reasons including:
  • they have to pay (often up to 50% of the original price) for Windows upgrades, but not necessarily for Linux ones;
  • the changes to a Linux distribution are noticeable with each release, whereas they aren't always (at least to most users) with Windows;
  • people who use Linux are more interested in the care and feeding of their machines, in general, than are most Windows users, so they tend to keep better track of new releases/upgrades/versions/distributions/whatever and download/buy/whatever them as soon as possible. Most Windows users either stick with what came with their box (often for fear of breaking something or just cuz it's doing everything they want it to do), or upgrade only when there's a "new" Windows product out (eg, Win95 --> Win98).

It isn't free just because it came with the PC (3)

AlphaOne (209575) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175390)

Why is it people think that Windows is free because it was already loaded on a PC?

Windows isn't free. The PC manufacturer paid something for it and passed that cost, plus a markup, onto you. Granted, it's far less than what you'd pay in a store, but there is a real cost associated with it.

So, let's say that a PC manufacturer pays about $100 for a Windows 2000 license on a new PC.

Each Linux distro costs about $39 for the plain installation. So, you can buy almost three copies of a distribution before you're paying more than you did for Windows.

They key point you're missing here is that you don't have to pay for the distro. Most of them can be had for only what it costs you to download the boot images and the various packages the installer retrieves. Or, if you're a real purist, you can download the entire ISO instead.

Windows has never been free.

An atypical sample (1)

hearingaid (216439) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175398)

I've never bought a copy of Windows.

I have two Windows 95 CDs, one inherited from an old computer of my mother's (which was stolen), and another which belonged to a former live-in boyfriend of a woman who I used to date. :)

I also have a CD with MS-DOS 6.22 and Win 3.11 on it, from the same ex-boyfriend of the ex-girlfriend. (Fortunately, I get along with both of them fairly well. :)

I did buy PC DOS 7 way back when IBM was still selling operating systems.

My Amigas and 8-bit computers all came with operating systems. Same for my Mac.

My other computers run FreeBSD, which I downloaded and burned...

So I guess my biggest OS expenditure has been to IBM. :)

Re:It isn't free just because it came with the PC (1)

hearingaid (216439) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175399)

Windows isn't free. The PC manufacturer paid something for it and passed that cost, plus a markup, onto you.

except when they didn't, of course. one of the tipoffs that this may have happened is when you buy a new computer, and the only manual that ships is a single-sheet keyboard manual. :)

yes, this really happened, to my mother. :)

Without a doubt... (1)

excesspwr (218183) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175405)

I have definately spent more on Linux than I ever did on Windows. The whole reason stems from the fact that I enjoy being on my computer more now that it doesn't have to be rebooted in the middle of whatever I'm doing. I have also purchased more games from Lokigames than the total amount of games I ever did from multiple Win games distributors.

Buy It Once, Use It Many Times (1)

Gallifrey (221570) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175408)

Perhaps I spend more money on Linux, per se, than Windows, because I'll never purchase Windows. But, how much money do others not spend because they burn the CD's from me? Also, at work we buy every new distribution version (for the distributions we use) when it comes out, but not for every server, like we would have to for Windows. So, in the end, our cost is much lower than if our servers were Microsoft based. Plus, I would wager that a lot of ./'s download ISO images instead of purchasing the CD's.

Re:I must admit (1)

nontrivial (222436) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175410)

Jeez, if you have to use Windows then run it on Win4Lin ( Here at work we use it for Quckbooks and the occasional Windows development that crops up.

I've never spent money on windoze (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175415)

I have one copy of 98 that came with a computer. The last time I even booted that partition was to finish playing half-life (over a year ago).

Before switching to linux, I was an OS/2 user. I paid for that software, and registered many programs under it because it was useful. I never registered any windoze programs.

As far as linux goes, before I had bandwidth, I used to simply buy the cheap bytes CD's ($2-$3). Nowadays I simply suck down a distro when I want to upgrade, archive it on one of my 'always on' machines, and perform an FTP install on the workstation.

But I don't do that often. If the software is doing the job, and doing it well, why fuck with it?

There really isn't much of a need to buy a linux distro 'off-the-shelf' for most people who use it (maybe the first time). All documentation is online, and you can download the software as well. Why spend $30-$50 on something I can download in a few hours over the cablemodem?

I think people may buy a shrinkwrapped distro once, and if they are smart enough to actually learn how to use it, they will use cheapbytes, or download it themselves from that point forward.

Forget the distros.... (4)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175420)

I know I spent a ton on books for Linux. Not counting COM - I can't really think of any Windows books I've purchased.

Re:It isn't free just because it came with the PC (2)

nachoworld (232276) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175422)

The author probably didn't mean that Windows distibuted on PCs were free. He probably meant that it was a fixed cost associated with purchasing the PC (or thinks of it in terms of purchasing the Windows distribution at the same time he buys a PC). I believe his point is that we purchase a new copy of Windows (along with a PC) every 3 years vs. purchasing a Linux distribution every 6 months.


Biased (1)

clinko (232501) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175423)

I hate to say it, but the replies you get may be a *bit* biased at slashdot. :)

not a dime. (1)

room101 (236520) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175428)

Never spent a dime on Linux. I download the ISOs from the websites at work, then take my old harddrive and copy them over, then burn them at home (cheap portable storage, don't care if it gets broken really). I get all of my info from the web. (maybe that is why I keep breaking it?)

Before I had a burner, I downloaded the slackware packages from the web (mid nineties), and installed from my dos partition.

In between, I didn't have linux. I probably wouldn't now if I didn't have the cd burner.

Why people buy boxxed retail (5)

DaSyonic (238637) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175429)

I can speak from experience. Sometimes we are caught off guard, and need a Linux distro on a machine with out network access, and didnt come prepared with the CD pack of various CD's (Find me a sysadmin that DOESNT have a cd pack of several free OS's and sunsite archives). I have found it quicker and easier to run into a best buy and get it there. So I alone have bought 2 boxxed sets before because of this, And I'm sure I'm not alone.

If it's a company you believe in, there's nothing wrong with buying the product that keeps them afloat.

Linux: Because a PC is a terrible thing to waste.

Buy Windows? (1)

DankNinja (241851) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175435)

I have not met anyone that has actually bought a copy Windows. (generally advanced users)

I've never bought a distro (1)

anonpoet (249397) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175446)

Free software. good. ook download with cable modem. mmmmmmmmmmmm.

My insightful response ... (1)

thud2000 (249529) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175447)

It depends .. on whether you use Linux or Windows. Whether you buy retail or download for free.
Slow news day, /. ?

You pay because you wan't too (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175458)

All the distributions makers allows you to download their products from their website. Sometimes they give you .iso files to burn cds, sometimes you only have the packages. You don't have to buy a new distro to upgrade!

I'm a Debian user. A while ago I bought a SuSE 7.2 for a customer. The manuals you got with the cds are wonderful. If you compare it with the Windows manual (how to move the mouse, how to close a window...), SuSE is a steal!

Good Question . . . (1)

phantumstranger (310589) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175471)

I really can't say, seeing as how i didn't pay for any of the apps on either my Linux or Win boxes.

Oh wait, my Linux distro cost me about $80 [] USD more than my Windows98 OS. :o)

I never have a problem forking over some green for free software. It's paying for the over-priced stuff that makes me heave.

This just goes back to total cost of ownership. (1)

SumDeusExMachina (318037) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175482)

Stories like this teach us that perhaps all that FUD that we hear from M$ all the time isn't all untrue. For a lot of the people out there, the only way to install Linux is to buy a full distribution set. This is further compounded by the fact that unlike M$, Linux distros force their users to update every 6 months or less.

Also, you have to consider the fact that a lot of these Linux distros that people are paying top dollar for every 5 or 6 months aren't nearly as complete (and sometimes not even as stable) as a full-fledged commercial OS like Windows 2000. Plus there's the problem with getting support, and what are people going to do when their Linux distro of choice goes out of business? Who here ran Stormix? And really, folks, when do you see M$ going out of business?

Sometimes, you just have to look at the bigger picture.


More on Linux (1)

ranmachan (320399) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175486)

I have bought the SuSE Distro and SuSE update disc a few times.
The only Windows I actually paid for was the
one on my first PC (Windows 3.1)... ^^;

Now I'm running Debian, which only costs me
bandwidth to update/upgrade...

$285 Linux Retail, $145 W2K OEM (1)

TargetBoy (322020) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175487)

Redhat 5.1
Redhat 5.2
Caldera 2.3
SuSE 6.1
SuSE 6.4
Mandrake 8.0
SuSE 7.2

I'll never pay retail for windows. Closest I came is ordering W2K OEM edition so I could have a reference copy

Well, Windows is actually cheaper (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175489)

Real costs comprise basically the blank CD's to copy the OS. So Linux is more expensive, as there are more distros, and with more CD's.

But in my case Windows gets the most expensive place as I had to purchase a version with the DELL laptop, as they had no other option, bless Microsoft. It will be many CD's till that difference is overcome.

Windows Gets More $$$ (2)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175498)

Corporations are Microsoft's biggest customers. They buy Windows licenses by the thousands or even tens of thousands. Whereas if a corporation uses Linux, they may buy a few copies because any IT dept. with its salt knows you don't have per-seat nonsense. All those thousands of copies of Windows cost a lot of money. With all this money going into paying for software, someone has to absorb it. These costs are passed on to the customer.

I'm sure Slashdot users consume lots of goods and services provided by companies both big and small. Most of these companies probably purchase a lot of Windows licenses. As a result, money spent by Slashdot users may indirectly go to paying for a copy of Windows.

Good work everyone, way to support Microsoft, ya bastards. :-)

my little bit of support (1)

bark76 (410275) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175499)

I'll buy a copy of Linux on CD about once a year, but I usually buy it just to put some money back into Linux (and for the pretty CDs). I've been doing the same thing with OpenBSD ever since I started playing with it last year. Most of the time though I just download linux (all right, I bought a french linux mag once because it came with Mandrake 7.2, but it also came with a whole crapload of good stuff too).

Do you count piracy? (5)

s20451 (410424) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175500)

Linux, by definition, can't be pirated, and I have spent essentially $0 on Linux. However, I know plenty of people who install Windows with all its bells and whistles, including Office, etc., who also spend $0. Of course these people aren't doint it legally.

I will reiterate a previously raised point ... MS's decision to crack down on piracy opens a window for Linux, since these people will be looking for a new free (as in beer) OS.

Free to install, expensive to support? (2)

sakusha (441986) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175504)

The only distro I ever bought was my first distro, MkLinux DR3. Could have downloaded it too. Since the time I figured out what the hell I was doing, it's been strictly FTP installs for me.
I think the problem is not the cost of the distro, but the cost of supporting materials. I am sick of the OS being free, but having to buy $50 O'Reilly books all the time. I must have over 1 kilobuck of books from ORA, Wrox, etc.

Buying distros? (1)

hyehye (451759) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175518)

Uhm, why? A few proprietary drivers, some packaging, and technical support that would be free if you spent a tad bit of time online anyway? Yes, Linux costs money in the sense that your time is valuable - but a free distro, one that can be downloaded and burnt to CD, is great. Actually, Slackware is my favorite and it's entirely ftp-distributed (except those places that package it)

I must admit (1)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175523)

I must admit , much as I love linux , I spend most of my work day in Windows. I have both infront of me.... (95 & red hat). For work i use alot of excell... and just find it easier to use the windows machine for that type of work. My red hat machine , usually just has pine open....

Not a representative sample (2)

ColGraff (454761) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175525)

No matter what we say about how often we buy linux distros compared to windows, the fact remains that we are simply not a representative sample. Most people don't even know how to pronounce linux, let alone use it, or have any interest in buying it.
USA Intellectual Property Laws: 5 monkeys, 1 hour.

Window more expensive (1)

pmz (462998) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175537)

Since the price of Windows is $99 + your eternal soul, I'd say Linux and its free cousins are definitely cheaper.

MacOS, Windows, and *nix (1)

Kira-Baka (463765) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175542)

MacOS and Windows versions I have used were always bundled (The PC was free, what can i say?). *nix distros i have used were always just downloaded... I had RedHat on the PC (which is now in pieces...) and I run MacOS 9.1 on this Mac. I haven't spent a cent on any OS, ever.

one redhat (1)

dakoasys (465631) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175544)

i bought one redhat 5.1, i think it was 9.99 when I had a 26k modem. The rest have been downloaded.

not a fair comparison (1)

big_daddy_t (467205) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175546)

given that most linux distros come with an office suite (K) compiler and everything else linux users take for granted as free, it's not really a fair comparison. as a windows user, i spent a hundred bucks every time there was an upgrade but 3.0 was included with my first pc. as for linux, i paid $100 CND for yellow dog [] 2.0 but most of that was shipping costs (note to yellow dog, you're international shipping rates are ridiculous)

Never paid [retail] for M$ (1)

RatOmeter (468015) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175547)

Gee, not sure if I'll ever say this out loud, but
I've _never_ paid for an M$ OS, 'cept on a new PC.
The only u$ software I have paid money for is
Flight Simulator, which (uncharacteristically) has
been a very good product (damn! that helicopter
sim is _way_ too realistic).

I _have_ purchased 3 revisions of Red Hat Linux at
retail outlets.

I _have_ (being an MCP cert, gotta make a living)
received time limited versions of various u$ OS's
which seem to somehow continue to operate beyond
their advertised capacity (he, he).

I'm afraid that the real promulgators of M$ OS's
are the Corporate Goons who don't know any better.
These silly IT/IS bastards are going to ignore
all the threats to: (a) competition, (b) security,
(c) _true_ innovation, all because they feel M$
is the leader. Somewhat like in the old days when
"you can't get fired for buying IBM."


Re:DSL (1)

james_underscore (468915) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175548)

This is very true... I even do this with a 56k modem. You could start with a set of debian disks which you can persuade someone with a faster line to burn for you (though a little patience and you can do it with a modem). Then if you set apt-get to use the testing or unstable distribution you can run apt-get update then apt-get upgrade / dist-upgrade frequently to keep your OS up to date with no extra cost.

Re:Purchase Distros (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 13 years ago | (#2175553)

Except for those of us who build our own or order clones "sans windows" from distributors.
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