Henry Miller hmiller at intradyn.com
Fri Oct 29 05:25:52 PDT 2004

I know it is about time for this thread to die, but I couldn't resist
responding this once.

On 10/28/2004 at 18:13 TM4525 at aol.com wrote:

>I agree with some of that, but unless the person has the money to
>then using dummnynet is acceptable. Not everyone can drop 10+ grand on
>nokia firewall that has everything packaged into a nice gui.
>A commercial add-on for FreeBSD is $800. Half a weeks salary for a 
>marginal programmer, and it actually works. Unless you live in Russia
>(or the Russian Federation or whatever the heck they call it now) and 
>make $22/week I dont see the point of turturing yourself.

The boss pays his sysadmin every week, no matter what.   The Boss
expects that the systems will runs with the least overall cost.
Sometimes that means buying something, sometimes that means configuring
what is there.    

There is always a point in learning.   However there is not enough time
in the world to learn everything, so you need to choose what you will
learn.  Just the fact that you know all the details of configuring
something is valuable, because at sometime in the future your needs
will change.   

Complex configuration is normally the cost of flexibility, so if you
needs change all the time you are better of learning how to configure
the free solution because in the long run the time spent learning
configuration means you can jump in and reconfigure it as needed.   If
your needs rarely change then maybe you are better off learning
something else with your time.  (note that there are free things that
are hard to configure without being flexable, but in generally free
software is hard to configure because it is flexable)

If your needs are such that you would need 10 commercial licenses, then
by your numbers you are looking at $8000.   For a company trying to
deal with several offices this is possible.  Now we are looking at a
month or more worth of salary for our sysadmin.   It is suddenly a lot
easier to justify time spent learning.   (in the case of hardware
solutions it isn't unheard of for companies to have two of each
machine, next to each other, but one off, just so any idiot can turn
the spare on if things go wrong, we can easily add more licenses unless
the legalese is right)

If the commercial solution does what you need, and the free one
doesn't, then you have to evaluate the cost of buying, vs the cost of
implementing something.   Managers should be good at this.   Generally
it will come down to buy, but there are exceptions.

If your company is just on the edge justifying a full time sysadmin,
but doesn't have 40/hours a week worth of stuff for him to do, then the
sysadmin should be saving money by using free stuff wherever it works.
 If your company has hundreds of sysadmins, and is so complex that
despite their best efforts nobody can really keep track of everything,
then you should be more inclined to buying something that is easy to

I'm sure there are more considerations too.   Any argument for or
against free software that ignores the above is flawed!  Since you have
stated a generalization that ignores the above, your argument is
flawed, even if it is correct in nearly all cases.

P.S. Note I'm using the term sysadmin, not programer.   Programs can
often admin, and sysadmins can often program, but the skill sets are

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