Libraries should use Linux

Nicole Burchfield, aka Librarian, Interrupted asks why libraries are spending so much on licenses for software from Microsoft:

Why do libraries spend thousands of dollars a year on Microsoft Windows licenses for pc’s that are only used for access to the internet?


These computers often do absolutely nothing except provide access to the internet. So why not use Linux? And while we’re at it throw some open source software on there like Gimp and Open Office? All free, all useful to patrons – how can this not be the right thing to do?

I commented noting Howard County Library which is going completely open source – but there are several other libraries out there doing this very thing. I teach classes all over the country on open source and I always tell librarians that making the switch on their public PCs (if not all PCs) to Linux and all open source software is a great option. They get more security for less cost and they get to say that they support open source! What more could you want?


  1. And honestly, even if people want to do some word processing and etc. They can do that on a Linux machine with open office which is, I think, ready for prime time. I do not understand people willingly tossing all this money to Microsoft.

  2. Jessamyn,

    I’m obviously with you on this – I think it’s so easy for libraries to provide great service to their patrons without spending a small fortune. Unfortunately, as a librarian told me yesterday in a class where I said ‘Go with open source’ – Microsoft gives a lot to school libraries so they have no choice in the matter.

  3. And then there’s trying to convince your Administration. Wheeee.

  4. Thanks for keeping the message out there Nicole. Just as a note, we are completely open source for public computers, not staff (75% of staff use open source software: Open Office, Gimp, Firefox, Rhythmbox). Keep spreading the word!

  5. Thanks for the update. When I wrote this (2 years ago) the plan was to change over everything to open source (so that’s why I said “going completely open source”). Glad that you’re getting close to that! 🙂

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