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Editor's Note: It's Easy Being Green with Linux

Changing the World One Server at a Time

  • December 18, 2000
  • By Kevin Reichard
I'm usually not mining my annual Christmas party for story tips. But as Linux enters the mainstream, it touches the lives of more people and more businesses, so it's no surprise that it's affecting the lives of my friends as well.

Like my friend Michael Krause, the executive director of the Green Institute. The Green Institute is an entrepreneurial environmental organization creating jobs, improving the quality of life, and enhancing the urban environment in inner-city Minneapolis. It works strictly on the local level. It also has three revenue-generating ventures: the Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center, the ReUse Center, and DeConstruction Services.

At the party, Michael told me that the Green Institute had switched to a Linux-based system for several tasks. The reason for the switch was simple: it would cut down on the time system administrators spent maintaining the system. Furthermore, if the Linux system worked as well as the Green Institute anticipated, there would be no need for one of the system administrators.

On a global scale, this is barely worth a mention. But on the local level, the level where the Green Institute and thousands of others nonprofits exist, this is huge news. The Green Institute isn't exactly flush with cash, so the potential to save on resources devoted to a computing system is enormous. With savings, I'm not really speaking of the money spent on the actual operating system--most resellers have heavily discounted rates for nonprofits, so the cash outlay for a Microsoft OS probably isn't as much as you'd think--but on the administrative time spent on maintaining a system on a daily basis. This now frees up time that can be spent on other tasks, and anyone who has worked with a nonprofit knows that there is always a long line of tasks that need attending to.

The lesson?

Not all change occurs in huge, seismic shifts; most change in the computing field occurs in small doses. And Linux, with its combination of low entry cost and low maintenance costs, has the power to empower both corporations and nonprofits around the world -- and this is clearly happening, one Green Institute at a time.

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