Today fsdaily posted an forum thread asking why they should use linux but not using certain reasons. However, some of the reasons they said can’t be used are part of the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of a computer.What is TCO? Here’s some of what Wikipedia says about it.A TCO assessment ideally offers a final statement reflecting not only the cost of purchase but all aspects in the further use and maintenance of the equipment, device, or system considered. This includes the costs of training support personnel and the users of the system, costs associated with failure or outage (planned and unplanned), diminished performance incidents (i.e. if users are kept waiting), costs of security breaches (in loss of reputation and recovery costs), costs of disaster preparedness and recovery, floor space, electricity, development expenses, testing infrastructure and expenses, quality assurance, boot image control, marginal incremental growth, decommissioning, e-waste handling, and more.By this definition not all computer owners are going to have the same TCO as others, as not everyone knows the same things or needs the same things.First let’s assume that the hardware costs the same. This can happen if you build the computer yourself or you get someone to do it for you.I’m going to give examples of several types of people and what there approximate TCO is. All of these people are going to go to the locally owned and operated computer store, John’s Comps. They all want the $1,200 computer that doesn’t have an OS on it, The labor to install the OS is $50 for either Linux or Windows. So the preliminary cost just for parts and labor is $1,250.Our first person, Caleb (that’s me), is a system administrator and has been using Linux for 4 years, and has been using it more than windows, but doesn’t want to take the time building the system himself, so I’m going to get it from John’s.I figure I have 4 choices of what OS to put on this machine since I’m a power users and will probably want all the power toys I can get. Here’s what they are going to cost me in Licensing. (these are full licenses as it’s a new computer and licensing isn’t transferable, tax not included. list prices obtained from amazon and microsoft. )LicenseXP ProfessionalVista UltimateServer 2008 StandardLinuxPrice$300$340$1000$0Subtotal$1550$1590$2250$1250So right now linux is ahead for me in TCO… but what do I have to add once I get home? We’ll say this is replacing my current system so it has to be able to do the same things I do on this system. This include writing office documents, security, running server daemons, and doing development.Even on windows all the software I need to secure my system and make it useful is free. So I won’t add the cost of anything other than my time to install them. I don’t have any scripts that install these things for me so I have to add all the repositories (and check the box’s) or download all the software, and run the executables by hand. Time is money, let’s say a persons time is worth $20 an hour and I already know where to get everything I need.I’m going to estimate 1 hour for Linux, to get everything downloaded, installed and configured since I’ve already got the config files. everything but the daemons and some multimedia stuff was probably already installed.on windows I think it will take me 3 hours, It’ll take 1 just to download all the software I need, including an anti-virus, anti-spyware, firefox, vim, cygwin, or msys, a codec pack for watching movies, flash, adobe acrobat, open office. All of these things are on various sites and I’ll have to navigate them to get to the dowloads. I’ll have to wait on some of them and I’ve left out a few. Some will require reboots, meaning more than one. Then we run update on the ones that have definitions files, the anti-malware stuff, that usually takes 20 minutes. Then I have to configure them, since everything is gui I can’t copy most of my config files into place since many of them have the config in the registry not a text file. So assuming all goes well it takes about 3 hours to get my windows system up to optimal usability for me.Unfortunately I find out that all the apps I used on linux aren’t available for windows or are a bit different. So it takes me 4 hours to find decent replacement apps $80, and another 4 hours to learn how to use them $80, but I lose 10 hours of productivity over a few weeks changing my habits. $200 for a subtotal of $360.Now in 6 months major updates to both systems come along. We’ll say a service pack and a distro release. It takes 2 hours for me to install linux and configure it (since I always do a fresh install). It take 30 minutes for the windows service pack (neither included download time which I backgrounded, only actual time I spent working on it). So right now we are at ~3 hours $60 for linux and 3.5 hours or $70 for windows.Within 2 days on windows I notice I’m having system crashes that seem to be related to the video card, I update my drivers 30 minutes, $80, Linux has much improved and lost no functionality and no new instability.I realize after some more test that the updated driver didn’t solve my problems with windows so I uninstall the service pack. Fortunately I know what I’m doing and uninstalling is easy for me $100. I wait a month and go through this cycle with the driver again… it takes 6 months for my video card manufacturer to make there drivers work fine with this SP, each month I tried again, I waste $220 of my time doing so, for $320 total (I actually had a problem like this when SP2 came out). Linux is up for an install again so another 2 hours, $80.In 2 years I install Linux 4 more times getting linux up to $120, we’ll estimate that I spend a total of 1 hour a month keeping linux and windows up to date. it takes me about the same amount of time to run updates in both, and make sure they went smoothly. so we are looking at another $480-$500 dollars to maintain them. So $1180 for windows over 2 years… and $620 for linux.LicenseXP ProfessionalVista UltimateServer 2008 StandardLinuxTotal$2730$2770$3430$1870For me switching to windows…. would be almost $1000 more expensive over the course of 2 years than the cheapest version of windows I could get by with.Over the next several parts of this series I intend to use several different types of people to see how they would get by with linux or windows on a new computer. None of them will be Linux Professionals.P.S. If anyone knows why that there is a huge amount of whitespace above the tables I’d love to know.– This work by Caleb Cushing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.