Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
For years now, there's been talk brewing about the concept of Green IT. Pundits have predicted in years past that sustainable IT would be job one soon, really soon. Gartner said in 2007 that in 2008 it would be THE most important checklist item for IT managers. 2008 has come and gone, and I don't remember hearing a whole lot about green-ness being the top priority for tech executives. Perhaps that has something to do with sustaining the company being more important than sustaining trees. In any case, it looks like green IT is still in the forefront of executive minds, and with a new administration it may become even more important even than Gartner said it would - it may become the law. So where does open source software fit into the mix? How green is the GPL? Pretty green, if you ask me. In fact, companies that already use open source software are well on the way to greening their IT departments.
Open source lives in the cloud
Companies and individuals usually get their open source software via download, which means that packaging waste is eliminated. You can copy the software over and over again, so even on the off chance that it does arrive in a pretty box, you only need one pretty box for the entire company, as opposed to a separate copy and license for each person. Heck, if you play your cards right, you only need one pretty box for the entire office building. Open source software documentation, if it even exists, is almost always online or distributed inside the program, and almost never printed into an actual book, meaning even more trees get to live and no plastics were killed in the making of your favorite Linux distribution or Microsoft Office replacement. Because open source software lives mostly in the cloud, fuel costs could decrease dramatically since downloading eliminates fighting traffic to get to Best Buy. Not only that, but it eliminates daily UPS shipments.