John Hoss, partner and VP of Freeport Launch Service , doesn't have time to monkey with his computer system. Operating a nine-vessel fleet off the coast of Freeport, Texas, Hoss's 45-person company ferries supplies to oil tankers and cargo ships passing through the Gulf of Mexico. Each day the company coordinates with dozens of vendors to supply as many as three or four ships. And Hoss has been busier than ever since hurricanes Katrina and Rita trashed ports in Louisiana and Florida this year, driving more shipping business to Freeport.
Hoss has been using the open-source Linux operating system since 1999. He says he switched from Microsoft Windows to Linux because of the latter's lower cost and superior stability. "I am the IT, finance, planning, and HR departments, and sometimes the janitor," says Hoss, 45. "My requirements for a small-business network are simple but rigid. I want minimal maintenance."