Today I started my first day at HP. I’m working on the Linux side of their imaging and printing solutions group in American Fork, UT. Basically, all future HP printers will be able to connect to the cloud to download/upload stuff. I’m working with the team of people that will get the server side stuff ready. I’m really excited. Not only do I get to work with the newest and most expensive technology, but I get to work with some really smart people. As I’ve only worked there for one day, I really don’t know too many details of all the stuff I’ll be doing, but it’s all Linux related :). So far I’ve mostly been setting up my machine/email address (they’ve given me a Desktop with a nice 24″ HP monitor, and I have an HP laptop/dock on order). I still can’t get into the building without knocking, as I don’t have an HP employee ID card, but that should arrive soon. It should be very different to what I’m used to. I’m used to working for companies that are quite limited in funding, and have had me build the cheapest working solution, HP is all about buying stuff that has support contracts. Here are a few examples of the differences:
Past jobs vs HP
Free (with no support) Linux open source gateway/router –> Cisco gateways/routers (with support)
Free (with no support) CentOS –> RedHat (with support)
Free (with no support) MySQL –> Oracle (with support)
Free (with no support) OpenVPN –> Cisco
Get the idea? It’s not always that a paid solution is better than the free version (case and point RedHat vs CentOS – they’re identical), but in a worldwide production environment, it’s useful to be using a product that you can get support from if something goes really wrong. If CentOS goes wrong, I end up reading through log files and bug reports.
In many cases, the best version is the open source (free) version. For example, there is no better kernel than the Linux kernel (suck it BSD fans!), there’s no better web server than Apache, and the best two browsers (Firefox and Chrome) are both open source. But this isn’t always the case. Oracle has many more features than MySQL, and Microsoft Office 2007 (and soon to be 2010) is better than OpenOffice (though I still use OpenOffice because it works on Linux and it’s ‘good enough’).
My point is, sometimes free software is better, and sometimes paid software is better. Unfortunately, too often price is the deciding factor on everything. It’s going to be nice to work in a place where money is not usually the issue. If a free product is better, we’ll use it, but if a thousand dollar piece of software is just a tiny bit better than the free version, HP will probably buy it.
I’m not sure what else I can say now, as it’s very early, and until I learn what’s going on, I won’t be contributing anything to the team. Hopefully I catch up quickly. Wish me luck.