This article takes a look at the issues involved with ditching Windows for Linux. It’s not the most in-depth piece, but it provides a handy introduction of the ‘how’s and ‘why’s of shifting.
Move your Business from Windows to Linux
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2008-07-08 3:00 pmjabbotts
Outlook, Excel and Powerpoint are the lock-in technologies here also along with some webapps that will only work with IE6 (yup, IE versions break “standards” within MS own products).
I keep trying to replicate what I do in Excel through OOo in hopes that it has better memory management. Excel crashes a few times a week under regular operating condisions. I’d love to know what part of the “update calculations” button unchecks “display gride” and flips the worksheet over to “display formula instead of values” because that little gem happens frequently. I also like the little gem where Excel decides every cell is a seporate page then tells me the print area is outside the paper range. That one only requires shutting down all of the Excel windows so it can blow out it’s leaked memory and start the timebomb over.
So far, the fancy formula force the use of Excel even thow it breaks constantly. My less complicated worksheets for home are all edited through OOo now though I still save them as .xls so Excel can open them still too.
Outlook can be worked around by using the browser interface for Exchange but It’s only going to work flawlessly (as best it can anyhow) with IE so that retains the limitation on consumer decision.
If you replace your Exchange box then you have lots to choose from. eGroupware is going in at home and I’ve a business client who keeps asking about it so we may be putting in an eGroupware box for that small office.
Happy to repeat my earlier comment here (with some addons):
Well, at our office of 70+ something desktops I’m looking to leave XP as soon as our last crucial 3rd party application will be available under Linux. And that currently looks like to happen in 2-3 years or so.
Meanwhile, we’ve dumped MS Office and using OpenOffice, IE is blocked and Firefox is the default browser for all staff. Thunderbird is used instead of Outlook or Outlook Express. VLC Media Player is used instead of WMP. These last steps are something that a very big portion of Windows users can do (or have done). And from that base at one point of time switching to Linux will be pretty hassle-free.
And all the in-house business applications are web-applications that have been written respecting standards – so no vendor lock in there as well.
And all printers are already purchased so that Linux drivers are available for them.
And then we run tens of Linux servers already
With dependence on Office being so common, hopefully more bosses will find out about OO.org, Gnumeric, Abiword etc. Not only does the Gnumeric spreadsheet have every single function that Excel does, but over 150 that Excel does not have. It’s also very easy to write your own functions (in Python!) for Gnumeric. I’ve done so myself.
The following site gives a *huge* list of migrations from MS (both Windows and Office) to Linux and Linux-based software.
It doesn’t yet mention one of the biggest ones – the
52 million desktop project in Brazil – details on that here –
2008-07-08 3:10 pmjabbotts
I use Gnumeric as a standard item on my N810. I installed it as just a quick spreadsheet or simple database platform but randomly opened an XLS one day. It works great and all my personal spreadsheets instantly became usable across all platforms including my humble PDA.
2008-07-09 6:58 amobsidian
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the results of the current “Summer of Code” because as part of that, Gnumeric is getting *pivot tables* (crosstabs) at last!
Well i’ve got problem. I’m searching for some free Linux, that will got same features like SBS2003. Is there any? Here in Poland all schools got special project from gov, that they got new computers with SBS2003. They are all working using domains. The clients are configured in many ways, with dofferent groups, users etc. Is there some Linux, that can be used instead of SBS2003 & got same features (like configuring what user got on desktop, what he can’t run. disabling USB, configuring what sites can’t load, per user or group etc.). I mean 100% linux (server + clients)???
Ofcourse it must be same simple in administration in all aspects because such server will be at school & teachers will use it, & noone will pay them for learning how to use Linux. So it must be simple enough.
Are there any chances of doing that with Linux?
2008-07-08 3:19 pmjabbotts
CentOS is worth a look. (Enterprise Red Hat without the branding)
(drat, there is a great distro that just released an update; it’s basically a server in a can. Open the lid, dump out a prebuild webserver or small business server. Of course, I can’t remember the name.. booo.. Maybe it is BSD based.. I’ll have to go look it up as I need it for something else also.)
If you list out the functions you need to support, someone can probably make a recommendation. There was a fellow on another site who kept up a discussion forum while building a “Home Server” duplicate using Debian and whatever bits supported his needs.
For a small business server, your probably looking at Debian with eGroupware, Samba and backups. If you need an AD server, you can build that also though Fedora makes a point of having a ready to go AD server install. If you just want an appliance like an SBS box, check out Red Hat, Novell or Mandriva. IBM could probably offer something. There must be some
Edited 2008-07-08 15:21 UTC
I have thought about replacing desktop OS with something linux based one(in theory), but we are currently deciding between MS SharePoint Portal and WebSphere Quickr, most probably ending with MS SPP. Our servers are completly Windows based, using MSSQL, Exchange etc. I can imagine replacing desktop OS, but does it make sense, when all your server infrastructure is MS based anyway? 🙂
2008-07-08 3:26 pmjabbotts
If you can interact with all those back end Microsoft servers through standard protocols then you can probably build a workstation image. From what I’ve heard, sharepoint requires Windows on the front end to really make use of it’s functions as does Exchange server.
This is the lock-in legacy most companies now have to live with; welcome to the upgrade treadmill, start saving up for the next version Microsoft will tel you to buy.
2008-07-09 7:14 amobsidian
Yep, that is sooo right – the ol’ “upgrade treadmill”….
We’ve got a proprietary VCS at work (the license for which is *very* expensive). I’d love to see it replaced by Git, but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen.
Sometimes things can be tricky if a business uses MS Access and all manner of VBA scripts. No direct migration path to Linux. SQL Server systems with stored procedured pose another problem, not to mention most real .NET apps. If they had used PHP or Java migration would be much simpler.
I wish migration was simpler, but some folks have so much MS software that only a partial migration is possible.
I find that the big question that comes is not, can we move to Linux? The question that my bosses have is. WinXP is finished and Vista is a no go. Where do we go from here right now? I work for a Library System and in my Library alone we have over 130 computers. The back bone of the network is Linux/Samba based. The workstations are all windows based. What do I do for new workstations? Most venders are eliminating XP and XP based Hardware. The economy is getting worse everyday and we still need to upgrade older machines every year. I have computers that are over five years old. I can’t move to Linux based workstations with the public. Hell most of staff still canâ€™t answer the most basic windows questions. MS really screwed us.
2008-07-08 3:31 pmjabbotts
I’ve heard good things from Libraries that have switched. The public systems break less often since a user can only eat the user’s own space. All the software is available to provide browsing, email and document editing or media viewing.
It sounds like your next step is to take an inventory of what software you install on those workstations then investigate alternatives where possible. You may find programs that are required which only run on a Windows platform but you may find out that the only limitation is that you haven’t done it already.
Once you have your list of software functions and brand names for Windows and Linux based OS applications that support those functions; build a test machine or run a four machine trial on the side.
(the function is Email; Outlook and Thunderbird are two branded applications that support it)
(eesh, I know the tech. If I knew marketing I may actually be employed within IT again. That’s my own topic of venting though and unrelated to this.)
2008-07-08 10:03 pmobsidian
“Where to from here?” – good question…
Two possibilities are using Wine and (in about a year or so) ReactOS. Wine has made some great progress in the last couple of months or so. I’ve judged it harshly in the past, but it’s now impressing even me.
ReactOS (which is using an increasing amount of Wine code) is really making huge progress too. It’s still labelled as “alpha” but the latest releases feel very solid. It is aimed as being compatible with XP, so it could be an option in about a year or so. Until then, Wine might be worth a try.
We are running fancy Excel macros (which probably can be replaced by something smarter if tha boss have enough guts) and using Outlook like it is the real OS here. Word can be replaced easily here,same for PowerPoint but Excel,that’s another story.But the most probable cause we will not move to a Linux based OS is the fact that we are developing some (read many) products with MS itself. Customers (the vast majority) run XP thus … no penguin for us. I couldn’t even convince my boss to replace my laptop with a MacBook Pro running XP via Parallels or BootCamp even if the laptops that we buy are more expensive (including guarantee and support) than a MBP.