This is Marcel Gagné’s third book with Addison-Wesley following, Linux System Administration: A User’s Guide and Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye!. Marcel is also the well-respected author of Linux Journal’s, Cooking with Linux. The author has written this excellent book with near-perfect timing.
Many businesses are now seriously contemplating replacing their existing desktop systems with Linux. For the last several years Linux has been making steady progress in eroding Unix and Microsoft Windows market share in the server market, but in the desktop market, Linux has made little headway. The adoption of Linux as a viable replacement of the enormously popular Microsoft Windows system in particular, has been slow. This is beginning to change. In todays competitive business environment, every dollar counts and businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about paying exorbitant prices for proprietary software. As a result, Linux is beginning to be adopted by businesses for desktop use with ever increasing frequency. The logical progression of corporate adoption of Linux as a desktop system is more and more users will be switching to Linux as they become familiar and comfortable with it through daily use. The author has seized the moment and written a comprehensive guide to efficiently and effectively switching to Linux that targets the corporate user.
Moving to the Linux Business Desktop serves as a practical, hands on, guide to making the switch to Linux. It is divided into three parts:
Part 1 – Getting to Know Linux
Part 2 – Administration and Deployment
Part 3 – The Linux Business Desktop
In Part 1 – Getting to Know Linux, the author gives the reader a succinct overview of Linux. Deployment, installation, configuration, desktop customization, and file management are covered in this section – briefly and yet, practically. In six short chapters the user will be given enough information to choose a distribution, deploy it and begin to work productively with it.
In Part 2 – Administration and Deployment, the true depth of the author’s understanding of Linux administration is made apparent. Years of writing on the subject has given him a unique gift of explaining this complex topic in a way that allows the ordinary user to understand. This section constitutes half of the pages of the book and covers most aspects of the administrative tasks related to a corporate desktop. Application administration, device management, services, networks, internet connectivity, the shell, web administration (webmin), users and groups, backups, printer management, email services, LDAP, web services, Samba, NFS, thin clients, remote control and security are covered in great detail. Administrators looking for help in administering a newly converted business environment will find this part of the book invaluable.
In Part 3 – The Linux Business Desktop, the second largest section of the book, the author lays out Linux’s “killer apps” – the actual workhorse applications required by corporate users to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Email clients, organizers, PIMS, sticky notes, browsers, word processors, spreadsheet applications, presentation applications, scanning, digital camera applications, graphics suites, IM, even video conferencing applications are discussed in detail. If you are a Linux user who has been wanting to shed your dependence on one application or another that you have been using from another operating system, this is the section you should look at first. This is the heart of the book and provides much needed information about the tools necessary to actually make the move to Linux.
Some of the applications and technologies covered in the book, just to name a few:
* KDE Remote Desktop
* OpenOffice.org (Writer, Spreadsheet, Impress, etc.)
The book weighs in at 665 pages and it’s amazing what you can cover in a book this big. The author has done a remarkable job in hitting the high points of simple topics and going into great detail for the more complext topics. The book comes with a version of Knoppix that the author has modified to suit his tastes. It is a live CDROM, meaning you can boot Linux directly off the CDROM, and it is fully functional. See the back of the book for details such as system requirements, but if you would like to try Linux without getting rid of your existing operating system, simply insert the CDROM and reboot. When the system comes up, it will boot Linux off the CDROM without affecting your existing system in any permanent way.
This book covers many viable alternatives to each of the major applications that business users need to use. Usability has been a thorn in the side of Linux over the last several years. The Open Source community has slowly overcoming both the perception and reality of a lack of business class productivity solutions. Many forward looking, progressive managers have performed financial analysis showing the business sense of migrating to Linux, only to be blocked by skeptical, “What do you mean, I won’t be able to use Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Internet Explorer? Are you kidding? Get outta here!” type statements made by their bosses. With the advent of OpenOffice.org, and Mozilla, this is no longer as high a hurdle to jump. This book provides several business class alternatives for each type of productivity software that a typical business user would encounter in the performance of her job – Email, File Management, Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Graphics, Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing – all are covered and covered well.
The only quibble that I have with the exploration of alternatives is that Firefox is missing as a browser alternative. For those readers not in the know, Firefox is Mozilla on a diet and wearing new clothes – slim, powerful and HOT! Perhaps Firefox was left out due to the intended reader (the business user). The author might not have wanted to present a pre 1.0 version product as an alternative to the aging Internet Explorer. If that is the case, it is too bad. Even in a pre 1.0 state, Firefox is amazing. It will likely eclipse Mozilla in short order. On September 14, 2004, the Mozilla Foundation released Firefox Preview Release 1. In the first 24 hours after the release, 300,000 copies of the software were downloaded – the most downloads, in a single day, of any software product ever released by the Mozilla foundation. Firefox is the first real contender for browser market share in the last several years and deserves at least honorable mention. However, to be fair to the author, Firefox 1.0 PR came out after this book went to press.
Marcel’s Gagné’s style is personal and direct. This is a fun book to read and is packed with useful information. It is for anyone considering making the jump to Linux – users, managers, even corporate strategists. If the reader approaches the subject of migrating to Linux with any degree of seriousness, they will not be disappointed in this book’s presentation. For the first time since its inception, Linux is poised to become a standard feature of the corporate desktop landscape and Moving to the Linux Business Desktop will provide a comprehensive roadmap for getting there.
Moving to the Linux Business Desktop is a very good book and timely – highly recommended!
Moving to the Linux Business Desktop
By Marcel Gagné
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Target Audience: Business Users, System Administrators, and System Implementers
Recommended Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Category Rating Clarity 9 Accuracy 9 Organization 10 Artistic Design 8 Overall Rating 9.0
Note: Rating is on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best
Buy “Moving to the Linux Business Desktop“
About the author:
Will Senn is a Systems Architect, living in the Dallas area.
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I — like others of TLUG (Toronto Linux Users Group) — got to meet Marcel Gagné when he gave a presentation at one of the meetings, he is very knowledgeable…and I enjoy reading his article in Linux Journal; I have read his two previous books and find them to be very well written and I have high expectations of this one as well.
Too bad that he could not have done one extra page, then it would have been an evil 666 pages!
Well, it’s definately cheaper to learn how to use free software, I mean – moneywise, but, if it’s not one’s hobby to tinker with new software, why whould one spend valuable lifetime, which could be used to do something much more amusing or at least to earn some money?
Sorry but I don’t know of any companies going to the linux desktop. What a lot of people forget in the land of linux is that companies use 3rd party applications that are not available for linux. I’m not just talking about web browsing and email, i mean those specialty apps. Sure you can suggest WINE, but WINE is shoddy at best.
Yeah? I heard there’s a few small companies moving to Linux on the desktop.
Really small operations though that don’t make much money…I think their names were Novell and IBM. Not very big names, I know. They are in the tech industry. I think that they both have a website that you can visit. You might have to google a bit for them.
As soon as I can scrape up enough pennies I am going to purchase this new book. It’s well worth my time to purchase and read.
With Mr. Gagne’s knowledge, I was able to go “redmond” free in October of 2003.
I have read the book and I agree with the author it is a good book. Marcel goes into great detail in this book about the Linux desktop. The only thing I have with this book is that he is striking at pree 200/XP Windows Operating Systems and that many of the solutions that he covers are available for the Windows OS. Speaking from a business point of view this book would not sway my decision on whether or not toi choose Windows or Linux. If I was planning a definate move to Linux or just migrated to Linux this is an excellent resource.
Is the new book written in his “Linux Journal Style”? Some people like his “french cooking style”, others (myself included) find it a tad too “overcooked”.
I’ve not seen a Blue Screen for a very long time.. is the author still referring to Windows 98? (which was not meant for business use anyway)
I would love linux on the workfloor, but this kind of argument will not convince experienced windows administrators. Stability is quite good with the latest flavors of Windows.
Windows 98? (which was not meant for business use anyway)
really?. can you please ask MS to admit that. what about “ME”
really?. can you please ask MS to admit that. what about “ME”
The NT line has always been the version of Windows Microsoft pitched at business. That so many chose to ignore Microsoft’s recommendations is their own stupid fault.
A small list of (large) companies using Linux: http://www.aaxnet.com/design/linux2.html
Finding such a list for small businesses in yer local area is harder obviously, but you might want to ask yer local LUG.
BTW, found that link using Google, which just happens to be on that same list
There are many reasons why Microsoft® Windows NT® Workstation 4.0 is fast becoming the operating system of choice for all business users. ….
So small businesses should take the advice of a document from 6 years ago (‘Published: December 1, 1998’)? *Some* things have progressed since then you know?
Washington IT Analyst,
I see that the culture of your namesake has rubbed off on your POV. This book is not about blue screens and the author makes no claims that Linux will solve all of your problems. The Windows 2000+ lines are more geared towards business than their predecessors, however, rock-solid stable? You have made a baseless and unsupported claim. Many times, when applying security hotfixes the operating system REQUIRES a reboot – how can this be considered stable by any rational individual.
Why does competition have to imply an anti bias at all?
gnillort is fun, but the facts are better – every time you say NO, it simply is not true.
Practical, senseful and honest.
Just to quote your unsourced reference, “Unisys found that, in a stand-alone configuration, over the course of two years, the ES7000s running Datacenter Edition provided an average of 99.9% system availability in a stand-alone configuration. That’s with no high-availability clustering.”
Wow, Datacenter Edition running in stand-alone configuration without high availability…
Oh, and this is even better from the same source, “Microsoft co-sponsored the reliability study initially”.
That is rich. Not that Unisys would ever report anything but the truth about Microsoft, in the first place….
Here’s an article that might be of interest to you [Shankland 2002]:
Unisys, Microsoft to launch anti-Unix ads
Let me suggest that you read the book before making more erroneous conclusions – the entire book is devoted to discussing numerous business software applications.
My father bought this book and burst out laughing when after a few minutes using the customised Knoppix supplied with it it had a kernel panic 🙂
It was overall far, far less stable than XP. Hence he’s still using XP, albeit with OO.o and Firefox, which he picked up from Linux
Still, its somewhat false advertising. Linux may not BSOD but it sure as hell can crash fatally.
Linux may not BSOD but it sure as hell can crash fatally.
yes but there is a different between bsod’s every other minutre and kernel crashes due to serious faults
Read all my post – I said Linux crashed a LOT more than XP did. Might have been a bad configuration on the part of Knoppix, or whoever customised it, but it was less stable than XP. Hence my point about the book being ironically titled – Linux crashed MORE than the Windows he was telling people to “leave behind the BSOD” on.
“Sorry but I don’t know of any companies going to the linux desktop. What a lot of people forget in the land of linux is that companies use 3rd party applications that are not available for linux. I’m not just talking about web browsing and email, i mean those specialty apps. Sure you can suggest WINE, but WINE is shoddy at best.”
Really! Attempt to convince a whole raging herd of teenagers running Linux in their parents basements of this.
They will set you straight…
btw: Have you ever read the teachings of RMS?
To be fair, on both of my Athlon systems, and a laptop I recently installed Mandrake 10 on – almost no modern Linux will boot without me passing ‘acpi=off noapic nolapic’ parameters to the kernel.
This is most likely due to buggy ACPI implementations from both Asus, Soltek and whatever chipset was in the Acer laptop – but the fact that Linux is incapable of detecting this and falling back to a ‘safer mode’ instead of simply freezing, kernel-paniccing or crashing seems a bit of an omission.
I can only imagine how confusing this is for newbies who have heard how wonderful linux is and the kernel just crashes on boot on their machines.