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IBM Launches Microsoft-Free Linux Virtual Desktop

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the open-collaboration-client dept.

IBM 344

VorlonFog writes "According to Information Week, IBM has introduced a line of business computers that avoid Microsoft's desktop environment in favor of open source software. IBM worked with Canonical and Virtual Bridges to create the platform, which IBM claims saves businesses $500 to $800 per user on software licenses and an additional $258 per user 'since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office.'"

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344 comments

fp (5, Insightful)

CheshireFerk-o (412142) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004769)

one small step for OSS...

Everyone is reporting it. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004777)

Each article has some little piece of FUD, but the whole picture dispels it all. You can use your existing hardware. You don't have to give up legacy applications thanks to virtualization. Pretty much any big IT user is going to save money and there are NO downsides.

Re:Everyone is reporting it. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005099)

how many of your sock puppets did you use to mod yourself up, twitter? are we going to see responses from your schizophrenic zoo of alter egos gnutoo, mactrope, erris, wileyhill et al, on this thread?

What mod points? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005165)

You must be new here, AC. We've burried twitter and his sockpuppets so far into karma hell that they never see modpoints. He only gets exposure when we want him to.

Desktop Environment? (5, Funny)

RandomPsychology (932636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004815)

because for some strange reason, we're not allowed to use the word "Windows" anymore due to the DMCA...

Re:Desktop Environment? (3, Informative)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005095)

Mostly, I removed Windoze from my post summary because I didn't want to bother too many Slashdot readers with it.

Re:Desktop Environment? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005477)

because for some strange reason, we're not allowed to use the word "Windows" anymore due to the DMCA...

The DMCA has nothing to do with it. "Windows" is a trademark, and trademarks are a different thing than copyrights.

Better? (4, Insightful)

magister159 (993682) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004859)

And this is better than virtualizing $LINUXDISTRO + OpenOffice.org how?

Re:Better? (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004925)

It's better for IBM. No one ever said it was better for you.

Re:Better? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005837)

If it helps to destroy Apple and their fanboys, I will just support that.
Apple fanboys are the evil enemies of humankind.

Re:Better? (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004953)

Support from IBM. Costly, but effective, for many large corporations. Plus, for corporations which already pay IBM big bucks, it probably lowers support costs to use their desktop.

Re:Better? (4, Interesting)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005745)

Support from IBM. Costly, but effective, for many large corporations

Effective? Hah.

I just left a company which was a big IBM shop. I had never worked in an IBM shop before. That was eye opening. We spent more time fighting the software that we did working. It was the most frustrating experience I have ever had to deal with in the workplace. I think on all future job interviews, I'll ask straighaway if the place is an IBM shop and if they say yes I'll thank them for their time.

IBM doesn't provide support, unless by support you mean allowing their you to hire their overpriced consultants. IBM takes what should be open source products and strips them of useful features, loads them with cruft, and then sells them for exorbitant prices (looking at you, Rational Application Developer).

There's a reason the definition for fear and loathing [foldoc.org] references IBM. As a former co-worker once put it: "Nobody was ever fired for choosing IBM."

I'd argue that an IBM issued linux desktop is just as bad as Windows. Leave it to IBM to find *some* way to lock you in. You'd expect that from proprietary software. But using F/OSS to accomplish vendor lock-in? That's a complete abomination.

Re:Better? (1)

Paul Pierce (739303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004965)

You must have missed how the article mentions: "combines the Linux operating system". Now you don't have to figure out which distro is the best - IBM already knows.

Re:Better? (5, Insightful)

vishbar (862440) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005185)

Many companies don't want to find out which distro is the best. That's precisely why they'd buy from IBM--a full Linux environment set up for them.

Re:Better? (2, Funny)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005169)

Because it includes Lotus Notes! Who wouldn't want to use Lotus Notes!

Re:Better? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005449)

'Cause it's crunching on their hardware, not yours. Easy in, easy out. Stay if you want. Don't feed the Microsoft Monster. That's why, chiefly.

Most interesting line (5, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004871)

To me, the most interesting part of this short article is this:

Revenue from Microsoft's Client division, which derives mostly from Vista... edged up just 2% year over year... despite the fact that the overall PC market grew 10% to 12% during the same period.

Re:Most interesting line (3, Informative)

EXMSFT (935404) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005033)

That was interesting. Though I thought this was interesting too:

IBM is offering virtual systems based on the Open Collaboration Client through its Global Services outsourcing and system integration unit.

Meaning, the software is cheaper than Windows (I'll let you conclude what you want about the cost of the the services to integrate it into your business).

Re:Most interesting line (2, Interesting)

lightsaber777 (920815) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005417)

You can add to this that Microsoft's market share for the operating systems dropped below 90% for the first time in forever. Now if I could only install a Linux desktop at work, my work life would be much improved.

Congrats (4, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004885)

On linking to the "Printable Article" rather than 6 pages of 3 sentences each (I'm assuming since I didn't bother to look) that is the standard format for Information Week!

Re:Congrats (5, Interesting)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005069)

You're welcome. I hate those damned advertisement screens that pop up before you ever see the first page of the article. I also hate how they break a small article like this into multiple pages to increase the volume of adverts they can cram around the page. (I really wondered if anyone would notice or care.)

I'm confused - how does it save $258? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26004893)

You can save $258 because you won't have to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office. And for this, all you'll have to do is buy our new line of business computers.

How exactly does this work?

Spend less money, upgrade less stuff. (2, Interesting)

staryc (852301) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004895)

IBM claims the system can save businesses $500 to $800 per user on Microsoft software licenses and an additional $258 per user "since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Windows Vista and Office."

This seems like a good idea. The relationship of 'cheap' is directly proportional to 'easy maintenance' in this case. (Expressing this relationship very loosely anyhow.) The necessities are covered with a list of typical applications, but is there anything missing here?

So this is the year of the Linux (1, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004899)

It has finally arrived! Hallelujah!

Re:So this is the year of the Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005271)

But is this the year of the [virtual] linux desktop? Well, if it's virtual, that's close enough.

Fantastic but... (0, Troll)

Lucid 3ntr0py (1348103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004907)

What do we do about Powerpoint, Xcel, Visio, and the other MS utilities? Please don't act like OO is a feasible alternative for these programs. Other than that I would be a huge fan of this.

Re:Fantastic but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005001)

But Open Office is a workable alternative to Powerpoint and Excel (unless you're looking at running VBS to connect to access).

I haven't found Visio to be highly useful, personally.

Re:Fantastic but... (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005155)

I haven't found Visio to be highly useful, personally.
Umm. So what. Other people do. If it is not on there then it is a problem. Heck I would be happy for a mac port of Microsoft Project.

Re:Fantastic but... (2, Informative)

bledri (1283728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005307)

Heck I would be happy for a mac port of Microsoft Project.

Have you tried Omni Plan [omnigroup.com]? I've been impressed with their products in general and supposedly it imports and exports to MS Project. Obviously it's not MS project and I have no idea how good the import/export work.

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005725)

I haven't found Visio to be highly useful, personally. Umm. So what. Other people do. If it is not on there then it is a problem.

It's only a problem for people that need it, and I would guess that the majority of computer users at the majority of companies do not need it.

Re:Fantastic but... (4, Interesting)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005047)

What do we do about Powerpoint, Xcel, Visio, and the other MS utilities? Please don't act like OO is a feasible alternative for these programs. Other than that I would be a huge fan of this.

Install the alternative application of your choice. I work with and collaborate with a Microsoft world 100% from linux and/or BSD. The only thing that's ever hung me up was creating Visio diagrams. Reading them is no problem. I read/create Powerpoint presentations, read/create/share Excel spreadsheets, Word, you name it. Oops, I forgot Access... I just never have to deal with it (I make it clear that I won't have anything to do with Access).

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

gosand (234100) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005435)

What do we do about Powerpoint, Xcel, Visio, and the other MS utilities? Please don't act like OO is a feasible alternative for these programs. Other than that I would be a huge fan of this.

Install the alternative application of your choice. I work with and collaborate with a Microsoft world 100% from linux and/or BSD. The only thing that's ever hung me up was creating Visio diagrams. Reading them is no problem. I read/create Powerpoint presentations, read/create/share Excel spreadsheets, Word, you name it. Oops, I forgot Access... I just never have to deal with it (I make it clear that I won't have anything to do with Access).

Microsoft Project? Essential
Outlook? (I HATE it for email, but I couldn't do my job without the calendar integration)

I've used Linux at home exlcusively for years (since Redhat 5.2 to be exact) but for work I use Windows. 1. because I don't have a choice, and 2. because it works for what I need to do. (software project management)

Addition (2, Interesting)

Lucid 3ntr0py (1348103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005217)

Has anyone used the Symphony Applications that come with them? We have Notes here at our shop, and it's worthless. Well, there are always things that one can fudge, but try putting VBscripts even in Mac Office. It just isn't the same.

Re:Fantastic but... (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005237)

Please don't act like OO is a feasible alternative for these programs.

Why not? And please, be very specific.

Some stuff doesn't work exactly right, but they offer pretty robust file compatibility. If you have coded yourself into a corner and are dependent on their VBA platform, now is a good time to start getting off the junk.

The only program for most businesses that's missing is a full featured and multi-user accounting package like Quickbooks. There are certain programs which have zero alternatives, like Final Cut, Photoshop (for serious CMYK), Autodesk products, etc. But the beauty of OOo is that those windows and mac users can be on the free office platform, and as soon as the vendor offers a Linux release or a viable alternative arises, you have one less thing to migrate.

Migration is painful, but if you choose the right platform to move to, it can be worth it. I recently moved a small office from SBS 2003 to an Ubuntu box. It was time consuming, and there were a lot of unforeseen problems the first few days, but now they have stopped obsessively checking the server to make sure it's still working, they receive far less spam, and when a free alternative to Quickbooks arrives, they will use all of the same programs - OOo, Firefox, Thunderbird - and only their OS will change.

Building the bridges to dumping Windows is key. In my opinion, the open source community should focus on releasing cross platform applications and frameworks. Once you make the choice of Windows or Linux trivial for application support, people will undoubtedly choose the cheaper operating system, especially during the next few years while the economy is suffering worldwide.

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005569)

In this specific case, IBM is bundling Lotus Symphony. Which is based on OO.org 1.x. Which is pretty outdated as far as things go in general, and for interop with MSOffice file formats in particular.

Re:Fantastic but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005863)

Out of curiosity, why was SBS 2003 failing? I'm running SBS 2000, and thinking of moving to 2008 - 2000 has only ever had issues for me when we filled up the Exchange db, which is easy enough to avoid. 2008 has a much larger db, so that shouldn't be an issue for us. I've always found 2000 Server to be as stable as, well, a Linux box. Not that I haven't thought of moving away from it, but I just can't make a compelling case for it given our requirements.

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

alexme (1421379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005457)

The system, which IBM calls the Open Collaboration Client, combines the Linux operating system with IBM's open source Lotus Symphony desktop package.

Based on the IBM alternative, they'll use Lotus Symphony instead of OpenOffice.org

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005583)

Which is the unholy offspring of OpenOffice.org 1.1.x and Lotus Notes. Which are both lean, lightweight, and easy to use~

Re:Fantastic but... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005563)

I don't use powerpoint, so I can't answer that.

But I have to say that I would prefer OO Calc to Excel, and I hate Visio. I would rather use any other vector diagrammer (inkscape, dia, etc) over that.

Outlook is nice, only because I've never used anything else and I have no use for anything but email outside of work.

I've found all of MS Office (except word, excel, powerpoint (in school)) to be useless or clunky (and easily replaced). I've never used Access or Publisher extensively however.

Re:Fantastic but... (2, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005581)

If you are a Fortune 1000 company, you send documents OpenOffice can't deal with back to the suppliers who submitted them and tell them to get it right next time or lose the contract, same as you did back when you were using Microsoft Office.

TCO (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26004945)

I'm posting anonymously because I don't want to have people at my company know who I am. But it seems to me that Linux while cheap to buy is not cheap to keep patched and secure, particularly in a fleet of inhomogeneous platforms and users and network,printer, or disk sharing conditions in different buildings and subnets.

The nice thing about Linux however is that a very skillful and thoughtful person can plan out a very robust network and can mange the patches. But it takes effort, dicsipline and an above avegage IT guy. And if you lose that person, you are screwed. Even a new equally skilled guy probably can't get all the scripts and stuff the last guy used to manage to work.

With windows, you can take a balow average imbecile, get them through a certification course, and they become almost interchangable monkeys. you need a lot of them since you will constantly be fighting fires or hunting down the right driver for the given brand of computer, but they can do it and it will work.

Moreover, and this is the critical part, a manager who is not an expert can tell if his monkies are keeping up with patches. MS tells him what he need to do. With Linux you can't really tell if the IT guy is doing it all, or if your pants are around your ankles.

So it's not enough to use Linux to reduce TCO. you need to have a company like IBM telling you how to manage your configuration. Not because a skillful IT can't. But because a manager will know that IBM has his back.

saddly a mediocre virus prone Windows network is, to a manager, much easier to sleep at night, than a well run Linux system that's tight as a ducks Ass, simply because he knows it's reasonably safe from an industry standard point of view.

people will trade, extremes (linux) for mediocre, if they can limit thier risks.

I note this is one reason people think macs have low TCO. They are more secure than windows, and a manager can also know if they are getting patched right. So it's win win.

Re:TCO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005019)

I'm posting anonymously because I don't want to have people at my company know who I am. But it seems to me that Linux while cheap to buy is not cheap to keep patched and secure, particularly in a fleet of inhomogeneous platforms and users and network,printer, or disk sharing conditions in different buildings and subnets.

and how is it so much cheaper to keep windows patched and secure?

Re:TCO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005565)

I cannot compare costs of patching Windows vs Linux, but I know for Windows you can use Windows Server Update Services [microsoft.com]. It is free, admins have the ability to control settings via group policies, and can check status of workstations/servers via the WSUS web interface. If it is configured properly then the cost of keeping computers updated is not that high. As for other security measures, there is always other group policy options available such as configuring Windows Firewall.

Of course these steps are only as useful as the Administrator who oversees them.. network infrastructure security, audits, training employees, following procedures, etc must be followed.. but how is that any different than other operating systems?

Re:TCO (4, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005721)

For linux you just host your own package repository, and configure the workstations to automatically install updates.

Re:TCO (0)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005257)

Nicely said. I use macs for that very reason since I need Unix and I have to be my own IT guy a lot of the time. It's hard to find a budget to retain a good Linux sys admin. They tend to go away if they are really good!

Additionally, what happens is that when you do have a sys admin who'se good, you still run into problems that are beyond his ability from time to time. He might be a whiz at getting your disk server talking to 400 nodes at the same time, but then along comes some problem, like setting up an in-company DNS or VPN, and he's not really sure how to do it. He can crack some books and try to learn on the job, but both you and he will never be sure he got it perfectly right? Did he turn off the default passwords, or close the all the right ports. Did he root squash things just right.

with microsoft and IBM and Apple, if they define your configuration then you know that when the next storm blows in, and you have to make some big new non-routine change, it will never be over the head of your current sys-admin because they will tell him all the surprises or send a patch that does it all. With linux it's a lot of Lore and reading the last post in some outdated forum to find the magic solution.

Re:TCO (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005289)

You speak as if it is commonplace that management never has any idea what their workers job actually consists of. This has been the case everywhere I have worked, but did now know it was this prevalent.

Re:TCO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005419)

I note this is one reason people think macs have low TCO. They are more secure than windows, and a manager can also know if they are getting patched right. So it's win win.

I'm just curious, from a manager's perspective, how is it easier to tell that a Mac is patched versus a Windows PC?

Re:TCO (5, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005573)

I would say you're spot-on. Not that any of this is really technically accurate. But rather, the perception is accurate. Many managers really do believe this.

Such is the nature of IT. I've seen pre-packaged, supported software completely screwed up and ineffective in practice. I've seen Uber-admins roll together some scripts that just did amazing things for years and nobody ever really had to worry about it. I've seen amazing stuff completely fall apart when the guy who knew how it all worked moved on to other things. I've seen people say something is "impossible" while ignoring the fact that not only can it be done in-house, but there's also several supported solutions being offered by big IT houses.

But at the end of the day, IT decisions are made on comfort alone. Sometimes that comfort comes from due diligence (experience and research). Often it comes from simple familiarity and a skewed perspective.

Re:TCO (4, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005777)

"particularly in a fleet of inhomogeneous platforms..."

You probably meant 'heterogenous', but being as this is the Intetrnet, ya gotta be careful with yer language...

"The nice thing about Linux however is that a very skillful and thoughtful person can plan out a very robust network and can mange the patches. But it takes effort, dicsipline and an above avegage IT guy. And if you lose that person, you are screwed. Even a new equally skilled guy probably can't get all the scripts and stuff the last guy used to manage to work."

My experience is that this is true of most every OS.

"With windows, you can take a balow average imbecile, get them through a certification course, and they become almost interchangable monkeys. you need a lot of them since you will constantly be fighting fires or hunting down the right driver for the given brand of computer, but they can do it and it will work."

Ya sure. The monkeys will do fine until something difficult comes up, and then they will cause the trouble you don't want. As for hunting down drivers, you haven't been around Linux for long, have you? fortunately, Apple doesn't inflict you with this. They just deny you much choice in hardware...

"Moreover, and this is the critical part, a manager who is not an expert can tell if his monkies are keeping up with patches. MS tells him what he need to do. With Linux you can't really tell if the IT guy is doing it all, or if your pants are around your ankles."

Ha. Almost funny. Again, really true of most any OS.

One thing you can be sure of. If you throw a loaded gun in monkey cage, something bad is going to happen.

Nothing special to see. (1)

danieltdp (1287734) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004947)

From TFA: "The system, which IBM calls the Open Collaboration Client, combines the Linux operating system with IBM's open source Lotus Symphony desktop package."

I see nothing special in here...

Re:Nothing special to see. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005181)

Ahh OpenClient...

created by outsourced people instead of hardworking americans who get shafted because IBM doesn't understand that they are not Toyota and LEAN doesn't work when you aren't producing physical goods...

It's just RHEL with IBM software on top...just use CentOS and don't waste your time with IBM's java software.

What is this Virtual Bridges thing? (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004975)

Any idea why they didn't just use X11 thin clients or other free remoting systems like VNC or NX? What is so great about Virtual Bridges? I hadn't heard of it before.

Linux desktops with proprietary apps! Sign me up! (4, Insightful)

Hobart (32767) | more than 5 years ago | (#26004989)

Wow, this sounds fantastic! Instead of using Ubuntu with OpenOffice from the repos, and paying Canonical for support, or, say, being able to pay *ANYONE* for support, since I have the full source...

I can be locked into paying IBM for support for all the proprietary binaries! What a great idea!

...except not.

I'm sure they can do that for you. (1, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005117)

You don't think IBM will bill you for what ever software you want? I imagine they push the other binaries so you can have "interoperability" with the not quite dead yet M$ monopoly. I prefer free stuff myself, but I'm not sitting on top of thousands of desktops with clueless Outlook users breathing down my neck. IBM is not like M$, with it's big one size fits all, FU if you don't like it way of doing business. They are consultants and hardware vendors that understand free software deployment on a large scale.

It takes a thief to catch a thief (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005267)

Well, the Open Software programmers have done a great job of providing a very capable platform. But it is not the technical excellence that is keeping MSFT well entrenched. From barely legal tactics forcing the vendors to do things, playing with device drivers, many many marketing and business practices help MSFT maintain its hold. No matter how good the OS codes are, it is going to take significant investment to pry the users from proprietary MSFT format. Let IBM match MSFT in these tactics. The fall out would be good for the general community.

Re:Linux desktops with proprietary apps! Sign me u (4, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005487)

Wow, this sounds fantastic! Instead of using Ubuntu with OpenOffice from the repos, and paying Canonical for support, or, say, being able to pay *ANYONE* for support, since I have the full source...

I can be locked into paying IBM for support for all the proprietary binaries! What a great idea!

...except not.

Free clue: People are moving away from Microsoft for a whole bunch of reasons.

"It's expensive" is a common one.

"We're being pressured into upgrades we don't want to make" is another.

"It's proprietary and only Micosoft can support it" is very rare indeed. Go look in the Yellow Pages and you'll find hundreds of companies prepared to support Windows. Obviously they're a bit stuck if you hit a problem that's caused by a bug which cannot easily be worked around, but these are seldom enough that it's not really a big problem.

Re:Linux desktops with proprietary apps! Sign me u (1)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005519)

Perhaps you are not the intended market.

Many organisations outsource their IT services to companies like IBM. If IBM can supply the service and not have to pay for Microsoft licenses everybody (who matters) wins.

Re:Linux desktops with proprietary apps! Sign me u (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005797)

The good thing of this deal is that cannonical is receiving resources from it, and that in turn can help make Ubuntu a better distro (alas... even i'm turning to Linux with Ubunto - all my machines have a VM with it hehehe)

Single Point of Failure (1)

Desert Raven (52125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005039)

Meh. Not real fond of "thin clients", terminals, etc.

Single point of failure. 'Nuff said?

Re:Single Point of Failure (3, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005227)

No, there's so much more. There's no CD drive, no USB drive, no external drive of any sort. There's no custom software or anything requiring its own license. We have a thin client terminal within the intelligence community called the DTW (Domain Trusted Workstation) that is pretty much universally despised by its users. DIA et al think it's a great idea though. Tom Freidman in his new book: Hot, Flat, and Crowded seems to think that it is the wave of the future though, even for home users. Let's just say I'll remain skeptical.

Re:Single Point of Failure (1)

SportyGeek (694769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005397)

I understand the no CD drive argument, but no USB drive or external drive support? I know the Sun Ray thin clients have USB ports and you can attach disk devices which will mount on the Sun Ray server.

Re:Single Point of Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005459)

Then you have some poor ass thin clients going on. I've seen and used multi monitor thin clients with several USB ports, utilising everything from graphics tablets to DVD burners the lot.

Actually at home i'd love it if I have the know-how to setup a full thin client network. Wouldn't matter if I have a notebook in the living room or a "desktop" in the office. I'm always on the same login with all my files right where I want them and all the processing power of the server.

These things don't really suffer single point on failure if you set them up right either. Run the clients off a cluster (so we are talking multiple redundant machines) and the network becomes no more-or-less single point than the normal business network.

Re:Single Point of Failure (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005507)

No, there's so much more. There's no CD drive, no USB drive, no external drive of any sort.

Might work in a call centre but in many other parts of business, one size doesn't fit all.

thin clients (1)

Raleel (30913) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005049)

So, virtual desktop, new computers, saving on software licenses per user, saving on power and cooling.

the ibm website says it runs on suse, but i find other sites that say redhat and ubuntu.

The video on their website shows it using ODF. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-qK34CzKjM&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fcoustenoble.typepad.com%2F [youtube.com] is said video.

Not that I am opposed, but this seems suspiciously like a thin client arrangement and a nfs root mount arrangement. Which makes me think that no one has heard of thin clients on windows, which work just fine. Less training to move someone onto citrix or windows terminal server clusters than to move your infrastructure to linux.

Re:thin clients (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005309)

Which makes me think that no one has heard of thin clients on windows, which work just fine.

For small values of "fine". We tried moving to X terminals with a Citrix client built in to transition from UNIX to Windows, and the behavior of the thin clients was enough to make us move quickly to dataless Windows desktops (enforced in practice by limited local disk space... Windows doesn't have really good dataless support either) with a local X server.

X terminals, diskless workstations, and dataless workstations, these all work very well in the UNIX world, but Windows is still too tied into the single-user model and there are simply too many shortcomings for any but the lightest use.

If they did it right.... (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005105)

One of the things that truly sucks about Windows is the registry. Each windows box is its own unique little snowflake, thus impossible to replace easily.

If this is done right, all the configuration is in the user's home ditrectory, probably shared on the network, and the rest of the system is a standard image. That means any user can use any computer and have their system where they want it.

This is no surprise to us UNIX folk, but POWs "Prisoners Of Windows," will love it. Imagine being able to replace/upgrade your computer simply by dropping a new box in front of you. Your settings completely unchanged!!!

I have been doing this with Linux for so long (separate /home disk that persists), I can't believe people still put up with Windows nonsense.

Re:If they did it right.... (3, Informative)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005353)

On home network its a little more awkward, but in corporate environment, this is common and easy to do with Windows too. Its not auto-magical as it is with Linux, but still. Even at home, my User directory, and my user-specific settings are shared with a Windows Home Server, so I can go on any computer in the house and have access to my stuff.

Now, a little bit of configuration with a Windows Domain, and the registery settings and login stuff will follow. At work, I can go to any machine, and things follow. The only thing missing is that in Linux/Unix, 99% of software can be -installed- in your home directory, in Windows, many can, but not all. Aside that though, everything can be made not to be tied to the physical machine no problem. Windows wouldn't be a viable corporate platform without it.

If in Windows you really need the software to follow, for anything aside games, you can use Windows Server 2008's X11-like feature that allows you to remote app GUIs, and just install it on the server, problem solved.

Re:If they did it right.... (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005531)

On home network its a little more awkward, but in corporate environment, this is common and easy to do with Windows too

LOL, you can "say" this, but it isn't true.

Its not auto-magical as it is with Linux,

So, you can't do it on Windows.

Re:If they did it right.... (2, Informative)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005737)

The only difference is that in Linux, as long as the /home directory is mapped, you get all your settings and everything you installed in home. In Windows, you can map the user directory, so you get everything that doesn't need the registery right there, so a lot of app's settings, and your documents. The only thing missing is the registery, and thats just done by using roaming user profiles on the domain, which is one of the basic features.

So why exactly "can't I do it on Windows"? You -do- know that HKEY_CURRENT_USER can be roaming, yes?

Re:If they did it right.... (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005699)

Macs have done this since OS X came out, probabnly before. I've technically had the same user account since 2002, spread over at least 7 Macs and every OS upgrade :)

Re:If they did it right.... (1)

spazimodo (97579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005715)

That's some fine trollin' Lou. The product described in TFA sounds more like a competitor to VMWare VDI in which case the proper "b-b-but UNIX was doing it 20 years ago!" response is to bring up the magnificence that is X11.

IT departments all over the world do what you describe with Windows boxen every day. You can store data centrally and have users work off of standard images, you can use several tools to migrate profiles and settings between PCs, you can use roaming profiles (OK, I admit the last one is a joke)

On the other hand, there's still no definitive system for managing Linux desktops comparable to AD/Group Policy. And interoperability in heterogeneous environments is fun too (e.g. winbind randomly dying or being broken by updates, Gnome's had a bug for almost a year that prevents listing of shares on SMB/CIFS servers that require authentication)

What IBM is up to (5, Informative)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005145)

I noticed that these computers make use of Lotus Symphony rather than Open Office, so I did a little reading. Lotus Symphony is based on an Open Office back end with a custom front end. This front end has gotten mixed reviews for having a better interface than Open Office, but less features.

Symphony is not open source. Open Office is open source, but has loose licensing rules which allow Symphony to build off of it without contributing back. Symphony is free, which is nice, but IBM retains control of it.

Control is the key here. The point of Lotus Symphony, and the point of this line of computers, is the same: to sell other Lotus software which will tie in with Symphony, and to sell support for Lotus products.

This isn't such a bad thing, really. Having an IBM-backed line of Linux business machines will give Linux a better reputation in the business world. However, I am wary of the closed source Symphony becoming a standard for Linux business machines. Also, if IBM is going to benefit from Open Office, I hope that they would also contribute back to it.

Re:What IBM is up to (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005515)

About OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org]

The OpenOffice.org project is primarily sponsored by Sun Microsystems, which is the primary contributor of code to the Project. Our other major corporate contributors include Novell, RedHat, RedFlag CH2000, IBM, and Google. Additonally over 450,000 people from nearly every curve of the globe have joined this Project with the idea of creating the best possible office suite that all can use. This is the essence of an "open source." community!

(Emphasis mine)

Re:What IBM is up to (1)

IQgryn (1081397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005527)

The important thing is that Lotus Symphony uses the same file formats as OpenOffice (and any other ODF-compatible office suite). It should not matter what software is used to edit the files, as long as anyone can write a replacement.

Now, if Lotus Symphony has it's own proprietary format, that'd be different entirely.

Re:What IBM is up to (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005605)

I noticed that these computers make use of Lotus Symphony rather than Open Office, so I did a little reading. Lotus Symphony is based on an Open Office back end with a custom front end. This front end has gotten mixed reviews for having a better interface than Open Office, but less features.

Not just that, it's also based on a very old version of OpenOffice - 1.x, that when we already have 3.0.

IBM Cuts Pay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005147)

Sure, IBM is doing this, but they just cut all of their contractor pay by 10%. No if ands or buts. I'm affected by it, and I'm pissed.

upgrade? (5, Funny)

s1lhouette (1319369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005371)

and an additional $258 per user 'since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office.'"

Since when have people been upgrading to vista?

Re:upgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005537)

and an additional $258 per user 'since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office.'"

Since when have people been downgrading to vista?

There. I fixed that for you.

Re:upgrade? (2, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005597)

Some have hte Vista downgrade forced on them when they buy a new computer. I bought it since I had to pay $20 more for XP and I was wiping that shit as soon as I got it anyway.

Sucks, but thinkpads are good enough I'll take it.

Will someone explain how... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26005425)

Getting locked into a contract and forced to use proprietary software is going to save money, if any, at all?

The link in the article points to print version (2, Insightful)

Britz (170620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005651)

While a hassle- and flash-free version of the article seems nice the linked page also does not seem to contain any adverstising. How does InformationWeek pay their authors and bandwidth bills (Slashdot seems to add a lot to the latter)?

Right: They pay the same way Slashdot does. With ads. It's a one page article:
  http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/open_source/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=212202109 [informationweek.com]

How can they call it Lotus Symphony? (1)

nvrrobx (71970) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005693)

The old school purist in me is disturbed by calling something Lotus Symphony that has nothing to do with Lotus 1-2-3 or the original Symphony for DOS...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_symphony

Oh well. I still miss WordPerfect....

danger dogware ahead (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26005809)

I just downloaded symphony, imho, a piece of crap if there ever was one. no rreason even to try it - just to give you a flavor of how bad it is, on the list of windows programs under the start menu is JUST symnphony - no choice of loading just the word or excel mimic
when you starti it, you get several seconds of a license splash screen, then a choice of new word/powerpoitn/excell, then a slooow wait after you choose one
Graphic (chart) in excel clone very limited....

Thats about as far as I got; decided it was a dog and bailed: and the final proof, Lotus symphony doesn't give you an uninstall option - you have to do the set program access and defaults thing

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