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Office-Worker Linux: It's Here and It Works

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the fud-for-thought dept.

Linux 615

A few weeks ago, dot.kde.org featured a great why-should-this-be-amazing story about Linux being used as the day-to-day desktop operating system for city employees in Largo, Florida. Roblimo got a chance to see the system in action to find out how ordinary office workers are proving that the old "Linux is tough to use" shibboleth is nothing but FUD, and how a medium-sized city is saving buckets of money by minimizing the tax dollars spent on licenses and hardware. Oh, and they've also pre-empted the kind of costs (in hassle and money) that can face any organization that Microsoft suspects may have some licenses out of order. This is the kind of thing every elected official should have politely waved in his or her face by concerned taxpayers. The Largo system uses KDE on Red Hat, but since both KDE and Gnome are paying much attention to user interface, similar systems could easily be running on various combinations of hardware / distribution / desktop system.

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615 comments

Bravo... (1)

snadsnad (451797) | more than 12 years ago | (#2110142)

It is nice to see someone taking the dive into integrating Linux into a large scale situation. Especially "forcing" it on people who may have never used it. The best way to learn something is under pressure though and I wish them the best of luck at using this new system. Although I am sure the admin who is monitoring this stuff has a nice fat wallet now.

Well, Remember goint from Win3.11 to NT3.5 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2125069)

Remember,

This was Hell !!

Nothing the same place, restricted acces, obfucate command limitations...

But we coped with it, adapted, learned (the SLOOOWWWWW way 8) and now this godda'm OS is everywhere.

All you need is a couple Perverse IT engineer...
And a Smaallll Budget, so you HAVE to use a free OS.

Also, a limited version of Linux could do it.
It IS to complicated to choose between 1874 different tools all doing the same thing but using KDE / Gnome / enlght / PutYourFavHere / Bash

LEt's Simplify.
Why not have a 2 level OS.
Not A La Windows, where everybody has the same leve (GUI) but one specific and SIMPLE GUI and a text console as hard and complete as you may whish ?

More thought... (0)

snadsnad (451797) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138068)

Grant it there are better installs out there for newer users like Mandrake (what I've been using recently). As long as they keep the installation down to a minimal and configure it right (like putting links to only programs they need on the desktop) then it could be used easily. However, I wouldn't necessarily call this learning. I am sure they have used a mouse before and can double click crap to make KEdit run.

Re:Bravo... (1)

chandas (263558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2153905)

I like your use of the word "forcing" even though you've put it in quotes to imply joviality. You should have also pt in quotes the entire sentence...'The best way to learn something is under pressure' So let me get this straight, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...you think the only way to get non geek people to use Linux is to force it on them? Gee.

Re:Bravo... (1)

snadsnad (451797) | more than 12 years ago | (#2155593)

Either that or you have to be interested. For some reason I am thinking people could care less what operating system they are used if they have little computer experience.

I R0x0r! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2110667)

FIRSTUS POSTUS, BEEOTCHII!
I are #1. All other are number 2 or lower!!




pleeeease? mom said I could have first post...

Sound good but.... (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 12 years ago | (#2112132)

what about spedific hardware and software limitations? I havn't used linux very much myself, but from what i've heard its a great OS for a base system. word processing and most desktop apps have been moved over to it fairly easily, but what about going to some more powerfuly software such as video editing, digital video production or audio editing and production - which is what i'm into myself. There are a lot of surperb programs out there that would great on a windows platform, but I havn't found anything supporting linux. or am i just not looking in the right places?

I would love to be able to get away from microsoft, but until there is more program support for linux (wether its free or not), im stuck.

Re:Sound good but.... (2)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2116303)

Search for Broadcast 2000 on Freshmeat.net it seams to be very good at both digital video and audio. I don't know for serious apps because i've only played with it but you might consider giving it a try. There is also video capture devices that work I believe the Broadcast 2000 site tells you which ones should.

Re:Sound good but.... (1)

cyclist1200 (513080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2128748)

Well, given how many special-effects production companies are using Linux for Hollywood blockbusters, there must be something out there. And I would hazard a guess that some of it may well be free. So you may not be looking in the right places. I know audio production software is available. Audio software in general is pretty good - heck I'm building a Linux-based MP3 player for my car!

Re:Sound good but.... (1)

guisar (69737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144335)

Next time you are in a book or magazine store, check out the latest issue of The Linux Journal. It has a very extensive discussion on the programs and practices of video and multimedia edition on Linux. You'll be suprised- Shrek, Titanic, et al owe major debts to our open source friend.

FIRST ASS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2113084)

FIRST ASS [goatse.cx]

Am I gay? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2147534)

Look. I've never felt attracted to a man and I've been quite comfortable having sex with women. Recently, however, I've been feeling strangely turned on by the idea of making love to a midget.

First my masturbation fantasies featured a plumb female midget the shaved cunt I'd pound mercilessly with my big, fat cock. However, at some point this changed. I suddenly got my rocks off thinking about a sinewy male midget and how my cock would be pleasurable squeezed in his tight asshole at the moment both of us came.

Now this worries me. As I said in the beginning, I'm no some fucking fairy faggot. I'd never kiss not to mention have sex with a man and I've rationalised my fantasies by thinking that midgets aren't really male or female. They are... well, just midgets.

I told one of my closest friends about this and he said that I should not worry about having "homosexual fantasies". This shocked me to the bone. Am I really turning into a butt pirate?! Can I avoid it somehow?

Say OpenSource if you're for more IT unemployment (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2114749)

You do realise that the money these guys are saving is costing REAL jobs of other people (Microsoft and other vendors)?

I beg to disagree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2116302)

All those unemployed Microsoft VB programmers will have to learn useful skills and get real jobs.
Maybe we can set up "Open Source" reeducation camps where they can be properly indoctrinated with party^H^H^H^H GNU philosophy.

Re:Say OpenSource if you're for more IT unemployme (2)

barneyfoo (80862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2134494)

Every progression in the level of automation in our lives is always accompanied by fear and uncertainy among the people the automation replaces. Automation always increases the standard of living of the average american, and drives up productivity. True some people lose jobs, but it's usually for the better. I think it's a good thing we dont have to hire people to draw out schematics for production facilities anymore (replaced by CAD/CAM tools).

So if you are living off of proprietary software lock-in in a product that has equivalents that exist for free with no strings attatched, then I think it's better for humanity that you find another line of work in the same field (software development). You may not be making as much money, but so will the rest of humanity not be paying as much money to keep your counter-productive enterprise going.

OpenSource zealot moderators at it again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2143245)

The parent post is NOT offtopic and has an interesting view on the effects of the Open Source phenomena.

Someone with moderators points, please correct the moderation.

Not "varius combinations ..." (4, Insightful)

Forge (2456) | more than 12 years ago | (#2118379)

KDE was likely the most crusial choice. Even moreso than Linux. For the stuf office workers do all day KDE is realy the best Unix based solution (Not counting MAc OS X which I havn't seen myself but have herd good things about).

I am all for being nice to "the other side" on these things but what I see is people strugling to use Gnome for ideological reasons and other people getting work done with KDE for financial reasons.

You know Finacial reasons like "Less money spent on Asperin", "fewer monitors shot at" and best of all you can fix the problems that do come up for less than it costs to fix the stuff you pay a grand more per seat for.

Re:Not "varius combinations ..." (2)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2125267)

There *is* a lot of bloat in today's GNOME, far too much to run it on a terminal server. Can you imagine 230 people running Nautilus on the same machine, inside 3GB of RAM? Me neither!

Windows NOT easy to use. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2118415)

I think this email [contesting.com] proves my point. A windows idiot who can plug in network cables, but has no clue how to setup the hardware when something goes wrong.

Free software, not free [training/support] (2)

Nastard (124180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2118903)

"This is the kind of thing every elected official should have politely waved in his or her face by concerned taxpayers"

Huh? Why? I love Linux as much as the next /. geek, but why should we expect any reasonably large government office to be swayed by this? If this were for servers, sure. The admins should have the experience to make a transition pretty smooth. But offices?

I've worked in government offices, I've seen these people first hand. They aren't the most computer-literate bunch, and they are doing well to navigate Windows. Not to say that they couldn't navigate KDE or Gnome, but why spend the time and money to teach them?

Bottom line (and it always comes back to the bottom line) is that it would cost too much to make the transition.

Still too hard to use (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2119215)

sorry

Re:Still too hard to use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2122246)

Spoken like a true idiot - especially one with no capacity to learn.

IQ of 85.

ot: just on time (3, Funny)

navindra (7571) | more than 12 years ago | (#2119216)

This is exactly what I needed -- a Slashdotting so that I can finally try to optimize the dot server to handle it. (no joke) :-)

Cheers,
-N.

where is the redundancy? (1, Insightful)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 12 years ago | (#2128701)

They have 400 users relying on one server. I sure hope they have a backup server. Power supply failure, memory problem, motherboard goes...anything could bring down the entire office.

?software? gangsters (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2130949)

If you see these guise [opensourcenews.com] , DO NOT try to apprehend them, as they are considered to be alarmed & disingenuous, doo to their phony payper KingDumb coolappsing. long live the hobbyist whiners. fud is dead. the stock market "bull" is dead. the bull was killed buy a shitstorm of billoneous pr FUD, before IT died a whoreabull debt.

more! more!! (2, Insightful)

Bad_CRC (137146) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131019)

That's the single largest remaining obstacle to Linux as a desktop OS... Userbase.

It's a big hurdle though. Every bit helps.

If Openoffice [openoffice.org] gets up to speed, the transition will be even easier.

Re:more! more!! (1)

Quixotic Raindrop (443129) | more than 12 years ago | (#2114750)

Actually, unified scrap in X (KDE, Gnome) is the single largest remaining obstacle to Linux as a Desktop OS. Without global cut-and-paste, there will never be a userbase.

Re:more! more!! (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 12 years ago | (#2114398)

Oh My God!

I thought I was part of a userbase. I thought that using these systems made me part of a userbase.

How could I have been so horribly wrong?

Must I go and install Windows ME to be a part of a userbase?

Re:more! more!! (1)

pdiaz (262591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142493)

Always I heard that I wonder why the good old "select with the mouse to copy, third button to paste" isn't enough. Always worked for me, no matter if its GTK, QT, motif, or whatever

Re:more! more!! (2)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142545)

That works great for text. But it doesn't retain formatting information if I copy from Konqueror and paste into KWord. Just as a "for instance" I can do this from MSIE to MS Word-- with all formatting table structures, even hyperlinks in place. Is the situation better with GNOME, or any other desktop environment on Unix/Linux?

I'm not naysaying... most of what we are constantly hearing the parrots say is "essential" for Linux to gain desktop acceptance is nonsense. Even my example is unlikely to be a common need. I've never done it except for testing it, nor seen anyone else do it. I also managed to crash MS Word during my simple test of that feature, so it may not be so useful anyway. :)

For general, typical office use, any GUI requires training and learning, and the curve for KDE or GNOME is no steeper than for Windows. And most of the "essential", advanced features MS Office provides have little to no benefit, since most users do not have the time or inclination to learn them (and if they do, they often have a peer group which isn't going to be keeping up, making the use of the feature largely useless).

This reminds me of... (3, Troll)

sheldon (2322) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131023)

The story about how Mexico was going to deploy Linux in all their schools everywhere...

Followed up a year later by another story stating that never happened because Linux was too hard to use.

I say /. should revisit this city a year or two later when the current support tech leaves and find out if the decision to use Linux is still in place.

Re:This reminds me of... (5, Insightful)

Roblimo (357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139430)

1) Largo has been running a Unix shop and thin client network for years. Only the switch to Linux and KDE 2.1.1 is new. I doubt that one or two sysadmins leaving would change things.

2) This is a done deal, not a "someday" or "we plan to" thing. I wandered around Largo city hall and talked to actual, everyday users.

3) I'd like to go back and speak to Dave and Mike in a year, yes -- to see how their plans to use OpenOffice pan out. The biggest holdup (as I wrote in the NewsForge story [newsforge.com] linked to above) is the lack of a good OpenOffice filter for WordPerfect files.

- Robin

So what's new? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142543)

If they have been running UNIX and thin clients all along, what's really new? That they gave up their existing thin clients and switched to Linux-based thin clients? Sure it's "new" but not new in the sense that they were a pure Windows shop before.

So Robin, I gotta ask (1)

VFVTHUNTER (66253) | more than 12 years ago | (#2153968)

how much of this is Linux, and how much of this is their work environment?

On the one hand, its absolutely kewl that this is working. But on the other hand...

They never had to set Linux up. Plus, they will never have to compile that new, sexy app [sourceforge.net] that only seasoned veterans can.

So while I think it's great that Linux has gotten this far, and I applaud you for the story, how much of this is simply a "special case" of Linux Deployment?

Re:So Robin, I gotta ask (4, Funny)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2110937)

They never had to set Linux up.

Gee, how unusual. I suppose the average corporate drone is handed a Windows CD and an Optiplex?

Re:So Robin, I gotta ask (3, Funny)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2116856)

They never had to set Linux up.

<sarcasm> Oh, right. Let me guess: where you work, all the secretaries installed NT on their own, and as soon as those W2K boxes arrive, they're going to upgrade. </sarcasm>

Re:So Robin, I gotta ask (2)

jheinen (82399) | more than 12 years ago | (#2128747)

Yeah, office drones routinely install their own OS. Uh huh.

Of course, having installed all flavors of Windows more times than I can count, I can state unequivocally that many Linux distros are much easier to install than Windows. Have you ever tried to get NT running? It's not exactly easy.

Re:So Robin, I gotta ask (3, Interesting)

Roblimo (357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2137587)

This is not a "special case," but one that could easily be duplicated in almost any government or business office environment that runs enough desktops to have its own sysadmins -- or at least a contract with a Linux-hip outside contractor -- to take care of the network.

My wife has worked in more than a few government and commercial office environments that ran Windows, and they *always* had a separate IT or network support staff to take care of the computers. She wasn't supposed to add software or even mess with the things at all. In fact, in her last "real" job, doing customer support for a pager company, the biggest office computer network problem they had was employees bringing in software (especially games) from home and installing them on their own. Often the self-installed software screwed things up like mad.

Running a client/server network completely eliminates this problem. It also makes updating productivity apps a lot easier for the sysadmins.

- Robin

Re:So Robin, I gotta ask (2)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2150325)

Plus, they will never have to compile that new, sexy app that only seasoned veterans can.

In my haste to put up that ever-so-witty sarcastic retort, I forgot to comment on this. They don't have to compile that new [sourceforge.net] , sexy [ximian.com] , app [mozilla.org] , because the sysadmin can do it once on the server and it's instantly available to everybody. That's the real advantage of thin clients. Only one upgrade, instantly applicable to everyone.

Re:This reminds me of... (2)

Oztun (111934) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142025)

I guess you and all the people who moderated you failed to read the article as usual.

Re:This reminds me of... (5, Interesting)

wct (45593) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143484)

That's twisting thet truth significantly. The major reasons cited in the Wired article for the failure of Linux adoption were:

  • Problems with hardware compatibility with theexisting computers in use. This would not apply if compatible hardware had been initially targeted upon purchase of the system, as it had been done with Windows.
  • A lack of local Linux expertise among teachers. Just because the teachers are not experienced with using Linux as opposed to Windows does not draw the conclusion that Linux is more difficult to use - just that the knowledge base is not there yet.
  • Political movements from the Government. Of course proprietary vendors weren't going to just sit back and lose out on a contract this large.

Furthermore, it appears the ScholarNet initiative is not over yet. The current progress has not achieved the penetration desired, but future iterations hold more promise, as hardware compatibility improves and the "seeded" Linux knowledge from the successful installations trickles down.

Anyone interested in the attractions of Linux implementations in developing countries might want to have a look at a paper I wrote for a final year Engineering unit: postscript version [uwa.edu.au] . It has some mistakes in it I haven't corrected yet, but I'm open to revising it :)

Re:This reminds me of... (1)

fritz (5973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143849)

Since they've been using 'nix with thin clients since 1992, I think we can be pretty confident that the picture will remain the same in a year or two:


Networks and thin clients are not new to Largo (motto: "City of Progress"). The city started down this path in 1992 with SCO (now Caldera) Unixware and its Motif-based IXI desktop that, Dave says, "looked a lot like Windows 3.1." Later they started using KDE 1 on both OpenServer and Unixware, and finally, in July 2001, made the switch to Red Hat Linux 7.1 and KDE 2.1.1, a change Dave says "has gone really well."


Makes it less startling, but part of the point is that here is a stable model other medium-sized organizations might consider emulating.

Living near Intelligence (2)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131877)

I'm glad to see that Largo is showing originality, courage, and technical savvy by going with Linux.

Of course, the company I'm part of has rejected Linux and Unix completely; they're too scared to get into a market that the top brass doesn't understand. Our company can't expand into new markets because those markets use Solaris/Linux for heavy-metal processing. SO they stay in their nice, safe (?) niche, too frightened to take a risk on the future. The support staff doesn't want to learn Unix (they hate it without really knowing it), and the owner is enamoured of anything Microsoft. Ah, well -- they pay me well and don't restrict my outside activities, so I can afford to do the right thing on my own time...

A side note: I hadn't heard about this before -- which tells you how much I know about what's going on in my own area; I'm in Clearwater, which is adjacent to Largo.

Geographical note for those who care: Pinellas County Florida is just one big city from St. Petersberg to Tarpon Springs, covering a peninsula on the Gulf Coast of Florida. You can find Largo just north of St. Petersberg, and just south of the Scientologyville --- err, I mean Clearwater. ;)

So is my company (2, Interesting)

LtFiend (232003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2132205)

After much look at WinCE devices as terminal systems in our remote offices I was finally able to convince them to give the Netier xl1000 a try. It not only met all the requirements that the CE device could not but it exceeded them in many areas. They are in deployment right now.

Once that upgrade is done the main offices will move to staroffice and linux later in the upgrade cycles.

Admitidly the Linux upgrade is planned pretty far off in the future. But it's still a move in the right direction.

Good Move (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 12 years ago | (#2137586)

When I ask most of my IT friends about the problems with switching their enterprise to Linux, the first thing they mention is that they would spend a fortune re-training everyone.

I live in St. Petersburg, FL which is ~10 miles from Largo, FL. The people of Largo aren't known for being really intellegent (kind of a white trash city). So I gotta think if they can understand how to use KDE, then I'm sure any local government's employees could figue it out.

I guess most government agencies don't really care about saving money, considering tax money is basically "free" money to them.

Guess Bill should read this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2137777)

Let see how many time will it take for a press release from m$ to go out and say that the work of municipal workers isn't comparable to real hardcore day to day business...

FUD indeed (1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2137778)

ME, Win2k, 98, XP all have different interfaces! Figuring out how to use them is a pain. People might as well learn to use an interface that works when the time comes to "upgrade", or that poor old computer feels obsolete because MS won't run on it anymore. If me and my wife can use Linux, anyone can.

Re:FUD indeed (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2111655)

What are you talking about?

ME, Win2k, 98, XP all have a Start button. All has the File,Edit, menues. All can copy/pase with the same key shortcuts.

I put 98 on my parents system at home, and then Win2k on my system while they are visiting. As far as they're concerned, Win2k is just a newer version than 98 with additional features. They don't really see any difference in usage.

Now, take the difference between Enlightenment and KDE...

Re:FUD indeed (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 12 years ago | (#2123785)

Please... If you have a problem figuring out the subtle differences between Windows 98/ME and Windows 2000, as a computer enthusiast, then I think Linux is doomed for sure. I think Windows is easy, as it is meant to be. It comes at a steep price, however. Nobody can argue that Linux is in any way easier for a typical user than Windows. Can you buy at Best Buy, throw it in the drive, and click Setup on the auto-run menu? You can argue, however, the saved downtime Linux gives makes it an "easier" server environment, since it causes the average admin far fewer headaches. But that's not what this article is about...

OfficeSpace Linux (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2138064)

"Ummm...yeeaaahhh...if you could come in on saturday and ummmm...recompile the kernel with the latest USB patches so that your scanner will work...ummmmm...yeahh...that'd be great. Ummm...I'm also gonna need you to come into the office on Sunday too...yeeahh...you gotta get Linux printing Pantone colours to that Winprinter over there...yeaahh...that'd be great too. Oh...and don't forget those TPC coversheets! When you've figured out how to make Linux print as well as Windows, go print yourself out a dozen copies. Grrreeeaattt!"

To Bill Gates And His Ilk: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2139428)

The desktop users' interaction with the OS
is no greater in GNU/Linux than with your sloppy product called "Windoze".

Be afraid, vvvveeerrrryyyyy aaaafffrrraaaiiidd.

Woot_spork (Trying to keep /. JonKatz-free
for over 2 years).

Masturbation (0, Troll)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139429)

I'm gonna get modded down to hell for this comment, but here goes anyways

This story is nothing but mental Linux masturbation. It's an article posted on a Linux oriented website (dot.kde.org), linked to on an admittedly pro-Linux weblog, and being discussed by a group of pro-Linux computer users.

That's great. Let me know when somebody offers up a different opinion, ok?

Nobody can tell me that this story, as good as it may be, is nothing more than screaming "Look, we're great! Let's preach to the choir!!!". Who would even think of visiting dot.kde.org, besides people who already know the benefits of Linux over other OSes? Nobody.

My point is this: We can write all the pro-Linux articles we want on all the pro-Linux websites we want, and it's not going to do a DAMN bit of good because the information is not getting out to the people who need it. You wanna rant and rave about how great Linux is because it saves time and money? Great. Go out there into the real world and try selling that to a company who relies on NT for their technology.

If you can change their views and switch them over to Linux, then and only then can you claim some sort of victory.

Until then, there is no point to these articles, as no new information is being spread and no new minds are being informed. We're talking amongst ourselves, while the world passes us by.

I expect this to be (-1, Flamebait) within 20 seconds of hitting "Submit". Do your worst.

Re:Masturbation (5, Insightful)

Oztun (111934) | more than 12 years ago | (#2119066)

Even though you admit its flamebait I still have to bite.

If you can change their views and switch them over to Linux, then and only then can you claim some sort of victory.

I thought the point of articles like this were to show those people that it can be done. In order reach that point other companies have to show they can do it first.

NT/2000 getting flaky at 40 or so connections? (1, Informative)

ryszards (451448) | more than 12 years ago | (#2140050)

OK. So I can't remember my PDC's/BDC's, Exchange, SQL Server and Terminal Servers (all NT4) at one of the world largest Oil companies supporting hundreds (500+) of authenticated and working clients without any significant problems?

Puhleez.

The cost issue is real, but the software being flaky is not. NT is as solid as you make it. Typical Linux FUD if you ask me.

Ryszard

Won't office working kill Linux? (-1, Flamebait)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141827)

The success of linux on the office desktop is irrelevant. What really matters is the success of linux on the home desktop. Look at operating systems which are for office use only. They are invariably very stodgy and boring. Windows only got eciting with cool features when MS started making it for the home market, for people who like games, music software, etc etc.

By putting Linux in the office as #1 priority, linux is being skewed in the way of total boredom and tedious, lifeless applications aimed at corporate drones.

Where is our DirectX, our Cakewalk, our Quake III? Nowhere, for these things are seen as frivilous.

Sod Linux in the office, it is a stupid idea. Linux on the home front is all that matters. The rest follows naturally.

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (2)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2110664)

No. What kind of logic is that. Where do you think that M$ got its start? In the office of course! People will start using Linux at work and then want it for home too. As demand grows so does demand for games and MP3 players.

On a side note for the most part games and MP3 players are sub-culture of teenagers. Joe User doesn't play Quake III

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (2)

bero-rh (98815) | more than 12 years ago | (#2124136)

Office working won't kill Linux - just like the fact that Linux is a great server OS doesn't make it a bad desktop OS. One of the big advantages of Linux is its flexibility - it can do everything well, from an embedded OS to an enterprise server running on a mainframe. In fact, getting Linux onto office desktops will help Linux on home desktops - after all, it'll make non-techs (office workers) see that Linux is not "that cryptic command-line OS for experts only".

How did you begin to use NT ? (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 12 years ago | (#2130951)

Look, just this question ...

How is it you started using MS OS at home ?

Most of us (Sorry for presuming) had their first contact at the office, using 3.11 Workgroup (*Good Ol' Time* 8), them came home one day with their first PC and used...let's see... 3.11 ? because you had an handy copy on admins desk ? and already used it everyday ? no ? really ?

My 0.2 cents...

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (2, Informative)

OpCode42 (253084) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141548)

Yeah, I know its a troll but I have to bite...

Where is our DirectX, our Cakewalk, our Quake III?

DirectX - Mesa
Cakewalk - not a musical guy myself but I'm told there are some good midi sequencers out there.
Quake III - Quake III. Sheesh... cant you use a search engine? Here's a tip... www.lokigames.com - you can even use your windows Q3 cd with the download!

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2150326)

I'd say that SDL [libsdl.org] was the open source answer to DirectX... done right (as a small, simple layer that can be added and extended as necessary). Just another nice thing that Loki did for the world.

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (1)

cyclist1200 (513080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144336)

Try to view this as a means to an end. A lot of non-techie people were first exposed to computers through the workplace. Many of them chose to purchase computers based on what they were already familiar with. If someone is required to use Linux in the office for six months, they may well come to appreciate Linux and want it on their home system. You want Linux on the home desktop? This could well be the avenue. Once it is open, get the DirectX equivalent and greeting card softward out there for the new home users.

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (2)

Luminous (192747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2145017)

The best route for Linux is to get accepted by the office culture. Once that barrier is passed, then when people buy PC's they'll want to work on what they have at the office. The next step, then, is to come up with a killer game that only runs on Linux but gets the same hype and marketing as a PS2 game or major PC game release.

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2116857)

"The next step, then, is to come up with a killer game that only runs on Linux but gets the same hype and marketing as a PS2 game or major PC game release."

Like Tux Racer?

Re:Won't office working kill Linux? (2)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2155592)

Where is our DirectX, our Cakewalk, our Quake III?

Huh? I have a copy of Quake III for Linux at home.

BSoD? (1)

shr3k (451065) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142024)

In contrast, a look around most Windows-using offices shows more blue default screens than anything else.

I guess people are so used to crashes that the BSoD is pretty much a common screen. If I had a dime for each time I've seen "Scandisk is scanning your PC... next time shut Windows down properly", I would have as much money as Bill Gates. Hey, wait a second...

-- Mike

Linux is only part of the equation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2142431)

The cost savings in license fees and the opensource nature of the software is great but it's kind of funny to here them compare apples (thin clients running off a network) to oranges (standalone desktops). Of course they are going to save money time and efforts once they get a thin client setup going especially for administrative functions like secretarial work. Hell my brothers corp does the same with Windows via NetWare and Terminal Services. The 10 person IT staff to support 500 users is trumped by the 8 IT staff to support 800 users over an entire country he does. It's a financial institution btw focussing mainly on check processing and electronic funds transfers.

So yes this is a spectactular achievement but compare apples to apples it would make the argument so much smarter.

They just upgraded to a new version (1)

Overphiend (227888) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142801)

The biggest problem I see with Linux on the desktop is not a matter of ease of use by the end user, because lets face it no matter how simple of a design the end user will still not be able to figure it out. The problem I see is with the support end. In our office we have about 2000 desktop machines and 8 techs devoted to supporting the desktop environment, that's 1 tech per 250 machines. Now these techs are pretty good with most issues, but if you were to put them in front of a Linux machine with hardware or software issues they would be lost. Even the one or two who are decent with Linux, when faced with solving an issue, resolution times would be tripled or even more. The problem is that a qualified Linux technician is in a higher pay range then a desktop support technician. So the money saved by using a free operating system is lost in the support.

total cost of X-Windows (4, Interesting)

Karmageddon (186836) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143850)

The key here is Total Cost of Ownership: Windows boosters and shills like to point out that a free-purchase-price does not mean cheaper overall cost. But this article points out that the savings Largo is looking for are not the licensing costs, but the support costs. In Largo, the network is the computer. The idea that you could see "your" desktop from another workstation is just a dream in the Windows world.

This is not a victory for Linux. This is a victory for one old variant of Windows: yes, X-Windows.

That's not FUD Ti-MAY (5, Interesting)

trcooper (18794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144013)

Roblimo got a chance to see the system in action to find out how ordinary office workers are proving that the old "Linux is tough to use" shibboleth is nothing but FUD

We all know that the truth is, linux is hard to use for novices, and a good portion of linux users are not inclined to help newbies out. Read a few usenet posts to see this. "Linux is tough to use" is not FUD, it's the ugly truth. The people who realize this, and don't shrug it off as "FUD" are the ones who are positioned to correct this flaw.

Don't get me wrong, there's been tremendous progress made in linux usability, but the majority of it has been in the initial install area. There are still a lot of problems with UI consitancy, and any usability [slashdot.org] expert will tell you that this isn't a minor flaw. There's also the problem with installing software, because there's not the same one-click method for every program that Mac and Windows have.

Progress has been made, but we are certainly in no position to dismiss problems with linux' usability as FUD. When we do that, the progress will stop.

Anybody know why... (1)

kanthoney (80093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144715)

...they're using WordPerfect for SCO + Excel, rather than WordPerfect Office for Linux? Is Quattro Pro really that bad?

Not surprising... (2, Interesting)

cyclist1200 (513080) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144798)

A year or two ago I read an article in one of the Linux magazines (Linux Journal or Linux Magazine) about an Internet-and-pony show that was touring cities in England. This was a show with a non-techie audience (basically a "Look at what this Internet-thingy can do for YOU!"). There was a counter that had several internet access stations, half running M$, half running Linux with KDE. None of the attendees seemed to notice the difference, usage-wise. Well, some did complain about the Windows machines crashing...

Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (2, Troll)

smartin (942) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144799)

I you don't agree, try an experiment, take Redhat 7.1 and Windows and try to install it on a modern machine and see how it compares. My experience is that Linux will probably install, detect and set up all the hardware, reboot once and be up and running. Windows will reboot at least 3 or 4 times in the process, and then you will have to go to the web site for your video card and download the latest drivers, then repeat the process for the sound card, etc.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (1)

radish (98371) | more than 12 years ago | (#2110934)


FUD-a-licous :-) I installed w2k on my box just the other day. I had it up and running (i.e. desktop up, hardware at least running, if not perfectly setup) with 2 reboots and no downloads. And this was no standard Dell box - a home built Athlon with a variety of old & new hardware. I don't disagree that RH was just as easy, but really they're both fairly equal in that respect.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 12 years ago | (#2114399)

Actually Windows is getting a lot better now; install, reboot. Run Update Wizard. Reboot. Done. Compare that with a typical Linux distro; install, reboot. Install latest packages and kernel. Reboot. Done.

I make that two reboots apiece, although admittedly there is often a single reboot (which can be unattended) in the "install" phase of Windows. Of course, now you can install Linux off a network, with all patches, in just one reboot, so it looks like Microsoft is playing catch-up again.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2123786)

you don't have to install the latest kernel and packages if you don't need the features/fixes contained in them. You're better off to stick with the stable kernel contained in your distro, and then upgrade if you really need features or fixes in a newer version. For most people, the stock kernel will be fine.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2119909)

Linux is easier to install than Windows, but most people who run Windows get it preinstalled on a new machine. That's what MS wants, too. They don't want people buying machines and Windows separately, because they believe that people would steal from them.

Modern Linux systems are very nice, and in an office environment where document exchange with the rest of the world isn't important, where lots of people have the same configuration, etc., it will work well.

But Windows is easy to use as well, the people you hire will already know how to use it, people use it at home, your customers and suppliers use it, and so on.

People don't buy Windows just because they're stupid. They have their reasons. Just saying, "Oh, all of these people are wrong," doesn't get you anywhere. You have to evaluate the gap realisticaly, and work on closing it.

MS does this -- they saw the reliability of Linux and Unix as a threat, and they worked on closing the gap. It's not gone, but it's a lot narrower than it used to be.

hahahahahaha (5, Informative)

jon_c (100593) | more than 12 years ago | (#2122248)

I just installed Win2k and Redhat 7.2. Both bootable cdroms, both on mix match newish machines:

From first POST to "installed":

Linux: 35 min
Win2k: 45 min

Time to get drivers up to speed.

Linux: 0 min (had all my stuff)
Win2k: 25 min (nvidia, creative)

Time to get Quake3 running

Linux: 5 hours (still doesn't work right)
Win2k: 10 min

Time to get my RAID ATA-100 card working

Linux: 0 (it doesn't work)
Win2k: did it at boot, only took 2 min

-Jon

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (1, Insightful)

mplex (19482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144355)

What a bunch of windows FUD. I've been using linux for four years and windows a little longer, and I have spent countless hours on linux configuring it, tweaking it ect. I only know the system so well because all effort required to get it to do what you want. Sure, it's very extensible whatever, but I'm not even sure most people could understand the terminology in the install. Now you might say windows is just as bad, but looking back at the amount of time spent to make my computer do what I want it too, linux takes top honors, no comparison. Now I haven't tried RH 7.1 but I doubt THAT MUCH has changed. When it comes to usability, MSFT is king, that is unless you have a CS degree. PS: As far as rebooting goes, who cares, it does it on its own and post Win2k rarely needs to reboot after the install. It tells you nothing about the usability, only more geek stats.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (3, Insightful)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2153969)

I have to say this to people all the time. If you think Linux is hard to install, try installing Windows sometime. I have to reinstall Windows a lot at work and at home (mostly due to hard drive / processor upgrades), and it's a very laborious process. Even once you do get it running, you have to grab drivers (and reboot), reinstall all your apps (and rebooot, and reboot...). Linux, on the other hand, I just answer a few questions, take a 30 minute break and do something else, and come back to a ready-to-go box. Depending on the distro's age, I might also run LiveUpdate for Mandrake or apt-get for Debian. The best part is that none of these things requires rebooting, which means I don't have to sit in front of the machine while it works, wasting my time.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (1)

mplex (19482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142541)

Windows 2000 has an automated network install and a cmd line switch to do an automated install, totally unattended. And how long does it take linux to reboot, a couple minutes depending on the machine? Why is that one action a total waste of your time and not the amount of time to copy the binaries off the cd. I just don't understand this mentality.

Re:Linux surpassed W$ in ease of use long ago (2)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143119)

I just switched to Debian (sid). Installed potato, then:

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

Sweet!

Invalid comparisons (5, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2151851)

I'm not going to comment on the relative costs of the hardware/software, because it's all true: Linux vs. Windows will win out, pure and simple. But the story (about Roblimo's take) is comparing apples and oranges.

Look at how they talk about backups: it sounds as though their concept of backups in the Windows world is to have users saving documents on their local hard disk, rather than to a server. The users have become accustomed to system crashes and network failures. I'll address at least part of the former complaint in a moment. The latter is the fault of either poor network administrators (as opposed to systems administrators, or a flaky server that hasn't been set up correctly. One of the biggest reasons people think NT is unstable is because the pretty GUI encourages rank amateurs to call themselves systems engineers. Blame this on the paper-MCSE syndrome, or on Microsoft's psychology, or whatever: but let's at least be honest and admit that, should the quality of admins increase, so would the quality of experience.

The other problem I have with this, and what really prompted my subject line, is that the comparison is between a Linux-based thin client network and a MS-based fat client network. Hello? If you took away all the Windows desktops and put in something like Citrix MetaFrame, then guess what? You'd realise several of the same benefits that the article touts or implies as being advantages unable to be put forth in a Windows-based system.

If you take the article as being a good example of how simple it is to migrate users over from Windows to Linux, then fine. But the system level comparisons are obfuscatory at best, and dishonest at worst. Yes, there's no way you could get the same level of performance out of the hardware they use if you went with a Windows implementation; but an article that compares a 10-person IT staff supporting Linux (or any OS) on 400 thin-client devices with supporting that many devices all running Windows on individual desktops is simply not a valid comparison. Is that really fair? By all means, let's point out the advantages for Linux in terms of ROI, open-source, and so on -- there are plenty of valid bases here -- but let's also be intellectually honest. Pretty please?

I'm tired of Nazis posting Anti-Semite comments. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2154483)

I keep seeing Nazis posting Anti-Semite comments to Slashdot and I'm tired of it.

I hate Nazis, their stench is the stench of tonnes of manure, and they are evil like Bill Gates on crack. I like to shoot Nazis with guns and
beat them with baseball bats. All Nazis, I am going to kill you with guns and bats because you are evil and I hate you. Nazis are
Communists and child molestors and racists. Nazis please stop being Communists and child molestors and racists, because everyone
hates you because that's what you do. I want you all to die, and be advised that when you die, all Nazis will burn eternally in the fiery
inferno of hell for rejecting the teachings of Jesus Christ, just like all the other Communists and child molestors and racists will also
burn!! NAZIS GO TO HECK, YOU STINKS!!!

The Nazis will moderate this down, but they can't hide the truth. Jews on Slashdot are FIGHTING BACK.

Old News Indeed (1)

dthable (163749) | more than 12 years ago | (#2155594)

This reminds me of a story that ran last year. One of the east coast states started using Linux and StarOffice to reduce the operating costs assoicated with software licenses.

Ever since I started using Linux in '96, people debated if Linux was too difficult to use. The hard answer...it depends what you started with. I started with DOS and then moved into Solaris. I like the command line and when my wife bought a Mac, it was too hard for me to use. She can't use my machine with FreeBSD because she started with Windows 95 and then moved into the Mac world. She hates command lines.

It's sad to see this come up constantly as an issue with Linux. It just starts flamewars.

I submit to you (2, Insightful)

VFVTHUNTER (66253) | more than 12 years ago | (#2158223)

that if these people can run Linux, so can your granny:

One of the biggest problems Dave and Mike have run into when teaching new employees, most of whom are accustomed to Windows PCs, to use Largo's Linux-based network has nothing to do with the operating system: It is weaning them away from floppies. "How can we take work home without floppies?" is a frequent question they hear. Answer: "Email the file to yourself."

These people seem to sort of be the poster children for why linux can be used on the desktop.

This next bit was just downright funny:

There is also the problem of teaching new employees not to worry about backups . Many are so used to system crashes and network failures in Windows environments that they have trouble realizing, at first, that all their files are stored on reliable servers -- with backups -- instead of on a desktop PC where a crash can wipe out hours or days of work. But these doubts are typically overcome after an employee has used Largo's network for a little while. "I was skeptical at first," one receptionist confides, "because [the place I worked before] had a Windows network that was always having problems. Now I'm comfortable with the network here. It's very easy to use once you get used to it."

The only problem they seem to have is with OpenOffice still being in its early beta stages. Any suggestions for them?

OpenOffice in beta. (1)

pschmied (5648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2128746)

Hope this doesn't sound troll, but use KOffice. KDE 2.2 should be out today. I think it will include a much improved KOffice.

-Peter

Re:OpenOffice in beta. (1)

bssea (79248) | more than 12 years ago | (#2116380)

heh.. yes you sound like a troll.

And every person has their opinions. I am not a fan of KOffice. To me it hasn't reached what Star Office 5.2 can do, let alone what Open Office can do. Now that, my friend, a true troll.

Re:I submit to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2128814)

the comment about backups was certainly FUD. I support about 150 windows machines at work and if windows or MS Word does die, you'll only lose unsaved changes. This is very rare though, I only get about one reported case per month. Now if the entire hard disk dies which has nothing to do with the OS, then you might lose days of work.

Re:I submit to you (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142544)

Apple has done this by removing the floppy drive all together. But I know what they're talking about in the difficulty of weening users off of floppies. I stopped buying new ones two years ago for my users, and today they're still coming to me bugging me. We quite a robust mail system, and a file server with over 340GB of space. We don't need no stinking floppies! Besides, floppies are fragile and slow. Use the wire, that's what it's there for.

~LoudMusic

die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2144654)

oh, huh huh. I founda da part of da artical tat saz linix GOOD WINDOWS BAD.

MODE ME UP IM SO PATHETIC

Linux on the desktop (2, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 12 years ago | (#2160037)

I have been pushing linux on the desktop for a couple of years. Administration (For the experienced admin) is easy and the end users can not mess the system up. I have been running is at home [xganon.com] for some time and my wife and daughter (Age 30 and age 8 respectively) find it easier to use. Both feel that the fact that they can not "Mess the system up." helps them to explore and try new things on the computer as they are not worried about breaking it. I have suggested that attorneys move to Linux with X11 as most of there work is done on Word Perfect. With that they can set up Xterms and a primary server and all upgrades, Data Storage, and backups are done in one location. There are many advantages to Linux as well as some disadvantages. I am not saying it is right for all tasks. I have yet to find a good voice mail system for linux and have kept all my voice mail functions on a windows system. There are other disadvantages but as time goes on those are slowly going away.
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