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Linux Desktop Deployment Postmortems?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the how-well-did-it-do? dept.

Linux Business 371

duffbeer703 asks: "My employer runs alot of desktop and laptop computers -- something in the neighborhood of 40,000 PCs. Currently they are all Windows 2000 & XP managed by Active Directory and other big, complicated enterprise management tools, all of which can support Linux in one form or another. I'm looking for ways of making Linux (and maybe Unix or even Apple desktops) an option as we replace or add PCs. The problem is, most of the resources that you find online about deploying Linux focuses on server environment, and the articles that I do find about desktop Linux focus on standalone developer workstations, the IBM conversion to Linux (which doesn't seem to have happened) or things like LTSP, that won't integrate well with our infrastructure. Is anyone out there successfully using Linux for regular users? How did it go, and how did your IT and user communities adapt to the new kid on the block?"

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Call PriceRitePhoto 888-365-4300 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158075)

They converted to Linux in 1999.

Re:Call PriceRitePhoto 888-365-4300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158526)

Check with netcraft. They are a pure Windows outfit.

main(){ (1)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158076)

$modtopic--; //For great justice, and poor spelling. }

F...P! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158084)

F1r57 p0r57!

Nope (-1, Troll)

xtermin8 (719661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158094)

no answers yet, not a good sign!

Re:Nope (1)

Wornstrom (920197) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158167)

maybe try XPde [xpde.com] , a linux desktop interface that is made to look and feel more like windows XP. You can download an iso for Clusterix [livecd.net] , which has this environment included if you want to try it out.

Apple missing opportunities due to stupidity (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158192)

Apple is missing a huge opportunity here since they have done all the legwork to run OS X on X86 but refuse to licence it for non-Apple hardware. Windows is crap; period; always has been. No propraganda from Microsoft changes that. I am a HUGE Linux fan and use Linux for everything I can. However, I realize that for the average user, OSX would be a logical choice. However, I doubt many organizations will run out and replace all the PC's with Apple hardware. Leave it to Steve Jobs to always choose the most bone-headed choice.

Re:Apple missing opportunities due to stupidity (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158325)

OSX will be just as crap as Windows if you try to run it on generic, open hardware. The reason why OSX is such a pleasure to use is that it's been made to run under very well defined hardware.

Ubuntu? (5, Informative)

abscondment (672321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158095)

This article [slashdot.org] was posted a little while ago about a user who used Ubuntu in a completly MS environment without his boss noticing for a few months. (linked article [madpenguin.org] from the story)

My experience with it is that it's one of the most mature Desktop distributions, coming complete with most of the tools one would need to perform most jobs. Easy install, and you can use Syntaptic/apt-get for upgrades and additional installation since it's Debian based. You should check it out [ubuntulinux.org] .

Re:Ubuntu? (5, Funny)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158136)

Sigh.

First the Red Hat zealots came for me, and I said nothing because I didn't want to run a commercialized distro
Then the Gentoo zealots came for me, and I said nothing because I didn't want to compile everything
Then the OS X zealots came for me, and I said nothing because I won't pay for overpriced hardware
Finally the Ubuntu zealots came for me, and everyone was so sick of offtopic zealotry that no one spoke up at all.

MOD GRANDPARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158176)

how is gradparent trolling?

article asks for stories of successful linux integration in a windows environment, grandparent provides said story

don't mod it down just because you wouldn't use ubutnu- there's nothing trollish about the post itself

Re:MOD GRANDPARENT UP (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158229)

Yeah, I don't really think its trolling either but also not that relevant. The guy wants info about deploying and supporting linux in a windows environment like you said. I'm just not too sure how a story about one guy sneaking an install of linux on his personal work PC helps much.

Plus, GP was pretty funny ;-)

Re:MOD GRANDPARENT UP (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158360)

How is it irrelevant, again? The question is about replacing Windows boxen with Linux, and the linked article is about replacing a Windows box with Linux. While it doesn't say anything about support, the point is that it appeared transparent enough (to casual? observation, at least) that the boss couldn't tell the difference. Sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

Re:Ubuntu? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158352)

Finally the Ubuntu zealots came for me, and everyone was so sick of offtopic zealotry that no one spoke up at all.

The post you replied to was many times more:

  • interesting
  • insightful
  • helpful
  • on-topic
  • generally worthwhile

than your post was.

The original poster was merely pointing out that Ubuntu is an excellent desktop distribution, which jibes with everything I've heard about it (I've not yet done an install). How does that constitute "zealotry" exactly?

Re:Ubuntu? (1)

aurelian (551052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158223)

I'm just doing a similar experiment at the moment; I have two machines, one running Ubuntu 5.10 and one SuSE 10, running Gnome on both. Both have been pretty straightforward to integrate with our work system so far; samba & ssh for file exchange either way, connection to printers is no problem. One is on a fixed ip address, the other uses dhcp. The only hassle might come when we switch to an Exchange mail server, which is due to happen soon. But again, that will be a problem for both.

Personally I prefer ubuntu because I'm not a great fan of YaST. Also I can't seem to de-blur SuSE's fonts in gnome-terminal. Does that make me a troll as well?

Fedora Core (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158283)

I've been using Fedora Core for a while on my desktop and have been pretty happy with it. I'm the only person who primarily uses Linux at my office. I just upgraded to FC4 (done quite easily with yum from FC3), and I got the newest Open Office. That seems to have cured the last of my interoperability issues.

Re:Ubuntu? (1)

stunder (600738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158478)

Yeah I was going to add to this by saying I have been using Ubuntu and haven't touched windows in 10 months now. This worked fine for me but your looking at doing it in a mixed environement. Your going to have to look for power users 1st that you can switch over to linux cold turkey. The work on educating the average users to using Linux. You may also belive it or not have Windows users that want to stay on their workstations. In these cases you may have to make exceptions and teach them how to use other tools like Open Office and different Mail Clients than the ones that are pushed to them by MS. When looking at changing the world you may have a larger task at hands than you would expect.

Re:Ubuntu? (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158517)

Ubuntu seemed extremely interesting because of ShipIt - that is, they send CDs for free. How convenient, no hassle of downloading and burning. Too bad they sent me a bunch of corrupted 5.04 discs! I tried different discs on different machines and could never complete an install. Luckilly, I had Kurumin. [guiadohardware.net] Far from as cool as Ubuntu is supposed to be, but at least it worked. To be fair, I'll request some 5.10 discs and give it another go.

Head first (4, Funny)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158102)

IT's probably best to dive into a Linux or any OS migration for users head first, all at once, so everyone in the office has identical migration problems and can assist each other if the official tech support is busy. It's like the choice between staying with paper, or going with computers, that businesses had to make in the '70s, '80s, or '90s. There will be some people who would never bother to learn unless they are tossed into it kicking.

Re:Head first (1)

JonN (895435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158124)

I would disagree in that, if you slowly integrat *nix boxes you will weed out most of the problems with the smallest amount of lasting effects, as you will learn from your mistakes and not have the problems with a large amount of computers.

Re:Head first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158172)

Yes. He should change all 40,000 computers at once to Linux. That way all 35,000 users and management can all have the same problems at once. Everyone knows that every company is just chock full of Linux experts that can help out if tech support is busy....assuming tech support still has a job that is.

Re:Head first - kidding eh? (1, Informative)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158196)

I'm glad to see that at least an AC picked up on the obvious sarcasm, even if the moderator didn't.

Re:Head first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158269)

I think Novell is making great strides in bringing Linux to the desktop. See what they have to offer. They're taking a path that will switch a few of those "utility" types and moving them over. Their SUSE desktop is pretty nice for an end-user if they aren't needing a bunch of custom apps with proprietary needs.

Size matters (4, Insightful)

Professional Heckler (928160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158121)

Your employer runs a pretty hefty workstation. Although I have worked for, or known people that made similiar switches the scale was not even close. So it worked pretty well as the community was close-nit and excited about the change.
In your case though, there will be more disruption, not everyone wants to use linux... Id suggest just inserting the new computers in one department, preferably one where the employees are already interested in linux. I would also suggest taking a workgroup poll to get interior feedback interest as well.

prof

How to be successful at migrations (2, Informative)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158619)

First, be patient. I don't think the IBM migration is as dead as it appears. Most of the commercial migrations I have seen take 2-3 years to accomplish assuming that a fair amount of resources are thrown at the problem. If you want a smoother transition, I would suggest planning for 4-5 years. This timeframe should allow you to rewrite all your inhouse applications to support Linux if necessary

The first step is to identify those workstations that have the simplest requirements and/or the users who are most interested in switching. Start there and migrate a few stations at a time. Don't be afraid to rollback to WIndows for a while when you need to. Try to use Wine and other technologies to make the transition easier. I think that this is still where IBM is.

The second step is to do an analysis of what has/has not worked in this step and then look for the next group of workstations to migrate. Wash, rinse, repeat until you run out of shampoo.

Once you have a fairly established set of Linux workstations, I would suggest investing in infrastructure. Look at things like OpenAFS, X11 application servers, and the like. For desktops you can create a computing network that looks conceptually sort of like a SAN and is very easy to maintain (read up on Project Athena). This requires more care with laptops because of mobility requirements,but if you are careful about which applications you put on the laptop and which ones you run over the network, you should have few issues.

Hint: You can put an X server on the Windows systems to give them access to your X11 app servers, and therefore not immediately require everyone to rn Linux to gain access to certain applications.

Not here, either (2, Informative)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158123)

Just so that nobody thinks that nobody is reading this thread... No Linux deployments at my company. I don't think that we'll look at Linux again for at least a few more years. None of our important apps work on Linux, and we have no Linux expertise in our small company.

Re:Not here, either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158384)

Exactly, "Linux for the sake of having Linux" is just stupid.

Ask who wants to use it and deploy it to them.

Re:Not here, either (1)

shokk (187512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158565)

Ask who wants to use it and deploy it to them.

Correction:

Ask who needs to use it and deploy it to them.

Microsoft writing Slashdot titles? (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158127)

"Postmortem" implies "after death". I think they'd like to see the time after the death of Linux migration [unless that happens because everyone has migrated].

Re:Microsoft writing Slashdot titles? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158173)

"Postmortem" is now common PHB [dilbert.com] -speak. These are the same kind of folks who put a task in the default project template called "Post-retrospection Review." You can find that under the Department of Redundancy Department.

Re:Microsoft writing Slashdot titles? (5, Funny)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158303)

I can't believe PHB's are using "postmortem!" The term they are looking for is "After-Action Report", or "AAR" in mil-speak. Tell them that using military terms makes them sound bold and dynamic, while using medical pathology terms makes them sound weak and dying.

Avoid GNOME by all means as Linux Desktop! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158144)

As a former contributor and developer on the GNOME architecture for many years I can say that GNOME is in no way ready to serve as the corporate desktop. There are simply to many issues inside and around the entire GNOME movement that should be mentioned here.

First of all GNOME has a very broken development framework with a lot of fragmentation. A lot of libraries are not working properly enough even in stable releases to give users a full working desktop environment. A lot of stuff are simply not working properly and a lot of stuff simply look too far disharmonic to be usefull. Not to speak about the poorly written third party applications that exists that don't serve any corporate needs.

From a developers view I believe that GNOME has reached a dead end where scalability isn't possible anymore. People have realized that with the C languge there is no progress and thus decided to code under Python, C++, Java, Ruby or MONO. But personally I believe that having a mature GNOME desktop these days require you to have Python, MONO, Java running next to your regular application, which makes it hard to have all of them incooperate correctly (to work correctly). This is not the problem of having different languages laying around or running in the background but more architectual nature as soon as it comes to bugtracking, feedback, expandability etc. Many bindings are not well implemented and have a lot of attributes not correctly defined which makes applications look and behave differently.

As example I always get back to the legendary Toolbar issues that I like to explain. I do explain it because it's the by far easiest thing people can test on their own system.

When looking at this legendary example picture:

http://img234.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screensho [imageshack.us] t34ji.jpg [imageshack.us]

You see a bunch of GNOME applications showing different types of Toolbars. I don't want to speak about the images inside the Toolbars but rather how they look. They all look differently, behave differently, react differently, some toolbars are higher than others (a few pixel) others have a drag handle, others show icons only, then others again show text below icons. There is no common approach of doing this correctly. Sure some people say these things are not important. But from a developers point of view - they are. It only shows in what bad shape GNOME really is even today with latest CVS you see the same issues still present. It should give the beginner and advanced users an impression what's wrong. A Desktop Environment should provide a consistent API and framework to do these things correctly. Please load up GNUMERIC, Abiword, Evolution, Evince and a few others and go through your "Menus & Toolbars" capplet (control center) and change around the values and you see that the majority of applications bundled in the corporate GNOME desktop do not react on these changes. Personally I consider these things to be a bug. I already reported many of these issues and recently my toolbar bugreport to gnumeric got closed as NOT A BUG with some random intransparent excuses why the HIG cant be applied to gnumeric. This is quite frustrating since the applications look bad that way (only the aesthetic view that GNOME always wanted to lay big values on). There are so many other areas like button padding, button padding between other buttons and and and.

It's a never ending story. Also I ask myself why tools like Evince or Epiphany (both part of the GNOME desktop) come with an own Toolbar editor while other applications don't support that. From a developers point of view this should be part of the GTK+ Toolkit and made available default to all apps or everything that uses the Toolbar.

Thats the big disadvantage of writing apps in C without proper object orientation (yes I know GNOME has some sort of object orientation). If we look over to KDE for example then we see that every application that uses a Toolbar (not all apps need one I know this too) share the same Toolbar object, if you change global settings then it automatically affect all applications (icons only, text under icons, drag handles etc.) the Toolbar object comes with an toolbar editor (to change icons, text under icons, draghandle, icon size etc.). This speaks about KDE's great architecture which is pretty well designed.

Again this is just a small example to not make the understanding overwhelming complex. There are many other issues (architectual nature) inside GNOME and it goes on in many areas such as gnome-vfs (which is quite broken, there is no progress information when copying files from FTP (deep directory structures with many files), aborting is nearly impossible and so on (not to speak about many other modules, but FTP is the one I know best) like copying 0 byte files over and so on.

Basic stuff still in stable GNOME that don't work reliable enough to get serious work done. People always come up with the same BS that GNOME is the light desktop, that it's so great, clean and so on, that it's the desktop to get work done. Evince crashing when selecting text, crashing on exit, gnome-print saving documents as *.ps files show other font or save corrupt data and and and.

But this is not the case to say the truth. As a former student of computer and economics science as well as I am now an IT-Project leader I depended on doing stuff for University such as drawing diagrams or UML stuff. I depended (since I was a hardcore GNOMER) on tools like DIA to try getting the work done. But DIA was a poor applications that gave bad results, felt really bad, saved corrupt data to disk (with lost hours of work). My university professor one day looked at me, and asked me whether I painted the use case diagram with a paint program. I told him that I was using DIA and I saw a smile on his face which he left uncommented afterwards.

Even printing doesn't work reliable in DIA, nor does it work reliable enough in other applications. I had to search for alternatives and landed on KDE using Kivio and Umbrello. These apps surely aren't the best apps existing, but they gave me more the feeling to get my work done. They worked, felt ok and the printout results was great. Not to mention that my learning curve was minimal since the apps reminded me quite a lot on commercial counterparts found on Microsoft Windows.

Like printing GIF images as black image (totally black paper printout), like not supporting printing more pages on one physical sheet (evince for example) and these things exists in gnome-print/ui and are an elementary thing of the stable gnome releases recently. I wanted to print a document with 120 pages in evince on 4 pages per 1 physical sheet, which should end up in 30 pages of paper. but after I came back from dinner I saw that evince printed it on 120 pages rather than 30 as I was assuming. These things can not be.

Same applies for Evolution which recently (before the 2.4.0 announce) started to trash all my sync files mf my local mailbox. It's quite frustrating and irritating to get dialogs all the time telling one that something is broken. same applies for the "get emails as soon as you start evolution" bug, specially if you use freemailers with timeout you keep stuck in getting dialogs all the time you start evolution telling one that it can not pop emails due to timeout of the mail isp.

Such things can not be in corporate desktops. If you really consider people and companies who spent a lot of money into their busiens to use GNOME then please make sure these issues don't exist anymore.

Continuing with my work. As I said I am an IT-Project leader now and need to deal with projects these days. Again using Planner as the only existing GNOME Project management software I ended up in frustrations since Planner is more like a toy than a mature application. Again I had to switch over to KDE to use Task Juggler for this kind of activity, simply for the fact that Task Juggler came quite close to MS Project, offered a lot of features and is free to use.

Same applies in many other areas comparing GNOME with KDE (Rhythmbox vs. amaroK) and so on. We see how quickly KDE applications progress and become mature. Now with better C++ support and more developers and users KDE becomes better and better. The applications are miles ahead of what GNOME has to offer and basic functions like sound, printing, good looks, consistency, integration and interoperability simply works. Sure KDE is far from perfect but chosing between these two desktops KDE simply wins in all areas.

And that's an important factor. Of course GNOME has the same choice to lead the desktops but sadly it hasn't and I am not willing to wait years over years only to see GNOME making less steps forward.

KDE is also not resource hungry or bloated as many people trying hard to make you believe. Who judges about resource hungry, who juges about bloat or too many objects on a toolbar ? What is the ones disadvantage is the others pet feature. Some people say that KDE is overengineered but I say that GNOME peoples lost focus. I recall when SUN started doing the usability studies some years ago. It didn't took long and the majority of people magically became all usability experts over night. And good applications became got turned nearly into a productivity barrier (if you ever happen to be productive with GNOME at all) I always find myself fiddlign around in things that simply don't work. And I keep spending more hours in fixing the issues rather than start using the Desktop to get anything done. Always when you quickly need something you end up being lost on GNOME and its tools.

Another big issues is trying to contribute to GNOME.

Look, when I started to help out GNOME around 1999 or so I defiantely didn't came and called the people "jerks". This has been grown out over the long time of six years. I have never been treated like a piece of shit as I was when trying to help GNOME to help shape GNOME, to be part of it. But I had to deal with ignorants, hardheaded people, egoists and a lot of people who are incapable to work together with others.

Even if you as developer want to contribute to GNOME you are under permanent attack, you receive nothing else than huge diffamation, attacks, namecalling, slandering and so on. This drives people away from contributing to GNOME.

Most developers around GNOME are some sort of having found themselves in "groups" they usually block every contribution from outside and usually declare valid and good stuff as stupid, silly or as troll attempt. This is quite frustrating for people who want to contribute. The attempt to contribute something towards GNOME is a very stone way and usually leads to frustrations at the end.

The best thing for contributors is to do the dirt work. The leftovers which the GNOME developers don't want to work on. Like writing documentations, doing the translations and so on. But as soon as it goes to normal bugfixes for bugs that are known for years these bugreports stay in bgo without attention. If you happen to have some time please head over to bgo and have a look on your own and you see how many bugs have been left there without attention. No comments, not even a feedback why the bug has been rejected or what was wrong with it.

Totally impossible is it as soon as you want to contribute some sort of features (because you reject working on the dirty leftovers or the simple patches that no one gives a f--k for). Working on features is usually the fun part of contributing. You are then directed to put your patches on bgo with comments like "we will have a look at that later" and then it stays there without any feedback for years. They are not interested to get new people helping that project.

Now I hope you may imagine why I don't have very good words left for GNOME. Sure not everyone is guilty not everyone is an ass or behaves like that, but you need to take my apology that I stopped separating the good ones from the bad ones. I am seriously tired doing this.

Also really frustrating is the heavy abuse inside the GNOME community, those whom we as members have elected behave like patrons on their positions. A lot of my friends whom initially tried contributing to GNOME has been scared away due to bad practices and always repeated attacks (its like a dejavu now). Most normal people never heard about these kinds of practices or can't imagine that this can really be happening - but sadly from my perspective this is the case.

Normal ordinary people who want to contribute or come up with an idea are treatened with disrespect and kicked with the bare foots. One day a friend of mine also a valuable member of the GNOME community came up with an idea (together with his girlfriend) to shave "GNOME GIRLS" he brought up that idea on the mailinglists (iirc) but everyone told him to go away, and that his ideas aren't great. But then some months later some girls from Red Hat have shown up with a brilliant idea (guess what, yes) to create "GNOME GIRLS" and voila they have been getting mailinglist acces, cvs access, all permissions granted everywhere and everyone called it a great ide. Why ? We talked about that for quite a while and concluded that this is due to the Red Hat position they keep wearing. Same applies with other companies that have been founded around GNOME, they immediately been granted warm seats in the foundation, in the board, while others (no company related ones) have been left out and ignored for years. How comes and how can GNOME still be called a community project and why do people still defend their practices ? GNOME totally lost it's roots and focus for users and users needs.

Well trying to come to an end here. What I want to say is that there are a lot of issues inside GNOME, it starts from many small and bigger bits of GNOME as desktop itself. From broken architecture, as well as not getting people on one table to have the work together (HIG is an example here) or to have simply basic stuff working good enough to get at least the basic things done. Over to the problem with the acceptance of people inside the community as well as the abuse everywhere.

That's why I recommend everyone these days to go with KDE. Their entire community is by far more friendly, the people are great, the developers are totally differently compared to the ones working on GNOME (its like day and night). Bugs are fixed immediately, patches are accepted. The framework (once you deal with it a bit more) is so great, things simply work. Sure sometimes problems occour on KDE as well, nothing is perfect, but the amount of problems is by far minimal if we consider how big that project is.

KDE from rough guess is 3 times bigger than GNOME (also a lot of translations stuff, source code). It's easier to build, it's all based on C++, no need to deal with different languages or getting upset or split an entire community because someone is using C, other C++, Python, Perl, Mono, Java (this will cause a lot of problems in GNOME camp too once the transtion to GNOME III starts. Already now a lot of people aren't really happy about all this). KDE works, offers great tools, looks mature.

KDE isn't much bigger than GNOME actually, on my system a normal KDE installation consisting of these tools:

qt-copy arts kdelibs kdebase kdeutils kdenetwork kdegraphics kdemultimedia kdegames kdepim koffice kdesdk kdevelop kdewebdev kdeedu kdetoys kdeartwork

Requires around 650 mb including headers and stripped binaries. The same amount I get with GNOME installed + Firefox + Evolution + headers etc. But I get much more tools for KDE. Sure I don't need all of them, but maybe I will need one of them one day and I would be happy if it's there.

Also whenever I hear GNOME devs talking about integration (like the evolution-data-server integration in the calendar/clock applet) I need to start laughing. It's no real integration, just some "hack" which was rewarded with money. Real integration is shown on KDE for example. Share of addressbook data across all applications (and it works today already). Oh and there is so much more.

Well I gave you an idea Novell. I really wonder who set that itch in your head to make GNOME the default. Was it a politics decision or a rational technology one ?

I am quite unhappy that all this politics stuff is being done on the heads of users, customers and people. Linux is a great System, KDE is a great environment many times better than GNOME and the momentum damage you caused with the recent announcements will stay in peoples head for a long long time. I feel sorry for your decision on making GNOME default regardless if you steer back now. Please consider again and listen to your customers. These are who feed your children, clothe your family and make you pay your rent and car.

I have no issues with GNOME, I do like GNOME and it deserves its place. But what I don't like is the bad practices around GNOME, e.g. the bad marketing, lying to their customers and then the agressive marketing that GNOME is so much ready for the corporate desktop. I really hate this. I hate being lied as customer and I hate it as developer who spent years of his time in GNOME and being not asked whether I like that GNOME is being sold that way.

Corporate have needs, they rely on working things, they spent a lot of money, they want the things to simply work and not toy around in things first.

To say the truth, all this talk about evil Microsoft (yeah there are people who try making a competition out of it) is pure bullshit in my opinion. Windows isn't a bad Operating System (regardless of the practices of Microsoft). It offers a lot of tools and its still being used everywhere and it still leads the desktop. I really dislike seeing GNOME as the default desktop in the Linux world because I know that things will not change. If it hasn't been changed by now then it probably will never ever change at all. GNOME has a long way to go, a very long way, and that long way only to catch where KDE is today, not to speak about catching up with Windows or even MacOSX. So please don't decide about political stuff, decide of what works. KDE these days is used by 2/3 of all Open Source Desktop users and these values (as often seen everywhere in polls) are speaking for itself.

Guitar Strings (5, Informative)

jag7720 (685739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158145)

Take a look at the Ernie Ball guitar string company. They made the switch several years ago. It is only 300 +/- people but they did it cause they got hit with being out of compliance with M$

Read Rockin' on without Microsoft [com.com]

Out of compliance? (1)

Tominva1045 (587712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158268)



Does out of compliance mean they were using licenses for which they did not pay? (not that the products weren't working correctly)

And that was the main reason for the shift?

Curious..

Re:Out of compliance? (2, Informative)

CoderBob (858156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158401)

http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/02/11/27/ 021127hnerniball.html?s=IDGNS [infoworld.com]

News story from the event. The article is light on the details, and at one point refers to "pirated copies" while at another refers to "more installations than licenses".

Having seen both many a time in a corporate environment, this is not always a company decision- users are to blame on occasion as well.

The reason for the shift matters, but the fact that they shifted successfully says a lot, especially to smaller organizations that might not be able to afford enough licenses. If those style shops start switching over to avoid being out of compliance, things could start to get real interesting.

Re:Out of compliance? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158636)

This from a friend who worked there at the time...

Ernie Ball was out of compliance by less than 2% with their MS licences. They were on a quarterly purchase program, where they would purchase any out of compliance licenses, and made allocations in the budget beforehand to do so. The "Disgruntled Employee" called in the midpoint of the quarter to rat them out.

Even when Ernie Ball offered to make good the license quantity immediately, the BSA declined and chose to make an example of them. Following the local newspaper headlines about EB getting "busted", the BSA sent letters out to every local business "reminding" them of the dangers of being out of compliance.

Sterling Ball chose to switch his entire operation to Open Source at that point (minus the few CAD Systems that needed MS OS to run the CAD Software) to prove that an operation didnt need MS to work and work well.

And from what I hear, it was and still is a great success. My friend has gone on to do fun and exciting things with EB and their FOSS Computer Systems.

Re:Out of compliance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158464)

I think if you read the article you will find that they were not intentionally stealing software. A mistake was made and a disgruntled employee noticed and reported it to the BSA.

Re:Out of compliance? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158486)

The way MS works is they call you and say "We want to audit you for compliance, can you produce records for licenses for every piece of MS software on every system? If not we will charge you $large for each system out of compliance."

Most companies can't, things get thrown away, or OEM copies came with systems, or maybe someone used an OEM copy without buying a new system, etc. So MS offers you to pay $20,000+ a year for "software assurance" which is what they call their protection racket program. They warn you that if you don't buy software assurance, they have the right to inspect every one of your systems and charge you out the ass for any noncompliance.

So basically they use scare tactics to get protection money.

Re:Out of compliance? (1)

khoury.brazil (882366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158494)

They got slammed by the BSA for having serials on more than one machine (Not even a lot, but for each "violation" you can spend a pretty penny) even though they had a serial/license for every machine but didn't have them actually "in use on the machine". A technicallity used to make the BSA as much money as possible. Completely inethical in my opinion.

Re:Guitar Strings (-1, Troll)

Shakes268 (856460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158277)

I guess they shouldn't have been illegally using software they didn't own then. Out of compliance means you have more installations than you have licenses for. I find it interesting that criminals are touted as a Linux success story.

Re:Guitar Strings (2, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158334)

*whispers* (welcome to slashdot)

-everphilski-

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

khoury.brazil (882366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158402)

Perhaps if you'd researched the article, you'd have learned that they did in fact own the liceneses and were faithful customers of MS for years. The problem they had and got severely fined for was having more than one serial on a PC here and there, even though they had enough licenses in the form of purchased CD's with serial numbers. It's a stupid technicality that makes no sense and shouldn't even be legally viable. Ernie Ball having paid thousands to MS over the years but failing to keep a very strict record of where every which serial was being used was punished by the BSA.

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158444)

Shakes268 wrote:

Out of compliance means you have more installations than you have licenses for.

Not necessarily. It can mean you have installations which use the "wrong" licenses. If I have three licenses for Office XP Pro, and three computers installed using the same license (say, two users who used the VLK version of the install disk on their personal computers because it was handy and they have the key memorized, instead of digging up the single-user disc just to install it), or using different licenses than the ones I own (such as computers bought secondhand with Office installed, which I then bought but didn't bother reinstalling), I'm technically out of compliance.

It can also mean I actually did buy the software legitimately and install it properly, but simply can't find my certificate of authenticity or receipts. Bam, out of compliance.

Basically unless you have N licenses and X installations, where X = N, and the installations use the licenses in the manner assigned (i.e. VLK only on the allowed computers, single-user licenses used only once, etc.) you are "out of compliance". It doesn't have to mean you did anything illegal or even underhanded.

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

skyshock21 (764958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158485)

So you're saying corporations who use a common hard drive image for all their workstations are all out of compliance?

I find that hard to believe.

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158638)

In a situation like that, the corporation will typically have bought a volume license for Windows. The volume license comes with a CD that will recognize a volume-license key (an off-the-shelf standard copy of Windows/etc. won't) The VLK also bypasses product activation, because when MS announced activation, its large corporate customers screamed bloody murder about it. (Imagine having to manually activate on the order of 1,000 to 10,000 desktops after a major OS rollout.)

So if they own and are using a volume-licensed copy of Windows, no, they are not out of compliance. If they installed an off-the-shelf copy of XP Pro and cloned that, then yes, they are, even if they also own a volume license for that software.

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158640)

Companies that do that buy a license where one key is allowed for anywhere up to X installs.

Re:Guitar Strings (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158675)

Unless they have a volume licensing or similar agreements in place with Microsoft covering every computer which has the VLK installed then yes they are out of compliance.

Re:Guitar Strings (3, Insightful)

Parity (12797) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158480)

Don't be stupid. Out of compliance means you have more installations than you can -show- that you have licenses for. It doesn't mean that you actually have pirated software, but that you didn't keep all the right certificates of authenticity in a secure place. If your process wasn't tightly controlled, you can easily be out of compliance when somebody cleans out a closet full of 'old junk that nobody needs' (aka, all those still shrink-wrapped windows manuals).

Furthermore, being out of compliance is not a criminal matter, it's a civil one, so even if they were in actual violation and not merely in a state of poor record-keeping, they still wouldn't be 'criminals'.

(Yeah, yeah, IHBT, I dunno when I'll learn...)

Success stories (3, Insightful)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158510)

I find it interesting that criminals are touted as a Linux success story.

Not if you live on a continent full of "criminals" with success stories.

Re:Guitar Strings (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158548)

I find it interesting that criminals are touted as a Linux success story.

A "few dozen" unlicensed apps on a network with 300 people shouldn't have warranted BSA-imposed pariahdom. A small fine and forcing them to fix their licensure status, yes. Disgracing them on the evening news and in an ad campaign, no.

Although it might count as blasphemy to say as much on Slashdot, Microsoft, of all companies, understands that, and except in really extreme situations will usually work with a company to get them in compliance, for NO fine (even offering a discount to "help them out" in some cases). The BSA, on the other hand... Absolute pure evil. It amazes me that anyone would allow them on-site without a warrant and a police escort.


You also have to wonder what "unlicensed" means, in context... For only a "few dozen" installations, does that mean they accidentally exceeded their number of VLKs? Shareware that had expired without buying the full version? Random programs that employees had brought in from home that the company didn't even know about? "Out-of-upgrade-path" upgrades (meaning, for example, that you can't take an OEM Win95 machine to XP via an upgrade copy - but you can upgrade it to NT4, which you can then upgrade to XP)? Plenty of situations to consider before calling them outright criminals. Oh, by the way, you need to fix that tail light, sir - I'll let you off with a $65K fine this time.


Yes, you can say that none of those situations should have occurred. But welcome to the real world, where even the most diligent IT department can't catch everything.

Ghost et al. (5, Interesting)

meisenst (104896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158147)

I was able, at some point a few years back, to produce a Ghost image with Red Hat, OpenOffice, and a login model that used my office's Windows infrastructure to authenticate users automatically. It worked very well. I used it on several test PCs and was able to boot them up, ghost them, and have them come up connected and ready to use.

It was fairly straightforward to set things up with simple additions to /etc/skel. The only real kneebiter was the fact that the vast majority of the office required Outlook, and for some reason (I don't recall what) Evolution wouldn't quite cut it. I seem to recall problems with lookups in the Active Directory using Evolution, but for all I know that's been fixed by now.

I ran this thing on my PC for months before my employer even noticed. I used VMware for my Windows needs (as I was a network administrator, I needed to run some troubleshooting in Windows for user support) and Samba for all of my day-to-day shares and printing. In the end, the only reason anyone knew what I was running was that I was sick one day, and someone tried to sit at my desk, with very small amounts of success.

Now if only I'd kept a copy when I was let go!

Re:Ghost et al. (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158166)

Were you let go because you installed Linux without permission on company computers, by any chance?

Re:Ghost et al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158218)

"I was sick one day, and someone tried to sit at my desk, with very small amounts of success."

Maybe this is why it's so difficult to get rid of all of those Windows boxes.....

Also evaluate thin clients, especially Sun Ray (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158163)

PCs don't always make a lot of sense, especially if you need 40'000 of them :-)
I would also evaluate thin clients, especially Sun's Sun Ray technology:
http://www.sun.com/sunray/success.html/ [sun.com]

That said, I know of a Swiss company (news agency with around 200 employees) who switched from Windows to Debian for the desktop PCs. Mostly Java applications. No serious problems were reported.

Re:Also evaluate thin clients, especially Sun Ray (1)

denali_wjl (459893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158222)

I'd second this, you can keep using your existing Windows work station and
get some Linux servers, on the Windows work stations, run thin client software
like NX, Exceed On Demand etc. Thus you get to use all your existing windows
software while also able to access any Linux applications installed on the Linux
server at the same from the Windows work station. That way, you get the best of
both world.

PC-based thin clients (1)

Crouty (912387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158381)

Turning today's PCs in tomorrow's thin clients is an option. This way you can save money on new hardware and comply with centralized administration requirements.

Maybe this would even be a viable option for the original poster: Building one or two linux images for the clients with Citrix (or similar) clients and using a fat server to provide compatibility with Windows apps.

Re:PC-based thin clients (1)

saintp (595331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158439)

Turning today's PCs in tomorrow's thin clients is an option. This way you can save money on new hardware and comply with centralized administration requirements.
Have you seen the prices on SunRays? You won't save a single thin dime on hardware. The only selling point for them is centralized management.

Re:PC-based thin clients (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158612)

You are right about the HW prices (although Sun may offer a better price if you buy thousands of SunRays).
But the costs for the administration of tens of thousands of PCs by far exceeds the price of the HW. I would not replace 10 PCs with SunRays. But I would seriously consider replacing 10'000.

random failures - massive failures, yay Sun! (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158591)

PCs don't always make a lot of sense, especially if you need 40'000 of them :-) [snip]especially Sun's Sun Ray technology

Thin clients make even less sense, especially for that large an installation. They need far more network resources and if anything network-related goes down, the employee is left twiddling their thumbs. If you pay your employees $15/hour (I seriously hope you pay them more than that), 1 minute of downtime for 40,000 people costs you +$15k. 3 minutes downtime, and you just paid for someone to help handle the "complexities" of managing "real" computers.

The thin client model sucks because it turns random failures into massive failures- and nobody at Sun has had to be in the IT department when EVERYBODY'S computer stops "working". The phones catch on fire.

Any and all cost savings are most likely eaten up by the leap in service level requirements, not to mention the need to push application data around the network. The assumption by Sun is that your network has nothing else running on it and can handle throwing around java binaries around. Last time I checked, most of the data on corporate networks is stuff like print jobs, email/Outlook, file transfer, and web.

You know (4, Insightful)

sjvn (11568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158180)

You could just give Red Hat or Novell a call and either one will be more than happy to give you their dog-and-pony show for their desktop offerings. I mean, they do do this kind of thing for a living these days.

Do you have must-keep Windows apps? Try CrossOver Office

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1886920,00.as p [eweek.com]

or

Verasora/Win4Lin

http://www.versora.com/ [versora.com]

I've used and deployed them all in small businesses with AD management, and they've all worked. There's no reason why they wouldn't work in larger businesses. After all, as IBM and Oracle are showing, they already do.

Steven

Rationale to a company... (4, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158181)

There's a few reasons why an IS department won't roll out Linux into an Active Directory environment.

First, is that they cannot control the desktop using policy. This is the biggest selling point of using Windows in a workgroup domain, and especially to manage as many servers and end users as they have. Active Directory, while not perfect, is awesome in its capabilities -- all stolen mostly from Novell's NDS :)

Next, is expertise. Why would you introduce something into an environment that nobody really knows how to use? Your executives aren't 100% sure but they know 100% that they need to hire staff that can take on Linux servers/desktops and supporting them. That means paying a premium for that labor, and it's not necessary when you can get Windows guys on the cheap.

Lastly -- companies are hesistant to change. Financial companies in particular go with the mantra, if it works, don't touch it. You will see lots of these smaller shops on NT 4 still because to them... it works. Larger corporations that have to meet with SOX compliancy issues are forced into upgrading. That's what happened where I work.

Anyways.. best of luck trying to introduce Linux into your environment. I am going to say that you will crash and burn trying, because a company that large doesn't likely have a *need* for Linux. And if's not a necessity, a good business decision is not to let it happen. Again the mantra, if it ain't broke...don't fix it.

Re:Rationale to a company... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158284)

are you mential?

I can control the "desktop use policy" tighter on linux than any windows admin could dream of.

I strongly suggest you learn linux.

Secondly if you are going linux dump the bastard of Active Directory and use a linux/unix based setup that works better and integrates easier. Fools try and shoehorn a work boot into a sneaker.

Re:Rationale to a company... (2, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158387)

Lastly -- companies are hesistant to change. Financial companies in particular go with the mantra, if it works, don't touch it. You will see lots of these smaller shops on NT 4 still because to them... it works. Larger corporations that have to meet with SOX compliancy issues are forced into upgrading. That's what happened where I work.

Interesting posting, but you are forgeting an even more powerful force in corporate culture - corporations are always looking to cut costs. That $10M and growing annual check to M$ will eventually overcome the cultural inertia. It has been slow going for about 8 years, but it is happening.

Re:Rationale to a company... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158496)

Hehe, it's only if a company is actually buying the license agreements year after year. In financial institutions it rarely happens. They will use the software and hardware until it's dead and buried by everybody else, because it still works and change makes a company susceptible to not being able to trade, make a loan, etc... that's HUGE amounts of money in a day it can't afford to lose.

Re:Rationale to a company... (0, Troll)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158521)

But Window IS broke. (Writing this on a XP system while my Linux laptop sits next to me acting as a jukebox...)

Re:Rationale to a company... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158592)

I won't argue that point... I am a Mac lover though, strangely enough I don't own one. All i have is Windows PCs in my house, and at work.

I'm just admiring from afar until I get some bucks saved up to buy an iBook or PowerBook :)

Tried Sabayon? (Useful for Gnome envs + profiles) (2, Insightful)

GingerDog (907579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158601)

For a Gnome based desktop, Sabayon appears to be about the best thing I've found yet that allows you to create "profiles" for different users.

I don't think it's anywhere as good as what I've heard group policy to be, but it's a start in the right direction. I've found it to be quite buggy and it took me a couple of days to get the desktop _as_I_wanted_it_.

(See http://www.codepoets.co.uk/sabayon_creating_linux_ desktop_profiles [codepoets.co.uk] which may be of some use as feedback/info)

DG

Lavonia Lighting (1)

gmac63 (12603) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158203)

Novell has in the past, hosted a Partners Workshop whereby they note that Lavonia Lighting out of GA did a migration. You might want to call them and ask where they are in that process. Are they will with Linux? What other services do they use Linux for? How has the ROI and TCO been for them?

Not One (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158227)

All the comanies I work for, none have a single desktop linux box. I could have sold some small business people a lot of linux boxes over the past few years, but one piece is missing. A financial software product. Most windows users freak out when they see gnucash. If you want to deploy in the enterprise, head first.

Re:Not One (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158354)

most small businesses freak when they see a real accounting package. Peachtree and Quickbooks are NOT real accounting packages but toy packages for the business owner that does not know accounting.

Real systems like Champion controller and sage and Cougar mountian or even Excalibur.

Those that are still using the toy packages the likes of Quickbooks really do not want powerful, they want braindead and to pay a service fee to get the hard stuff done.

but that is the difference between buying a $395-$595 toy at compusa or staples and a $1500-$6000 accounting suite from a professional.

Re:Not One (2)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158503)

Right tool for the right job. For many small companies (mine is around $1 mil/year), an expensive accounting package isn't worth the price. My $400 copy of Quickbooks does everything that I need it to do right now. Do you have a good business reason that I need a mid-range accounting package right now?

IBM Linux Desktop rollout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158228)

like everything else, the rollout has been pushed out. However, the "Open Client" has moved out of alpha status and moved into beta as of a few days ago. A couple interesting points the IBM internal helpdesk has gone through extensive training, remote desktop assistance is enabled, Lotus Workplace is installed (web/eclipse based version of notes, and office apps). Its primarly supported on RHEL workstation 4, but works on Suse,gentoo,and Ubuntu but I'm not sure how well.
Looks very cool, and IBM's subscription to MS Office has been canceled :)

I believe over 10k desktops have been rolled out in beta, but dont quote me.

Linux deployment on the desktop (1)

bristmi (927671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158253)

Talk to Novell. 50% of their employees are using linux on the desktop

Desktop Linux in the Enterprise (4, Interesting)

John the Kiwi (653757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158265)

I've been trying to get Linux instaslled on the desktop for a few of my customers, but had problems finding a suitable model for deployment. Say what you will about Microsoft (and here most people do) but their deployment tools are pretty good. All of my new deployments utilise RIS (Remote Install Services) which greatly reduces client installation times.

Roaming Profiles and publishing applications via Active Directory also greatly reduces on site time. Workstations can be restored without anyone technical being required on site at all.

I've looked and looked and haven't been able to find any resources for doing similar tasks with Linux based desktops. The closest I've come up with is to use custom built CD Rom desktop OSes, but these are much slower than using a workstation with the OS installed on a local hard drive.

I'm sure it can be done, perhaps by remotely mounting common application and /home folders to a central server. But I've never seen any Howto's or even descriptions of anyone having done this in the enterprise before. Not to say it hasn't been done, just that noone's written how it's done (that I've been able to find).

Not much help I know, but it shows why my company is still an MS shop.

John the Kiwi

Re:Desktop Linux in the Enterprise (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158609)

It sounds like you've never really used Linux before.

But I'll give you some bread crumbs. Search google for:

apt - Debian Official Package Management Tool (related terms: .deb, dpkg, apt-get)
yum - Unofficial Redhat Package Management Tool (related terms: .rpm)

These tools allow you to easily install software on any given machine (and you can host your own software in a central repository). You can use your distribution for all the main software and have a local repository for company specific application deployments. At the same time.

With these tools, you can do a full upgrade (everything, office suite, security patches, web browser, games, whatever) with one command.

For example with Debian:

apt-get install clue (I think you'll be needing this one the most).
apt-get upgrade (installs all new software)

You can build your debs of your internal software, if applicable:
apt-get install myinteralapp

You could design your own specific dependency handling packages
apt-get install engineer-software (could be a package designed to install all engineering related software)
apt-get install clerk-software (same thing, only for office staff)

I hope this has been informative, have a nice day!

We're Switching Because... It's Cool...? (5, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158295)

Let me state that I love Linux, and I am fortunate enough to be able to use it for my work.

In the past I've been responsible for switching a small company over (circa 150 desktops) from -- what was it now? -- DOS to WIN 3.1, or WIN 3.1 to WIN 95, I forget, I've burned it from my memory. And it was a nightmare. Not cuz it was Windows, cuz we were switching, period. Accounting gave us hell ("what are the cost benefits again?"), users gave me hell ("Time is Money, Y'Know!"), and Super Senior Mgt tweaked me more than once ("If you weren't switching us to this, um, upgrade thing, what is it that you would be doing, hmm?"). Learned an AWFUL lot about wacky boutique Accounting-Inventory-Shipping-Graphics-YouNameIt programs that all ran lovely on the OLD system but had to be bludgeoned into submission on the new.

Not saying you should not upgrade. Not saying Linux is not an upgrade from what you're using (not saying it IS, either; you really need to examine the apps). Just saying that you really need to look at this upgrade from every direction short of Sunday before you dive into the change. There's a large, cold room reserved in the House of Pain for Linux Evangelists who push their companies to make The Switch without having a whole pond worth of ducks in a row.

Good Luck, Bud, and God speed! And better you than me.

Why the switch? (1, Flamebait)

dfjunior (774213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158296)

Sounds like you just want to brag that you forced your shop to "run Linux"...

You've not provided any sort of business case for the switch. If your organization has the IT infrastructure to support 40,000 workstations, you aren't going to save any money by installing Linux on a couple of workstations. Further, if the "regular users" you're deploying to aren't Linux enthusiasts there will be a decrease in productivity [at least temporarily] and your boss will have you to thank for it.

Disaster (5, Interesting)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158311)

I used to work at a private high school in the Northeast. You can probably figure out what one by looking at my user name. Anyhow, we (read: I) tried a rollout of Linux on our file servers and routers. Here's what happened:

The Linux file server worked beautifully. We had a simple NT4 domain, setting up Samba with proper permissions was easy. It was easy to administer, very reliable, and fast.

The Linux router(s) worked well, too. I had a nice collection of scripts run with cron that would turn off internet access to the dorms at a specified time, and then turn it back on in the morning (remember: this was a high school).

I was even in the process of developing a grading system with the LAMP stack, since at the time, teachers did their grading manually, and often complained about it.

Everything was running beautifully for months, until politics entered the game. Some higher-ups bought software without consulting the IT department (me and one other guy) that of course only ran on Windows. They also decided that we were going to go with FileMaker for a grade database, that was maintained by some high-price consultant. In the end, they wanted everything to be Windows for some reason or another (misinformed about how Open Source works, you know, the whole deal). My wonderful little Linux environment disappeared, and eventually, so did I.

Moral of the story: technical challenges aside, your project can always be torpedoed by someone who is self-important and more powerful than you.

Re:Disaster (2, Interesting)

stevey (64018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158686)

I've had similar things happen to me in the past, more than once.

The most common experience I've had is working with a small company with approximately 50 staff on site, and a few remote. The backend is entirely Linux based, Exim for Email, Apache for the webserver, Samba for roaming home directories, etc. (Each desktop user will typically have an Windows 2000/XP installation, some brave types [like myself] might run Linux, and no Microsoft servers at all.)

Fast forward a year or two and the company gets bought out.

The next thing you know the entirely open, working, stable, and proven backend is replaced en masse by a Microsoft solution - to make it identical to the software that the parent company has been using.

Having recently been through this for the third time I'm quite cynical. It is almost painful to see a company suddenly lock themselves into paying for upgrades and still losing services which were available previously.

Not to mention switching from nice open POP3+Imap to "improved" installations such as Exchange, or Lotus Notes is enough to make grown men weep.

Depends on the Environment (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158312)

Some work environments are such that everything has to work as often as possible.

Doing any sort of migration is a bad ideas -- as soon as you have problems, you'll have hordes of pissed off folks screaming.

I'd recommend against doing a linux migration under those circumstances -- it will only be bad for you and Linux.

Eventually such ossified environments will likely vanish -- they'll go out of business. If you really want to use Linux at work, it is probably easier to find a job at a Linux shop.

Maybe.... (1)

Shakes268 (856460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158319)

Just be happy with what you have? How many of those users are going to make use of what Linux really offers? If you don't have a valid reason other than "push Microsoft out", I'd just stick with MS. It sounds like the environment is all integrated and it would definitely cost you more to switch. Let the Linux desktop mature, its still early for it - then you should have more reasons to switch.

Linux and Apple Clusters (-1, Offtopic)

PlayfullyClever (934896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158328)

I build Linux and Apple clusters for biotech, pharma and academic clients. I needed to announce this because clusters designed for lifesci work tend to have different architecture priorities than say clusters used for CFD or weather prediction:) Suffice it to say that bioclusters are rate limited by file I/O issues and are tuned for compute farm style batch computing rather than full on beowulf style parallel processing.

I've used *many* different platforms to address different requirements, scale out plans and physical/environmental constraints.

The best whitebox vendor that I have used is Rackable Systems (http://www.rackable.com/ [rackable.com] [rackable.com] . They truly understand cooling and airflow issues, have great 1U half-depth chassis that let you get near blade density with inexpensive mass market server mainboards and they have great DC power distribution kit for larger deployments.

For general purpose 1U "pizza box" style rackmounts I tend to use the Sun V20z's when Opterons are called for but IBM and HP both have great dual-Xeon and dual-AMD 1U platforms. For me the Sun Opterons have tended to have the best price/performance numbers from a "big name" vendor.

Two years ago I was building tons of clusters out of Dell hardware. Now nobody I know is even considering Dell. For me they are no longer on my radar -- their endless pretend games with "considering" AMD based solutions is getting tired and until they start shipping some Opteron based products they not going to be a player of any significant merit.

The best blade systems I have seen are no longer made -- they were the systems from RLX.

What you need to understand about blade servers is that the biggest real savings you get with the added price comes from the reduction in administrative burden and ease of operation. The physical form factor and environmental savings are nice but often not as important as the operational/admin/IT savings.

Because of this, people evaluating blade systems should place a huge priority on the quality of the management, monitoring and provisioning software provided by the blade vendor. This is why RLX blades were better than any other vendor even big players like HP, IBM and Dell.

That said though, the quality of whitebox blade systems is usually pretty bad -- especially concerning how they handle cooling and airflow. I've seen one bad deployment where the blade rack needed 12 inch ducting brought into the base just to force enough cool air into the rack to keep the mainboards from tripping their emergency temp shutdown probes. If forced to choose a blade solution I'd first grade on the quality of the management software and then on the quality of the vendor. I am very comfortable purchasing 1U rackmounts from whitebox vendors but I'd probably not purchase a blade system from one. Interestingly enough I just got a Penguin blade chasssis installed and will be playing with it next week to see how it does.

If you don't have a datacenter, special air conditioning or a dedicated IT staff then I highly recommend checking out OrionMultisystems. They sell 12-node desktop and 96-node deskside clusters that ship from the factory fully integrated and best of all they run off a single 110v electrical. They may not win on pure performance when going head to head against dedicated 1U servers but Orion by far wins the prize for "most amount of compute power you can squeeze out of a single electrical outlet..."

Re:Linux and Apple Clusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158467)

http://www.rackable.com/ [rackable.com]

*cough* copy and paste. [slashdot.org]

Dude, a clue: you're not supposed to type the domain name in square brackets - slashdot adds that for you.

White paper (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158330)

Granted that Novell has had an axe to grind with M$ for many years, here is an interesting white paper pdf at [novell.com] which discusses that exact issue.

None of the large IT concerns that I have worked for have done en-masse Linux desktop installs, by the way, but both had an approved "default" install CD-ROM image that had been sufficently tested (read that "tested tested and then triple tested again...") with the appropriate packages, etc. installed and all of the security settings tweaked and set. that it wasn't a big deal to get once the manager approved it.

Big problem was convincing the low- to mid- level managers to approve using it instead of M$.

First Switch your Servers (4, Insightful)

mgpeter (132079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158333)

I have successfully deployed GNU/Linux networks, both servers and workstations. If you are at all serious about deploying a large amount of GNU/Linux Workstations the first thing you should do is replace the Windows Servers.

It is much easier integrating a Unix type workstation if you use Unix type servers. It is trivial to have nfs mounted /home directories, especially when you use LDAP for the User Database. If you attempt to deploy Unix type workstations in a Windows Network enviornment you will ALWAYS be fighting with the servers.

In your environment it'll be tough (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158351)

If it's all Windows centric including backend and management, it'll be tough to add. Here we are a hybrid Windows/Solaris and are adding Linux. The way we do it is LDAP on Solaris for the backend. Sun has a product that syncs the AD to LDAP, and we are currently working with the Linux systems to get them all working. They use LDAP just fine, but we are having difficulty with our automounts and other such things.

If you want to do it in your the thing to look for would be a way to sync Linux with the AD. I don't have any experience in this area so I'm afraid I can't help, but Samba might be a place to start. I understand it works in Windows 2000 domains now. At any rate what you want is to design a solution such that the existing management tools will work more or less seemlessly with the Linux workstations. That means they need to get their account information from the AD, map the Windows file shares (Linux does that fine now) use the Windows printers CUPS has no problem with that) and so on.

You will probably need a Linux server that's the go-between and you might have to do some custom development work. However, I'm sure it's doable. Remember though, to sell it you need ot make your solution work with the existing one. If you demand a bunch of changes, you'll just get shut down. However if you make it integrate nice, it's much easier to push as an alternative. Ultimately a more platform-neutral back end would probably be good, but with infastructure that large, you can't start there because the cost will be enough to make everyone say no.

PRobably what you should do is just get permission to start experimenting. Get a Linux desktop and server up and running under your control and then start investigating what it's going to take to get some integration going on. Worst case, it doesn't work out, and you get some Linux experience out of it.

kick it up a notch (2, Informative)

whysanity (231556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158361)

okay, i really hate the subject line (and emeril's show) but here goes:

i work in a very small environment... say roughly 25 employees and at least that many desktops with about 20 servers. i've been pushing to move away from being a microsoft shop. luckily, the guy before me was also very pro-Best Solution (note i didn't say pro-linux or anti-microsoft) and set up a number of linux servers.

i have taken hold and attempted ot push the idea of linux desktop solution for people that don't need windows (i.e. sales people). i actually set up a second box for myself before deploying a test box for a sales person. being a ubuntu user for 3 releases now, i choose it for it's polish, shine, and my comfort level. my experiences have been mostly good. anytime anyone needs a package, i just grab it from apt-get (or find a repo first if need be). i can take care of the whole box via ssh and never have to bother the user. it works GREAT except for a few small problems in a windows network:

1. setting up active directory authentication is a PAIN. it's not hard, but time-consuming and requires a lot of manual tweaking (see my request for an automated tool [ubuntuforums.org] )
2. evolution-exchange connector is horribly in need of work. the basics work, but it's not fast or efficient - or stable. it gets the job done, albeit not eloquently
3. (i belive the following is a problem with nautilus, but idk) when accessing a shared windows folder, authentication gives a prompt for credentials, but it doesn't matter when you put here. the second prompt for credentials is the important one. in fact, you cannot get the first box to go away unless you click cancel
4. sudo & AD groups. for the life of me i can't figure out how to get sudo to recognize %domain\linuxadmins as a valid group. `groups` shows me as being part of it, but it's almost as if sudo doesn't like the slash. i've tried escaping it, and tried it without the domain to no avail. ideally, i'd like to set up a group to allow certain users to perform updates when ubuntu notifies them stuff is in need of updateing.

my gripes aren't HUGE, but they're annoying to me. of course i haven't touched on management needed for a 20,000 pc environment (pushed software & updates), so ymmv

Not Quite Dead yet! (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158366)

Setup a batch of old dell stations that were previously part of a school "Tech Job Training" lab,(previously had win98 on them), with damnsmalllinux and did not even require any hardware upgrades, (10gb hd/700mhz celly/128mb ram); the systems were used for web, word processing and network access to a WinNT domain; and once the kids understood that rtf format could actually hold pictures but made much smaller files than doc format, they switched. The only problems we had the whole year with those machines was hardware related.

Check out how Universities do it (1)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158376)

Universities have been doing enterprise deployment of Macintosh desktops since before MS Windows existed, even since before the term "enterprise deployment" existed. The early days were pretty rough, of course. But now OSX and its Unix core have a full set of enterprise desktop management tools available. Check out MacEnterprise [macenterprise.org] and tools like Radmind [umich.edu] . Many Universities are now doing large-scale deployments of Mac desktops. And since those tools are all Unix-based, perhaps many of the same techniques will work for Linux desktops?

GOOD GRIEF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158379)

For the love of FUCK, there IS NO SUCH WORD AS ALOT. You wouldn't say "alittle" would you?

by request only (2, Informative)

LodCrappo (705968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158437)

I work as a consultant for smaller companies. Although I use linux on my desktops and am quite happy with it, I wouldn't recommend any of my clients try to deploy it on the desktops for normal users unless there is some very compelling reason to do so. I've yet to come across such a situation, but I guess cost, performance and/or security might be reasons in some cases.

On the other hand I do have some clients where certain individuals have requested linux, and allowing them to run it has not caused any problems other than the obvious compatibilty issues that may apply. These individuals are linux savy and can generally deal with their own problems. Management does not want to spend extra money to support a second platform, and they understand this.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that if you are considering rolling out some linux or even apple desktops, I would be careful to only migrate people that really want them and understand the consequences (and are able to deal with their own problems for the most part). Otherwise you're going to be incurring extra costs that probably outweight any licensing money you save. That usually doesn't go over well and will generate a negative attitude from management towards linux.

As for workstation management tools, there are solutions from Redhat and Novell and probably others, and IBM has some tools too. I don't have much experience with any of them, but again it is probably an extra cost and what would the point be? What is the boss going to like about this whole idea? Sometimes I think linux fans push too hard or don't fully evaluate the situation and actually reduce the opportunities they might have to use linux where it would really be a great solution.

The funniest thing about most /. replies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158448)

is the number of people who go on about switching their companies/offices/etc over to a *nix based infrastructure, talking about what desktops they've tried or tested, what they are using now, why it's so much better, etc, quickly followed up with something along the lines of "but our IT department..", "the company is switching to exchange...", "...the powers that be won't switch...". Guess that means that you aren't in the right department to begin with (trust me - I run a 5000+ node network) and you are mad that the IT department doesn't agree with you about how much better it would be if everyone ran (insert your favorite non-MS distro here0. Or that you are in IT, but nobody listens to the guy that packs and ships the systems out.

Come on folks - at least try to sound like you work in IT, and that you have some say in IT decisions where ever it is you work. It really sounds much less pathetic that way.

Sick of these stories! (1)

iolaus (704845) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158507)

Dear Slashdot, I'm trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. How should I go about it? Thanks, Some Guy

Re:Sick of these stories! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158613)

ROFL

Desktop Unix (1)

FreeBSD evangelist (873412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158580)

We have a couple of FreeBSD desktops that live in harmony with our Active Directory Windows world. Also, we have five or six OS X systems. A third party suite (www.thursby.com) called ADmitMac even allows them to be an Active Directory management station.

Can't Switch For Switching's Sake (4, Insightful)

zoomba (227393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14158615)

Especially in a company with that many desktops. When talking about a migration to Linux in a large environment like that means a bunch of things:

1. What do you do with ANY of the custom apps used on the desktop. Most large companies have at least a few apps their internal developers built for them, and I'll bet they weren't built with cross-platform use in mind. Sure, it may work for now in WINE, but what about when it throws a weird error? What about when a new feature is needed? Recoding the app isn't really an option for most places.

2. Time to fire and rehire your desktop support staff! And any IT group that is directly tied to desktop products, cause you're doing a complete 180 degree switch on them. You can argue that anyone worth paying should already know Linux, but the reality is a lot of people in IT are tied to MS, because that's what their company has bet the farm on. You would probably have to either rehire or retrain most of the desktop support group.

3. Your options are RedHat, or SuSE. A company that big is only going to switch if they can buy Linux from a vendor with the chops to support a large organization. Mom & Pop Linux Support Inc isn't going to be taken seriously since they may be in business today, but might not be tomorrow. Business wants a large company backing a product so they have someone to go back to when something goes really wrong.

4. Retraining Costs. Sure, there's adjustment when moving users from Windows Version X to Windows Version Y, but generally the user experience remains fairly consistent. Moving to Linux, unless you reskin it to look exactly like Windows and hide away anything that would hint that it wasn't Windows is going to require significant user retraining. Then there's all the new apps that they'll have to learn to use. You'll lost a LOT of time and money here.

5. What's the real benefit? Yeah, Microsoft is evil, vendor lock-in, security vulnerabilities blah blah blah and so on. But honestly, does Linux provide a real business value? Does it save money in the long run? Does it make the work easier to do? Don't answer these questions as techno-geeks who are already biased, look at it from a semi-objective standpoint.

I don't think you can make an effective case to begin the switch-over of 40,000 desktops to linux, even in much of a phased approach. Best you can probably hope for are a few pockets of Linux users within IT. The average user would probably never even get whif of its existance.

Busy man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14158621)

My employer runs alot of desktop and laptop computers -- something in the neighborhood of 40,000 PCs.

He's got 80,000 hands or what?

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