Linux

10 ways to sell corporate on Linux

If you've decided that migrating to Linux is the best move for your organization -- but senior management isn't convinced -- check out these 10 persuasive points to help make your case.

Your systems are all way overdue for an operating system upgrade, but your IT department is going over budget. You know you can't afford the latest version of Microsoft Windows or Office. The easiest path to reining in your costs would be to migrate over to the Linux operating system. Unfortunately, corporate headquarters isn't convinced that Linux is the way to go. How do you convince them otherwise?

Simple. Use these 10 compelling points to persuade them that Linux is right for your organization.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download

#1: TCO is bunk

Think about this: How many times have you had to work longer than you thought you would to solve a problem -- be it on a Windows server, a desktop, or solving a security issue? Certain jobs just have to be done, and those jobs don't care how much time you spend on them, because your network or your users depend upon it. Same thing with Linux. Most surveys and studies claim that the money you're going to spend training IT staff to administer Linux would equal or better the cost of using Windows. As Colonel Potter would say, "Bull Feathers!"

Most companies aren't going to spend money training IT staff these days. Most companies are going to say "Figure it out!" and it's on your dime to do so. That might mean down time at work, lunch time, or over time. But the initial TCO of using Linux is the same as the initial TCO of using a new version of Windows. The good news is, once Linux is up and running, you won't be wasting precious time fixing, patching, or solving security issues. Add to that Linux' ability to resurrect old hardware and you can see how Linux can easily save money on every level.

#2: Linux is not just for servers

For the longest time, most IT pros were convinced that the only place for Linux in the corporate world was in the server room. That was then, this is now. The Linux desktop has improved by leaps and bounds in the last five years. And when people see it in action, they quickly change their minds.

One thing about the Linux desktop that perfectly suits the corporate world is its flexibility. The Linux desktop can be made to look and act exactly how you want it to. It can even be made to look and act just like Windows (in most of its incarnations). So you have the familiarity for the users and the security and reliability to put most IT staff at ease. On top of that, there are so many alternatives to the "big two" of KDE and Gnome that the possibilities are endless.

The Linux desktop isn't just at home on the workstation, either. A Blackbox or Enlightenment desktop makes a perfect kiosk station where very few menu entries (or icons) can be added so users are limited in what they can start up. Another good selling point is that many of the Linux desktops are rock solid and won't waste employee time crashing or locking up. Just try getting Blackbox (or Fluxbox) to crash or freeze.

#3: Security is the name of the game

Let's face it, Linux simply doesn't have the security issues that Windows suffers from. Many people claim that the lack of viruses, worms, Trojans, and hacks is due to the lack of popularity. Those same detractors claim that once Linux reaches a certain saturation level, the viruses and such will come. Well, Linux is here (and has been for a while) and still no viruses have overtaken the OS. So it's safe to say that for now (and probably the short and long term), the Linux operating system -- used either on server or desktop deployments -- is safe from nefarious executables and code.

One of the best arguments you can give corporate HQ is that while all the Windows users are taken down from viruses, the Linux users will just keep plugging away. This exact thing has happened to me. While I was working at TechRepublic (around 2001), the entire staff was unable to work due to a virus. I, on the other hand, was plugging away. Why? Because my machine was running Red Hat, so I was immune to the Love Bug virus that brought down the company. While everyone was out in the halls unsure about what to do, I was completing my tasks so I could head home at the normal time. I shudder to think how much that particular virus cost businesses and how many of those businesses would have been saved had they been using Linux.

#4: Support is everywhere

Stay with me here. I know that most argue that Linux support is the biggest problem. However, I would argue that Windows support pales in comparison to the support you can find for Linux. Have you ever called for Windows support? Not only are you paying for every call (either with a paid plan or per instance), but you are also having to deal with support help most likely reading from a script. You may get your problem solved (on your dime) or you may not.

By contrast, Linux-style support offers various avenues to follow. Sometimes those avenues will lead you straight to the developer of the application (which has happened to me on a number of occasions.) You can obtain paid support via a company like Red Hat or Novell, or you can use mailing lists, forums, direct contact with developers, gurus, Google... you name it. And typically, as in the case with mailing lists like the Fedora list or the Ubuntu list, you get pretty immediate responses. You can also go the IRC path. There are plenty of chat rooms where Linux uber nerds hang out. There, you can generally find someone to help you out. It's fast, it's free, and it's reliable. And when you have multiple support options, the chances of solving a problem efficiently are far greater than picking up the phone and hoping that the support technician's script includes your problem.

#5: Applications are key

The standard argument is that Linux doesn't have enough applications. Untrue. Doing a search for "Linux" on Freshmeat reveals 11,578 results and on Sourceforge, it reveals 8,345 results. And the Photoshop argument? The average Photoshop user can do everything he or she needs with The GIMP. Microsoft Office users? Meet OpenOffice. Sure, there might be some proprietary application created specifically for your company -- and for that, we have WINE, which can run most any Windows application.

But the best thing about Linux applications is that they're open source. If there's something about the application that doesn't suit your needs, you can change it. If you have the developers in house, more than likely they can adapt an application to do something perfectly suited for your company. Imagine taking a free application and reworking it so that it's exactly the application you need (down to the look and feel).

#6: The kernel is just for you

Even though most people don't roll their own kernels any more, you can. One of the nicest aspects of the Linux kernel is that you can re-roll it to fit your exact needs and hardware. This provides any number of benefits. For one, re-rolling a kernel to fit your system precisely means your machine will work more efficiently. You don't need wireless rolled into a kernel? Take it out. One less security issue.

#7: Virtualization is virtually everything

With the help of such applications as VMware, you can run a virtual machine within a machine. This makes for perfect test beds for practically anything. You can run sandbox Web sites or applications. You can do test runs of deployments, saving you countless hours and money. And unlike the Windows world, Linux virtualization is free. Applications like Xen are available at no cost and can do clustering as well as virtualization. Virtualization is also a great means of training employees on new systems or software. With employees training on a virtual operating system, the cost of disaster is far less than if they were training on a production machine.

#8: Updating is simple and fast

When a problem arises on a Linux system, the problem is fixed very quickly and released into the wild. Whereas with Microsoft, you could be waiting weeks or months for that crucial update. And with the newer front ends for package management, installing and updating software is as simple as point and click. Not only are you saving your company from being vulnerable to an exploit far faster than if you were using Windows, the update is quick and easy.

#9: Administration is world wide

Imagine you are on vacation and you get a call from your boss saying the Web site is down. True, if you have a Windows server there are ways to administer it remotely. But you are limited to remote administration with the tools Microsoft offers. With Linux, you can remotely administer in so many ways. One of my favorites is using secure shell. I have administered Linux servers via secure shell from a Palm Treo 680. Or you can tunnel X through ssh to administer via GUI. So as long as you have Internet access, you can administer your Linux machine -- and do so without adding third-party software. If you're concerned about security, set up ssh to accept only certificate logins (and disable root login as well.)

#10: Linux is constantly gaining traction

Information Week recently published findings indicating that nearly 70% of 420 polled business-technology professionals are using Linux. Compare that to just one year ago, when that percentage was 56%. A 14% jump in use in a single year is nothing to sneeze at. And with more people using Linux, the incompatibility issue is fading away into the distant past. Consider that companies like Wal-mart are selling dirt-cheap desktop systems with Linux pre-installed, and you can draw the same conclusion: The only place Linux is going is up.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

103 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Almost 90 posts and not a flame or FUD in the bunch. (Okay, BALTHOR's here, but he's just flaky.) Everyone's offered reasonable positions, presented calmly and well-supported. Nice job, people.

kkkirby
kkkirby

gwan, i strongly agree give linux a go its the dogs bollox

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

Sorry, I just disagree. It does NOT have the support that Microsoft does, it does NOT run the applications that Microsoft can run. Third part vendors are NOT interested much in developing it as a standard platform in place of Microsoft. Right or wrong - its just not there yet. Is it more stable, yes, sometimes. Is it always better? No, not in everyones opinion.

htmapes
htmapes

If an alternate to Windows is approved by corporate, it is most likely going to be Apple. How many executives do you know have Linux running at home? For the engineering community -- and I'm not talking about sys admins here -- Visio, Autocad and similar engineering apps are not available on Linux, but are absolutely required for document collaboration. Funny, I've been running Windows in corporations since Win98 and have never had a security problem. For the most part, if you're just doing your work, your risk profile is very small. I'm not a fan of Windows, but many of the complaints about it in a corporate environment are either exaggerated or subsequent to bad user behavior.

motie38
motie38

I'd like to add a point to #3 Security is the name of the game. Spyware was not mentioned, but I believe is absolutely critical. A virus or worm crashing your system is a nuisance and productivity killer, but even more important is the idea that spyware could be letting you remain productive while stealing your personal or corporate information, and you none the wiser. As well, spyware seems to have gone "legit". Consider "Windows Genuine Advantage" packaged as a "critical update". It's purpose is to probe your computer for evidence that you might be using pirated Microsoft software. But does it stop there? What's stopping a closed source software company from putting in information gathering mechanisms into any product? Only their benevolence, which we blindly trust. By contrast, spyware simply can't happen in a fully open source ecosystem. Why, because even if you're not reading the source code yourself, many eyes are, and code inserted for nefarious purposes will be found out, exposed, and weeded out. And the culprits will be ostracized from the community. I think this is one of the most important reasons to make the transition to Linux and open source software, even if such a transition is not convenient.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I have no doubt Linux can be a useful desktop OS in a corporate environment. My disagreement is with part of one of the supporting positions. #2 - "Another good selling point is that many of the Linux desktops are rock solid and won't waste employee time crashing or locking up. Just try getting Blackbox (or Fluxbox) to crash or freeze." Periodically someone will state, "Linux isn't ready for the desktop. I know, I tried it five years ago." This out-of-date perception rarely goes unchallenged here. Yet some Linux advocates don't hesitate to trot out the equally outdated "Windows crashes all the time!" argument. This hasn't been a problem with Windows since the 2000 version was released. The rest of this is just me playing Devil's Advocate. It's Friday and I'm feeling argumentative. #3 - "One of the best arguments you can give corporate HQ is that while all the Windows users are taken down from viruses, the Linux users will just keep plugging away." Any corporation that is regularly being taken down by malware attacks has bigger problems than picking a desktop OS. It should fire it's CIO and use the savings to hire a decent security technician immediately. The only cause of this inexcusable problem is negligence. With over 800 computers at four sites, we saw no impact of Love Bug. A better point to make under Security would have been how much easier it is to fully secure a Linux desktop, how end users can be completely prevented from installing apps, and to point out that none of the apps require the user to have root (Administrator) privileges to run them. #5 - I've always felt the "There's not enough apps" argument is poorly presented. What most "Stick with Windows" advocates really mean is that there aren't enough BUSINESS-related apps. Few people in the workplace edit photos; neither PhotoShop nor The Gimp is an issue. OpenOffice.org is often a fine replacement for MS Office, unless you are contractually obligated to produce "true" MS Office output. The big issue still remains CAD apps, and a replacement for Outlook that has all components (mail, calendar, contacts) fully integrated into a single app. There are many niche applications that are offered for the Windows platform. While these are targeted at limited markets, those customers are still plentiful enough to make it possible to offer an application at less than what it would cost to develop one in-house. It may not fit my exact needs, but more likely it's got more than I'll ever use. Why should all of those individual companies hire someone in-house to re-invent the wheel? #6 - "...re-rolling a kernel to fit your system precisely means your machine will work more efficiently." The last thing I need in desktop support is a kernel optimized for a specific hardware platform. That means we've got to retweak the darned thing every time we buy a different order of systems. Bad enough I've got to keep up with multiple Ghost images. With the hardware capabilities available today compared to desktop user needs, optimizing the kernel isn't going to be necessary. This may be a selling point for VARs and developers, but it isn't in desktop support. #7 - Every point except one presented here for virtualization applies equally to other operating systems. That one point? Yes, Zen is free; so why does this bullet item begin by mentioning VMware, a product that isn't free but is available for all desktop OSs? If the only advantage to Zen is the price, virtualization no different from any other application and isn't worth mentioning outside the previous discussion of apps in #2. #9 - "Imagine you are on vacation and you get a call from your boss saying the Web site is down." Strictly personal rant not related to Windows, Linux, OS X, BSD, VMS, CP/M, or any other OS - If the boss has to call me while I'm on vacation, I haven't done my job right. Either I haven't taken the proper precautions to prevent such a problem, or I haven't trained someone else to handle such problems while I'm away. Dude, when I'm on vacation, I'm ON VACATION. Am I the only one who still feels this way? Is this worthy of a new discussion on it's own? End of off-topic rant. #10 - "Information Week recently published findings indicating that nearly 70% of 420 polled business-technology professionals are using Linux." I notice this doesn't say WHERE those IT professionals are using Linux. Specifically, this doesn't say whether they're using it in the server room or on the desktop, nor does it mention which of these environments is seeing that growth. Sheer number of users is a poor argument. By that line of reason, Windows is still on exponentially more desktops, so there's no reason to switch. Also, Wal-Mart stopped carrying Linux systems in stores a couple of months ago. Don't interpret any of this as meaning I don't see a place for Linux on corporate desktops. I'm hoping to present these counter-arguments in a reasonable tone before the "Linux sux" crowd wakes up. Those who discuss this often present it as an "either / or", when mixed environments are often preferable. Linux apps would work well for most users (regardless of whether those apps are no-cost, require payment, or have source code available), while those who require apps with no Linux counterparts can still run Windows.

j-mart
j-mart

From my experience few at the corporate management level know much about IT. Often selling them on a new concept or a better way of doing anything relies more on the black arts and witchcraft than any reasoned or scientific approach to finding the best option. One advantage of going the Linux way is it is relatively easy to set up work stations that only perform the actual task required by the person at the machine limiting some of the "goofing off" that sometimes goes on. With the windows desktop it does not take long for many users to start downloading all kinds of rubbish on their company machines and installing it most of which will not be for actually performing any productive work. Recently my son and I rebuilt a machine from one department that had been replaced by a newer machine and as it was better than one of the old relics in the profile cutting department that was on its last legs we rebuilt it and set it up as a replacement. The first surprise was the amount of downloaded music that was on this machine, but the worst thing was that LimeWire had been installed on this machine and had been used to download this music. I am certain more control that well thought out installations of Linux with the control administered by those with the company's best interest at heart is another selling point of Linux desktops

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I think that's a big point to consider. Why is it that the system most popular is also the system where bad user behavior can do the most damage? As for applications, this is an old point. The tools required will always dictate what platforms may be considered for workstations. If you have a specialty need like Gaming (home user), CAD or other specific program then you have to choose from the OS it runs on. This is the ages old chicken and egg problem of FOSS; developers claim to be waiting for customer demand while customers continue to wait for programs. I still have to ask why it is so hard to develop truly cross platform programs? Does opening your software up to multiple platforms not increase your potential market? True though, a well configured Windows machine can be pretty rock solid just as any OS can be made insecure. I didn't even have grief when I ran winME though my preference still remains 98se if you can't run winXP/2000 and have to support win32 libraries.

hlhowell
hlhowell

I have worked on many operating systems. Windows is the most difficult, least productive and most likely to crash during software development. Recovering crash information for debug is often impossible, and the time loss for a reboot and reload to the point of failure is 2 to 3x as long as any other system I have ever used. This is lost productivity, and costs lots of engineering time and many dollars. Check out the development costs for Windows vs any other OS on the market, and you will see the difference. The premium is between 50% and 150%. This reflects the development costs, and is a real value difference. And while I have developed programs, using various tools for decades, I have never used VISIO in an engineering process. What do you use it for? Regards, Les H

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Bad user behavior is the main vector for malware propagation. A secure OS must prevent/block "bad user behavior". Windows (any version) is very week on that department. OS/X is much better but still falls far behind most Linux and BSD distributions.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I've tried to make that point so many times. There may be alternatives to certain programs, but sometimes you don't need the alternative...you neeed the real deal for better or worse. Someone even told me that the engineering side (AutoDesk products, Visio, ESRI and other "small time" sotware, lol) is a tiny fraction of the IT world, which I disagree with. In these areas and alot of others the desktop os doesn't matter nearly as much as the apps being used. If the apps aren't available on linux then alternatives don't cut it unless everyone switches at once. Either that or someone gets smart, focuses on products like these and works on creating an alternative open source program that can handle data from the industry standard apps with little end user impact. If people on boths sides can't collaberate on their files with no issues, there's no point in switching to save a few dollars on the IT end.

jgaskell
jgaskell

I would have to agree with all of these points. From my point of view, I have been itching for quite a while to find some way to bring Linux into our environment, as I use it at home and love it. The best I have been able to manage so far is a squid web proxy and a few servers running Linux and VMWare Server as hosts for Windows Server 2003 virtual servers. I would love to be able to introduce Linux on the desktop either internally or for our clients (even though we are a Microsoft partner), but every time I have looked at it I have hit the stumbling block of applications. It's true that there are comparable apps on Linux for almost all Windows apps, but the key word there is 'almost'. I find that there is pretty much always some specific application required for a business that is only available for Windows. For an accountant client it may be practice management software or tax software. For an insurance broker client it might be insurance quoting software. It's true that in many cases it would be possible to get those apps working using Wine or Crossover, but what is the justification for doing the extra work that that entails, when those apps and all of the others that are required work perfectly well on Windows? As Palmetto points out, Windows doesn't crash like it used to, and I can't remember the last time one of our clients had a virus outbreak, so those arguments don't stack up. There needs to be some compelling reason to go to Linux other than 'it's really cool and I want to try it out'. The list of ten in the original article are not compelling enough for me.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Specifically on the vacation point (cell phone comes with me on vacation...but only calls from family or Brinks Home Security are accepted...no one else has cause to call me...period) and with the mixed environment for Windows/Linux. When I first rolled out Linux desktops, it was to line workers at a steel manufacturing business. We needed to: 1). Extend the life of some older PCs 2). Get the line workers the ability to read Office docs, e-mail and technical manuals which were all web/PDF based 3). Reduce the incidents of malware making their way into the enterprise via the user base (mostly the line workers) Linux worked for us on every front. After the implementation, we went from being 100% Windows to about 75/25 Windows/Linux, which saved us a lot of money. On top of it, the plant workers were quite pleased that they were able to use OpenOffice to created some customized PDF materials (they had been denied budget to get Full-Blown Adobe for the better part of 2 years). That's the type of Win-Win you won't get from an either/or approach!

catseverywhere
catseverywhere

Regarding #4, support, there is excellent support for Mandriva in their forums, and Linux Questions dot org has answers for just about everything. They have a huge database of information built up over the years. In contrast I have asked a few very serious, well crafted questions in the Microsoft forums, and I have yet to garner any answer. As regards #8, add that Microsoft does "secret updates," they'll push things on your system and not tell you about it, and being undocumented who knows what it is. Will it break anything? If so, how on earth do you figure out what happened? Linux updates have been automated ala windows, as of a year or two ago. Most of the larger distros have some sort of updater that can run as a daemon. And you can see all the base code of every update there is. You CAN know absolutely everything your machine is doing with Linux. One of my questions to MS was why, when I had literally every service shut down, and the firewall blocking 100% of all traffic on the interface, in and out, was I still seeing multicast traffic originating from a Vista machine? btw had a good chuckle out of the first reply... clown suit. lol

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The Windows installation tools available at the corporate level reduce install the OS to a couple of scriptable command lines. Corporate IT shops usually install the OS only once per hardware model, make a Ghost image of it, and copy that image to other systems of the same hardware configuration. Great video, but not an advantage worth mentioning in a corporate IT shop.

seanferd
seanferd

Sorry Neon, don't mean to "pick on" you, but I finally have to ask this question. Someone must have answers. I do realize that much of the engineering software I saw did not run on PCs, but did run on other mini/micro systems. I also realize that, back in the day, many apps basically ran the machines themselves, more or less, after boot. But there must be Unix engineering apps, no?

spawnywhippet
spawnywhippet

I use Visio for all kinds of projects, ranging from solution architecture and network diagrams to renovating/extending my home.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Bad user behaivor is simply unavoidable on any os. All you can do is limit their privs, but that isn't something windows, apple or unix is going to take care of. You may stop them from installing or deinstalling items or messing up any system files...but you'll never stop them from making mistakes that cause you problems.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

If you are going to change, a gradual roll out makes so much more sense than a total system wide swap out. Sounds a little too much like a shock and awe campaign to me. Speaking of working while you are technically off...managing a few small businesses on the side is a must for me. Using my windows mobile device, vpn and remote desktop over my cell mphone has saved me countless trips for meanial tasks when the customer does something stupid. Lol...if I put them on Linux that's still not going to eliminate where 95% of my tech issues reside...somewhere between the chair and the monitor. :)

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

With Windows Deployment Services I can have a fresh install done in a matter of minutes over the network. Even with the addition of user specific custom hardware I keep only a couple of platforms, so I can have a pc setup and individualized in 30 minutes or less. I think it's an excellent solution and one of the easiest I've dealt with.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Yet the common belief that Linux is difficult to install is a part of the issue in getting it considered as an option. If the Board watch the video, which disproves a lot of what they have heard about Linux, then they may be more receptive to having it explored as an option. When the users say it is hard to use, they are repeating what they have heard. The video clip is a start on disproving that for them also. As long as people's minds are closed because of the mis-information campaigns by proprietary software houses, the battle to even have Linux considered is lost. The idea behind the series is to have short videos that show how easy it can be for people to work with. To open their minds to the idea of Linux.

j-mart
j-mart

I have found that due to the limited understanding of IT issues by management who make decisions as regards to what IT / software paths companies will go down, none of any of this will have any effect on the path chosen. Here are some examples from the company I work for : 1. Our accounts software which was a "must have" for our previous accountant has not been a good choice, he was sacked for his incompetence, but we have is legacy of a badly set up and poor choice of a system for our type of business. 2. CAD software choice based on opinion of employee who convinced management to change bases on his inability to adapt to anything he had not used before, he no longer works in this field as he was not up to it, but company has invested much with little or no gain. Even hardware choices are made based on salesman's pitch against management's lack of knowledge, in many cases too much hardware is allocated for a task or the wrong choice of hardware. In many organizations IT decisions are not based on careful analysis or research but on factors of "sales pitches" fear of looking at the possibilities and other options in favor of staying in ones comfort zone. Forget about 1 to 10 or 11, 12 ,,, the is only one thing required, AN OPEN MIND and the willingness to really look at all the possibilities, make decisions based on facts not rumors and hearsay. Linux may or may not be a good choice for you, but base this decision on actual facts which means doing the research required. In IT, as in any profession options and ways of doing things change, picking the best is not always easy. I have seen many make important decisions based on what's good for them rather than what's best for the company.

$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$

One might deploy Linux to a few carefully-chosen Power Users, for example, on older/spare hardware, to test the waters before implementing a corp-wide switch. At least, that would be the smart way to [b]change[/b].

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

Based on your post I'd say your date of birth is somewhen end of the 80's BTW: The most greates innovation of M$ (the GUI) 1987 was made by XEROX 1976. ;-))

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've heard names of some drafting applications for *nix mentioned in passing but it's not an area I've delved into yet. I'd guess that in CAD/CAM there's a whole lot more on the CAM side but that's more embedded stuff. Engineering in terms of CAD software remains a specialty item that chooses the OS platform for you. In a more purely engineering setting, there is all the *nix based software for doing physics modeling, virtualization and all sorts of other stuff but that's more industrial than a digital drafting table. Anyone else out there have a better understanding of engineering and design software available for nonWindows platforms?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

what if the opposite is true like for myself? What if the users and management all want Visio? What if your clients demand it? Are you going to force an alternative on them when they clearly state they prefer something else? I work for a living. I provide solutions. If my opinion is asked I give it. If the client asks for a truckload of rotten tomatoes I pinch my nose and deliver a truckload of rotten tomatoes and I don?t whine about it. I'm not debating which is better, Linux and Windows both have their fair share of issues. It comes down to a matter of personal preference. But in the workplace it comes down to what gets the job done. Until I can run industry standard engineering/GIS programs and not some oddball alternative junk I'm stuck running Windows.

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

I used to do all of the flow chart work in goo old Xfig. It is cross platform and exports to cross platform data formats (eps - encapsulated postscript). My boss suppressed me to use it. His reason: It is NOT M$ Office. Well, for the good, as a matter of fact he WAS my boss. :-D

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've looked at the other programs and invevitably, Visio's library of various objects wins over other flow diagram type applications. I'd love to move all my diagrams too something more cross platform than Visio but it's currently the king. There is little mystery about why Microsoft baught them.

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

Well, I've tried to set the hostname to "Břeclav Ml?n?ř" just now. No problem on Windows XP. On linux, hmmm. Well, no problem on Windows means that the system USES (!!!!) this hostname(s?). Excuse me for the diacritics. I'm livin in Czech and it is usual here to set the computername to and due to the fact that Windows enables diacritics they ARE used.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

" I'd also prefer to four inches taller while maintaining my current weight." That's good stuff man. If you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at? I'd have to agree with you on the Windows stabiltity. While Linux options may be more slightly more stable, Windows when properly maintained is stable enough. I honestly can't tell you the last time I've had a used complain about BSOD's in network of around 1000 pc's. I've been experimenting with Vista and server 2008 for sometime now and I have yet to receive any crashes that weren't due to driver issues as well. The stability argument doesn't really apply anymore unless your Windows system isn't being maintained by a competent IT staff. Properly locked down and administered, windows is plenty stable. Considering it's in 99.99% of the 911 dispatch call centers and most EMS systems as well, I'd dare say I'm not the only one who feels that way.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...would you recommend Linux for its stability?" Once again, there's that leftover notion that Windows is still unstable. For those versions of Windows based on NT code, (2K, XP, V), almost all BSODs are caused by hardware drivers. A poorly written driver can bring down any OS. Yes, it's easier to get the code fixed for open source drivers, but that's not the fault of the OS (as many Linux advocates are fond of repeating when someone points out a lack of drivers for their fav). Starting from scratch, all required applications being available in all viable OSs, I'd recommend a Linux distribution aimed at business environments, one with a formal, organized, 24-7-365 on-call support structure. My understanding is this means either Red Hat or Novell Suse. Not because it's more stable than Windows, but because of many of the points raised in the original article. "Would you have preferred that it be written for Windows only?" I'd prefer as many apps as possible be written for as many OSs as possible. It gives everyone more options. I'd also prefer to four inches taller while maintaining my current weight. Both are Utopian pipe dreams. I'm not getting any taller, and developers are going to write apps for the operating system most commonly used by their target customers.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

No, I have no trouble deploying Linux. I've actually tried but we have a few programs being used company wide (that I am not a fan of) that are windows only. I'm all about saving a buck where I can. As far as ESRI and AutoDesk being in the development stage...that's hard to imagine since these products have been around for so long now. I think if they were developed now as oposed to a decade or more ago, then they would be co-devloped to run on any platform. I personally would rather they be made available to any platform. Having choices keeps prices in check and keeps everyone on their toes so to speak. Like I said, I provide a solution. How I get there or whatever software I use really doesn't matter as long as the job gets done. And regarding stability...I beleive that Linux variants are more stable than Windows. That being said, I also feel that a properly maintained Windows system overseen by a competent IT staff should be stable enough for any organization.

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I always read advocacy for desktop Linux with the implied provision "other things being equal." If you already have show-stoppers, like a bunch of CAD draftsmen, well then you'll have to make do with Windows, for now anyway. If you find yourself in a situation where you're adding new staff, and you're sure [b]all[/b] their professional computing duties will be adequately met by Linux & Linux-compatible software, would you recommend Linux for its stability? This is a completely hypothetical question, so please imagine that this new department has absolutely no work duties that require Windows. Second, supposing the software which keeps you on Windows ("ESRI & AutoDesk products") were only at the primary development stage. Would you have [b]preferred[/b] that it be written for Windows only? Linux only? both? Why?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I'm not disputing Linux is more stable or even a better os. In the end though, at work I provide an end solution. I need an end result and quite frankly the os is somewhere near the bottom of the list in importance. I need to provide data, maps, architectual drawings and the like all with the ability to collaberate with government and private companies. For that I need industry standard stuff like ESRI and Auto Desk products...not to mention Visio (even if I personally don't like it). Even if I change the system to work better with Alternatives that are better, we'll lose collaberative ability because alot of our clients either have no IT staff or an inept staff so we'd lose collaberation capability if any translation outside of the norm is needed. That will lead to complaints, loss of productivity and my replacement. Not cool! :) I can then reflect on how good my system was, or how much more stable it was as I am searching for a new job.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Yes, true but it's better to have an OS that minimizes both the gravity and frequency of mistakes. "There is no system a user can't break. There is no system a stupid user wont break!" :)

hlhowell
hlhowell

Linux by virtue of the separation of administrative functions and user functions will prevent many user mistakes from doing base harm to the system. Generally their errors will cause issues in their personalization, which is in their directory. You can sync a back up directory to theirs periodically and simply swap to check when the error occured, or do a compare with a base setup to see what they have added or changed. Much easier on Linux than Windows, where the registry can be messed up and you can potentially lose the ability to recover unless you have a known good back up of the registry to reinstall, which risks disabling or even removing access to some software. Just my experience... Regards, Les H

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I don't care if it's innovative...I just care that it works. I'm sure I could push out 200 machines in 2 hours as well. Given the enviroment I work in I will never replace that many terminals at a time. I don't ever have that many employees out at once and I'm allergic to weekend rollouts. :) I usually do 1 department at the time, anywhere from 10 to 50.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

The documentation seems to have been written by drunken circus workers. I didn't get much out of it either. I had to install it and take a wild guess on most of it to get it set up.

mdiaz
mdiaz

MS was innovative up to windows... maybe. Their main skill was getting their OS placed on a billion freakin' computers, buying up or co-opting their competition, and providing a pretty good product up to about Win95, maybe, but I'm talking Word/Excel, etc. As an OS I don't care what they provide, but my main problem with MS is they're such a hacker target. Jumpstart...hmmm Google turned up a Linux app, guess that's what you mentioned? (clearly I'm not a CS major). If Linux/open source programs REALLY get easy & intuitive to use, MS is dust. I hope... heh heh

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

I see know why people claim M$ to be innovative. They get to know things as they read about them in M$ comercials. :-( Did you ever hear about Jumpstart? At my current job we had to replace the user PCs. We hired 8 people from our IT provider plus 2 inhouse administrators. We managed to replace 30 PCs fro 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on a saturday. hmmm. I replaced 200 machines on the job before. I had to be on place too. TWO HOURS!!!! ... but I had to be there only for the case of a fault and played Hearts meanwile. LOL

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not nuts about MS's online documentation on setting it up, so the project is at a standstill right now. If you know any good references written in plain English, let me know! I don't need to be able to install over the network since every new box has to come through the computer room anyway. I'm really looking for a way to replace Bart-PE, which I think is a bit difficult to configure.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

"specialised business applications that my clients require for various reasons. " Often times we don't need or want alternatives. Our clients demand an app so we supply that specific app. If you start making suggestions for alternatives they may look elsewhere, as most high end clients I deal with TELL you what they want as opposed to suggesting what they may want. The client is always right (even if they are dead wrong) because they pay my meal ticket. Even if a specific app has known issues the client is usually familiar with them and accepts them. Offering them a product that may be technically better introduces new issues as no system is perfect. Even if it was perfect there will always be user enduced issues that the client views as performance issues none the less.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Most informed IT pros know Linux is no harder to install than Windows. But remember, home users rarely install an OS from scratch. They buy a system with the OS (usually Windows) pre-installed. They've never had to install any OS from scratch. They may view install Linux on bare metal or as a replacement OS as an intimidating process simply because they've never see what Windows looks like from scratch either. I do agree with your point about it not being an object of managerial interest.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd say that it depends on the distro. Knoppix or Gentoo is not the same too install as Ubuntu or Mandriva. My story of the week is a little different though. With a new home computer upgrade, it came time to install my array of OS; guess which one comes with the most grief? - Mandriva 32bit, installed first try without issue - Mandriva 64bit, installed in place of 32bit without issue on the first try - WindowsXP 32bit, can't get past first boot (yup, using manufacturor's drivers even) - WindowsXP sp2, will try against my license once I get a copy of the media The irony of not being able to get "90% of the market 'chooses' Windows" popular OS installed on "for Windows" hardware with manufacturor's drivers available makes me laugh a little. VMware Server is also giving me some grief so the issues are not unique to OS, just to software on more recent hardware.

jgaskell
jgaskell

Anyone who thinks Linux is difficult to install is obviously living in the past, but I have never come across that objection. The managers that I deal with don't care whether it is difficult to install or not - that is a technical issue that doesn't interest them. If it ever did come up, a statement from me that it was not a problem would be good enough. As I said in another post, the only thing holding me back from deploying Linux everywhere I can is application compatibility, specifically those specialised business applications that my clients require for various reasons.

Jaqui
Jaqui

most of those that the IT department need to get approval from for any technology don't have an open mind about Linux, they have the mindset induced by the MS paid for advertising. The tools to open those minds need to be something they can see, easily, such as the video series I started, and need to add to. It's not really that their minds are closed, it's that they are making a decision based on mis-information. something is needed to actually show that it is mis-information, so that they will allow their IT department to investigate the possibilities of open source.

j-mart
j-mart

is an open mind, listen to what others may say find out where their particular opinion comes from but take the time to find out for yourself. There are many so called "expert opinions" based not on any first hand experience but only hearsay. Anyone who works in IT would be foolish not to at least learn the fundamentals of all the OS's they may come across. In the case of Linux it is easy and not expensive, download an iso or and install it, find out for yourself. In any profession time learning new skills is never a waste of time, even if you may not have an immediate application in your present job, at the least even the exercising of you brain will be of benefit.

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... some places, even "TCO." If you don't make that at least your part-time job, people with no productive ability [MBA] [b]will[/b] make uninformed decisions based only on short-term $ measurements. That's what they do.

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

I was in the same situation. All and erverything was decided by the Top Level Managers (TLM to use a TLA (Three Letter Abbreviation)) ;-)) of the parent. So I made MY decision and this was one of the reasons to quit the job.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I once had a legal staff suddenly block my attempt at purchasing granular restore software for our mailsever (exchange). Although we were legally bound to do this per contract with another company, the price of the software was more expensive than the fine we would be facing. Not only that, the legal staff at that company didn't particularly care to have granular restore for self-incrimination reasons. All this was explained to me behind closed doors so I simply agreed and called it a day. I didn't lose sleep over it and I quietly began searching for a new career. All lawyers are shady...but those guys carried themselves in a CIA type manner, lol. I pictured myself one day as being the fall guy for some crazy scandal, I'm glad I left.

faradhi
faradhi

The only difference will be that you will be prompted for a user name and password. Remember to use \ or @ for the user name and the AD password. Once that prompt is passed it works fine. In an ironic twist, some webparts actually render faster in Firefox than IE. I still cannot figure that out.

j-mart
j-mart

For us at the coal face is more like one of the black arts or whichcraft from our view point. We can supply all the logical and reasoned arguments for a technology choice or direction, but none of which will be used. Change and improvements will often only come in small steps some of which may have to be quietly put in place. Back in the mid 80's to get our first PC in the door at the company I was working for was only achieved by creative wording on the order to purchase it. But once we had put it to good use we had no trouble selling the idea of purchasing a few more machines to make some tasks easier.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...you state "it's not going to happen anyway", which tells me you've already consigned yourself to using whatever you're using now..." You've mistaken me for one of the decision makers. The choices we're discussing here are made at least two levels above mine, and are more likely made by our parent company's IT department. In that case, it's four levels and another company over my head. Radically different corporate cultures are involved since that parent company is not American. "Mongo only pawn in Game of Life."

Jaqui
Jaqui

Palmetto you would know, he is slowly learning linux, and finding options that will work for his needs, on his own time. When all his issues are answered, then he will have everything ready to sell the company on moving to linux. One issue that has never been mentioned, but is evident from his methodology, is that the company will not hire extra people / contract external company for the migration, everything would have to be in house staff. He isn't as closed minded on the issue as you seem to believe, he just knows his company well enough to know what they will say about the migration idea.

jfrench
jfrench

Yes, there is a Linux SAP client Yes, Linux can run on your handhelds Yes, Linux can print to a Zebra printer As for your sharepoint data, a worst case scenario would be to run IE under Wine. A best case scenario would be to pull that data out of sharepoint and create something that actually works the way you want it to (see my response titled "We hear that a lot"). However, after all that, you state "it's not going to happen anyway", which tells me you've already consigned yourself to using whatever you're using now regardless of any benefits or liabilities that come from that decision.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If we were to implement this where I work, I'd start the users who have minimal application requirements. This would mean the factory floor, where they only need access a couple of web-based applications and our ERP software. I also get the biggest bang for my support dollar since these are the machines users are screwing up all the time because Windows can't prevent them. Unfortunately, the web based data they need is in MS Sharepoint, and I don't know if a non-IE browser can access them. Assuming Sharepoint is accessible through some other browser, there's the ERP issue. Is there a Linux client for SAP, and a utility to add bar codes to output printed from SAP? How about drivers for Intermec and Symbol USB and PS2 bar code reader (3 of 9, PDF 417) and Zebra thermal printers? It's not going to happen anyway; we purchase MS software under an enterprise agreement based on the number of systems we have. We'd have to change more than just my 65 factory floor systems to make renegotiating worth the trouble. If we're paying for it anyway, why not use it?

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