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LINUX v Microsoft on the desktop - TCO

By Nath-UK ·
The CEO of my major customer is desperate to bring LINUX to the desktop. The customer is a global logisitcs firm with approximately 5000 employees, based in the UK with branches worldwide. Does anyone have any experience or recommendations when considering where in the business to deploy LINUX??? Any distro specific horror stories would be greatly received.

This is the customer's first foray into LINUX and one of the drivers seems to be the "it's free isn't it???" argument. I think I understand the key concepts of Open Source, and that a potential saving from using LINUX with Open Source software is appealing to the CEO. My primary concern is that if we go down the Open Source road, my customer may become "incompatible" with suppliers and customers using Bill's software.

Any advice will be gratefully received.


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by Jaqui In reply to LINUX v Microsoft on the ...

for basic office applications, open office works, the formatting with ms office may be funny, as the formats are different. but open office does import ms office files, and can save ms office format.

to offset the layout / formatting problem, crossover office will allow using ms office in linux.

novell's suse and red hat enterprise linux are the 2 biggest commercial distros.
mandriva ( formerly mandrake ) has one of the nicest user friendly configurations.

Xandros, a fairly new distro, is more closely tied into working with widows and ms software. ( only one that comes with crossover office tool o use ms office / internet explorer, outbreak.... )

debian, a pure community ( free ) distro, all open source, community support only.
not as user friendly install.

there are offshoots of red hat, debian and slackware, most other distros are such.

the general concensus being, start red hat and rpm based, move to debian as you get more familiar / comfortable with.

slackware is in it's own category, since it's the second least user friendly option, but the closest to the true meaning of open source.

I would have to recommend that you look at Xandros as the first option, simply because of it's design to interface a close as possible with windows.
the purchase ( boxed ) version is going to be the one to recommend to your client.

next would be mandriva / rhel

then the debian based distros. ( other than Xandros )

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by Jaqui In reply to

a note:
with the linux distros, you only need one copy to install on as many machines as you want.
it's legal to install any verson on as many as needed.

average cost of desktop distro versions is 250 us dollars.

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by Deadly Ernest In reply to LINUX v Microsoft on the ...

Savings, stability, security and flexibility (as Linux can be cut back to a specific thus extend the machine longevity) are the reasons to switch.
Also general admin is easily automated with scripts.

A downside is that drivers for the latest hardware is sometimes difficult to get, check hardware driver compatibility; latest ditributions have a lot of generic drivers that will make most work. Cost concious companies rarely get the latest hardware anyway, and slightly older hardware usually has Linux drivers available.

Linux looks different to M$ and people don't like change. With M$ making their latest versions look different this is not a problem now.

Most new Linux versions come with WINE or something similar that runs most M$ based software in it. Tested and known compatible software for WINE are listed check Google or or

Linux compatibility is best checked by setting up one system and try it.

Some people switch to Linux simply because of problems with legacy software not working properly on the latest M$ OSs - this is not supposed to be a problem but does pop up with some of the very old stuff.

I am in the process of switching all my systems to the latest Mandrake Linux and running Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive, 3D Max, and many games within WINE. Some of the older games run well in WINE but will not run at all on WinXP - they were originally written for Win95. I have checked and all this software is fully compatible with a Linux / WINE system.

In summary it is cheaper and allows you to utilise older hardware longer and nearly all M$ based software can be run within Linux using WINE or similar software - some distributions now also laod onto FAT32 for higher M$ compatibility as well as reading FAT32.

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by techrepublic In reply to LINUX v Microsoft on the ...

The biggest issue I see is vendor compatibility. My users are required to interface with specific vendors (no option of using a different vendor). Most of those vendors have specific interface requirements that include specific versions of Windows. Thankfully, many of them are migrating to web based interfaces. They still have an unnecessary IE requirement, but it's progress.

I wish you the best of luck, as I'd like to see a world where a single software company doesn't control then entire IT industry.

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by leporidaes In reply to LINUX v Microsoft on the ...

Moving into linux for desktop has its advantages and disadvanages. It would be wise to first validate the objective of such a move. Additionally, if your client does have its IT strategy laid out, it is important to fit those things in.

On a high level perspective, transfering to linux does not always mean that the company will be saving or its a cost effective approach. Sometimes, the implementation cost might be more that the company realizes. Definitely, more support is needed depending on what flavor of linux you wish to acquire. This would mean that IT team or support team must know linux and if they don't, training is required. User end training is also required. Although linux has gone far in terms of there gui, end users still needs to familarize themeselves (and so are the support folks). Application compatibility will definitely be an issue. Some office file feature maybe opened by open source document application (open office) but there is no 100% compatibility even in formating. Cost will involve training, compatibility of hardware, support and software migration if need be.

Productivity of end user might be another issue. There should be learning curve and if your users are having difficulty in Windows then definitely they will have some difficulty in linux.

maintenance - this area is tricky in linux visavis windows. if the implementation goes well (users and support) have adapted to the linux machine well and applications / IT strategy for the future is fits in with the linux initiative, the cost for this will definitely go down due to licenses alone. But if not, your cost may be the same or higher but will be diverted from license acquisition to maybe training, project migration and others.

don't get me wrong though, i like linux os. but I am just putting it in the proper perspective. My beleif is that linux strength is on the server side and still much to improve on for the user frndly side (desktop).

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by bea94457 In reply to LINUX v Microsoft on the ...

Linux is the way to go if you are using different older machines the cost is cutting edge compared to windows. Its hard to find all the drivers and some software will not run on linux mostly the older versions. Depends on ISP if they fully support linux some do and some have not seen the light yet. Its a much better platform than windows. Has a steep learning curve than windows because most people do not run it on a home system.

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