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2004: Year of the Penguin? 427

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we've-heard-that-before dept.
houseofmore writes "The Toronto star suggests that things are looking good for the Linux desktop this year as more heavy weight commercial vendors get behind it, including HP, Novell, IBM, Sun and... Walmart. It also mentions Red Hat's plan to offer a new corporate desktop edition of their enterprise desktop sometime this year. The article states that more and more companies are considering (and) switching to Linux for their desktop due to expensive Windows licensing fees and high-profile security vulnerabilities."
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2004: Year of the Penguin?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:18AM (#8848397)
    There's been a lot of interest in Linux at my place of employ over the past 12 months. Not just wishful thinking kind of interest - - - but the kind of interest that leads to full testing environments to see if it's feasible to support linux in our environment, over multiple hardware platforms. What's most interesting is that my organization is both large, and also very very conservative.
  • by spellraiser (764337) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:28AM (#8848524) Journal

    Actually what star sign is Linux?

    Well, as can been seen here [externet.hu], Torvalds himself is not sure. Anyway, the problem also lies in selecting a specific birthday for Linux. Perhaps the most logical choice is the release of the first version, 0.10. Torvalds has this to say about that:

    Judging from the post, 0.01 wasn't actually out yet, but it's close. I'd guess the first version went out in the middle of September -91. I got some responses to this (most by mail, which I haven't saved), and I even got a few mails asking to be beta-testers for linux.

    Middle of September would indicate that Linux is probably a Virgo (August 24 to September 23), but it could also possibly be a Libra (September 23 to October 23). To decide between the two, I will need to do extensive analysis of Linux's character and disposition. Or I could just flip a coin ...

  • by Oxy the moron (770724) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:31AM (#8848578)

    In reality, I suppose it depends on how you define "innovation." Many things Microsoft has done aren't exactly 100% innovative, either. A lot of their big money makers were brain childs of another company that MS either bought and took over, or started their own and improved on what was laid before them.

    I think that if one were to compare which has brought about more innovation (of MS and Linux), Linux would still be at the forefront.

  • by strike2867 (658030) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:34AM (#8848614)
    I just saw and add for Windows Server [microsoft.com] on top of slashdot. It said

    Windows server offers a savings of 11%-22% over Linux in 4 out of 5 workload scenarios.

    How can this happen?
  • Re:Training Costs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by robertjw (728654) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:38AM (#8848665) Homepage
    Huh, few Linux desktop advocates consider retraining? Interesting since every Linux desktop article I've seen in the last 2 years mentioned the cost of retraining.

    My perception could be completely wrong, but most Microsoft Office users I know don't have a clue how to do anything but the most rudimentary document creation in Word, or the most basic spreadsheet creation in Excel. Couple that with the incompatibility problems we run into because we aren't willing to shell out $300/year/user to upgrade to the latest greatest Office Suite and the cost of retraining seems like much less of a hurdle.

    It's taken a while, but MS's stranglehold on the desktop is finally starting to slip. OpenOffice is a good product, MS's upgrades are too complicated and too expensive and, most importantly, Linux is starting to make inroads with large vendors. All of these factors will help bolster the Linux Desktop and make the "chicken and the egg" problem work against Microsoft, rather than for them.
  • by adzoox (615327) * on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:38AM (#8848667) Journal
    Linux has the "obscurity factor" amongst the psyche.

    Mac OS has the "obscurity factor" BUT (and it's a big but) - it is commercially available and known for a very high quality/zero virus/low maintenance - hardware and software - Linux doesn't yet have a SINGLE company that has a commercially successful hardware line AND software line.

    + Macs can run Linux too - even better in some cases - which means one could potentially have a QUASI QUAD BOOT system

    Virtual PC = Windows Variants
    Linux = Linux PPC or YellowDog
    Mac OS X
    Mac OS 9

    Heck older Macs even boot BEOS well.

    **TROLLS - please don't put Intego's FUD trojan alert
  • Games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by w42w42 (538630) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#8848712)

    I use Linux full time as my desktop, except for the two/three times a week I decide to play a game with some friends. Then I have no choice (winex doesn't work) to boot into Windows.

    As a work desktop, it more than satisfies my requirements. Honestly though, as much as I'd rather not have to, I have to keep the Windows partition to play those occasional games.

    I think that the 'year of the penguin' will come around whenever game companies really start shipping titles for Linux. I think it's ironic though that if a couple of the larger PC manufacturers actually started shipping Linux, that games would be available in short order, I'm sure. Of course, neither industry wants to make the first leap.

  • Re:Training Costs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#8848713)
    ...any loss of productivity that would result from incompatibilities between OSS Office packages (OpenOffice,StarOffice,etc.) and Microsoft's offering.

    And what you neglect to mention is the loss of procutivity inherent in the use of Microsoft's offering.

    I say this as a p!ssed off Word user who just spent 1/2 the day yesterday writing a Word manual and then spent the other 1/2 day rewriting it after Word ate it! Word itself corrupted 1 table and trashed 3/4 of the document! It was only a 30 page doc with maybe a dozen graphics! Why?

    This is not an isolated incident: I have been using MS Office since Win 3.1 days and this has been a "feature" of every version of Office since I started.

    So, really, the question for me is becoming: do I want to spend some time reformatting docs from other people or do I want to spend my time re-creating stuff that I've already done? Believe me, if OpenOffice or StarOffice is more reliable, I'm there!
  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabred.dyndns. o r g> on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @11:52AM (#8848907) Homepage
    This only needs two responses:
    1) OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org]
    2) Crossover Office [codeweavers.com]
    In order of preference
  • by newell_nicosia (234410) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:16PM (#8849214) Homepage

    This is certainly a step in the right direction....

    O'Reilly writes: Linux for Non-Geeks introduces you to Linux, without the technical jargon and advanced topics that you'd find in other books. You'll learn how to use Linux to do the normal, day-to-day computer stuff that you know how to do with another operating system, like connecting to and surfing the Internet, listening to CDs, playing with audio files, customizing your desktop, playing games, downloading software and fonts, printing, and more. Includes a complete installation of Fedora Linux on two CDs. [Full Description [oreilly.com]]

  • Re:gaaah. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:25PM (#8849320)
    Well said, linux is not windows and should not be deployed in the same manner. The Windows deployment model is based on selling licenses and does nothing for efficiency. If you are deploying linux and not doing it thin client you are doing it wrong.
  • For laptops almost any major manufacturer has announced the availability of Linux on their machines during the last years. Almost all off them have dropped these plans silently. For details see the Laptop Manufacturers - Linux Status Survey [tuxmobil.org].
  • Can (Score:2, Interesting)

    by midgley (629008) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:34PM (#8849425) Homepage Journal
    from Emperor Computers. I expect IBM will get round to it, they got a nudge from the UK (mother of) Parliament recently...
  • by bdigit (132070) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @12:39PM (#8849487)
    ummm

    "Windows is expensive, Linux is free"
    This has been this way forever and windows still has 90% of the marketshare. People are willing to pay for windows.

    "Distros like Xandros "just work""

    Windows just works, and works with more hardware without extraconfiguration.

    " Linux is secure from worms, trojans, viruses"

    Ummm rootkits? When more people switch over to linux you will see moreviruses out there for linux because right now windows is an easy targetwith a ton of machines out there. People much rather write a virus thatwill effect a much larger population. If linux was secure from viruss,why are there linux virus scanners?

    "Linux runs on modest hardware"

    So does windows

    "Linux is less complex and thus more stable"

    By far the worst reason I have ever read in my life for having linuxovertake Windows. Linux is about 100x more complex then windows, andsince when did complexity have to do with stability. In order to get Xhardware to work you have to download, configure, find missingdependicies, configure those, compile them install those, then go backto what you were originally doing and finish compiling and do aninstall. Of course there are package management solutions that solvealot of this but if the package aint available in it you are left tocompile. When I take a fresh machine an install windows on it,everything just works, with linux you need to figure out why your soundisnt working and then configure the driver and what not and edit configfiles.

    "Linux has a "cool" factor missing from windows"

    Yea I am sure millions of users will switch to linux cause its the coolthing to do, there are plenty of "cool" applications out there forwindows.

    " The IT world's view of Microsoft as "evil" is percolating down to thegeneral public"

    But they still are using it and despite the security flaws the general public is perfecty comfortable using windows.

    "Linux applications are more stable and simpler than Windows' ones"

    DUMB DUMB DUMB

    Simpler as in UNUSABLE. XMMS vs Winamp, yea XMMS is alot simpler but it sucks in comparison. Gimp vs Photoshop. If you want simple go use a Mac, i want to be able to do advanced things and a simple program wont cut it. Up until recently Gnome finally got an open dialog that looked like it wasnt from 1980. Setting up half the applications for linux requires some sort of advanced knowledge, half the programs dont have a gui installation which drives everyone who is comfortable with a gui away from linux. No one wants to be editing config files to get an application to work.

  • Re:Laptops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LinuxFreakus (613194) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @01:36PM (#8850265)
    Gentoo works fine with all the dell laptops in the Inspiron series. Probably works on all of the dells since the hardware is pretty much the same, but I've only used Inspiron. The wifi setup is tricky, but it works just fine on my company WLAN once I configure it properly. KDE looks pretty sweet on my LCD with 1920x1200 resolution @ 32 bpp. IMHO, The sub-pixel rendering looks nicer than the cleartype in XP.
  • Good responses, and I'll field them.

    - Cost to the enterprise

    Yes, the OS cost is insignificant compared to the other costs. However, the key market for Microsoft is the home and small-business market, where professional assistance is minimal and where the OS cost is significant.

    - "Just work"

    Windows 2000 needs a series of drivers to be installed before it will work with any exotic hardware. This typically means 5 or more reboot cycles to install a PC. Modern Linux distributions detect and configure most hardware as well as, and sometimes better than, Windows XP.

    - "Linux is secure"

    Any computer, small or large, can be cracked if it is not professionally managed, and often even if it is. The reason millions of Windows machines around the world are owned by worms is not because they have been cracked by experts, but because they are insecure unless specifically protected. The average time to infection of a new PC on the Internet is what... 5 minutes? How can anyone download the necessary patches in that time? Linux boxes are far more secure. I agree that this is a temporary advantage, but it's a real one and probably the most significant one.

    - "Modest hardware"

    Often because Linux applications are more portable. It's a circular thing: people choose more demanding hardware to run more sophisticated applications (like games). But this also pushes the operating system towards more complex hardware. A heavily used Linux workstation needs lots of RAM, but this is an easy upgrade. My Win2000 system is using about 450Mb of RAM and running not much more than a bunch of standard programs.

    - Complexity and stability

    True, the whole chain of Linux software adds up to a lot of lines of code. But I maintain that it's less complex, for two reasons. First, it's built up in layers and each layer is well-documented and modestly spec'd. Secondly, because each API is open and well argued, the whole is more stable. Windows applications tend to be much more monolithic: this makes them more complex.

    To compare with making cars, modern cars are assembled from sub-componenents like entire doors, dashboards, etc. Cars used to be assembled from much smaller pieces. The larger the components, the more robust the car (and at one level, the simpler). Windows tends towards the 'make the entire car from scratch' model, while Linux tends towards the 'create subassemblies' model.

    - Sufficient for common purposes

    My observation is that at least 50% and possibly up to 75% of PCs are not used for anything more complex than browsing, email, playing sound and movies, p2p, and some simple games.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @02:13PM (#8850744)
    My company has rolled out desktops to two organizations. One with about 15 Linux workstations and other with about 60, 20 of which run off of a Linux terminal server which has performed flawlessly. We are iDREUS Corporation at http://www.idreus.com
  • LTSP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scarolan (644274) on Tuesday April 13, 2004 @04:15PM (#8852205) Homepage
    Here at Medical Resource USA, myself and our webmaster were tired of troubleshooting 12-14 windows machines everyday. Nearly every single day there was a virus, or software problem, or some sort of problem with someone's computer. So I consulted with my boss, and we decided to switch to Linux. (Maybe linux should have some switch commercials like apple did? beepbeepbeepbeepbeep)

    We are just finishing off switching over our computer network to Linux - but we didn't need to wipe windows off anyone's hard drive. Here's how we did it:

    • Built a small server and installed Fedora Core 1.
    • Installed LTSP [ltsp.org] (Linux Terminal Server Project) and configured it for our system.
    • Created boot disks for each computer that did not have a 'boot from network' option. I used Rom-O-Matic [www.rom-o-matic] for this part.
    • We also purchased some thin clients from NeoWare [neoware.com] for new employees. These have a stripped down Linux distro on them and connect by opening a remote X connection. As our company grows, and the old pentium II and III boxes gradually die off, we will replace all of them with thin clients.

    Here are the specs on the server. I have a better one being delivered soon, but this is the 'proof of concept' version:

    • Emachine with 1ghz Intel celery processor
    • 512MB RAM
    • 80GB hard drive
    • Nightly backup of home directories to external USB hard drive

    The network currently supports 10 users, with usually 6-7 people signed on at any given time. We use Evolution as an outlook replacement, Open Office instead of MS office, and Mozilla for web browsing.

    We have a pretty login screen with our company logo, and the face browser so you can click your picture to log in. Redhat's bluecurve desktop is great, and is a snap for any windows user to learn. The terminals start up WAY faster than windows ever did, and all the apps pop right up even on a pokey Pentium II machine. IN fact, my thin clients only have 64mb of memory and they work great too.

    There were a few minor glitches or complaints about the UI, but in almost every case I was able to show the sales reps and employees how to get what they needed to do done.

    So switching to linux CAN be done. The only drawback is when you've got windows apps that you have to use when there's no linux alternative. In our case, the accounting department makes extensive use of Quickbooks to handle our finances. We tried to emulate, use wine, crossover office, etc. but none of these solutions were either stable or robust enough to meet our needs. So I had to leave three boxes running windows so accounting can continue to use Quickbooks.

    We also use our linux box as a Quake 2 server for lan parties after our weekly sales meetings! My boss is an older guy but he loves FPS shooters. The employees enjoy getting a chance to frag the pointy-haired guy every week :P

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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