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Pitfalls and Options For Business-Desktop Linux 346

Posted by timothy
from the pitfalls-only-apply-if-they-affect-you dept.
swhiser writes "Tom Adelstein dispassionately surveys the remaining fixes that will put desktop Linux through in the enterprise. Peer-to-peer networking, functional printing, laptop support, single sign-on to Active Directory and a better Device Manager (with a driver-get mechanism) are among the things companies are asking for. He says, 'The Linux desktop could fail if companies continue to pilot programs and conclude that it's less trouble to buy Microsoft. Everyone loses in that scenario.'" Pre-loaded systems are no longer a pipe dream or an obscurity, though; read on for one reader's mini-survey of Linux systems from large computer vendors.

Acidus writes "I called around today to the big OEMs (Gateway, Dell, HP, IBM) seeing who offered systems with Linux pre-installed, and the results were good. 3 of the 4 offered Linux on workstations. While no one offered Linux preloaded on laptops, Dell has some references nn how to install Linux on their laptops, while IBM has a scattering of docs on their website about installing Linux on systems. The reps at Dell, even though they have a series of Linux workstations, had to ask me what Linux was, and how to spell it. "Is that L-Y-N-I-C-S?""

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Pitfalls and Options For Business-Desktop Linux

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  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:22AM (#10776802) Homepage
    decisions in IT departments, Linux won't make much inroads on the desktop. They generally make decisions based on paid consultants and glossy magazine ads. Now, if the word spreads that companies can negotiate with MS based on threats of migration that'll keep some IT costs (somewhat) lower. Of course this can only work in bigger shops. Smaller companies can't do this.
    • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:37AM (#10776964) Journal
      If you read a lot of Polish press - I do - you will often find this kind of reasoning, especially whenever Polish national soccer team coach explains his latest failure (and in Polish soccer, there's always a failure to explain). My favorite is "we actually won the first half, but...". There ARE some important issues with Linux in corporate environment - laptop support, printing and device managing among the most important ones. Don't comfort yourself with easy explanation that corporations reject Linux migration only because someone is "tech-knownothing". Maybe they know something - namely that the overall cost of the whole hit-and-miss game with installing Linux on laptops might cancel the benefits of such migration?
    • Tech know nothing PHBs know something you don't: if it's going to cost 2000 man hours of work at a $30 an hour average to redesign internal systems, templates, and procedures to work on a non-Microsoft system, that more than wipes out the cost of licensing the desktop systems. That doesn't include the cost of the lead up in which you have to test, deploy, and integrate all of your servers and desktops, plus the lost productivity from people needing to be retrained or retraining themselves on the shortcuts to use Linux.

      People here act like a platform migration of this scale is simple as flipping a switch, and I think that really highlights how little experience in practical technology the Slashdot collective really has. You can reformat your system at home and install Linux in an hour depending on options and system speed. It's not that simple when you're talking about a business with 20 locations and 5000 workstations to migrate. It's not that simple when you have internal customer service apps to migrate. When you have internal template and procedures to rewrite. When you have to audit your hardware to ensure compatibility and then repurchase anything that might be too much hassle to fiddle with.

      Migration to Linux isn't speading like wildfire for the same reason Windows shops don't jump ship to run to the superior UNIX systems even when that's cheaper: it's not as simple as you people think. It's not free. It's not even necessarily cheap. If it's going to cost you $250,000 to migrate and you're only going to be saving an average of $25,000 in license fees and support each year, it will take you ten years just to break even. Linux is not a magic bullet. You people whine and whine like little babies, but I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is that 99% of you only whine because you don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about. And the more you whine about your complete and total lack of knowledge, the more steam you give to other companies to muscle in on place where Linux could be making inroads.

      What you need to do, if you really want Linux to succeed that badly, is address its single biggest shortcoming: the difficulty in migrating systems from Windows to Linux. No, it's not your fault that it's so hard. Microsoft intentionally makes it difficult to leave the nest. However, since you keep bitching about it, it IS your problem.

      Quit being a whiny little bitch and contribute some code, documentation, consultation, or just shut the hell up. Your whining isn't going to change the fact that Linux just plain isn't a good solution for a lot of shops, but if you'd actually do some freaking work you chould change that.

      • What you can do (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PigeonGB (515576)
        Quit being a whiny little bitch and contribute some code, documentation, consultation, or just shut the hell up.

        Actually, shutting the hell up isn't going to help anyone. Speak up. Don't like how a program works? Let the developers know what you want. Feature requests are important. Found a bug? Speak up.

        Shutting up only prevents the knowledge from getting to who needs it.

        I understand the point of the previous post, but having a dialogue with developers is important. Mailing lists, IRC channels, etc
      • by killjoe (766577) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:37PM (#10777654)
        If you want to migrate away from windows you need to start divorcing MS. Take a look at how Novell is doing their internal migration for example.

        1) Do away with office. Replace office with openoffice the desktops (still windows).
        2) Do away with outlook/exchange. Lucky for novell they have groupwise.
        3) Set up a CMS system (novell used thei ifolder product) which keeps track of documents the employees create. This trains the employees to go to an abstract location for all their documents rather then "my documents".
        4) Set up a desktop distro with open office, groupwise, ifolder and you are done.

        It could be done with small gradual steps. Novell has done it, IBM is doing it and neither one of them is a small company.
        • It could be done with small gradual steps. Novell has done it, IBM is doing it and neither one of them is a small company.

          They may be investing more heavily than other companies would for 'dogfooding' reason ('eat our own dog food', etc) They have services and products to sell and need to back up the claims of the products by proving it can be done, first and foremost. How they present accounting matters (if they do) is another issue altogether.

          For most companies it's probably still cheaper just to buy
      • Thank you for such an informative, and ultimately true, post. I've seen this working in large multinationals.

        Remember, All. Microsoft won, not because they're technology was the best, or because of tying contracts. They won because of polish, and commercial developer support.

        And Linux has trouble with both of those at the moment (although the polish is getting better).
    • decisions in IT departments, Linux won't make much inroads on the desktop. They generally make decisions based on paid consultants and glossy magazine ads. Now, if the word spreads that companies can negotiate with MS based on threats of migration that'll keep some IT costs (somewhat) lower. Of course this can only work in bigger shops. Smaller companies can't do this.

      The decisions have to be made on the basis of the business, not the basis of the technology itself. So I don't blame them for hiring expe
  • WiFi support (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChrisMDP (24123) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:26AM (#10776837) Homepage
    From the article:

    "Broader WiFi card support needs to be introduced to Linux. WiFi card support for the large and important group of laptop users hardly exists. The expedient solution here would to use something like Linuxant's DriverLoader which has the elegance of being a single point solution that's applicable to the great majority of user/device scenarios."

    This is the single reason that stopped my from installing Linux on my laptop. Until I discovered ndiswrapper [sourceforge.net], that is, which wraps windows wireless drivers...

    Now if ndiswrapper worked out of the box, that *would* be a step forward.
    • Re:WiFi support (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Try FreeBSD 5. NDISulator included, right out of the box. I use it on my laptop with a Linksys (Broadcom) NIC and it works like a dream.
    • Instead of writing wrappers so that drivers from other OSs work on Linux, we should turn those wrappers into development kits and make them available to manufacturers. By "make them available" I don't mean place them on Sourceforge and announce them on Freshmean. I mean they should be marketed to hardware manufacturers so that they know that they exist, and that they can gain market share by using this simple tool to make a Linux driver.

      (But then we get into the whole binary driver thing and it all goes
  • Stable driver API (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheToon (210229) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:26AM (#10776841) Journal
    A stable driver API is one of the things that is much needed. This is even a problem for server environments. In a perfect world, all drivers would be open source and easy to include, but that is just a pipe dream at the moment. There is a need for binary only drivers for several reasons, where a) support and b) it includes patented/licensed code are two of the biggest.

    As it is now, Linux on the Desktop is only feasible for very specific desktop environments. And on laptops? Power management and wireless networking are not automatic, and with several different hardware versions and with users that roam the world... it's a pain.

    Linux is getting there though, but slowly. The support cost for linux on desktops and laptops in corporations today would be too high I fear.
    • In a perfect world, all drivers would be open source and easy to include, but that is just a pipe dream at the moment.

      You're 100% there on probably 90% of the hardware being sold, and you call it a pipe dream?!

      • by TheToon (210229) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:40AM (#10776994) Journal
        Yes, because those last 10% is what gives you problems. If you just go to your local electronic store and buy a Wifi PC Card (both for the Radius servers at work and with WPA for the users home nets, and open or WEP or WPA encrypted customer/coffee shot nets), you buy a MP3 player where you want do up/download music and use it as a portable storage device, you buy a label printer and a scanner for desktop use. Will it all "just work"? Nope.

        Sure, you can find stuff that will work in Linux, but some requires 3rd party drivers (madwifi? how can you support that in a corporation) or binary only drivers (video cards, custom high end storage devices) or you have to use "vi" to configure it.

        It has to be easily installed even by Joe Sixpak, else your support costs will skyrocket. IMO, this is the largest stumbling block for Linux Desktops.
        • Why not create a kernel module that wraps the current API into some stable API? Instead of each vendor trying to do this (NVIDIA, etc.) you could create one standard that could be shared by all. Certianly you might have trouble getting it into the mainstream kernel, as Linus will oppose it.
          • Yes, and an abstraction level like this is what is in use in many cases. You get a binary only driver and a small software stub you can compile against your driver to integrate it.

            If the kernel provided such a layer by default, that would surely solve the problem -- because then you would have a standard API layer you make your binary only driver for. There is work going on for this with big-name IT companies behind it, so let's cross our fingers :)
        • Yes, because those last 10% is what gives you problems.

          For consumer use, absolutely. For business desktop use, you just don't buy that last 10%. And if you need it, or if your investment in it is too large to write off -- well, that's a good reason to stick with Windows.

          • But that's hard. Cell phones, PDAs, home printers and equipment already installed, hotel equipment like broadband and printer services... it's easy to define a standard desktop and laptop, make a preloaded image that works and install that. But esp. for laptop users, when they are out there and have to interface with the real world, then you get problems.

            Like on a hotel room I was last week with a special combo USB and Ethernet connector... only worked in Windows. How do you explain that to your CFO that w
        • It has to be easily installed even by Joe Sixpak, else your support costs will skyrocket. IMO, this is the largest stumbling block for Linux Desktops.

          HUH?? for a company with 60,000 different brands and configurations of machines I would agree with you. We are talkinga bout enterprise and corperate.

          I just ordered 100 lattitude D800 laptops. every one of them will be 100% identical so as soon as I configure one to the base line, all other 99 are configured, all I need to do is image from the first. so
          • It's relatively easy to configure linux on a specific laptop with a specific wifi card to work on a specific wifi network. Having it work seamlessly with *all* wifis out there is much much harder.

            We're talking about standard drivers and something like Windows XP SP2's "Choose a Wifi" application. Search, point, enter WPA passphrase and off you go. Corporate enterprise installations are not entirely static and predictable.

            Corporate users expects the WiFi to just work, whatever the hotspot the user is in.
          • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @01:11PM (#10778018) Homepage
            I just ordered 100 lattitude D800 laptops. every one of them will be 100% identical

            Wow - we ordered 2 *on the same day* and they both arrived the same day from the same location. They have different wireless chips inside. One person has wireless under linux, one doesn't.

            Here's hoping all *100* of yours are 100% identical down to the internals.
        • Why is Joe Sixpack responsible for installing his own hardware? I can't think of an IT department that would incourage this.

          On that note, why does he need an MP3 player? Get back to work Joe, or I'm sending out your pink slip.

          Slacker.

        • Yes, because those last 10% is what gives you problems. If you just go to your local electronic store and buy a Wifi PC Card (both for the Radius servers at work and with WPA for the users home nets, and open or WEP or WPA encrypted customer/coffee shot nets), you buy a MP3 player where you want do up/download music and use it as a portable storage device, you buy a label printer and a scanner for desktop use. Will it all "just work"? Nope.

          When you bought your 10% piece of hardware, did you even both

        • ...or you have to use "vi" to configure it.

          It has to be easily installed even by Joe Sixpak, else your support costs will skyrocket.


          Hmmm.. I like joe as an editor, but installing stuff with the sixpack option is not documented well enough.
    • I don't think I would want binary-only drivers on my server, if I was an admin. How do I know those drivers are secure? What if it isn't, and the code is bypassed or otherwised compromised to allow an intruder into my machine? What if I need to fix it because of this? How do I explain to my boss that "yeah, it is all open source, and we can fix anything - well, except this binary driver over here that was bypassed by an intruder who stole all of our IP"?

      Yes, the same issues apply to Windows, on an even grea

    • Other systems are just as archaic in some ways when it comes to drivers and hardware support.

      Some even require everything built into the kernel. Commercial Unix operating systems are sometimes inferior to Linux (dare I mention SCO's offering).
    • Linux is so far stable and quick also thanks to the "no binary driver API". There is NO (read "NO!!!") reason for your driver to be closed source (maybe except ATI/nVIDIA which are doing some crazy optimalizations - but hell, why don't they devide they driver into open source (2D + basic 3D) part and binary (gaming 3D)?)

  • by Walrusss (750700) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:27AM (#10776864)
    Why not single-sign-on to OpenLdap ?

    Feel ready to own one or many Tux Stickers [ptaff.ca] ?

    • Why not single-sign-on to OpenLdap ?

      Because companies want to use their existing infrastructure? Are you seriously suggesting you can sell linux on the workstation by telling companies to throw away their windows "investment" server side at the same time?

      • Because companies want to use their existing infrastructure? Are you seriously suggesting you can sell linux on the workstation by telling companies to throw away their windows "investment" server side at the same time?

        AD supposedly supports LDAP. So you LDAP to AD.

        I did it with NDS years ago. I assume AD would do it. Then again, MS just introduced salvage to Win2003.-shrug-

        • MS's AD is as usual busted up LDAP. I have had no problems connecting a Linux box to every LDAP server I have tried, except for AD. I wrote a custom Java app that works with LDAP. Again, every LDAP server I pointed it to worked fine, until I pointed to AD. I had to make custom changes to work with AD. AD is typical MS "embrace, extend and break".
      • by ReelOddeeo (115880) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:05PM (#10777247)
        Let me get this straight.

        Gradually migrate desktops to Linux. Make them do sign on and authentication to a Windows server.

        End result: Linux on the desktops, Windows as the server.

        That way, each platform is being used for what it is best at.
        • Nice sarcasm

          My point was, I guess, that telling a company they must replace both parts of their infrastructure in order to use Linux is not the way to market it. Like it or not AD is being used in large companies, in concert with Exchange, ISA, Sharepoint, VPNs and whatever else. Lack of single sign on from workstations can well be a deal breaker, and saying "Oh just migrate your backend too" is not a helpful attritude.

    • Why not single-sign-on to OpenLdap ?

      Is OpenLdap kerberized? (in other words, can you tie Kerberos security to permissions on the retrieval and setting of LDAP attributes?)

      (hint: the answer is NO)

      And because of this, OpenLdap authentications solutions are NOT secure, as they pass credentials in CLEARTEXT. Yes, you can use certificates but now you've introduced the thorny issues of key distribution.

      Microsoft's Active Directory has smartly tied Kerberos and LDAP together, so LDAP queries can be encrypted
      • Who moderated this lunitic +5? He is absolutely WRONG. My sibling poster already pointed this out but anybody who can google for "openldap kerberos" sees that people do use it.

        A HOW-TO is even available here:
        http://www.bayour.com/LDAPv3-HOWTO.html

        Moderators need to only moderate on what they know about. These ones don't.
      • Is OpenLdap kerberized? (in other words, can you tie Kerberos security to permissions on the retrieval and setting of LDAP attributes?) (hint: the answer is NO) Sorry, but this is just plain wrong...

        OpenLDAP fully supports kerberos authentication (and many other types) via Cyrus (and maybe GNU) SASL libraries.

        See the OpenLDAP SASL Instructions [openldap.org] that document how to do it.

      • by fsmunoz (267297) <fsmunoz@@@member...fsf...org> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @01:12PM (#10778039) Homepage
        Is OpenLdap kerberized? (in other words, can you tie Kerberos security to permissions on the retrieval and setting of LDAP attributes?) (hint: the answer is NO)

        Er, the answer is YES. I have it working here. You can use the Kerberos tickets to authenticate to OpenLDAP and have ACL's in the LDAP server to define the permissions. It's done trough SASL and it works transparently.

        And because of this, OpenLdap authentications solutions are NOT secure, as they pass credentials in CLEARTEXT. Yes, you can use certificates but now you've introduced the thorny issues of key distribution.

        Not so. Understand that this is however seperate from the availability of Kerberos. Other methods can be used to pass the crendentials (Digest MD5, etc). Aditionally you can force the use of SSL, so even cleartext passwords are not problematic. You can actually define that the server won't accept cleartext from non-TLS connections.

        I use OpenLDAP integrated with Kerberos and both integrated with the authentication and authorization of several different things (including machine logon). I also have a cross-realm trust relation between AD and the Unix LDAP which allows AD users to use their Windows tokens in the Unix environment (user "bar@WINDOWS.NET" assumes "bar@UNIX.NET" identity trough cross-realm). Aditionally, as a last resort for use in non-kerberized apps one can use the password '{KERBEROS}boo@UNIX.NET' or '{KERBEROS}boo@WINDOWS.NET' to make the LDAP server check the user supplied password in the Kerberos server.

  • by YodaToo (776221) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:28AM (#10776867) Homepage
    We currently use a kickstart install of Fedora for our EE workstations. Customized it with everything we need including configs for the various workstation/networked printers.

    We use NIS so that workstations are completely interchangable. Had an EE harddrive meltdown, grabbed a spare machine, ran the kickstart, and the user logged back in via NIS within 15 minutes with no data loss! Could have had him backup instantly if he wanted to go to a spare office.

    I can't believe how much easier workstation admin is now that we use Linux.

    • This can also be done with roaming profiles on windows. Just a heads up. Windows loses on cost though..
      • This can also be done with roaming profiles on windows. Just a heads up. Windows loses on cost though..

        IMHO. Both are messy substitutes for Directory integration. Your applications should be installed on the server, and save data to the server. Any information they require that's user based needs to come from the directory schema.

        Home directories mount from the file server.

        No more workstation specific info, and no more passing 'crap' around to all the workstations.

        See Netware and Pegasus Mail fo

        • You are right, they are messy. Thus things like IMAP, webdav and the likes. But mind you, what you gain in portability, you lose in performance. Things like photoshop might not be happy when you deal with multiple multi meg files. Well.. not unahppy. .just slower.
    • roaming profiles (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cliffyqs (773401)
      that would be nifty... we have no such thing. Outlook gets mail and stores it on the local machine, removing it from the server. this may have been done because of server space in the past, but now it is a pain if a workstation dies. spares are a pain. users exist on the server (for email) and on local machine, everything on the local machine. not many computers to support here, but enough that I would like it to be easier.

      don't be like us, plan ahead for time & cost of support.
  • by robyannetta (820243) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:29AM (#10776878) Homepage
    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06a/3219 57-64295-89315-321838-f33-395654.html
  • Risk aversion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Octagon Most (522688) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:31AM (#10776910)
    Risk vs. reward for the decision-maker is going to be a key factor. If I am a CIO or CTO I am likely unwilling to bet my career on the risk of the unknown. There are possibly great cost advantages to deploying Linux on the desktop in the enterprise, but if that's not a primary focus area for the head of corporate technology then it is better to stay with what is know to work. Security factors are another big consideration, but in both of these cases it's a bit of a leap of faith. Windows is the known quantity and there is a massive budget in place around it. In other words, the main technology decision-maker is not likely to be rewarded as a hero for the advantages that Linux might bring, but would be sacrificed for any unforeseen downsides. One does not have to be too risk-averse to see why Microsoft remains entrenched.
    • Re:Risk aversion (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tbedolla (637963)
      I currently work closely with the CIO in a medium to large restaurant company where we are installing a POS system with Linux as the OS...Suse to be exact although we'll probably be using IRES from IBM which is just a imaging and deployment package around Suse. While we are working out the kinks of the POS, our online ordering system running IIS and Windows 2000 was comprimised and has left us waiting for a green light with our payment processor that has resulted in approximately 1 million in losses. I don'
      • "... our online ordering system running IIS and Windows 2000 was comprimised and has left us waiting for a green light with our payment processor that has resulted in approximately 1 million in losses. I don't care how much of a budget Windows has if being a "known quantity" makes you a target."

        Good point. An alternative to a rewards for the positive benefits for deploying Linux on the desktop is punishment for sticking with something that is not working or causing problems. Security concerns with Win

    • Re:Risk aversion (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Neil Watson (60859) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:24PM (#10777492) Homepage
      That's what's wrong with people today. Everyone 'plays it safe'. No wonder some argue that innovation has slowed.
  • Domino (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cdimart (660076) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#10776926)
    The only thing that I am waiting for is a Linux Domino Client and Admin Client (not iNotes). One would think IBM could get this taken care of.
  • Cut Dell some slack! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#10776928) Journal
    The outsourced tech support probably couldn't spell "Windows" either. They don't even have the same letters on their keyboards as you do.

    If someone called you up and asked you to spell some random word in Hindi I bet you'd mess up too.

    As for the first topic, it should be no shock to any one that linux needs a whole shitload of stuff, Samba and others are great projects, and provide a lot of the desired functionality, but getting them installed and set up and "playing nice" with your Windows network can be a real bitch.

    I mean, who here has jumped through the hoops of adding a linux server to an AD domain? Compare to adding a Windows server to an AD domain. Now imagine Betty McOfficeGirl trying to follow some written instructions to set up her fancy new linux desktop. Not all offices have a team of IT guys swarming around taking care of everything. Most people are on their own.

    Linux needs to fight this battle in the small businesses of the world. They got a toe in the door as far as POS machines and kiosks, that type of thing. But linux needs to be running on the PC in the back office of every mom and pop grocery store or restaurant or doctors office, etc...

    Everytime I criticize linux I get modded down and shouted at by morons for being a MS "fanboy" or "astroturfer". It's all obvious to anyone who cares to look, though.

    Frankly, I don't think linux can do it (replace windows). I don't think linux will do it. I don't think we should be trying to shoehorn Windows compatibility into a Unix clone. Linux' strength comes from its Unix roots, and I think it should stay close to them, and stay focused on conquering the backend.

    I see something like ReactOS developing into the horse to bet on.

    To me, a Windows killer is something you install over some guys copy of Windows, and they never even notice that some of the icons are in different spots, or the Windows logo is replaced with something new. Everything works as it always did, albeit with all the transparency a GPL'ed project gives us.

    Just my 0.02. I really don't think linux could ever replace Windows any more than a tractor trailer could replace a honda civic. All those regular non-mechanical folk don't want to drive a tractor trailer, and don't want to learn.

    • Let me second this excellent point:

      Linux needs to fight this battle in the small businesses of the world. They got a toe in the door as far as POS machines and kiosks, that type of thing. But linux needs to be running on the PC in the back office of every mom and pop grocery store or restaurant or doctors office, etc... ...
      I don't think we should be trying to shoehorn Windows compatibility into a Unix clone. Linux' strength comes from its Unix roots, and I think it should stay close to them, and stay focu

  • The truth is that Linux is no where near the quality and refinement of OSX. The only thing that is holding me back from recommending OSX as the switch to platform is the lack of native OOO and in particular a stable 2.0 trunk.

    Once native OOO comes out next year, OSX will be the `switch` platform I am recommending to all my friends relatives colleagues...

    Regarding Linux, OOO 2.0 is again a main switching point. OOO 1.1.n is still too limited to be useful for power users to switch.

    Another HUGE blocking poi
    • Yes why bother ... posting a comment which nobody will understand? WTF is OOO?
    • Hardware Failure (Score:3, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876)
      Replacing an x86 motherboard: $70
      Replacing an x86 processor: $100-200
      Competition in the x86 component market: priceless

      Replacing a logic board: $200-500
      Replacing a slow as shit G4 processor: $200-500
      Having shiny buttons: goddamn expensive

      Linux is where the two shall meet. Open platform hardware running open source software. In a few years, for FREE, I'm sure at least one distro will have it down. Fedore is damn close already. And at the price of a CD-R or DVD-R, I'm sure there will be a lot of takers.

      And
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:37AM (#10776966) Homepage Journal

    The way Linux will make inroads on the corporate desktop is not by some big push to get it over the top, but by steady, incremental improvement. Not to mention any names (lest I be accused of flamebaiting) but targeted super-projects will not work.

    Reacting to the perceived needs of corporate users is fine, but that's not a good fit for the Open Source way. You need someone who has enough pull with a developer to get a single feature or bug worked on. In the early stages of a project, that person is the developer or people he knows personally, with the circle expanding outward as the project grows.

    Companies with perceived needs for a Linux desktop can sponsor development of those needs. Sure, the rest of us can try to guess what to create based on surveys and hearsay, but it's way better for the people close to the problem to come up with the solution.

    The best way to promote Linux on the desktop is with apps. If a killer app appears, people will adopt Linux and be motivated to fix whatever perceived flaws they find.

  • ...and conclude that it's less trouble to buy Microsoft. Everyone loses in that scenario.

    And Microsoft loses...how?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @11:44AM (#10777026)
    Article Myth: Linux doesn't do P2P networking.
    Fact: Linux just doesn't have a Net Neighbourhood/Places GUI. There is nothing that requires Linux (or BSD) to have to have a domain controller. In the past week, I've provided support in online forums where the problem is stated that on Windows they can't see the other Windows box - because they are using Network Places, which relies on NetBIOS and can take up to 45 min for a computer to show up in. This is the reality of the userbase - GUI.

    Myth: Printing sucks
    Fact: No argument - it sucks. No central tie-in into the system so all programs use the same printing config. I shouldn't have to setup CUPS, and then setup each and every program I want to use to use CUPS.

    Myth: Laptop support is non-existant
    Fact: There's sites dedicated to it; as long as the hardware is available, for the most part there is no trouble booting linux on a laptop. Rather, the article says that there's just not enough wifi support in laptops...

    Myth: No Terminal Services client
    Fact: rdesktop worked fine for years now

    There's other issues, but those are the most visible. Not to say the article isn't overall wrong in it's assertion - that in order for Linux to get to the point where drivers are listed with hardware along with Windows, the hobbyist programmer mantra of "it works for me, so fsck you" keep stagnating Linux where it is today - where it's been for the last couple of years ever since "this will be the year of the Linux desktop...No, THIS will be..."

    It's not acceptable to have to install 3+ programs in sequence to get an app to work - bundle the bloody stuff already, quit being lazy. Funny from the crowd who chastizes closed source about how bad their software design is...
    • Article Myth: Linux doesn't do P2P networking.
      Fact: Linux just doesn't have a Net Neighbourhood/Places GUI. There is nothing that requires Linux (or BSD) to have to have a domain controller


      It's all about single sign-on and "zero configuration". Sure you can manually configure user lists in 900 linux machines, or you could set up a seperate LDAP for linux and have AD for windows, and manually sync them. But thats not what businesses want. That's twice as much time to add a user in their minds.

      As for th
      • Myth: No Terminal Services client
        Fact: rdesktop worked fine for years now

        stratjakt commented:
        TFA is talking about a client, not a server. We need to be able to start a windows terminal session from a linux desktop.

        I can tell you that I couldn't use linux on my desktop box at work for this very reason, I regulary have to connect to clients machines via Terminal Services, or PCAnywhere.

        I may have some techie cred in our office, but I have no say in what OS our clients want to run, and I can't tell the

      • I agree with you on most the points here, except for rdesktop. Rdesktop is a client to connect to a terminal services server. Compared to Windows RDP app, or Citrix ICA Agent, it's pretty bare bones, but it does work
  • peer to peer networking? that is a frigging nightmare to any enterprise It department.

    why do you think that we lock out the ability for you to share folders on your machine in the domain wide settings??

    Gee, that's all we need is something that makes it easier for a Virus to spread.

    the author has some interesting points but most are examples of someone writing an article about something he knows nothing about.

    I admit that some things are slightly laking, but some of what he talks about exist (sorry, but
    • by bluekanoodle (672900) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:35PM (#10777628)
      "sorry, but single login to a active directory? that's a windows product why not use the unix solution like this that has existed for decades?"

      I have to diagree with you. Getting linux in the the business is all about conversion. You can't change peoples minds overnight. You can't expect a company to throw out their entire infrastructure just to save a few bucks on desktops, especially when that infrastructure is already paid for, and it's working for their needs.

      These are the types of statements that simply fool the "i'm a geek, and everybody else is stupid" crowd into thinking they now know more about a subject then they really do.

  • I can realy adhere to his call for a uniform Device Manager/Driver (and therefore uniform driver API)
    In my specific case I do not want to talk to /dev/ttyS0
    I want to talk to a Modem and tell it to Dial 123-456 at 9600 Baud 8N1
    using GSM network transperency. I want the driver to know how the modem should accomplish this. He also mentions printing, it's a similar issue AFAIK.
    It's just an example, but a stable uniform interface and API on a higher level would make life much easier for a lot of independent soft
  • The Linux desktop could fail if companies continue to pilot programs and conclude that it's less trouble to buy Microsoft. Everyone loses in that scenario.

    Microsoft certainly doesn't lose. And how do the companies lose? They just did a pilot study on cost effectiveness and determined Microsoft was the answer. If Linux was cheaper and better for them as a company, they certainly would have switched.
  • WHY? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Libor Vanek (248963) <libor,vanek&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:06PM (#10777250) Homepage
    8. Compatible Windows Media player Codecs.

    WHY???? Show me ONE big corporation which needs to play movies on the users desktops!

    • Re:WHY? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lavezza (525637)
      The company I work for (big, multinational, etc.) has training courses in Windows Media format. A lot of the new hire stuff is now done on the desktop after the employee is hired and not in instructor taught courses. Also, once or twice a month there is another Ethics/Legal type training video that EVERYONE has to watch.

      Sure, these could be converted into another format. But that is just another line item that needs to be done to switch to Linux. Once the "Things we need to spend money on because they don

    • Re:WHY? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluekanoodle (672900)
      Let's see. Here are some things that Corporatations need movies for. Corporate training videos Online training Advertising Review Promotional materials As far as answering your question, we made exactly these kind of materials at one of my previous jobs. Our Clients included: Intel HP Sharp GM Do I need to go on?
    • Re:WHY? (Score:3, Funny)

      by /dev/trash (182850)
      AOL Time-Warner?
  • Several thousand, actually, most of which are technical instructions on how to get [x] running on a particular Thinkpad model. Remarkably detailed, I've never had any trouble running linux on Thinkpads.

    See also IBM Products Certified for use with Linux: http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/MIGR-48 NT8D.html [ibm.com].
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:15PM (#10777370) Homepage Journal
    Mac OS X meets almost all of the criteria that the article suggests for Linux compatibility... ...except that Mac OS X is not Linux. (That, and the Windows codecs, although the popular VLC application [videolan.org] does the trick in all but the stickiest non-QuickTime codec.

    So, taking a page from both Apple and Microsoft's business handbook, what can the Linux community "steal" from Microsoft and Apple to make Linux a stronger enterprise player?

    Getting things from the Apple side isn't very hard since its resources come from the FreeBSD world, which is open source. Samba works great in OS X, which means stronger integration in Linux is needed to match OS X's performance, which I suspect does nothing particularly special.

    Same is true for AD authentication. Mac OS X uses a plug-in its Directory Services that understands this LDAP-variant...surely this is something that would work in Linux, or does it lack a refined mechanism for handling multiple directory services as OS X?

    Ximian already provides Exchange compatibility in its mail product, and Exchange 2000 works with IMAP provided that Outlook Web Access (WebDAV) is running. Special features of Exchange (and its Outlook client) may be missing, but Mac users are still missing features from Entourage, the successor to the Outlook client on Mac OS X, so this is not quite the biggie. Linux/Intel users can run VMware (as Mac users would run Virtual PC) to use the actual Outlook client if needed.

    The Microsoft Office component is a toughie. Mac OS users have a genuine Office client. Microsoft knows that holding back creation of a Linux client would sap power from its enterprise drive.

    No easy answers in this, really. I think, however, that Linux could use a central business owner, although I know its nature makes that impossible. But wait--isn't that what Apple's doing with OS X by licensing or using BSD components?

    What if a company licensed a Linux distro and took the reins to make a Linux-compatible OS with the same functionality, but also the "one-click" simplicity, application strength, and security that Mac OS X enjoys in its Mach/BSD fusion?

    Of course, we know that this appears to have been done, with Red Hat, et al. But has it really been done well?
  • Database access (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Durango_44 (644517) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @12:21PM (#10777448)
    Huh. No mention of databases let alone the ubiquitous Access97 variety. Look, I didn't pick the database the company I work for uses--Access97 was here long before me--but I am stuck supporting it. And for better or worse, many small businesses have homebrewed their data management using Access.

    When I have documented the business case to move off windows to Linux, we always run into the lack of a comparable application within the Linux/OSS community. Staroffice had it on its previous version, but that is gone now. The OpenOffice folks seem to be working on it, but it is not yet ready. The Boss looks at my suggestion of MySQL and sees lottsa money and time spent converting and training. The use of various JDBC and ODBC drivers make a conversation technically feasible, but I suspect that many in the small and medium sized corporate world need a one-to-one application capable of natively sucking in those .mdb files and running with them. If that was there, we'd start converting to a Linux desktop this afternoon.

    It is surprising that the Consultingtimes ( article [consultingtimes.com] literally does not mention databases.

  • The biggest threat are all of these wannna be linux admins that are deploying linux like you would in a windows environment. Linux is not windows and should not be deployed as such. The windows deployment model is to load the os on every machine to maximize sales profits.

    Linux on the other hand thrives in the thin client environment. When you deploy thin client all of these arguments about patch management, usability, control, software installation all melt away. I run 200 desktops from a single server and
  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday November 10, 2004 @01:00PM (#10777887) Homepage Journal
    ...Linux bars itself from business. Linux DB dweebs consistantly underrate the power of the Access interface, mistakenly focusing on the limitations of the underlying DB engine - limitations that are irrelevant to the majority of businesses, which are small businesses.

    Linux has awesome DB engines readily available - unquestionably - but that power is not accessible to your average office cube dweller. That is the genius of Access; simple DB applications are easy, while amazingly complex ones are still possible, given patience and time. And that is how many of the more complex Access apps are developed; more functionality is added over time, as needs change and applications a tested against daily experience. This is easily done, because - Access is easy. Get that right, and a whole new class of businesses could come over to Linux. Without it, I think trying to sell Linux into the small business venue is just pissing into the wind.

    One other area where Linux falls down is input methods for other languages. For instance, try entering Korean in a Linux system set up for English, using Open Office. Good luck trying. Ami (the app that is supposed to enable Korean input) doesn't even begin to work. You end up having to hand-insert each character from a font table, which is numbingly slow. It is awfully hard to share Linux in this direction or that when you can't get the thing out of its English entry state. I have not had occassion to try to enter Chinese yet, but I don't look forward to it based on my experiences with Korean. Windows, on the other hand, "just works."

    Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Linux fan, but these things have been brick-wall problems for my companies (three of them.) I think other business owners have very likely run into the same issues.

    • That is the genius of Access; simple DB applications are easy, while amazingly complex ones are still possible, given patience and time. And that is how many of the more complex Access apps are developed; more functionality is added over time, as needs change and applications a tested against daily experience. This is easily done, because - Access is easy.

      And this is the problem. It's easy to get something going with Access, but then you have people setting up databases who have ZERO concept of how

      • Soft
      • Fine. All of that will be true to some degree in many situations. None of it affects the fact that small businesses now expect to be offered easy database handling with an office suite. If they don't get it, they will, quite reasonably, decline to use that suite.

        You may not like having to come after sloppy work, or trivial work, or even broken work. However, the bottom line isn't what you like. It is what the small business owner/operator likes.

        I would also point out that making/keeping things difficult

    • Bullshit. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jotaeleemeese (303437)
      After having to deal with underperforming Access "databases" by dudes that thought they knew better, my company (and another one I worked for) barred the damn thing from desktops and put DB development where it belongs: with dedicated teams.

      These teams, knowing their stuff, would not touch Access with a 10 metre pole.

      As for small companies, they are carving their own obsolescence: I used to porvide support for dentists. While the Access solutions they had normally gave uncountable headhaches, Linus or UNI
      • Re:Bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fyngyrz (762201)
        If your company can afford a "dedicated team", your company by definition isn't part of the audience. Small businesses need small, easy solutions. You aren't talking about small solutions.

        For the record, we've been using Access for many years here at my first company and the databases are still working fine. I wrote them; I do actually know what I'm doing to some degree (I write custom PostgreSQL and MySQL applications under Linux, in fact) and perhaps that has a little something to do with it. I have per

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