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Linux Business

Ubuntu On The Business Desktop 346

Posted by Zonk
from the crafty-consultants-club dept.
rchapman wrote to mention a Mad Penguin story about a consultant who installed Ubuntu on his work PC, and managed to use it for over a month before his boss even noticed. From the article: "This is not a typical review, because you've read enough of those. Instead, lets pretend I'm a typical worker, who just happens to have a soft spot for Open Source software. I want to use Linux, but I have a job to do. The price of Freedom should not be my salary. I don't have time to fiddle, all I care is whether or not it can do what I want, right now. So what do I want out of my system?"
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Ubuntu On The Business Desktop

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  • NT AD or Domain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by painkillr (33398) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:15AM (#14052348)
    How'd he get it on the domain?
  • Ubuntu hype (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joestar (225875) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:17AM (#14052365) Homepage
    Well... I managed to use Mandrake(Mandriva) for more than 4 years on my business desktop with most people noticing that I rarely have any issue compared to their Windows workstation.

    Viva Ubuntu! Glad to see that you are taking care of the Linux desktop! Anyway, it's not really new for me to live without any proprietary software on my business desktop, with minimum hassle.
  • Me too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by psbrogna (611644) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:19AM (#14052395)
    I'm an IT professional that's been using Unbuntu at work for about 2 months know. Everything works fine (email, internet, Office compatible applications, etc). I do miss MS Access (Ubuntu doesn't have latest version of OOO which would have included an Access counterpart). MySQL CC or MySQL Admin+Query Browser aren't as easy to use (though they are faster because all queries are pass through).

    I've been using Suse OSS 10 at home and like it a little better- more robust repositories slightly more stable.

    I will say that when the next desktop o/s upgrade occurs at my company it may not be as hard as I thought to put Linux on the candidate list because the number of non-IT employees that are switching to Linux at home on their own (without any evangelizing by me) is pretty high. This will certainly make it an easier sell if I want to consider Linux on the desktop at work rather than the PIA-Du Jour from Redmond.

  • Linux at school (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Descalzo (898339) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:30AM (#14052524) Journal
    I teach, and use Mac OSX 10.2 and these are the things I don't think I can live without: iChat (Rendezvous client) and PowerSchool.

    I am sure PowerSchool doesn't have a Linux port, but I know they make a Windows version. I am very hesitant to try to run the Windows version in wine, as I have never used wine. Also, the only computer they have given me (so far) is an old iMac. Can you run windows apps in wine on a Mac?

    Also, I have heard that you can use Trillian to be a part of Rendezvous, but I tried it and it didn't work for me. Am I doing something wrong?

    I see these (and the time it takes to install) as the 2 things stopping me from moving over to Linux at school.

  • Re:Me too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LDoggg_ (659725) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:33AM (#14052559) Homepage
    (Ubuntu doesn't have latest version of OOO which would have included an Access counterpart).

    I have very little experience with ubuntu(mostly fedora user), but I know this isn't true.
    I installed ubuntu in vmware the other day was able to have it upgrade to open office 2 without any problems.
  • by liquidpele (663430) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:33AM (#14052566) Journal
    That's the policy at most large companies. I always thought it was stupid though, since they give you a computer which you can install anything on, but you can't install another OS? I believe the reasoning is that most companies have automatic patch installations on their networks, so they can ensure windows is up to date, but because they don't have anything like that for other OS's, they dont' want an OS they can't ensure is patched on their network.

    The penalties for messing with it are ridiculous though.
  • Linux on the Desktop (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mchawi (468120) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:37AM (#14052600)
    I run multiple machines at work - some native and some on VMWare. Either my Windows XP machine or my SuSE 10 machine can basically do anything that *I* want. RDP is easy with SuSE - none of the problems mentioned in this article. Kerberos and AD authentication was not very problematic - just go into YAST and the kerberos setup, then edit the config file. Windows administration - just RDP to a Windows desktop and use almost any tool from there. A few apps here and there that are Windows only - Citrix. So for it would work fairly well. I also have no problems at home or work with viruses, spyware, etc - mainly because I don't run as an administrative user.

    The problem that prevents Linux from being used where I work is (1) with an Enterprise License Agreement for MS versus one for Redhat/Novell - the cost is about the same (**costwise - not sure who has better support). Number (2) and the main issue is that we have many departments that have 'must have' applications that are Windows only. We're not talking one or two applications - but probably about 60 of them. We can run a few on Citrix or some other platform - but that adds up very quickly. Our view of Linux not being ready for the desktop is -only- related to applications. I don't think our users would care about any of the other stuff. IT is going to set it up - so they don't care how hard it is to install drivers, software and hardware. They only care how it is to use. However, the first time you tell them they can't have their business critical application - it's all over (*a lot of these apps were written in-house, but I'm not responsible for the dev team...one of the other critical apps is our point of sale system...which is Windows only).

    My guess is that as more and more stuff becomes web enabled, you'll see more and more people migrating to Linux. I think when most people talk about being enabled for the desktop and how 'difficult' Linux is to setup for the 'typical' user they never consider that the 'typical' user never sets up anything in a corporate environment.
  • by Ransak (548582) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:40AM (#14052643) Homepage Journal
    Three weeks ago I received a shiney new Dell Latitude D810 for a new position within my company. For the record, my company is a 100% Microsoft Windows shop. Since I have some Linux experience on the server side (and some nifty ceritifcation papers from Redhat to line my birdcage with), I decided to bite the bullet and try using a Linux distro as my full time desktop.

    I chose Suse 10 since it's fairly new and I knew I'd need support for newer technologies (wireless, etc).

    So far, I've only ran into a few problems... Wireless WPA-EAP connectivity being the biggest issue. I haven't been able to get it straightened out. In fact, wireless support on Linux (in my experience) has been flakey, sometimes it works perfectly and other times it's an exercise in frustration. And with Suse 10, there are a few annoying bugs [gnomesupport.org] that crop up, but for the most part they're survivable.

    The number one issue I've seen while trying to run Suse as my business desktop in a 100% MS Windows world has been the 'compatibility curve'. Something it would take me 10 seconds to do in XP sometimes takes me 10 minutes (half the time simply due to my unfamiliarity with the distro/Linux desktop environment, the other half reconfiguration time just to make it compatible).

    It isn't for the lazy or undetermined, but it can be done. There's something to be said for taking the road less traveled, and in the end I'm sure I'll be richer for the experience.

    Or fired.

  • by jdgreen7 (524066) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:47AM (#14052714) Homepage
    To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment

    Once again, I call BS. I hate Windows problems as much as the next guy, but there are certain applications that only run in Windows environments. In fact, there are MANY applications that only run in certain environments. WINE, as good as it may be, still falls WAY short of making every Windows-based app work successfully on Linux (let alone trying to get it working on a 64-bit machine at all - see Ubuntu 5.10's repository for AMD64).

    In my industry, there are no applications designed for any OS but Windows that handle all of the government regulations that we need to comply with. There are a couple of web-based products, but either their quality is very poor, or you are required to store your data on their servers. Unacceptable. At the moment, unless you have a ton of free time to devote to writing all of your software in-house, and you also have the skills to make that software cross-platform, easy to use, etc., some people/companies are forced to remain on Windows.

    You also mention rdesktop, which is fine, but you still have to have a Windows terminal server configured to make that happen. Some software doesn't run nicely in a Terminal Server environment, plus, if your users need to access that software, you still have to pay for a Windows File/Print CAL in addition to the Terminal Server CAL, so there's no cost savings that way, either.

    I love Linux's philosophy and general framework as much as the next geek, but to make a blanket statement like "There is NO reason to run Windows" is a bit far-fetched. There are plenty of reasons to run Windows, just as there are plenty of reasons to run Linux. It's still a choice, and Windows will remain until every vendor starts designing apps to be cross-platform or specifically targeting Linux/MacOSX, etc. But, for now, Windows is where 90% of their clients are, and they need to pay bills, too. Hopefully, that will continue to change.

  • by SmellTheCoffee (808375) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:55AM (#14052800)
    My wife works for an electronics company and they are trying to bring some linux servers in the company. I've been using Linux at home for about 2 years now and she's been watching me work and tinker while listening my occasional rants about the **OS-with-biggest-market-share**. She naturally got interested over time and wanted to use Linux on her office IBM Thinkpad but she wanted to start out with installing it herself. Knowing how enterprises have PC's with don't-touch-it policy, I suggested that she talk to the IT person in her company about her plans. I was pretty sure she would get a no-no but to my surprise the IT department said GO AHEAD! do what you want to. We will reimage your laptop with windows...but don't forget to backup your stuff first.
  • by Keichann (888574) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:19PM (#14053113)
    I've been wondering for a while about the posibilities for Debian-based systems in the workplace, and here are a few things I've come up with:

    - Package repositories on a corporate server
    - Instead of 'contrib'/'multiverse' etc., group packages by the department/team that will need them. For example, 'base' (for all systems, all packages must be installed), 'developers', 'finance', 'power-users' etc.
    - The desktop team can vet packages for stability etc. before they are sent to all systems during the quarterly/monthly updates.
    - By-pass dpkg's configuration stage using pre-built configs.
    - Run 'aptitude dist-upgrade' as a cron-job scheduled once per day to catch any important security updates.

    Obviously, this targets large businesses, but I've never heard of anyone considering something like this. If I've missed anything super-important, please correct me before I ever try to implement it :)
  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:21PM (#14053122) Homepage Journal
    Seriously - I used to work mightily to run Linux on the desktop but in this Windows uber alles shop it gradually became less and less relevant. Most of our corporate applications are coded specifically for Windows, anyway. Hell most of our stuff wont work with non IE browsers. So just getting application parity was a bear.

    And then they decided to roll out a quasi-managed desktop which basically amounts to continuous on line health checks and audits and reports going up to Big Brain Central with all sorts of red check marks for the things YOU'RE not compliant to whether or not those are relevant things for Linux. It's their machine, it's their management, but it's YOUR problem.

    So I gave up. I'll have a nice compliant chubby resource choked 'managed' up the ass Windows standard client and at least now when something goes badly in the ditch I can just tell my manager "Shit that build blew up on me again, buncha things don't work so I'll be out of pocket for a few days."

    My company finds that is an effective, economic and practical use of my time and their money and I honestly am done arguing this point with them.
  • by digidave (259925) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:40PM (#14053334)
    It sounds to me like you've had a lot of crappy bosses. I installed Ubuntu with little fanfare. I just told them why it made sense for me: I program for Linux servers. I won't get any desktop support from IT, obviously, but I accepted that risk.

    Most bosses don't care what programs you use as long as it doesn't directly affect them negatively. If I started sending spreadsheets to my boss as ODF files and told him he'd have to install OpenOffice, then it'd be a problem. But right now he sends me XLS and I send him XLS back. What does he care if I'm running Windows, Linux or a hacked up Atari 2600? If asked I could show my boss exactly why Linux makes me more productive and I could also show him exactly why our web designer would be less productive in Linux.

    Any decent boss will understand that different people require different ways to work. Very few places make their Photoshoppers use Windows because they cater to their needs. They learned on Macs and they want to use Macs, so they do. The day will come where Linux is in the enterprise in the same way. Programmers and sysadmins will have Linux available to them if they want. It won't usually replace Windows for everybody, but it will be there nonetheless.
  • by sylvandb (308927) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:19PM (#14053796) Homepage Journal
    The [Mentor Graphics EDA] tools are buggy enough in Windows. I can't imagine running them in WINE.

    This app, that app... rather than wine, how about the newly free vmplayer (in beta right now)?

    The biggest problem is hardware support. I develop hardware support kernel drivers for Windows, so my underlying OS needs to be Windows in many cases. However, for a few days now I've been running Ubuntu (Breezy, upgraded from the provided Hoary image) in a VMWare player session. Works great.

    So is there any reason why a migration cannot begin this way? I think not. Start by running Ubuntu in vmplayer. Figure out what works well and what doesn't. The next step would be to reverse the situation and run Ubuntu native, and Windows in vmplayer underneath for the last app(s) that only run under Windows. It sure is nice and easy to distribute a vmplayer image with Windows and the required app(s) already installed (see sysprep). Makes it trivial to "reimage" when problems arise (and all without using 'ghost').

    Most apps are going to be just fine in a vmplayer session. The more people run them that way, the more requests Mentor Graphics et al will get for 'native' versions. The more requests, the more likely and the sooner such versions will be developed.

    Why even bother? I find that obtaining and tracking software licenses at work is very painful. Using free software as much as possible, means that anything non-free is 'required' and provided and so someone else will deal with the licenses. So I use 'free' as much as I can. Maybe I save money, maybe I don't. But I save time and aggravation. The relief is palpable.

    sdb
  • by Pixie_From_Hell (768789) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:41PM (#14054049)
    I'm a math professor at a Windows-centric university. When I got my current job they let me have an old PC running (of all things) Windows 98. I struggled along with it for about a month until my boss (the chair) told me I could do anything I want with it. Soon I was a happy Debian user!

    Since then I got a new PC (a real one this time), on which I'm running Ubuntu. I've converted at least 3 other people in the department to Ubuntu (from MS Windows -- there are a couple other Linux users around, too).

    Sure there have been some issues. Exchange? Printing? Networking? Sound? Nah -- the biggest problem I've had is that LaTeX/dvips/etc were configured to use A4 paper rather than letter.

    Back when I was coping with my old machine (450 MHz, some pittance of RAM), a new PC arrived in the department. It was either for me or for a grad student who needed to run Mathematica. The Chair called the IT department and asked if my old warhorse could handle this (of course I was running Mathematica under Debian, but...). He was told that this box could run Windows XP or Mathematica, but not both. The grad student got the machine and I had to wait another couple of months. Sigh.

  • Not a good idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eric Damron (553630) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:28PM (#14054574)
    I'm squarely in the Linux corner and use it at home all of the time. But if I were to install it on my PC at work I would definitely get reprimanded and maybe even fired.

    The network people's job is to keep the network up, running and safe. Although I know Linux is far more secure than Windows I would be overstepping my bounds if I unilaterally made a change to the network.

    I've been thinking of how I could use Linux in my programming job at work. I was thinking of buying a laptop and installing Linux. It does have some tools that would be helpful like the UML editor "Umbrello." As long I I use my own equipment and don't connect to the network they won't get upset. I could use a flash drive to transfer data. Although they don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about that.
  • by cbreaker (561297) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:20PM (#14055895) Journal
    This isn't as far fetched as it sounds. At my last contract, they were in the process of forcing the entire IT staff, which was over 200 people, to use locked down workstations.

    As long as your server admin tools are available on your workstation, you don't actually need local admin access.

    They were doing this because too many admins were getting spyware and crap they'd have to deal with in the client group.

    I think it sucks, but it's not impossible.

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