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Linux Business

10 Years of Pushing For Linux — and Giving Up 857

Posted by kdawson
from the one-thing-after-another dept.
boyko.at.netqos writes "Jim Sampson at Network Performance Daily writes about his attempts over a decade to get Linux working in a business/enterprise environment, but each time, he says, something critical just didn't work, and eventually, he just gave up. The article caps with his attempts to use Ubuntu Edgy Eft — only to find a bug that still prevented him from doing work." Quoting: "For the next ten years, I would go off and on back to this thought: I wanted to support the Open Source community, and to use Linux, but every time, the reality was that Linux just was not ready... Over the last six years, I've tried periodically to get Linux working in the enterprise, thinking, logically, that things must have improved. But every time, something — sometimes something very basic — prevented me from doing what I needed to do in Linux."
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10 Years of Pushing For Linux — and Giving Up

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:13PM (#17845492) Journal
    Your frustrations aren't unique.

    In fact, I've experienced them both at home and at work with Linux.

    But I would like to point out that some of the problems you faced (like integration with MS Exchange server) are simply Microsoft not wanting to release/support/adapt to standards. I know you're not directly blaming the Linux community for your (and the seemingly global) failure in adopting it but what is putting a real big halt on it in the corporate environment is companies working against it. Maybe this will change but I highly doubt it.

    The shortcomings that Linux suffers are a result of poor design. Poor design of third party devices, software & services. If all the wireless card manufacturers got together and agreed on a interoperable adapter interface to their cards, it would mean that the OS developers would just need to write one other side for ever driver of every wireless card to work. The problem is that if they opened this up, they perceive their competitors would grow stronger by seeing their research. I suppose something could be said about this hampering innovation or removing the option to continually change chipsets in the search for the cheaper/better hardware, I don't know enough about wireless cards. But one would think everyone could agree on some interface to use. This is apparently a good design practice but poor business move.

    I reiterate that you are not alone in your frustration. You didn't fail to adopt Linux, Linux didn't fail to meet your needs, it was the entire community and their business practices that failed you.
    • by Albanach (527650) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:22PM (#17845646) Homepage
      For how long have we been hearing that the lack of Exchange connectivity is what's preventing Linux adoption on the desktop?

      What really astonishes me is that open source has made such great leaps in other areas yet there's no apparent replacement for Outlook & Exchange. For a huge number of folk in business, having an open office suite is useless if they don't have calendar sharing, resource scheduling and email/contact sharing amongst groups. Is this really so difficult to achieve?

      Push email has already taken off - where's the open source version mobile operators can take up (Though I presume this needs to be developed outside the US to avoid software patent litigation)?
      • by s20451 (410424) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:37PM (#17845970) Journal
        What really astonishes me is that open source has made such great leaps in other areas yet there's no apparent replacement for Outlook & Exchange. For a huge number of folk in business, having an open office suite is useless if they don't have calendar sharing, resource scheduling and email/contact sharing amongst groups. Is this really so difficult to achieve?

        Probably not, but perhaps open source developers are not interested in providing such a solution.

        The flip side of "Linus is inhibited by greed" is that "Linux is not responsive to the needs of the marketplace". There are no dollars on the line for linux.
        • by Rakarra (112805) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:40PM (#17846060)
          There are no dollars on the line for linux.

          Uhhh.. no, there are a lot of dollars on the line for linux. Just because many of the developers don't get paid and most of the software is available free of charge does not mean that there has not been a great deal of commercial investment in Linux/FOSS.

          • by s20451 (410424) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:48PM (#17846248) Journal
            many of the developers don't get paid

            This is my point. Developers who do things in their spare time don't like to write boring software, even if that's what most people would use.
            • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:04PM (#17846620)

              Developers who do things in their spare time don't like to write boring software

              Especially if it's software that enables random people to schedule them into time-wasting meetings at a click of a button.

              • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @02:18PM (#17848062) Journal

                Especially if it's software that enables random people to schedule them into time-wasting meetings at a click of a button.

                Ah. I'm glad someone has a grasp of the true business need.

                The fact that you don't approve, is both an indication that you're sane, and that a sign that your opinion is not relevant to the business case. Exchange compatibility is a non-negotiable, non-finesseable, titanium-clad, gotta-have-it-no-kidding, requirement. And it's boring, boring, ad nauseum boring, tedious, bores-me-to-tears boring. No bling, no eye candy, no Google job offers. No accolades, no developer street cred, absolutely no Open Source groupies.

                Welcome to reality. What the business masses need is not what anyone sane and competent is willing to develop gratis. And that's the root of the problem. That's proprietary development's superweapon. That's Free Software's kryptonite.

                • by zotz (3951) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @02:40PM (#17848500) Homepage Journal
                  "Welcome to reality. What the business masses need is not what anyone sane and competent is willing to develop gratis. And that's the root of the problem. That's proprietary development's superweapon. That's Free Software's kryptonite."

                  Nope. That is where every fortune 500 company and every national government that wants to have that functionality on linux needs to look at their yearly exchange costs and kick in 10% to some development group to write such a program that will run on linux.

                  This just could be businesses showing their blind spot. They need it or they don't. If they do need it, they have the bucks to pay to have it. If they don't, they can stop crying out that they do. Fairly simple. Now, if it is patents that the governments have awarded on software that are holding things up, the governments at least have to look in the mirror.

                  Yes? No?

                  all the best,

                  drew
                • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @03:06PM (#17848944) Homepage

                  Welcome to reality. What the business masses need is not what anyone sane and competent is willing to develop gratis. And that's the root of the problem. That's proprietary development's superweapon. That's Free Software's kryptonite.

                  You seem to be assuming that free software implies volunteer work, and that paying developers demands proprietary licensing. That's unfortunate for you. The good thing is that your lack of imagination doesn't prevent companies like Red Hat and IBM from making a nice profit in the free software industry.

                • by MECC (8478) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @03:46PM (#17849546)
                  Welcome to reality. What the business masses need is not what anyone sane and competent is willing to develop gratis. And that's the root of the problem. That's proprietary development's superweapon. That's Free Software's kryptonite.

                  Hmm... "reality", "superweapon", "kryptonite" - I think its clear who needs a reality check.

                  An accurate of the vast majority of business exchange situations are places that have used only outlook/exchange and nothing else, and only use a fraction of the features that outlook/exchange offer. And, those usually don't work well. Just one minor example is that outlook/Exchange doesn't include emails in replies and forwards - only aliases. And, don't forget that using exchange all but forces you to use MS's dhcp and dns servers (active directory) - which are plain lousy (yes, I'm being polite). That is, unless you really like a polluted dns environment and lack of version history/revision control and no auditing ability - to name just a few of the better aspects of MS's AD dns/dhcp capabilities. Exchange is in most cases a one step forward two steps back proposition.

                  Businesses use exchange because they were virtually born into it and don't know anything better, not because it meets their needs so perfectly. At this point, anything different is a tough sell only because its different, not from a lack of meeting people's needs.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by susano_otter (123650)
            There are a lot of dollars on the line for some features that Linux could provide.

            But a lot of the developers don't get paid, and most of the software is available for free.

            Really, there's been a lot of commercial investment in some aspects of Linux/FOSS.

            But there hasn't really been the kind of comprehensive, holistic commercial investment in Linux as a fully-featured, well-rounded OS that other operating systems seem to enjoy (with varying degrees of success, to be sure, but more success than Linux for som
        • by joekampf (715059) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:41PM (#17847376)
          The issue is not to find a replacement for exchange, it is to find an easy transition from Exchange to something else. You can't just expect a company to decide to scrap exchange for something else. If you want to get a corporation that has 100's of desktops running MS Outlook you need a client of Exchange for those few Linux desktops. Once you have that then you can start to migrate users to Linux. Once you are all Linux, you can then swap out your Outlook with something else. Another issue that I also see right now, is a lot of corporate internal web applications being written specifically for IE. There is no alternative if you want to view these applications on Linux or Solaris. Joe
      • I use Thunderbird to access my email at work, and I'm assuming that's on an Exchange server. Sunbird can do calendar sharing, just not with Exchange (and I haven't tried with Evolution lately) -- plus, there are web-based solutions. So, the email itself is a known and solved problem, if we have decent IMAP support. The calendar/scheduling stuff may require a different infrastructure -- but keep in mind, this is a lot like having the open office suite (which took a LOT of work) -- Microsoft hasn't given us a
        • by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:12PM (#17846794) Homepage Journal
          You're using limited parts of the server. Yes, you're using IMAP, which the author is also capable of doing, but you're NOT using the Calender, which is crucial to not only the author, but a majority of business.

          Our company is the same. Our previous IT "guy" was 100% *nix. He used to bring in different flavors of *nix on a CD and say, "Hey, Try these!". I use Windows normally, but he knew I was a system and network admin of Solaris systems running on Sun machines. As hard as he tried, we (like the article's author) just couldn't make it work for the company. I manage about 18 people and I tried making OpenOffice work, but as soon as we tried working with someone's M$ file (from PowerPoint or Word), the document was really screwy. It got to the point that I'd sometimes just export information as an HTML file so that I knew the style, format and look would stay intact (but they couldn't modify it well with Oo). I eventually asked for 18 M$ licenses, and was limited due to fiscal decisions to only 8. The 8 who got full M$ office had no problems, and the rest limped along.

          Now, 3 years later, the remaining Linux systems and OpenSource software is on it's way out the door. Exectutives are now balking at limited Calender and some other limitations. You might say, "What has changed?" We're getting executives from other, more technologically advanced companies. So they want the full functionality (which, regretfully, means tons of more meetings....something I didn't miss from my previous, IT-savy company).

          Although, it's ironic I got the CEO and other VPs hooked on WebCalendar [sourceforge.net] for scheduling outside of work.

      • by Christianfreak (100697) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:42PM (#17846122) Homepage Journal
        http://zimbra.com/ [zimbra.com]

        This looks promising
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:01PM (#17846558)
          agreed. I'm literally in the middle of implementing zimbra for our office. Our desktops are all Windows (even mine, sigh) and we did not want exchange but something w/ it's abilities. From what I've read and seen so far, it works pretty good for most of the absolute requirements of exchange (and has a web gui to boot!) My only complaint is the web gui does not have all of teh functionality provided to outlook (I assume/hope this will get better) But my biggest gripe is this:

          I like the product, but if this is supposed to be a method of replacing exchange w/ open source, why do we not have the ability to work w/ mozilla products outside of a simple mail server? it's one thing to migrate exchange, but I would like to see some effort put in to allow the migration away from outlook. And if it takes the mozilla folks working w/ the zimbra folks, I say great!
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Albanach (527650)
          Zimbra is indeed promising. For those that said I haven't looked hard enough, it's not me that's ignorant.

          My post was not to say there's nothing developing, rather that after a decade or more we haven't seen a standard develop.

          Almsot everything that's suggested does about 80% of what Exchange does, never quite filling the need entirely. Many have proprietary add-ins to work with Outlook as we don't have a client to replace it (bar the attempt by Evolution which doesn't run on windows yet. Sunbird has pro
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JungleBoy (7578)
          Too bad it's not open source. If you want Outlook/MAPI compatibility, you have to get the "Network Professional Edition" which has a per-user license fee.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Keruo (771880)
        Ever tried opengroupware [opengroupware.org]?

        It has shared calendar, resource scheduling, email&contacts etc, it even syncs with your palm.

        But if you need something more professional, just take out your wallet and go for groupwise [novell.com]

        Linux works just fine in corporate networks. It's exchange, outlook and their nonstandard quirks which are causing the problems.
        Just replace those and you're golden.
      • by ke4qqq (678293) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:57PM (#17846440)
        What ignorance: As for Linux groupware packages lets start with the best known: Lotus Domino and Novell Groupwise - Both run on Linux Then there is the open source crowd including Zimbra, Hula, OpenGroupware.org, egroupware, phpgroupware and a host of others. As for push email, funambol, aka sync4j, will sync and push to a wider variety of devices than any proprietary variant out there. As a matter of fact one of the largest wireless carriers is using it for their 22 million handsets, Fortune 100 companies are using it, and even phone oems are including the client software. L
        • Groupwise (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2@x ... et minus painter> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:35PM (#17847288) Homepage
          I just put the following comment on the actual article, which I'll show below, but I missed adding in the professional Exchange replacements, about which you are extremely correct.

          I have to agree with some of the other comments I've seen - your expectations are all wrong.

          You're defining "Enterprise" as "work seamlessly in an all-Microsoft shop" and those aren't necessarily the same thing.

          You also seem to be defining a good Linux experience as doing exactly what you were totally happy about in Windows but without paying.

          If what you're looking for is a computer whose function is to attach to a Microsoft domain server and a Microsoft Exchange server and use all the newest Microsoft technologies relatively seamlessly, you should just install Windows. If you're happy with Windows, you should install Windows. Heck, even Microsoft Entourage for OS X can't talk to Exchange right most of the time, and MS MAKES that.

          If you're talking about a transition, you're doing it backwards; put Linux on the servers first, where no non-techs have to get used to using it, where you have a greater guarantee of a limited application set, and where Linux has more experience. Also where Windows charges you more in licensing fees for fewer benefits. Samba is great.

          THEN start rolling it out on desktops, starting with the thinnest ones, and using your choice of Linux-style or Windows style methods based on the situation.

          But if you really want to talk fairly about Linux in Enterprise you need to talk about legitimately comparing a Linux environment with a Windows one.

          You need to talk about better natural security and less time trying to clean up stupid-user infections. You need to talk about the ease of remotely configuring, updating, and reinstalling large numbers of machines. You need to talk about running remote applications via X being free. You need to talk about the registry mostly being replaced with a large number of text files you can easily and remotely overwrite and a total lack of DLL-hell, meaning you almost never HAVE to totally reinstall a machine - and if you do, you never have to open a control panel on any client machine ever to set a single setting unless you want to. A seamless ability to use any convenient desktop in the office.

          Certainly there's add-on Windows enterprise software to do many of these things that Linux does naturally. And I'd point out that OS X does most of them too and has a more user friendly desktop. Some studies show substantially lower costs in terms of administrators with Linux - if the administrators know Linux.

          But if all you want is a Windows machine, USE a Windows machine. Saving $129 is not, alone, a sound rationale for using Linux in a professional environment where all you seem to want is Windows.

          Arete
      • ...We've just transitioned to using Scalix for our email and calendaring. It's got public folders, calendaring, email, push capability, nifty webmail client, Outlook Integation, Evolution Integration, and pretty soon CalDAV support so Mozilla Sunbird/Lightning and Apple iCal (in Mac OS X 10.5).

        It's based on what used to be HP OpenMail, so has roughly a 20 year history. It's mature and well tested and not that expensive (compared to Exchange etc.).
      • by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:03PM (#17846588) Journal
        I beg to differ. There is no solution that doesn't involve replacing both Outlook and Exchange, but the functionality has been available for some time. Exchange gets replaced with IMAP and SMTP (and gains the benefit of SSL/TLS encryption and SASL authentication in the process), a WebDAV folder for posting iCals (and gains the benefit of interoperating with MacOS in the process) and OpenLDAP for storing organization-wide contacts. Outlook gets replaced with Thunderbird (if you only need contacts and e-mail) or Evolution (for GNOME people) or Kontact (for the KDE folks).

        I believe that's a complete replacement for both Outlook and Exchange, and I even added some nifty security features while I did so. Total cost is $0 for software, and about 2 hours of my time (at most) to set it up. That comes in comfortably under the cost of Exchange + Outlook, even if my time is worth $500/hr.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:29PM (#17845822) Homepage Journal

      But I would like to point out that some of the problems you faced (like integration with MS Exchange server) are simply Microsoft not wanting to release/support/adapt to standards. I know you're not directly blaming the Linux community for your (and the seemingly global) failure in adopting it but what is putting a real big halt on it in the corporate environment is companies working against it. Maybe this will change but I highly doubt it.
      Actually, in this case, probably not. The difficulty seems to lie in a bug in Evolution. After reading TFA, apparently the author couldn't figure out how to make Evolution 2.8 read public folders. Well, he got it working following some instructions for Evolution 2.4, but sadly, while Evolution could display a list of public folders, the 'Subscribe' and 'Unsubscribe' buttons never appear in the dialog, probably due to a bug.

      Not to berate the Evolution developers too much, but I've personally found almost every release of Evolution to be horribly unstable.I say this with sadness because I was once a true believer in Evolution. Like the author, every year or two I try Evolution yet again, but unlike the author I usually give it a chance for about 6 months to maybe a year, and always I find something horribly broken about it: random crashes, data loss/corruption, memory leaks, performance problems, stuff not working (especially the Exchange connector stuff), etc. And sometimes I send in bugzilla reports and they get ignored for months and months. I think the problem has been worse since Novell took over, too.

      • by twbecker (315312) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:42PM (#17846118)
        Evolution is nothing more than a steaming pile of shit. I've used it with Fedora, RHEL, and Ubuntu (Ubuntu being the most stable, but still shitty), and the app is simply the epitome of unstable, especially when used as an Exchange client. I simply don't understand how a product so prominent in the open source community that has been around for so long can still suck so bad. My company now has some server side software that allows Exchange to be accessed through IMAP, and I switched to Thunderbird with Lightning. I have yet to experience a single crash or non-trivial bug.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by systemeng (998953)
          I'd have to agree on the comments on Evolution. There are some really nice UI features and I'd love to use it but bugs in it make it unusable for me. The bug that killed it for me was a bug in proper handling of LDAP directories which would cause Evolution to deadlock usually after I had written an important e-mail and wanted to add an address. I spent hours poring over the source code and eventually found that one of the components in Evolution tries to message Evolution Server to get the LDAP data and
      • by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@nosPAM.twmi.rr.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:53PM (#17846382)

        I'll admit I have not read the article...

        But I find it strangely stupifying that someone would use a distribution intended to be a cutting edge user desktop installation for what he called Enterprise Solutions.

        Only the insane or stupifyingly owned will roll Vista into all their Enterprise environments on the first day it's released. Most wait 6 months to a year. Wouldn't the same consideration hold some merit for Linux distros?

        I'm picking on Ubuntu specifically because I think they author made the wrong choice. There are a lot of really well operating distributions out there that work very well. There are few, if any, products that don't pay homage to MSFT that will work with Exchange. And when you talk about using Thunderbird to get Exchange email keep in mind you are only using IMAP and not the whole Exchange Experience kind of thing. He might as well bash Oracle for not making MS Access drivers.

        I gave up fighting for Linux a long time ago. Not because it isn't a really great OS. But because people who are in Corporation IT don't want good software. They want simple contracts. As often as something goes wrong with Microsoft, there is almost always someone on a help desk phone number they can yell at. And that makes them feel like they are doing their job.

        Bunch of Vogons...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gfxguy (98788)
          I have to agree with you, but I think I think changing to linux has more to do with the costs of training and hiring or educating an IT staff on how to manage linux instead of MS. Red Hat DOES offer support, but people still don't buy it because the people there just know how to use the MS software already.

          Think about your average desk monkey (secretary, VP, manager...), how much of their time is it worth to teach them how to use something new over simply paying a fee for upgrading what they're already use
      • by RandomPrecision (911416) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:06PM (#17846672)

        Not to berate the Evolution developers too much, but I've personally found almost every release of Evolution to be horribly unstable.I say this with sadness because I was once a true believer in Evolution.
        Don't we all want an e-mail client that's intelligently designed?
      • by someone1234 (830754) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:17PM (#17846892)
        So now that Evolution is debunked, what about switching to Intelligent Design? Sorry!
    • by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:45PM (#17846172) Journal
      So, to sum up your post:
      "You are experiencing problems similar to many other to-Linux migrators. Don't worry, the problem isn't you or Linux, it's everyone else - all the hardware manufacturers and software vendors."

      Sorry, blaming problems on everyone but us doesn't do anything except prevent the problems from being solved (and it can cause even more problems). Other groups have adapted to this kind of mentality, even within the Linux borders. Passing the buck, like this post implicitly suggest isn't a good idea for getting things working. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see those solutions you mentioned also, but to say the problem is all on the other side is not only wrong, it's counter productive. Linux could use more developers (most OSS projects could), and Linux could cooperative developers, a bit of competition is good to encourage improvment, but too much competition (dozes of projects that do more or less the same thing for example) can spread the resources too thin to get anything done in a timely manner.

      Are things as easy as they could be? No
      Are things as easy as they should be? No
      Will bitching and moaning about it, or logical reasoning change it? Hasn't yet, so most likely: No.
      Answer: Deal with the problem at your end.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The_Wilschon (782534)
        No, logical reasoning doesn't change things, it simply tells us how things are. And the state of some problems is that we are not allowed by law to fix them. People want things that copyright/patent/general-IP law prevents us from having. Is that our fault? Somehow I don't think so. Is "dealing with the problem at our end" going to fix it? No. Is there any fix for it outside of a) waiting for IP to expire, b) praying that MSFT and others will suddenly decide to make nice, or c) trying to change the p
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eno2001 (527078)
      Regarding your comment about the wireless cards. I've repeatedly said that if the WiFi companies and BIOS makers REALLY cared, they could have the WiFi settings in the BIOS and present the OS with a virtual standard NIC like a PCI ne2000. Then ANY OS could use the WiFi. The WiFi settings would also be able to be changed via a userspace app, so storing the initial settings in the BIOS shouldn't be a problem. But there's no good reason the OS needs to deal with the WiFi card as a device that is different
    • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:51PM (#17846328)
      "It's not MY fault that my artificial lung won't work for you. My lung converts Methane into oxygen, and the earth isn't compatible with this common environment found on many moons and planets, except earth, it's the earths fault."

      Dude, like it or not, you gotta interoperate with the common environment, even if they don't want you to.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bcrowell (177657)

      But I would like to point out that some of the problems you faced (like integration with MS Exchange server) are simply Microsoft not wanting to release/support/adapt to standards.
      Well, yes and no. My wife runs Word on a Mac. Whenever I suggest OSS alternatives to her, she points out that when she's tried converting Word docs to OOo, there was always something lost in the translation. Is this problem really because Word format is a proprietary secret? I really don't buy it. It's a very convenient excuse.

  • Works for me. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:19PM (#17845588) Homepage
    It works for me.

    But, then again, my users aren't exactly "power users", if you know what I mean. Give 'em a locked down desktop with email, web, and desktop publishing (OOo), and they're fine.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:19PM (#17845594) Homepage
    They always fail to mention that Management refuses to let the project actually work by letting go of exchange servers and this uncanny belief that you HAVE TO HAVE ACTIVE DIRECTORY OR WE WILL ALL DIE! Truth is that active directory is overrated and better solutions exist for linux, Exchange is not any better than other solutions, etc....

    Many companies were able to switch when they got buy in and support from management to do so. You HAVE To replace your infrastructure and backend way before you replace the fontend. Then you can slowly change what people see and touch. It's a lot of work to pry microsoft from your server rooms.

    The best solution is to not let it in to begin with or not allow it to touch anything new.
  • Try Vista! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:20PM (#17845604)
    you'll come back...
  • by Quixote (154172) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:21PM (#17845624) Homepage Journal
    The summary sounds misleading. The problem was not that he couldn't get Linux working; it was that he couldn't get Linux working with Microsoft Windows ! There is a big difference between the two.

    From the "article":

    I purchased third-party provided connectors into Exchange, and ran Office-type applications as well. But it didn't work very well....

    We had to create Word and PowerPoint documents and run Microsoft-like applications because the folks we were working with at Dell were using Microsoft....

    But even when working with the administrator of our Exchange server to see if there were any problems server-side, Ximian Evolution still didn't pull up my calendar or public folders....

    The individual pieces ... had gotten a lot better, of course, since 1998, but there were still pieces that lacked support for the new features and new functionality in Exchange....

    But even now, ten years later, I couldn't get Evolution to work with our Exchange server.....

    I hate to use such strong language, but this guy is a total retard.

    How is this news, exactly? This is like me taking a fine American car to UK and complaining that the car sucks because I have to drive on the other side of the road!

    • by jamesl (106902) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:09PM (#17846730)
      The problem was not that he couldn't get Linux working; it was that he couldn't get Linux working with Microsoft Windows.
      The problem was that he couldn'g get Evolution to work with Exchange Server which it was designed to do.

      This is like me taking a fine American car to UK and complaining that the car sucks because I have to drive on the other side of the road!
      This is like you taking a fine American car to the UK and finding that no one will buy it because the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car. And then complaining that the Brits are stupid because they won't buy such a fine car.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:24PM (#17845692)
    I suppose that all IT departments at companies that run Windows are just sitting on their thumbs, doing nothing, then?!

    There is no silver bullet. Running a Microsoft OS (or even an Apple OS) doesn't magically make everything work. There will still be things that don't work right - it'll just be different things.

    Your computer is a tool. If it doesn't do what you need, then fine; get a different tool. But for many businesses, the appropriate tool *is* linux, and it does the job well. Please don't presume to be the voice of everyman.
  • by bssteph (967858) * on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:26PM (#17845742) Homepage
    Dumb. Bordering on flamebait.

    Wherever the author says "business/enterprise/IT environment", he forgets a critical proper noun: he means "Microsoft-centric business/enterprise/IT environment".

    Author Gripe #1: Ancient (1998) StarOffice sucked at Word/PowerPoint files.
    Author Gripe #2: In 2004, nothing played with Exchange, and "you can't function" without Exchange.
    Author Gripe #3: In 2006, one version of Evolution on one distro didn't have a "subscribe" button for Exchange Server public folders.

    Author Solution: Give up on Linux.

    Okay... Note that none of the above have much to do with Linux. And I don't mean to be a "omg it's userspace, not the kernel" zealotroll, but really. His gripes are in two apps. The last gripe is particularly weak; I'm not knowledgeable if the problem is fixed in Evolution (or if it's even a bug), but what is potentially "there are missing buttons" does not "Linux unprepared for the enterprise environment!!!" make.

    On an unrelated note (and I don't mean this as ad hominim or anything, just curious), is this site anything more than a NetQoS company blog? These kinds of posts hitting /. are getting tired. I liked it when articles were on something resembling reporting, and not random people complaining and submitters/editors going "hey, that's about Linux, and we have a couple wacky category icons with penguins..."
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:27PM (#17845766) Homepage Journal
    OK, this is just plain FUD. Here is why:
    1. The guy is working for Dell, which uses Microsoft products only (surprise, surprise).
    2. Because Dell uses Microsoft products exclusively, you run into all kind of problems and compatibility issues (surprise, surprise).


    In other words: "I blame Linux, because the company I work for is too lazy, or too stubborn, or just plain too stupid to use standard-compliant software , instead of being a Microsoft-only shop". Yeah, right. Microsoft Excel and Power Point and Word run into all kind of problems when you try to use their files under Open Office. That's not a surprise, it's a Microsoft policy and it is exactly designed to lock the competition (Linux or others) out. And, guess what? It works!

    A little bit like the poor South Koreans that used Windows for everything and are now stuck with a new OS (Microsoft Vista) that is incompatible with the ActiveX encryption utilities that are used by... well, 90%+ of the population.

    What this article reveals (beyond the obvious FUD) is precisely that Linux is not the problem: Microsoft is the problem, as well as its closed standards and its closed filed formats . End of story.
  • News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by analog_line (465182) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:27PM (#17845772)
    Open source operating system has problems inter-operating with closed, constantly changing, standards-free, and hostile proprietary system.

    Alert the blogosphere!

    I mean, I feel for the guy trying to get Linux to work in a Microsoft-only environment, but this isn't exactly surprising, at all. Hell, Microsoft has problems getting their own software (Entourage in Office Mac) working with Exchange. The answer is to never use Exchange in the first place. If you're already locked into Exchange and its feature set as a driving force within your business, you're going to have to suck up and deal, or go through the pain of a switchover to something that's reasonably open. I've got the same problem with a client which is a marketing department of a large Netware based company, and the marketing people all use Macs exclusively, and the Novell Mac client is too buggy to use, forcing them to install VirtualPC on their machines so they can to basic e-mail and scheduling stuff. Costly, you bet, especially in my time because of how buggy it all is, and the idiotic design flaws of their network, but they can't just switch over because they're locked in to Netware after years of use, and they're paying for that shortsighted decision. However, it's still cheaper than dealing with the upheaval of switching from Netware to something reasonable.
  • by mugnyte (203225) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:28PM (#17845796) Journal

      Trying to chase MS through their Office releases, remaining completely compatable to a proprietary format is a fool's errand. This guy should have realized this way beforehand.

      Linux, or any heterogeneous OS environment, works well when the data travels on an open protocol, not some convoluted, broken document format. MS does great work with their products, don't get me wrong, and I have a lot of respect for the Office suite. However, If they don't want people to use it without Windows, then don't chase it. It's just easier to work the psychology of the workers and convince them to use a different standard.

      Any what's with that photo?! Did someone just mash his face backwards to fit in the frame?
  • by alexhs (877055) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:29PM (#17845806) Homepage Journal
    It's quite funny because he only shows how Microsoft products aren't ready for the business...

    Face it, you can use a mixed environment, like Mac OS with Linux with FreeBSD with HP-UX with Solaris with... except MS-Windows than is unable (well, unwilling) to interoperate.

    BTW, the concern with word documents is quite cheap. I never send .doc for anything else internal documentation where everyone has the same MS Office version, but use .rtf instead. .doc isn't even interoperable between MS platforms (which Office version has the other guy ?)
  • by rueger (210566) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:29PM (#17845808) Homepage
    Over the last year I've been moving between Windows, OS X on a Powerbook, and a relatively recent SUSE install on a PC.

    The truth is that each of them has shortcomings. The good news I guess is that most of these are irritating, not fatal.

    Windows IMHO is not a long term option because of the creeping DRM and the obsessive control of the computing environment that MS seems to want. Frankly I have this horrible feeling that Vista will open a can of worms that will never end.

    OS X just has too many irritating or dumb features, or lack thereof, that drive me around the bend. [community-media.com] I'm not talking about things that are different from Windows, I'm talking about boneheaded design and UI mistakes that no-one in Mac land seems to be willing to admit are a problem.

    Linux, well at this point for me it works 90% out of the box, much better than a few years ago, but that last 10% can be a nightmare. As always with Linux, if it works it's lovely, but if it doesn't you're off into that hell of MAN pages and web forums, filled with half answers, slightly incorrect assumptions, and Linux arrogance.

    I'm weary of tinkering with computers. I just want to turn it on and have it do what I want easily and without irritation. And I want to be able to TURN OFF "features" that annoy me.

    No OS does that yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      OS X just has too many irritating or dumb features, or lack thereof, that drive me around the bend. I'm not talking about things that are different from Windows, I'm talking about boneheaded design and UI mistakes that no-one in Mac land seems to be willing to admit are a problem.

      In the finder, you can get the very same dialog twice, and one time you have to click to activate and then click the button, when the other time the dialog comes up in the foreground as it should (neither time was I typing anythi

  • by Frobozz0 (247160) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:29PM (#17845818)
    This article clearly points out what so many people have had trouble with-- for years now. A lot of people do not want to embrace the monopoly of Microsoft. Yet with Linux you can't really get your work done without a lot of knowledge and sweat. It's ain't easy. And to make things worse, Linux distro's customize their GUI's to look and behave like their major competitor-- Windows! I find this amusing and ironic.

    I look to my own empirical evidence: Of 7 software engineers (people traditionally unlikely to consider an alternative OS for development), 5 have purchased a MacBook Pro. Of my close social group of friends, only 2 out of 10+ have a Mac.

    People who want something simple buy a mac. Now, people that also want to install multiple OS's (Linux, Windows, OS X) also buy a Mac.
  • Two way street. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:30PM (#17845834)
    I honestly don't mean this as a troll, but...

    The Open Source community can develop BSD and/or Linux and associated applications until the cows come home to roost, but Microsoft and their products will never go away. There will always be people using Windows, Office, and whatever. Try as one might, true interoperability will be difficult until Microsoft cares to participate in the effort.

    At present, Microsoft is part of the problem, not the solution. They don't care if Open Source software succeeds and have no desire to help.

  • by codepunk (167897) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:31PM (#17845846)
    I can admin, program and integrate both platforms and exploit the advantages of both.

    "Those who are limited to a single platform or language will always be limited"
  • Wrong approach? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:34PM (#17845912) Journal
    Personally I've found with corporate networks especially that it's never good to be all of one thing in particular. Linux is best (in my opinion) at performing discrete tasks incredibly well - for example, storage (using lvm in particular), web (Apache), Internet caching & proxying, but as for operating top-to-bottom tasks such as managing numerous workstation and user policies, I'm afraid Windows wins it - the instant integration built-in to Windows is incredible.
    I can plug in any Windows 2000 and upward PC into the network I manage, and within minutes, it'll be fully patched, have all the software we need installed, and be fully locked-down & generally configured (company screen-saver, explorer bar and such things) - all without actually touching it.

    But I digress, my point really is that there are few cases where a network is running well without a mix of technology. Running one without the other is a bad idea if you ask me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ender81b (520454)
      I can plug in any Windows 2000 and upward PC into the network I manage, and within minutes, it'll be fully patched, have all the software we need installed, and be fully locked-down & generally configured (company screen-saver, explorer bar and such things) - all without actually touching it.

      I've always wondered though - could you do the same with Linux with roughly equivalent cost? I mean to do the above requires alot of IT resources for making MSI packages, group policies, SMS / AD administration, etc
  • by backtick (2376) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:35PM (#17845922) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how his car runs, since obviously his whole family buys nothing but Fords and he insists on putting Dodge parts in there. I bet Dodge has gotten real tired of hearing him kvetch about how their perfectly functional air filter for a Dodge Magnum won't go into his Ford Focus without using duct tape, or how when he tried to put the seats from a Caravan into an Astro, it didn't quite fit right, or how even that someone had posted instructions on how install a Dodge factory Radio into his Ford, but when he does, the retractable antenna doesn't work. I mean, pretty soon he'll prolly give up on Dodge parts for his Ford vehicles altogether!!!

    Yup. The obvious inference is that Dodge makes the worst cars in the world, since their parts won't fit into a Ford...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by necro81 (917438)
      Yours is a bit of a false analogy, because the whole Dodge community doesn't go around harping how superior their cars are for real drivers, how easy it is to mix those Dodge parts into the Ford hegemony, and how those who have to resort to duct-tape should have just RTFM.

      You probably glossed over the part in his article where he granted that, if he didn't need to interact with Microsoft products every day, he would have been just fine, because Linux worked quite well on its own. He's not complaining ab
  • Linux == kernel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:37PM (#17845986) Homepage
    I don't get blanket statements like this. As if there isn't buggy software for MacOS or Windows.

    But i daily use Gnome, OpenOffice, tetex, gcc, etc. I can't imagine sitting here to use Windows, Office, ... um office and MSVC as being "more" productive. But the point is Linux == Kernel, it's not the distro or desktop. Maybe this guy hates KDE, but that doesn't preclude Gnome or icewm or wm from being suitable, maybe he hates OpenOffice where Abiword would be a better fit...

    Go buy Vista than you hater!
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:41PM (#17846092) Homepage Journal
    I haven't used Windows here at work since 2001. Linux does everything I need on the desktop (I work as a manager in an environment that supports a wide variety of hardware and platforms and I touch everything. Windows, HP-UX, Solaris, OpenVMS, IIS, Apache, MS SQL, MySQL, Cisco, you name it, I do admin on it). If I need to access Windows stuff, I use RDP to do all my admin work from our Windows servers. I avoid all software that must run locally as this tend to indicate poor design. If it's not centralized, I don't need it.


    Now, I understand that not all IT people have the power and control that I have and they are saddled with what their company offers them. But that's no reflection on Linux. If there is an application that you MUST have on your desktop to get work done and it only runs on Windows, then by all means use Windows. But again, don't blame Linux for restrictions that come from your software vendor or market segment. Hell, if there were a professional job that required you to play the latest and greatest PC games, you'd be an idiot to say "I'd use Linux here at work if it didn't suck so much". You can't fault companies who don't develop for Linux because they are concerned about their bottom line. But you also can't fault Linux because those companies chose their financial destiny vs. a potential darkhorse.


    From TFA: I purchased third-party provided connectors into Exchange, and ran Office-type applications as well.

    I would say that's his first mistake. I suspect he's talking about Ximian Gnome's Evolution and OpenOffice.org. Evolution is a nice application, but it's not the best way to go if you live in an Exchange shop. You'd be better off using RDP or Citrix to publish the app from a server and having a thin client app on your Linux desktop. Or, you could at the very least access Outlook Web Agent using IE in Wine, a virtual machine or again via RDP or Citrix. OpenOffice.org? Hard for me to say as I have little use for Office software. When I use OpenOffice.org 2.0, it "just works" for me in terms of opening documents. I don't really have much need to edit them, so I don't know of the woes of conversion. But... again, I'd suggest, CrossOver Office, virtualization of a Windows machine or RDP/Citrix. These work for me as the need arises.


    One thing I question in all of this is why people seem so averse to virtualization? It's the perfect solution especially with the new hardware assistance in new CPUs (AMD's Pacifica and Intel's Vanderpool). I used virtualization since VMWare came out in 97/98, moved to QEMU circa 2004 and then Xen in 2005. Outside of gaming, virtualization is perfect. It allows you access to all applications you would need for most businesses. If you are truly in an enterprise situation then it's likely that you have VLK for Windows XP anyway... so installing Windows in a VM shouldn't be a licensing issue either. And in terms of performance, with hardware assistance and Xen, you can get close to 99% of the bare metal speed. Not to mention that unlike older virtualization technologies, your virtualized OS IS running on the metal for the most part. It's NOT running within another OS at all. Reread that last line so it sinks in. I repeat, with virtualization software like Xen and hardware assisted virtualization, your "guest" OS is running NEXT TO and NOT on top of the managing OS instance.

    Since the performance is there, and true enterprises use VLK for Windows desktop, why not use virtualization for that small handful of apps you really need? Or remote desktop/Citrix? Unless you're trying to run some really niche market visualization software that requires 3D acceleration, or you're in multimedia content production, Linux has been ready for the desktop for close to a decade.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @12:46PM (#17846198) Homepage
    So basically this guy's complaint is that he couldn't get Linux desktop applications to work perfectly with MS Exchange and MS Word, two of Microsoft's most proprietary applications? It worked, just not perfectly. So he gave up.

    It strikes me that you could substitute MacOS or any other OS except Windows in the guy's story and all of his complaints would still be accurate.
  • but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @01:04PM (#17846598)
    For at least 4 years I've been using various flavours of Fedora and Red Hat Entprise in several large mission-critical commercial applications and also as desktop environments.

    I've never had any significant issues, which from experience isn't true at all of any Microsoft products we'vetried as alternatives. They have repeatedly proved themselves to be of inferior quality and/or performance.
  • tough nut to crack (Score:3, Informative)

    by scharkalvin (72228) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @02:26PM (#17848228) Homepage
    As long as the business demands compatibility with MS format documents
    there is nothing you can do. If you start out from scratch in a start up company
    and had to build the IT structure from the ground up you could do it.
    Open source software fine for running a business as long as you are not
    locked into some vendor already for something. I'm sure somewhere out there,
    there is a company that has gone this route and was running Linux from day one
    (or maybe gave MS the iron boot, bit the bullet and started over from scratch).
  • by gillbates (106458) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @02:49PM (#17848680) Homepage Journal

    I don't think this guy is a professional. I really don't. His writing sounds like he's more interested in trolling Linux users than actually imparting wisdom.

    So I'll bite.

    A professor of mine once said, "I use operating systems for what they're good at, not what they're bad at..." This guy could use that advice. At the time, the college was a mixture of Windows NT and Linux machines - the Linux boxes were used for file and print sharing, and the NT boxes for Exchange.

    Complaining that Linux doesn't support Exchange is like complaining that Windows can't read your ext3 formatted floppy, or that it can't see your NFS shares. Windows wasn't built to use UNIX filesystems; Linux wasn't built to use Exchange.

    So why don't we turn the argument around: Microsoft failed to build software that interoperated with UNIX. After, their web site [microsoft.com] says it does. I think the real failure here is Microsoft's: Office doesn't support OO.org file formats. And they don't support using the UNIX mail command, either. I mean, clearly, this is all Microsoft's fault because their software doesn't do what it wasn't designed to do, right?

    I don't have problems using Linux and Windows, mostly because I've come to know the strengths and shortcomings of each. I'm not going to bang my head against a wall because Windows doesn't support OO.org file formats, or because Linux doesn't support Exchange.

    Instead, I'm going to use the right tool for the job.

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @03:50PM (#17849626) Homepage
    I'm not even going to bother reading the whole piece. I don't have to - the quoted material gives the game away.

    This is the SAME CRAP EVERY Windows shill writes on every Web site and in every article on the subject:

    "Gee, I really LOVE Linux and OSS, BUT..."

    It's bullshit. That type of sentence is a DEAD GIVEAWAY that this guy is a paid shill for Microsoft. Period.

    If you want to integrate with Microsoft Exchange, you're an idiot in the first place.

    There is nothing from Exchange either that most companies need or can't be found in other mail/groupware clients.

    The article is the same bullshit we've seen from every other article from shills.

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