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Linux Starts to Find Home on Desktops 364

Posted by Zonk
from the baby-penguin-steps dept.
WSJdpatton writes "The much-hyped notion that Linux would be a viable alternative to Windows to run desktop and notebook PCs for corporate users seemed dead on arrival a few years ago. But the idea is showing some new vital signs as companies look for cheaper alternatives to Microsoft products. The Wall Street Journal outlines several firms that are reaping savings and stability on their workplace desktops by rolling out Linux distributions. 'Auto maker PSA Peugeot Citroën last month said it will start using Linux on 20,000 of its workers' PCs. Novell Inc., which sells a version of Linux and is supplying it to Peugeot, says it has recently signed up several large U.S. financial institutions that are installing Linux on some employee PCs. Sales of Linux PCs are showing a really nice uptick at Novell, says Ronald Hovsepian, chief executive of Novell.' Not everyone is a convert, though. 'The State of Illinois recently consolidated its IT systems onto Microsoft software -- and has no interest in using Linux, says Paul Campbell, director of the state's Central Management Services department. "We don't have time for science projects in state government," he says.'"
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Linux Starts to Find Home on Desktops

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  • by Raistlin77 (754120) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:47PM (#18334443)
    'The State of Illinois recently consolidated its IT systems onto Microsoft software -- and has no interest in using Linux, says Paul Campbell, director of the state's Central Management Services department. "We don't have time for science projects in state government," he says.'

    Apparently, they don't have time for security either...
    • Re:Don't have time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by randall_burns (108052) <randall_burns&hotmail,com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:56PM (#18334603)
      What do you expect from a state where dead people voting [google.com] is a cherished local tradition?
      • by SnowZero (92219) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:00PM (#18334693)
        I heard that dead people prefer genuine Microsoft Windows(tm) to Linux by almost 4:1.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by jazman_777 (44742)
          More evidence that WGA is not for the customer, because in many cases in Illinois, the customer is dead.
        • by TrailerTrash (91309) * on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @03:06PM (#18336891)
          Here in Illinois, we take the rights of Deceased Americans (formerly known as dead people) very seriously, including the right to vote. Many issues, such as elections of aldermen, are critically dependent on the outspoken support of Deceased Americans.

          The number of Deceased Americans is expected to grow to unimaginable proportions as time goes on, and so protecting their rights is important to do now.

          This is not to confused with Reanimated Americans (formerly known as zombies), who tend to be vocal almost exclusively on health care issues (notably, brains).
    • Re:Don't have time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GoMMiX (748510) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:57PM (#18334639)
      Honestly, it's amazing Linux has the adoption level and interest that it does given the influence a corporation the size of MS has. Really, it wouldn't be surprising to see MS spend hundreds of millions on lobbying and campaign donations.

      MS also donates software (and otherwise, I'm sure) heavily in districts where people of political influence reside.

      It's sad, but I don't question that a good level of MS support in the government is simply bought - one way or another.

      Mr. Campbell would be wise to word his MS preference carefully, as the voters of Illinois' citizens may feel their tax dollars should go to science projects that could save them tens of millions. Monies that could be put to good use for education in low income areas, real estate I'm well aware Illinois has in great abundance.
      • If they're spending anything, it's remaining a secret:

        http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search_hp.asp?tx tName=microsoft&NumOfThou=0&txt2006=Y&submit=Go [opensecrets.org]!
      • by westlake (615356)
        Honestly, it's amazing Linux has the adoption level and interest that it does given the influence a corporation the size of MS has.

        You will excuse me, I trust, if I don't find "amazing" an adoption rate outside the server rooms that can still be measured in the single digit.

    • Not by default, and not as easily, but just as secure.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:07PM (#18334811)
        Cutting the network cable doesn't count!
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:32PM (#18335223)

        Not by default, and not as easily, but just as secure.

        I disagree. For a normal person/environment, this is not the case. Out of the box, the average Linux distro is more secure than Windows Vista. If you put work into Vista you can make it about as secure from a technology perspective as the average Linux install, but you can't change the malware ecosystem which targets Windows more and presents it with more threats, making the overall risk on Windows greater. Also, for more secure, managed environments you can utilize SELinux or something that provides more fine grained control than Vista can offer in a usable environment unless you have access to the Windows source code, which normal people don't.

        So if you're aiming for a level of security that is sort of middle of the road, then you can (with extra work) get Windows to the same state as the average Linux install, but you'll still have a higher risk. Further, if you're aiming for something above and beyond that, Windows just can't achieve some of the security layers that Linux can, so it will always be a bit behind.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:33PM (#18335243) Homepage Journal

        Not by default, and not as easily, but just as secure.

        This is not even remotely true. Linux is inherently more secure than Windows by design, at least if the security-related features are actually used (and I'm not even referring to selinux, for which there is no Windows analogue.) And on top of that, security holes in Linux are typically fixed much faster.

        I do not agree that it is possible to make Windows as secure as Linux unless you're not even turning the Windows machine on. And even if it were true, with the same amount of effort put into both, you could still stay far out ahead with Linux.

      • How is this "informative"?

        Citing the methods would be "informative". As it stands, this is an opinion - one not shared by everybody in the security industry, I suspect. Shared by many in the security industry, perhaps, but not all.

      • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @02:17PM (#18336055) Homepage
        If I said I was capable of customizing a Hyundai so that it outran a Maserati Bora, would you say "Hyundais can be just as fast as Maseratis". Yes? Would you be right? Sorta. But not where it counts
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Linux isn't a magical fairy security and stability wand. It's a also a massive paradigm shift in formats and IT training. The statement is totally valid- corporations have the resources to interopt alternative workstations into their network in order to try things out and make a shift. State governments don't have time for BS. Microsoft's out of the box solution for them likely has been working and will continue to- they are probably correct that it's cheaper for them than Linux.

      Windows Server has been gain
      • Re:Don't have time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nagora (177841) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:08PM (#18334825)
        Linux isn't a magical fairy security and stability wand.

        Frankly, compared to Microsoft, pretty well any alternative is a magical security wand.

        State governments don't have time for BS.

        If only...

        Windows Server has been gaining popularity lately with good cause- it's a product that's quickly improving.

        I've been hearing that tune since Windows 2.0 came out. Lost interest long ago.

        TWW

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Raistlin77 (754120)
        Linux isn't a magical fairy security and stability wand. It's a also a massive paradigm shift in formats and IT training.

        Windows isn't a magical fairy security and stability wand. [Securing] Windows is also a massive paradigm shift in... IT training.
      • by Vexorian (959249)

        State governments don't have time for BS
        hahaha. If I hadmod points I would mod you funny, I loled!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MechaShiva (872964)
        "State governments don't have time for BS. Microsoft's out of the box solution for them likely has been working and will continue to- they are probably correct that it's cheaper for them than Linux"

        As a state employee, I can assure you we have the time.

        On a more serious note, MS solutions certainly don't work right out of the box. They take a fair amount of massaging and coercing to get them to operate in a mostly functional way. Is Linux a drop-in replacement? By no means. Is it a feasible replac
    • Re:Don't have time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:17PM (#18334977)
      Is this the same person??

        CMS DIRECTOR RESIGNS
      SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The head of a powerful Illinois government agency resigned today after a sometimes-rocky tenure.

      Paul Campbell's resignation from the Department of Central Management Services takes effect immediately. He had been director for nearly two years and was assistant director before that.

      A spokesman said Campbell will become a vice president at United Health Care.

      Central Management Services is the agency in charge of most state purchasing and hiring. Its influence has expanded under Governor Rod Blagojevich (blah-GOY'-uh-vich).

      But state auditors have repeatedly found management problems there, from paying improper expenses to overstating the results of cost-cutting.

      The agency's hiring procedures have also been scrutinized amid questions about whether Blagojevich has awarded jobs based on politics.

      • This gets score zero why? The poster is a complete newbie here? Or the Windows shills are out in force again...

        This post demonstrates exactly what I said above - this Illinois state guy is clueless as to Linux and has no idea what he's talking about.

        • by IANAAC (692242)

          This gets score zero why? The poster is a complete newbie here? Or the Windows shills are out in force again...

          When someone posts as Anonymous Coward, their starting score is zero. Windows shills have nothing to do with it.

          Nice knee jerk though.

    • Re:Don't have time (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:25PM (#18335097)
      I also wonder how much Microsoft paid them. check out this link for more of the same. Another Story with Paul Campbell [uis.edu]

      • Mod parent UP!

        This article pretty clearly destroys this idiot Campbell as anything but an incompetent and probably crooked state employee who knows absolutely nothing about Linux, IT or anything else but graft, apparently.

    • While perhaps not the richest or largest state in the union, Illinois still has an economy nearly the size of the Netherlands [wikipedia.org] and can afford to throw money away on Windows. The rest of the world, meanwhile, will continue to innovate with OSS and leave the US with bloated, expensive systems to maintain
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hymer (856453)
      No, no... it is the other way around... they don't have the time 'cause the need it for fixing all those security issues in an all Windows environment...
      ...they should propably look at the consequncies... f.ex. a Norwegian bank has just been down FOR ALLMOST A WHOLE WEEK... 11.000 PC's and 1.000+ servers got the Win32/Viking.gt (Normann AV) aka. W32/HLLP.Philis.ha (McAfee) worm and they just couldn't clean it. I can't find anything in english about this case, there are two stories about it in the danish C
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:47PM (#18334453) Journal
    I am severely impressed with Illinois' capability of assessing a situation so quickly & flawlessly. They already claim an annual cost savings of U.S. $2.1 million [microsoft.com] [proprietarily locked DOC warning] for five years ($10.5 million total) by using Microsoft's technologies! Why am I impressed? Well, they didn't even have to try anything else out to discover this! If they did, this case study doesn't show any of it. That document (if you read it) only makes claims but backs it up with nothing. I laugh at the very idea of it being titled a "Case Study."

    You know, where I work, if you make a statement like "would save our company $10 million" you kind of need to make a business case. A large part of the business case is having micro experiments & demonstrations & data to present to back up your business case. In fact, it's a lot like the scientific process where you present facts that prove your argument. Granted, it's not required to be that rigorous but you usually have to get those to agree with you through this.

    If I were a tax paying Illini and that document was the only thing persuading me that my government should use Microsoft products, I would bitch. That's just me, though. I think precisely what this Joseph Campbell needs to do is a "science project" as he calls it. For some reason they're avoiding a "business science project" and I'm really questioning his motivation for circumventing that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:51PM (#18334525)
      You know, where I work, if you make a statement like "would save our company $10 million" you kind of need to make a business case.

      You don't work for the government, do you?
    • by M-G (44998)
      Well, they may very well be saving money vs. their old setup. But the real issue you failed to consider in looking at their analysis is how much money MS contributed to the campaign of the person who hired the person in charge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      So they replaced "IBM Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise, and Microsoft Exchange Server, with multiple versions of those systems in use" with a single state-wide Exchange site license. Once you factor in the licenses, admin salaries, and redundant servers, you might get to $2.1 million a year.
    • by texaport (600120)
      I checked first with the Microsoft Ministry of Trvth for an official position paper on the subject. I am now more confused than ever but I still remain an unmoved, unclean, unconverted unbeliever.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Quoted text from here: [state.il.us]

      Paul Campbell began his career as an Investigator for the Internal Revenue Service focused on reducing financial fraud.

      Unnecessarily subsiding a monopoly using taxpayers money, could well be considered fraud.

      He later served as a Special Agent for the Office of the Inspector General, General Services Administration, investigating public corruption.

      Let's not ask why he never looked at alternative suppliers in his current role.

      As an attorney, Paul worked as an Assistant State's Attor

    • by mikelieman (35628)
      Looks like they avoided all that pesky Due Diligence, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Locklin (1074657)
      1: buy MS software
      2: decide to do a "case study" on "total cost of ownership"
      3: recieve massive discounts from MS.
      4: publish the difference between 1 and 3

      everybody wins!
    • According to this [ap.org], the office was a scandal. If anything, it's an example of how not to do things.

      Central Management Services is the agency in charge of most state purchasing and hiring. Its influence over other agencies has expanded sharply under Blagojevich. State auditors repeatedly have found management problems there.

      One particularly scathing audit, released just as Campbell was taking over the agency, found CMS had paid improper expenses to contractors, failed to document the cost-cutting it clai

  • Ouch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stephen Tennant (936097) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:48PM (#18334479) Journal
    "We don't have time for science projects in state government," he says.

    I felt that one hit my balls.

  • by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:49PM (#18334485)
    Even though I prefer Windows to Linux, it is not much of an endorsement when the uber-efficient State government endorses your products...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:49PM (#18334499)
    ""We don't have time for science projects in state government,""

    That's why they never bothered to find out how so many dead people were able to vote in Chicago elections.
    • by spun (1352)
      No, you got it all wrong. Due to the condition of the soil, which may or may not have anything to do with queers building landing pads for gay Martians, science projects in Illinois state government invariably lead to hordes of brain eating zombies rising from the grave and voting Democrat.
      • by Deadbolt (102078)
        Well, as long as said zombies aren't gay. I mean, eating brains and voting Democrat are bad enough, but being GAY?!
  • What is especially interesting here: despite the fact that Torvalds arrived in the US on an H-1b visa, on average, open source companies are much less likely to use that program than Microsoft and its allies. Why does Gates [vdare.com] need that program so much when his strongest competitor doesn't? Personally, I think the program as it is now structured is corporate welfare [vdare.com]-and subsidization of incompetence. If H-1b were curtailed significantly, Linux would be moving onto the desktop faster.
  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:53PM (#18334571) Journal

    "We don't have time for science projects in state government,"
    They are too busy streamlining service at the DMV to install Linux.
    • You probably meant that in jest, but to be honest, service at the DMV has been streamlined. Substantially.

      The last time I went for a license renewal it took a grand total of 15 minutes, start to finish. Not 5 years ago that had the potential to be an hour-long process, possibly more at the extremely busy Chicagoland DMVs.
  • It's true (Score:5, Informative)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @12:59PM (#18334687) Homepage Journal
    I dual boot Ubuntu Edgy Eft with Gnome and Beryl. I can play WoW with it, listen to my mp3s with it, surf the web with it, watch YouTube with it, read/write email with it, do office stuff etc...the only two things I'm not doing with Linux yet are watching DVDs (I tried that earlier tonight and had some weird problems) and using my webcam...and the latter is only because I haven't bothered to install the drivers yet.

    I haven't completely weaned myself off XP yet, but I'm working on it. I advocate Ubuntu though to anyone who wants to find out for themselves that desktop Linux, even though it may not have been in the past, is now a genuinely viable reality.
  • by vrmlguy (120854) <{samwyse} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:07PM (#18334813) Homepage Journal
    I've dual-booted for a long time, but it's only been recently that I started spending more time in Linux than in Windows. (And the shift was both dramatic and quick. In a single day, I went from less than 20% of my time spent in Linux to over 80%.) This is mostly due to the proliferation of Web 2.0. The latest version of Exchange's Webmail means that I no longer need to use Outlook, and Open Office is a more than adequate substitute for Office. There are a few internal web-apps that claim to require IE, but Greasemonkey has been letting me repair the worst of them. (BTW, I would love to have a way for User Agent Switcher to recognize certain URLs as needing a special string, instead of me getting an error page and having to change the string manually.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      My story is sort of the opposite of yours. I'm a long time user of many OS's, but lately I find myself using Linux less and Windows more. The reasons for this are a bit complicated. The recent trend towards hardware assisted virtualization has finally allowed me to consolidate all my workstations into a single laptop. That is very cool and it means I can directly run Linux at the coffee shop, whereas it used to be available only at my desk at work (not counting server use). You'd think that would make me us

    • Bah. I get the feeling I'm going to be making that switch fairly soon. As soon as feisty comes out I'm going to wipe my linux partition (I've screwed something up on the graphics end and I've decided to let it slide for a few months).

      My main problem right now is trying to get 3D acceleration working for my laptop video card so I can run modern games under wine... "glxinfo | grep rendering" returned "direct rendering: No" so I tried to fix it and ended up with a string of 5-6 errors instead of the desired
  • I was having a conversation with a friend exactly about that in this past weekend. New distributions are finally managing to be easy to install and use, offering to the user every software they may need to replace windows'. I installed Ubuntu for the first time about a week ago, it took about half an hour and the installation was flawless. No hard questions, every device properly recognized and configured, wireless network perfectly functioning, sweet. Of course there are lots of room for improvement, but i
  • by sco_robinso (749990) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @01:13PM (#18334911)
    As a windows System Admin (although I run Ubuntu personally), I can finally say that Linux is starting to get there, albeit slowly. I would definately say that linux is ready for a corporate IT envrionment.

    It's still going to take a bit of time before it's fully ready for the home desktop though. I use 802.11 wireless as a perfect example of that - amongst the 'warm and fuzzy' distro's (SuSe, Ubuntu, Mandrake, Lycoris), I have yet to be able to set up a system where there wasn't a fairly significant amount of rigmoral to get something as simple as wireless with basic encryption running. It wasn't really 'hard' for me to get the wireless running, but in each case, it required editing of text files, and typically no less that 7 or 8 CLI entries. Linux has come a long ways, even in the past 2 or 3 years. I think Ubuntu is a great example of a good, easy to use OS. However, there's still a few dark and nasty corners of Linux which need polishing before it's ready for the masses. And let's not mention games and brand name apps which only run under windows.

    Overall, it is exiting to see and watch. For the first time ever in the past few months, I've been able to recommend Ubuntu to begginner and novice users, as an easy-to-use alternative to Macs or Windows, with a straight face.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      IIRC Ubuntu Feisty is supposed to have a new network manager to make this easier. I'm in the middle of attempting my upgrade right now or I'd tell you if it's true or not.

    • I agree, Linux is ready for the corporate desktop, as an IT department or consultant can make sure everything works.

      And Linux is ready for the home user who doesn't use any hardware other than what is standard on a desktop PC. Laptops and wireless are still iffy. But that's coming along nicely - and would do so faster if the damn manufacturers could supply driver information, if not actual drivers. I still say IBM and HP and others who are making money off Linux need to pressure - or pay for - the periphera
    • Have you tried a distribution using NetworkManager?

      This makes this stuff *much* easier.

      Even with older SuSEs (10.0 and older), YaST2 has pretty good 802.11 WEP/WPA support. Not sure why you had problems.

      Anyways, with the new distributions (in particular openSuSE 10.2), NetworkManager hits the 802.11 ball out of the park; wireless encryption is as easy as on an OS X box, and a great deal easier than on an XP box.
  • Misquote (Score:2, Funny)

    by NotFamous (827147)
    It was acutally "We don't have time for science in state government"
  • I use XP at work, all day long, and i just gave Vista a swing on my MacPro via parallels last night.

    Wow. I was so lost, it wasn't funny. Vista and, from the screenshots, Office Vista... whatever... are going to require 100 pounds of retraining per person at any corporation.

    Things are in the wrong place, the menus have all vanished or mysteriously moved to the right side of the window, except now some of them are text and some of them are icons.

    I have a hard time believeing that if you can get your head wr
  • I dunno, it seems to me that the combination of Microsft Windows and Office is one huge entomology project.
  • Science Projects (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chromatic (9471)

    "We don't have time for science projects in state government," he says.

    What if Chicago donated the time of all the workers painting "Richard M. Daley, Mayor" on every garbage can in the city? That could free a lot of time.

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