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A CIO's View of Ubuntu 308

Posted by kdawson
from the sweet-spot dept.
onehitwonder writes "Well-known CIO John Halamka has rigorously tested six different operating systems over the course of a year in an effort to find a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows on his laptop and his company's computers. Here is CIO.com's initial writeup on Halamka's experiences; we discussed their followup article on SUSE. Now CIO is running a writeup on Halamka's take on Ubuntu and how it stacks up against Novell SUSE 10, RHEL, Fedora, XP, and Mac OS X, in a life-and-death business environment." For the impatient, here's Halamka's conclusion: "A balanced approach of Windows for the niche business application user, Macs for the graphic artists/researchers, SUSE for enterprise kiosks/thin clients, and Ubuntu for power users seems like the sweet spot for 2008."
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A CIO's View of Ubuntu

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  • Well known? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nick of NSTime (597712) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:43PM (#20061967)
    I've never heard of him.
  • A genius! (Score:5, Funny)

    by niceone (992278) * on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:46PM (#20062003) Journal

    This man is a genius! Obviously the main problem for CIOs switching from MS to linux is: What happens to the saved licensing costs? You don't want it cut from your budget because that will make you less important...

    So this guy's answer: replace it with 4 different OS's! That's 4x the support staff! Might even require a budget increase! And headcount, oh more of that lovely headcount!

    I suspect once this idea gets out it really will be the year of the linux desktop!

    Now, I just have to figure out if I'm joking or not. I know I don't usually end every sentence with an exclamation mark...

    • by omeomi (675045)
      So this guy's answer: replace it with 4 different OS's! That's 4x the support staff! Might even require a budget increase! And headcount, oh more of that lovely headcount!

      Realistically, many companies that employ graphics people already have both Macs and Windows users. And I wouldn't think SUSE and Ubuntu are really all that different from a support perspective. Not sure why he thinks OSX is better for researchers, though. I tried looking at the article for more information, but I'm not going to wade thr
      • Re:A genius! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by good soldier svejk (571730) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:10PM (#20062343)

        And I wouldn't think SUSE and Ubuntu are really all that different from a support perspective. Not sure why he thinks OSX is better for researchers, though. I tried looking at the article for more information, but I'm not going to wade through 17 pages of ads...
        Having been part of this evaluation process, I can tell you that Ubuntu is much easier to support, but Novell offers far better enterprise support (including developer resources) for Suse, which is more important for the applications he proposes. I won't speak for John, but my guess is he thinks OS X is better for researchers because it it runs all the unixy apps the researchers require and even in its most wild and wooly user installed form is easily supportable by our existing resources. You can read the first article for more information. As John points out in the article, we have no control over what researchers buy with their grant money anyway. Except for a few "power users" who prefer GNU, there is pretty much concensus among researchers that OS X is the best platform for them. At any rate my experience here has been that there is no net cost to supporting OS X since our marginal cost for supporting Macs is lower than Windows boxes. OTOH, it probably isn't as good for kiosk workstation applications because of the lack of low end hardware options. In that application, where distributed support is a small fraction of cost, the best route is to keep capital cost to a minimum, which means GNU.

        If you don't want all the annoying ads, click the "print" link and read it on one page. That is what I did.
        • Re:A genius! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ichoran (106539) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:55PM (#20062943)
          As a researcher, I think it depends on the field.

          If you need to run specialized commercial software for data capture or analysis, you need Windows. Very few companies support anything else. Those that do (e.g. National Instruments) offer only a subset of their tools which aren't well integrated into the platforms.

          If you just need a computer that is pretty and powerful and you don't have to worry about, you need OS X. Stuff just works; you can forget about the computing and focus on the research.

          If you are in research that involves computation or statistics, you need Linux. The standard tools are more powerful and flexible than anything you can find under Windows, and the headache of getting these to work on a Mac more than offsets the slightly smoother interface in some areas.

          And from what I've seen, researchers' preferences in these fields tend to follow the needs above. (People who are mostly interested in data collection/hardware interface generally prefer Windows, biology researchers generally like Macs, bioinformatics folks like Linux, etc..)
          • Re:A genius! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Gromius (677157) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:47PM (#20063547)
            Also as researcher (high energy particle physics, so very heavy on the computation and stats) I noticed that 50% - 80% of my colleagues own a mac laptop of some variety and that this is common though out the field. However they are used primary as an interface to our linux servers which are actually used to do the stats/computation. Apparently they are unixy enough having X windows and a terminal to be able to do this (unlike windows which always feels like a hack) while having that "It Just Works" ease of use. Although to be honest I often find that when interfacing with linux the mac is more like "It Just Works (well almost works, apart from a few fiddly things that you can probably learn to live without)" so I tend to avoid them myself.
          • "If you need to run specialized commercial software for data capture or analysis, you need Windows"

            That may often be true, but not always.

            I have a couple really nice digitizers that run Linux in the firmware that live in a rack with a controller running Linux and store the data (closing in on 1 TB) on a Linux server. The code controlling the digitizers and archiving the data is free to download (but not officially open source). All the data analysis is done in a commercial data analysis programming lan

      • Computer science (faculty and grad students) in academia is mostly Linux and OS X here.
    • by Otter (3800)
      I suspect once this idea gets out it really will be the year of the linux desktop!

      2008 is gonna be the year of Windows, OS X, SuSE and Ubuntu on the desktop!

      Seriously, though, it seems that what he's calling the difference between SuSE and Ubuntu is actually the difference between KDE and GNOME. At a minimum, it's the difference between their default desktop configurations. I'm not sure I'd trust this guy as a Linux expert, however "well-known" he may be.

      • by kebes (861706)

        Seriously, though, it seems that what he's calling the difference between SuSE and Ubuntu is actually the difference between KDE and GNOME. At a minimum, it's the difference between their default desktop configurations. I'm not sure I'd trust this guy as a Linux expert, however "well-known" he may be.

        I don't think he's claiming to be a Linux expert. Moreover, his target audience is not Linux enthusiasts who are trying to pick the best distro. His audience is other corporate-types who want to know how thes

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by R2.0 (532027)
        "I'm not sure I'd trust this guy as a Linux expert, however "well-known" he may be."

        Sigh...

        The whole point is that he is NOT a Linux expert, just like the other 99% of us out here in userland. Just like 95% of us are not Windows "experts". Allow me to clue in the 1%:

        1) I don't care about KDE and Gnome either, nor do I care to know.
        2) I don't want to be an "expert" at either system, but that doesn't mean I can't form opinions about how well something works for me or my organization.

        It sounds like the Ubunt
        • Re:A genius! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Otter (3800) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:24PM (#20062543) Journal
          The whole point is that he is NOT a Linux expert, just like the other 99% of us out here in userland.

          No, but he's a CIO publicly holding forth on the suitability of one Linux over another for certain applications based on the failure to understand that you can change the desktop environment! Maybe I'm a Linux snob but that seems like a striking lack of understanding. It's not like he was complaining about the lack of some obscure functionality and I chimed in with "its fixed in CVS so stop spredding FUD you M$ a$troturfer"!

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            No, but he's a CIO publicly holding forth on the suitability of one Linux over another for certain applications based on the failure to understand that you can change the desktop environment! Maybe I'm a Linux snob but that seems like a striking lack of understanding. It's not like he was complaining about the lack of some obscure functionality and I chimed in with "its fixed in CVS so stop spredding FUD you M$ a$troturfer"!

            No, he actually understands the situation much better than you. For one thing, he

            • by Otter (3800)
              For one thing, he knows that the default desktop environment in Suse is not KDE, it is a very customized version of GNOME.

              No, I hadn't known that. Is it really "massive re-engineering" to get it to work like the Ubuntu default? I hadn't objected to his point about package management, which certainly is a major barrier between one distro and another, but had thought that customizing a GNOME or KDE desktop is easily within the capacity of any IT department that's going to be capable of subsequently maintaini

              • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
                You still miss the point. They shouldn't have to DO anything to the SUSE default install to get it to work like Ubuntu's. It either just works out of the box or it doesn't. Ubuntu, OS X and Windows for the purposes of this evaluation worked out of the box. SUSE didn't.
              • It would be a big PITA because it isn't just window dressing. You would first have to sort out all the management tools. They mix and match GNOME and Yast components. The interfaces between the two are inconsistgent and their launchers are semi-randomly distributed throughout the interface. You would have to go through and make packages for all the missing GNOME tools, then make sure the interfaces were all stock, since they change some of them. Then you could start reconfiguring the base GUI to conform to
            • Re:A genius! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by xenocide2 (231786) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @10:42PM (#20066101) Homepage

              The important question was how the two distributions performed without massive re-engineering.
              When I read CIO evaluations, I expect a perspective that includes how organizations can create and deploy changes to the base platform. I know places that revert the Windows XP theme to "Classic", as it's more familiar to their people. If you're considering deploying Linux, you would do well to consider hiring a Linux expert to help you with such things, just as you hire Windows experts. Honestly, I understand your compatriot didn't write this article, but the level of detail offered is no substitute for expert advice. Perhaps there's a whitepaper report for sale in the works?

              There are some important problems to recognize, although I hope you can pardon my amazement that people still want to listen to MIDIs at all. MIDI playback in Ubuntu is not as simple as it could be. While I don't know why this matters as an evaluation of 40,000 user base suitability, it might be the best example for the state of Ubuntu usability. At the moment, MIDI is recognized as a music filetype by GNOME, but gstreamer (and totem as a consequence) can't handle it. So first instinct when something doesn't work is to check the repos. There are 87 hits for "midi" in my apt-cache search. Once you exclude the libraries and random extra hits for midi maze clones and the like, you get about ten options. The first one is kmid. kmid looks like it would work out great in kubuntu, but I'm guessing it can't handle the lack of artsd running in the background or something, as I heard no sound. The last one on the list is timidity++. It works fine on the command line, but even if you install the extra interfaces, the interface isn't that great.

              Gutsy (to be released in October) handles it slightly differently. If you double click to open a .mid, by default it opens up an install applications dialog, suggesting amarok or kmid. Timidity is tragically absent, and kmid still doesn't work after installation. Ideally, midi playback should be part of the gstreamer set of plugins, and MIDI would work out of the box with the default totem GUI. In practice, work has been done in gstreamer that basically ports timidity to the gstreamer framework [freedesktop.org] (as well as wildmidi, another midi library). This work was started in February 2007, so I can understand why it didn't make it into the current release. The better question, and one I don't immediately have an answer for, is why it's not yet hit development branch in Ubuntu. There exists a bounty to bring this functionality to life, so if anyone's looking to earn what appears to be around 200 dollars [launchpad.net], this whole problem could be wrapped up by October or sooner.

              As an aside, I do appreciate the implication that Debian is the mother of all Linux. And we should recognize that organizations, hired bounties, or outside firms like SuSE, can make these re-engineering feats simple via open source.
          • Maybe I'm a Linux snob but that seems like a striking lack of understanding.

            You probably are, but that's not relevant. He wasn't saying, which version of Linux, with which desktop (and should I fork that version and change schedulers) best fits my needs, but which distro. Period. You choose bad defaults, you lose. And that is the selection critera, which, frankly, is the only way software becomes friendly enough for 99.9% of people to use. More Linux snobs should insist it work best for most users by

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AeroIllini (726211)

          I ditched the command line with Dos and Win3.1

          I agree with your post, I just wanted to share a bit of wisdom that I shamelessly stole from someone's sig.

          DOS is like Unix in exactly the same way that a Pinto is like an aircraft carrier.

          For your job, the command line is not very efficient, and a GUI is better. For a sysadmin, whose job involves lots of scripting and configuration, it is essential - and MS-DOS doesn't even hold a candle to what's possible in bash.

          But you're right... Linux fanatics can't expect everyone to edit xorg.conf by hand and apply

        • Re:A genius! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Doctor O (549663) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @07:12PM (#20064447) Homepage Journal

          Hell, I'm ready to make the switch to Ubuntu, but for my slavery to Quicken.

          Then switch to Ubuntu, download VMWare Server [vmware.com] (free as in beer), install your Windows license in a VM, put Quicken on it and be done. With the snapshots in VMware you can easily test install stuff and just roll back to the state before the install if you don't like the results. Burn the VM onto a DVD and never reinstall Windows again.

          "I would love to switch but I need $windows_app" is not a viable excuse anymore.

          If you need assistance with installing VMWare Server under Ubuntu, feel free to ask.
          • by Spikeles (972972)

            "I would love to switch but I need $windows_app" is not a viable excuse anymore.
            What if $windows_app=="Supreme Commander" or $windows_app=="Crysis". Oh yeah, they are going to run well under VMWare or Cedega/WINE(Wine is NOT an emulator!)
  • it sounds like part of it was that he likes gnome better than kde for his own use. i wonder if he knows he can run either on whatever distro he would like. -- i know there was more to it than that, but i thought that was an interesting facet of the description.
    • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by good soldier svejk (571730) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:21PM (#20062507)

      it sounds like part of it was that he likes gnome better than kde for his own use. i wonder if he knows he can run either on whatever distro he would like. -- i know there was more to it than that, but i thought that was an interesting facet of the description.
      His analysis of the interfaces is spot on. Suse hasn't shipped with KDE as the default environment for years. It uses a very customized GNOME which functions a lot more like Windows. For instance, by default the main launcher shows your most recently used apps. It looks different every time you use it. Also the management tools, some of which are GNOME and some of which are Yast panels, are not consistently placed and can be difficult to navigate. He thought the default Ubuntu GNOME implementation was much better laisd out. And he knows you can change either one to look like whatever you want, but why should he have to when Ubuntu gets it right in the first place?

      However, the big difference between the two distros is that Yast sucks and Synaptic, aptitude and friends are great. That also comes up in the article.
  • by boguslinks (1117203) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:51PM (#20062075)
    For the impatient, here's Halamka's conclusion: "A balanced approach of Windows for the niche business application user, Macs for the graphic artists/researchers, SUSE for enterprise kiosks/thin clients, and Ubuntu for power users seems like the sweet spot for 2008."

    The problem is, people have been writing Windows-specific business apps for a long time, and MS Office itself is a critical business application in corporate-land. The overwhelming majority of computer users at every company I've been at has been somewhat-to-very nontechnical folks running Office and other Windows-specific software.

    So, Halamka's analysis is not encouraging.
    • MS Office. What are they going to do about that?

      Run it via WINE?
      Run it via Citrix?
      Use only the functionality common to MS Office and OpenOffice.org?
      Another option?

      There are lots of different ways to do it, but which of them is he taking and why?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by boguslinks (1117203)
        MS Office. What are they going to do about that? Run it via WINE? Run it via Citrix? Use only the functionality common to MS Office and OpenOffice.org? Another option? There are lots of different ways to do it, but which of them is he taking and why?

        I don't know what Halamka's approach is... but I know exactly what the approach of the PHBs will be - continue to buy and use Windows.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gujo-odori (473191)
        For the Mac users, of course there are four options: Mac Office, Windows Office via Parallels or VMWare Fusion, standard OpenOffice.Org, and NeoOffice (native Mac port of OpenOffice.Org). I use the latter and have zero problems exchanging files with MS Office users.

        I work at a very large IT company whose name is a household word (not Microsoft, but I used to work there, too), and we have a heterogeneous environment: Windows machines make up the majority of the network, our mail is on Exchange, and there are
    • MS Office itself is a critical business application in corporate-land

      Not everywhere and not every user even in Microsoft-centric customers. OpenOffice is quite capable for the vast majority of users. And so many productivity apps are going online, just doesn't seem to be the show-stopper it once was.

      I'd mod the author's distribution. I'd use Ubuntu on the desktop for most users, Mac for the advertising and graphics people, and set up Windows as kiosks for Windows only applications.

      Even a three OS

      • by Vancorps (746090)

        Doesn't like you've actually done this if you throw out a 3:1 figure like that given that in most businesses there are far more Windows installs than OS X installs so that 3:1 figure actually makes Linux and OS X look bad. Fortunately I know the figure isn't accurate for a lot of places. In the company I work for at least the OS makes absolutely no difference on the number of support calls since the problems are related to the in-house web-based ERP system which has specific issues with specific browsers on

  • Print view (Score:5, Informative)

    by ELProphet (909179) <davidsouther@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:52PM (#20062083) Homepage
    TFA is over 10 pages of 3 paragraphs...

    http://www.cio.com/article/print/41140 [cio.com] is much nicer to read.
  • by timholman (71886) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:54PM (#20062111)

    For the impatient, here's Halamka's conclusion: "A balanced approach of Windows for the niche business application user, Macs for the graphic artists/researchers, SUSE for enterprise kiosks/thin clients, and Ubuntu for power users seems like the sweet spot for 2008."

    Sweet. And with my Macbook and a copy of Parallels, I can have them all.

    That's the beauty of virtualization on the Intel Macs. You cease worrying about which OS is the best compromise; you simply use the best OS for the task at hand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Sweet. And with my Macbook and a copy of Parallels, I can have them all. That's the beauty of virtualization on the Intel Macs. You cease worrying about which OS is the best compromise; you simply use the best OS for the task at hand.

      Actually, Halamka agrees with you. But he also needs a subnotebook and Apple doesn't make one. For work that requirement outweighs his preference for OS X. All this laptop needs to do is basic business stuff like email and presentations, and Ubuntu is more than good enough at

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:59PM (#20062197) Homepage Journal

    Good freaquin' googly.

    CIO.com sure has a hardon for online ad revenue. Seventeen pages for one article, the article itself taking up only 1/3 of the page real estate for each page. Talk about a pain in the ass to read.

    It's bad enough that nobody in Slashdot reads the actual articles. The next time I see a link to a CIO.com article, I'll just skip trying to read it, and go right to throwing down a random opinion based on the Slashdot summary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by falconwolf (725481)

      CIO.com sure has a hardon for online ad revenue. Seventeen pages for one article, the article itself taking up only 1/3 of the page real estate for each page. Talk about a pain in the ass to read.

      That's simple to solve, just click the print link. It all is on one webpage. Unfortunately my browser print preview shows it's still 11 pages without changing any settings. But there's no ads.

      Falcon
  • by textstring (924171) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:06PM (#20062277)
    "The only other problem Halamka ran into was with MIDI music".
    I can not take this man seriously anymore.
  • According to the article, one of the main issues with Linux was Evolution:

    Evolution, his e-mail client, took six minutes to start up. ... Novell's SUSE engineers created a patch for Evolution that makes the application start more quickly, in about 20 seconds.

    6 minutes? 20 seconds? Is that true? I use Thunderbird (on Kubuntu), and it starts up in a second. I can't imagine waiting that long for an email client to load up. What is it doing that takes so long? Is this typical behavior for Evolution?

    Since t

    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:24PM (#20062531) Homepage Journal
      I don't know about evolution specifically... hell, my little blurb is coming from a windows world, but I figure programmers are programmers and they tend to make the same mistakes.

      For example, if your firefox directory is read only, it takes MINUTES to fire up. Allow write access, it loads in a handful of seconds. Doing a little digging, it seems it is trying to open all of these config files for read/write... and when it fails, it tries a few more times. Then some of them get copied to $temp$ so that they CAN be opened for read/write, even though YOU LIKELY WON'T EVEN BE WRITING TO THEM. All it would take is a "if CantOpenConfigFileWithReadWrite(...) OpenConfigFileForReadOnly(...);"

      And I use firefox as an example, but just about every application seems to have the same issues. This may be where Evolution is at.
    • by db32 (862117)
      I find the 6 minute thing hard to believe, I would have thrown my laptop off the desk a dozen or so times by now if I was waiting 6 minutes (actually this did happen once and I about lost my freaking mind...Evolution starting up caused the system to hang and lock up at 98% CPU...turns out that it was actually an infinite loop problem in part of the perl that spamassassin uses during an Evolution startup...This all stemmed from an update that didn't recompile the appropriate dependancies.)

      The 10-30 secon
    • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:50PM (#20062879)

      6 minutes? 20 seconds? Is that true? I use Thunderbird (on Kubuntu), and it starts up in a second. I can't imagine waiting that long for an email client to load up. What is it doing that takes so long? Is this typical behavior for Evolution?

      Since this was one of his major complaints with Linux (and it's a valid one: six minutes is much too long to wait!), it seems like it's something that should be fixed ASAP if it is a widespread issue.
      It is a real issue. Evolution's Exchange connector basically does not cache anything locally. There is a setting for it, but it doesn't work. Based on Halamka's recommendation, Novell has written a caching patch for Evolution and submitted it to the upstream code tree. They also patched a bunch of other bugs he identified. So Evolution/Exchange users can thank Halamka for finally getting this fixed. I have tested these patches and they work.
      • To further this, at my old job we had a central dump folder that all old cases were saved in. *this is where the linux zealots typically tell me how stupid it is to do that etc. etc.*. Anyways, the folder typically held 60,000+ emails. Needless to say, my one foray into linux@work was quickly ended when evolution wouldn't load period. It would just hang indefinitely trying to get all the info from that folder. Glad to hear something is finally being done about it.
    • by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:50PM (#20062883) Homepage Journal
      6 minutes? 20 seconds? Is that true? I use Thunderbird (on Kubuntu), and it starts up in a second. I can't imagine waiting that long for an email client to load up. What is it doing that takes so long? Is this typical behavior for Evolution?

      Well, I've experimented with Evolution off and on for some years, on various chunks of hardware, and I'd say it is typical. Whenever you tell Evolution to do something, you can go to the kitchen, make coffee, and be back with a cup before the results are on the screen. After a while, you're really wired ...

      Maybe there's some config problem that's wrong everywhere I've tried it, but I haven't seen enough clues to diagnose the problem. If anyone knows, especially if you have some fixes, you might try contacting the Evolution folks and tell them that this is a major barrier to getting their toy widely adopted.

      It's not just me, either; I've mentioned this to a number of people who've tried Evolution a few times, and they report the same molasses-like slowness.

      • I gave up on Evolution for the exact same reason. I've tried it a few times on a few machines, and it's always a dog.
  • From the article:

    "Halamka's month with Ubuntu concludes his formal operating system evaluations. What follows are the details of his experience running Ubuntu and his plans for his company's enterprise desktops and laptops moving forward. Will he finally replace Windows forever with OS X or Linux? You'll see..."

    Funny, I didn't see any Bell-LaPadula models or ACL2 proofs, or anything other than some user's opinion clouded by the random crap that happens to every user of every OS.

  • As a pc support guy in a biggish company, I'm REALLY glad this guy isn't making decisions here. Supporting Windows, OSX, SUSE and Ubuntu, and getting it all to play nice together would be a nightmare. He is too far removed from the support folks to make a decision based in reality. CIOs should not be spending their time testing and selecting OSes. If that's what he's interested in, he's in the wrong line of work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ichoran (106539)
      Supporting four platforms and getting them to play nicely together if you are starting with a large base of one platform where everything that works has been done without regard to using other platforms. Switching to a multi-platform solution would be a nightmare, especially when the original base is commercial ("Vendor lock-in"). As a business strategy, it wouldn't make sense to switch.

      But supporting four platforms when you start off with that as your goal is not as much of a nightmare. We have the same
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        Even in the absence of problems created by assuming a certain platform, if you need to 4 platforms simultaneously, you must have people who can support these 4 platforms. That alone makes it more difficult than supporting only 1 platform.
    • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:15PM (#20063161)
      "As a pc support guy in a biggish company, I'm REALLY glad this guy isn't making decisions here. Supporting Windows, OSX, SUSE and Ubuntu, and getting it all to play nice together would be a nightmare. "

      How do you figure? I didn't see any mention of Solaris in the mix, so there is no way it rises to the level of "nightmare".

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      As a pc support guy in a biggish company, I'm REALLY glad this guy isn't making decisions here. ...... CIOs should not be spending their time testing and selecting OSes. If that's what he's interested in, he's in the wrong line of work.

      And you know this because....... you are a "pc support guy"?

      Let's face it, here on /. we are always mocking PHBs who have no knowledge of the technology under their control. Now one comes along who does something to expand his knowlendge of the technology and you post that

    • by nasch (598556)
      So you're saying you have concluded that for his organization it is not worth having the best platform in various areas of the business because of the increased support cost? Or are you just saying that maybe he's right and maybe he's wrong but he isn't the one that should make the decision? If the latter, who other than the CIO should make it? Front-line support technicians? A mid-level manager who is in charge of just a portion of the company's IT?
  • Mac's in research (Score:5, Informative)

    by or-switch (1118153) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:15PM (#20063153)
    There was a quesiton in there as to why researchers seem to prefer Macs. When I was in grad school the Mac with OS X was a perfect machine for us. Everything we need could run on it.

    You could run the Linux apps that did the number crunching (not high end physics stuff, but still datasets around a gig or more that took an hour or so).

    You could run the visulaization software and model building softare, also Linux based.

    You had shells to log into the Linux cluster if you needed access to more power.

    Disk mounting and sharing was easy amongst other Macs, nfs clients, and even the PCs.

    The entire Microsoft office suite ran. I realize OpenOffice provides all the same utilies, but most journals, conferences, and employers in our field require papers, abstracts, and resumes be submitted in Microsoft Word, and slides in Powerpoint. Other programs were not accepted, or, when tried, we ran into compatibility issues.

    Photoshop ran really well for making figures.

    So it wasn't uncommon for someone to be sitting at their computer running a job, building a model, putting the results in powerpoint, writing the figures in word, sending the results out on their integrated e-mail client, letting your advisor know all was well with a quick video conference through the integrated camera, all while listening to music on iTunes streaming off a neighbor's Mac through the library sharing feature, and all without any specific new training required.

    For our group the hardware was expensive of course, but we made up for it by lab-wide shared software. If you bought your own Mac essentially all the software was free and you'd be up and running in an hour at full productiivty. This is one reason Macs do well in research environments. It's not that you couldn't rig a PC or a Linux box to do all of this, but it would take some serious effort and know how that many grad students outside a computer science/physics type have (we were a biochemistry and biophysics group), and university labs generally have little to no IT support. The Macs just work and you can get you research started with little thought to the computer on your desk that rarely crashes, and that is worth the extra cost of the hardware in a grant-driven environment anyday. (I mean, the Mac is $500-$1000 more than a comparably configured PC, but how much IT support can you buy over a period of 2-4 years for $500-$1000. . .not much, it pays for itself indirectly).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not to mention that that extra dollar cost may push a Mac over the line into capital equipment where overhead isn't charged. My first laptop for work ran into that issue: I picked a nice model for ~$1800, and was told I wasn't spending enough. As it turned out, the $2600 ibm was cheaper, because the lower cost one came with 50% overhead attached.

      You could have also ssh'd into a real cluster, or built a Mac cluster for a price similar to an Opteron system, and just quietly integrated it with your deskto
  • ... he had enough of its instability and the countless updates that automatically installed themselves on his computer--often at inopportune times, like when he was in the middle of a presentation.

    Which is why I use the "not recommended" setting where it asks me before installing updates. That way I can postpone anything that requires me to reboot. (It boggles the mind that nobody at Microsoft realized that this would be an issue!) The downside is that every few days it asks my permission to install signa

  • Can they bloat it out anymore with ads? Geesh.

    Thanks for the summary, as i know I will never read something with that much crap attached.
  • Do you know how much EDS will charge to support that? ;-)
  • Close but Limited (Score:5, Informative)

    by pravuil (975319) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @06:44PM (#20064201) Homepage Journal
    Most of his observations are actually spot on but he did fail to bring up several items that I believe need attention. These are things that need to be fixed in order to have a better product IMHO. I'm coming from my experience with Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu, SuSE (SLE/open), Debian, and Mandrake (Mandriva). I have yet to test PCLinuxOS, CentOS, Mepis, Gentoo, Solaris, FreeBSD, etc. Whereas I'm not a so called "expert", I am a regular end user.

    • m4p format (all distros)
    • Evolution/Thunderbird sucks, Sylpheed/claws is close to anything that I would use. (all distros)
    • Codecs not verified to run on Linux listed here (http://soggie.soti.org/linux/linux-codecs/ [soti.org]), here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_video_ codecs#Operating_system_support [wikipedia.org]) and here (http://labs.divx.com/DivXLinuxCodec [divx.com]) are illegal to use without owning Windows. (all distros)
    • Flash properly displayed in web browser so it doesn't cover up page content. (all distros)
    • The UI in Ubuntu still has more bugs than Red Hat and SuSE.
    • Red Hat uses anaconda for the OS install which complicates the partitioning process.
    • YUM and Yast suck compared to Synaptic. Thankfully there is a RPM based version of Synaptic Package manager for Red Hat. I believe SuSE has it as well.
    • Updates for SuSE suck because of how long it takes and some hurdles you have to go through just to get the update started.
    • The most stable version out there, even with unstable packages, is Red Hat but Ubuntu fixes unstable packages faster than other distributions.
    • Updates for RPM based systems take longer than DEB based systems especially if you don't configure SELinux the right way.
    • MPlayer feels incomplete but does some neat things. Totem is fine but needs to have more options.

    Now that I gone over some of my pet-peeves I want to cover some of my opinion of what makes Linux great.

    • Beryl (Love it, makes the desktop easier to use)
    • OpenOffice (There are some things that can be improved but overall it works great)
    • Synaptic Package Manager / APT / APTitude (Great way for people to find out more of what Linux can offer to them depending on how their repos are configured)
    • Amarok (Best audio player out there for Linux. Has the ability to minimize to task bar, Options to turn on or off the OCD, works great for organizing online radio streams, plays Linux restricted formats fine and last but not least, it's pretty light weight.)
    • Firefox and it's extensibility (Most of the extensions are shared between OSs)
    • su (Once you got what you want set, you'll never have to use this again except for maybe updates depending on how you configured you package manager)
    • Complete control to customize the GDM, KDM or XDM
    • Gconf-editor saves time on configuring for people that don't want to know how to program to get something simple done
    • Sylpheed/Claws provides the most realistic extensions for an email client available on Linux (especially in terms of spam filters and how the mail is viewed / organized)

    For hardware support, this area has improved over the past several years. In Ubuntu it takes a couple of clicks to have 3D hardware support whereas it took a long process before. Used to be that I would have to live without a certain piece of hardware because of incompatibility but most of those concerns have been taken care of for the majority of the distributions. I could go over some of the terminal apps but I am talking about a desktop environment so apples and oranges.

  • ... at Bill Gates' next executive banquet, you're eating in the kitchen.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @09:03PM (#20065339) Journal
    Especially after he mentioned simply that his exotic eap network would not work and a 6 minute wait for email??

    If you use win32 apps then you need Windows. Standardization is important and I used to have Ubuntu on my laptop and love it. But I have XP now as I get ready for school with MBA majors who will be sending me excel and ms access files that openoffice would have trouble with.

    As many pointed out this CIO was a laughing stock 4 years ago when his whole network failed due to poor planning.

    Ubuntu is great but unless your a hacker or need a webserver its not practical. Large organizations need to stick with one platform and that is Microsoft as much as I wish it were not true. Until linux takes over more government agencies and foreign companies I would not trust the platform yet as its not standard.

    IF I were a CIO or an IT manager I would care only if it got the job done as thats what I am paid to do. MS exchange, active directory, and proprietary vb apps dictate my decision when lowering costs.
  • by RazvanHrestic (937048) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:08AM (#20067625)
    Oh come one people, this seriously cannot be the real reason he wanted to switch OS. From the TFA and the introduction in CIO Magazine about the root cause of this change I seem to gather that John was annoyed with the updates that installed themselves and antivirus updates and so on. Any of these can be turned off or set to be manually installed later, and Windows instability? Yes, when you load it up with a hole bunch of applications, some legacy, some from vendors who don't know how to properly integrate their product with the OS, you might get some instability. Resolution to this sort of problems lies in application virtualization (see SoftGrid) or Terminal Services, or Citrix, which does incur bigger support costs, but maybe not as large as supporting >=4 OSes.

    I cannot seriously see from the guy's description or even the CIO Mag's a real problem with the OS. I'd rather put this on account of his bias (also mentioned in TFA).

    Please note that this is not in any way a bash of Ubuntu, SuSE, OS X or any other OS mentioned. I agree that they are more fit to do some jobs better than others. Hell, I even run Hoary Hedgehog on my old PC (converted to a sort of media-center). It's just the arguments are dubious.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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