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IBM Linux Business Software Linux

IBM Launches Microsoft-Free Linux Virtual Desktop 344

Posted by kdawson
from the open-collaboration-client dept.
VorlonFog writes "According to Information Week, IBM has introduced a line of business computers that avoid Microsoft's desktop environment in favor of open source software. IBM worked with Canonical and Virtual Bridges to create the platform, which IBM claims saves businesses $500 to $800 per user on software licenses and an additional $258 per user 'since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office.'"
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IBM Launches Microsoft-Free Linux Virtual Desktop

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  • fp (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CheshireFerk-o (412142) <kioshi83 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:44PM (#26004769)

    one small step for OSS...

  • Better? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by magister159 (993682) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:51PM (#26004859) Homepage
    And this is better than virtualizing $LINUXDISTRO + OpenOffice.org how?
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:53PM (#26004871) Homepage Journal

    To me, the most interesting part of this short article is this:

    Revenue from Microsoft's Client division, which derives mostly from Vista... edged up just 2% year over year... despite the fact that the overall PC market grew 10% to 12% during the same period.

  • Congrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ericrost (1049312) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:54PM (#26004885) Homepage Journal

    On linking to the "Printable Article" rather than 6 pages of 3 sentences each (I'm assuming since I didn't bother to look) that is the standard format for Information Week!

  • Re:Better? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:56PM (#26004925)
    It's better for IBM. No one ever said it was better for you.
  • TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:57PM (#26004945)

    I'm posting anonymously because I don't want to have people at my company know who I am. But it seems to me that Linux while cheap to buy is not cheap to keep patched and secure, particularly in a fleet of inhomogeneous platforms and users and network,printer, or disk sharing conditions in different buildings and subnets.

    The nice thing about Linux however is that a very skillful and thoughtful person can plan out a very robust network and can mange the patches. But it takes effort, dicsipline and an above avegage IT guy. And if you lose that person, you are screwed. Even a new equally skilled guy probably can't get all the scripts and stuff the last guy used to manage to work.

    With windows, you can take a balow average imbecile, get them through a certification course, and they become almost interchangable monkeys. you need a lot of them since you will constantly be fighting fires or hunting down the right driver for the given brand of computer, but they can do it and it will work.

    Moreover, and this is the critical part, a manager who is not an expert can tell if his monkies are keeping up with patches. MS tells him what he need to do. With Linux you can't really tell if the IT guy is doing it all, or if your pants are around your ankles.

    So it's not enough to use Linux to reduce TCO. you need to have a company like IBM telling you how to manage your configuration. Not because a skillful IT can't. But because a manager will know that IBM has his back.

    saddly a mediocre virus prone Windows network is, to a manager, much easier to sleep at night, than a well run Linux system that's tight as a ducks Ass, simply because he knows it's reasonably safe from an industry standard point of view.

    people will trade, extremes (linux) for mediocre, if they can limit thier risks.

    I note this is one reason people think macs have low TCO. They are more secure than windows, and a manager can also know if they are getting patched right. So it's win win.

  • Re:Better? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:58PM (#26004953) Homepage Journal

    Support from IBM. Costly, but effective, for many large corporations. Plus, for corporations which already pay IBM big bucks, it probably lowers support costs to use their desktop.

  • by Hobart (32767) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:00PM (#26004989) Homepage Journal

    Wow, this sounds fantastic! Instead of using Ubuntu with OpenOffice from the repos, and paying Canonical for support, or, say, being able to pay *ANYONE* for support, since I have the full source...

    I can be locked into paying IBM for support for all the proprietary binaries! What a great idea!

    ...except not.

  • Just goes to show (Score:3, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:02PM (#26005023) Journal

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:07PM (#26005105)

    One of the things that truly sucks about Windows is the registry. Each windows box is its own unique little snowflake, thus impossible to replace easily.

    If this is done right, all the configuration is in the user's home ditrectory, probably shared on the network, and the rest of the system is a standard image. That means any user can use any computer and have their system where they want it.

    This is no surprise to us UNIX folk, but POWs "Prisoners Of Windows," will love it. Imagine being able to replace/upgrade your computer simply by dropping a new box in front of you. Your settings completely unchanged!!!

    I have been doing this with Linux for so long (separate /home disk that persists), I can't believe people still put up with Windows nonsense.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:11PM (#26005155)

    I haven't found Visio to be highly useful, personally.
    Umm. So what. Other people do. If it is not on there then it is a problem. Heck I would be happy for a mac port of Microsoft Project.

  • Re:Better? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vishbar (862440) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:13PM (#26005185)
    Many companies don't want to find out which distro is the best. That's precisely why they'd buy from IBM--a full Linux environment set up for them.
  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:17PM (#26005227)
    No, there's so much more. There's no CD drive, no USB drive, no external drive of any sort. There's no custom software or anything requiring its own license. We have a thin client terminal within the intelligence community called the DTW (Domain Trusted Workstation) that is pretty much universally despised by its users. DIA et al think it's a great idea though. Tom Freidman in his new book: Hot, Flat, and Crowded seems to think that it is the wave of the future though, even for home users. Let's just say I'll remain skeptical.
  • by copponex (13876) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:18PM (#26005237) Homepage

    Please don't act like OO is a feasible alternative for these programs.

    Why not? And please, be very specific.

    Some stuff doesn't work exactly right, but they offer pretty robust file compatibility. If you have coded yourself into a corner and are dependent on their VBA platform, now is a good time to start getting off the junk.

    The only program for most businesses that's missing is a full featured and multi-user accounting package like Quickbooks. There are certain programs which have zero alternatives, like Final Cut, Photoshop (for serious CMYK), Autodesk products, etc. But the beauty of OOo is that those windows and mac users can be on the free office platform, and as soon as the vendor offers a Linux release or a viable alternative arises, you have one less thing to migrate.

    Migration is painful, but if you choose the right platform to move to, it can be worth it. I recently moved a small office from SBS 2003 to an Ubuntu box. It was time consuming, and there were a lot of unforeseen problems the first few days, but now they have stopped obsessively checking the server to make sure it's still working, they receive far less spam, and when a free alternative to Quickbooks arrives, they will use all of the same programs - OOo, Firefox, Thunderbird - and only their OS will change.

    Building the bridges to dumping Windows is key. In my opinion, the open source community should focus on releasing cross platform applications and frameworks. Once you make the choice of Windows or Linux trivial for application support, people will undoubtedly choose the cheaper operating system, especially during the next few years while the economy is suffering worldwide.

  • Re:Better? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fantom2000 (700930) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:31PM (#26005395)
    well it is... stand tall.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:39PM (#26005507)

    No, there's so much more. There's no CD drive, no USB drive, no external drive of any sort.

    Might work in a call centre but in many other parts of business, one size doesn't fit all.

  • by Britz (170620) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:49PM (#26005651) Homepage

    While a hassle- and flash-free version of the article seems nice the linked page also does not seem to contain any adverstising. How does InformationWeek pay their authors and bandwidth bills (Slashdot seems to add a lot to the latter)?

    Right: They pay the same way Slashdot does. With ads. It's a one page article:
      http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/open_source/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=212202109 [informationweek.com]

  • Re:TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mhall119 (1035984) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:57PM (#26005721) Homepage Journal

    For linux you just host your own package repository, and configure the workstations to automatically install updates.

  • Re:TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:01PM (#26005777) Homepage Journal

    "particularly in a fleet of inhomogeneous platforms..."

    You probably meant 'heterogenous', but being as this is the Intetrnet, ya gotta be careful with yer language...

    "The nice thing about Linux however is that a very skillful and thoughtful person can plan out a very robust network and can mange the patches. But it takes effort, dicsipline and an above avegage IT guy. And if you lose that person, you are screwed. Even a new equally skilled guy probably can't get all the scripts and stuff the last guy used to manage to work."

    My experience is that this is true of most every OS.

    "With windows, you can take a balow average imbecile, get them through a certification course, and they become almost interchangable monkeys. you need a lot of them since you will constantly be fighting fires or hunting down the right driver for the given brand of computer, but they can do it and it will work."

    Ya sure. The monkeys will do fine until something difficult comes up, and then they will cause the trouble you don't want. As for hunting down drivers, you haven't been around Linux for long, have you? fortunately, Apple doesn't inflict you with this. They just deny you much choice in hardware...

    "Moreover, and this is the critical part, a manager who is not an expert can tell if his monkies are keeping up with patches. MS tells him what he need to do. With Linux you can't really tell if the IT guy is doing it all, or if your pants are around your ankles."

    Ha. Almost funny. Again, really true of most any OS.

    One thing you can be sure of. If you throw a loaded gun in monkey cage, something bad is going to happen.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:23PM (#26006057) Journal

    Can you be sure of that? Maybe he has a valid account that never replies to the same topics and posts insightful comments then uses that account to mod himself up...

    You'd never know it. For all you know, twitter and those other accounts are burning up your mod points on his posts so you can't use them on truly deserving posts.

    You'd have to spend an extreme amount of time on the meta-moderate page hoping to get a twitter story to "unmod" it. That is, if you even see a twitter post that gets modded up. You'd have to open each one and look for the author.

    There are so many different scenarios that could be playing out and you'd have no clue without being able to see the IP trail.

    Obviously Slashdot doesn't care about it as much as you do because they haven't started filtering the number of accounts permitted by IP. They wouldn't do that because of firewall banning concerns. Even if they did, there are anonymous relays all over the web that they could use if they REALLY wanted to.

    So really, is it worth burning mod points/posts/time on something you aren't sure about and has such a little impact to your life?

  • Re:TCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:32PM (#26006183) Homepage

    This mindset is why there are so many security problems with windows. The system admins really have no idea what they are doing, instead they are following howto documents.

    Administrators should know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Otherwise they are not administrating anything.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:41PM (#26006305)
    A desktop environment is so much more than the OS, its even more than the OS plus Office suite.

    Off the top of my head, our 'desktop environment' consists of:
    • OS (Windows XP Pro or Windows 2003 R2 for Terminal Services)
    • Office 2007
    • CRM application
    • Report generator
    • CCM application
    • Autoroute 2007
    • TopCalc (a third party Line of Business application)
    • CAP (a third party Line of Business application)
    • Legis (a third party Line of Business application)

    And thats without listing the several internal Line of Business applications we use.

    I can't remember when the last time was that a 'desktop environment' I used consisted solely of the OS and an office suite - and thats why we can't migrate to a different platform: theres no alternatives to 90% of the applications we use on other platforms.

    I think thats a point that many people gloss over.

  • Re:Better? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deraj123 (1225722) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:48PM (#26006399)

    I've experienced similar issues in a big "Oracle shop". Prior to that job, I never knew that Oracle produced such a multitude of applications. I think you're going to encounter similar issues anywhere that the tendency is to buy everything from the same vendor.

    However, that same tendency could have positive effect to the open source world. This is just another example of a standard, mainstream company saying "You don't have to go with Microsoft. Here's an alternative." When businesses start seeing this sort of thing offered as a viable alternative from a company like IBM (Nobody was ever fired for choosing IBM, right?), it starts to become a viable alternative in their eyes. Proliferation of non-Windows use in the corporate world can only be beneficial.

  • Re:TCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:52PM (#26006459)

    The parent is a typical fanboi post, long on FUD, short on facts.
    I'm posting anonymously because I don't want to have people at my company know who I am.

    This gives it away, of course.

    But it seems to me that Linux while cheap to buy is not cheap to keep patched and secure

    Please site some documentation for this statement. It is pure FUD.
    The nice thing about Linux however is that a very skillful and thoughtful person can plan out a very robust network and can mange the patches. But it takes effort, dicsipline and an above avegage IT guy. And if you lose that person, you are screwed. Even a new equally skilled guy probably can't get all the scripts and stuff the last guy used to manage to work.

    Again, this is pure FUD. *All* of the major distributions have had large management facilities as standard for years. "apt-get update" "apt-get upgrade" is all you need to know on [K]Ubuntu. yum for centos, and rpm for RH.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:53PM (#26006473) Journal
    Retraining costs and new IT infrastructure costs. Infrastructure includes human support training (i.e. IT Guys that have to support new software). In the long run it's supposed to be a win; however, in the short term and long term, there are very real costs, many more in the short run.
  • Re:Better? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoopahCell (1386029) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:14PM (#26006723)

    If anyone working for me chose/recommended IBM Lotus Notes, that would definitely put them teetering on the brink of fired. That thing is a nightmare for everyone.

  • by Arkham (10779) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:18PM (#26006757)

    A lot of development is moving away from the waterfall model that helped MS project become so entrenched in the first place.

    We've moved to using scrum [wikipedia.org] (a form of agile development), which has no use for MS Project. We do use ScrumWorks Pro [danube.com], but that's mostly because we have developers and QA spread around the word. It's a java app that works on Windows, Linux, and Mac, so there's no platform lock-in.

    It has a lot of and graphs for the manager types to look at, and does seem to help developers spend more time developing and less time deciding what they should do next. It's not perfect, but it's better than a bunch of Gantt charts.

  • Re:Whoa Indeed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khellendros1984 (792761) on Friday December 05, 2008 @04:20PM (#26006785) Journal

    Then there are the years of mindless "advocacy" that bring everyone on Slashdot down by association and hurt FOSS more than anything Microsoft could do

    Hmmm....that's an interesting idea. Twitter could actually be the ultimate Microsoft astroturfer, keeping the people on the brink of switching from seeing the *good* side of the Linux-using community.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:04PM (#26007255) Journal

    You forgot ....

    Shockwave/Flash
    Java
    YahooToolbar
    Ask.com bar
    Google toolbox
    Weatherbug
    Weather channel desktop (need two weather icons, one might be wrong)
    Kodak Picture viewer
    Musicmatch Jukebox
    CouponsPlus (I think that is the name)
    Ding (SW Airlines)

    I could go on.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday December 05, 2008 @05:26PM (#26007509) Journal

    Except that this includes IBM Lotus Symphony, which is not OSS. And maybe some other non-free things as well.

  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday December 05, 2008 @06:29PM (#26008233)

    Rather than a plethora of computers to choose, from manufacturers as varied as Apple to Zenith, there was a "safe" choice.

    One of the big questions about microcomputers was "what can it do?" As far as business went, there wasn't much a microcomputer could do for them (word processing was already very well handled by specific systems built for that use). That changed with Visicalc - the first spreadsheet. And Visicalc ran on the Apple II. Apple II was a part of the package that defined business use of microcomputers. That helped drive sales of Apple computers and turn microcomputers in to a multimillion dollar industry (of which Apple was a major part). And it was what caught IBM's attention who then introduced their PC.

    Yeah, sure... there was always the "you'll never be fired for buying IBM" thing going on. But it was also IBM entering the market that got people wondering what was useful about microcomputers and even noticing that a revolution was going on around them. Picking IBM over Apple would become a factor later (to Apple's detriment).

    But again - the point is that nailing down a particular "year of the microcomputer" isn't so easy. It was already happening before IBM took notice. It was already happening before TIME took notice. It wasn't yet happening until Compaq shipped their first product. It hadn't happened until the Internet gave home computers killer apps; email and the World Wide Web. The "year" of the microcomputer spans over a decade.

    Likewise, Linux is intermixed in history. It's fun to poke at those who so badly want Linux to be a run-away success story of disruptive technology (akin to the microcomputer). But the meme is nonsense. Our tech history has never worked that way. It just seems like it does to those who one day wake up to a whole new world that appears to spring up around them like technical mushrooms.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 06, 2008 @05:56AM (#26011899)
    I do apologise, I wasn't aware that my perception of my own companies desktop environment was so wrong - obviously you know more about it than I do!

    In an ideal world, LoB applications will closely follow the current 'best practices' or ideas - in this case, web applications. We are not in an ideal world, we are in a world where I work for a 25 year old company who have had internal software development done from day one. Any company of age will have lots of 'hidden' LoB applications that sit quietly on someone or others desktop doing their job, never needing to be rewritten because they do it so well - and they certainly wont get rewritten just because the current best practice has changed.

    That is the reality. That is the reality most companies of age live in. That is the reality most of Slashdot seems to gloss over.

    Your statement may be true if you include the word 'new' in there, but in a company that has legacy systems it most certainly is not true.

    Also, you seem fixated on Microsoft software - there are other vendors out there, and the lack of an alternative on a different platform is just as limiting as any MS software we 'need'. To put it bluntly - I would say that for a large proportion of businesses, MS software is not the issue with migrating to different platforms, while legacy systems most certainly are.

    Thats the reality.
  • Re:Better? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nozzo (851371) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:28AM (#26012361) Homepage
    You've hit the nail squarely on the head there Vishbar. Here is a cost effective desktop served on a plate with a side order of support from a long established company. It makes a lot of sense from many perspectives to many companies who don't want to be beholding to Microsoft or who cannot believe the price of Vista + Office Business. Don't get me wrong I'm not anti-MS by any means however I do believe in healthy competition.
  • Re:TCO (Score:2, Insightful)

    by some-old-geek (1329305) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:45AM (#26012877)
    Regarding TCO, the C is rarely T. It is, at best, the Total Cost of What I Can Account For Easily. At worst, it is Total Cost of What Supports the Decision I've Already Made. Most often, it's Total Cost of Acquisition.

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