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Businesses Open Source Upgrades Windows Linux

Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace? 452

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-mint-works-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recently my boss has asked me about the advantages of Linux as a desktop operating system and if it would be a good idea to install it instead of upgrading to Windows 7 or 8. About ten boxes here are still running Windows XP and would be too old to upgrade to any newer version of Windows. He knows that i am using Linux at work on quite outdated hardware (would have gotten a new PC but never requested new hardware — Linux Mint x64 runs quite well on it) and i always managed to get my stuff done with it. I explained to him that there are no licensing issues with Linux, there is no anti-virus software to deal with and that Linux is generally a bit more efficient on old hardware than operating systems from Microsoft. The boss seems interested." But that's not quite the end; read on for this reader's question.
"Since I am the only guy with Linux experience I would have to support the Linux installations. Now the problem is what works perfectly fine for me may be a horrible experience for some of my coworkers, and even if they would only be using Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice I don't know if I could seriously recommend using Linux as a desktop OS in a business. Instead I want to set up one test machine for users to try it and ask THEM if they like it. The test machine should be as easy and painless to use as possible and not look too different compared to Windows. Which distro and what configuration should I choose for this demo box?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

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  • Themes... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:40PM (#46716073)

    KDE can be configured to look identical to windows.

  • (X)Ubuntu (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:42PM (#46716105)

    I would recommend plain ol' Ubuntu since, imho, they have made the most polished Linux desktop experience for those with no prior linux experience. If you're worried that Unity may be sensory overload for some of your users -- consider installing Xubuntu and doing a little customization to give it the same general feel that your user's XP desktop would have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:43PM (#46716115)

    You will save yourself a lot of trouble by migrating the backend (servers, database) to linux first, and only then start on the frontend (workstations, user interface). You will also enjoy a larger benefit immediately, as the backend is where linux will really save you time and effort (once you have it configured).

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <[maxomai] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @01:43PM (#46716125) Homepage
    In my experience it's much easier to get Linux in the workplace as a server, and here there's lots of areas where it's as good as or better than Windows. Start with a LAMP server for internal web; use it to host a Wiki for documentation.
  • First step: Audit (Score:5, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:09PM (#46716439) Homepage

    If you want to know how to start, your first step would be to audit all the software that people use to get their jobs done. Once you have a complete list, ask these questions for each piece of software:

    1. Does that software run on Linux?
    2. If not, is there a comparable piece of software that would have all the functionality we need?
    3. If not, can we live without the missing functionality?

    If you get to the end of those questions and the answer is "no", then you should probably cut your losses and accept that you'll have to stick with Windows. If you can answer "yes" to at least one of these questions for every piece of software on your list, then select some users to be in a pilot program. You should find at least a couple semi-influential but fairly patient power users and set up a new test machine for them.

  • by houghi (78078) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @02:29PM (#46716641)

    Isn't Mint a distribution? So you should be able to make ity look like anything out there. I believe XFCE would look the most familiar.

    For the user, look at the desktop. For the admin, look at the distribution.

    As an admin, I would probably use something like SUSEStudio.com [susestudio.com], because it would mean I would be able to easily make an installable image that looks likeI would want it with the programs I desire.

    A bit of extra work and you have something that is really tailord for your company. You can make two images. One for clients and one for servers. Or go evebn further and edit YaST so you have only one image for several options. Portable, desktop, software selections per department, ...

    Obviously the work you put will depend on how large the company is.

  • Re:Lol don't (Score:2, Informative)

    by Entropius (188861) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:02PM (#46717079)

    Same with Windows.

    With Windows, it takes a ton of time for people to get stuff done.
    With Linux, it takes a little time from one person who really knows what she's doing to get stuff done.

    It's your choice between "drag and drop ALL the things" or "one-liner regex magic" to organize files, for instance.

    But Linux these days lets you do things the GUI way, too, so it's not really a problem. I gave an old laptop to a friend of mine who is completely tech-naive, and threw Lubuntu on it with some shortcuts on the desktop, and showed her how to use the package manager. She has no complaints and is able to do her stuff.

  • No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Burz (138833) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:05PM (#46717115) Journal

    As soon as they scratch the thinnest surface they will get very confused. In my experience, configuring KDE like Windows results in rejection after an initial period of brief comfort.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @06:54PM (#46719885) Homepage Journal

    This.

    The last company I worked for had some very seasoned Linux people, and shipped a half dozen Linux servers (pre-loaded with our software) a week. The developers ran Linux; the office staff ran Windows and OS/X.

    We the developers had to tweak and fiddle with our boxes for a couple of days every single time the AD server was patched or updated. We never did find drivers for the colour printer. Only one scanner out of four would work for us.

    We had to run Linux in order to do the development for the servers we shipped, because each developer's workstation was an in-development image of the server software.

    But from an administration and overhead position, it was a freaking nightmare.

    I run Debian at home on one box, and Windows 7 on a laptop. I don't have problems with it because all the hardware I own was specifically chosen for Linux compatability. I don't have AD problems because I just let the Windows box access read-only Samba mounts from the Linux box, and don't map my drives in reverse.

    But there is no way in hell I would ever recommend a shift to Linux unless it was for the entire company and they were willing to bankroll the time and effort it would take to properly set up Linux-centric file and print services.

    It's just not worth the pain.

    Whatever you save in licensing and hardware upgrade costs will be eaten by tech support costs in six months when you're only doing a partial/small-scale migration such as is being described.

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