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Linux Business

Where is Largest Linux Desktop Install? 606

jackb_guppy asks: "Talking with Managers about Linux Training for staff. One asked a simple question: 'Where is the largest installed base of Linux desktops?' My guess the question was asked prove that there is no market, and I am unable to find an answer. I am guessing the next question will be: 'Largest site using Linux to replace MS desktops?' Anyone have a suggestion?" Just for fun, if any of you have Linux Desktops deployed in your department, can you give us some numbers?
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Where is Largest Linux Desktop Install?

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  • by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:45PM (#2373911) Journal
    4... out of 27 computers... pittiful... but we develop drivers for Windows... so I guess it's ok...
  • Search slashdot for government, florida, linux, desktop. There was an article about a town replacing all their MS stuff with linux stuff.
    • There was an article about a town replacing all their MS stuff with linux stuff.

      Nope. They were replacing CDE with KDE. The article on the dot can be found here [kde.org], and I can't find the article on Slashdot on Google, and Slashdot's seach is *still* broken.

      "The City of Largo is a thin client/X shop [which supports] 400 thin client devices that support X, 800 total users, and run about 230 concurrently during the heaviest part of the day."


    • Here is a (the?) /. story on the City of Largo, Florida: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/08/13/124823 3&mode=thread [slashdot.org].

      It has several links with complete information. The short of it is that most of the city's employees use Linux as their day to day OS.

    • Jeb Bush's administration has created a new office of technology. One of their main policy objectives in technology is interoperability across state government agencies. How are they going after this interoperability? Windows 2000. Go figure. See the link.


  • by tech81 ( 128914 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:46PM (#2373917) Homepage Journal
    Either 1) some university 2) IBM or 3) the collective OSDN offices. . .
  • Our operation runs completely on Windows 2000. However, I have set up one old PC with Linux (Redhat 7.1) so that everyone who wants to can give it a spin.
    • Quoted for those who can't see 0 scores. Leif_Bloomquist wrote "Our operation runs completely on Windows 2000. However, I have set up one old PC with Linux (Redhat 7.1) so that everyone who wants to can give it a spin. "

      For this he was modded down to 0, and tagged Redundant. How can it be redundant if noone else has ever posted how many computer Leif_Bloomquist has running Windows and Linux? It might not directly answer the posted question, which wants the most Linux desktops, but at least let the guy have a voice.

      Have the moderators gotten lousy in the last month, or is this a cyclical thing? (I've been reading and posting for about 4 months now.) Seems every topic lately has posts modded down to 0 and tagged either Flamebait or Redundant, when they don't deserve it. They may not be the most informative and in-depth posts, but they're not trashing anyone or pasting diatribes either.

      Hell, I'm glad this guy cares about Linux enough that he setup a Linux box for his Windows-only co-workers to tryout. Again, how is this information Redundant? Plus, it's not an Anonymous Coward posting, it's someone who is putting his name on his post, and possibly his real name at that. This kind of stuff makes me want to stop reading Slashdot and get back to work. A sentiment I have seen others mention several times in the last two weeks. Maybe it should be a topic in itself.

      • You get to judge a moderation. When you
        log in, its at the top of the home page.

        From what I know, the metamoderation can
        change a users chance of being a moderator.
        So, when you see unjust moderations, you
        can mark them as unfair and that user may
        not end up moderating any more.

        And your right, anything on topic should
        be posted in the forums. Not just specific
        to the question in the article, but something
  • My university has virtually every machines dual-boot Debian + NT. Does that count? Lotsa computers but NT gets used 99% of the time ;-)
    • Re:Colleges (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Universtiy of Texas has a list of their undergraduate lab machines on line. [utexas.edu] (The page isn't exact, an on-line probe shows 79 Linux boxes in the "public" group right now.)

      Add to this about 200 more "private" Linux systems for the professors' and grad students' desktops.

      ruptime shows 513 systems on the common filesystem, which includes all the "public" systems and lots of the "private" systems, though some portion of that number will be brand-name Unix and some will be lab machines used more for batch processing than for desktops. Still, that is 513 Linux/Unix boxes of some type, of which an estimated 300 are Linux boxes deployed for desktop use.

      Overall, they have 2000-3000 active accounts on the combined Linux/Unix login, though many of those will be for undergraduates who do not use it unless they have to.
  • by McVeigh ( 145742 ) <seth&hollen,org> on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:49PM (#2373938) Homepage
    Largo has switched about 800 desktops to linux using thin clients. They use balsa for e-mail and KDE for the desktop. links here [consultingtimes.com] and here [kde.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:49PM (#2373941)
    I have a big 3 by 4 meter projector, i display the desktop on my wall.

    I think it must be the biggest desktop in use.
  • Development Shop (Score:3, Informative)

    by kevinank ( 87560 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:49PM (#2373944) Homepage
    In my last project we had about 80 developers about half of whom were running linux on at least one of their boxes; so 40 desktops (admittedly specialized). It won't be the biggest installation by far, but I was genuinely surprised by the level of interest among other developers here.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Are belong to MS.

    As one of their former 'softies' who worked in the WinLuX division, I have signed quite a few NDAs preventing me from talking about it, but let's just say they've got a fairly large group devoted to "bringing Linux to the masses".

    The WinsBD group isn't quite as big.
  • try cisco (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by agentzer0 ( 468835 )
    I seem to remember an announcement about Cisco switching all of their workstations to linux. Try searching slashdot... i think that's where i heard it.

    Certainly a persuasive argument, i would think.
  • HP uses linux... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:52PM (#2373970)
    In the lab I am at @ HP, we probably have 200 Linux workstations being used, and th enumber is increasing every month as money is tight. We are replacing many of the Unix workstations with Linux, because why buy a $20,000 workstation, when a $1500 Linux workstation can do 'all that and more"? All of our development software now runs on linux, and everyone seems to like it.

    • because why buy a $20,000 workstation, when a $1500 Linux workstation can do 'all that and more"?

      Which is funny coming from HP since, well, they made a lot of money on HP-UX and PA-RISC machines :) NORTEL used to have high end HP-UX boxen all over hte place as normal development workstations (coding workstations, not graphical/CAD type stuff) So it'll be interesting to see if/how HP makes money as HP-UX dies off and instead of being replaced by NT (the original plan) it ends up being Linux. Hmmmmm.... Itanium power boxes anyone? :)

      • Re:HP uses linux... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 4of12 ( 97621 )

        Funny but true.

        Our site has ~300 RISC (Sun SPARC) desktops that we'll probably replace with Linux boxes due to the superior economics.

        Not only that, but our boxes will likely come from HP, because we're looking for a company with UNIX support experience (eliminating Dell as a supplier, who gets a lot of the NT/2K business here).

        So, the upshot is that things are changing fast.

        In a nutshell, the expensive UNIX workstations are being squeezed by cheap Linux boxes.

        For small and medium servers, Linux is great, but our heavy lifting is still done on Sun ES10K machines. I don't see that changing for a few years.

        Your question is really appropriate, though, as more and more enterprises, particularly technical oriented shops are looking at desktop Linux seriously.

        In my mind, the big questions are: ease of management of a Linux LAN, managing users, system upgrades, interoperability with the rest of the enterprise, whether the video card options support hardware OpenGL to the level needed for scientific visualization, and whether various commercial applications are available (PATRAN, ProEngineer, Framemaker, Purify, Quantify, etc.).

        Generally, I think the answers bode well, but we're all looking for an example site with hundreds of users for some feedback to confirm our optimism.

    • Re:HP uses linux... (Score:2, Informative)

      by thissurfer ( 96242 )
      HP isn't the only large company utilizing the linux desktop. lots of companies are taking advantage of the linux desktop (and the price) in their R&D departments...even if what you do has next to nothing to do with Linux. here at the R&D site, for example, we have over 20 linux boxes that are used for their X display capablities so that UNIX and windows developers can work on software that has nothing to do with Linux. go figure.
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:54PM (#2373982) Homepage Journal
    This isn't something you should use to determine Linux's strengths. I've contracted for a company that makes a cross-platform program. We all used windows, but had exceed for a solaris box and a linux box to make those ports.

    Why? Because its easier for the IT managers to buy a bunch of windows boxes they are familiar with, and dump exceed on them, than having a buncha linux boxes with some type of windows viewer.
  • Where I used to work, many of us used Linux as our desktop, and all of us used linux for the actual job (monitoring network packets, custom filters, custom network sniffing, etc)

    In addition to those desktops, we used linux for test nodes (the company tests commercial firewalls and VPNS)...so at least 130 linux boxes there, probably more.

    The company also used linux/freebsd for much of its network infrastructure (pop, smtp, dhcp, dns, etc). This was mixed in with microsoft exchange and NT/2000 file/print servers.
  • Korean Air? (Score:4, Informative)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:55PM (#2373988) Homepage
    news at http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/zseries/news/ pressreleases/2001/zseries_koreanair_pr_071601.htm l

    Seoul, Korea, July 16, 2001 -- Korean Air, Korea's national flagship airline, and IBM today announced that Korean Air has completed the first phase of developing its core business applications running on Linux for the IBM.

    Korean Air's Flight Schedule Enquiry System and the Daily Revenue Accounting System employ Linux on IBM hardware and software.

    The enquiry system provides flight crew members with on-line real-time flight schedule information, which they can update anytime. More than 3,000 Korean Air pilots and flight attendants are currently using the system.


    I also heard some talk about the government of Mexico, but that was recently and there may not have been progress there.

  • by nakedjames ( 442494 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:56PM (#2373997) Homepage
    Late late news!

    Burlington Coat Factory will install Linux on 1,150 computers in its 250 stores over the next 12 to 18 months.

    "Burlington will run Red Hat Software Inc.'s version of Linux on 1,250 Dell OptiPlex® PCs for office management, to administer its Baby Registry and to handle back-office functions such as shipping and receiving. Dell will factory-install Red Hat Linux software through its DellPlus service on the OptiPlex GX1 computers, giving Burlington the ease and efficiency of PCs that arrive ready to use."

    Sited from: Linux in Business [bynari.com]
    • I'm not really sure if this use constitutes what one would normally consider a 'desktop'. The issues you would consider for specialized, turn-key applications are quite different that the issues you would consider for picking a desktop for the everyday user. There are tons of ATMs and POS machines out there that run OS/2, and some are probably still being deployed, but I doubt many today or then would still recommend OS/2 for the desktop (and I was a rabid OS/2 fan).
  • Dumb question? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tin Weasil ( 246885 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:56PM (#2374002) Homepage Journal
    And what is the world's largest installed base of Windows computers? This isn't an easily answered question for any operating system.

    Tell the manager that finding a definitive answer to his question is beyond the scope of your abilities. It's an unanswerable question because there aren't licensing issues with Linux, so tracking that number by per-seat licenses as is done with Windows and other non-free operating systems is not possible.

    Then answer his question with some of the many sucessful linux conversions that HAVE taken place. Burlington coat factory, General Motors, City Governments, China.

    Talk about the NSA developing security for Linux.

    You aren't going to win a numbers game because the free availability of Linux means that it can be installed many times over without a distributor being able to track the numbers.

    I can download my favorite Linux distro and install it to hundreds of PCs without anyone outside the company knowing those figures. With MS products, they can track the licensing down to every copy in use at any business. Therefore, MS will always win the numbers game.
    • Re:Dumb question? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mobiGeek ( 201274 )
      Also try returning a follow-up question:
      What is the world's highest/average licensing arrangement for a Windows install base?
      Its an equally moot question, but it should send back the original message he/she was trying to give you.
    • Re:Dumb question? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brennan73 ( 94035 )
      But it's possible that the person isn't asking to *win* a numbers game, per se; rather, I get the impression that they want to prove that Linux can be deployed on the desktop in largish enterprises. In other words, they want to be able to show numerous examples of large enterprises using Linux on the dekstop (the larger the better, the more like theirs the better), as opposed to showing that there are more organizations with MS than Linux.

    • Maybe there is no way to say the *largest* install base, but you can compare..

      In my company (with about 9,000 people), every desktop runs Windows (company standard). Now, I'm not necessarily saying 9,000 computers here run Windows (even halfed it would be 4,500). The real number probably exists between 4500 and 9000. We are like many other companies (some larger) that exist today...

      The question shouldn't be what's the largest, but is there a Linux desktop base install the size of a medium sized corporation (let's say, 1000 to 5000 people). I think you'd find that there are very few if any. This is what management is trying to figure out. Management doesn't want to invest in something that could screw them in the end and VERY FEW managers are willing to stick their neck out and be on the "bleeding edge" of technology. (Most managers of bigger companies are very conservative).

      Largo, FL is an example of a decent-sized "company" running Linux on the desktop, but look at the number of 800 workstation companies that run Windows, and Largo looks like a grain of sand on the beach.

    • Re:Dumb question? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:46PM (#2374319) Homepage Journal
      It isn't that the question is dumb. The people who think this way have what I describe as a schooling instinct -- there's safety in numbers.

      There's good reason for some folks to think this way, although some of them don't apply to open source. To them the idea that they can just pick up maintenance of a software project themselves is as meaningless as if you told them they could start maintaining jet aircraft if they needed to. It's strictly speaking true, but it's not the business they're in.

      The numbers question is more of a proxy for questions like the following: (1) Are new applications being developed for this platform? (2) Will support for this platform and products on this platform be withdrawn? (3) Will I be able to hire people who can work in this platform? (4) Will future hardware be supported on this platform?

      The answers to these are all favorable under Windows. I think the answers are becoming more favorable for Linux, but they aren't on par with Windows from the standpoint of people making desktop acquisition decisions.

      I think desktop Linux is ready for those who might want to take a chance. These will be people on a restricted budget (like schools), and startups with minimal legacy stuff installed (nobody likes supporting multiple platforms). But for your typical MIS shop, even the enormous projected increases in MS licensing costs is not going to dissuade them until Linux has established a number of unassailable beacheads on the desktop front. They'd rather tell management to pay MS up front than have to go back a year from now with their tail between their legs and an even larger bill to pay.

      This isn't a question of good or evil, its just the way things are in MIS-land. Conservatism and safety rule. Linux will not take the desktop by storm the way it has taken the server market as much as I or you might wish it to. The Largos of thw world are exceptions, although strategically important ones. At best Linux going to advance slowly until it reaches a critical mass. The earliest I see this happening is several years out -- say 2004 -- provided there's steady growth in users and maturity, and that promising early indications are not seriously set back. If and when it does reach critical mass it will crush the opposition with unbeatable pricing, but that may never happen. It also is very possible that destop Linux will never take off in a big way, and remains a server OS and hobbyist desktop.

      I'm basically optimistic, but I think that it will be several years before you can satisfy the kind of viewpoint that needs the answer to the numbers question.

  • Home Depot (Score:5, Informative)

    by worldwideweber ( 116531 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:58PM (#2374010) Homepage Journal
    Home Depot is using Red Hat Linux for a huge in-store system that its employees will use for tasks such as receiving, ordering, and inventory management. As many as 90,000 cash registers (etc) are running Linux there. Check out this article [informationweek.com] for details.
  • Reality (Score:5, Informative)

    by sting3r ( 519844 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:58PM (#2374011) Homepage
    I work for a small firm that offers UNIX (including Linux) based software to integrate the newer UNIX servers with old mainframe applications (like CICS and such). We have 110 employees, 95 of whom are "technical" (coders, sysadmins, etc.). A few months ago we tried to move the 15 non-technical employees (receptionists, accounting, etc.) to a Linux desktop, to save ourselves from spiraling Microsoft upgrade costs. We tried several combinations of KDE, Gnome, and traditional window managers; we also tried both Koffice and StarOffice for word processing and spreadsheets. (For text editing, vim was out of the question; emacs was bordering on insanity.) The result? They hated it, and productivity went down fast. The IS folks' workload tripled overnight as the Linux newbies got stuck trying to figure out why the KDE/Gnome desktops were so illogical. We couldn't find a non-IE browser that would work with our bank's site, so bookkeeping needed a Windows PC regardless (which they tended to fight over, since nobody liked Linux). People would hit the reset button when X died or crashed, and the resulting fsck would take half their filesystem with it. It was a nightmare.

    Today our non-techies run Windows and our coders mostly run Linux, just as before. And it works (relatively) well. There are crashes and annoyances on the Windows side but at least it's usable. Linux simply isn't up to the task yet - and with funding for open source projects going down the toilet as LNUX, SGI, CALD, and RHAT slowly die off, things aren't going to change anytime soon.


    • by Anonymous Coward
      One question I would have is, why was the experience that you had so vastly different from the one described in the florida government? There they seemed to make good use of it and had few problems transitioning employees to the new system. I'm thinking that perhaps there is a strategy that does work well for deploying Linux in a business environment if the right approach is taken.

      I'm a bit baffled about some of what you are describing. When X died, you say they'd hit reset and then fsck would take out half their filesystem? I see a few things here that don't make sense:

      1) why was X dying? I've never had X die except in the rarest occasions or more routinely on systems I had really futzed with.

      2) why would fsck cause damage to half their filesystem? while I've on occasion hit reset or powered down without a proper shutdown I have never had fsck cause any damage to my filesystem. Furthermore, if that was a concern, a journaling FS like XFS could have solved your problem.

      3) why were newbies having to "figure out" the desktop? what kind of training did you give them?

      4) you say you kept trying several combinations. wouldn't that tend to lead to increased confusion about and disdain for the new environment? seems like picking one thing after careful evaluation and sticking with it would solve some headdache.

      5) If your bank requires IE, maybe you should consider a new bank? I mean that may seem drastic, but if they are uncapable of supporting the system your business wants to use, I'm sure another bank would be happy to hold on to your money.

      When you look at the setup they used in Florida, they made a very strong point of making it simple for the users. They eliminated a lot of unneeded and potentially confusing funcationality, and they did an apparent good job of figuring out what they really needed to have to do the work they wanted to do.

      Basically what it boils down to is that I get the sense that Linux is capable of being on the office desktop if it is implemented in a way that conforms to its benefits and drawbacks. You will have some initial training investment because it's different from what most people use, but there's no evidence I've seen to indicate that it's a fundamentally unusable OS in that space.
      • If your bank requires IE, maybe you should consider a new bank? I mean that may seem drastic, but if they are uncapable of supporting the system your business wants to use, I'm sure another bank would be happy to hold on to your money.

        I think it would be silly to change your bank simply because your OS doesn't support it. Imagine there was some bank out there whose website did not render properly on IE - how silly would an MS zealot look if he suggested affected companies change their banks ? ? How loud would that zealot get shouted down here ?

        The choice of an OS should not determine a company's policies elsewhere.

        And I would bet that the original poster's company spent some time training their employees, and their failure to get comfortable with Linux reflects both the reality of the state of the Linux desktop and the level of comfort people have with the MS desktop, rather than the lack of adequacy of training. Just this weekend I installed Mandrake 8.1 and spent way too much time 1) figuring out how to move the Windows95-style taskbar from the left side to the bottom, and 2) figuring out how to change the layout of said task bar. Things like that should not be that difficult.

        • by Eric Green ( 627 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:02PM (#2374430) Homepage
          For example, my employer standardized on Netscape close to 5 years ago, and it is still corporate policy that the default browser on all installs shall be Netscape. This is on *WINDOWS*, BTW.


        • 1) figuring out how to move the Windows95-style taskbar from the left side to the bottom, and 2) figuring out how to change the layout of said task bar. Things like that should not be that difficult.

          Why just last night, when i was adding OpenNIC's [unrated.net] root server to my home sytems, I had to change the IP addresses of my client's DNS servers...

          On my Windows PC, i had to find 'network settings' by clicking start, settings and then control panel. Where I had to then click the "Network" icon. I then had to choose TCP/IP from a list and choose 'properties'. Once there I had to click "DNS settings", then choose and click the 'remove' button for all the IPs there, then type in each new one followed by clicking the 'add button'. Phew, ill tell you it was a daunting task...

          On my GNU/Linux laptop i edited the file at /etc/resolv.conf with a simle text editor and restarted the named process.

          it sure was alot easier with GNU/Linux, I dont know how anyone figures out how to fix Windows when it isnt working...

      • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:12PM (#2375351) Homepage
        "1) why was X dying? I've never had X die except in the rarest occasions or more routinely on systems I had really futzed with. "

        X dies frequently on my system. It really depends on the version of XFree86 you use + your vid card. The error messages aren't terribly helpful to a newbie either.

        "2) why would fsck cause damage to half their filesystem? while I've on occasion hit reset or powered down without a proper shutdown I have never had fsck cause any damage to my filesystem."

        Ever have a newbie try to answer some of the questions fsck puts up? "Your iNode is supposed to be 64, it's 8." "What?" Windows's automatically check in the beginning of the 9x series sucked, but at least it ran pretty much automatically.

        "Furthermore, if that was a concern, a journaling FS like XFS could have solved your problem."

        Um, right answer to the wrong question. Journaling file systems help, but if you fsck fuck have your drive (or the media itself) forget it. Ask anyone running Windows 2000, even with journaling already turned.

        "3) why were newbies having to "figure out" the desktop? what kind of training did you give them?"

        For certain users, no amount of training helps. I'm still teaching people how to click and drag, and I've repeated the instructions to some of them 20 times. There is a difference in innate usability, however, between desktops like KDE and Mac OS. Mac OS X is perhaps the most intuitive GUI I've ever seen, with Windows XP following in second. I like KDE, but it's confusing to most new users.

        "4) you say you kept trying several combinations. wouldn't that tend to lead to increased confusion about and disdain for the new environment? seems like picking one thing after careful evaluation and sticking with it would solve some headdache."

        The average user upgrades their GUI (Windows) every 2-3 years. Things are going to change rapidally. The only problem, as it's been said many times before, is that Linux doesn't have the "advantage" of having a single, standardized desktop. At least if you know one version of Windows, you pretty much have a good idea how the next one is going to act.

        "5) If your bank requires IE, maybe you should consider a new bank? I mean that may seem drastic, but if they are uncapable of supporting the system your business wants to use, I'm sure another bank would be happy to hold on to your money."

        My company has $100 million worth of assets. Some companies are easily in the billions. Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to move that amount of money simply because your browser doesn't work? The bank is supporting 92% of the internet browsing populations -- what more can you ask for? If you go to the vast majority of banks and ask "Does your banking portal work with Linux broswers?" they won't have a clue what you are talking about.

        I find it hard to believe that a majority of these "counterpoint" arguments were even thought out.

    • The reality is that the linux systems weren't setup to take advantage of the available resources. If you had to wait for fsck to run, then you weren't using any of the available journaling filesystems. If you had X crashing, then what was the cause? It dosen't crash on my system, but when things crash on linux, it is because of a fairly finite reason. Windows can crash with random and difficult to track errors.

      Also, system admins, please do not just install linux for a non-technical user and walk away. They will be lost and hate both you and linux. Linux can be wonderful for non-technical user if they know their way around. The above account is an example of how *not* to approach a migration.

    • > A few months ago we tried to move the 15 non-technical employees (receptionists, accounting, etc.) to a Linux desktop... The result? They hated it, and productivity went down fast.

      Fire their asses. I know lots of dumbfuk secretaries who used to do just fine running their applications from a DOS prompt. Ditto for clerks working from a VMS prompt. Anyone who can't deal with the spiffy new Linux desktops is suffering from a bad case of dont-want-to.

      > We couldn't find a non-IE browser that would work with our bank's site

      Sounds like you need to talk to your banker. They're not very technically adept, but they do understand things like "take our account to another bank".
      • Fire their asses. I know lots of dumbfuk secretaries who used to do just fine running their applications from a DOS prompt. Ditto for clerks
        working from a VMS prompt. Anyone who can't deal with the spiffy new Linux desktops is suffering from a bad case of dont-want-to.

        And if you looked carefully you would find these 'dumbfucks' (note the spelling) had probably been using DOS or VMS from the old days, and that it probably took them a long time to get their training (however they got it). You would also find that if you tried to convert a modern office *back* to DOS or VMS you would find plumetting productivity and resistance to change. So would you recommend people being fired in this case, as well ? Does difficulty in training users nowadays in DOS/VMS somehow make the latter a better choice ?

        Then, of course, there are all the associated costs involved with firing these employees: severance packages, hiring new Linux-savvy ones or training new ones in Linux (recalling that the latter was hard to do for the company in the first place), transition costs including lost productivity during interim training, etc, and you will probably find firing these employees is not a viable solution.

        Just because you think Linux is easy to use does not make it so.
      • Fire them and replace them with what? If all of the "non-technies" had a hard time with the environment, what makes you think it's going to be easy (or cheap) to drop in replacements that can? Any mention of these things in a job posting will scare off any potential non-techie (but flexible) folks, and will tend to draw technie (and more expensive) people to their place. If all you want is a 100% techie shop, that's certainly a noble goal, but it isn't realistic in the real world.

        Banks also have to certify their sites for functionality, privacy and security before they'd be willing to say, "We support this browser." Either they certify the myriad of Linux-compatible solutions at significant additional cost (for what, a 0.5% increase in potential online customer base?), or they do it half-assed and say, "Should work, go for it." There is logic on both sides of the fence here, but it's a business decision to be made by the bank. A bank that refuses to accomodate browser versions it's not able to personally certify as up to the task is arguably one that's safer, where I'd be more comfortable banking online. I have yet to find a bank that would consider supporting non-mainstream (and/or untested) browser versions.

        The original poster is right: Linux is not 100% up to the task yet. Don't get pissy with that conclusion, ask what the problem is and fix it so that it isn't a problem anymore.

        Every 6 months or so I bring a couple of my Linux systems up to date as far as the X, KDE and Gnome stuff goes, and spend a day or two trying to make it a usable desktop. For the most part, it's quite usable, but it's always lacking a fluidity of interface that other GUI-native operating systems (MacOS, Windows) have nailed. There is also a training overhead involved for people that have been "classically" trained on Windows. Sitting friends down in front of it, even after brief periods of experimentation, they still end up having to ask me how to do simple tasks. The naming of some applications in Linux leaves a bit to be desired.

        I will continue using my Linux systems for what they're best at: server tasks. It's all about using the best tool for the task. Linux is not the best tool for all tasks.
    • Flamebait? Why is a real experience tagged as flamebait? Just because you don't agree with the conclusion doesn't mean you're being attacked.
      • Re:Reality (Score:3, Informative)

        by hearingaid ( 216439 )

        dumbass. here's a little lecture in net.talk. perhaps you should read GLS' jargon file, but I digress.

        troll: a posting or a poster designed to aggravate and irritate. trolls are universally annoying. [lame] example: "Your mother is a reptile."

        flamebait: a posting that will tend to attract flames. this is not something that is inherently offensive, but merely dangerous in the current medium.

        what is flamebait varies.

        flamebait is also not a conscious attack. it tends to be more on the order of being insensitive to local norms.

        the above posting was flamebait because it suggested that Linux was doomed. and this is /. - the exact same posting to a windows-programming newsgroup, for example, would not have been flamebait. but here it is.

    • by Vaystrem ( 761 )
      A company addressing the needs of its non-technical employees and discovering they weren't up to the task of a more complicated environment than Windows is a reasonable post, there is nothing flamebait'ish about it.

      That usability survey that was up on /. a few months back illustrates the same thing, that many many people are not ready for Linux. Linux is not for the massess yet, and when it directly impedes productivity in a certain area of the business because the users are unable to use it it should be removed because productivity is the key to any business.

      Someone else posted that these non-technical people should be fired? Just because someone can't grok linux doesn't make them a useless employee.

    • Re:Reality (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jens ( 85040 )
      The result? They hated it, and productivity went down fast ... as the Linux newbies got stuck trying to figure out why the KDE/Gnome desktops were so illogical.

      I.e. they didn't want to learn some new concepts because they (perhaps unconsciously) wanted to prove their older system was better, no matter what the 'techies' say.

      People would hit the reset button when X died or crashed ...

      I don't know why X died or crashed on yo so often, but

      • what does Windows do when you hit the reset button so often - do your users accept SCANDISK + data loss?
      • why didn't you use a journaling FS?
      • why didn't you educate your users about C-A-Backspace? Is that becaus they didn't want to be educated?

      Today ... There are crashes and annoyances on the Windows side but at least it's usable. Linux simply isn't up to the task yet

      What you perhaps should have done is provide your users with thin clients which they can reset and reboot all they want (if they want), but which would never damage any file systems or data. the City of Largo did this (see dot.kde.org report) and they are perfectly happy. The users. Not (only) the 'techies'.

      But nobody can force a new system down the throat of users who a) don't want it, b) think they still have a choice, c) think their opinion is more important / correct / better / ..., and d) want the 'I told you so' effect to go down on you. (Try giving me Windows. It's not gonna work.)

    • which they tended to fight over, since nobody liked Linux

      As long as they hold this attitude, it ain't gunna happen. You can use ext3 journalling, you can give them the latest-greatest KDE apps or Mozilla (which scream along in comparison to the second-latest-greatest), you can do all of these things to no avail. They will still find something to whine about.

      Now if you keep your eyes open, you'll find one or two important people playing a game or using an app that they treasure. It might even be Solitaire. When you do discover what the sticking point is, install it or a better one on Linux boxes not being used by them, and show the other users how to use it. The answer to Solitaire would be PySol. You may lose a few man-hours to a game, but once your legacy system users are acquainted with it, the transition suddenly becomes easier.

      A similar tactic is to install one or two Linux boxes in their area ``for visitors'' or whatever, and put a whole raft of really interesting things on them. Then have people go in every so often and use the interesting things on the Linux boxes only. I don't know your people; it might be bzflag, TuxRacer, Jabber, anything. Who knows what pushes their button? Try them all.

  • by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:59PM (#2374019) Journal

    Burlington Coat Factory runs Red Hat Linux on 1,250 Dell OptiPlex systems. If you do a search on Dells website or Google, you will find it.

  • What about VA Linux? How many does the company (with sourceforge, thinkgeek, slashdot, etc...) use?

    I, actually, heard a rumor that the "higher-ups" don't use Linux. Is this true?
  • A lot here (Score:2, Informative)

    by skhazra ( 37185 )
    I work at the Centre for Wireless Communications at National University of Singapore and I guess out of 250 people or so here almost every one has at least one linux box, some have more and I have the maximum, which is 15!!

    So things are good here I guess. Its one place where the tech support knows how to setup printer in linux ;)
  • by Organism ( 457220 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:06PM (#2374080) Homepage
    They apparantly saved over £250,000 (~$350k) by switching to Linux and Star Office. This was during the uproar about MS licensing.

    My Poor Sig.
  • Some numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pruneau ( 208454 )
    Telecom business - international company with 100.000 people (you can see the name of the company in the adds...)
    We have a research site, 1700 people working here, around 4000 machines.
    Amongst them, we have 300 "repertoried" linux cpus, with around 80 desktop and some servers. But apparently this will soon ramp up.
    my .2 cents.
  • My university has at least 5 major public access PC labs configured with to dualboot linux and Win98. I'd say roughly 180 desktops on linux, not counting the dozens of CS and engineering faculty PCs and servers running linux.

    These labs are managed by the CS department and user accounts are actually shell accounts on the CS linux/unix server cluster, so you can log in at any station and your desktop travels with you. Each machine has a linux login screen with an option to reboot into Win98 after logging in.

    The engineering department has a similar system using MS networking (with no dual boot linux desktop option), but I'm pretty sure the ENGRNT domain controller is actually a Samba box.

  • I have here Linux deployed on 45-50 desktops (r&d) and about the same in Win2K/NT4 desktops (Sales, Marketinng, Management, etc)

    BUT, All my servers here, including R&D test beds.. all run linux.. about 300 Machines.

  • The Department of Computer Science [helsinki.fi] in the University of Helsinki has all its desktop machines running linux. Some dual boot to W2K. The machine listing is here: [helsinki.fi]
    Status of machines

    No, I did not count them.

  • Odd Question... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BMazurek ( 137285 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:16PM (#2374141)
    Doesn't this seem like an odd premise for the question? Training people on the Linux desktop. What does that mean exactly? You're trying to make Linux a viable alternative to Windows. A reasonable, commendable to some, desire.

    Except, what does Linux training mean within that context? You're likely not teaching people about bourne shell. Or how to use tar, mv, etc. Oh, you're going to teach them about the GUIs. Okay, KDE, Gnome? Application software like Star Office?

    But none of those are Linux-specific, either. They could apply equally well to a host of other UN*X-like OSs....

    I think at the "desktop" level it's not Windows versus Linux. That's the problem with OSs where you can customize and change the desktop to such an extent that it is totally foreign to someone who is supposedly trained under the "Linux desktop".
    • Yes, indeed, non-technical people do need training even to use a GUI environment like KDE. For example: Single click vs. double click. On Windows, you double-click to open a program. On KDE, you single-click. Minor difference, you say? Tell that to the secretary who manages to open StarOffice *TWICE* (after her disk stops churning, that is!).

      StarOffice: Yep, you have to train the secretaries how to do basic operations in StarOffice. Many learned MS Word in school. That's what they know, and they don't know how to learn without being trained. Does this make them stupid? Well, maybe (at least as far as computers go), but that's why they're secretaries, not highly paid engineers like you.

      Basically, you cannot just throw out the software and expect them to "get it". Even if the software is utterly intuitive to a highly trained engineer, it is *NOT* intuitive to someone who is not a computer geek. I remember the first time one of my musician friends used Windows... "okay, double-click on that icon ... left button... no, not that left, the other left!". Why assume that Linux will be any easier?


      • You misunderstand what I am saying. (Everything you say, I concur with.) Allow me to clarify:

        What "Linux Desktop Training" means to you may mean something completely different to someone else. There is no broadly-accepted standard for the Linux Desktop, hence, "Linux Desktop Training" is elusive.

        Couple that with the fact that what most people would include under the heading of "Linux Desktop Training" are tools that are not tied in any way to Linux (like KDE, Gnome, Star Office) and you only cloud the issue further.

        Then add an "Ask Slashdot" question about the largest install size based upon this house of cards, and the whole thing begins to seem absurd.
      • On Windows, you double-click to open a program. On KDE, you single-click. Minor difference, you say? Tell that to the secretary who manages to open StarOffice *TWICE* (after her disk stops churning, that is!).

        In KDE this behaviour can be modified in KDE Control Center->Peripherals->Mouse->Double-click to open files and folders.

        The Desktop Settings Wizard that runs the first time KDE boots for a new user will automatically set this option if you choose the Windows-like mode of operation for KDE (second question in the wizard after your country and language).

        Your argument is null and void, and you should learn to use the desktops that you are arguing about before you spout off rubbish about them.

  • Dreamworks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:18PM (#2374153) Homepage
    Dreamworks switched their rendering farms to Linux.

    They are in the process of switching their desktops from SGI to Linux right now. Timescale: A few month (and a lot of work beforehand).

    Source: The Dreamworks CTO at a presentation at San Franciscos LinuxWorld

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:19PM (#2374158)
    As much as many of us love Linux, a lot of people are so used to Windows, or even so fond of it that they may not do well in a Linux enviornment. Imagine if someone came up to you running a Linux desktop, not even doing very hard work, at least nothin beyond the capabilities of Windows, and told you you were moving to windows, and you would at least have to try it. You would make such a fuss, and even in cases when you *know* you could do something and how you would do it, you will tend to say that the task is as feasible under Windows, even when you know this fact may not be true. Same is true of Windows users. Most don't want to learn anything else. And technical users that prefer Windows can be as fanatical as most of the Slashdot community is about Unix. You have to make sure that the costs do not exceed the benefits..
  • by Ktistec Machine ( 159201 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:27PM (#2374191)
    And here are some more out-of-date stats,
    from last year, to give you an idea of our
    department's size. We have one IIS server, and
    three NT file servers, but all other servers
    are running Linux. All (well, almost all)
    Linux workstations and servers (including
    four clusters) are updated nightly through
    a remote update scheme we developed here:

    Number of Users 247
    Faculty 57
    Senior Research Staff 7
    Research Associates 15
    Graduate Students 59
    Majors 81
    Staff 28
    Number of Computers 220
    Operating Systems:
    Number of Linux Computers:
    Counting clusters as single machines 66
    Counting individual boxes 92
    Desktop workstations 36
    Laptops 4
    Research group servers 8
    Departmental servers 8
    X terminals 10
    Number of Windows Computers 114
    Number of Macintosh Computers 21
    Number of Computers with Other Operating Systems 25
    Average Logins per Day:
    Galileo (departmental cluster) 112
    Mail Server (interactive) 70
    Mail Server (pop/imap) 3,270
    Computer Lab 70
    Messages per Day through Mail Server 3,010
    Web Server:
    Visits per Day 1,300
    Pages per Day 2,430
    Hits per Day 15,400
    Pages Printed per Day 847
    Disk Space Backed Up (GB) 370
    Departmentally-owned Computers 150
    Research_Group_Computers 220
  • I work in a University, and a lot of the profs use Linux. My department uses it for development and general use.


  • Linux thin clients (Score:5, Interesting)

    by night-shade ( 1935 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:36PM (#2374255) Homepage
    The school [manchester.sch.uk] I am network manager for has a deployment of 250 linux based thin clients running citrix desktop software off 6 NT servers.

    The linux client software is a heavierly customised RedHat 6.2 with an ext3 root fs (which is great not a single ext3 related fault on any of them and no fsck's) that basically boots an X session with a full screen citrix client on them.

    All the full clients that we have (50 or so) have a dual boot option to a full RedHat 7.1 + Ximian 1.4 desktop that is used by some pupils and also the art department for Gimp and Blender work.

    While these aren't true linux "desktops" they run run linux and sit on desks :).

    All the back end servers are linux baring the 6 NT desktop servers. All filestore, mail, web, dns, auth, etc is run on linux.
  • We at Transcept [transcept.com] have about 20 linux boxes (the number is growing, because every product that we ship, now, has a linux system inside, and the prototypes actually count as general-purpose workstations and servers), and something like 50 employees.

    Everyone already had a MSWindows NT PC before the linux boxes became part of our lives, so those PCs stayed as they were.

    Many of our employees sit in front of old MSWindows PCs with full-screen VNC or telnet sessions connecting them to the linux boxes all day, which brings up an intersting point about unix-like systems: you don't have to have one at your desk to use it and have it be the centre of your world--it's a real multi-user system. If it's more cost-effective to have a few powerful `servers' (mainframe or `micromainframes', the latter being highpower'd PC hardware, except that the "P" isn't really appliccable anymore) and a many cheap terminals, peopele do that (and it is, so they do). Does this sort of setup count less? If you have 2 linux boxes, and 100 people spending their entire day in VNC or telnet or remote X11 sessions interfacing with those 2 computers, do you get 2 points, or 100?
  • Here it is! (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by hhe_hee ( 470065 ) <prodigy&acc,umu,se> on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:57PM (#2374392) Homepage
    I think that this [zdnet.com] is the worlds largest Linux installation ever. IBM says it is the biggest ever commercial use of Linux, it is more than 15000 IBM eServer xSeries running there, can you beat that?

    By the way, did you all know that google [google.com] has over 6000 Linux servers, ahh me like google _alot_ :)
  • Some Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:57PM (#2374393) Homepage
    I have some instances of companies I work with using Linux over Windows:
    • One bank uses 3 Linux workstations for document scanning, using Tummy Software xvscan [tummy.com]. The images are set in a PostgreSQL database, and retreivable bia a web browser. They purchased this system with the custom software saving over $15,000 compared to the cheapest Windows solution they could find.
    • I know of a bank that uses Star Office on Linux for Microsoft Office training machines. Having Linux on the computers keeps the trainees from loading software, and the two office suites are similar enough for basic training. There are ten training workstations.
    • A law firm that uses two Linux workstation, a Mac, and Appletalk/Samba on Linux for a server. They also have custom database applications for billing and client records.
    • A financial planner that has a Linux Internet gateway that later turned into a PostgreSQL database for stock tracking and analysis. He still uses Windows for his workstation, but in addition has a Linux computer using the quote program to get stock quotes.
    • A pet store using Linux exclusively for point-of-sale and server. He replaced an old SCO system, and did not buy a monitor for his server, so he connects with his vt320 terminal.
    • An outdoor advertising company has replaced two Windows computers with Linux, and are loving them. They don't know anything about Linux, but like the stability of their applications, and they saved a bundle.

    My company [totallygeek.com] has been working on custom Linux applications to replace Windows. I hope there are many chances in the future to suggest Linux.

  • Fermilab (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Try Fermilab (Department of Energy)
    www.fnal.gov [fnal.gov]

    More than 2000 emploees and most of the scintists use Linux as Desktop OS. We even have our own Linux distribution: Fermi Linux [fnal.gov]
  • by Telek ( 410366 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:05PM (#2374457) Homepage

    Tried to poll their site to see how many other users use linux, and I'm sure that there is a way but I don't have the time to find it right now. I sure that you can get reports on who uses linux. If you want, punch in some high profile companies into that search and see who pops up, or go over to the "longest uptime" pages and notice that most are BSD/Linux.

    (BTW - "da99@COFFEEhome.com minus caffeine" should be "da99@NOCOFFEEhome.com add caffeine")
  • Walmart (Score:2, Informative)

    by huckda ( 398277 )
    Walmart uses Linux for their inventory tracking and the like...

    Meanwhile at Fred Myers last night, I was at the 'do-it-yourself' checkout and witnessed a station reboot...sadly enough what I saw was the Windows NT 4.0 start-up screen...Thus I understood why the system was rebooting...

  • IBM wants to sell your business solutions, so just call a sales rep and pose this question to them. then you can take this answer to your boss, look like you did great leg work, give him the card of the IBM guy and let IBM take it from there.
  • The tellers at Washington Mutual run some flavor of Linux with KDE. I've seen this at every branch in LA / Orange County I've visited. Sorry, don't have a number, though.

    The "Washington" in Washington Mutual refers to their home state, BTW.

  • by elwing ( 6214 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:47PM (#2374778) Homepage Journal
    The Math Department at Texas A&M (not only the faculty and staff, but all of the computer based math classes) uses Linux almost exclusively. We have one NT box running citrix that is limited to 15 logins and only certain people are even allowed an account on it. There are approximately 150 machines in faculty/staff offices, and 4 labs of Linux workstations (approx. 300) In addition, all the servers for the labs are Linux, and there are several Linux servers for faculty/staff use.

    The nice thing about it is, any science oriented student *must* take three math classes that are based around these labs. So you've basically got a captive audience for at least 1.5 years while they're still impressionable freshmen.
  • I can't offer numbers (maybe someone else can), but I CAN offer a direction to look. Cisco Systems. Cisco officially supports 3 desktop OS - Win2k, Solaris, and their own Linux distro. "Unsupported" installs of Linux are fairly common and, of course, Linux appears in the infrastructure (such as Cisco's infamous Linux-based printing architecture).

    Of course, this doesn't mean Linux is overrunning Windows on the desktop at Cisco. Cisco allows its employees to select the tools they need to do their job and that includes their preferred OS. Windows is still very common on laptops and most of the less technically driven departments. Within the technical ranks, Solaris shows fairly strongly.

    Linux gets good competition. But its relatively new as a supported option at Cisco. It made some consicerable headway as it entered the Cisco workplace through new aquisitions. And the linux-users list was showing more and more engineers who liked taking their own build environment with them on the road.

  • amazon uses linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by Get_Plover ( 78671 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:20PM (#2374980)
    my sister-in-law works for amazon, says they run as many as 5000 RedHat units. says they develop their tools on them and that the shipping floors run it for day to day (tracking, shipping) orders.
  • by berniematt ( 245458 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:19PM (#2375392) Homepage
    The Milwaukee School Of Engineering has the option to run Linux on the laptops it hands out to its students and faculty. Many of the students get it because it is needed for at least one class. And some of the instructors get it so that they can teach the class.

    Others get it because they are fed up with Microsoft and what it continues to market. The Linux OS offers the students the opportunity to fix what they don't like about M$ Windows.

    With the number of students at MSOE around 2500 students at the school (almost all of which have the MSOE standard laptop), and about half of them running Linux, that puts the MSOE count up to somewhere around 1200.

    All students and staff here have access to a linux operating environment on campus, and often connect to that using VNC or SSH, something that is almost necessary if one wants to publish a web page/site on the MSOE site.

    If even half of the students that don't have Linux running on their laptop publish a web site, that means that 3/4 of the MSOE population is now using linux, which brings the count up to about 1800 or so.
  • by oulman ( 162775 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @05:38PM (#2375730) Homepage
    MIT Has a HUGE number of redhat machines deployed. There has to be at least a few thousand in the Computer Science lab alone. Not to mention the rest of the departments in the school. Your probobly looking at at least 10k - 15k linux desktops.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein