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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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  • Our Grand Total: 1 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Leif_Bloomquist ( 311286 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:46PM (#2373919) Homepage
    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.
  • by IversonDM ( 243089 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @12:54PM (#2373979)
    We've deployed Mandrake 8.0 for our technical staff (the IS group), but we don't yet have any plans to use linux for our "normal" users. At this point just unzipping a file can still be too complicated for some, so at least sticking to something they use at home is helpful. Also I've had stability issues with nautalis on Red Hat 7.1 with Ximian, and on KDE with Mandrake 8.0. The users would need a fair amount of training to be able to deal with troubleshooting in the new enviornment...
  • 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.
  • Re:Universities (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jjkivilu ( 194097 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:07PM (#2374084) Homepage
    The CS department of University of Helsinki [helsinki.fi] has to my quick estimate about 500 Linux workstations. Naturally most of the servers run Linux too. Maybe someone from the staff could give more exact figures.
  • Some numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pruneau ( 208454 ) <.pruneau. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:08PM (#2374094) Journal
    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.

  • by cat5 ( 166434 ) <cat5@catfive.oBOYSENrg minus berry> on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:11PM (#2374116)
    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.

  • by chefren ( 17219 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:14PM (#2374122)
    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.

  • 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

  • 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.
  • by GeekBoy ( 10877 ) <leewsb.hotmail@com> on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:49PM (#2374331) Homepage
    Yes, but there are technical issues as well as cost issues with a thin client solution like this.

    1) You need 100 mb switched networking
    2) The server needs to be on the same subnet as the clients. (in the supported configuration) This is a problem for large enterprises.
    3) They are not good for video streaming or multimedia. i.e. a CAD user would probably not want to use one.

    I personally don't like thin clients that much because you have no local computing resources to take advantage of. I think that linux on a pc is better b/c you have local resources that can be taken advantage of, and during the evening you can make them part of a compile cluster using something like LSF. Of course, this assumes your user base consists of software and hardware designers.

  • by Rozzin ( 9910 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @01:50PM (#2374340) Homepage
    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?
  • by buckeyeguy ( 525140 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:22PM (#2374577) Homepage Journal
    Having been a public employee for 10 years (not anymore!), I can only imagine that to get an entire crowd of entrenched lifers to switch to something new would be an incredible sales job; unless, perhaps, they were moved off of a centralized, legacy dumb-terminal environment. In that case, Linux would be their first windowed desktop.

    In any case, a cheap, license-free (or let's say, unencumbered by restrictive licensing) desktop would be a natural for public entities that are currently facing very tight budgets. Whether the employees would be happy and productive with such a setup depends on how much work the IT department will put into the changeover; if it's left up to the individual user, happy faces won't be easy to find there.

  • Re:Reality (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fas Attarac ( 163334 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @02:32PM (#2374671)
    I really can't believe a user experience like this is new to you. The very fact that you're hearing it now will hopefully clue you in to what life is like in the non-optimal real world.

    Wide-scale Linux deployments have worked for, primarily, two reasons:

    1. The new Linux installations were, in general, not designed to replace a totally-flexible Windows configuration. Generally, these installations are more akin to point-of-sale operations, or for configurations that have a very limited range of use and do not need a huge application base for their users to be productive.
    2. Those Linux implementations were well-planned, well-thought-out and well-engineered. Generally a small team went through, selected a list of the appropriate applications, built a custom distribution or post-installation checklist and custom-tailored the OS to their environment. Most large corporations even do this with Windows.

    Your experiences with FreeBSD and your non-tech staff are not necessarily representative of everyone else's. Just as you find it difficult to believe the original poster's story of difficulties, I find it difficult to believe a moderate- to large-scale conversion to FreeBSD or Linux as a Windows desktop replacement (for all-purpose tasks) as you're describing would go without a hitch or a noticable loss of productivity.

    That doesn't mean I wouldn't consider your comments valuable. Clearly some people are having successes in some configurations and others are having problems in other configurations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:01PM (#2374862)
    All of them with a different distro.

    So one day they were all standardized to FreeBSD. And the one "linux app" (aka a binary only program) runs fine with FreeBSD's Linux compatibilty layer.

    So, no more Linux here, and we were even able to make one person redundant. She didn't like loosing Linux, even tho it was a week before she knew she wans't even running Linux anymore :-) (took extra time to make it look JUST like her old box, but the joy of knowing it took her a week to get a clue!!)
  • Re:HP uses linux... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:18PM (#2374966) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @03:42PM (#2375151)
    What part of "Secretaries use Linux, Save Taxpayers Millions" [newsforge.com] is hard to understand?

    I mean, you get a nice desktop, you get applications (if StarOffice isn't good enough, there are commercial alternatives - Largo uses Word Perfect). What else do you need?

    Do you need your employees having complete multimedia systems that play all sorts of nice sound effects and yell "you've got mail!" instead of just beeping or something?

    I'd be willing to say that Linux is not ready for the home desktop, what with everybody wanting nice easy tools to rip CDs, play games, send AOL instant messages and so forth. I'll readily admit that. But in a corporate setting where you want connectivety, email and perhaps a web intranet, and office tools (spreadsheets, word processors), then I haven't bought the argument that Linux isn't ready for quite some time.

    To top it off, if you had all Linux or Unix networks, then you wouldn't have things like the recent viruses killing your workplace.

    I'm not going to say that everyone should switch right now, that nothing Windows offers is better than Linux (sure, there's lots of applications not available yet), but what I'm saying is that if you built, from the ground up, a shop that stayed away from proprietary formats and tools, you could do quite well with Linux.

  • by InfoSec ( 208475 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:01PM (#2375273) Homepage
    Our office runs Linux almost exclusively. We have 50 Linux workstations (Linux-Mandrake 8.1), and 13 Linux server (Linux-Mandrake 7.2). We have only 4 Windows machines and 2 Macs. I would say that the only larger Linux installation in Hawaii is Square USA, but all of their Linux boxen are in a Beowulf cluster.
  • by mwd ( 15345 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:06PM (#2375301) Homepage

    We have had about 47 at Cray to replace Irix desktops. (also a few servers)

    At Princeton Geophysics we have a linux cluster (70 DUAL CPU machines, and 8 or so misc. machines).
    And about 7 desktop machines.

    I have installed a few at noncomputer literate types
    in homes. The biggest issue is that either hardware, peripherals or software is not working/supported on linux. ReaderRabbit, Digital Cameras, scanners, printers. That is hard for novice users. But the desktop has not been a problem.

    NOTE: These are all RedHat running GNOME desktop and it has been very easy and user friendly to noncomputer literate.

  • 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.
  • R.I.P. Linux (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @04:22PM (#2375402)
    okay i am asking for the official announcement: THE LINUX DESKTOP DREAM IS DEAD.





    Blame it on terrorist attacks, blame it on the stock market, whatever. But when the biggest response to the slashdot question "What is the biggest desktop install of linux" is "400 computers in Largo florida that used to be Unix Boxes" -- well quite frankly it just isn't going to happen! Linux has been proven a failure in the Desktop world.

    Many companies and large communist countries, have announced they are going to try to go to Linux--and gollllllly! we just haven't seen it.

    It isn't going to happen. Yes, web servers they are doing okay on. Almost a competitor in the small web server business (non-profits, .com no-profits, etc)

    BUT Fortune 500 companies aren't replacing their desktops with some european pothead's idea of a bastard child of unix.

    There is no large install of LINUX (uh under 1,000 isn't large ) on the desktop. If there was then Windows wouldn't have 99% of the desktop market.

    Now maybe there are installs like Largo where THEY REPLACED AN OLD UNIX X SYSTEM!!! That really isn't a large deployment of Linux--those are THIN CLIENTS. LARGO IS ALL THIN CLIENTS. They mine as well have VT-100 terminals on the desktop or Windows CE machines on the desktop--LARGO IS A SERVER INSTALL, not a DESKTOP INSTALL.

    end rant
  • by bradengi ( 525799 ) on Monday October 01, 2001 @05:34PM (#2375710)
    Several medium sized Army projects/organizations (50-250 users) in Central Florida are already using Linux at the desktop level. They are also surveying contractors to find out if they would develop with a Linux desktop in mind, and what challenges they see.

    In the Army world, desktop security policies are often so strict that users will never run into some of the hardware/software configuration gotchas that remain in Linux...
  • by xtremex ( 130532 ) <cguru AT bigfoot DOT com> on Monday October 01, 2001 @07:36PM (#2376236) Homepage
    Our company of 400 will be deploying all ThinClients (using LTSP) and a couple of our apps (like Siebel..UUGH!!!) which are windows only, are accesed through Citrix Anyway, so we will use the Linux Citrix client....
    Only the developers will get their own PC's as they tend to suck all the processor power :)
  • NCDs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2001 @07:37PM (#2376240)
    My company uses NCDs (brainless X terminals, for those fortunate enough to have never encountered them) on the the desktop for all developers (about 160, at last count). At present, they run off SGI O2 workstations, but we're in the process of moving to use a newly purchased rack of Linux boxes. From what I see so far, performance is greatly improved - the machines are faster, and much more stable.
  • 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.

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?