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Sun Microsystems Software Linux Technology

Alternative To Windows Desktops 405

Eric_Z writes "Ace's Hardware has got a article called "The Mad Hatter meets the MSCE" by Paul Murphy, about the TCO benefits of using UNIX(Lintel) instead of Wintel. According to the piece: 'The subject of this article looks at alternatives to the Windows desktop, which is a hot topic these days with IBM/SuSe scoring a highly public win in Munich with desktop Linux, and Sun aiming to build on StarOffice being the leading alternative to Microsoft Office with a software stack code-named Mad Hatter which Sun also plans to use extensively in-house. But companies depending on Microsoft Certified Engineers to adapt to Linux will carry over a number of problems, significantly increasing the chance of project failure. Paul considers the alternatives, the migration problems, and in seeking a more reliable alternative takes the opportunity to look at the business desktop from an entirely different angle, and propose a more radical solution.'"
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Alternative To Windows Desktops

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  • MSCE? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:18PM (#6965456)
    "The Mad Hatter meets the MSCE"
    I've heard of a Minesweeper Certified Solitaire Expert (MCSE), but what is this "MSCE" being spoken of?
    • Re:MSCE? (Score:2, Funny)

      by kgarcia ( 93122 )
      It's a Minesweeper Solitaire Clone Expert...
    • Re:MSCE? (Score:5, Funny)

      by InsaneCreator ( 209742 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:42PM (#6965704)
      Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
      • Re:MSCE? (Score:5, Funny)

        by trompete ( 651953 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:57PM (#6965861) Homepage Journal
        Dyslexics UNTIE!!!

        Should I be concerned that I could read this easily?
        • Re:MSCE? (Score:3, Funny)

          by 4of12 ( 97621 )

          Should I be concerned that I could read this easily?

          Yes, it means you've been reading /. far too much.

      • Oh, that again... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nurgled ( 63197 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:01PM (#6966539)

        This is quicky becoming the "All your base" of 2003.

    • It's the sort of typo you'd expect from an MCSE. "I bought my certification from MicroSoft! Hire me! I know Microsoft XP!"
    • Re:MSCE? (Score:2, Funny)

      by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 )
      Maybe the article should be "The Jedi meets MSCE" as in Must Someone Call Else 'cuz I always heard it as MCSE: Must Call Somone Else.
    • Unmentioned benefit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @02:42PM (#6966343) Journal
      One of the major benefits of *nix mentioned in the article was the centralization of processing, and how that can decrease hardware churn.

      It's true, but by itself, it leaves a lot of wasted resources by having P3s and P4s acting like dumb terminals. If I'd just shelled out for new machines, I wouldn't like having to shell out for grunty servers to supplant the grunty desktops I'd just bought.

      But the ability to have the whole network act as a Mosix cluster takes this and flips it on its head, allowing maximum leverage of all the hardware resources that the organization already has. Aside from the real-world benefits, pitching that would make a purchaser feel clever, not stupid. It ought to have had a mention.

      • Of course it's stupid to make P3s & P4s act like XTerms. The savings come from buying cheap Xterms and beefy servers.

        MOSIX over a normal network would be crazy. You're reliability goes out the window. Think uptime measured in days not years.

        IMHO, thin client/Xterm computing is the most cost efficient platform for business.
  • by jargoone ( 166102 )
    TCO benefits of using UNIX(Lintel) instead of Wintel

    I read this as SCO benefits from using UNIX(Lintel) instead of Wintel... and they would like to.
  • Good good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrtroy ( 640746 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:19PM (#6965473)
    Microsoft needs more competition!

    The best way to counteract a fat monopoly like those microsoft whores is to put some good ol competition out there against them. Its tough to match those budgets and large scale operations, but more and more companies are fighting them from more and more can only lead to good things --- better products being produced by everyone.

    Either that or more marketing.
    • But a monopoly means that you are immune to competition. If Microsoft is still a monopoly, then no amount of competition will destroy them.
      • No one thinks microsoft has a monopoly on computer operating systems/desktops. What they do have a monopoly on for all intents and purposes is the distribution of operating systems with the OEMs.

        That's been a practical monopoly on the desktop. But there's a hole in this: "solutions" providers like IBM can offer something else. They've got the purchasing clout to get MS-free machines from OEMs -- if a customer wants that. And it's starting to turn out that the customer sometimes does.

      • Re:Good good (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dmaxwell ( 43234 )
        Destroying MS' monopoly doesn't necessarily imply destroying MS. Anyway, monopolies aren't static and absolute. MS has had a good 10-13 year run as an effective desktop monopoly and have turned it into 40 billion of liquid assets. Nothing to complain about by any means (for them...chill out!). In the process, MS has largely inspired the forces that will destroy their monopoly.

        RTFA. Substantially or totally replacing MS in an enterprise is possible and even rewarding. It isn't easy and requires substan
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:23PM (#6965504)
    [...]With the exception of security management, essentially all of the practical skills associated with those functions will be invalidated. DHCP, WINS, SMB networking, Processor Affinity Management, Domain Administration, Registry hacking, and so on, are all technologies and ideas out of place in a well run Unix environment, though some pollution has crept in.

    [...]can be, and therefore will be, perpetuated in the new environment despite having no natural role there.

    I am not a fan of Active Directory. But if the author thinks that corporate directory services (preferabley Novell eDirectory, but Active Directory if you must) have no role in large-scale corporate networking, I have to question the rest of his conclusions a bit.


    • Sometimes known as LDAP... Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a crappy network authentication alternative for people who can't be bothered learning how to set up a Kerberos5 realm, it also is a directory service :)


  • by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:23PM (#6965505)
    It's called an iMac. ;-)
  • by ( 562495 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:24PM (#6965507) Homepage
    Including Solitair in the MadHatter might make things easier for MS certified people. Just Kidding :)
  • by ShadeARG ( 306487 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:25PM (#6965519)
    Here [] is a Solaris 10 Mad Hatter desktop screenshot.
  • Whats new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moth7 ( 699815 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:25PM (#6965526) Journal
    I fail to see the necessity to produce hundreds of windows-clone distros - isn't it win that we want to draw people away from? Look at it through the eyes of the average user:

    It looks and functions like windows. I already have windows. Therefore, I'm sticking with the superior(?) windows

    What we need to do is be developing newer, fresher ideas which keep microsoft on their toes - if we do that then at least MS has to keep coming up with the goods. My point is that a line of copies doesn't work - the average user doesn't care about the inside workings - they want results. I'll take the handheld game market as an example - How many gameboy clones have we seen come and disappear, doomed to sit in the back pages of children's catalogs? What we need as I have said too many times in this post is something new. There is more than one way to do it and until OSs capitalises on that and jumps into that niche, there is little hope of removing MS's stranglehold on the market.
    • Re:Whats new? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cosmo7 ( 325616 )
      I fail to see the necessity to produce hundreds of windows-clone distros - isn't it win that we want to draw people away from?

      Also by the time you've copied a feature from Windows, Microsoft has already copied something else from OS X.
      • <sarcasm>Oh my gosh..the Window managers are stealing from each other!? When did this start happening!?</sarcasm>

        What's the easy way to add custom tags to posts without indenting and without using &nbsp...etc?
    • Troll (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poptones ( 653660 )
      Better be careful, you're gonna get modded down as a troll.

      I just stuck a fresh install of RH9 on a laptop. It installed amazingly well - in fact, it installed better OOTB than win2k.

      But "better" lasted only until it came time to actually do stuff with it. Sure, samba seems to work well and it has no problem browsing shares on MS boxes. But try to play a video file... oops, no media codec installed in the RH9 default distro. Hmmm... well, try to play an MP3 then. Ooops, no can do - cannot play an MP3 file

      • "But try to play a video file... oops, no media codec installed in the RH9 default distro. Hmmm... well, try to play an MP3 then."

        Oh yes, this is a great argument against a corporate oriented distro. Gee! People can't use their workstations to look at media clips on company time.

        Please. Red Hat chooses to leave certain feature out of their desktop, and it reflects on Linux desktops in general?
      • Re:Troll (Score:5, Informative)

        by warmcat ( 3545 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @02:09PM (#6965980)
        Its true about the mp3 and video stuff, this is due to Redhat avoiding things with "patent issues". But, if this was making you wonder about how useful RH9 is for media duties, wonder no more: take the Three Step plan to Redhat media heaven and you'll be all set.

        Step 1: Get and install apt for rpm []

        Step 2: apt-get update

        Step 3: apt-get install xmms-mp3 mplayer mplayer-fonts mplayer-skins

        That's it, mp3s, all kinds of video now work. You might need to make your file manager app use mplayer instead of a default app for the right file suffixes is all.

        apt-get install frozen-bubble is a bunch of fun too. Check out freshrpms [] for the other things you can get that are not in stock Redhat.
      • Corporate users arguably don't need mp3 or video codecs.

        They need a snappy computer with basic productivity software that doesn't have to be administered constantly. This is where Linux has a chance.

        Home and power users are going to have to wait longer for a Linux that has all the goodies, out of the box, working perfectly, that can compete with Windows. Or they can just learn how to add what they need.

      • My wife had an identical experience installing RedHat on her laptop, things went very well and she was up and running fairly fast. She's used linux as her primary OS before, and has no problems with it.

        But due to time constraints these days, she doesn't have the time to track down and fix each little quirk that didn't come out "just right" at install time. Media apps have been problem points, as has her wireless card and our scanner. Linux is a great os for a hobbyist, but when you only want to spend 30
      • It's old news. RedHat does not ship MP3 codec or the CSS library for legal reasons. Yes, it suck.
      • Re:Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ratboy666 ( 104074 )
        Of course media codecs aren't installed in RH9. Not even MP3.

        If *you* are the "IT person" (geek) who is responsible for maintaining the systems, then you need to install the standard pieces that make it work. Otherwise, use Microsoft Windows.

        WIN2K doesn't come with needed codecs either. It can't play DVDs "out of the box".

        As to a "user friendly" desktop. That's your job. Really.

        Can't play MP3 files from a Samba share? Works for me... as does playing re-coded MP3s via Apache at work from my home server.
    • Re:Whats new? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lord Kholdan ( 670731 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:39PM (#6965678)
      What we need to do is be developing newer, fresher ideas which keep microsoft on their toes - if we do that then at least MS has to keep coming up with the goods. My point is that a line of copies doesn't work - the average user doesn't care about the inside workings - they want results. I'll take the handheld game market as an example - How many gameboy clones have we seen come and disappear, doomed to sit in the back pages of children's catalogs? What we need as I have said too many times in this post is something new. There is more than one way to do it and until OSs capitalises on that and jumps into that niche, there is little hope of removing MS's stranglehold on the market.

      May I suggest an even more radical solution? Market research! Get a large group of windows users, give them a Linux desktop and tell them to complain and make requests! Linux was made great not because it was made by programmers for programmers but because it was made by USERS for USERS. How about leaving behind the old notion that only code matters and let the current userbase show the way and help developement? Of course some will disagree with this but I claim that a good opinion about UI or insight about possible uses for programs are as important as code.

      Seriously, it seems that RIAA and OSS have one thing in common. Both make a whatever product they want to create and then blame the users for lack of interest.
      • Re:Whats new? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Liselle ( 684663 ) <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:58PM (#6965869) Journal
        Market research and focus groups led Microsoft to implement those lovely menus that auto-hide. Nifty idea in theory, however in practice the "play around with it" aspect of users using a program was lost, because they never saw stuff that they didn't use regularly. Sometimes users don't know what's good for them. Focus groups are not the answer to all of life's problems, unfortunately.
      • Who do you tell?

        Dude, I've been keeping a log of all the posts I make here that get modded as "troll" simply because I say shit that is critical - yet factual - about the state of the linux desktop. I have to say I have never yet made such a post that did not get immediately modded down. The one I made just a few minutes ago hit -1 within five minutes.

        Seriously. Who are you gonna tell? Outside redhat and other trademarked, corporatized distros there are damn few who seem to care about making what's alrea

    • Re:Whats new? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Liselle ( 684663 ) <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:47PM (#6965767) Journal
      What we need to do is be developing newer, fresher ideas which keep microsoft on their toes

      This isn't really all that true. You can't just dump a UI/functionality change on the average user and expect them to embrace it. Many have trouble with the interface that we've had since Win95.

      These people have the right idea. Ease folks into it. Otherwise you will have a response similar to what happened with WinXP, where the interface was made more intuitive and easier, but casual computer users still complained (and rightly so, I think) because the things that took them so long to learn got turned topsy-turvy.
    • I fail to see the necessity to produce hundreds of windows-clone distros - isn't it win that we want to draw people away from?

      The problem with this is that everyone already knows how to use Windows. So if you try to convert them to something radically different, instead of getting

      "It looks and functions like windows. I already have windows. Therefore, I'm sticking with the superior(?) windows"

      You're going to get:

      "It looks and functions NOTHING LIKE windows. I already know windows. Therefore,
  • But companies depending on Microsoft Certified Engineers to adapt to Linux will carry over a number of problems, significantly increasing the chance of project failure.

    well, doh!

  • by oZZoZZ ( 627043 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:30PM (#6965575)
    My company runs Windows 98 clients and NT4 server atm, and I figured it was time to upgrade. I looked into Microsoft, with Office/WinXP and server 2003, and the cost was about $40k. That seemed insane, so I decided to try Linux.

    I've been running Linux at home now for a few years, and am quite competitent running it. My first step was to replace the slackware/wmaker combination that I was happy with on my laptop to Redhat/Gnome/Bluecurve, and I was immidetely impressed with how far linux has come on the desktop, I figured this wouldn't be a problem.

    I showed the owners of my company Linux, and they said they were fine with it on every machine... now the tricky part, application compatability.

    Under Wine I was able to get my payroll software and estimating software running, but the accounting software proved impossible. Using older style database clients and VBA, I was totally unable to get it working.

    I came to the conclusion that while I can use Linux on the desktop, application support from large corporate vendors need to be there before Linux can run on the desktop. I also came up with: "in 3 years, if we want to run a different accounting/estimating/etc package, will linux work for us?".. That question is unanswered atm, and therefore using Linux in a corporate enviroment seems to be a gamble right now, a gamble that I am not willing to wager on for my company. Another issue is support from our existing vendors... they supported running their software on Windows and 2 of them *REQUIRED* PCAnywhere to be available whenever needed... this was not possible with Linux.
    Linux on the home desktop seems more than ready, but enterprise/corporate enviroments seem to need better application support before it's possible... while I do belive that the application support will be there in 3 years, I don't think it's a risk work taking atm.
    • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:47PM (#6965772) Homepage Journal
      At least you tried. WINE is not a panacea and any apps written in VB rather than WinAPI/MFC are notoriously tough to get working on WINE. After all, you've got an interpreter running on an interpreter in those situations so it's twice as tricky. You're best bet would be Win4Lin terminal server instead of WINE and simply serve the GUIs out to the clients. I had a similar situation where I had to get a 16-bit VB 3.0 app working and WINE consistently choked on it (not surprising since nobody is working on the 16-bit emulation anymore). Anyhow, Win4Lin (not terminal server though) was the cheapest / easiest solution since they already had WinME licenses and they've been humming along for almost a year that way.

      For anybody else reading this, VB apps are an absolute terror to get working under WINE. If you're considering a Linux migration, be weary of these particular apps and have a backup plan.
    • by ip_vjl ( 410654 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:48PM (#6965775) Homepage
      I don't understand this attitude that MSOffice is *required* if you run Windows. I see it a lot when comparing the costs of running the two OSes.

      $ windows = OS cost + MSOffice cost
      $ linux = free OS + free office app

      There's nothing preventing you from running free (beer/speech) software on Windows.

      If you need Windows to run legacy apps, why not do it in stages. In your case, upgrade your boxes from 98 to XP - but don't do the MSOffice route. Use (assuming it will work for you since you were going to do a full linux switch anyway) and other open source software when applicable. (Mozilla Firebird instead of IE, etc.)

      This way, you don't abandon your legacy apps ... and in a few years (at next upgrade time) there will either be a feasible open source solution, or maybe Wine will have advanced enough to run what you need.

      If you can do a full transition, good for you. But to compare costs the way you did isn't a real comparison.
      • correction to my post:
        ... there will either be a feasible open source solution, or maybe Wine will have advanced enough to run what you need.

        left off the 3rd possibility:
        ... there will either be a feasible open source solution, maybe Wine will have advanced enough to run what you need, or you'll find that you still need windows.
      • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @02:24PM (#6966144)
        If you need Windows to run legacy apps, why not do it in stages. In your case, upgrade your boxes from 98 to XP - but don't do the MSOffice route. Use (assuming it will work for you since you were going to do a full linux switch anyway) and other open source software when applicable. (Mozilla Firebird instead of IE, etc.)

        To many corporate people, it would be just as hard to migrate the Office software as it would the OS. MSOffice is so ingrained in the corporate culture it is pathetic. I have to send my status report to my manager in a Word doc. Everything is stored in freaking Word docs around here. Want to show some people some pictures? Put them all in a Word doc, that way you can email one huge .doc file. I once complained to a guy because he was attaching screenshots to a bug report like this. I explained "do you realize that for someone to see these, they would have to use MSWord. They are just images". His response? "Everyone here has Word installed, that isn't a problem."

        As for the others, you won't see IE go away as long as MS is the OS. Hell, our internal website won't work with Opera, the browser I use. I am actually surprised that my boss lets me run it. Gotta conform and everything.

        Our department gets its MSWord licenses from Corporate, so it doesn't cost our department anything. That is what the managers are most concerned with, their budgets. As long as it doesn't cost them anything out of their budget, who cares? If we all have to upgrade to OfficeXP (which we are doing) from Office2K, then Corporate will take care of it.

        It doesn't matter how compatable it is, if it looks like Office, acts like Office, is better than Office, or is 100% free. If it ain't MSOffice, a lot of places won't use it. Companies sign deals for their OS/Office licenses, so many times you can't split up the OS/Office software. Oh, and you have to upgrade every 3 or 4 years.

        So while I appreciate your idea, in companies where MS has them by the short hairs, it doesn't fly. It is also one of those things that makes me yearn for a better economy, so I can quit this cubicle wasteland and go work for a small company again. The "corporate atmosphere" is slowly killing me. It is killing everyone else too, they just don't realize it.

        Kee-rist, sounds like somebody has a case of the Mondays.

    • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:58PM (#6965875)
      I disagree. I would suggest that the application support is there today but, not the way people are trying to accomplish it. By and large most evaluations like you have done are trying to use Linux as a drop in replacement for Windows. This will probably never happen. While there are many applications that can be used as drop in replacements to Windows applications there are even more that are not. And Windows applications, for the most part, don't run on Linux.

      Bit, how is this different than the likes of Windows 2003. There are countless applications, even Microsoft applications such as Exchange 2000, that will not run on Windows 2003. For some people this will mean that they will not implement Windows 2003 but, as time wears on most if not all will move to Windows 2003 and upgrade or replace their existing applications to ones that do run on Windows 2003. They will buy Windows 2003 and they will also buy Exchange 2003.

      So, rather than looking for a seamless drop in replacement to Windows in Linux, why not look at it from an upgrade/migration point of view? There are numerous accounting applications that do run natively on Linux. The specialty apps that are written in VB will need to be rewritten for Linux. But why not? Chances are that those same VB apps are right now being examined for a rewrite in C#.NET. They'll have to be for the sake of Windows 2003.

      The point is that people seem unwilling to rewrite or migrate their apps for a Linux environment but, for some reason, they think nothing of doing this for their Windows environment. The thing that they fail to take into account is that in the Linux environment this will almost certainly be a one time affair. But, in the Windows environment it will be a recurring theme every few years because that is what Microsoft wants and has to do in order to keep selling the same companies more software.

      All too often people say that it is not cost effective or it is too difficult to make the switch but they seem to disregard these same issues as they run on Microsoft's treadmill.

      BTW, have you repatched your Microsoft RCP service?
    • there very first thing you need to do is be sure they understand hom much proprietary data formats are costing them. Try to get them to use open standard data format, regardless of the OS.
      Thiwas you can assure them that the data will always be accessible, regardless of who there main vendor is or what they do.
      Ask them is they want to control the destiny of there company, or id they want MS to cotrol the destiny od there company.
      Once they get data formats to not be dependent, migration will be much easier.
      • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @02:17PM (#6966063) Homepage
        Good suggestions, but not always doable in practice.

        Open data standards for payroll and accounting data? I'm sure there are some... they're probably old as dirt and about as fun to utilize nowadays too (yes, I've just spent a couple weeks learning the horrors of X.12 [] in the shipping industry -- it's used all over but it's archaic, has over 3 decades of different revisions, and an utter PITA to actually use). You can roll your own format (we did... we're in a position to) and make it reasonably open (again, we did... at least to our customers), but the odds of getting someone else to write to your format is low, especially for things like payroll/accounting. You could also reverse engineer their data files (a coworker did so for a flat file database at a former company, producing a real time importer for Sybase/Oracle), but that takes some pretty serious skill and money.

        Don't think that it's just MS producing "proprietary" data. Virtually everyone does. And it's not the big, obvious formats that are a problem -- those have enough people looking at them to crack the nut eventually -- it's the small, uncommon formats that will keep you locked in. And it's equally unlikely that you'll easily find replacements that are low cost and open format. Companies have an incentive to lock you in... the counterbalancing force to this is that in a competitive market place they also have incentive to read other people's formats, which will either lead to a common format or to everyone figuring out how to import everyone else's data.

        In general, without government mandates, it tends toward the latter rather than the former.
    • Well, its a chicken at the egg thing, atm. Vendors will start supporting Linux when it gains enough market share.

      But the way I look at it is if you choose not to go with Linux at this time it is your choice. But remember that you made that choice, when Linux is mainstream and well supported. The money one can save with Linux is obvious to most technical and creative people who have read its license. It just takes a little time and creativity to make it work for you. But by not using it you could be co
  • Nice timing... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Basje ( 26968 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:31PM (#6965579) Homepage
    ... as it was just yesterday that it became know that Ford Motor Company is joining the ranks. They are switching [] from Windows to Linux
  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:33PM (#6965607)
    The author missing one minor point. The core of business information management for small and medium sized business is Win32-based client/server applications. These are the products that you see advertised and discussed in Manufacturing Systems [] and CFO Magazine. In the middle to late 1980s they were available on several platforms and usually had a Mac version, but by the mid 1990s they had migrated almost exclusively to the client/server model on the Win32 platform.

    These midrange apps are the bread-and-butter of corporate computing. They do not run on the Mac and do not run under Linux. Some are starting to move toward a web browser based model, but not all and not necessarily quickly.

    Until Linux equivalents exist for these midrange apps, the Linux desktop will not be used in midsized organizations.


    • Gimme SAP Business warehouse under Linux and I give you 1000 users in my company alone.
    • What manufacturing?

      In case you've been asleep, the United States has outsourced small and midsized manufacturing to the Far East or Latin America.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, that web based model can really shake things up, can't it. Imagine that you can have practically anything on the backend server -- Linux, Windows, Solaris -- and it doesn't matter what the client runs. It could be a text-only serial terminal, a PDA, a phone, a state-of-the-art desktop, or a 10 year old PC. Wow, that's a lot of flexibility. It allows a company to respond faster, deploy apps faster, make changes in existing apps without a company-wide refresh.

      But what happens when you deploy Windows o
  • If you have an existing Windows infrastructure thats works then bolting Linux onto it ok however as pointed out in the articule just shoving clients on isn't going to reduce the cost.

    However if Sun are talking about it you would expect that most of their infrastructure is already UNIX so it would actually make sence. Of course I can't see all the windows workstations being replaceed as the saying goes

    "If it ain't broke don't fix it"

  • Metaphors (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:37PM (#6965649) Homepage
    They used the "mongoose thrown into a snake pit" metaphor to refer to Linux being used in an all Windows environment, and the "Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman" metaphor, to refer to the technological advantage of Linux over Windows. But combine the two and you get the "Indiana Jones thrown into a snake pit" metaphor, and you know how Indy feels about snakes... things don't look good for Linux it seems.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:39PM (#6965677)
    I am glad to see more code and support for GNOME, that said Sun still is a hardware company and Intel boxes are not their bread and butter. I see this product as a wedge for Solaris, not a true linux push. Even then, I don't see much here you can't get from RedHat's bluecurve additions on top of GNOME...actually I see very little on top of the stock GNOME itself (which says a lot about the high quality of the stock GNOME).
  • by Bob-o-Matic! ( 620698 ) <> on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:40PM (#6965693) Homepage
    By making it more and more difficult for users to run unlicensed copies of Windows OS (XP was a great start, they'll do better next time for certain), the home user who wants to upgrade will find themselves "upgrading" to something else entirely if they want to keep the price the same. No one wants to pay for a software "dongle" to make other software they (may) have paid for work. People buy computers to surf the web, send email, play games. They don't feel they need to pay just to be able to move files around.

    I am hoping that the kind folks at OpenAL and OpenGL make a compelling replacement for DirectX so that games will run natively on Linux. When you get the gamers, you will have won. MS has the gamers right now. When those gamers come to Linux, they'll learn the OS and show their friends. Windows will lose its ubiquity on the desktop because no one wants to pay to upgrade their copy of windows, or even pay for an original license when building a machine.

    It is only a matter of time.
  • by __aagmrb7289 ( 652113 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:42PM (#6965708) Journal
    Main thing that bothers me about this article is how obviously slanted it is, without really going into what's important. I mean, I see all of these statements about how things that are true in the Microsoft environment are not true in the Linux environment (or at least, aren't best practice). So, the missing information is this - if the design is flawed, and the solutions are wrong for the problem, then what are the solutions (at least give us a hint) to these problems in oh-so-perfect, everything-else-sucks Linux? Okay, so maybe I'm feeling a little annoyed, but if I'm supposed to be developing/supporting solutions in multiple platforms, perhaps some lucid discussion of the issues and their solutions would be useful? Certainly this article pretends to be hitting these things, but it fails to execute. I'd love to see some links that try to hit these issues in a more complete manner. Anyone?
  • "But companies depending on Microsoft Certified Engineers to adapt to Linux will carry over a number of problems, significantly increasing the chance of project failure."

    But that has nothing to do with Linux. Those companies probably already have significant problems. Oh, wait, it said "carry over" so I guess the fact that they have problems is tacitly implied...

  • by reemul ( 1554 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @01:51PM (#6965814)
    Several of the comments made in the article seem to indicate that the author is living in a happy dream world, where clever users are oppressed into mere drones by MCSE's and MS software. He acknowledges that it is a best practice in the Wintel world to lock down machines as much as possible to minimize support costs, yet seems to think that Unix will "empower users" (from a sidebar) without causing any problems at all.

    Is he crazy? The reasons that machines are locked down is that the endusers are stupid. They know nothing about computers, and ideally they shouldn't have to - they are just tools to do their real jobs. Any extra capabilities will just allow them to break more things. Sun can only support so many users per admin by locking systems tighter than most MSCEs could dream of - the answers to what is wrong are so easy because there are no other options. The users aren't empowered, they are chained down as much as possible. All to the good; but believing you can take the same idiot endusers from a windows shop, give them magic Lintel boxen and some responsibility and rights to manage their own systems, and get *fewer* support calls is just delusional.

    And thinking that it's the OS that is driving all those fast upgrades to physical machines is also absurd. A huge portion of all business desktop and laptop upgrades is driven by vanity, not need. Good luck thinking that a rational OS decision based on security and TCO will quickly stop "mine's bigger" purchasing. You think execs sending email, looking at excel spreadsheets, and playing solitaire need those multi-thousand dollar laptops? You think that running linux they'll stop buying them?

    I liked the approach of the author, to look at the practices that will be reflexive to existing support staff and the effect they will have on a Linux implementation. But his take on the reflexive approaches of the *users* is completely unrealistic, and renders his article mostly useless. Face it, most of the people here on Slashdot have dealt with those endusers - you think the majority will agree that they will miraculously become wise if just given a chance? Or will the /. crew decide that the author is living a dream?

    • I give the author a lot of credit for addressing the philsophical underpinnings of the Unix Versus Windows platform conflict. Too frequently, the "IT guys" portray this as a simple matter of switching the software stack, when in fact they are advocating a radically different technology management ideology.

      The author at least makes an attempt to address this idelogical difference from a practical, if biased, perspective. However, by putting it in the context of "the MCSE", it's skirting around the greater m
  • how does the typical MCSE skill set map to what will be needed to cope with an environment in which perhaps 20% of the servers and 80% of the desktops run Linux while the remainder continue to run Microsoft suites?

    Okay, I'm a developer and not an IT guy, but this does not make sense to me. Why would a company run 80% of their desktops with Linux and 80% of their servers with Windows?

    Am I just missing the whole point of the article?
  • A bit biased (Score:2, Informative)

    As an MCSA and Active Directory / Exchange admin, I found this author's story just that- A story. He's obviously coming from a position of not knowing anything about Win32 administration, and it was obvious to me he's yet another one of the Lin32 pundits who really doesn't know anything about Win32 networks except what he's heard in the press. Keep in mind that if Lin32 ever gets as big as Microsoft as far as desktop percentages, it will also face the same issues with point and click virus creation tools an
  • Speaking as someone who works for a very large government institution, I think the only way to get off the Microsoft train is to go with Macs. And I'm not being a troll when I say this. #1, the computer and the OS come from the same supplier. This is where Linux fails because none of the reputable hardware companies will offer real support for the OS if you run into troubles; nor will they indemnify the institution from the frivolous claims by the likes of SCO. If you buy the HP line, what are you going to have to do, install Mandrake on your own? Won't you still be paying the Microsoft tax unless you buy the PCs from Mitec, a mom-and-pop whitebox store, or purchase a Dell line with that DOS'ish OS on a bundled disc? Or, if you want support, you have to pay extra to Red Hat, IBM, or Sun? #2 the Microsoft apps won't run natively on Linux. You have to run Wine or Codeweavers software, and I'm sure if a government agency does that, Microsoft will be on the phone with the various elected officials to start investigations on software purchases as well as EULA violations (and a BSA audit wouldn't be too far down the road too). I've been thinking about all of this because we run Win2K on Dell P3 800mhz machines, and its time to start upgrading. But each of these concerns is enough to kill any suggestion for switching to Linux, especially when everyone who has a hand in deciding IT issues has MCSE certification to justify their jobs. Whereas if an agency becomes a Mac OS X shop, you have the Microsoft Office apps, but the hardware upfront costs more. Granted, you can shave off 1/3rd of your IT staff if you go Mac, but the political party that would be most interested in saving government monies in such a manner (through layoffs and eliminating redundancies) would probably not be inclined to help Apple out since Jobs and others are left-of-center in their political affiliations, not to mention Al Gore is on their board of directors even if it is in a ceremonial position... And the taxpayer suffers, not to mention us employees that have to use this *poodoo*...
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:23PM (#6966775)
    One technology department I'm familiar with had its budget slashed incredibly. Basically, by some pointy haired boss using a CDW catalog and his HP 12c to project the figures.

    The IT staff were in a panic. Supplying WinTel machines as budgeted wouldn't allow funding for many server side technologies and pet projects. Moreover this didn't go over well with the IT staff who would have to be responsible for maintaining and securing these machines. They weren't Linux savvy yet and if they were being honest, most had come to depend on GUI-driven, point-and-click tools to help them in their maintenance chores.

    As they were assembling their rationalizations to take back to management, some extremely clever in-house developers on the IT staff, came up with an open-source solution to deploy:
    * Come up with standard Linux install images
    * Develop tools on Macs to maintain these images

    When the IT staff realized that with this method they weren't in danger of losing their own ease of use, they started coming up with their own justifications for this plan.
    * Good to have IT staff on higher-security platform
    * Unauthorized users easier to id due to distinctive design
    * Wider compatability than Windows or Linux alone

    The voiceless masses have been fairly receptive to the new plan (or at least not coordinated enough to voice a strong opposition). Key executives were allowed to be exempt from the Linux standards, but they were encouraged to use Macs with MS products rather than full Wintel machines (to be as "standard" as possible).

    The use of friendly maintenance tools on Macs (which used tech friendly technologies under the hood for the geeks) was the key to overcoming the general IT fear of Linux. It's not certain if IT will keep using Macs down the road once this irrational fear is gone, but it was very important to get the ball rolling at all.
  • by nomadicGeek ( 453231 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:24PM (#6966778)
    The problem with large scale adoption of Linux on the desktop is the applications that don't run or don't run easily on Linux.

    Anyone who went through Y2k upgrades of desktops realizes that 20% of the appications (all of the odd balls) were 80% of the work. Upgrading Office, email, etc was the easy part.

    There is a large cost involved in this migration. Even if you can replace 80% of the applications that everyone uses with a Linux alternative, you still aren't even close to being finished.

    Running these applications under Wine or an emulator isn't going to work. The cost of supporting that alone would wipe out any saving from going to Linux.

    I would like to see it happen as much as anyone else but I think that many people underestimate what it would really take to do it. There is still a very long way to go.
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday September 15, 2003 @03:58PM (#6967118) Homepage Journal
    "Sun offers legal protection covering desktop components like Staroffice against third party intellectual property claims that aren't available to companies sourcing their Linux desktops from the IBM/SuSe partnership or other players."

    Catching a whiff of FUD there. They're playing that card with Linux too; they claim to be able to distribute the Linux kernel irrespective of the outcome of the IBM/SCO legal battle (At least that's the way I read it.) They may have a mexican stand-off with Microsoft over document technology, but IBM still has the biggest patent portfolio on the planet. No one but a complete idiot would attack them.

    These sorts of tactics... annoy me.

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