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Linux Business

Ubuntu On The Business Desktop 346

rchapman wrote to mention a Mad Penguin story about a consultant who installed Ubuntu on his work PC, and managed to use it for over a month before his boss even noticed. From the article: "This is not a typical review, because you've read enough of those. Instead, lets pretend I'm a typical worker, who just happens to have a soft spot for Open Source software. I want to use Linux, but I have a job to do. The price of Freedom should not be my salary. I don't have time to fiddle, all I care is whether or not it can do what I want, right now. So what do I want out of my system?"
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Ubuntu On The Business Desktop

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  • NT AD or Domain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by painkillr ( 33398 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:15AM (#14052348)
    How'd he get it on the domain?
  • Ubuntu hype (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joestar ( 225875 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:17AM (#14052365) Homepage
    Well... I managed to use Mandrake(Mandriva) for more than 4 years on my business desktop with most people noticing that I rarely have any issue compared to their Windows workstation.

    Viva Ubuntu! Glad to see that you are taking care of the Linux desktop! Anyway, it's not really new for me to live without any proprietary software on my business desktop, with minimum hassle.
    • Re:Ubuntu hype (Score:5, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:38AM (#14052611) Homepage Journal
      In my experience, there is only one app that makes it impossible for the companies I've worked at to switch over to an alternative OS: Microsoft Access.

      Love it or hate it (mostly hate it), it lets companies quickly create interfaces to larger databases. It's so simply and easy to do, that many developers don't realize (or perhaps care) that they'll be paying heavily for their choice later on when either their needs scale beyond Access, or Microsoft releases a new (usually incompatible) version.

      Sadly, just about everyone I've spoken with has considered Access support to be unimportant to office conversions. "They should use a real database," they say. While that's a fine stance to take, that doesn't help companies that are already relying on MS Access. And if you take the emulation route to get Access support, you might as well just run Windows in the first place.

      It's really too bad that the Access format is so widely ignored. Much of the groundwork [] has already been laid for reading/writing the format, and StarOffice/OSS have a real chance to make Access work correctly. IMHO, managers given the opportunity to use their existing Access applications on a better platform would jump at the chance to save money and support calls.
      • Ignoring the Access format might be related to the fact that it sucks for any database size bigger than the ones you could comfortably maintain even in Excel or a plain text file.
        • Re:Ubuntu hype (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AKAImBatman ( 238306 )
          Let me repeat, that still doesn't help companies that have software written in Access.

          Many companies use Access because it's easy for the moment. The costs later down the line are not something they consider.

          And to address your point specifically, a large number of Access databases actually store no real data of their own. Instead they link off to a much larger server somewhere else, making them useful as a RAD (Rapid Application Development) front-end. The limitations of the software in this situation are
      • Re:Ubuntu hype (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mr. McGibby ( 41471 )
        It's really too bad that the Access format is so widely ignored. Much of the groundwork has already been laid for reading/writing the format, and StarOffice/OSS have a real chance to make Access work correctly. IMHO, managers given the opportunity to use their existing Access applications on a better platform would jump at the chance to save money and support calls.

        Decrypting the file format gets you about 1% of the way towards an Access work-alike. Even a working Access work-alike is only 5% of the way to
        • Re:Ubuntu hype (Score:4, Informative)

          by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:26PM (#14053184) Homepage Journal
          Most of these use a wide variety of COM objects only implemented on Windows.

          This is different from my own experience. The standard controls are usually the only ones used because:

          1) Distributing ActiveX/COM controls is a PITA
          2) Access doesn't correctly support the full range of controls. (I've seen plenty of controls that work fine in VB, fail miserably in Access.)

          The real holy grail of Access support is the VBA language. All kinds of business logic tidbits are stuck into VBA.

          Even if we do consider that ActiveX/COM controls are the real problem, making minor changes to use alternative controls is a lot less costly than rewriting the entire application. :-)

      • The question of Access is one about the cost of conversion, not whether Access is competitive with other databases - it isn't.

        The cost of conversion depends on who you hire to do the conversion and how you do it (as well as, of course, how MUCH conversion you have to do - a couple systems versus everything being used in-house.)

        Converting Access should not be a show-stopper if you're not paying someone $200-400/hour to do it.

        As for "taking the emulation route", that's not the same as running Windows by a lon
    • Using SuSE with KDE on daily basis, sometimes somebody notices it, and then just does not understand how I am able to open all the Microsoft documents and how I can mail them MS docs. I have worked like this for 5 years now, no problems at all (ok, some tweaking needed in the past, but nowadays it is really boring, everything just works).
  • Freedom? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GypC ( 7592 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:17AM (#14052370) Homepage Journal
    The price of Freedom should not be my salary.

    Exactly! That's why I surf porn on the company network. The fascists won't be telling me what to do...

    BBL, I have a special meeting in HR to go to. I wonder if I'm getting a raise.

    • Re:Freedom? (Score:3, Funny)

      by paranode ( 671698 )
      BBL, I have a special meeting in HR to go to. I wonder if I'm getting a raise.

      Be sure to tell them that you probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work. When they get surprised mention that you are not being challenged and have no motivation. That raise will come your way! ;)

  • 2560x2048 ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by graphicartist82 ( 462767 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:17AM (#14052376)
    2560x2048 spread across 2 monitors? I hope he means 2560 x 1024 .. Otherwise that'd be one helluva 17" LCD monitor!
    • maybe he has 2 pivoted 2048x1280 screens
    • Four monitors perhaps, at 1280x1024 each? That seems reasonable (I don't know if it is possible, though; xinerama may have some way to take care of it)
    • Re:2560x2048 ? (Score:3, Informative)

      2560x2048 spread across 2 monitors? I hope he means 2560 x 1024 .. Otherwise that'd be one helluva 17" LCD monitor!

      I guess that he is speaking about virtual desktop. Probably he has two 1280x1024 monitors. But 2560x2048 would also work with two 800x600 monitors :>
  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:18AM (#14052388) Homepage Journal
    One time I went to fix someone's Windows computer at work. I found it to be very different from the standard machine image, it was missing something like Microsoft Word. He mentioned that he'd installed linux on the machine, and put Windows back on himself. I didn't know what to do, so I told my boss what I'd seen, and it turns out tinkering with the software in that way, at this company, was a big no-no. I don't know to know what happened to that employee, but thumb screws might have been involved.

    Before you tinker with a work computer, ask! You won't like the answer, but there won't be any thumb screws.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:28AM (#14052503) Homepage Journal
      You should be modded as insightful. The place to play is on your own machine. If you don't like the standards at your workplace you should find a new job. I'm all for running whatever works on the desktop, but it's the perogative of the *owner* of the hardware (in this case the employer) to decided what is to be run on it.

      This reminds me of my teenager who has a habit of decided on her own that certain rules shouldn't apply to her so she'll just do as she pleases. Buy a machine and play with Linux at home. If you feel strongly about running it at work then propose it to your boss.
      • The place to play is on your own machine.

        actually, the place to play is on your own hard drive.

        at work i have one hard drive in my machine running my home-rolled ubuntu and one with the company-approved install of centos. i'd feel pretty clever about it if i hadn't been the one pushing so hard to adopt centos in the first place...

      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Informative)

        by nequeo ( 699468 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:44PM (#14057377)
        As the author of this article, I'd just like to clarify a few points.

        Had I known I was going to be mentioned on Slashdot, I would have left out the speading fonts over my body line (but don't knock it till you've tried it!), thrown in an 'Inconcievable!' or two, and perhaps criticsed KDE, so that the opposing camps of Trolls would tear into each other, and let me quietly slink off back to work with my pride more or less intact.

        I wish to say:

        You have probably been thinking of cublicles. I saw a reference or two to the PHB. Luckily, I don't have one.

        Yes, I have previously worked in the IT departments of large, international companies who run Windows desktops with an iron first. I cannot doubt the efficiency of this system, nor the intelligence of the people who implement it. In fact, one of these companies had an in-house software dev team, and their 'senior developer' was only 19 years old - having been hired at 17.

        And certainly, in such an environment, I wouldn't dream of messing with their precious RIS-imaged desktops. Except to add certain users to the Local Admins group when their company-bought Palm Pilots refuse to work with 'limited' Windows accounts. But as nice as the money is, I do prefer a little more freedom in my work place.

        So my 'company' is now a 'boutique' IT consultancy. There are two employees. Me, and the 'boss'. My job description is more or less to innovate. I have absolute lisence to do whatever I want to my desktop, and one of the developement servers, so long as I can continue to support our existing clients - who through historical accident mostly use Windows machines. As mentioned in the article, I do this using VNC and 'rdesktop', which is just as good as looking over their shoulder and pointing out where to click.

        Since switching my desktop to Linux I have managed to successfully press for LAMP-type projects over IIS/ASP, and convinced several companies who were previously balking at the cost of putting in a Windows server to at least use a Linux machine to centralise and organise their data and backups. Our costs are down, which means client costs are down, which means more business and good will all-round.

        Saying the Boss didn't notice for a month was a bit of artistic licence. Yes, the words are true, but I should mention that's because our office is in a converted wharf facility, and we have our meetings in a cafe overlooking Sydney Harbour, rather than in a cubicle or meeting room. Provided he could read all the documents I sent him, and none of our clients suddenly started complaining that I couldn't solve their problems, or administer their servers, there was no reason for him to care what OS I was using.

        2506x2048 desktop was a typo. I did mean 2506x1024.

        Windows Server Small Business Edition 2003, (I apologize for not specifying), ya know, the Crippleware version, does in fact automatically set up RRAS for you on first install and allow unencrypted connections by default.

        Yes, the Slashdot posting was a little one-sided. I was not advocating large scale enterprise adoption of Linux. I was saying that despite a few hassles, Linux could be co-oerced into doing what I needed on a PC, and that perhaps other small start-up companies, who don't currently have any IT infrastructure, might want to consider Linux. As long as they dont need Access, that is.

    • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:33AM (#14052566) Journal
      That's the policy at most large companies. I always thought it was stupid though, since they give you a computer which you can install anything on, but you can't install another OS? I believe the reasoning is that most companies have automatic patch installations on their networks, so they can ensure windows is up to date, but because they don't have anything like that for other OS's, they dont' want an OS they can't ensure is patched on their network.

      The penalties for messing with it are ridiculous though.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:55AM (#14052797)
        since they give you a computer which you can install anything on

        Stop right there. Sometimes IT people and even developers can install anything on, generally everybody else gets the system locked down to a greater or lesser extent.

        Fascist? Maybe.
        Reduces number of calls to the helpdesk? Definitely.
        Reduces the risk of a rather nasty audit by the BSA? Definitely.
        Reduces the risk of inadvertantly introducing malware? Definitely.
        Inconvenience to users? Only if you haven't got the good sense to find out what your users need and make sure they've got it.
      • The official line at my workplace (an all Windows 2000 shop) is no unauthorized installations, period.

        I understand that this greatly simplifies the IT department's user-support tasks, and it certainly helps their security. Too many clueless users adding malware/spyware around here, anyway.

        That said, I do run a number of "unauthorized" apps on my desktop:

        • Firefox, so I can actually be productive while using the 'net for work. Having one window with lots of tabs is easier than being compelled to use IE (
      • Patching is part of it, but the biggest reason is because of internal support costs. It's easier to troubleshoot, fix, or replace a machine if it is one of a thousand mostly identical machines. And you may be /able/ to install any software, but most places have written policies prohibiting it. They only reason you are able to is because working as a non-administrative user on Windows is often impossible because of poorly written applications -- often line-of-business apps written in house that are required
    • Yes, but this guy had the sense to install a spare HDD for the experiment, thus "Undo" was fairly easy.
      I use Cygwin at work for the same reason you just mentioned. Since I'm a Dev I get some liberties on my system (I could install Linux and not get yelled at), but I very well may loose IT support. That is something I would rather not do as even though they are nearly helpless, at least they get yelled at when a patch breaks something.
      • Yes, but this guy had the sense to install a spare HDD for the experiment, thus "Undo" was fairly easy.

        While this may very well be, I've worked for a client where the policy did not tolerate you even thinking about installing another HDD.

        At said client's workplace, you get a Windows machine, with a default software kit necessary for your job. All other software/tools/utilities you want to install must be cleared by a) your boss, b) boss of the department and c) the internal IT department and will be inst

        • True enough about the BSA. We have automated software audits that run as system, thus as a user (even with admin rights as us devs have) you can not bypass or cancel the audit. If the audit sees software not in it's list of approved software (known freeware &&|| OSS, Site Licensed software, or software the system knows you should have), you are asked to confirm you have a licence. Perodically a LivePerson (TM) checkes that you did not lie, if you did you get your pee-pee whacked (officially, and
    • My wife works for an electronics company and they are trying to bring some linux servers in the company. I've been using Linux at home for about 2 years now and she's been watching me work and tinker while listening my occasional rants about the **OS-with-biggest-market-share**. She naturally got interested over time and wanted to use Linux on her office IBM Thinkpad but she wanted to start out with installing it herself. Knowing how enterprises have PC's with don't-touch-it policy, I suggested that she
    • I work for a rather large corporation. We run many different OS's around here (Well, Windows/Macs) as desktops (Our corporate email system is exchange so Lookou... Outlook I mean is necessary, at least until they update their exchange server) and they are all locked down fairly tightly. That said they have a DMZ for running test machines of whatever nature you need to run including Linux. Additionally I find that if you have a business case for something they are accommodating. For example the other day I w

    • It always a good idea to ask, but you should be tricky with how you phrase the question.

      "Can I install Linux on my desktop?"

      Will often be answered with a "No. Don't mess with the network."

      "I'd like to experiment with Linux on my desktop. This won't interfere with my regular work, will help me associate better with my Linux clients, and I won't be replacing Windows; they'll be installed side-by-side. Plus, there's the potential to save the company $X per client if I can find a working configuration!"

      Will oft
  • Any boss that can look at a desktop for a month and not notice a completely different operating system is an idiot, but it explains why he didn't notice for a month, "and that was only because he happened to glance at my screen". Not very surprising.

    Having said that if your entire business and profit revolves around profit even if you can work on Ubuntu or whatever it's probably a better idea to work with Windows since your dealing with clients and windows related issues. But whatever makes him happy.
  • by kspiteri ( 599317 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:19AM (#14052394) Homepage
    My name is Simon, I am a Linux addict, and this is my story.

    So long for Linux Anonymous.
    Run for Fun []
  • Me too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by psbrogna ( 611644 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:19AM (#14052395)
    I'm an IT professional that's been using Unbuntu at work for about 2 months know. Everything works fine (email, internet, Office compatible applications, etc). I do miss MS Access (Ubuntu doesn't have latest version of OOO which would have included an Access counterpart). MySQL CC or MySQL Admin+Query Browser aren't as easy to use (though they are faster because all queries are pass through).

    I've been using Suse OSS 10 at home and like it a little better- more robust repositories slightly more stable.

    I will say that when the next desktop o/s upgrade occurs at my company it may not be as hard as I thought to put Linux on the candidate list because the number of non-IT employees that are switching to Linux at home on their own (without any evangelizing by me) is pretty high. This will certainly make it an easier sell if I want to consider Linux on the desktop at work rather than the PIA-Du Jour from Redmond.

    • Re:Me too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LDoggg_ ( 659725 )
      (Ubuntu doesn't have latest version of OOO which would have included an Access counterpart).

      I have very little experience with ubuntu(mostly fedora user), but I know this isn't true.
      I installed ubuntu in vmware the other day was able to have it upgrade to open office 2 without any problems.
    • Re:Me too (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DoctorPepper ( 92269 )
      Um, perhaps you should upgrade to 5.10, that includes OOo 2.0 (1.9.129 pre-release, actually), and OOo Base, which is the Access counter-part.
    • Re:Me too (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by AppyPappy ( 64817 )
      I do a lot of Access development and it's a waste. I'm a programmer. Access is supposed to be an end-user tool. The end-users can't figure out Access for snot. So I have to do all the devlopment of reports, forms, modules and queries. I SHOULD be using a better tool and database than Access but we are sold on Access because it is a good end-user tool.

      Freaking circular logic. We would be better off creating a real database in MySQL or Postgres or Oracle and using an ODBC link into Excel since the users under
    • Crossover office can bridge that gap by letting you run ms office, photoshop, dreamweaver, etc.

      They have a free trial too. I'm impressed with it.
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:20AM (#14052407) Homepage Journal
    ...on my desktop for about five years here at work now. To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment. For those apps that you HAVE to have, there is Wine and 'rdesktop'. When I need to do some Windows admin stuff, I just connect to one of our servers with 'rdesktop'. And I got most of the basic apps installed under Wine if there was no Linux equivalent. Linux gives you everything you need and more than Windows ever could. And of course uptime and reliability... we won't talk about that. Suffice it to say that when my Windows using co-workers are scrambling to apply critical updates, clean up worm/virus issues and griping about malware, I'm always up and running without a glitch.
    • by Alworx ( 885008 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:27AM (#14052482) Homepage
      Please help me guys...

      I really can't understand all these issues with Windows desktops! At my (very small) company we have 4 windows pcs and a Linux file/mail server. We have never had half a minute's worth of downtime since 2001, except maybe when during the summer I switched the last PC over from 2K di XP.

      Malware? Never. Virii? None. Patches? Just a question of clicking "next" a couple of times.

      The trick? No one is allowed to install anything and all users run with minum priviledges. Sounds banal? It should! :-)

      Add RDP and SSH and you can administer anything with out burning calories!
      • So all your IT co-workers run with minimum priveleges? How do they actually do any work?
        • This isn't as far fetched as it sounds. At my last contract, they were in the process of forcing the entire IT staff, which was over 200 people, to use locked down workstations.

          As long as your server admin tools are available on your workstation, you don't actually need local admin access.

          They were doing this because too many admins were getting spyware and crap they'd have to deal with in the client group.

          I think it sucks, but it's not impossible.

    • >> To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment.

      I have a really good reason. I'd be fired. End of story.
    • "those apps that you HAVE to have, there is Wine and 'rdesktop'."

      *cough* Yeah , WINE is so 100% compatible *cough*. Sorry , much as I despise
      windows , you'll find lots of firms require various windows apps to be used
      (no , not just virus checkers) that WINE simply isn't up for. In fact from my
      own experiments running WINE , it has enough problems running common apps like
      Office , never mind more esoteric , possibly in-house programs.
      • In-house stuff tends to work *better* than Office under Wine. Office makes extensive use of rare and obscure API calls (even when there are better ones) and for reasons unknown to me provides all of it's own (extensive) widget and UI scaffolding. In-house apps tend to use Windows provided interfaces (mostly via MFC). Really, Office is almost a platform of it's own - it installs a lot of "platform" style stuff, like hooking & replacing the standard clipboard, the "find fast" crap on older versions, etc.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:38AM (#14052605)
      ...on my desktop ever. To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason not to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment. For those apps that you HAVE to have, there is no real replacement for a real Windows machine (point-of-sale software with hardware). When I need to do some Windows admin stuff, I just do it. All of the basic apps installed under native Windows with no problem. Windows gives you everything you need and more easily than Linux ever could. And of course uptime and reliability... we haven't had to talk abuot that since Windows 2000 came out. Not an issue. Suffice it to say that when my Linux using friends are scrambling to figure out how to get their machine to boot, figure out how to do simple things like change the screen resolution and griping about .config files, I'm always up and running without a glitch.
      • So what's your point, that Windows and Linux really are interchangeable? I'm pretty sure MS doens't see it that way, and they certainly don't want their customers to see it that way.
    • To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment

      Once again, I call BS. I hate Windows problems as much as the next guy, but there are certain applications that only run in Windows environments. In fact, there are MANY applications that only run in certain environments. WINE, as good as it may be, still falls WAY short of making every Windows-based app work successfully on Linux (let alone trying to get it workin

      • Where I work there is only one application that matters that runs on Windows and it runs very well under Wine. So in my situation, there was no reason to stick with Windows. We don't use Exchange, so I don't need Outlook and even if we did, I'd use Evolution instead. Of course I'm also not an "underling" who would get fired for making such a decision. That IS a valid reason for sticking with Windows and it's not a technological one, it's political.
    • by optimus2861 ( 760680 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:06PM (#14052946)
      To be honest, if you know what you're doing with computers, there's no reason to stick with Windows on your desktop in a Windows environment.

      No reason? I'll give you a few that apply in my office:

      Rockwell Software []

      Wonderware []

      GE Fanuc []

      PI []

      AutoCAD []

      SolidWorks []

      If we can't use those tools, we go out of business. Plain and simple.

      Moderators, please consider such things before moderating blanket statements like the parent up to +5. There are a lot of workstations out there that aren't just Word/Excel/Access/Outlook/IE boxes. When you start using dedicated software packages like the stuff I've described above, you're using Windows, and you don't have a choice (PI being a partial exception, you can get the server for Unix but many client tools are Windows-only). Does that suck? Yeah, kinda. But that's the reality, and wishing it were different doesn't change it.

      • Keep in mind that we're talking about IT here. Not engineering. IT. Information Technology. AKA Computer Network Janitors. That's ALL we're talking about. Not paper pushers, suits, desk jockeys or any other computer user. JUST IT. The apps you mention have no place in an IT department. And if you are doing IT along with engineering duties, then your business needs to revamp it's approach to IT.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GypC ( 7592 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:21AM (#14052415) Homepage Journal
    The fonts are so smooth I want to spread them all over my body.

    Nausea forced me to stop reading at this point.

  • by fm2503 ( 876331 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:21AM (#14052427)
    "However, all was not lost. Exchange server is fairly happy to deliver e-mail, and even meeting requests, via IMAP. I quietly crept onto the Windows server, turned on the IMAP virtual server, and thus set up my Evolution mailboxes."

    All very well and good, but no organization with decent change control would allow this to happen. If the policy is MAPI only does anyone have a better solution that fetchmailex ? At least for use with Thunderbird?


  • by bakreule ( 95098 ) <bkreulen&yahoo,com> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:24AM (#14052459) Homepage
    Don't let the /. blurb fool you. The article has as many "damn it didn't work" moments as "woohoo!" moments. Hell, he couldn't even get Evolution connected to Exchange. That right there would be a death blow to any Linux-in-a-Windows environment migration.

    Don't be fooled, Linux has a long way to go before being a drop-in replacement for Windows on the desktop.
    • by at_slashdot ( 674436 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:40AM (#14052644)
      "Don't be fooled, Linux has a long way to go before being a drop-in replacement for Windows on the desktop."

      Of course, there's a long way till 50,000 viruses will be written for Linux.

      Now being serious, I'm kind of tired of "Linux it's ready" or "Linux it's not ready" kind of posts. It has been ready for me 1 year ago, for some was even earlier and for some it will never be -- it depends on the usage, what are your needs and what programs you use taling generalities doesn't make much sense.
      • The alternative question is not if Linux is ready, but if people is. A lot of people that wanted to experiment, or had no fear to try something different is using Linux or at least considered it. But in the other hand, you have users that complain/yell/cry if buttons with the same, exact text, shape and meaning are not in the same screen area that is used to be. There is a wide range of users, but while you still have people that want things as used to be to do a companywide change is hard.
    • Don't be fooled, Linux has a long way to go before being a drop-in replacement for Windows on the desktop.

      And vice versa.

    • The problem is that if there's even one thing you can't get working, it can be enough to deter all but the most fanatical from making the switch. I teach at a community college where the faculty mostly have Windows machines on their desks, with a small percentage of macs thrown in. I brought in a $200 Great Quality brand generic intel box with Linux on it to put on my own desk, and AFAIK I'm the only person at the school using Linux on the desktop. The killer for me was Samba. I got the client working for p
  • Linux at school (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Descalzo ( 898339 )
    I teach, and use Mac OSX 10.2 and these are the things I don't think I can live without: iChat (Rendezvous client) and PowerSchool.

    I am sure PowerSchool doesn't have a Linux port, but I know they make a Windows version. I am very hesitant to try to run the Windows version in wine, as I have never used wine. Also, the only computer they have given me (so far) is an old iMac. Can you run windows apps in wine on a Mac?

    Also, I have heard that you can use Trillian to be a part of Rendezvous, but I tried

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:32AM (#14052539) Homepage
    Whatever someone may feel about Windows or some other OS, if thats what the
    company requires you to use then you have to use it. Its their computer, they're
    paying you money , you do what they tell you. You wouldn't expect to get away
    with repainting your desk , or putting down a new carpet around where you sit
    "because I don't like grey" , so why do some people think they can get away with
    messing around with the company computer. Its not your property. Yes , Ubunto
    is a great distribution , but pissing off your boss this way is not a good way
    to spread the Open Source message. IMO anyway.
    • I agree with you that it is the company's computer, but I disagree in the fact that they force you to use this or that tool.

      You should be able to use any tool you need as long as it is free or you paid for the license yourself, if these tools allow you to be more productive your boss shouldn't do anything but agreeing.

      The goal is getting the job done. Period. if your boss does not understand that, ten better switch quickly!
    • It sounds to me like you've had a lot of crappy bosses. I installed Ubuntu with little fanfare. I just told them why it made sense for me: I program for Linux servers. I won't get any desktop support from IT, obviously, but I accepted that risk.

      Most bosses don't care what programs you use as long as it doesn't directly affect them negatively. If I started sending spreadsheets to my boss as ODF files and told him he'd have to install OpenOffice, then it'd be a problem. But right now he sends me XLS and I sen
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:35AM (#14052575)
    Our company was running Windows 2k on the desktop and I took the liberty to install OpenBSD on my desktop (to try it out). Now I didn't have to worry about the stupid "Administrator" password, or not being able to use certain programs. The only problem was that I had never used it before and I couldn't get Wine to work correctly or compile programs very well. My boss found out that day and called me into his office. He asked me what the hell was I doing to company property and I told him how more secure and better OpenBSD was. He had no clue what I was talking about and said: "You don't need to be messing around with our company's computer equipment and you're not even in the IT department. You're a customer support rep." He also stated something regarding company policy, destroying company property, or something to that effect (I wasn't listening). So needless to say I was asked to clean out my desk and leave that day. I wasn't pretty, but I never reformatted OpenBSD off of my computer, so the IT guy had to see the OS on the desktop and must have thought I was a bright guy for doing what I did. Now that was years ago, but I still feel proud for what I did. Although, now I live at home with my mother and haven't found a new job since.
  • Linux on the Desktop (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mchawi ( 468120 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:37AM (#14052600)
    I run multiple machines at work - some native and some on VMWare. Either my Windows XP machine or my SuSE 10 machine can basically do anything that *I* want. RDP is easy with SuSE - none of the problems mentioned in this article. Kerberos and AD authentication was not very problematic - just go into YAST and the kerberos setup, then edit the config file. Windows administration - just RDP to a Windows desktop and use almost any tool from there. A few apps here and there that are Windows only - Citrix. So for it would work fairly well. I also have no problems at home or work with viruses, spyware, etc - mainly because I don't run as an administrative user.

    The problem that prevents Linux from being used where I work is (1) with an Enterprise License Agreement for MS versus one for Redhat/Novell - the cost is about the same (**costwise - not sure who has better support). Number (2) and the main issue is that we have many departments that have 'must have' applications that are Windows only. We're not talking one or two applications - but probably about 60 of them. We can run a few on Citrix or some other platform - but that adds up very quickly. Our view of Linux not being ready for the desktop is -only- related to applications. I don't think our users would care about any of the other stuff. IT is going to set it up - so they don't care how hard it is to install drivers, software and hardware. They only care how it is to use. However, the first time you tell them they can't have their business critical application - it's all over (*a lot of these apps were written in-house, but I'm not responsible for the dev of the other critical apps is our point of sale system...which is Windows only).

    My guess is that as more and more stuff becomes web enabled, you'll see more and more people migrating to Linux. I think when most people talk about being enabled for the desktop and how 'difficult' Linux is to setup for the 'typical' user they never consider that the 'typical' user never sets up anything in a corporate environment.
  • Install time. Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:38AM (#14052613)

    WTH is this obsession with install time and boot time all about? I couldn't care less if install time was 15 minutes or a day. I've always got plenty of other things to be getting on with. Even if I didn't have one day out of the amount of time I would generally be working with the machine would be tiny

    The thing that takes the time for me is upgrades and configuration. I run Debian so upgrades are probably about as smooth as they get for any Linux distro but the number of times a little something goes wrong and needs manually fixing is amazing (yes I could run stable and not suffer as many problems but I like to be at least fairly up to date). I suppose the reason this doesn't happen on windows is simply because you rarely update the installed applications. Even so it would be nice if updates were less likely to mangle the system.

  • by Ransak ( 548582 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:40AM (#14052643) Homepage Journal
    Three weeks ago I received a shiney new Dell Latitude D810 for a new position within my company. For the record, my company is a 100% Microsoft Windows shop. Since I have some Linux experience on the server side (and some nifty ceritifcation papers from Redhat to line my birdcage with), I decided to bite the bullet and try using a Linux distro as my full time desktop.

    I chose Suse 10 since it's fairly new and I knew I'd need support for newer technologies (wireless, etc).

    So far, I've only ran into a few problems... Wireless WPA-EAP connectivity being the biggest issue. I haven't been able to get it straightened out. In fact, wireless support on Linux (in my experience) has been flakey, sometimes it works perfectly and other times it's an exercise in frustration. And with Suse 10, there are a few annoying bugs [] that crop up, but for the most part they're survivable.

    The number one issue I've seen while trying to run Suse as my business desktop in a 100% MS Windows world has been the 'compatibility curve'. Something it would take me 10 seconds to do in XP sometimes takes me 10 minutes (half the time simply due to my unfamiliarity with the distro/Linux desktop environment, the other half reconfiguration time just to make it compatible).

    It isn't for the lazy or undetermined, but it can be done. There's something to be said for taking the road less traveled, and in the end I'm sure I'll be richer for the experience.

    Or fired.

  • Fonts (Score:2, Funny)

    "The fonts are so smooth I want to spread them all over my body."
    That does it, I'm installing right now! I want to spread fonts all over my body too!
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ctrl+Alt+De1337 ( 837964 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:43AM (#14052670) Homepage
    This is not your average office worker running Linux from his workstation, as if he was like the vast majority of office workers in the world.

    "It is a simple fact that most of our clients run Windows 2003 servers and that it's my job to administer those servers..."

    It's cool that he could still do that incognito with Ubuntu, but how easy was it really? Let's find out:

    On getting the monitors to work: "I had to install the restricted Nvidia drivers and read the official documentation to get both monitors working, but that wouldn't be too troublesome for anyone used to mucking around with their xorg.conf file." Yes, it is Nvidia's fault, but for the uninitiated, "mucking around" in an xorg.conf file sounds scary.

    On networking: "So, not exactly a quick and painless set up, but having done it once it would probably only take five minutes or so to do it again... though I'm a little concerned about the practicality of rolling out a large number of Ubuntu clients in an enterprise environment."

    On email: "Ubuntu's default e-mail client, Evolution, is supposed to play nice with Outlook. It actually turned out to be very simple to get Evolution to connect to our Exchange server... That's precisely when things started going wrong. Exchange support seemed to be rather buggy and crash prone, and because Evolution is integrated into parts of the desktop, my desktop was soon littered with the burnt, twisted corpses of panel applets and daemons." He had to change a setting on the Exchange server to get things to work correctly.

    On remote administration: "There is a bug in pptp-linux that prevents it from negotiating a secure connection after Windows offers to allow an unencrypted connection, but this behavior is easily solved by configuring the RRAS service on Windows Server to only allow encrypted connections."

    On the office suite: "It is tempting to treat 'Base', the database application, just like Access. However it is not Access, and lacks many of Access's features. I was particularly chagrined to find it is not possible to import data from a CSV file into a table... If you rely heavily on local database files, and the Form and Report functions of Access, Base probably won't cut it for you."

    That's a lot of issues that could scare away, rather than encourage, Windows-based offices from adding Linux boxes to their networks. I would love to read that article and come away thinking that Linux is ready for business, but unless everything gets switched to *nix is appears to be a big hassle to add Linux to the mix. Whether that truly is right or not I don't know, since I'm not that experienced with Linux and because a lot of the problems are with Windows not playing nice and not Linux, but if a PHB reads this article he might swear Linux off entirely. Sure, the Base functionality loss can be fixed with Cedega + Access, but does a manager who's never heard of Linux know that? It looks like Linux is not yet ready for the client side of a business, but at least the atricle outlines where the work for making that happen needs to go.
    • In re: your opening line, I was thinking the same thing. This is someone who has the knowledge and background to go fiddle with the configuration to get it set the way he wants it set.

      The issues he pointed out regarding the installation would be a non-starter in most work environments.

      I use Windows both at work and home but I did try to install Slackware 10 and Debian 3.0 Rev 4 on an older machine here at work earlier this year. I did get Slack up and running and used Gimp to do basic stuff and could even
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:45AM (#14052687) Journal
    Boss: What's that? [pointing to screen]

    Worker: Ubuntu. Been using it for a while. Works so much better than Windows and I'm much more productive.

    Boss: Excellent! Good job! Keep it up!

    [Boss shuffles off to his office, closes the door, and kneels before raised, circular object on the floor. Hologram of hooded figure appears.]

    Figure: What is it?

    Boss: My Master, there is a Linux-user here!

    Figure: I see. The Rebels are becoming bold, moving faster than anticipated. No matter!

    Boss: What shall we do?

    Figure: Do nothing. I will send Darth Ballmer to deal with this "Linux-user."

    Boss: Very well, My Master.

    [Hologram disappears]
  • by digidave ( 259925 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:45AM (#14052694)
    After installing it an IT guy noticed and my boss got a bit of shit for what I did and I was asked to justify using Linux. I'm a Linux programmer, so that got solved very quickly.

    We use DeskNow ( []) for email and collaboration so Exchange connectivity was never a problem. Luckily we have a lot of sales reps who don't have a company computer, so at minimum we'd have to have OWA running for them even if we used Exchange. I still don't authenticate with the AD server, but that doesn't really present a problem for me and if it does, I'll figure out how to set that up. Because I'm on Linux I don't even have an AD user, so right now my only problem is accessing the shared drives, although I have never needed to do that. They won't let me dump several GB of server backups there anyway.

    I can honestly say that using Linux hasn't caused me any trouble at all. I work with a lot of Excel spreadsheets, but while they're very large (one dataset often is split in several 65000 row files) they aren't very complicated. The one that is complicated works fine in OpenOffice 1.x and 2.0. From Linux it's much easier to manage my Linux servers and test my code. I use Wine to run IE so I can test application web front ends in multiple browsers for the apps that support a web front end.

    All in all it's been a smashing success for me. Several people in the office have commented about how much they love my desktop -- how nice it looks and how easy it is to work with different types of files. Even the designers on Macs are impressed. I also got someone else from work to install Ubuntu at home. I just handed him an Ubuntu Live CD and he loved it. After installing the Windows apps like OpenOffice that came with the CD, he took the plunge and couldn't be happier.
  • I manage a team of .NET/SQL Server devs (I was a dev here previously) and now that my time is spent mostly in office type applications, I can generally get through a day using Ubuntu only on my laptop. Wireless works, but only on open access points, so not here at work. Strangely, I don't have to take the laptop to that many meetings right now, so that's not a major problem. While I can get away with it though, my devs couldn't. I'm certain other departmental staff probably could though.
  • Sack of lies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by philmack ( 796529 )
    Call me a troll or a flamebaiter if you must, but with the intent of installing linux in the workplace of "I don't have time to fiddle, all I care is whether or not it can do what I want, right now" there is no way to call this a victory. No exchange connectivity, locking out all other network clients, having to change the exchange server configuration... no way.

    i work at a small company, and i can only imagine what would happen if even for 10 minutes all 70 employees didnt have access to the network sha
  • I've been using Breezy Ubuntu since one of the preview releases and it is certainly one of the best linux distros I've used. That said, I do have a few problems, including random panel crashes when closing large groups of windows and some other oddities. Setting up network printers etc was easier than Windows, and I like the new Nautilus look. As OSS desktops go, it's very stable and usable.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @12:21PM (#14053122) Homepage Journal
    Seriously - I used to work mightily to run Linux on the desktop but in this Windows uber alles shop it gradually became less and less relevant. Most of our corporate applications are coded specifically for Windows, anyway. Hell most of our stuff wont work with non IE browsers. So just getting application parity was a bear.

    And then they decided to roll out a quasi-managed desktop which basically amounts to continuous on line health checks and audits and reports going up to Big Brain Central with all sorts of red check marks for the things YOU'RE not compliant to whether or not those are relevant things for Linux. It's their machine, it's their management, but it's YOUR problem.

    So I gave up. I'll have a nice compliant chubby resource choked 'managed' up the ass Windows standard client and at least now when something goes badly in the ditch I can just tell my manager "Shit that build blew up on me again, buncha things don't work so I'll be out of pocket for a few days."

    My company finds that is an effective, economic and practical use of my time and their money and I honestly am done arguing this point with them.
  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:26PM (#14053873) Homepage
    I'm wondering how many of you using a Windoze environment at work are running Linux at home? I am, just wondering how many other people do. I've got one token Winders box at home but the majority of the network is Linux.

    Makes you wonder how long it's going to stay that way?

  • by Pixie_From_Hell ( 768789 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:41PM (#14054049)
    I'm a math professor at a Windows-centric university. When I got my current job they let me have an old PC running (of all things) Windows 98. I struggled along with it for about a month until my boss (the chair) told me I could do anything I want with it. Soon I was a happy Debian user!

    Since then I got a new PC (a real one this time), on which I'm running Ubuntu. I've converted at least 3 other people in the department to Ubuntu (from MS Windows -- there are a couple other Linux users around, too).

    Sure there have been some issues. Exchange? Printing? Networking? Sound? Nah -- the biggest problem I've had is that LaTeX/dvips/etc were configured to use A4 paper rather than letter.

    Back when I was coping with my old machine (450 MHz, some pittance of RAM), a new PC arrived in the department. It was either for me or for a grad student who needed to run Mathematica. The Chair called the IT department and asked if my old warhorse could handle this (of course I was running Mathematica under Debian, but...). He was told that this box could run Windows XP or Mathematica, but not both. The grad student got the machine and I had to wait another couple of months. Sigh.

  • Not a good idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:28PM (#14054574)
    I'm squarely in the Linux corner and use it at home all of the time. But if I were to install it on my PC at work I would definitely get reprimanded and maybe even fired.

    The network people's job is to keep the network up, running and safe. Although I know Linux is far more secure than Windows I would be overstepping my bounds if I unilaterally made a change to the network.

    I've been thinking of how I could use Linux in my programming job at work. I was thinking of buying a laptop and installing Linux. It does have some tools that would be helpful like the UML editor "Umbrello." As long I I use my own equipment and don't connect to the network they won't get upset. I could use a flash drive to transfer data. Although they don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about that.
  • My Ubuntu review... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kronocide ( 209440 ) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:30PM (#14054605) Homepage Journal
    I had to install some Linux dist on an old laptop with a 700MHz PIII and 64MB of RAM recently. Ubuntu froze at 52% when starting the disk partition program. (End of review.) SuSE, my old favorite, said I had too little memory to run the installation program. (WTF?) I went back to my first dist, Slackware, and discovered to my infinite delight that absolutely nothing has happened to its installation program the last 10 years. :-) It runs like clockwork, and apparently it should run on a 486 with 4MB of RAM as well. _That's_ Linux.

APL hackers do it in the quad.