Sean C. Sheridan on 3 Mar 2008 11:57:16 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] One True OS


Don't even think about what you are thinking about.

1) The first issue, and most important, is what are those users doing on
their machines?  My guess, running applications designed for MS operating
systems.  You MUST start by surveying what users use.

2) Running MS on Linux requires a decent/high end machine.  If you use a
standard office machine, your computers will immediately become 50% slower
running the same applications.  (Ok, maybe it's not 50% but I promise it
will seem like it).  (unless they are all brand new desktops with the
virtualization chipset)

3) Doubling the number of operating systems and the fact that you do not
have a full time support person will increase, not decrease, the load on
your "programmer".

4) Some windows applications will not work under linux.  For example,
things that use DirectX.  DirectX calls need to be supported by a third
party provider... caledaga is the norm and they charge something like $15
per month.  Another example is hardware.  There are a ton of cards out
there with no linux drivers.  Imagine hooking up your new linux/win box
only to find you have no way to use the ethernet card or video card.

If you follow these steps, you will find:

Your machines are slower
Some software may not run
Some software may require additional costs/subscriptions/updates
Your workload, and that of your programmer, will increase.

Assuming you have a fast internal network, what you WANT to do is:
Set up a file server that runs something like Windows Server 2003. 
(Enterprise version available on ebay for next to nothing).
Set it up as a domain controller.
Set it up as a file server.
Set it up as a print/fax server.
Set up home directories for your users.
Set up a shared public file folder for your users.
Run terminal server on it. (need a license)
Install all common software on the file server. (Acrobat doesn't play well)
Connect machines to the files server through Remote Desktop Management (RDP)

With this approach you will:

gain more control over your users
control what they can do with their machines
manage a single central software installation
store all user files on the server reducing backup problems
potentially use dumb terminals as desktops (cheaper than full machines)
minimize user introduced viruses
centralize printing/plotting and other output devices
simply deployment

This is a fairly standard setup.

Sean C. Sheridan

Campus Party, Inc.
444 North Third St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 320-1810, xtn 117
(215) 320-1814 fax

> I work in a small (15 employees) firm that's dependent on MS
> Windows/Office.  We do not have a full-time IT person--the guy who does
> our PC support is a programmer and has his own work to do.  We are on XP
> and don't use domains.
> Recently we've had a lot of windows-related issues, some related to
> viruses and some not.  This has caused the programmer a lot of stress
> and the company some inconvenience.
> I have played around with VMware player a tiny bit (I have a Debian Etch
> image here on my work PC) and it occurred to me that if we could run MS
> Office on XP in a VMware image, with a linux host OS we might be able to
> increase reliability.  I would probably pick the LTS Kubuntu
> distribution for ease of support.
> My questions are:
> *Would we be able to get away with the free VMware player if the VMware
> tools are installed?
> *Can things be configured in such a way that sharing files between
> computers works as it does now, so that the controller and payroll
> person can pass excel files back and forth?
> *Are there any other things that are going to be significant obstacles
> to office work that I'm not thinking of?
> Thanks,
> Greg
> --------------------------
> * From: JP Vossen <>
> My very small scale solution to all of this is to run W2KPro in VMware
> server under Ubuntu.  This works great since I get awesome and complete
> cross-platform remote control (VMware fat console), hardware
> independence for the picky Windows side (it's a VM), Linux power and
> stability for the base platform (Ubuntu LTS), Windows "bare metal
> restore" backups (i.e., copy the VM dir!:), and Windows "upgrade"
> back-out protection (a VM snapshot).  I can't stress enough how happy I
> am with this solution, but I only use it for a very small number of
> nodes thus far (4) and I doubt it's scalable though I really haven't
> given that much thought.
> [...]
> Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:40:53 -0500
>   > The need to do too many frequent upgrades has been one of my biggest
>   > beefs with desktop Linux in commercial environments. Even with Ubuntu
>   > - you really need to upgrade every 6 months, ...
> That's what Ubuntu LTS releases are for.  While 3 years is a bit less
> than the recent MS major release cycle <snicker>, it seems pretty good
> to me.
> My $0.02,
> JP
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