Is Linux a realistic OS for Business? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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StoneGiant
08-14-2005, 14:47
I consider myself reasonably savy with regard to Unix... though I haven't used it in 10 years.

Here's my question:

Given that I consult at Fortune 500 companies, how realistic is it for me to switch from being a Microsoft slut to being a Linux user? Most of the people I work with use Outlook, MS-Word, MS-PowerPoint, MS Project, and Visio.

My primary concern is editing and routing documents shared by a project team.

Thanks!

David_G17
08-14-2005, 15:23
yes, it can be done. no, the end-users won't be happy.

most people don't like change. especially if it means learning new stuff.

StoneGiant
08-14-2005, 15:53
Originally posted by David_G17
yes, it can be done. no, the end-users won't be happy.

most people don't like change. especially if it means learning new stuff.

My assumption is that everyone else will remain MS-sluts... and that I'll be the one responsible for translating to-and-from Word, MS-Project, etc.

Can it be done? Or will graphics, URL's, and formatting be lost in translation?

Dandapani
08-14-2005, 16:59
For email, web browsing, and office word processing sans VISIO, should be ok. I haven't had a M$ machine since 2001. Been Linux since then.

StoneGiant
08-14-2005, 17:14
Originally posted by dmobrien2001
For email, web browsing, and office word processing sans VISIO, should be ok. I haven't had a M$ machine since 2001. Been Linux since then.

Dan,

It's not just my personal use ... can you communicate effectively with all the others who ARE using the Microsoft suite of tools? That means not just reading their docs, but also editing them and sending 'em back in a Microsoft-readable format.

-SG

Washington,D.C.
08-14-2005, 18:33
Check out Buffalo Linux

http://www.mcalesterlinux.net/

StoneGiant
08-14-2005, 20:17
Originally posted by Washington,D.C.
Check out Buffalo Linux

http://www.mcalesterlinux.net/

Looks like the current state of affairs supports native installation of Office 2000, but codeweavers doesn't support Office 2003. Not necessarily a show stopper.

Also, Linspire looks sorta cool. Any experience with it?

Washington,D.C.
08-14-2005, 20:30
I've heard of Office XP working.I haven't tried that.I have Office 2000,Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Media Player 9 working.On my slower PC I am using Office 97.I don't know how Office XP and Office 2003 differ.

Washington,D.C.
08-14-2005, 20:32
I tried an older version of Linspire and my CD image was corrupt and I never got it working.

domzilla9
08-14-2005, 20:44
There's always VMWare (http://www.vmware.com/) - Apps that aren't graphic or network intensive should be ok.

Linux is great for the back office (if you have the right staff) and certainly easier on the licensing budget, but I leave winders on the front office, and just run good anti virus on all workstations and on the mail and fileservers and block everything that isn't absolutely necessary at the firewall.

lomfs24
08-16-2005, 00:03
I don't know how much space you have on your hard drive but here's an option that works well for me. I split the hard drive 3 ways. One NTFS partition for Winders, one partion for Linux, and one FAT32 partition that both Linux and Windows can share for storage. Make your computer dual boot to Winders or Linux. Store all project documents to the FAT32 partition and if you encounter something that just doesn't work well in Linux reboot into XP.

StoneGiant
08-16-2005, 06:23
Originally posted by lomfs24
I don't know how much space you have on your hard drive but here's an option that works well for me. I split the hard drive 3 ways. One NTFS partition for Winders, one partion for Linux, and one FAT32 partition that both Linux and Windows can share for storage. Make your computer dual boot to Winders or Linux. Store all project documents to the FAT32 partition and if you encounter something that just doesn't work well in Linux reboot into XP.

Understood. But in doing so, what is your advantage? Stability? Less susceptable to viruses?

You've lost any advantage of "price" by still requiring Windows.

prism
08-16-2005, 07:49
Originally posted by StoneGiant
Given that I consult at Fortune 500 companies.....

My primary concern is editing and routing documents shared by a project team.

are you just making things harder on yourself and your business? if your work involves MS, and your team uses MS, just use MS.

HerrGlock
08-16-2005, 08:07
Originally posted by StoneGiant
It's not just my personal use ... can you communicate effectively with all the others who ARE using the Microsoft suite of tools? That means not just reading their docs, but also editing them and sending 'em back in a Microsoft-readable format.

I use *NIX, Linux, Solaris, as darn near sole OSs. The lord high muckety-mucks tend to use WIN based OSs and I've got no real problem reading, updating and responding to stuff.

Of course, I also have most of them realizing that you do NOT have to use Word to send a two line email and that helps.

DanH

StoneGiant
08-16-2005, 08:09
Originally posted by prism
are you just making things harder on yourself and your business? if your work involves MS, and your team uses MS, just use MS.

As an outside (aka, "independent") consultant, I have no say over what my customers use.

The question is related to how I configure my laptops and desktops, i.e., "Is it a cost-effective choice to deploy Linux for myself and my sub-contractors, or should we all remain Microsoft Sluts because that's the path of least resistance?"

The bottom line: “Can I interoperate effectively in a Microsoft environment by using Linux OS and Linus office tools?”

StoneGiant
08-16-2005, 08:12
Originally posted by HerrGlock
I use *NIX, Linux, Solaris, as darn near sole OSs. The lord high muckety-mucks tend to use WIN based OSs and I've got no real problem reading, updating and responding to stuff.

Of course, I also have most of them realizing that you do NOT have to use Word to send a two line email and that helps.

DanH

What Linus apps do you use that allow you to edit / update the following Microsoft files?
1) Word

2) Excel

3) PowerPoint

4) Project

5) Visio


Thanks!

Oh, and "thanks" to all who are attempting to clear this up for me!

-SG

HerrGlock
08-16-2005, 08:51
Originally posted by StoneGiant

1) Word


Abiword, kword. Each can do some to all documents. Usually only have a problem with MS has put out a new "update" that only seems to break compatibility.

OpenOffice Writer (thank God they got rid of that desktop thing and went to seperate applications)



2) Excel


Gnumeric - primary
OpenOffice Math


3) PowerPoint


OpenOffice Impress


4) Project


Nothing. But shift to a web based project manager and you won't have to worry about it.


5) Visio


Have them save as .jpg and gimp handles them just fine.

kivio works and does the same thing but I've not even thought about trying to get a visio thingie into it. I'll have to try.

David_G17
08-16-2005, 10:27
Originally posted by StoneGiant
What Linus apps do you use that allow you to edit / update the following Microsoft files?
1) Word

2) Excel

3) PowerPoint




as long as they don't use VBscript in stuff like excel, open office is probably the best replacement ;)

k2ue
08-16-2005, 10:56
You can sorta have it both ways by using fast XP workstations with minimal storage and a gonzo linux samba server to provide fast storage. 1000BT is not out our sight these days to get the full server BW at the workstation. You can backup with linux tools on the server, or XP tools on a PC. And MS Office is happy as a clam.

Dedpoet
08-18-2005, 10:41
(Sorry, this got a bit long...)

I am an IT manager repsonsible for 3 locations of a 19 location global company that is considering switching entirely to Linux on the desktop. We've already migrated several servers (file and print mostly) and it has been a mostly transparent switch to the end users. In my opinion though, the desktop just isn't ready yet.

We have a "pilot" location in Europe that has switched and so far it's a nightmare. The destops themselves are very stable, and once you get the users to understand there are no drive letters anymore, they actually do pretty well. Web apps, office apps, file, and print are all excellent. The IT staff loves the ability to easily manage any workstation from any other workstation without any special software. Sounds great so far, right?

The 2 major problems are outside compatibility and application replacement. OpenOffice does a fantastic job of reading and writing most MS Office docs. However, almost every supplier and customer we deal with uses Windows and MS Office. Your customer wants an Excel doc? Does your user know how to convert it? Where do they save the converted doc? What if that doc changes? Which one do you correct? Oops, now you have an uncontrolled document lying around...somewhere. Which format is the latest? Which is the master? Another customer sends you a Microsoft Project timeline and wants you to update it. Sorry, we use Mr. Project - the free replacement! Well, we do have one computer in the company that still has MS Project on it. Let me go over there, change the file, send it back to you, and save it as a PDF so I have a copy...

So far, we have found applications that can replace most of what we use on a day-to-day basis that is free or very cheap. There are still some biggies though. Our ERP software, the software which basically runs the company, does not have an OS independant or a Linux version of their client available or even in development. That's huge. You don't just up and change your ERP system. MS Project is the other big one, as mentioned above.

I love Linux, and believe it has its place in business, but I'm not sure that place is on the desktop just yet.

StoneGiant
08-18-2005, 10:47
Originally posted by Dedpoet
(Sorry, this got a bit long...)

I am an IT manager repsonsible for 3 locations of a 19 location global company that is considering switching entirely to Linux on the desktop. We've already migrated several servers (file and print mostly) and it has been a mostly transparent switch to the end users. In my opinion though, the desktop just isn't ready yet.

We have a "pilot" location in Europe that has switched and so far it's a nightmare. The destops themselves are very stable, and once you get the users to understand there are no drive letters anymore, they actually do pretty well. Web apps, office apps, file, and print are all excellent. The IT staff loves the ability to easily manage any workstation from any other workstation without any special software. Sounds great so far, right?

The 2 major problems are outside compatibility and application replacement. OpenOffice does a fantastic job of reading and writing most MS Office docs. However, almost every supplier and customer we deal with uses Windows and MS Office. Your customer wants an Excel doc? Does your user know how to convert it? Where do they save the converted doc? What if that doc changes? Which one do you correct? Oops, now you have an uncontrolled document lying around...somewhere. Which format is the latest? Which is the master? Another customer sends you a Microsoft Project timeline and wants you to update it. Sorry, we use Mr. Project - the free replacement! Well, we do have one computer in the company that still has MS Project on it. Let me go over there, change the file, send it back to you, and save it as a PDF so I have a copy...

So far, we have found applications that can replace most of what we use on a day-to-day basis that is free or very cheap. There are still some biggies though. Our ERP software, the software which basically runs the company, does not have an OS independant or a Linux version of their client available or even in development. That's huge. You don't just up and change your ERP system. MS Project is the other big one, as mentioned above.

I love Linux, and believe it has its place in business, but I'm not sure that place is on the desktop just yet.

Thanks!

I may not be in quite the position that you are.... As an independent consultant, I can hold myself responsible for revision changes and configuration management. (It's a lot easier with only ONE degree of freedom!)

But you clearly highlight the difficulties in a blended world of Microsoft / Linux.

-SG

NetNinja
08-18-2005, 22:34
I agree with Dedpoet's statement.

Not ready for the desktop.

As far as servers are concerned my file server and some servers that serve up presentations for our K thru 12 schools. They have no idea what kind of servers are running those presentations from.

Also an FTP server.

all they care about is that the presentations work when they click on the link.

Running apache on a Compaq 1850r dual 500mhz 1GB of ram and 72GB of hard drive space on raid 5.

You can buy that server from ebay for less than $500.00

obsolete hardware for real world applications.
(oh and before some wise ar$e chimes in the spare parts are plentyful)

They also make for some awesome baysian spam and antivirus filters if you set them up right.

nhglocker
08-20-2005, 09:01
Originally posted by Dedpoet
(Sorry, this got a bit long...)


I love Linux, and believe it has its place in business, but I'm not sure that place is on the desktop just yet.

I don't entirely agree. For some applications Linux is well suited for the desktop. Problem is most IT groups have an all or none mentality. If you make intelligent migration choices it can be very beneficial.

When I was working for my previous employer most of management had just one windows box where us engineers had windows for email but did almost all work on UNIX systems. I even heard rumors of MACs somewhere in the business. When the Iloveyou virus hit it was a minor inconvenience for us but the all windows shops were dead in the water.

Dedpoet
08-20-2005, 11:00
It certainly would depend on the specific business. In my line of work, automotive, our customers dictate the software we run in many cases. Every manufacturer requires a specifc version of a specific CAD software. Thus far, none of those will run on Linux, though most will run on Windows. They'll also run on Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX, but most suppliers find $5,000 workstations that run an OS you can already run your other office apps on to be more practical than a $12,000+ CAD-only box.

ERP/MRP systems set the requirement too. In my main location, 35 of the 50 or so employees need access to this application which doesn't have a Linux version. Running an emulator is generally tedious and often requires you to have a Windows license anyway, so there is no cost savings.

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely certain that a company can pull it off - many already do. It would be especially beneficial if your office had a lot of technical people, who are generally more computer savvy. Can you imagine teaching Suzi Salesman, Joe CEO, or Johnny Accountant to use Linux with a Windows emulator for certain applications and then supporting it? Maybe in a very small office or a very well IT staffed large office (haha!). I run Linux on a 2 boxes at home and my laptop dual boots. I love it and use it daily. I still think that for most office environments, it needs a bit more time for software vendors to get in the game.

LittleLebowski
08-21-2005, 14:46
I do what I can when I can. I've switched my execs and sales guys to Macs so now they don't rely on Project and Visio. My developers run dual boot XP/Suse. I'd say the answer to is to find an OpenSource project you NEED to help convert your desktops to Linux such as...a Visio replacement. Donate a little coding time or a few hundred to it from your company. Support it. Use it. File bug reports. Because when we get right down to it, we sysadmins like OpenSource because it's easier to maintain and support :)