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Slipping Linux into a Windows Business

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Stomfi

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Posted: 12 Nov 2004

Just thought you might like to see my white ant method for introducing Linux into an MS-windows-centric business. Not really a HowTo, but it is a cool solution in the battle between David and Goliath, and helps demonstrate the beneficial difference between GNU/Linux and MS windows to businesses.

As I've said many times, when trying to migrate the desktop, it's the migration of forms and macros that's the biggest hassle to a business clerical user, not forgetting the conversion of corporate documents. Another area is all those system specific accounting and CAD and CAD/CAM programs. Until these get ported natively to Linux, a business would be forced to run two OSes. NBG!

A good way to introduce Linux/OSS into such an environment, is to set up application-specific, turnkey, no-maintenance systems for any new application, using Linux based solutions which use shell tools combined with an end user GUI builder, like say Runtime Revolution, and using, say OpenSSH to upload data to an MS windows box.

This locks the business into a Unix-like OS solution, as MS windows has a hard time emulating this approach without it having an integrated shell, yet still gives the business an easy (ie non-programming) application that a bright office staff member can maintain.

Since no data is maintained locally, a CD reinstall using, say a Vesa Xwindows driver, works even on a completely different box.

Here's my white ant method. Before you know it the business actively looks for more solutions like this, since it works 24/7 and does what they want.

Introduce a 17-inch LCD screen onto the boss's desk, which only has a wireless mouse in view, where its hidden Linux system uses the shell, cron and GnuPlot to time-display a revolving series of charts of dynamic corporate data, with a small mouse-click menu to take control. This is an incredibly effective and cheap turnkey way to get a business to love Linux. If the boss uses it and can think themselves computer literate, they will show it off to their associates.

The cost of implementing such systems using the shell and low-end system boxes is minimal; you can even use old P2s with 128MB RAM since Linux gives so much bang for about $AUD20 + screen.

Forget the desktop and introduce Linux into all these other areas where MS windows can't work effectively. Then the desktop migration will become inevitable because companies won't be able to get by without their own business-centric Linux turnkey systems.

The expense of running, say, VMware for accounting and CAD will be minimal compared with the productivity benefits that "their own business- centric" Linux systems are delivering, and that "one size fits all" MS windows can't match.

Trade your old 20th century Microsoft Moped for a new 21st century Novell Naserati.

Anyone else have any other ingenious methods of slipping Linux into a Windows business? Let us know and we'll add them to the mix.

For more information about Runtime Revolution visit

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