Linux on the desktops of the enterprise workforce

June 4, 2009

Check out: PC-LinuxOS, SimplyMepis, Moblin as well as SLED, OpenSuse, Ubuntu.. before you state any arguments for or against…!

What gives and shapes a windows adoption and the tardy progress of linux adoption since the early days of predictions of a roll over of MS to Linux juggernaut. Many reasons, chiefly the usability of various common purpose applications.

What is the cost of such adoption: roughly 700-1000 USD per desktop and upwards ( 700-1000 USD is only Windows Vista and MS Office after 2008 discounts..) ask IT admin for costs for its entire ops.

Linux alternative: Completely free to nearly free ( 50USD at best ) for a complete copy of OS+ StarOffice+tons of software including photo-movie editors, multimedia players, high end software you would pay an arm and leg for on windows.

Take this over 1000 – 50,000 desktops in an average organization or a firm.. you talk of millions in saving at just 10% adoption levels to begin with and at 50% or more you could talk of value substantial enough to impact bottom lines of any org. In the recession times a strong argument to reckon with..Can we sell this to ourselves in our own orgs we work in..

What is different in 2009 than the years before to talk of Linux desktops:

• The growth and substantial improvement of linux desktop variants
• Great strides in KDE, Gnome as a desktop GUI..
• Greater strides in applications setup/packaging simpler than Windows in a way
• Much better driver recognition and auto install in the OS setup process than ever before
• The OpenOffice huge leap in capability and compatibility with MS Office docs: Powerpoint ecquivalent is incredible… Word replacement is just very much there.. unless you do some specialized stuff. Excel is ofcourse the exception, nothing shall be as good.. but the OpenOffice does a credible job of spreadsheets too
• Credible alternatives of Mono and Crossover office for the addicted MSWindows user of those apps and environment. That is if you are a super power user of Excel, Outlook and want .Net running… for some great reason.. ( that percentage in a normal enterprise is about 10% or lower)
• Higher adoption through OEM desktop/laptop suppliers, the netbook variants etc..
• The VMWare appliances program to give you a complete plug n play environment for software products to give a OS bundled environment ready to go live.
• Nearly all programming languages and platforms now work on Linux as well if not better than on Windows from a performance and utility point of view.. Ruby: RoR, Java for a decade plus, Mono, Python, my fav: Smalltalk, host of others one can list…including pure C/C++…
• Alternatives range from OpenSuse, Ubuntu, SimpleMepis, PC-LinuxOS.. to about 500 others if you wish to know.. but the first two are adequate for an enterprise to choose from.

• Do we really use more than 25% of the Windows features anyways.. so though is talked off.. tom-tommed about.. we can easily do without it if we choose to.

Lots one can go on endlessly on…

I would say as a low hanging fruit, it begets reasoning that atleast an I.T. firm should adopt linux on a larger scale if for nothing else to increment the capability of all resources to know IT fundamentals better and more closer to the metal than they do using Windows. Bring in the benefits of doing so when they transfer the production software to a Linux hardware.

I will just conclude with links to a few web articles which can emphasize the relevance and importance of this move. I am more than convinced the days for Linux desktop more ubiquitously visible across the globe is not more than the mere 3 yrs away…

Usha-Martin: Reducing total desktop cost of operation by 90% :

A very dated 2003 article on desktop linux but for the details a good one:

I hope its some food for thought for all concerned.. As I write this I have partially moved to a PC-Linux OS on my machine and hope to now on move all my machine personal and work on Linux completely. I can bet I can move my Dad’s laptop to Linux now, and see him work as well.. and that’s a big thing.