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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    I run SBS 2003 with Exchange and alll my client PC's are running Vista Business.

    Is it possilbe to run all Ubuntu clients and still use SBS.

    The reason I am thinking about this is with all the MS Updates and License expenses it gets to ba a headache.

    Alll of my clients use MS Office and Outlook. I am Looking at replacing it with Open Office and not sure what e-mail client.

    Any thoughts or Suggestions.


    Regards,
    Jeff

  2. #2
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    You will lose the domain security and control, and you may not get an email client to talk to Exchange. I would check out mail clients as a priority, the other things can be worked around.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
    5 Star Lounger
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    The Evolution mail client is a decent replacement for Outlook, you can even connect it to Exchange.

    Before doing this switch, please consider these points:

    1) You will need to have someone available who knows Linux very well. Problems will come up and you will find all kinds of conflicting advice on the web, much of it geared towards older versions that what you have, and thus the advice will either not work or cause other issues. You really a Linux expert to help with these things. I consider myself somewhat of an expert, but when my wife had problems printing from Ubuntu I finally gave up and switched her back to Windows. I have also spent countless hours trying to get sound cards working to no avail.

    2) Have a trial period where you migrate only a handful of the PCs to Linux and see how that goes. This should flush out all kinds of issues. During the trial, install VMs on the PCs so that the people can run Windows if they really have to. Of course using VMs is not a decent long-term solution because then you still have to pay for the Windows licensing.

    3) Make sure that the web sites used by your clients are compatible with Firefox or Chrome. I have found many web sites that just plain will not work unless you use IE. And I curse the idiots who think that MS is the be-all and end-all of the universe and then either go to another site that is Firefox or Chrome friendly, or fire up IE (which is the case for the corporate web sites I am forced to use at work).

    4) While OpenOffice.org (OOo) will open and save MS Office documents, the conversion is not perfect. Simple things work just fine but I have noticed that:
    a: Two column documents do not translate very well. You usually have to reformat the document using the native editor (e.g., if you create a 2-column document in OOo Write and save it as .doc, you will need to fix the formatting in Word
    b: Graphics on slides are often mispositioned. I create all of my presentations in OOo Impress, and when I need to convert them to PowerPoint I have to go in with PowerPoint and reposition most of the graphics and all of the connectors (arrow connectors are the worst and don't translate well).

    Of course those issues are only minor annoyances, unless you need to collaborate with other people who use MS Office. If that is the case, the constant conversion issues will be a real productivity stopper. I once collaborated on several documents with someone and found that since he used Word, I had to use Word also because of the conversion issues.

    Finally, with Oracle buying Sun, the fate of OOo is up in the air at this time. An industry consortium recent split off the current OOo code into a separate project named LibreOffice. At this time it is difficult to tell what will happen in the long term and whether OOo or one of its offshoots, such as LibreOffice, will survive. Which is kind of sad; OOo was good enough for everything that I needed. If it weren't for the fact that I often have to exchange and collaborate on documents with others, I would use OOo exclusively.

  4. #4
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    How about setting up dual-booting on some volunteers' machines to see how it goes, with little risk? You'll get your answer soon.

  5. #5
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    Be prepared for a a lot of time spent getting this going. (Much more time then the windows updates and the cost of licenses are). I have done some porting of spreadsheets with extensive VBA from excel to Ooo Calc. It is a very time consuming process and some of the functionalitly is lost. If you use (or collaborate with other companies using) these kinds of files, you will quickly find your project won't fly.

    Every year I do an evaluation of current linux desktop products (I already run some linux servers) to see if they have advanced to the point that I can dump windows for some of my lower end users in my corporate environmen. So far I have always run into some incompatibility that blocks the project.

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    My research conclusions thus far is that Linux offerings have fewer bugs and reported vulnerabilities, but are not FIPS 140 compliant, and the required knowledge is difficult to attain through attending one class. The Windows environment is clearly "high-maintenance", it can be secured and protected rather easily.

    Once Linux training becomes more structured, formalized, and standardized, it will result in a framework of products that can easily and securely be deployed for businesses. Until then I strongly advise turning up a parallel Linux environment for testing prior to taking any actions that might impact your Windows environment (and thus impact your business' bottom line).

    The good new is that Linux is free, can operate within the constraints of fewer hardware resources (older computers), and includes some advanced technologies to enable low-budget deployment to a testing environment. Additionally, there are pockets of formalized training opportunities geared toward business deployment, such as the Red Hat Certification series of training classes.

    As for me, I went to a local computer fair and picked up a HP Compaq desktop with 1GB of RAM, 100GB hard drive, DVD player, Pentium 4 processor, and on-board network and video, and it runs every version of Linux I can download with no problems or delays, even virtualized IP-PBX soft-switches, no problem. Coupled with a number of virtual Linux computers spread across several other computers and laptops I keep at home, and I've created my own testing lab.

    Incidentally, be sure to stick with the latest release of whatever Linux edition you are exploring, so you have the most current iteration of the technology (such as virtualization).

    On a professional note: I only hire certified staff members, since certification studies tend to broaden the student's awareness (and sometimes knowledge) of little-known or little-used capabilities, whereas self-proclaimed experts tend to have a narrowly-focused skillset with a broadly-focused mindset. Narcissism fills the training void.

  7. #7
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    [Thread hijack] I've met lots of certified people I wouldn't trust with 1st line support and uncertified ones who have forgotten more than I know. [/Thread hijack]

    cheers, Paul

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    My advice for installing Linux on your computers is...... DON'T!!!

    It's not worth the hassle. I've tried several versions of Linux on various computers over the last several years and was never able to get them to work properly. You will spend hours on end sitting in front of your computer and finally get so frustrated with it that you will give up and stay with Windows. You will have to spend hours in Linux Forums trying to get answers to your questions. No matter what Linux advocates say Linux is not user friendly. I just recently killed an ssd drive on a netbook installing Ubuntu, deciding to go back to Win XP, formatting the drive, and reinstalling XP. The drive became so corrupted I had to throw it away and buy a new drive. In a way it was good, it's an Acer Aspire One with an 8 gig ssd that was so slow I hated it. I put in a new 32 gig ssd, pulled out the 512 memory stick and put in a 1024. I now have a gig and a half of memory and with the new ssd it flies.

    Again my advice is a great big......DON'T!!!

  9. #9
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    I would have to agree with a dual-boot option if you want to test. However, you probably are not going to be pleased with the results. I have had extensive problems with the formatting when switching from open office to microsoft office. Linux is great to play around with, works wonderful on older hardware, but perhaps is best for home systems. The headaches and learning curve can more that a bit overwhelming. I personally have dual-boot systems on all of my pcs, but not everyone is prepared for the problems that crop up, inevitably at the worst possible time. Hopefully in the future this will become a viable option, but for now I have to recommend sticking with windows. There are still windows programs that I need to use due to the lack of linux versions that achieve the same results (and I just love open source software). Good luck. C.

  10. #10
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    I thought the dual boot was a real pain - I would turn on power and if I looked away for an instant, the chance to boot WIN XP was past and I had to watch GRUB. Now I have a dedicated older box with an old HDD with Ububtu 10.4. BTW, I just tried Mint (latest release) and found it was, to me, a lot LESS user friendly than even Ubuntu. I tried for two days (off and on, of course) to find the help files to search for basic functions with no luck.It was really easy to reload my Ubuntu - I like that you can start Ubuntu and walk away and come back in several hrs and it's loaded. Then you use update manager and walk away and it's updated in a couple of hrs. (I'd hate to try to do any real work with it

    What I really like about Ubuntu is that it makes a great OS for my 82 yr old mother-in-law who lives with us. No MS pains, no viruses, no spam. Every two weeks or so I have to go reboot or something for her, that's all.
    Paulbyr in NC

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    Let's start with the users:

    Do they use line-of-business or other specialized applications? That could stop you right there. Linux users might say, use WINE, but there is not a vendor of a Windows-based application who could or would support it. You could lie to tech support and a lot of us have, usually to get around a vendor's preconceived diagnosis of your problem (like, vendor says the app won't run on blue-cased laptops) but you will be fighting this.

    As another poster put it, how much Office do they use? How much Office (documents) do they share? Office is not just Word or Excel, as you know. Visio, which I use extensively, has no comparable open-source counterpart.

    Media is a sore point. Outside of somewhere like a call center that is heavily regimented, your users will play Flash content and mp3s and video. I like VLC very much, for example, but its codec support is defintely done "under the table" due to legal concerns. The multimedia stack in Linux in general has been a source of problems and you will not have the time to fix it if it breaks more than once.

    Lastly, this is a sensitive point for me. I have low vision. I am familar with Ubuntu and the various distros and I have noticed one point the Linux community is especially weak on, and that is the support for accessibility features for people with disabilities. Ubuntu has some support; a screen magnifier and a screen reader donated by Sun (what will happen to it now is unknown) but it is much less mature than the equivalent third-party products on Windows; the magnifier in Ubuntu isn't even as good as the new magnifier in Windows 7.

    If you have a user that has a screen reader or a magnifier and you can't get something like that usable for them in Linux, that is a stopper. That is a stopper.

    (I'm not optimistic that the Linux community will resolve the last point. I remember too well what ESR (The Cathedral and the Bazaar) said in his blog once in respoinse to a blind user: "There are many more people who aren't blind and disabled and we need to take care of them first." I've used Linux off and on for specialized tasks over the years, but if I had my way I never would use it again--I felt that offended.)

    If you must try it, get a volunteer. Try to replicate their software stack--everything they use--as best as possible. Replicate their wallpaper Replicate their MP3 collection. Sit with them for a day. Do normal troubleshooting.

    You'll know very quickly if this is going to work or not.

  12. #12
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    "Then you use update manager and walk away and it's updated in a couple of hrs."

    Dude, you should get off dialup. Ubuntu downloads in half an hour, and installs just about that fast. If you have updates set to every one or two days (once a week is fine, really) it works in the background and might do a few minutes, depending on what gets updated (it updates ALL your apps, remember!).

    Also, if you install the StartUp-Manager app you can set the boot timeout and default OS, all in a GUI by clicking. It saved my marriage.

  13. #13
    3 Star Lounger
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    I agree with those who have concerns about using Linux to work with Windows application files. IMHO the real problem here is not Linux itself but the applications. Because M$ keeps their files specifications "secret" the Office clones do not open Office files properly (and vice versa) leading to the formatting issues.

    Then there are the apps that are not ported to Linux at all. Again this is not a true Linux issue. I use Quicken for Windows. There is no Quicken for Linux. If there was, I would use it.

    As far as drivers and hardware, it is a matter of resource allocation. Are you going to dedicated limited resources to a small Linux market or a large Windows market?

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