From the Editor - Cleaning Up the Desktop

Managed desktops aren't only for big companies. Time you spend babysitting a misconfigured computer is time you aren't pursuing a real business goal.

When big companies deploy hundreds or thousands of managed systems or thin clients, they report spending a fraction of the administrator time needed to keep up with a legacy desktop OS. Big projects can yield big Linux desktop savings.

But getting the time-sucking monster of desktop computers under control is even more important for small businesses. At many companies, the front-line IT support person is the business owner. IBM's Board of Directors doesn't cancel a meeting because of a virus or spyware crisis. But a small company's decision-maker can fall victim to one.

When a company van becomes unreliable, business owners trade it in for a good one. It isn't worth wasting an entrepreneur's limited time and energy on a product that doesn't pull its weight.

This issue, Chip Coldwell covers how to convert existing or low-cost PC hardware into easily manageable thin clients, on page 46. Although you might plan to buy real thin clients for future expansion, a PC conversion lets you use a common set of hardware spares for your servers, full desktops and lightweight desktops.

Caleb Tennis highlights a useful feature of today's Linux desktops on page 60. You can centrally manage the configuration items that don't need to change from user to user. Now, you'll be able to solve the “I can't print” support question in a fraction of the time, because you won't have to put back all the configuration options that the user tweaked trying to print.

Linux Journal manages our article flow using DocBook, but there are other ways to handle documents efficiently. On page 56, Cezary M. Kruk, our colleague at Poland's number one Linux magazine, explains how OpenOffice.org fills the bill.

If you're developing desktop software, we have plenty to think about in this issue too. Get the facts on D-BUS from Robert Love on page 52, and learn how to keep desktop applications aware of each other and the other events on the system. And, give users a versatile search tool for all the different file formats on your system using libferris, which Ben Martin covers on page 78.

Put your IT time, or your employees' time, to better use. Deploy and develop software that really helps with the business process, instead of just fighting fires to keep a glorified typewriter and fax machine going. We'll cover some examples next issue. Getting the desktop under control is step one.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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