Linux in Government: Planning for Open-Source Application Deployments
The next wave of Linux desktop releases will fit into Microsoft network infrastructures like a hand in a glove. Start looking for announcements in May. You will feel compelled by the Linux value proposition, so postpone Microsoft upgrades until you have had a chance to see the new products.
A recent article published on DesktopLinux.com says that Linux will command 6% of SMB desktops by 2008. The article sites four reasons for the increase in Linux desktop use:
Increasing cost of IT -- SMBs are ever more reliant on increasingly expensive IT products and services for managing their businesses. This expanded investment has resulted in higher expenditures, leading SMBs to seek free open source alternatives.
Open standards and freedom from vendor lock-in -- Open source software generally adheres to standards better than proprietary software, reducing reliance on vendor-specified file formats.
Government Policies -- open endorsement by Asian and European governments is giving credibility to Linux and open source.
Blue Chip support -- products and support available from brand-name vendors such as IBM, HP, and Novell lend credibility and increase confidence among SMBs.
We agree with much of this study, but we also see a major shift in strategic corporate initiatives that will increase Linux desktop market penetration to 25% within the next 24 to 36 months. The reasons given for a 6% adoption rate do not take into account Windows vulnerabilities and enterprise searches for desktop alternatives.
Studies of Linux desktop adoption make little sense without adding "other OS vulnerabilities" to the list of reasons for Linux adoption. Many organizations consider their Windows desktops to be a single point of failure in their enterprises.
CIOs of major telecommunication firms, for example, view the computing environment as a significant threat. As soon as customer service offices at these firms began accepting e-mail and using the Internet to manage phone accounts, they became flooded with spam, viruses, spyware and exploits. eGovernment initiatives, which also use e-mail and Web services, face threats similar to what these telecommunication firms and similar enterprises face, as they all experience heavy demand for customer service.
Original cost savings studies advocating a switch to e-mail, on-line support and eGovernment Web services rarely factored downtime into the costs associated with adding Internet services and using Microsoft Windows desktops. Considering the high volume of bad e-mail alone, workers have lost significant productivity. Several studies suggest spam runs as high as 51% of workers' total e-mail volume. In fact, a recent report by Frontbridge indicated that spam accounted for 90% of all e-mail at one point last August and averaged 82% for that month. Of that total amount, a significant percentage contained malware, which downloads a tiny program and broadcasts information about users and networks to crackers.
Many analysts claim that Linux desktops will experience troubles similar to Microsoft desktops once it gains market share. Such analysts, however, fail to understand the inherent safety features of UNIX, from which Linux derives much of its native security model. Separation of the desktop from the kernel, separate user space and the use of text-based interfaces provide added security to the Linux desktop. Furthermore, on new Linux desktops, that security design remains transparent to office workers.
The next wave of Linux desktops from firms such as Sun Microsystems and Novell will provide increased functionality within Microsoft infrastructures. Expect to see access to Microsoft's Active Directory, equivalent network browsing, single login features, full scale sharing of directories and resources and the ability to run native Microsoft applications. Additionally, video and audio functionality will be on par with Microsoft workstations. Access to Exchange servers and Outlook clients already has become common place on the Linux desktop, as have system management services.
Government agencies immediately can start the process of moving to open-source alternatives on the desktop. Begin by cutting the costs of your office productivity suites, and move to safer Internet browsers and e-mail clients. Also, begin investigating different application delivery methods, such as Citrix, Tarantella, Microsoft Terminal Server and Sun Microsystems' Sun Ray thin-client solutions.
Let's examine what we can do immediately with open-source office productivity suites, the Mozilla Firefox browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client. In 2004, we saw the OpenOffice.org office suite take approximately a 16% share of the total office productivity market. With the release of OO.o 2.0, one can expect that share to increase significantly in 2005. The Guide to New Features demonstrates major improvements in interoperability with Microsoft Office. Considering the success of migrations such as Novell's to OpenOffice.org last year, expect further movement to this office suite as OASIS Open Document compliance is attained. In fact, another article, published in the Guardian Unlimited, states, "Installing OpenOffice, a free open source alternative to Microsoft's Office suite, could be the first cost-saving move to loosen the US giant's grip on the UK schools market."
One way to prepare for the switch to the Linux desktop involves adopting OpenOffice.org on existing Windows desktops. Such an addition would allow office workers to become accustomed to the main applications they would use day to day. OpenOffice.org can coexist with Microsoft Office and allow users to increase compatibility with various versions of Office.
Another way to prepare users for Linux is to adopt Mozilla's Firefox Browser, as discussed in Walter Mossberg's article "How to Protect Yourself From Vandals, Viruses If You Use Windows", published in the Wall Street Journal's Personal Technology section. Also consider using Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail client. According to the Web site:
Thunderbird gives you a faster, safer, and more productive email experience. We designed Thunderbird to prevent viruses and to stop junk mail so you can get back to reading your mail. Read on to find out more about the reasons why you should use Thunderbird as your mail client and RSS reader.
By deploying OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird, you can enhance the safety of your existing Windows' desktops and prepare for a transition to Linux. You also can continue to reap benefits from your hardware investments without having to replace existing computers--a benefit often overlooked in studies of Linux cost-benefit ratios.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.View Now!
|The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database||Jul 29, 2016|
|Stunnel Security for Oracle||Jul 28, 2016|
|SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager||Jul 21, 2016|
|My +1 Sword of Productivity||Jul 20, 2016|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide