Linux and the Enterprise Desktop: Where Are We Today?
Linux making its way out of the server room and onto the desktop has been “just around the corner” for years now. Prognostications of desktop dominance have not materialized, leaving Linux with a market share in the low single digits. Nevertheless, Linux is maturing as a desktop platform for the enterprise and is gaining converts, with a growing number of companies leveraging Linux to get more features for their money. In this article, I take a closer look at the latest trends in desktop Linux in the enterprise, as well as a number of case studies that illustrate how Linux is fully ready to be a robust desktop platform in many situations.
From talking with several people in the industry who promote desktop Linux to the enterprise for a living, my overall impression is that the Linux desktop wave is indeed building. Although interesting and significant implementations exist, more large-scale projects are in the pipeline than have emerged from it. The people I spoke with pointed to trends, but they generally could back them up with only a single example or weren't able to mention the client's name.
Nevertheless, forward movement is occurring for Linux on the enterprise desktop, and the people on the front lines are bullish. For instance, Mindy Anderson, Business Manager for Client Strategies at Red Hat, states that “the desktop is working itself into being disruptive in many industries, including finance, telecommunications and health care”. Meanwhile, Gerry Carr, Marketing Manager at Canonical (commercial supporter of Ubuntu), adds that “we find ourselves at the beginning of a bell curve, where only a minority of potential clients have deployed, and we're engaged in talks with the people who are in the big hump of the curve”. Over at Novell, Guy Lunardi, Senior Product Manager of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, asserts that “we're there from a technological standpoint”, and the critical factor that prevents Linux from going gangbusters, says co-Novellite Michael Applebaum, Product Marketing Manager for the Desktop, is “simply the awareness that desktop Linux is already a very viable platform”.
Despite bullishness on the part of Linux vendors, these same companies admit that they remain in barrier-removal mode. Canonical's Carr admits that his sales staff continue to confront objections, such as lack of equivalent Linux-based applications, which often can be resolved conveniently with solutions like virtualization, but sometimes, they can't. Novell's Applebaum notes that his firm must further improve on the interoperability of all ecosystem elements to make them easier to manage, as well as expand hardware and software certification so that customers can acquire complete, preloaded desktop solutions. Although the larger distribution providers, such as Red Hat, Canonical and Novell, have collaborated with Lenovo, Dell and others to preload and certify PCs for Linux, the reality is that the hardware vendors offer fewer options and lack the same hard-sell enthusiasm to hawk Linux. Even today, you can buy a PC from the Lenovo or Dell's on-line stores and never realize that Linux is available.
It also is true that Linux providers at last can say that the OS is intuitive enough for typical office workers who are accustomed to using Windows. This has not always been the case. Novell should be commended for its Better Desktop initiative, which applied a scientific methodology and video capture to examine how real people use Linux, discover its pitfalls and see how its deficiencies can be removed. The investigators captured more than 200 videos of people using Linux and its core applications for everyday tasks. For instance, normal users were examined while doing everything that is fully routine to us geeks—logging on to their system, finding and playing a particular music track, making shortcuts on the desktop, determining available disk space, sending e-mail and more. The reports and videos are fascinating and available on the project's Web site.
Several IT trends are making desktop Linux more attractive to many organizations. One of these is a growing desire to reduce licensing costs. Novell's Lunardi notes how its customer, the automaker Peugeot, decided to cap its number of Microsoft licenses as its workforce grows and offer Linux desktops to new employees. Another trend is the push toward accommodating more types of devices, including mobile and thin clients, as well as allowing users to take their desktops with them wherever they go. Red Hat's Anderson says that “many firms are coming back to a situation where key workloads are centralized”, something that Linux does very well and securely. Similarly, Novell's Applebaum says that San Diego Public Schools chose Linux over other operating systems because it offered the most robust way to run its “Always-On Learning Initiative”, which included integrating 100,000 student laptops and many other types of devices.
A third trend involves avoiding Windows Vista drawbacks, especially the cost of required hardware upgrades and lack of additional features to justify that cost. Linux, with its smaller footprint, may find a great deal of growth opportunity from this situation.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
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.Register Now!
- Paranoid Penguin - Building a Secure Squid Web Proxy, Part IV
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
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