Why and How to move from Win to Linux? - Questions

This is a discussion on Why and How to move from Win to Linux? - Questions ; Sorry, this has probably been answered earlier, but googling left me with such a vast number of hits that I sort of "collapsed"... I'm a middle manager of a company with approx 200 employees all using Windows 2000 or XP ...

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Thread: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

  1. Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    Sorry, this has probably been answered earlier, but googling left me
    with such a vast number of hits that I sort of "collapsed"...

    I'm a middle manager of a company with approx 200 employees all using
    Windows 2000 or XP with typical office applications like MS Office but
    at the same time more uncommon software for project management, hr
    management etc. All servers run Windows NT / 2000 server (I think...)

    I'm not an IT guy, but a few of my subordinates has told me that I
    should bring on to the top management that maybe we should move to
    Linux for both servers and workstations.

    I admit that we are experiencing a few stability problems with the
    current platform, and they have told me that it would drastically
    improve if we change to Linux. Is that really true? Where can I find
    documentation of this?

    The move itself; for the server's part I guess it won't be a big
    problem (will it? can somehow all data on the servers just be
    "incorporated" in the new Linux installation? Mail, user's documents,
    etc.) but how about the workstations? How would we execute a move from
    Windows to Linux on 200+ workstations without creating several days of
    downtime while installing Linux OS and Linux software and converting
    user files (not just documents etc but user accounts etc.) ?

    And finally, will all employees have to be trained in using Linux
    before they can use it, or will most of them recognize the user
    interface from Windows and thus keep doing the basic stuff and get
    trained for the more advanced tasks later?

    I hope someone could help me out a bit here...


    Thanks,
    Jack

  2. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    Jack McGovern wrote:

    > I'm not an IT guy, but a few of my subordinates has told me that I
    > should bring on to the top management that maybe we should move to
    > Linux for both servers and workstations.
    >
    > I admit that we are experiencing a few stability problems with the
    > current platform, and they have told me that it would drastically
    > improve if we change to Linux. Is that really true? Where can I find
    > documentation of this?


    .... if it were me, i'd do this gradually. what i mean
    by this is i would move the server-oriented toolsets
    first and get this stabilized. and i wouldnt make the
    move of EVERYTHING to those servers in one fell-swoop.

    for example, you could move the webserver and possibly
    the mail server first. then once these prove out and
    are working fine, then you could move the balance of
    the server-oriented services over.

    once all the server-oriented services are to your
    liking and are stabilized, then you could think about
    migrating to the desktop-oriented toolsets. but i
    would probably only move a handful of folks initially.
    these people can be your advocates who socialize the
    Linux desktop to other folks. they can talk about how
    easy a transition it is and so on.

    move people that pose the lowest impact, such as those
    that do word processing or spreadsheet work. get them
    on Openoffice.org or Sun Staroffice. one thing to
    remember, using either of these two tools will require
    a short mental shift - you cant merely say, "well, in
    Word i select these menu options to do THIS; how would
    i do it in OO.org?". you have to learn how to use
    the tool within ITS context; you dont do a "this equals
    that" mental shift.

    > And finally, will all employees have to be trained in using Linux
    > before they can use it, or will most of them recognize the user
    > interface from Windows and thus keep doing the basic stuff and get
    > trained for the more advanced tasks later?


    obviously, you have to have the SysAdmins that can
    administer the servers and network. if they are
    not familiar with Linux (or even Unix), then it will
    take some time for them. some good Linux SysAdmin
    coursework would be in order. the same would go for
    the office folks. a one or two day course in using
    Linux (to include the desktop, such as KDE) would
    be in order, to include tools such as Openoffice.org.

    here in houston, we have a "campus" called Leisure
    Leaning Unlimited ... they offer all sorts of
    computer oriented classes after hours. even the
    local community college campuses offer computer
    courses. of course, you could also bring a consultant
    in who can mentor your staff.

    i noticed a couple of articles, posted just today, here:
    http://www.newsforge.com/
    "Province of Ontario moving students to StarOffice"
    "Case Study: Hentzenwerke Publishing switches to Linux"

    if might be a good read for you. there are many many
    other good success stories.
    ..
    --
    << http://michaeljtobler.homelinux.com/ >>
    Fairy Tale, n.: A horror story to prepare children for the newspapers.


  3. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    Jack,

    I'm also a manager of medium-sized business (though not with 200 employees),
    and I don't have an IT background. We were also using Microsoft everything
    in our office and about 3 years ago we dumped our WinNT server and installed
    a Linux-based server marketed by a company called Nexserver
    (www.nexserver.com). Compared to the Bill Box, the Linux server is faster
    and more reliable. We never have to reboot, and the migration was simple.
    The user interface they developed makes such a migration especially easy.
    We now run our mail server, web server, and file server all from a
    Nexserver.

    As for the client computers, we are all still running WinXP machines. They
    work fine with the Linux servers. Our plan is to convert each client to
    Linux too, but certain software which our business heavily relies on (such
    as accounting software) runs only on Windows.

    Good luck.

    -G

    "Jack McGovern" wrote in message
    news:fhm8c01bpa8mcm7ivkpgpg204ubg2k887t@4ax.com...
    > Sorry, this has probably been answered earlier, but googling left me
    > with such a vast number of hits that I sort of "collapsed"...
    >
    > I'm a middle manager of a company with approx 200 employees all using
    > Windows 2000 or XP with typical office applications like MS Office but
    > at the same time more uncommon software for project management, hr
    > management etc. All servers run Windows NT / 2000 server (I think...)
    >
    > I'm not an IT guy, but a few of my subordinates has told me that I
    > should bring on to the top management that maybe we should move to
    > Linux for both servers and workstations.
    >
    > I admit that we are experiencing a few stability problems with the
    > current platform, and they have told me that it would drastically
    > improve if we change to Linux. Is that really true? Where can I find
    > documentation of this?
    >
    > The move itself; for the server's part I guess it won't be a big
    > problem (will it? can somehow all data on the servers just be
    > "incorporated" in the new Linux installation? Mail, user's documents,
    > etc.) but how about the workstations? How would we execute a move from
    > Windows to Linux on 200+ workstations without creating several days of
    > downtime while installing Linux OS and Linux software and converting
    > user files (not just documents etc but user accounts etc.) ?
    >
    > And finally, will all employees have to be trained in using Linux
    > before they can use it, or will most of them recognize the user
    > interface from Windows and thus keep doing the basic stuff and get
    > trained for the more advanced tasks later?
    >
    > I hope someone could help me out a bit here...
    >
    >
    > Thanks,
    > Jack




  4. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    "gurdude" wrote:

    > As for the client computers, we are all still running WinXP machines.**They
    > work fine with the Linux servers.**Our*plan*is*to*convert*each*client*to
    > Linux too, but certain software which our business heavily relies on (such
    > as accounting software) runs only on Windows.


    .... such as ??
    ..
    --
    << http://michaeljtobler.homelinux.com/ >>
    Getting an education at the University of California is like
    having $50.00 shoved up your ass, a nickel at a time.


  5. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    Jack McGovern wrote in message news:...
    > Sorry, this has probably been answered earlier, but googling left me
    > with such a vast number of hits that I sort of "collapsed"...
    >
    > I'm a middle manager of a company with approx 200 employees all using
    > Windows 2000 or XP with typical office applications like MS Office but
    > at the same time more uncommon software for project management, hr
    > management etc. All servers run Windows NT / 2000 server (I think...)


    There are lots of alternatives.

    > I'm not an IT guy, but a few of my subordinates has told me that I
    > should bring on to the top management that maybe we should move to
    > Linux for both servers and workstations.


    Its a good idea. You get a virus-free, stable, easily manageable
    environment that isn't tied up with constrictive licensing issues. Oh,
    you save a lot on that cap-ex budget too! 200 x WinXP + 200 x Office
    Professional 2003 + Lots of Client Access Liceses + Microsoft Exchange
    and you're getting into $100,000+ of spend. But of course, you don't
    have to just chuck everything out. There is no problem running *both*
    Linux and Microsoft Windows.

    > I admit that we are experiencing a few stability problems with the
    > current platform, and they have told me that it would drastically
    > improve if we change to Linux. Is that really true? Where can I find
    > documentation of this?


    Yes, its really true. Ask an ISP about the average uptime of a Linux /
    UNIX system compared to a Windows system. Eg:

    http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/today/isp.avg.html

    > The move itself; for the server's part I guess it won't be a big
    > problem (will it? can somehow all data on the servers just be
    > "incorporated" in the new Linux installation? Mail, user's documents,
    > etc.) but how about the workstations? How would we execute a move from
    > Windows to Linux on 200+ workstations without creating several days of
    > downtime while installing Linux OS and Linux software and converting
    > user files (not just documents etc but user accounts etc.) ?


    Depends on the specifics. Downtime can be avoided by running systems
    in parallel, migrating small components at a time. Obviously it is
    good to have a test environment. I'd set up a lab to get some use
    cases as well so you know what to expect before it happens. Build your
    own distro (very simple, and no problem with licenses!) and you can
    either deploy via CD or network install.

    > And finally, will all employees have to be trained in using Linux
    > before they can use it, or will most of them recognize the user
    > interface from Windows and thus keep doing the basic stuff and get
    > trained for the more advanced tasks later?


    Fortunately the Linux environment can be highly customised. KDE can be
    made to act very much like Microsoft Windows (double-click to activate
    an icon, little X in the top-right of a window). Keybindings can be
    made the same (alt-f4 to close an application, etc). It really depends
    on exactly what your desktop users are doing, but as long as they are
    happy with moving a mouse that controls a pointer on the monitor that
    interacts with pictorial representations of functions, they'll be
    fine.

    > I hope someone could help me out a bit here...


    There are loads of helpful people

    > Thanks,
    > Jack


    No problems

  6. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?


    "Jack McGovern" wrote in message
    news:fhm8c01bpa8mcm7ivkpgpg204ubg2k887t@4ax.com...
    >
    > I'm not an IT guy, but a few of my subordinates has told me that I
    > should bring on to the top management that maybe we should move to
    > Linux for both servers and workstations.


    This is a huge undertaking for an organization your size. The first thing
    that I would do would be to propose a feasability study to the top brass,
    get them to budget a few thousand dollars to set up a test environment and
    pilot project. Everyone has got to realize up front that this will not be
    an overnight switch. You will have to make sure that the apps you want to
    run WILL run under linux. For mailserver, webserver, fileserver, etc. this
    is not a problem, but if you are using any sort of proprietary software
    there must be a linux variant (such as accounting, hr, billing, etc.). Once
    you've figured out that your apps and linux SHOULD play nice together, buy a
    box (or appropriate an old PC with some hard disk space) and set up your
    test environment. Add apps one at a time, make sure they work, are stable,
    etc.

    Next, identify a target group of users to migrate desktops. If time
    permits, sending these users to a basic linux users course will save you a
    massive number of phone calls... although there will still be plenty to keep
    you busy. Make sure that your sysadmins are fully linux-competent as
    nothing is more frustrating to an end user than a tech support person who
    cannot help them. If none of your IT staff have unix/linux background, get
    them trained... I would consider maybe hiring one more sysadmin with this
    type of background, even if it's only on a contract basis... your existing
    sysadmins will learn more, faster, by being in contact with such a person
    than they will learn from many courses. Just consider the cost of your
    Microsoft licenses each and every year if this sounds expensive. Having the
    expertise on- hand to get your end users working quickly and productively is
    an absolute requirement if you want a smooth transition.

    Make sure you make every effort to anticipate pitfalls. Have your
    sysadmins, and then your pilot group, let you know about every drawback, bug
    and inconvenience... the more of these things you can address BEFORE the
    general masses migrate, the better.

    At my previous company about 95% of our data center was linux/unix, but we
    maintained a handful of NT/Win2K servers. Just as an aside, I would say
    that the 5% Windows machines took about 50% of the IT time to manage,
    reboot, reinstall, etc. We had file and app servers with 6-12 months
    between reboots (linux) whereas we rebooted the Win2K servers every Sunday
    morning. We found that the hardest group to move was the upper management,
    the guys who don't want, or don't have time, to learn a whole new OS and are
    content to have their laptops wiped and reinstalled every 6-12 months when
    stability problems became unacceptable. So in our case dumping MS entirely
    was not an option. Most of our users were die-hard unix/linux fans a year
    after the cutover and never looked back.
    >
    > I admit that we are experiencing a few stability problems with the
    > current platform, and they have told me that it would drastically
    > improve if we change to Linux. Is that really true? Where can I find
    > documentation of this?
    >
    > The move itself; for the server's part I guess it won't be a big
    > problem (will it? can somehow all data on the servers just be
    > "incorporated" in the new Linux installation? Mail, user's documents,
    > etc.) but how about the workstations? How would we execute a move from
    > Windows to Linux on 200+ workstations without creating several days of
    > downtime while installing Linux OS and Linux software and converting
    > user files (not just documents etc but user accounts etc.) ?
    >

    Mail is a pretty big one. If you are using something like MSExchange,
    moving user's mail files is a big deal. We basically laid down the law and
    told users that they needed to move all mail off of the Exchange servers and
    store it locally if they wanted to keep it. Once mail servers were cut
    over, users could place their mail, etc. back onto the new mail server (we
    chose Netscape's LDAP and mail servers). Moving documents is a relatively
    easy once you've got Samba set up. One thing to consider that you didn't
    mention is domain controllers... buy the O'Reilly book on Samba setup and
    installation and read it. Then read it again. Then get it set up and
    working in your test environment if this is the way you elect to go. We
    ended up maintaining a Windows domain controller for a number of reasons:
    Samba at the time was "beta" on domain control and Windows DC's have/had
    some issues replicating with/to samba DC's. I'm telling you, if you go
    samba for domain control, test the **** out of it before you let any real
    users near it. Messing up your domain logins WILL wreak havoc with your
    office's ability to run productively and will make for a whole lot of (high
    up) pissed off people.

    > And finally, will all employees have to be trained in using Linux
    > before they can use it, or will most of them recognize the user
    > interface from Windows and thus keep doing the basic stuff and get
    > trained for the more advanced tasks later?


    see above. Some users will take to linux like a duck to water, others more
    like a cat to water. You will have to have some training sessions, either
    in-house, on-line, or outsourced for all users. The more the better as your
    time and budget permit.

    >
    > I hope someone could help me out a bit here...
    >
    >

    Good luck. Keep the group posted on your progress and don't be shy asking
    questions as they come up, you are not re-inventing the wheel.

    > Thanks,
    > Jack




  7. Re: Why and How to move from Win to Linux?

    Thanks for all your help, guys!
    It was really helpful!

    /Jack

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