Switching to Linux
This page is meant to be a repository for requirements and tips for those thinking about switching to Linux. It should contain short descriptions and links to pages giving more details.
Switching to Linux
What should be considered when deciding whether to switch
Email that started this page (insert responses below, not in this email!)
Having read Groklaw for a long time and seen the countless arguments for and how to switch to Linux, I would like to suggest a new site: GrokWindows2Linux (or something similar :-) ).
Basically a site documenting how to convert to Linux from Windows. It would be a complementary site to Grokdoc, but with focus on advising existing windows users or companies how to convert from windows to linux.
There are many sites that documents bits and pieces, or that documents how they converted to linux, or how to convert a single application, but there are, AFAIK, no single site that documents "all" in one place.
Information I would like to see is on a site like this would be things like (in no particular order):
1. Which programs on Linux have the same or similar function as a given Windows programs like: a) Office - specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access b) IE - bookmarks and IE specific applications c) Outlook and Outlook express, email repositories, calendars d) Graphics applications, formats e) Firewalls and Anti-virus applications f) Backup applications g) Databases and database applications h) Development tools i) Communication tools and applications j) Gui/desktop k) System administrator and system management tools
2. What to do about windows applications that have no similar linux version or are very difficult to convert.
3. Coexistence - short term and long term, cost and problems
4. How to convert existing data from a given windows application to a linux application a) List of conversion tools
5. How to convert users from a windows environment to a linux environment a) How to set up "work groups" and "domain" under linux b) How to replace Primary and Backup domain controllers c) How to migrate users and user groups to linux d) What to do about the active directory e) User environment like printers, files and directories, etc
6. A section on pros and cons of a conversion
7. A section about time: a) How long will it take realistically b) Suggested stages c) Template plans for a conversion job
8. A section on costs - it will always cost something to convert and being realistic about these costs gives higher credibility.
9. High profile reference cases
10. List of where to get end-user, sysadmin and developer education for linux
11. List of Service organisations or consultants that can help or do a conversion
12. List of Linux FAQs and documentation for the different user groups
13. Some reasonable criteria for a deciding on a conversion a) Why and why not b) Skills c) Costs
Converting in-house applications
On a pilot Linux PC, use the Windows API under Linux, and fix problems caused by adaptations to the Windows non-standard use of the Windows API.
European Government Open Source Migration Guidelines
The Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens IDA Open Source Migration Guidelines - November 2003.
Low cost switch at a high school
"High profile" cases tend to be costly, complicated conversions like Munich www.forget-me.net/Linux/free-software-study-munich.pdf . They found the cost of conversion to Linux was over €3000 per client. On the other hand, I converted the lab at my high school at a cost of $50 CDN per client for hardware and perhaps, $50 of my salary per client. Why the difference? Munich looked at doing everything over from scratch, including training employees, and replacing lots of equipment. Of course, my students were functional in several important applications in an hour or so. A new release of that other OS would have been just as time consuming. We used the existing PCs as thin clients without any hardware modification using LTSP ( www.ltsp.org ) and the K12LTSP distro ( k12ltsp.org). The result was we had a single server to maintain for software as opposed to 25 PCs with that other OS. It took a day to write the memo and purchase order, three months for bureaucrats in my organisation to process the PO, one day to build the server and install the OS and a couple of days to tune the installation. The only problem we had was tolerating the DHCP server for that other OS. If I had set up a router between us and them or used port 1067 instead of 67 for DHCP, there would have been no problems whatsoever. The thing ran for months with no maintenance required other than backups. With that other OS, we were losing data daily with multiple crashes. See pogson.6k.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/homepage/report.pdf for details. The Linux Terminal Server approach can be extended to hundreds of PCs with the new Opteron + tons of memory motherboards that became available in 2004 and is cost effective even in a 2-PC office.
Here is an example of a whole K-12 school:
The lesson I take from such comparisons is "Think globally, act locally". Designing the complete changover from the top down with worst case assumptions is wrong. The majority of PCs in an office can be switched to Linux quickly and efficiently if one has not let M$ dig too deeply in one's pocket. Change the servers and simple clients immediately. Work-arounds for other problems involves solving problems that should have been solved properly long before. Much of the "changover cost" for Munich was the result of not using open standards in the first place. Another item, not quantified, was the on-going costs. One needs several times as much software maintenance with that other OS than required with Linux. Granted, in the early PC era, there were few choices, but the WWW has given everyone many choices.
Anyone thinking of switching to Linux should consider switching gradually instead of all at once.
The basic idea is, while still running most users on Windows:
- convert users to equivalent multi-platform facilities
- set up a Windows server, and access it from thin mult-platform clients
- set up a pilot Linux desktop that uses facilities like Wine or Win4Lin to run Windows applications that don't have native Linux equivalents
- convert some in-house applications to use the Windows API under Linux
Links for details
- LQWiki switching page describes the basic idea and related information such as what distribution to choose and how to get started.
If your situation is in the 80% of cases (the easy ones) where the usual Linux desktop has the software you need, you can quickly start converting a single system from another Operating System with an easy 3-step process (no CD needed in the usual case).
- The usual advice about PRE-REQUISITE backing up/saving important files applies. In the event that the installation fails to boot (rare), another means of installation such as CD media will be needed.
- The absolutely easiest installation for a user of those other OS'es (must support .exe executables) is at goodbye-microsoft.com.
- There, you click on a link to download and install a "bootloader," and reboot.
- At boot time you choose Debian-installer.
- You are now at a Debian Internet "network" installation prompt. (Debian is the father of Ubuntu, Knoppix, and many other Linux distributions.)
There are many different Linux distributions that are suitable for an inexperienced user. DistroWatch is a very good place to see an overview of the different distributions that are available and a rough idea of their relative popularities.
Here are some of the more popular ones:
1) Ubuntu Linux (by Canonical)
Ubuntu Linux is one of the most popular distributions and can be run from the CD before installation (called a Live CD) to check how well it performs on the target PC. Installation is also done from the same Live CD. Installation can also be done from within Windows using WUBI to install Ubuntu within a large file within the Windows file system (rather than repartitioning the hard disk). This means that Ubuntu can also be easily removed as well by using the standard Windows Add/Remove programs facility.
The distribution comes in a number of different variations including:
a) Ubuntu which is GNOME based and the 'standard' version of Ubuntu. b) Kubuntu which is KDE based and looks more like Windows c) Xubuntu which is Xfce based and suitable for lower powered PCs d) Mythbuntu which is designed for use with media center PCs (and) e) Edubuntu which is an Ubuntu add-on for schoolchildren.
There is an extra repository called Medibuntu for adding multimedia libraries (such as MPEG, MP3 libraries and DVD decryption) are not included in the core Ubuntu distribution as licensing of these varies between countries. You can also install free commercial software such as Adobe Reader, Skype and ReadPlayer from Medibuntu.
Download Ubuntu: From here.
There is also a useful set of notes called Ubuntu Guide which shows how to set up Ubuntu just the way that you want to. Ubuntu has Mono installed by default (see below for discussion). If you want to remove Mono then follow these instructions:
Open a Terminal Window and type the following command
$ sudo apt-get remove --purge mono-common libmono0 mono libmono1.0-cil libmono2.0-cil
$ apt-get install gthumb
but gNote needs an extra repository adding which can be done by the following commands
$ echo "deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/gnote/ppa/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc) main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/gnote.list $ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 5AAB5553 $ sudo apt-get update $ apt-get install gnote
For more information, have a look at this page.
2) Fedora Linux (by Red Hat)
Download Fedora: From this page.
Installation Guide: The formal installation guide for Fedora is here
Fedora can either be installed from a live CD (as per Ubuntu) or from a DVD (or set of CDs) that contain a much larger set of packages that a live CD could contain. A good approach would be to download a live CD to try out Fedora and then download the off-line installation if you want to install the operating system.
If you fancy having a go with the full enterprise version of Red Hat then have a look at CentOS which is a full legal recompile of Red Hat Enterprise Linux but with the Red Hat logos replaced by CentOS ones.
3) Mandriva One (by Mandriva)
Mandriva One is Mandriva's free community distribution of Mandriva Linux and like Fedora is Mandriva's cutting edge distribution in which they try out new ideas. It is a live CD (like Ubuntu) and comes in KDE and GNOME flavors.
Download: From here
Mandriva One KDE Install Guide: Is here
Mandriva One GNOME Install Guide: Is here
4) PCLinuxOS (community project run by TexStar)
PCLinuxOS is a distribution originally derived from Mandriva but now is a distribution in its own right. It comes as a live CD which is also used for installation.
Download: From here
Installation Guide: Is here
5) openSUSE Linux (by Novell)
openSUSE is Novell's community operating system and a competitor to Fedora. As with Fedora, it can be installed from a live CD or from offline installation media (DVD). The distribution is very easy to install and configure.
Download: From here
Installation Guide: Is here
WARNING: Do consider Novell's collaboration with Microsoft and their considerable utilization of Mono before choosing openSUSE.
Programs on Linux having the same or similar function as a given Windows program
There are a number of such lists available. However, we need a list that gives additional information on how to choose among the many Linux equivalents of a single Windows program.
- Table of equivalents covers these categories and many more.
- The Linux Conversion Kit Part I
- The Linux Conversion Kit Part II
- Application Crossover Chart
Office - specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Visio, Project
One of the biggest problems for a user moving from Windows to Linux is the sheer numbers of free applications that are available.
There are a number of free open source office suites and discrete applications that can replace Microsoft Office. These include:
- OpenOffice.org - highly integrated - also available on Windows, Apple OS/X, OpenSolaris and BSD-Unix.
- GNOME Office - discrete applications - also available on Windows
- KOffice - closely coupled applications - also available on Apple OS/X and Windows (since 2.0 — The KDE project recommends using the 2.0.x branch for testing until the next feature release.)
- Siag Office - discrete applications - also available on Apple OS/X and BSD-Unix. The package is extremely lightweight and is good for really old hardware.
OpenOffice.org is probably the best initial choice due to the high degree of compatibility with Microsoft proprietary formats (although ODF is much better and is now ostensibly supported by Microsoft). The other applications are well worth considering once the user is more familiar with Linux.
Consider that not all applications in these lists support Microsoft (or other proprietary) file formats out-of-the-box.
Here is a list of Microsoft Office applications and suitable replacement applications:
Microsoft Word - this can be replaced by
- OpenOffice.org Writer along with Draw for diagrams
- GNOME Office AbiWord
- KOffice KWord with KFormula
- Siag Office Pathetic Writer
- Lyx - what you see is what you mean application based on LaTeX
Microsoft Excel - this can be replaced by
Microsoft PowerPoint - this can be replaced by
Microsoft Publisher - this can be replaced by
- Scribus - very powerful but easy to use desktop publishing package
- Xara Xtreme - may be familiar to Windows users
- Lyx - Lyx is powerful enough to act as a desktop publishing tool as well
- Texmaker - for those who get the LaTeX bug
LaTeX is far more "industrial strength" than a single DTP application such as Microsoft publisher but takes a bit of training to use effectively. The other main benefit of LaTeX is that it can be used for automated document generation in more powerful ways than most of the GUI tools.
Microsoft Access - this can be replaced by
Microsoft Visio - this can be replaced by
Microsoft Project - this can be replaced by
IE - bookmarks and IE specific applications
Mozilla Firefox - free web browser, can import IE bookmarks.
Codeweavers Crossover Plugins - commercial Active X and other IE plugins in other browsers
Outlook and Outlook express, email repositories, calendars
Mozilla Thunderbird - free email client
Mozilla Calendar a free calendar plugin for the Mozilla suite, Firefox Web Browser, Thunderbird email client, or as a standalone app.
Ximian Evolution - free email client
Sylpheed - free email client
Balsa - free GNOME email client
Kmail - free KDE email client
Kontact - free KDE full Personal Information Manager(PIM) like Outlook
Ximian Connector - Allows Ximian to connect to Microsoft Exchange (TM) Servers
Open-XCHANGE - free groupware / collaboration suite used by SuSE for their commercial offering
OpenGroupware - free groupware server
Kolab - free groupware server
Evolution - free GNOME email client
Graphics applications, formats
The Gimp - powerful bitmap image editor, comparable to Adobe Photoshop.
Inkscape - vector editor (SVG format), comparable to Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.
Dia - diagram tool, comparable to Visio.
XFig - another diagram tool.
MainActor - video editor, comparable to Adobe Premier
CinePaint - A bitmap image editor specializing in film industry formats.
ImageMagick - A program for manipulating bitmap images. Great for image format conversion and programmed image editing.
QCad - A free 2D CAD program. An expanded professional Version is available as a commercial product.
BRL-CAD - A free 3D CAD package.
PVWave - A commercial Scientific Visualitation package.
OpenDX - An open source Scientific Visualization package.
VisIt - An open source Scientific Visualization package.
Ploticus - An open source plotting package.
Grace - An open source plotting package.
Firewalls and Anti-virus applications
Most distributions come with a graphical firewall editor built in.
Stand-alone firewall solutions / distros include:
In general, viruses are less likely to be a problem on Linux as on Windows, and there is some debate in the community as to the necessity of anti-virus software.
Clam AntiVirus - a free virus scanner
eTrust Antivirus - a commercial virus scanner from Computer Associates
Kaspersky AntiVirus - a commercial virus scanner
Norman Virus Control - a commercial virus scanner
Amanda can backup multiple hosts, including Windows hosts using SAMBA.
BackupPC is a client/server backup solution written in perl. Can backup multiple computers including windows using Samba. Has an optional web based interface that can be used with Apache to monitor and trigger backups, or restore backups on individual clients.
Storix: System Backup Administrator is a commercial backup tool.
Computer Associates: BrightStor ARCserve Backup is a commercial backup tool.
Databases and database applications
MySQL - Not only is MySQL free, but it is easy to set up and is widely used in LAMPs (Linux Apache MySQL PHP). There are tons of web applications available for it using PHP. MySQL features include full text searching. You can set up databases for photo libraries, retail businesses, libraries that use bar code scanners, bulletin boards and many other purposes in minutes. Check out http://php.resourceindex.com/ LAMP is a great way to make data and applications available across a LAN or WWW.
PostgreSQL - a free SQL database
Rekall - a free database front-end
Rekall provides the Access-like GUI front-end while allowing the use of SQL database backends like MySQL and PostgreSQL.
PgAccess- an Access-like front-end to PostgreSQL written in Tcl/Tk.
FlagShip - a commercial xBase to C translator
Harbour - a free xBase compiler
Recital - a commercial RDBMS compati ble with FoxPro, FoxBASE and Clipper
Xbase - a free xBase compatible C++ class library
Firebird - An open source SQL database engine.
Oracle - A commercial SQL database engine.
Sybase - A commercial SQL database engine.
IBM DB2 - A commercial SQL database engine.
Apache Derby - An open source SQL database engine.
Both the KDE and GNOME desktop environments have tools to help the software developer.
KDE has the free Kdevelop IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a plugin architecture. KDevelop has all the expected features of an IDE, including language support, build system support, etc.
Also available for KDE is Quanta+ a web development tool which includes an HTML editor.
Both Kdevelop and Anjuta can be compared to Visual Studio or Delphi.
A recent RAD programming language and IDE for KDE or GNOME is GAMBAS . It is used in small and medium business as Visual Basic and Foxpro replacement; it uses any SQL database (MySQL, Postgres, ..) and all the good things of Linux, and has a build-in localisation tool to make translations of your application.
Eclipse is a powerful IDE with large industry backing (including IBM, Monte Vista, QNX, Red Hat, SuSE, Sybase, among many others).
There is also the powerful individual GNU development tools like make, the GNU build dependency tool, gcc, the GNU Compiler Collection, gdb, the GNU debugger, and emacs the GNU editor. GNU emacs' ability to integrate with gcc and gdb makes the combination what many consider it to be their IDE of choice.
Communication tools and applications
GAIM - Instant Messenger client - Supports MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, etc.
Kopete - Instant Messenger client - Supports MSN, Yahoo, etc.
Most distros support both KDE and GNOME as well as a number of other windowing systems (such as WindowMaker). For a business system, I would suggest installing both because this will give you access to a greater variety of applications.
System administrator and system management tools
Novell ZENworks is a commercial system management application.
Xandros xDMS is a commerical system management application.
Integrated Research PROGNOSIS is a commercial system management application.
IBM Tivoli is a collection of commercial system management applications (some not available for Linux yet).
Windows applications that are very difficult to convert
These solutions still allow you to end your dependence upon Microsoft MS-DOS or Microsoft Windows.
a) Wine http://www.winehq.org/ b) Crossover Office http://www.codeweavers.com/ (Wine with support,config, and extensions) c) TransGaming Technologies http://www.transgaming.com/ d) WineLib - for converting your proprietary internal apps http://www.winehq.org/site/docs/winelib-user/winelib-introduction e) DOSEMU http://www.dosemu.org/ f) Request the vendor to port the application to Linux Unless the vendor knows there is demand, why do the work? "The Application Vendor's View of Linux" http://www.it-director.com/article.php?articleid=1080
Wine provides a free implementation of the necessary parts of the Microsoft Windows environment to allow a MSWindows application to run on Linux. See also http://kegel.com/wine/isv for tips for ISVs on porting to Linux using Wine.
Crossover office builds on Wine and adds the polish of a commercial application.
Transgaming builds on an older version of Wine and adds a lot of work to get graphics and sound working well along with support for copy protection, allowing games (and other apps - it is not just for gaming) to be installed and operate.
DOSEMU emulates MS-DOS and allows you to run older DOS applications on Linux.
Coexistence - short term and long term, cost and problems
These solutions require you to continue to license one or more copies of Microsoft Windows (MSW) from Microsoft. However, it can enable a migration even if there are business critical applications which are not available under Linux and which do not yet work under Wine.
a) Windows Terminal Services Use the Linux Remote Desktop Protocol Client http://www.rdesktop.org/ b) VNC http://www.realvnc.com/ c) VMware http://www.vmware.com/ - run Windows in a window under Linux (or vice versa) d) VirtualBox http://www.virtualbox.org e) Xen http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/Research/SRG/netos/xen/ f) QEMU http://fabrice.bellard.free.fr/qemu/ g) Win4Lin http://www.netraverse.com/products/win4lin50/ - Windows 98 environment on Linux h) coLinux http://www.colinux.org/ i) Cygwin/X http://x.cygwin.com/ j) Mono http://www.mono-project.com/Main_Page k) MonoDevelop http://monodevelop.com/ l) Moonlight http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight m) DotGNU http://www.gnu.org/software/dotgnu/
Windows Terminal Services is a commercial add-on Microsoft application allowing multiple users to share a single Intel system. rdesktop is a free Linux client that can talk to Terminal Services. This requires a "beefier" system but works well for many applications.
VNC installs a free application on Microsoft Windows (MSW) system and a Linux system. The application allows the Linux user to take remote control of the MSW system. Sharing does not work well, so this requires a pool of MSW systems if more than one Linux user needs simultaneous access to MSW.
VMware (commercial), Xen (free), Win4Lin (commercial) and VirtualBox (commercial/free) are tools that create a virtual PC in a window. These allow the user to have a MSW installation running in a window on a Linux system. They require the use of an Intel/AMD processor and are comparatively low overhead (compared to a CPU emulator) because little CPU instruction emulation is required.
QEMU is an Intel processor emulator. This will allow you to run Intel/AMD operating systems (like MS Windows) on non-Intel/AMD processors or allow you to run another operating system on Linux. CPU emulators have a higher overhead than the virtual PC programs, but allow you to move off of WinTel completely.
coLinux allows you to run Linux inside MSW. This is nice when you have a heavy-weight MSW application (some CAD/CAE applications), where virtualization/emulation is still too much overhead and you cannot afford the extra computers required by Terminal Services or VNC.
Cygwin/X is an implementation of an X Window server for MSW. This requires you to have another system running Linux, but essentially allows you to keep the MSW system on the desktop where required but still gain access to the new Linux applications. In a sense, this is the opposite of the Windows Terminal Server solution -- Instead of the Linux system on the desktop and a remote MSW system, you have a MSW system on the desktop and a remote Linux system.
Mono and DotGNU are cross-platform implementations of the .NET framework that runs on Linux, BSD Unix, Apple OS/X and Windows. C#, VB.NET, IronPython and a number of other languages are supported (including ASP.NET) although not as well as they are under Windows (since Mono is constantly playing a game of catch-up with Microsoft). There is an IDE called MonoDevelop which supports debugging and there is even an implementation of Silverlight (called Moonlight). Some .NET applications can simply be recompiled under Mono but many need modifications to run (especially if any hidden Windows API calls are used via the P/Invoke interface).
There are two main problems with .NET on Linux:
- Tie-in to Windows
- .NET is primarily a Windows technology and was designed by Microsoft as a competitor to Java purely for running on Windows operating systems. Microsoft do not support .NET on other platforms and any third party implementation of .NET (such as Mono or DotGNU) will always be incomplete compared to Microsoft's implementation and playing catch-up in terms of programming interfaces or libraries. This means that an end user can never be sure that a .NET application can work under Mono or DotGNU whereas it will always work under the correct version of .NET.
- Threat of litigation from Microsoft
- The C# and VB.NET languages plus the .NET common language runtime formats are registered as ECMA standards so are fairly threat free in terms of usage. The same cannot be said of many of the runtime libraries or bolt-ons such as Moonlight. The danger is that Mono becomes highly integrated into Linux then Microsoft brings out a lawsuit to prevent the distribution of anyone that makes use of .NET on other platforms. A better way would be to have Mono available in software repositories for anyone that needs it but keep the primary Linux distributions free from Mono.
How to convert existing data from a given windows application
Data Conversion Tools Survey http://dataconv.org/apps.html
Lindows Desktop Linux Enterprise Assessment kit http://www.linspire.com/DLEAK_landing.php
Sun StarOffice Migration Toolkit http://sunnetwork.sun.com/emea2003/conf/sessions/display-1609.en.jsp
How to convert users from a windows environment to a linux environment
There are many schools of thought on this topic. It is much like the arguments about the Phonics vs Whole Language - there is no one right answer. So much depends upon the size of the organization and resources available. And the "best" answer can be different for every individual who is being converted.
On the individual level, some people do not deal with change well. Given a choice, they would rather not change. They will notice the change moving from Microsoft Windows 98 to Microsoft Windows 2000 and complain. For these people, a single big change may be better than a long series of small changes. They would rather "bite the bullet" and get Linux and OpenOffice.org and Pidgin IM and SeaMonkey and Aisleriot (or FreeCell) and all the other changes over at once.
Other people can deal with small changes but freeze when having to deal with more than one change at a time. For these people, a series of small changes might be best. Give them Mozilla (replacing Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook is a good idea anyway). Then after they adjust, give them OpenOffice.org. Then the next step, and so on until you give them Linux. Start them with XPde, a desktop environment that tries to recreate the Windows XP interface to-the-pixel point. http://www.xpde.com
In a small organization, this level of care and understanding is possible. With a large organization, the Information Technology (IT) staff (aka the system administrators, the help desk, the BOFH) may not know their customers and a standard mechanism will be needed for everyone (one size fits all).
In general, giving the users some training when making changes is a good idea. Whether you are going from Microsoft Word 5.1 to Microsoft Word 2002 (story: http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,63848,00.html ) or going from Microsoft Word 2000 to OpenOffice.org 3.1.1.
Not only are there differences between individuals, in terms of their personalities, there are the differences in their applications and working environments.
For instance, while administrative staff may need small amounts of training or help to make the transition from Microsoft Office to KDE Office, it may require substantial training to transition from Intuit QuickBooks Pro to Nola for the financial staff. However, the training issues with these sorts of changes can be overblown. As an organization grows, there can often be big changes, even if you stay with Microsoft Windows. For example, the requirements of the organization may grow from QuickBooks to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system like Microsoft Great Plains or a SAP product. This level of change will typically greatly exceed the change from one accounting product to another.
Most software programmers have to live with change. Moving between organizations frequently means moving between applications. For revision control, they may be using Visual SourceSafe or ClearCase or something else, even on Microsoft Windows. However, most competent programmers have learned the concepts common to all the applications (source code control, build dependencies, compiler directives) and need only learn the specific GUI layout or commands to be productive. Some tools are cross platform (such as Delphi) and thus may make the transition easier.
If you have a release engineer or release engineering group, some training may be necessary, if they are not already familiar with the tools you choose. This should have been part of the discussion before the transition. The need for extra training is because release engineers typically need to understand the underlying details, not simply the common commands. Some tools are cross platform (such as ClearCase) and thus may make the transition easier, but otherwise, your release engineers will need to be able to extract the development history from the old application and move it to the new application.
In some environments, it may make sense to pick guinea pigs in each area (administrative staff, finance staff, engineering staff, executive staff) and make the changes for them first. Sit with the user after the change and note their problems, observations, and questions. Use their feedback to find out where you need to give extra time or attention when doing the rest of the group. This requires extra IT staff and time from both the guinea pigs and the IT staff.
Issues in deciding whether and when to convert
Avoiding vendor lock-in of your data or "Who owns your data?" http://www.troubleshooters.com/tpromag/200104/200104.htm
Avoiding Business Software Alliance harassment http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5355152140.html
Lower Initial Software Cost http://www.crn.com/sections/coverstory/coverstory.jhtml?articleId=18818449
Fewer licensing hassles http://www.crn.com/sections/coverstory/coverstory.jhtml?articleId=18818449
Desktop Linux Technology & Market Overview http://www.osafoundation.org/desktop-linux-overview.pdf
Microsoft lock-in: see Switching gradually.
Time to convert
Costs to convert
High profile reference cases
Allied Irish Banks (AIB)
Linux finds Irish banking champion, By Matthew Broersma http://www.techworld.com/opsys/news/index.cfm?NewsID=1824
Major bank will deploy Sun's Java desktop, by Andrew Donoghue http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/linuxunix/0,39020390,39158943,00.htm
Extremadura Measures: Linux http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,51994,00.html
But some shut their Windows http://www.iht.com/articles/75669.htm
Xandros: Delivering the corporate desktop [Hilton Hotels] http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT7125180666.html
IBM's internal Linux deployment moves slowly http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/linuxunix/0,39020390,39152669,00.htm
Merrill Lynch: Linux saves money http://news.com.com/2100-1016_3-1014287.html
Munich Linux decision official http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS7137390752.html
Novell eats own dog food, moves to Linux on desktop http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/04/20/novell_desktop_linux/
Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
German City Goes Entirely Linux http://www.suse.com/us/company/press/press_releases/archive02/german_city.html
German city reveals Linux migration tactics http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/linuxunix/0,39020390,39146113,00.htm
City of Largo, FL (near Tampa) municipal government runs on Linux. Dave Richards makes it happen, and he has a "work blog," including archives. http://davelargo.blogspot.com/
Other reference cases
The Windows to Linux Conversion, by Steve Litt http://www.troubleshooters.com/tpromag/200104/200104.htm
Defenestrating Windows, by Rick Lehrbaum http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5355152140.html
Rockin' on without Microsoft, By David Becker http://news.com.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html This one will scare the pants off any user of that other OS. Terrorist licence inspectors raided a company that had passed old PCs from one department to another without wiping the drives, making illegal copies when the software was installed on the new PC. It cost big bucks for a small company and the owner decided to switch to Linux. Quite a success story.
Doctor prescribes Linux for more reliable networks, lower cost http://www.desktoplinux.com/articles/AT7018242169.html
Getting Linux Onto the Desktop: A Small Business Guide, By Mark Rais http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/desktop.shtml
Case Study: Hentzenwerke Publishing switches to Linux, by Whil Hentzen http://software.newsforge.com/software/04/05/28/1936211.shtml
Penguin Moves to Disney (Walt Disney Feature Animation), By Anne Chen http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,1210083,00.asp A switch hinging on use of the desired application, Adobe Photoshop, on Linux instead of that other OS. Disney made it work with WINE.
Linux in action: A public library's success story (Howard County (Md.) Public Library) http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/05/03/1520209
Boscov's Inches Into Linux: Moving to Linux, One App at a Time http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/reports/4990/1/
Boscov's department stores are in the process of switching from Microsoft software on many of its servers to Linux-based offerings provided by IBM Corp. Harry Roberts, chief information officer for Boscov's, a regional chain based in Reading, Pa., said cost was by far the biggest reason.
But the company also had been hit hard by the Nimda worm in 2001, causing about $50,000 in staff time to repair damage to the network, he said. "We do have a bad taste in our mouth." http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20031107.gtmsms1107/BNStory/Technology/
Proof Linux can replace Windows 2000? (Rob Valliere) http://www.vnunet.com/news/1125583
Universities Speed Up Open-Source Plans (George Washington University) http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,4149,1478448,00.asp
Mandrake Linux Business Cases pages http://www.mandrakebizcases.com/
The government of China made a deal with Sun Microsystems to provide Linux desktop systems for every government worker (about 2 million units).
One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uruguay) are changing all of their schools to Linux, starting with one million units each in 2007. The OLPC XO laptop is the first computer to run only Free Software, including all drivers and LinuxBIOS. The XO runs a custom version of Fedora Rawhide 6. These computers cost about $140 each in quantity. Children will have, to begin with, chat, Abiword, graphics, photo and video capture using built-in camera and microphone, PenguinTV video on demand, educational games, a Web browser, a console with a Bash shell, a Smalltalk environment, Python, and more. School servers will have a Wikipedia subset and other content. More hardware and software details are on the Wiki. Your organization can request a [presentation on the XO laptop as the future of global software. Not only should you be using Linux, but this is where your next two billion customers and not a few business or NGO partners will come from.
Note: This is not a review or recommendation. These companies say they sell certain systems with Linux. Read their sites, check the reviews, and talk to other users before making a purchase decision.
Several major vendors, including HP, Dell, Sun, and Lenovo, sell computers with Linux preinstalled.
- ZaReason sells laptops and desktops with Ubuntu, Kubuntu, or Edubuntu preinstalled. (Sometimes a vendor will work with you).
- Linux Certified sells laptops with Red Hat or Ubuntu Linux preinstalled.
- http://www.EmperorLinux.com (Fedora, RHEL, Debian/Ubuntu, SuSE)
- http://h71028.www7.hp.com/enterprise/cache/309906-0-0-0-121.html (HP)
- http://www.dell.com/ubuntu (Dell)
- http://www.google.com/products?q=Micro+Star+Linux (MSI)
Here is a list of some publications that track vendors who offer preinstalled Linux. Readers should check the last revision date of the site page, since vendors do not always update their sites promptly. There will also be some overlap in the listed vendors.
- http://www.amazon.com (On-site search can include "linux laptop," "linux notebook" or "linux netbook.")
Where to get end-user, sysadmin and developer education for linux
See the "Database of Linux Training Centers" http://lintraining.com/module/database/ or Google search for linux training http://www.google.com/search?q=linux+training or linux certification http://www.google.com/search?q=linux+certification
The days of needing formal training for doing some of these things is nearing an end. http://tldp.org , http://www.linuxlinks.com and other sites have thousands of pages of relevant, carefully written information. The only need for formal training that I can see is an organisation wishing to hire someone certified by another party. In most cases of a stable organisation it should not be necessary to send trusted staff to formal training. Take trusted staff who have any sort of resilience and throw them into a Linux desktop environment and they will become functional within the hour. For a sysadmin, give them a few servers, a LAN, and a few workstations, and they will be functional in a few days. Only the chief guru of a large organization will likely need formal training to make sure all the LANs work together in a WAN. The Linux developer is probably the most likely position requiring formal training because of the large numbers of standards and libraries with which they may have to work. The most likely applications that would not require much formal training would be web applications where the coding could be done in PHP/HTML/CGI and there is plenty of infrastructure for using LAMP architecture. This avoids most of the necessity for learning a particular windowing environment or even Linux internals. Using web applications, one can have a large efficiency by re-using the server/browser environment for the user interface and database. The requirement for formal training for a developer is greatly reduced if we need only staff fluent in a few languages and a simple, standard enviroment.
For end-user qualifications accredited by the UK government that support migration to open systems visit 
Service organisations or consultants that can help or do a conversion
See the "Linux Consultants Guide" http://www.faqs.org/docs/consult/ or the "Debian Consultants list" http://www.debian.org/consultants/ or Google search for linux consultants http://www.google.com/search?q=Linux+consultants
Individuals can get free help by attending a Linux User Group Installfest, or request help onsite at a school or non-profit.
Linux FAQs and documentation for the different user groups
IBM: Windows to Linux Roadmap: A roadmap for developers making the transition to Linux http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-roadmap.html
(book) Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye! by Marcel Gagne http://www.marcelgagne.com/KBSODG/
European Commission "IDA Open Source Migration Guidelines" http://europa.eu.int/ISPO/ida/jsps/index.jsp?fuseAction=showDocument&parent=news&documentID=2339
German Federal Ministry of the Interior "Migration Manual for Software Base Components" http://www.kbst.bund.de/Software/-,223/Migration.htm
French (ACITA) Agency for Information and Communications Technologies in the Civil Service "Guide to choosing and using Free Software Licenses for Government and Public Sector Entities" http://www.adae.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=172
Some reasonable criteria for a deciding on a conversion
The devastating case for Windows against Linux... ...is the devastating case against Longhorn http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=17162
Security, Security, Security, ... If you need it, you do not need that other OS. http://www.economist.co.uk/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2246018
Now! Virus and adware attacks are beginning to make Windows a high risk, high maintenance option. Remember to factor patch management, data loss, data disclosure and denial of service incidents into your total cost of ownership calculations.