Readers of my personal blog or listeners to the Fresh Ubuntu Podcast will know that I have long been a proponent of Linux as an alternative to Windows, and now, more than ever, this should be a reality at your organization. What’s changed? Last year, Ubuntu, the leading desktop Linux distribution today, addded a package called Likewise-Open, from Likewise Software, Inc., to their software repositories. This means that, with just a few clicks, it is possible to make a Linux desktop computer log in to your existing Windows Active Directory system, without having to make separate user accounts for it.
Nearly every one of our clients has a place for Linux within their organization. Traditionally, this has been as some form of server (web, file, database, network monitoring, firewall, DNS, etc.). However, with Likewise, the hassle of making a Linux box talk to Windows has been greatly simplified.
While I will not engage in the debate of whether OpenOffice.org is a good replacement for Microsoft Office in a corporate setting, or whether you are better off with or without Microsoft Outlook as your primary email client in this blog post, I will say that just about every organization we work with has staff who only do a couple of very simple tasks with their computer, such as surf the web, send and receive email, occasionally make a word processed document or spreadsheet, and view PDF files. All of these features work perfectly well under Linux, so why not deploy it in your organization?
For one thing, there hasn’t always been an easy way to manage a Linux server’s user accounts from Windows. What this means is if you have a username and a password that you use for Windows, you’d need a separate one for Linux. Multiple usernames and passwords frequently confuse novice users, so this has been a potential hurdle.
Likewise clears this hurdle with ease. Now, you can sit down at a Linux computer, and your Windows username and password, and log in. With a little scripting magic from a Linux expert, it is possible to have your Desktop and Documents folders automatically available to you as well.
The best part is that most Linux distributions still run perfectly well on older hardware. While newer systems struggle to meet the requirements to run Vista or Windows 7, most older systems still in production will run Ubuntu just fine.
Linux has many other benefits. It is virtually immune to the bulk of spyware and viruses currently circulating the Internet today. Is it completely safe? No. However, since 99% of all malware is targeted at Windows, Linux is simply a much smaller target.
Finally, Linux is free. That’s right. Most Linux distributions (Ubuntu included) offer a completely free of charge, fully functional version.You can download a copy and try it, with no changes to your system, in under an hour on a high-speed Internet connection.
There’s no reason not to try Linux in your small business. Give it a shot! It may save you money and time.