Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Gary Carlso » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 12:44:18



I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.

The application is question is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Automation
Program (CCAP).  Local users (for the most part, clerks of court,
although also judges, registers in probate and others) input data on new
case filings, court hearings, scheduling calendars, juror information,
and dispositions.  Interfaces with other agencies, such as the district
attorneys, departments of revenue and transportation, etc., either exist
or are in the planning stages for the transfer of data.  Local data is
transmitted on a hourly basis to the state capitol in Madison.  The
database is obviously huge.  We maintain a website for access to a
mirror site with the public data on a near statewide basis at
http://ccap.courts.state.wi.us - the website is averaging 250,000 hits
per day at last count.

In addition to the CCAP programming, our users also need an office suite
for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.  Judges have software that
enables them to have court reporters provide "realtime" translation of
court proceedings to their notebooks.  Email and internet access
(Netscape) is available for all users.  In local court offices, public
terminals are made available free for users to access the local county
database.

Disclaimer:

1.  Please don't let this thread degenerate into an "I hate windows" or
"I hate linux" mentality.  This is a real decision that will have to be
made and I need real answers based on fact.
2.  I am a circuit judge in Wisconsin; I am fairly competent on the
computer but certainly not a programmer; please bear with any perceived
ignorance on my part.  I have read a fair amount of the posts on this NG
already.  If you have questions I can try to answer them.

Questions:

1.  Some of our users are worried about going to Linux.  They fear a
learning curve exaggerated by the fact that those who own home computers
are most likely on WinXX and transference of skills will be minimal.
What do you believe the average computer user (the ones who go to
BestBuy or Gateway Country to buy a home computer) will experience in a
shift to Linux?

2.  They are also concerned that going to Linux will create a wall
between them and other programs perceived to be beneficial that will
only be available on WinXX.  From the state's point of view, this may be
good because we prohibit the downloading to or loading onto the state
computers programs other than those provided.  What has been your
experience in the availability of new and exciting programs?

3.  Are there WinXX emulators that will allow us to use programs we
already have, such as the court reporter software (CaseViewII by
Stenograph) or legal research programs (WestLaw, LOIS), or will going to
Linux require us to abandon those programs?  How difficult are
workarounds?

4.  Is Linux stable enough to be able to handle a network of several
hundred users, potentially over a thousand in a couple of years, spread
out over hundreds of miles across Wisconsin (we have 72 counties, 69 of
which are currently using all or part of CCAP)?

5.  Is Linux, in the long run, really cost effective?  Moving to Win2000
would result in a financial hit to our program of $4.4 million
"initially" and, of course, ties us to Microsoft.  But is Linux really
that robust that it is going to be around into the future, or are we
just getting into another IBM OS/2 situation?  (BTW, when we first went
into OS/2 it was because we needed multitasking and Windows--at that
stage--just didn't cut the mustard--but let's not talk about whether
going to OS/2 initially was good, bad or ugly.)

6.  Have there been Linux compatibility problems with any particular
hardware, particularly IBM (desktops, notebooks) and Hewlett-Packard
(printers), that I should be aware of?

7.  Our techies are encouraging the use of Linux, but admit that going
to Win2000 would probably make their jobs easier at this point.  Their
concern is more "down the road" and getting tied into Microsoft.  Are
these legitimate concerns?

8.  Some members of our steering committee have suggested that moving to
Linux is okay because even if it doesn't work out for some reason, it
isn't a big deal to shift over to Win2000 later on.  The reason is that
our application is written in JAVA which, theoretically, is OS
transparent.  But I also have heard the Microsoft has its own version of
JAVA and I'm concerned about having to rewrite hundreds of lines of code
to work with MS if that is the ultimate result.  Would it be that
difficult?

9.  Are there other issues that I don't even know about or think about
that you think I should know before this decision is made?  If so,
please tell me.  If you have additional resources that you tick would be
valuable, please tell me.  I've already tracked several other Linux
newsgroups and read several FAQ.

Finally, if you want to respond directly to me rather than posting to

And further, finally, if this is posted to the wrong NG, tell me what
the best one is for my answers.

Thank you in advance.  I'm sorry for the length of this post but it is
very important to me to get the right answers.

Gary Carlson, Circuit Judge
Member:  CCAP Steering Committee

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by nuk » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 13:59:23


Gary Carlson wrote:
> I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
> users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
> Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
> program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
> The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.

> The application is question is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Automation
> Program (CCAP).  Local users (for the most part, clerks of court,
> although also judges, registers in probate and others) input data on new
> case filings, court hearings, scheduling calendars, juror information,
> and dispositions.  Interfaces with other agencies, such as the district
> attorneys, departments of revenue and transportation, etc., either exist
> or are in the planning stages for the transfer of data.  Local data is
> transmitted on a hourly basis to the state capitol in Madison.  The
> database is obviously huge.  We maintain a website for access to a
> mirror site with the public data on a near statewide basis at
> http://ccap.courts.state.wi.us - the website is averaging 250,000 hits
> per day at last count.

> In addition to the CCAP programming, our users also need an office suite
> for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.  Judges have software that
> enables them to have court reporters provide "realtime" translation of
> court proceedings to their notebooks.  Email and internet access
> (Netscape) is available for all users.  In local court offices, public
> terminals are made available free for users to access the local county
> database.

> Disclaimer:

> 1.  Please don't let this thread degenerate into an "I hate windows" or
> "I hate linux" mentality.  This is a real decision that will have to be
> made and I need real answers based on fact.
> 2.  I am a circuit judge in Wisconsin; I am fairly competent on the
> computer but certainly not a programmer; please bear with any perceived
> ignorance on my part.  I have read a fair amount of the posts on this NG
> already.  If you have questions I can try to answer them.

> Questions:

> 1.  Some of our users are worried about going to Linux.  They fear a
> learning curve exaggerated by the fact that those who own home computers
> are most likely on WinXX and transference of skills will be minimal.
> What do you believe the average computer user (the ones who go to
> BestBuy or Gateway Country to buy a home computer) will experience in a
> shift to Linux?

If any of your users are 'power users' in Windows, they may find that some
of the keyboard shortcuts and whatnot that they may have used so much that
they are 'hard wired in' i.e. instinctive, will not work initially.  Many
Linux apps are configurable enough that the keyboard mapping can be
re-arranged, though this will not be viable for the faint of heart.  So
some initial loss in efficieny will probably result.  On the flip side, any
of the users that are real power users will eventually warm to the ability
to use small tools to do big jobs by tying them together, and extending
what they used yesterday to accomplish what they need tomorrow .

2.  They are also concerned that going to Linux will create a wall

> between them and other programs perceived to be beneficial that will
> only be available on WinXX.  From the state's point of view, this may be
> good because we prohibit the downloading to or loading onto the state
> computers programs other than those provided.  What has been your
> experience in the availability of new and exciting programs?

That is most definitely the case thus far.  Many of the chintzy automagic
graphic scenes and cute little games that personnel install on their
computers or send via email will simply not work... yet.  A plus is that
this makes one of the more common avenues for transmitting viruses, etc.
more difficult.  Not completely impossible, but for the time being, close
enough to it.  Most non-commercial programs on Linux come from authors who
set out to scratch a specific itch, not to cause hate and discontent.

> 3.  Are there WinXX emulators that will allow us to use programs we
> already have, such as the court reporter software (CaseViewII by
> Stenograph) or legal research programs (WestLaw, LOIS), or will going to
> Linux require us to abandon those programs?  How difficult are
> workarounds?

There is always WINE, a set of programs that allows you to run Win16 &
Win32 apps, w/ varying degrees of success.  Some work flawlessly, some not
at all.  As the software matures, it has become more of the former, less of
the latter, especially w/ good, well written programs.  And another
alternative is VMWare, which allows you to run a complete virtual PC  ( or
more than one) on another operating platform.  I'm not sure if OS/2 is
supported, but Win98 is.  The catch:  it's commercial, and you have to also
have a licensed version of WinXX to install on the 'virtual' pc.

> 4.  Is Linux stable enough to be able to handle a network of several
> hundred users, potentially over a thousand in a couple of years, spread
> out over hundreds of miles across Wisconsin (we have 72 counties, 69 of
> which are currently using all or part of CCAP)?

Check out the link below (hope it works).  If Toyota USA thinks Linux is
ready to power their dealer infrastructure across the US, I think it can
handle your  state legal system.

http://eltoday.com/article.php3?ltsn=2000-10-24-002-01-AC-LF

Plus, Linux powers Cisco's global printer network, and one of the largest &
fastest search engines in the world, Google, runs on RedHat Linux.
Actually, just about any version of free *nix, like FreeBSD & Linux, are
getting more and more popular for running large widespread networks.

> 5.  Is Linux, in the long run, really cost effective?  Moving to Win2000
> would result in a financial hit to our program of $4.4 million
> "initially" and, of course, ties us to Microsoft.  But is Linux really
> that robust that it is going to be around into the future, or are we
> just getting into another IBM OS/2 situation?  (BTW, when we first went
> into OS/2 it was because we needed multitasking and Windows--at that
> stage--just didn't cut the mustard--but let's not talk about whether
> going to OS/2 initially was good, bad or ugly.)

Yes.  Why?  Because no one  company controls it, therefore no one company
can squander it away.  It should be around for some time to come.

> 6.  Have there been Linux compatibility problems with any particular
> hardware, particularly IBM (desktops, notebooks) and Hewlett-Packard
> (printers), that I should be aware of?

IBM, and HP, as far as I know, have pretty good track records to date about
supporting Linux on their 'corporate' equipment.  HP has some black marks,
as some of their SOHO equipment, specifically the HP72x series of inkjet
printers has a proprietary driver, but reverse-engineering has pretty much
circumvented that.  The OfficeJet or whatever copy-scan-fax-print devices
are not well supported, either.  But the 'big' stuff like LaserJet
printers, servers, scanners, and what not are pretty well taken care of.

> 7.  Our techies are encouraging the use of Linux, but admit that going
> to Win2000 would probably make their jobs easier at this point.  Their
> concern is more "down the road" and getting tied into Microsoft.  Are
> these legitimate concerns?

Well, w/ the rumblings of some of the scarier software copyright laws, I
think some companies would like very much to get laws passed that would
enable them to make software that only works for a period of time, at which
point you are required to 'renew' your license, or they can remotely remove
the software from your machine(s).  Some idiotic states have already gave
in and passed versions of laws that could be stretched this way.  So, yes,
cutting ties to any commercial software company is good long range
planning.

> 8.  Some members of our steering committee have suggested that moving to
> Linux is okay because even if it doesn't work out for some reason, it
> isn't a big deal to shift over to Win2000 later on.  The reason is that
> our application is written in JAVA which, theoretically, is OS
> transparent.  But I also have heard the Microsoft has its own version of
> JAVA and I'm concerned about having to rewrite hundreds of lines of code
> to work with MS if that is the ultimate result.  Would it be that
> difficult?

Most likely.  As with most things they touch/infect, M$ has expanded their
'extending' of protocols and languages to include JAVA, so M$ Java has some
proprietary 'extensions' and 'optimizations' that may well not work w/
other versions.

> 9.  Are there other issues that I don't even know about or think about
> that you think I should know before this decision is made?  If so,
> please tell me.  If you have additional resources that you tick would be
> valuable, please tell me.  I've already tracked several other Linux
> newsgroups and read several FAQ.

See the site below for more details

http://www.unix-vs-nt.org/

> Finally, if you want to respond directly to me rather than posting to
> the NG, my state email address is gary.carl...@taylor.courts.state.wi.us

> And further, finally, if this is posted to the wrong NG, tell me what
> the best one is for my answers.

> Thank you in advance.  I'm sorry for the length of this post but it is
> very important to me to get the right answers.

> Gary Carlson, Circuit Judge
> Member:  CCAP Steering Committee

Enjoy,

Monte

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Mary » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 14:18:07




> I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
> users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
> Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
> program.
[much snippage]
> Gary Carlson, Circuit Judge
> Member:  CCAP Steering Committee

Hi Judge Carlson:

I found your posting on comp.os.linux.misc. I suggest you
contact the Madison Linux Users Group for specific help.
There are very knowledgeable people -- university-
connected and not -- and I'm sure your answers are
available once you make that connection. Hardware compatibility,
software compatibility, networking issues, cost -- anything
in your package can be addressed by someone over there, or
they'll know someone else who can help.

Good luck with your networking project. You may find that
you create a hybrid system with Linux servers and
a variety of local software/hardware.

Mary Pulliam
recreational Linux user
Madison Wisconsin

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Robert Helle » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 15:13:56


  Gary Carlson <jwu...@tdsnet.com>,
  In a message on Sun, 29 Oct 2000 03:44:18 GMT, wrote :

GC> I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
GC> users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
GC> Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
GC> program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
GC> The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.
GC>
GC> The application is question is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Automation
GC> Program (CCAP).  Local users (for the most part, clerks of court,
GC> although also judges, registers in probate and others) input data on new
GC> case filings, court hearings, scheduling calendars, juror information,
GC> and dispositions.  Interfaces with other agencies, such as the district
GC> attorneys, departments of revenue and transportation, etc., either exist
GC> or are in the planning stages for the transfer of data.  Local data is
GC> transmitted on a hourly basis to the state capitol in Madison.  The
GC> database is obviously huge.  We maintain a website for access to a
GC> mirror site with the public data on a near statewide basis at
GC> http://ccap.courts.state.wi.us - the website is averaging 250,000 hits
GC> per day at last count.
GC>
GC> In addition to the CCAP programming, our users also need an office suite
GC> for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.  Judges have software that
GC> enables them to have court reporters provide "realtime" translation of
GC> court proceedings to their notebooks.  Email and internet access
GC> (Netscape) is available for all users.  In local court offices, public
GC> terminals are made available free for users to access the local county
GC> database.
GC>
GC> Disclaimer:
GC>
GC> 1.  Please don't let this thread degenerate into an "I hate windows" or
GC> "I hate linux" mentality.  This is a real decision that will have to be
GC> made and I need real answers based on fact.
GC> 2.  I am a circuit judge in Wisconsin; I am fairly competent on the
GC> computer but certainly not a programmer; please bear with any perceived
GC> ignorance on my part.  I have read a fair amount of the posts on this NG
GC> already.  If you have questions I can try to answer them.
GC>
GC> Questions:
GC>
GC> 1.  Some of our users are worried about going to Linux.  They fear a
GC> learning curve exaggerated by the fact that those who own home computers
GC> are most likely on WinXX and transference of skills will be minimal.
GC> What do you believe the average computer user (the ones who go to
GC> BestBuy or Gateway Country to buy a home computer) will experience in a
GC> shift to Linux?

Linux is not as hard to learn as Microsoft would lead you to believe.
Really.  If these are office desktops and you have competent technical
support, these desktops can be setup and configured by the competent
technical people and the users can just point and click on their Gnome
desktop and do their office stuff with StarOffice, both of which have
much the same sort of point-and-click, drag-and-drop user interface as
MS-Windows.  The only thing missing would be random crashes...

GC>
GC> 2.  They are also concerned that going to Linux will create a wall
GC> between them and other programs perceived to be beneficial that will
GC> only be available on WinXX.  From the state's point of view, this may be
GC> good because we prohibit the downloading to or loading onto the state
GC> computers programs other than those provided.  What has been your
GC> experience in the availability of new and exciting programs?

Depends on the programs.  Yes, your office workers won't be able to run
the latest and greatest version of Duke Nuke'em, but then again you
probably don't want them to anyway.  There is a good collection of basic
office automation software available for Linux: StarOffice, WordPerfect,
etc.  Actually, from what I have heard, most of these are actually
technically better than MS-Office in many ways.

GC>
GC> 3.  Are there WinXX emulators that will allow us to use programs we
GC> already have, such as the court reporter software (CaseViewII by
GC> Stenograph) or legal research programs (WestLaw, LOIS), or will going to
GC> Linux require us to abandon those programs?  How difficult are
GC> workarounds?

There are some.  It depends on the program.  *Some* MS-Windows programs
won't run under *any* emulator -- MS's own applications use *undocumented*
system calls to test the system for emulation and will refuse to run --
this is not because of the quality of the emulator, just the MS wants to
pay them pound of flesh for the 'real thing'.  There is one system that
even MS can't reject (because it involves really running MS-Windows
under Linux).  It is also possible to have dual boot machines or a
'mixed' shop.  You might also want to talk to the producers of this
software and see if there are Linux ports of their products or if your
network would constitute a large enough customer base to support Linux
ports of their products.  This is something worth investigating.

GC>
GC> 4.  Is Linux stable enough to be able to handle a network of several
GC> hundred users, potentially over a thousand in a couple of years, spread
GC> out over hundreds of miles across Wisconsin (we have 72 counties, 69 of
GC> which are currently using all or part of CCAP)?

Yes.  Easily.  You would be surprised at the number of web servers,
handling *millions* of hits are running Linux on cheap PC hardware.
Many small ISPs use Linux servers for mail, web, ftp, and ppp servers.

GC>
GC> 5.  Is Linux, in the long run, really cost effective?  Moving to Win2000
GC> would result in a financial hit to our program of $4.4 million
GC> "initially" and, of course, ties us to Microsoft.  But is Linux really
GC> that robust that it is going to be around into the future, or are we
GC> just getting into another IBM OS/2 situation?  (BTW, when we first went
GC> into OS/2 it was because we needed multitasking and Windows--at that
GC> stage--just didn't cut the mustard--but let's not talk about whether
GC> going to OS/2 initially was good, bad or ugly.)

Since you will have the source code and *thousands* of knowledgeable
users 'out there', you will have a continuing supply of people
supporting Linux.  Unlike OS/2, which is closed source and thus
dependent on one vendor's (IBM) support stance, Linux, being open source
is not dependent on a handful of corporate execs worrying about todays
bottom line.  If Red Hat should fold tomorrow, for example, Linux won't
die.  Slackware, for example, might take up the slack (pun intended). :-)
(Slackware and RedHat have very different ways of doing business, so
this won't really happen, but there are other more likely vendors -- see
below.)

You can *legally* just buy *one* RedHat deluxe box for $89.00, download a
copy of xcdroast, get an decent CD Writer, and a stack of CDR blanks,
and duplicate a batch of, say, 72 copies of the RedHat CDs, one for each
county.  89+0+200+144 = $433.00 is your total capital cost for Linux.
Yes, there is a bit of labor involved in duplicating the CDs and
shipping costs to send the copies out, etc. and it would probably be
almost as cost effective to just buy 72 of the RedHat deluxe boxes, since
this way you get 72 *printed* install guides.  You can probably buy a
support contract from Red Hat, Inc., for way less than $4.4 million.
Since Linux is open source, if you don't happen to like Red Hat, you
have other options: Slackware, SuSE, Debian, Corel, etc.  All
competitively priced and intercompatable.

GC>
GC> 6.  Have there been Linux compatibility problems with any particular
GC> hardware, particularly IBM (desktops, notebooks) and Hewlett-Packard
GC> (printers), that I should be aware of?

Linux is generally very compatible with less-than-bleeding-edge
hardware.  The reality is that bleeding edge hardware is massive
overkill most of the time and is generally only needed for slow,
bloated software (like MS-Windows).  And bleeding edge hardware IS
bleeding edge -- often not as mature as the model from 6 months or a
year ago.  Linux makes much more efficient use of your hardware, so
Linux on a 500Mhz processor will be several times *faster* than
MS-Windows on a 750Mhz processor.  Most of the hardware problems will
be for specific sorts of hardware: some printers (mostly cheap
printers), non-standard sound cards, 'winmodems', and bleeding edge
video cards (mostly ones designed for 3D animation games) -- so, you
just need to buy better quality printers (that use standard graphic
protocols) and avoid exotic sound cards, sleazy modems, and game video
cards.  Get the good quality name brand stuff -- it is not really more
expensive, in the long run -- more compatible, less likely to break in
6 months, etc.  With desktops ordered from a sensible OEM (i.e. Dell,
Gateway, IBM, etc.) and armed with a copy of the Linux Hardware-HOWTO
and the XFree86 video card compatibility list, you should not have
trouble.  Your biggest problem will be dealing with (poorly informed)
sales droids trying to sell you stuff you don't want or need.

Laptops are often a problem, since unlike desktops and servers, there is
little you can do about a manufacturer's choice of innards, esp. about
built-in video, sound, and modem hardware, and the fact that laptops
don't come with 3-button pointer devices (I use an external 3-button PS/2
mouse on my laptop).

GC>
GC> 7.  Our techies are encouraging the use of Linux, but admit that going
GC> to Win2000 would probably make their jobs easier at this point.  Their
GC> concern is more "down the road" and getting tied into Microsoft.  Are
GC> these legitimate concerns?

Linux is easier to configure and maintain.  I'm guessing that the
techies are worried about getting a zillion questions from new users
dealing with an unfamiliar system, which will make them more busy.
OTOH, all it takes in a silly E-Mail worm to make their job into a week ...

read more »

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Glitc » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:16:53


Gary Carlson wrote:

> I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
> users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
> Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
> program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
> The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.

> The application is question is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Automation
> Program (CCAP).  Local users (for the most part, clerks of court,
> although also judges, registers in probate and others) input data on new
> case filings, court hearings, scheduling calendars, juror information,
> and dispositions.  Interfaces with other agencies, such as the district
> attorneys, departments of revenue and transportation, etc., either exist
> or are in the planning stages for the transfer of data.  Local data is
> transmitted on a hourly basis to the state capitol in Madison.  The
> database is obviously huge.  We maintain a website for access to a
> mirror site with the public data on a near statewide basis at
> http://ccap.courts.state.wi.us - the website is averaging 250,000 hits
> per day at last count.

well if u need uptime then go for Linux as we all know the faults of
Windows in this area. Windows will increase the budget and taxpayers
won't like that :)

> In addition to the CCAP programming, our users also need an office suite
> for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.  Judges have software that

you can use Staroffice or Applixware for an office suite

- Show quoted text -

> enables them to have court reporters provide "realtime" translation of
> court proceedings to their notebooks.  Email and internet access
> (Netscape) is available for all users.  In local court offices, public
> terminals are made available free for users to access the local county
> database.

> Disclaimer:

> 1.  Please don't let this thread degenerate into an "I hate windows" or
> "I hate linux" mentality.  This is a real decision that will have to be
> made and I need real answers based on fact.
> 2.  I am a circuit judge in Wisconsin; I am fairly competent on the
> computer but certainly not a programmer; please bear with any perceived
> ignorance on my part.  I have read a fair amount of the posts on this NG
> already.  If you have questions I can try to answer them.

> Questions:

> 1.  Some of our users are worried about going to Linux.  They fear a
> learning curve exaggerated by the fact that those who own home computers
> are most likely on WinXX and transference of skills will be minimal.
> What do you believe the average computer user (the ones who go to
> BestBuy or Gateway Country to buy a home computer) will experience in a
> shift to Linux?

If they don't know how to use a computer what OS they are using won't
make a differece. Even if they are used to using Windows X windows in
Linux will still allow them to use graphics.  Xwindows, or more
appropriately the desktop environment like KDE, will provide a 'start
menu' and in general still has the same premise as any other windows,
whether it is MS windows or Apple.  Just because the icons may look
different and the close and minimize buttons may look different
shouldn't freak them out and if it does you have bigger problems. People
neeed to have more flexibility and if they can't work in Xwindows when
it has the same premise as MS Windows they need help.

> 2.  They are also concerned that going to Linux will create a wall
> between them and other programs perceived to be beneficial that will
> only be available on WinXX.  From the state's point of view, this may be
> good because we prohibit the downloading to or loading onto the state
> computers programs other than those provided.  What has been your
> experience in the availability of new and exciting programs?

Napster has been made available in Linux as well as Yahoo Messenger and
AOL Instant Messenger.  2 office suites are available.  I use AbiWord
for word processing; I dont even bother installing a whole suite but in
your case you may need to.  For the most part you can't install
something unless you are root user because you wouldn't have full access
to the system.  FOr the sysadmins you have on site they will already
have firewall and masquerading tools available out of the box w/o paying
extra (hundreds extra) if you would be using Win 2k.

> 3.  Are there WinXX emulators that will allow us to use programs we
> already have, such as the court reporter software (CaseViewII by
> Stenograph) or legal research programs (WestLaw, LOIS), or will going to
> Linux require us to abandon those programs?  How difficult are
> workarounds?

depends on how dependent they are of the Windows API.  If they are made
with portability in mind you might get lucky and they would work with
Wine running however , and I could be wrong when I say this, VMWARE I
think allows anything that normally runs under Windows to be executed in
Linux, using a virtual machine. VMWare costs around $150 I think.  
Worst case scenario you will need to port those programs over to Linux
or if they are closed source and therefore most likely not in-house, you
will need to find another product that is made for Linux.

> 4.  Is Linux stable enough to be able to handle a network of several
> hundred users, potentially over a thousand in a couple of years, spread
> out over hundreds of miles across Wisconsin (we have 72 counties, 69 of
> which are currently using all or part of CCAP)?

I think it is although I have no real world proof other than confessions
of users in these newsgroups. The geographical really makes no
difference as long as the network itself is good enough, such as
dedicated lines.

> 5.  Is Linux, in the long run, really cost effective?  Moving to Win2000
> would result in a financial hit to our program of $4.4 million
> "initially" and, of course, ties us to Microsoft.  But is Linux really
> that robust that it is going to be around into the future, or are we

It's been around since 91 and always getting better. Only in the last
few years has it had commerical backing; before then it was word of
mouth and the Internet that got it going and look where it's at now?  As
long as people use it it will never die. Even if companies stopped
selling it like RH or Corel it would keep going as they weren't in
existence in the beginning and Linux did just fine, right?  

After your first initial copy, you don't need another one. Buy one copy
and install it on all 1000 PCs or however many you have.  There is no
per copy license like there is with MS WIndows so one copy can go onto
unlimited number of computers with no legal issues to worry about.  One
copy would cost anywhere from free (by downloading) to say $180 for like
RH Professional version.

> just getting into another IBM OS/2 situation?  (BTW, when we first went
> into OS/2 it was because we needed multitasking and Windows--at that
> stage--just didn't cut the mustard--but let's not talk about whether
> going to OS/2 initially was good, bad or ugly.)

I've heard OS/2 died b/c IBM didnt market it. Linux has never been
marketed until recently. You still don't hear it advertised on TV or
radio, only in print.  It's being used and backed by corporations now
such as IBM, COREL, and Intel.  It use continues to grow and even before
it was advertised in print people still kept using it and started to use
it as newcomers and no marketing was needed.

> 6.  Have there been Linux compatibility problems with any particular
> hardware, particularly IBM (desktops, notebooks) and Hewlett-Packard
> (printers), that I should be aware of?

winprinters come to mind, winmodems come to mind as well. ANything
proprietary wil obviously have problems.  Read the hardware compatiblity
howto at www.linuxdocs.org and you wil see what linux supports.  USB is
coming soon, whenever kernel 2.4 is released. Plug n Play is supported
now.  

> 7.  Our techies are encouraging the use of Linux, but admit that going
> to Win2000 would probably make their jobs easier at this point.  Their
> concern is more "down the road" and getting tied into Microsoft.  Are
> these legitimate concerns?

yeah, you are going to have to worry about licensing and making sure you
pay for the correct number of them for each workstation.  As i said
before, you buy a copy of Linux or download it and you are set. If you
have a problem with a workstation have a tech login using HIS
workstation and fix hte problem, as long as it isn't a network
connection of course :)  Remote administration of a workstation is a
nice touch that Linux has that as far as I know Windows doesn't have,
maybe NT or win2k(the server versions) but I doubt it.  I could be wrong
but I doubt MS really provides that much support for its products, phone
support that is. Of course anyone can goto a website for help.  With
Linux you can goto RH for support however there are the newsgroups as u
have already found :) and there are a ton of sites that people have
created to help fellow users better their knowledge of linux in order to
have more fun with it.  But as you are going ot be running workstations
as soon as they are up and running you probably won't need too much help
as you wont need to change their configurations too much or install that
much software.

> 8.  Some members of our steering committee have suggested that moving to
> Linux is okay because even if it doesn't work out for some reason, it
> isn't a big deal to shift over to Win2000 later on.  The reason is that
> our application is written in JAVA which, theoretically, is OS
> transparent.  But I also have heard the Microsoft has its own version of
> JAVA and I'm concerned about having to rewrite hundreds of lines of code
> to work with MS if that is the ultimate result.  Would it be that
> difficult?

Well, u could try linux first for $200 or less and if it doenst work out
go for Win2k. Obviously u woudlnt lose that much money in that aspect ...

read more »

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Byron A Je » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 19:50:06




Just a really small aside...

Quote:>I recently found an interesting article on the web -- it is a bit dated
>and technical, but still relevant -- it gives a good idea of the
>pitfalls of building Linux boxes:
>   http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/lj-howtobuild.html

The update to this article is in the current Linux Journal (November 2000).

BAJ

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by Byron A Je » Mon, 30 Oct 2000 20:50:40


In article <39FB9D02.950A2...@tdsnet.com>,
Gary Carlson  <jwu...@tdsnet.com> wrote:
-I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
-users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
-Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
-program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
-The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.

There seems to be a couple of pluses right off the bat. Since the current OS
is OS/2, there is not an actual nor perceived legacy committment to one or
the other choices yet. And Java can be system neutral.

-
-The application is question is the Wisconsin Circuit Court Automation
-Program (CCAP).  Local users (for the most part, clerks of court,
-although also judges, registers in probate and others) input data on new
-case filings, court hearings, scheduling calendars, juror information,
-and dispositions.  Interfaces with other agencies, such as the district
-attorneys, departments of revenue and transportation, etc., either exist
-or are in the planning stages for the transfer of data.  Local data is
-transmitted on a hourly basis to the state capitol in Madison.  The
-database is obviously huge.  We maintain a website for access to a
-mirror site with the public data on a near statewide basis at
-http://ccap.courts.state.wi.us - the website is averaging 250,000 hits
-per day at last count.

Sounds like an excellent system.

-
-In addition to the CCAP programming, our users also need an office suite
-for word processing, spreadsheets, etc.  Judges have software that
-enables them to have court reporters provide "realtime" translation of
-court proceedings to their notebooks.  Email and internet access
-(Netscape) is available for all users.  In local court offices, public
-terminals are made available free for users to access the local county
-database.

Questions: What system does the realtime translation software run on? And are
the judges notebooks subject to this Linux/Windows decision?

-
-Disclaimer:
-
-1.  Please don't let this thread degenerate into an "I hate windows" or
-"I hate linux" mentality.  This is a real decision that will have to be
-made and I need real answers based on fact.

You'd probably get such a thread if you had posted it to comp.os.linux.advocacy
because that's what they do. But be forewarned that since you posted to a
linux newsgroup, you'll generally get information posted with a Linux slant.

-2.  I am a circuit judge in Wisconsin; I am fairly competent on the
-computer but certainly not a programmer; please bear with any perceived
-ignorance on my part.  I have read a fair amount of the posts on this NG
-already.  If you have questions I can try to answer them.
-
-Questions:
-
-1.  Some of our users are worried about going to Linux.  They fear a
-learning curve exaggerated by the fact that those who own home computers
-are most likely on WinXX and transference of skills will be minimal.
-What do you believe the average computer user (the ones who go to
-BestBuy or Gateway Country to buy a home computer) will experience in a
-shift to Linux?

A couple of things:

1) As pointed out in (2) below, they won't have the exact same applications
they run at home. Many novice and some intermediate users associate Word
with wordprocessing, Excel with spreadsheets, etc. Meaning that any other
software that performs simular tasks will never be "just right".

2) Some look an feel issues will be a bit different. Little things like the
fact that KDE doesn't require the user to double click on a icon takes some
getting used to. Or as someone else pointed out, many of the well ingrained
keyboard shortcuts will be missing.

However as I pointed out above since the system is currently running on
OS/2, the userbase should at least be aware of such differences.

-
-2.  They are also concerned that going to Linux will create a wall
-between them and other programs perceived to be beneficial that will
-only be available on WinXX.  From the state's point of view, this may be
-good because we prohibit the downloading to or loading onto the state
-computers programs other than those provided.  What has been your
-experience in the availability of new and exciting programs?

The availablity of new windows software is obviously an issue. New linux
software is rampant.

BTW if you wish for your users not to download and use new Linux software
it's easily done by mounting the users' directories without exec privileges.
The can download new software, but they can't run it from their home
directories. This sets up a mechanism where new software can be managed and
not executed completely unsupervised.

-
-3.  Are there WinXX emulators that will allow us to use programs we
-already have, such as the court reporter software (CaseViewII by
-Stenograph) or legal research programs (WestLaw, LOIS), or will going to
-Linux require us to abandon those programs?  How difficult are
-workarounds?

Linux's primary Windows emulator is Wine (www.winehq.com). Be forewarned that
it's a perpetual work in progress that does some activities well, and fails
on others. Wine actually emulates Windows so that Windows isn't required to
run the application.

The best machine emulator is VMWare. Instead of emulating the OS, VMWare
emulates the underlaying machine. This means that you'd have to install
windows in VMWare in order to get access to the applications.

Wine would require extensive testing of software. VMWare works well but
requires an investment for both it and the copy of Windows that it runs.

Another possibility would be to run a Windows Application Terminal Server
using Citrix Java client for display. The terminal server would be an
actual windows box that allows for multiple users to run windows applications.

They least stable possibility is to run dual boot actually switching between
OSes to get to the needed windows applications.

Note that costwise everything other than Wine requires Windows proper and its
associated costs.

The ideal solution for legal research would be to move to a web based solution
where an internet server is contacted for the information. You may want to
check to see if Internet based versions of the software are available.

-
-4.  Is Linux stable enough to be able to handle a network of several
-hundred users, potentially over a thousand in a couple of years, spread
-out over hundreds of miles across Wisconsin (we have 72 counties, 69 of
-which are currently using all or part of CCAP)?

Yes. Given proper hardware, proper installation, and at least a modicum of
support.

-
-5.  Is Linux, in the long run, really cost effective?  Moving to Win2000
-would result in a financial hit to our program of $4.4 million
-"initially" and, of course, ties us to Microsoft.  But is Linux really
-that robust that it is going to be around into the future, or are we
-just getting into another IBM OS/2 situation?  (BTW, when we first went
-into OS/2 it was because we needed multitasking and Windows--at that
-stage--just didn't cut the mustard--but let's not talk about whether
-going to OS/2 initially was good, bad or ugly.)

This is where Open Source helps. Since everything you'll use is available at
the source level, It'll be possible to maintain and extend your software as
necessary as time progresses. You'll have no dependancy on a particular outfit
for updates.

That's of course the most scary idea about Microsoft. Being committed to them
means that you are subject to their whims. For example Windows 3.1 and 3.11
are flat out not supported anymore. In less than 10 years they've been
abandonded. And if you remember the transision wasn't easy.

However with the addition of a couple of libraries (that by default I don't
load), I can still run libc4 a.out applications from 1992 under Linux kernel
1.0.9. In fact if I got desparate enough, I could actually download a
Slackware/RedHat CD from that era and install it.

OpenSource frees the support issue. If everyone else turns in a direction
not of your liking, you can generally stay the course without too much
hassle.

-
-6.  Have there been Linux compatibility problems with any particular
-hardware, particularly IBM (desktops, notebooks) and Hewlett-Packard
-(printers), that I should be aware of?

Linux incompatibilities general come with peripherals. And you'll have to
check each one individually. And in almost every case where Linux is
incompatible it's because the hardware manufacturer refuses to release
the interface specification for the device.

If I remember correctly (IIRC) IBM Mwave modems currently have no driver.

-
-7.  Our techies are encouraging the use of Linux, but admit that going
-to Win2000 would probably make their jobs easier at this point.  Their
-concern is more "down the road" and getting tied into Microsoft.  Are
-these legitimate concerns?

Yes. see above.

Question: Will your techies be the ones setting up and maintaining the systems?
If so then this is a very positive point. No matter which route you go there
will be a lot of work, and quite a bit of frustration. It's the nature of the
beast. However if your support community is committed, it makes the
transition much more manageable.
-
-8.  Some members of our steering committee have suggested that moving to
-Linux is okay because even if it doesn't work out for some reason, it
-isn't a big deal to shift over to Win2000 later on.  The reason is that
-our application is written in JAVA which, theoretically, is OS
-transparent.  But I also have heard the Microsoft has its own version of
-JAVA and I'm concerned about having to rewrite hundreds of lines of code
-to work with MS if that is the ultimate result.  Would it be that
-difficult?

I'd ask two questions first: 1) is there a publicly available specification for MS C#? Two is there a publicly available implementation that's not done by
MS. Sun Java has both which means they are committed to their spec ...

read more »

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by John-Paul Stewar » Tue, 31 Oct 2000 08:02:50



> No question here.  Linux is the most common operating system for computers
> on the interne, and is running some HUGE sites.  For network
> infrastructure, database servers, file servers, web servers, mail servers,
> etc. Linux beats Windows hands down for stability, flexibility, ease of
> administration, security.  Whether or not you give Linux the nod for
> desktop use (that really is a difficult question), I would say that
> you would be doing yourself a big favor to go with Linux for all of the
> back-end stuff.

Mike has a *very* good point here.  When considering an
installation of this size, think about the back-end servers
seperately from the client desktops.  Microsoft marketing
would have you beleive that NT is a "one size fits all"
operating system, but we all know there's no such thing.
I'm no fan of MS products because I find they lack the
stability I desire, so I'd recommend Linux for your whole
project.  BUT, given some of the constraints (such as user
familiarity with the interface, etc.) it may well be prudent
for you to deploy Windows on the client desktops and Linux
in back-end server rooms.  Somebody once said that "one of
Linux's biggest advantages is its ability to communicate by
any means except smoke signals."

Linux has been developed by a diverse group of people with
diverse backgrounds to work in their diverse environments.
It, therefore, boasts interoperability that is, IMHO, second
to none.  Anybody with a project of the magnitude of yours
needs to seriously consider using different operating
systems for different machines.  That way the complete
package--hardware, operating system, and applications--can
be tailored to meet the demands put on it.  Each operating
system has its niche; pick the one(s) that fit your needs.

That's all the input I can give you at this point.

J-P Stewart

 
 
 

Linux vs Windows 2000 for a statewide computer system?

Post by NAVARRO LOPEZ, Jesús Manue » Wed, 01 Nov 2000 19:37:03



> I need help in making a decision whether our statewide (several hundred
> users spread out geographically over the entire state) should opt for a
> Linux OS or a Windows OS.  I serve on the steering committee for the
> program.  We currently use OS/2 as our OS, but intend to migrate off.
> The application software itself is being rewritten in JAVA.

I read previous answers, and I do think the answer is delicate.  It has
been shown that Linux can cope the project, as Win2000 can do, but I
think the problem it is the management side of the question (and some
sociological issues, yes).  Even though such a big network means big
bucks only in license fees, the difference between a successful or
catastrophic project will be in the maintenance and management side.
Where are the admin stuff skilled on (some of us will neglect this,
thinking on their short networks experience: they might cope with minor
or even some major problems as they run on short networks, on large
networks this can simply kill the network).  Now, for the psycological
aspects: on my experience there're some *very* extrange issues here: on
one hand, I've seen more than twice how final users are more glad using
a non-working-so-well network, but with simpathetic help-desk stuff,
than on an almost-running-perfect networks where (mainly because of
this) there where no supporting helpdesk (it was not needed in the very
beginning!!!).  Second to this, is the fact that afronting something
"new" will disappoint most of your users (that's FUD) which will behalf
negatively to the project: most probably they will accept major
drawbacks when using WinXX where they won't tolerate even minor
annoyances using Linux (or some other unkown OS).  That's simply
irrationale, since migth be they're as unkownledgeable on the new apps
using Linux as using Win, but this is my experience.  From all this,
specially if new PCs whith WinXX licences bundled with them are involved
I'd follow the suggestion of first using Linux on the server side and
WinXX in the clients which (specially if your Java apps are developed
with this in mind) can be migrated to Linux if the proper atmosphere is
grown up (once again I'll point out this is much a psycologic issue as a
technical one).

--
SALUD,
Jess
***

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