A challenge: A Linux office?

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00



I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
to the database application, and Internet access.

The challenge...
Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
line.
2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
problems like:
     a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
     b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
anything.
     c) Any others I can't think of.
4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
scripts, etc.

OR

Tell me why Linux can't do this and/or NT can do it better.

This is probably pretty easy to do by hand, but what I would like to
know is the advanced way to do it, such that maybe you have to do a lot
of work up front, but then everything pretty much runs itself.  I think
all the tools are there, but lets put them together.  Then, maybe I will
take the responses and compile an All-Linux-Office HowTo that lists the
applications, tools, information resources to make this happen.  Mostly
I am annoyed with all the talk about how Linux isn't ready for the
desktop.  When it probably is in a lot of situations.

Don

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Mark Woodwar » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


This is a cool challenge, but, there are issues involed.

My first guess is Applix (I have not used Star Office) that dhould give
you all the "officey" sort of things. I would download the KDE desktop.
I would use YP for usermanagement, and samba for Windows connectivity.

In short I say yes, it can be done. The long answer, UNIX is work up
front. Windows is work over and over. If properly set up, one would
never ever need to change it.


> I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
> consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
> We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
> a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
> employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
> needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
> orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
> fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
> spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
> to the database application, and Internet access.

> The challenge...
> Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
> 1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
> line.
> 2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
> installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
> though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
> 3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
> problems like:
>      a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
>      b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
> anything.
>      c) Any others I can't think of.
> 4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
> minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
> scripts, etc.

> OR

> Tell me why Linux can't do this and/or NT can do it better.

> This is probably pretty easy to do by hand, but what I would like to
> know is the advanced way to do it, such that maybe you have to do a lot
> of work up front, but then everything pretty much runs itself.  I think
> all the tools are there, but lets put them together.  Then, maybe I will
> take the responses and compile an All-Linux-Office HowTo that lists the
> applications, tools, information resources to make this happen.  Mostly
> I am annoyed with all the talk about how Linux isn't ready for the
> desktop.  When it probably is in a lot of situations.

> Don

--
Mohawk Software
Windows 95, Windows NT, UNIX, Linux. Applications, drivers, support.
Visit the Mohawk Software website: www.mohawksoft.com

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Red Hat Linux Use » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


Applix or Star Office are probably equal.  Yes, I agree Unix is work up front
and Windows is work over and over.  What I am trying to get at, I think, is
let's create an idealized all Linux office.  get all the information in one
place about putting something like this together.  So, that people like
myself who are not afraid of the command prompt or config files or scripts,
but, don't necessarily know where to start have a resource to start from.
Then, they can do it right the first time, and show the PHBs that Linux is a
good idea.

Oh and since we are going all Linux, windoze connectivity should be a
non-issue.  So, probably NFS might be better than samba for file serving.

Don


> This is a cool challenge, but, there are issues involed.

> My first guess is Applix (I have not used Star Office) that dhould give
> you all the "officey" sort of things. I would download the KDE desktop.
> I would use YP for usermanagement, and samba for Windows connectivity.

> In short I say yes, it can be done. The long answer, UNIX is work up
> front. Windows is work over and over. If properly set up, one would
> never ever need to change it.


> > I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
> > consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
> > We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
> > a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
> > employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
> > needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
> > orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
> > fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
> > spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
> > to the database application, and Internet access.

> > The challenge...
> > Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
> > 1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
> > line.
> > 2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
> > installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
> > though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
> > 3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
> > problems like:
> >      a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
> >      b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
> > anything.
> >      c) Any others I can't think of.
> > 4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
> > minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
> > scripts, etc.

> > OR

> > Tell me why Linux can't do this and/or NT can do it better.

> > This is probably pretty easy to do by hand, but what I would like to
> > know is the advanced way to do it, such that maybe you have to do a lot
> > of work up front, but then everything pretty much runs itself.  I think
> > all the tools are there, but lets put them together.  Then, maybe I will
> > take the responses and compile an All-Linux-Office HowTo that lists the
> > applications, tools, information resources to make this happen.  Mostly
> > I am annoyed with all the talk about how Linux isn't ready for the
> > desktop.  When it probably is in a lot of situations.

> > Don

> --
> Mohawk Software
> Windows 95, Windows NT, UNIX, Linux. Applications, drivers, support.
> Visit the Mohawk Software website: www.mohawksoft.com

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Helge Hafti » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00



>I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
>consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
>We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
>a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
>employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
>needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
>orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
>fun).

Several databases (such as oracle) are ported to linux,
no problem here.
Quote:>All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
>spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
>to the database application, and Internet access.

applixware or staroffice for word processing, netscape for internet.
Quote:

>The challenge...
>Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
>1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
>line.

Easy enough, all window manager support some sort of menu or icons
for starting things.  A "start menu" similiar to windows95 is very common.

Quote:>2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
>installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
>though. (hint scripts hint) :-)

The administrator can telnet into each workstation and fix anything.
A firewall ensures that outside hackers can't do the same.
Parts of the configuration that are identical for all machines can
be put on a central server so the admin won't need to make the same
changes for each machine.

Quote:>3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
>problems like:
>     a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.

The file containing the menu can be owned by the administrator,
so the user *can't* mess with it.  some window manager support
several menu files, you could write protect one (with the
word processor etc. and have the other configurable for
those users who wish to customize)
The word processor itself is of course managed centrally so
users can't mess that up.

Quote:>     b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
>anything.

Use xdm and they shouldn't get the command line at all.

Quote:>     c) Any others I can't think of.

A user can't make his linux box unbootable by messing with the
wrong files or deleting something - because all important
files are protected from that.  The GUI setup may be protected
the same way.  The user's home directory (where *all* personal
files exist) is on the central server.  A user can't mis-file
a document because he can't write in other directories.

A broken machine (fell on the floor and such) can be replaced
instantly by a new box with the company standard configuration,
because a user have *no* personal files/configurations stored
on the local drive.  A user can use a coworker's machine
without noticing any difference.  You could swap around all
workstations in the office at night and nobody could even know
it in the morning.  Try that with windows-pc's...

A good backup strategy for the server is of course important.
A daily backup of the database and all user-writeable
directories is the bare minimum.
You may want to keep a spare server around in case of a hardware
fault.  The spare server should have the same hardware configuration
but without the data.  If the main server dies - just restore
from backup onto the spare machine and keep going from the last
backup.  

Quote:>4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,

One server should be enough for your 30 people, this could run the
database as well as serve files and printers.
Quote:>minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
>scripts, etc.

For minimal cost (of hardware and administration) put everything
on the server and use diskless workstations.  Or perhaps the minimum
purchaseable disk with only a few things like boot files, os, swap
and X11 on it.
Everything can be done remotely with linux - you would actually have a
hard time figuring out how to set up a linux where something can't
be administrated/upgraded from a remote machine.

Debian may be a good distribution for remote upgrades, the package
maintenance system will do upgrades over the net as-is.
You will want to put any upgrade-packages on the central server,
so the 30 workstations won't download the same stuff over and over
from the net.  The administrators may have to use the command line
now and then, but any linux administrator *must* be able to do that.

Quote:

>OR

>Tell me why Linux can't do this and/or NT can do it better.

>This is probably pretty easy to do by hand, but what I would like to
>know is the advanced way to do it, such that maybe you have to do a lot
>of work up front, but then everything pretty much runs itself.  I think

Doing some planning and testing up front is definitely a good idea.
The administrator should definitely test any changes on his
own workstation before upgrading the lot.

Quote:>all the tools are there, but lets put them together.  Then, maybe I will
>take the responses and compile an All-Linux-Office HowTo that lists the
>applications, tools, information resources to make this happen.  Mostly
>I am annoyed with all the talk about how Linux isn't ready for the
>desktop.  When it probably is in a lot of situations.

Linux is definitely ready for the desktop.  What it isn't ready for
is installation+maintenance by a know-nothing home-user dummy.
That is not a problem in a company big enough to have an IT person.
All you need is an IT person that knows linux or is
willing and capable to learn it.

Helge Hafting

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Charlie Stro » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


Stoned koala bears drooled eucalyptus spittle in awe

Quote:>I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
>consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
>We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
>a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
>employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
>needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
>orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
>fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
>spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
>to the database application, and Internet access.
>The challenge...
>Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
>1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
>line.
>2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
>installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
>though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
>3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
>problems like:
>     a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
>     b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
>anything.
>     c) Any others I can't think of.
>4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
>minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
>scripts, etc.

Piece o'piss.

1. Start by building a couple of file servers running, oh, Red Hat 5.2
   on Intel (dual Pentium II/450, 256Mb RAM, thumping great UW-SCSI drives
   configured for RAID-5, decent tape drives for backup).

2. Stick in some switched 10Base2 hubs.

3. On each client-side desk dump a workstation. It doesn't need to
   be beefy; 32-64MB RAM, 166-233 MHz Pentium, 2.1-4.3Gb hard disk. The
   main thing each workstation needs is a _good_ display (one of those
   new ultra-flat Iiyama Visionmaster 19's would be nice :) and a decent
   supported video card. Don't bother connecting up the floppy disk
   drives or CDROM drives -- they won't be using 'em.

4. Install Red Hat 5.2 on each workstation. (You can do this over the
   net from the big file servers; if you've got enough clients, build
   a Kickstart CD with the correct [standard] hardware configuration
   for your systems, e.g. the right XF86Config file ready to roll.)

5. Set up the main server so that /etc/X11/Xaccess permits XDMCP
   connections from each client.

6. Set up each client so that it boots into run level 5 and runs xdm,
   and xdm is set up to run a session off the main server.

   (NB: I don't have instructions for this to hand, but it took me
   about half an hour the first time I set up an xdm client box as an
   X terminal at home).

7. Now, each of the client boxes is effectively an X terminal. We _could_
   have been cute and done it the diskless way (ethernet cards with bootproms,
   load linux via tftp, etc etc) but this is easier -- and given the cost
   of hard disks these days, who cares?

8. On the main xdm server we install KDE. Preferably the forthcoming
   version 1.1, due in a week or two (see www.kde.org).

9. On the main xdm server we install a licensed enterprise edition of
   StarOffice 5.0. (See www.stardivision.com for details.)

10. On the xdm server, create user accounts for each user in the
    company. Register them with a StarOffice user license. NB: StarOffice 5.0
    interoperates with KDE, with full drag-n-drop compatability and
    links the KDE 'K' menu into its own 'start' menu. (Neat, huh? It'll
    do until KOffice is ready for action.)

11. In /opt/kde/share/applnk on the xdm server, set up a StarOffice kdelink
    file to launch the office application. This will be picked up by all
    the user KDE session.

12. Set up /etc/X11/xdm/Xsession to run /opt/kde/bin/startkde after the
    users log in.

At this point we have ...

All users work on the departmental minicomputer (okay, the dual processor
Pentium II box that's running xdm). But a chunk of the GUI load is
offloaded onto the workstations, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds.

All users see the same graphical desktop (kind of like Windows 98, or
maybe CDE).

The MS Office '97 clone is an icon on their desktop. They can't delete it,
only hide it. You can reset the user's desktop to the company defaults by
simply deleting their .kde directory (containing all their settings).

You only need to back up a single box (the main server) because that's
where all the user's files live. In fact, they can't do _anything_ on
the workstations unless you let 'em. (As company BOFH, you can use the
spare workstation CPU cycles as an ad-hoc beowulf cluster for cracking
RC-5 :)

If the single server shows signs of being overloaded, roll out another
and move half the users onto it. Then set it up for networked backup
from the original box with the DAT drive.

The point of all this?

* One machine you need to administer.

* Linuxconf, so you can administer it remotely. (Maybe COAS, later.)

* One machine you need to back up regularly.

* One main user application -- an Office 97 clone, so that minimal
  cross-training is needed (e.g. for temps). Same application has
  a built-in Outlook clone for mail/scheduling. If you need a web
  browser, the desktop enviroment itself is web enabled -- and KDE
  behaves as consistently as a Windows-lusing drone would expect,
  unlike X in general. (Yeah, yeah, I know GNOME will do the same. But
  GNOME is not release-1.0-safe-for-lusers yet.)

* Users can't meddle with their own workstations, only a 'sandbox'
  configuration directory in their home area.

-- Charlie

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by drso.. » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


: fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
: spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
: to the database application, and Internet access.

: The challenge...
: Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
: 1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
: line.
: 2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
: installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
: though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
: 3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
: problems like:
:      a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
:      b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
: anything.
:      c) Any others I can't think of.
: 4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
: minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
: scripts, etc.

        Simple.  Start off with Star Office 5.0 (www.stardivision.com),
add it to the dock on Window Maker or whatever the equivalent menu is on
KDE, add in your client for the database into the menu.  This isn't
fantasy or how things could be in the future.. the apps are already there.
Star Office 5.0 has a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool
that are nearly identical to Microsoft Office 97's at a fraction of the cost.
They also read/write Office97 file formats which is VERY important in this
day and age of secretaries sending out 2 line memo's as word97 attachments
in email (*sigh*).
        As for centralized management, that's easy as well, run the programs
from a central Linux box and use X servers on the workstations.  Then
you can either upgrade your current Windoze boxes that are in place to Linux
workstations to use X or buy an X server for Windoze.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Blinky lights are the essence of  |  we'll just print more."  
modern technology!                |  Caffeine underflow (brain dumped)

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Tim Kelle » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00



Quote:

> Applix or Star Office are probably equal.  Yes, I agree Unix is work up front
> and Windows is work over and over.  What I am trying to get at, I think, is
> let's create an idealized all Linux office.  get all the information in one
> place about putting something like this together.  So, that people like
> myself who are not afraid of the command prompt or config files or scripts,
> but, don't necessarily know where to start have a resource to start from.
> Then, they can do it right the first time, and show the PHBs that Linux is a
> good idea.

> Oh and since we are going all Linux, windoze connectivity should be a
> non-issue.  So, probably NFS might be better than samba for file serving.

Since we are using Linux, I would not go with KDE, I would lock the
users down to minimize problems - I am going for the "business
appliance" concept.  I would turn the PC's into Linux-NC's, booting into
XDM.  Write access denied to practically everything, even their window
menus so they can't change their desktop. Everything centralized so that
their desktops look the same no matter what computer they log on to; the
only things running on the workstations are the x-server with a basic
linux installation with the usual utilities (for telnetting admins, not
for the users).
BTW, I've never seen a company with 30 employees have even one IT
person.  Probably we will use Netwinders, because they are speedy,
small, cheap and save a ton of money in electricity.

For software, they get

desktop
- a nice wm, like Window Maker, nice and fast and we don't have to worry
about upgrading the machines to run KDE
 (I'm thinking since this is an "appliance", we don't need the glizty
file managers, control panels and so forth)
- Applix or SO or Word Perfect (can we pretend Word Perfect is out?),
but probably not installed locally.
- Netscape Communicator for web / groupware

on the server side
- inn, sendmail, etc. for groupware. There are some nice web based
scheduling utilities
- maybe even import their crappy DOS based accounting/order entry system
into a free RDBMS like PostgreSQL, have someone write a web-based front
end perhaps

  tpkelley.vcf
< 1K Download
 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Tim Kelle » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00



> 3. On each client-side desk dump a workstation. It doesn't need to
>    be beefy; 32-64MB RAM, 166-233 MHz Pentium, 2.1-4.3Gb hard disk. The
>    main thing each workstation needs is a _good_ display (one of those
>    new ultra-flat Iiyama Visionmaster 19's would be nice :) and a decent
>    supported video card. Don't bother connecting up the floppy disk
>    drives or CDROM drives -- they won't be using 'em.

Let's get Netwinders instead.  They use so little electricity they can
be left on 24-7, and they can run tasks at night when no ones there.

  tpkelley.vcf
< 1K Download
 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00




> > Applix or Star Office are probably equal.  Yes, I agree Unix is work up front
> > and Windows is work over and over.  What I am trying to get at, I think, is
> > let's create an idealized all Linux office.  get all the information in one
> > place about putting something like this together.  So, that people like
> > myself who are not afraid of the command prompt or config files or scripts,
> > but, don't necessarily know where to start have a resource to start from.
> > Then, they can do it right the first time, and show the PHBs that Linux is a
> > good idea.

> > Oh and since we are going all Linux, windoze connectivity should be a
> > non-issue.  So, probably NFS might be better than samba for file serving.

> Since we are using Linux, I would not go with KDE, I would lock the
> users down to minimize problems - I am going for the "business
> appliance" concept.  I would turn the PC's into Linux-NC's, booting into
> XDM.  Write access denied to practically everything, even their window
> menus so they can't change their desktop. Everything centralized so that
> their desktops look the same no matter what computer they log on to; the
> only things running on the workstations are the x-server with a basic
> linux installation with the usual utilities (for telnetting admins, not
> for the users).
> BTW, I've never seen a company with 30 employees have even one IT
> person.  Probably we will use Netwinders, because they are speedy,
> small, cheap and save a ton of money in electricity.

Actually, I have seen this, except the IT person usually has to do double duty.
He is some guy whose is technically adept, but whose primary job is doing
something else.  This is why I put the criteria of minmizing IT people.  And, it
should be easy after the initial work, so our hypothetical IT guy can do his real
job.

This is kind of the way I thought of it.

Quote:

> For software, they get

> desktop
> - a nice wm, like Window Maker, nice and fast and we don't have to worry
> about upgrading the machines to run KDE

We probably need the glitzy file managers so out know nothing users can manipulae
their files.

- Show quoted text -

>  (I'm thinking since this is an "appliance", we don't need the glizty
> file managers, control panels and so forth)
> - Applix or SO or Word Perfect (can we pretend Word Perfect is out?),
> but probably not installed locally.
> - Netscape Communicator for web / groupware

> on the server side
> - inn, sendmail, etc. for groupware. There are some nice web based
> scheduling utilities
> - maybe even import their crappy DOS based accounting/order entry system
> into a free RDBMS like PostgreSQL, have someone write a web-based front
> end perhaps

>   ------------------------------------------------------------------------


>   Wink Engineering, Inc.
>   IT

>   Tim Kelley

>   IT                      HTML Mail
>   4949 Bullard Ave        Home: 504-269-8627
>   New Orleans             Work: 504-243-4682
>   LA
>   70128
>   Additional Information:
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>   First Name    Tim
>   Version       2.1

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Kirk Freihei » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


After reading the replies to this message, I am completely dumbfounded on
WHY the HELL companies aren't FLOCKING to Unix/Linux solutions for
everything.  Especially with the file conversion abilities (to read/write
Orifice 97 files and such), it should be a non-issue.  Sure, there are some
really great apps in the Windows space that you'd miss, but the reliability,
ease of administration, and ease of use (yes...EASE OF USE) afforded by the
solutions talked about here are incredible.  Just the idea that a secretary
woudln't have to think about WHERE to save files (on the server,
locally...or what?) and everyday nonsense like that...and the permissions
that would prevent disaster...and centralized admin...sheesh!  SOMEONE
combat this dose of REASON with some NT cheerleading!  I DARE YOU!
 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Mark » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


No NT cheerleading here , but I'll point out that companies and venture
capitalist's are hesitant to do anything to directly compete with Big Bill.
Even MS is realizing this. I just read in Jesse what's his name today where
MS is thinking of investing capital into startup software's due to the fact
that the software pool for windows is drying up. MS has killed it with
bundling and applications domination.
Isn't that rich, Big Bill will have to spawn small companies to keep
innovation alive on the Winter platform. No wonder Intel is eyeing other
area's of development. I never thought of it before, but look at the shelves
of any software store. Other than games, education, and virus checkers what
IS there for sale for the end-user using a PC with Wintel?  The vultures are
just waiting to jump on any bandwagon other than MS, they are just very
careful. Linux could very well become a machine that begs investment. The UI
issue is going to be interesting, god knows it needs one.


>After reading the replies to this message, I am completely dumbfounded on
>WHY the HELL companies aren't FLOCKING to Unix/Linux solutions for
>everything.  Especially with the file conversion abilities (to read/write
>Orifice 97 files and such), it should be a non-issue.  Sure, there are some
>really great apps in the Windows space that you'd miss, but the
reliability,
>ease of administration, and ease of use (yes...EASE OF USE) afforded by the
>solutions talked about here are incredible.  Just the idea that a secretary
>woudln't have to think about WHERE to save files (on the server,
>locally...or what?) and everyday nonsense like that...and the permissions
>that would prevent disaster...and centralized admin...sheesh!  SOMEONE
>combat this dose of REASON with some NT cheerleading!  I DARE YOU!

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00




> >I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
> >consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
> >We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
> >a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
> >employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
> >needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
> >orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
> >fun).
> Several databases (such as oracle) are ported to linux,
> no problem here.
> >All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
> >spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
> >to the database application, and Internet access.
> applixware or staroffice for word processing, netscape for internet.

> >The challenge...
> >Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
> >1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
> >line.
> Easy enough, all window manager support some sort of menu or icons
> for starting things.  A "start menu" similiar to windows95 is very common.

> >2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
> >installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
> >though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
> The administrator can telnet into each workstation and fix anything.
> A firewall ensures that outside hackers can't do the same.
> Parts of the configuration that are identical for all machines can
> be put on a central server so the admin won't need to make the same
> changes for each machine.

Telnet to fix things is good, but the setup should be stable enough and
secure enough that the administrator doesn't have to fix things.
Administration should only involve software ipgrades and additions.  A
central server for applications will allow quick upgrades to applications
with minimal intervention.  One thing I would like to kno is whether there is
a way an administrator can set off a script on his admin machine and have it
apply a security patch to all machines?  Say maybe a script to apply the
patch in a shared directory, and then another that started on the admin
machine logs into the others and runs the patch script.

Don

<snipped>

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


This woudl work pretty well, and minimize administration. See below for a couple
comments and questions.


> Stoned koala bears drooled eucalyptus spittle in awe

> >I think Linux is ready for the corporate desktop.  Maybe not the
> >consumer desktop, but the business desktop.  So, here is the challenge.
> >We have a hypothetical business.  Say a reseller or something that uses
> >a database to keep track of orders.  This business has about 30
> >employees with desktops, a couple IT people, and some servers as
> >needed.  We will assume the database application used to keep track of
> >orders and sales is very portable (unrealistic I know, but this is for
> >fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
> >spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
> >to the database application, and Internet access.

> >The challenge...
> >Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
> >1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
> >line.
> >2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
> >installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
> >though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
> >3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
> >problems like:
> >     a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
> >     b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
> >anything.
> >     c) Any others I can't think of.
> >4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
> >minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
> >scripts, etc.

> Piece o'piss.

> 1. Start by building a couple of file servers running, oh, Red Hat 5.2
>    on Intel (dual Pentium II/450, 256Mb RAM, thumping great UW-SCSI drives
>    configured for RAID-5, decent tape drives for backup).

> 2. Stick in some switched 10Base2 hubs.

> 3. On each client-side desk dump a workstation. It doesn't need to
>    be beefy; 32-64MB RAM, 166-233 MHz Pentium, 2.1-4.3Gb hard disk. The
>    main thing each workstation needs is a _good_ display (one of those
>    new ultra-flat Iiyama Visionmaster 19's would be nice :) and a decent
>    supported video card. Don't bother connecting up the floppy disk
>    drives or CDROM drives -- they won't be using 'em.

> 4. Install Red Hat 5.2 on each workstation. (You can do this over the
>    net from the big file servers; if you've got enough clients, build
>    a Kickstart CD with the correct [standard] hardware configuration
>    for your systems, e.g. the right XF86Config file ready to roll.)

> 5. Set up the main server so that /etc/X11/Xaccess permits XDMCP
>    connections from each client.

> 6. Set up each client so that it boots into run level 5 and runs xdm,
>    and xdm is set up to run a session off the main server.

>    (NB: I don't have instructions for this to hand, but it took me
>    about half an hour the first time I set up an xdm client box as an
>    X terminal at home).

> 7. Now, each of the client boxes is effectively an X terminal. We _could_
>    have been cute and done it the diskless way (ethernet cards with bootproms,
>    load linux via tftp, etc etc) but this is easier -- and given the cost
>    of hard disks these days, who cares?

> 8. On the main xdm server we install KDE. Preferably the forthcoming
>    version 1.1, due in a week or two (see www.kde.org).

> 9. On the main xdm server we install a licensed enterprise edition of
>    StarOffice 5.0. (See www.stardivision.com for details.)

> 10. On the xdm server, create user accounts for each user in the
>     company. Register them with a StarOffice user license. NB: StarOffice 5.0
>     interoperates with KDE, with full drag-n-drop compatability and
>     links the KDE 'K' menu into its own 'start' menu. (Neat, huh? It'll
>     do until KOffice is ready for action.)

> 11. In /opt/kde/share/applnk on the xdm server, set up a StarOffice kdelink
>     file to launch the office application. This will be picked up by all
>     the user KDE session.

> 12. Set up /etc/X11/xdm/Xsession to run /opt/kde/bin/startkde after the
>     users log in.

> At this point we have ...

> All users work on the departmental minicomputer (okay, the dual processor
> Pentium II box that's running xdm). But a chunk of the GUI load is
> offloaded onto the workstations, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds.

We can reduce the load on this computer by mounting the applications directories
remotely.  This would then require from a previous post using YP or something for
centralized user admin.  Then, X and applications run on the local machines.
This does make administration a little trickier because you will need to maintain
the vfstab for each machine, but when a $500 computer can run office apps with
horsepower left over, there is no reason to run on a central server if it can be
avoided.

- Show quoted text -

Quote:

> All users see the same graphical desktop (kind of like Windows 98, or
> maybe CDE).

> The MS Office '97 clone is an icon on their desktop. They can't delete it,
> only hide it. You can reset the user's desktop to the company defaults by
> simply deleting their .kde directory (containing all their settings).

> You only need to back up a single box (the main server) because that's
> where all the user's files live. In fact, they can't do _anything_ on
> the workstations unless you let 'em. (As company BOFH, you can use the
> spare workstation CPU cycles as an ad-hoc beowulf cluster for cracking
> RC-5 :)

> If the single server shows signs of being overloaded, roll out another
> and move half the users onto it. Then set it up for networked backup
> from the original box with the DAT drive.

> The point of all this?

> * One machine you need to administer.

> * Linuxconf, so you can administer it remotely. (Maybe COAS, later.)

> * One machine you need to back up regularly.

> * One main user application -- an Office 97 clone, so that minimal
>   cross-training is needed (e.g. for temps). Same application has
>   a built-in Outlook clone for mail/scheduling. If you need a web
>   browser, the desktop enviroment itself is web enabled -- and KDE
>   behaves as consistently as a Windows-lusing drone would expect,
>   unlike X in general. (Yeah, yeah, I know GNOME will do the same. But
>   GNOME is not release-1.0-safe-for-lusers yet.)

> * Users can't meddle with their own workstations, only a 'sandbox'
>   configuration directory in their home area.

> -- Charlie

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00




> : fun).  All the users need on their desktops are wordproccessor,
> : spreadsheet, presentation, contact and scheduling software, GUI access
> : to the database application, and Internet access.

> : The challenge...
> : Describe how to do this with Linux such that:
> : 1) The users can get to their apps and do their work w/o the command
> : line.
> : 2) The administration is as easy as possible in the long run. Including
> : installation and setup. Extra time initially to save time later is good
> : though. (hint scripts hint) :-)
> : 3) The user can't*up things such that the adminstrator has to fix
> : problems like:
> :      a) The word processor isn't in my menu anymore.
> :      b) I get this a black screen with a blinking dot and can't do
> : anything.
> :      c) Any others I can't think of.
> : 4) Let's try to get specific, as in what apps, how many servers,
> : minimize # of IT people, costs, can we upgrade everyone remotely with
> : scripts, etc.

>         Simple.  Start off with Star Office 5.0 (www.stardivision.com),
> add it to the dock on Window Maker or whatever the equivalent menu is on
> KDE, add in your client for the database into the menu.  This isn't
> fantasy or how things could be in the future.. the apps are already there.
> Star Office 5.0 has a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool
> that are nearly identical to Microsoft Office 97's at a fraction of the cost.
> They also read/write Office97 file formats which is VERY important in this
> day and age of secretaries sending out 2 line memo's as word97 attachments
> in email (*sigh*).
>         As for centralized management, that's easy as well, run the programs
> from a central Linux box and use X servers on the workstations.  Then
> you can either upgrade your current Windoze boxes that are in place to Linux
> workstations to use X or buy an X server for Windoze.

> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------

> Blinky lights are the essence of  |  we'll just print more."
> modern technology!                |  Caffeine underflow (brain dumped)

  Right!  that is what I am trying to make the point.  The next step is to
compile the ideas together and see if I can come up with a couple of examples
that will work in the real world.  So far it looks like two general configs.

1) Setup workstations as X-terminals, and then run everything on a central
server.
    Pros:  Easy to administer.
    Cons:  Loads up a the central server.

2) Setup workstations with XDM, mount everything remotely.
    Pros: Each workstation does its own work.
    Cons: A little extra administration is required.

Don

 
 
 

A challenge: A Linux office?

Post by Don » Sun, 31 Dec 1899 09:00:00


The thing is the UI is there.  The trick is setting it up, and/or picking one.
I don't want to get into a religious war over KDE or gnome.  The sysadmin can
set the UI up anyway the corp wants. After that it shouldn't be terribly
difficult for any suser who has seen a windows system before to figure out the
new UI.  The thing to remember is that we are not talking about user
administrated systems here.  The user doesn't need to know how to add
applications, or change menus.  The administrator just needs a quick way to do
this for everyone.  This won't work for the home user, but shouldn't be a
problem in an office environment.

Don


> No NT cheerleading here , but I'll point out that companies and venture
> capitalist's are hesitant to do anything to directly compete with Big Bill.
> Even MS is realizing this. I just read in Jesse what's his name today where
> MS is thinking of investing capital into startup software's due to the fact
> that the software pool for windows is drying up. MS has killed it with
> bundling and applications domination.
> Isn't that rich, Big Bill will have to spawn small companies to keep
> innovation alive on the Winter platform. No wonder Intel is eyeing other
> area's of development. I never thought of it before, but look at the shelves
> of any software store. Other than games, education, and virus checkers what
> IS there for sale for the end-user using a PC with Wintel?  The vultures are
> just waiting to jump on any bandwagon other than MS, they are just very
> careful. Linux could very well become a machine that begs investment. The UI
> issue is going to be interesting, god knows it needs one.


> >After reading the replies to this message, I am completely dumbfounded on
> >WHY the HELL companies aren't FLOCKING to Unix/Linux solutions for
> >everything.  Especially with the file conversion abilities (to read/write
> >Orifice 97 files and such), it should be a non-issue.  Sure, there are some
> >really great apps in the Windows space that you'd miss, but the
> reliability,
> >ease of administration, and ease of use (yes...EASE OF USE) afforded by the
> >solutions talked about here are incredible.  Just the idea that a secretary
> >woudln't have to think about WHERE to save files (on the server,
> >locally...or what?) and everyday nonsense like that...and the permissions
> >that would prevent disaster...and centralized admin...sheesh!  SOMEONE
> >combat this dose of REASON with some NT cheerleading!  I DARE YOU!

 
 
 

1. Sun's StarOffice: Challenging Micro soft's Office suite

" ... we see some discontent in the market. After years of
trying to implement homogenous office environments and to
buy full suites for every user--for example, sometimes buying
Microsoft Office Professional for users who would never
touch a database, just for the sake of absolute homogeneity -
enterprises are realizing that the majority of their users
are consumers or light producers of information, and that
these users do not require all of the advanced features of
each new version of Office."

http://techupdate.zdnet.com/techupdate/stories/main/0,14179,2863077,0...

--
+==================================
| M i c h a e l  J.  T o b l e r
| Authorship: "Inside Linux" ...
| "C++ Unleashed" ... "C++ How-To"
| Motocycling, Surfing, Skydiving
+==================================

2. Big ispell .hash files in dict dist

3. Microsoft Office File-Format-Compatible Office Suite for Linux?

4. missing commands

5. Can I run MS office files with Star Office on linux?

6. Backup with Unitrends

7. Open Office (Star Office) is included on Yellow Dog CD

8. /var/tmp/.pop files

9. star office 5.2 and open office 6.3

10. Star Office is the ford escort of office suites - Erik Funkenbusch

11. Star Office and Office 97 ...

12. Open Office versus Star Office - Opinions please

13. Is Star Office just as crash prone as MS Office?