>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
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.
>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
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
> 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
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
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
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.
>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.