Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Karthick Viswanathan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Desktop Migration

The second wave of Linux

In this issue, Dr. Migration introduces Linux on the desktop – the second wave of Linux. As Linux becomes more popular and vendors pledge support, we move closer to victory for the Linux community and the desktop PC user.

IT vendors, including Sun, HP, and IBM, have pledged support and have begun to formulate strategies for integration of Linux with their server product offerings. Software makers Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Novell have also announced Linux as a supported or soon to be supported platform. However, this is only half the battle. As Linux gains popularity on the server it's also making gains, albeit small, on the desktop. Success in this "second wave of Linux" would be the ultimate victory for the Linux community and desktop PC user. It would drive serious competition in the desktop space, bringing improvements in Linux while pressuring Microsoft to make similar improvements to keep its position as the desktop operating system market leader.

The two inhibitors preventing Linux popularity on the desktop are applications and ease of use. For the past 20 years Microsoft and Windows ISVs have developed a plethora of applications for Windows. Linux, on the other hand, has a relatively small crop of good applications and quite a few growing projects (www.sourceforge.net). Ease of use is also improving as companies like Lindows (www.lindows.com), Xandros (xandros), and Lycoris (lycoris.com) offer novice-targeted Linux PCs with their Linux solutions preinstalled.

Advantages:
Remote Administration, Virus Protection, and Change Control

The reason desktop Linux makes sense in many cases has less to do with applications and more to do with administration. Linux desktops have many advantageous features making Linux a scalable enterprise solution. For example, Linux can be administered remotely over a network with a very secure set of tools. Administrators who invest in PC Anywhere or GoToMyPC.com to take control of Windows computers remotely may find a cost-effective alternative in the secure Linux remote access solution, Secure Shell. Secure Shell offers encrypted access to the Linux command line or the ability to forward the graphical X.11 protocol over an encrypted tunnel to remotely complete any task over even the lowest-bandwidth networks. For those who want a GUI approach, AT&T's Virtual Network Computing (VNC) server (www.uk.research.att.com/vnc) and client can be used to access computers "via the wire." Being able to troubleshoot most problems from one central IT help desk and directly diagnosing and correcting PC problems over the network can save considerable amounts of time in comparison with the phone calls and relayed information typical in today's help desk support model.

Besides remote administration, Linux provides a great solution for virus protection, change control, and computer security. The Linux system is set up with strong rules and policies allowing access to programs and file systems based on users and groups. Administrators can use these policies to ensure that necessary programs remain installed and to prevent programs from being installed. Keep in mind that viruses are simply programs that cause malicious effects. In the case of Windows, users often "contract" a virus through email, then pass that e-mail to other users within the network in a similar way. Preventing programs from being installed in a user account can limit propagation of viruses. Because Linux is not the dominant desktop operating system and is a less noticeable target, it has fewer incidences of viruses; because of its low profile, the scope of damage can easily be limited to the user level with Linux. The ability of the operating system to be "locked down" makes it extremely difficult to exploit the operating system.

Disadvantages:
Application Support

Linux lacks some of the applications that Windows users have grown to rely on, like drag-and-drop CD burning. Conversely, those Linux programs that do fit certain desktop computing needs are pretty robust.

They have achieved such great success in a short period of time because the open source model facilitates the creation of applications developed by a global community that easily crosses geographic and language barriers while offering a feature set common to a international cadre of users.

The Linux Office Desktop
A cross section of many companies will probably show a large number of computer users with fairly basic needs, especially in those organizations that are not information technology companies. Operating under the basic assumption that most users need an office suite, e-mail, and Web browsing for most applications, you can take advantage of a number of solutions. Nearly all of these applications can be found for free, and in the open source community support contracts can be supplied by trusted IT behemoths like Sun and IBM.

I believe the following to be among the best options for full-featured productivity applications available today.

Office Suite: Sun's StarOffice
StarOffice offers a bundled word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software (similar to PowerPoint), calculator, HTML editor, database, and drawing program (see Figure 1). Their solution supports most Microsoft formats as well as their own. These formats also include XML, which may someday replace proprietary formats altogether. Additionally, Sun has made the code open source (www.openoffice.org), which makes it easier for developers to collaborate on plug-ins to extend its capabilities. The ability to export files as PDFs allows documents to remain portable and to have formatting preserved across platforms.

PIM and E-Mail: Ximian Evolution
Outlook Express and Outlook 2000 dominate the field of e-mail software clients. Ximian (www.ximian.com) has successfully released an Outlook-style e-mail client for Linux that offers e-mail (POP, IMAP), calendaring, and a contact manager in one package. The solution even enables users to easily synch Palm Pilot PDAs. Ximian has done an impressive job offering the corporate email user a powerful Linux solution that will be familiar to those users who have come to rely on Microsoft's Outlook. Additionally, they offer the Ximian Connector, which can access Microsoft Exchange servers so that Linux users can collaborate with Windows users on the same messaging server.

Browsers: Mozilla and Opera
Netscape has released the source code for its popular browser to the open source community, which has spawned a number of projects, including Mozilla, (www.mozilla.org) the leading Linux Web browser. The look, feel, and supporting mail, news, and Web development applications are familiar to those who have used Netscape Communicator Suite. One of Mozilla's most appealing features is tabbased browsing, which allows multiple documents to be opened in one instance of the browser. For users who are used to having to tab through instances of Internet Explorer to find previously opened pages, this is a significant improvement in Web surfing.

The commercial browser Opera by Opera Software (www.opera.com) has been in production since 1995. Opera's claim to fame is its small resource requirements and lightning-fast speed. Additionally, Opera has some features that are very unique and innovative, including its Multiple Document Interface (MDI), which displays multiple Web pages on one desktop rather than starting multiple instances of the browser and cluttering your desktop, much like Mozilla's tab-based browser. Opera offers a free, advertising-supported browser as well as a commercial version. Both are fast and stable and are backed by a very capable support organization.

Stopgap Application Solutions:
Emulation, Virtualization, and Integration

The key for Linux desktop success will be a viable migration path for legacy applications, like billing and accounting systems, that are specific to each individual enterprise. Enterprise client applications like PeopleSoft, ERP, SAS, and others may be the bigger hurdles for enterprise users taking advantage of Linux. PeopleSoft recently announced that their products will soon run on Linux (most likely the server side first and the client side second). These applications need a migration path until there is full Linux client support. The most straightforward way to do this is to investigate ways to run Windows applications via a guest operating system on Linux or redisplay those Windows applications on Linux from a terminal server.

There are three categories of Windows hosting software for Linux:
1.  Emulation: Emulation allows the installation of the whole Windows OS as a guest on the Linux OS. The solution that offers the most complete implementation is VMware. The VMware model provides a virtual computer to install the Windows operating system in. This solution is very popular in the server world for consolidating servers, but in the desktop world it may be overkill. It does require a fairly powerful PC to operate at reasonable speeds and is somewhat more expensive than alternative solutions. It also requires a fully licensed copy of Windows to execute, but the product has significant merit. VMware is available at www.vmware.com for a retail price of $299 USD.
2.  Virtualization: This actually provides a virtual Windows API so that Windows applications can be executed on Linux without the need for the native operating system (in this case Windows). This virtualization is limited in the application support and is a product of the open source community. One company, CodeWeavers (www.codeweavers.com), does a fairly good job of offering a small set of productivity applications via this technology, known as Wine (www.winehq.org). The advantages are that there's no need for a Windows license and that the files live locally on one file system. The disadvantages are that the number of applications supported via this method is very small, and configuring applications to run natively on Linux can be challenging.
3.  Integration: Integration is the ability for Linux to comanage file systems, processes, and other resources with Windows. The best solution is Win4Lin (www.win4lin.com), which allows users to run Windows as an application on the Windows desktop. This solution is a good Linux citizen as it runs with minimal resource needs and adheres to the management systems available in Linux. It does, however, require a Windows license and Windows 95/98/ME media to install and run the software. Win4Lin is available at www.netraverse.com for $89.99 USD.

Redisplay: Thin-Client Computing for Desktop PC Users
This method of Windows and Linux integration involves Windows applications executed on a central server (such as Microsoft Terminal Server) and then redisplayed to the Linux desktop.

Two companies that provide excellent solutions for remote display are Citrix (www.citrix.com) and Tarantella (www.tarantella.com). Both offer the ability to redisplay the host Microsoft operating system to almost any network-connected appliance, including PCs and handhelds. This stopgap approach for migrating Windows to Linux would offer a way to continue to preserve existing technology investments without leaving users high and dry without their legacy applications. Technically, almost any application that is not heavily dependent on data streams like multimedia could be redisplayed this way, but in migrating it's important to realize the benefits of the Linux OS and to reserve this approach for those applications that don't have a workable Linux counterpart.

Migration Strategy
For those who want to take a phased approach to Linux on the desktop, the previously mentioned redisplay and guest OS solutions are key in a "bridging strategy" in which existing Windows applications remain in service as new Linux applications fill other computing needs. In determining which application to deploy, it's important to assess the needs of the organizational users. Second, evaluate the Linux applications that meet these needs. Applications most likely to be candidates for Linux replacements are desktop productivity applications that have commercial support from vendors who have a vested interest in their success. For most organizations these probably include office suites and e-mail, and likely applications would include Sun's StarOffice or Open Office and Ximian's Evolution for e-mail. Then find the places where Windows investments could continue on in a hosted Windows environment via the "bridging" solutions. Keep in mind that you will want to consider in your cost analysis the following factors: software licensing, retraining, and deployment costs. The next step – and an important one – is to make your migration plan known to your user base before proceeding. Getting user buy-in will generate an easier migration.

Summary
No matter what your computing situation, there probably exists an enterpriseclass Linux solution for a large portion of your computing needs. There are many reasons why an IT manager should consider these solutions. First, Linux may be the very best technology available to you. Second, it's good policy to evaluate alternatives to your current IT environment. Smart buyers compare features, read consumer reports, and evaluate washing machines, cars, and hopefully computer operating systems, always looking for the best value. Third, a minimal commitment to Linux would show your current vendor that you're not a captive customer without alternatives to their product. Another advantage to exploring alternative solutions is that when sales representatives visit you, showing an interest in a viable alternative to their product may offer you leverage in getting the best deal possible. Whatever your company's situation, it's a good practice to do your homework and find IT solutions that best meet your company's business needs and processes. After assessing your business needs (including TCO), both flexibility and adaptability should be paramount in your choice of desktop operating systems.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

Comments (8) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
licensinggod 11/24/03 12:45:10 PM EST

Rdesktop is free... the license to connect to that server is not. You might want to read up on that ;)

Marcelo Antonini 10/11/03 11:38:50 AM EDT

I use rdesktop (http://www.rdesktop.org) as RDP client (to access M$ Windows 200/2003 Server with Terminal Services enabled). It is free software !

Sea Dragon 10/11/03 05:27:31 AM EDT

The Author do a good job to tell people how to do Desktop Migration. It is good start for Linux Desktop.
Have some idea that i don't know it is good or not.
If this article's information can be spread to outside world and let more and more IT professional/Company leader to know the truth. It should be good. One more thing, happy to find Win4Lin 2.5 Terminal server (such as Citrix) in Linux platflom.

Steve Doyle 10/10/03 01:39:26 PM EDT

Bravo. Nice piece. I especially like the insight into the different approaches to migrating off of Windows. This author understands what the so-called experts at Gartner don't understand for lack of research; there is a viable way to run Windows applications on Linux. Lets not have to hear the bogus claim again that Linux desktops can't run the full catalog of Windows apps. With products like Win4Lin, you can not only run the whole (pretty much) catalog with native Windows fidelity, but you can run them more stable and with better performance! Again, nice job - especially in helping to clear up some of the misinformation being spread by the underinformed analysts.

Sea Dragon 10/10/03 01:09:22 PM EDT

Important thing is :
Good MS window based development tools that let developer good MS based application. It lets internal desktop must stay with MS based window. Such as our company now.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Good and popular Linux Development tools let all in-house developer efficient and effective to contribute their efforts to develop good Linux based computer system. I think there is not easy but this direction must be improved quickly.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Let their company comfortable to stay with Linux environment.

Sea Dragon 10/10/03 12:43:22 PM EDT

How about the development tools?
If Linux doesn't find any easy to use development tools,
the result will be higher the development cost for company to develop their Linux system. There are the way must be improved to let more company in-house developer to change their MS based system to Linux based system. Higher development cost for Linux is a draw back.
Please consider

Anon 10/10/03 06:51:54 AM EDT

When comparing TCO of different alternatives, don't forget to
include the cost of handling all the virus/worm outbreaks.
I believe that most TCO studies are flawed in that they do not
include this important part.

Matevz 10/09/03 06:24:46 PM EDT

There are quite a few "drag-drop" cd-burning software on Linux platforms: GToaster, XCDRoast, K3b, Arson etc.

I use K3b and it never let me down yet. In comparison to Nero (5.x 5.5x or 6.x), it includes most of the burning stuff (except InCD packet writing) and it's a bit faster beside (I managed to burn a 650 MB CD in less than 2 minutes in K3b on my PII 333. I needed at least 3 minutes to get a 650 MB cd burnt in Nero under Windows).

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, a Senior Manager, Business Strategy, at Cisco Systems, discussed how IT and operational technology (OT) work together, as opposed to being in separate siloes as once was traditional. Attendees learned how to fully leverage the power of IoT in their organization by bringing the two sides together and bridging the communication gap. He also looked at what good leadership must entail in order to accomplish this, and how IT managers can be the ...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
There is only one world-class Cloud event on earth, and that is Cloud Expo – which returns to Silicon Valley for the 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center, October 31 - November 2, 2017. Every Global 2000 enterprise in the world is now integrating cloud computing in some form into its IT development and operations. Midsize and small businesses are also migrating to the cloud in increasing numbers. Companies are each developing their unique mix of cloud technologies and service...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
SYS-CON Events announced today that App2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. App2Cloud is an online Platform, specializing in migrating legacy applications to any Cloud Providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud).
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence a...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...