Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Craig Lowell, Roger Strukhoff, David Paquette

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Moving to the Linux Business Desktop

Talking desktops with the Linux chef

Marcel Gagné is probably best known for his three-time award-winning monthly column called "Cooking with Linux," where he impersonates a French chef serving up fine Linux fare and (naturellement) wine. Here he shares his views on the Linux Desktop.

Tell us about your latest book, Moving to the Linux Business Desktop, why you wrote it, and who you see using it.
Moving to the Linux Business Desktop expresses my belief in the capabilities of the modern Linux desktop - a mature, powerful, stable, and secure personal computing environment. Pretty much everything you expect from a corporate desktop is available on the Linux desktop. Furthermore, the modern Linux desktop is also friendly and easy to use, with a little guidance. That's what I intend to provide with the book, of course. By using Linux desktops, businesses and organizations of every size can free themselves from the licensing hassles and high costs of proprietary software. In the process, they can reap the added benefits of increased security and stability. I wrote Moving to the Linux Business Desktop to help make that transition as easy as possible.

In it I show people how to install and run Linux, browse the Internet, send and receive e-mail, use text and video chat and conferencing, scan and edit images, write documents and spreadsheets, create slide presentations, and more. In short, I show you how to replace your Windows desktops with Linux desktops. Using thin-client software from the Linux Terminal Server Project (which I cover in the book), it's possible to deploy dozens, even hundreds of Linux desktops without having to install each and every one of them.

Your earlier writing dealt primarily with server-related tools. Lately, you seem to be shifting your attention to desktop apps. How would you respond?
When I started writing about Linux, it pretty much meant writing about servers and server applications. I started mentally shifting my focus somewhat around the time that I started using Linux as my desktop of choice - back in 1996. It wasn't until the release of the first KDE desktop, however, that I really thought "Hey, Linux has arrived on the desktop!" Granted, I may have been a little optimistic, but the evolution of the desktop had truly taken a turn.

I suppose that in some ways, my writing has evolved along with Linux. Linux's great strength as well as its first broad acceptance by the industry was in the server world. With many thousands of talented developers worldwide continuing to work on Linux distributions and its associated software packages, the natural evolution has been to the desktop. Now, 13 years after Linus Torvalds released his first Linux kernel, Linux distributions provide polished, powerful, and highly usable desktops ready to take on many enterprises from government institutions to small businesses to large megacorporations.

Now, I haven't abandoned or turned my back on the server. After all, in mentioning thin clients, I'm bringing up server-side programs and these too are covered in the new book, including mail servers, Web servers, LDAP implementations, DNS, NFS servers, and a whole lot more.

What do you think of Linux's potential in the desktop market?
The potential for the Linux desktop is almost embarrassing. Linux desktops are already better, cleaner, and more powerful than anything in the Windows world. Yes, this an opinion, but I honestly believe there's nothing in their product line to compete with my KDE 3.2 desktop (and KDE 3.3 is just hitting FTP servers now). But I digress?with equivalent or better applications delivered at a much lower cost and better security, Linux is extremely attractive. Using thin-client technologies (like the Linux Terminal Server Project's software), large-scale Linux desktop deployments become much easier since you can even bypass the installation procedure.

What do you see as areas of improvement to make Linux more widely used? Is it improvements in distro installation, application usability, etc?
At this stage of the game, it's primarily about getting the word out there and getting more desktops installed. Installing a modern Linux distribution is, for the most part, easier than any version of Windows out there. The one and only reason that installing Windows seems easier is that most people never install Windows. It comes preinstalled on their PCs.

The problems with Linux have less to do with usability than with market penetration, preinstalled systems, availability of boxed software such as games (not a concern with most businesses), and commercial drivers. All of these things are becoming less of a problem as time goes on and vendors stop to consider Linux when designing hardware and software.

What do you see as the essential applications for Linux desktops?
I suppose that depends on your definition of essential :-). My 13-year-old nephew and his mother (my sister) are currently at odds on this definition. In a business environment, however, there are classic tools that are important today and are going to remain essential for some time. These include a Web browser, e-mail client, and office package. For most people, the latter focuses primarily on two applications: the word processor and the spreadsheet.

Tell us about one-to-one mapping from a Windows to a Linux desktop for day-to-day office applications.
When I talk to people about switching from Windows to Linux desktops, I'm always prepared to accept that this change isn't necessarily as smooth as I think it can be. For many organizations, migrating to Linux doesn't pose any more of a serious challenge than upgrading from one version of Windows to another. There's a learning curve, but it's not particularly steep. Still, there is a comfort factor at work and this is where I use what I call "transitional" applications.

Transitional applications are programs that were either written for Linux and ported to Windows or where there was always an equivalent version. The programs I am thinking of are things like Mozilla for Web browsing; Thunderbird for electronic mail; OpenOffice.org for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations; and GAIM for instant messaging. None of these require the user to give up Windows entirely but each one provides real benefits and improvements over their current software. Mozilla and Thunderbird both provide better security (Thunderbird even has spam control built in) and a better user experience. OpenOffice.org is an excellent and free replacement to Microsoft Office that can save even a small office thousands of dollars. GAIM provides excellent multi-protocol support so that you don't need an IM client for MSN, one for Yahoo!, one for Jabber, and so on.

Finally, when users are ready to move to Linux, they'll find their old, familiar applications waiting for them. The learning curve, then, is reduced to almost nothing.

What is your opinion regarding wide Linux adoption for desktop applications in other countries?
I have mixed feelings about this. It's truly exciting to see places like Munich, São Paulo, Vienna, Paris, Rome, the region of Extramadura in Spain, Thailand, and other parts of Asia (to name a few) embracing Linux on the desktop. Given the amount of activity and excitement regarding Linux desktop deployments in other countries, it's kind of sad to see how little is happening in North America, particularly the United States. This isn't to say that nothing is happening here, but it's happening very slowly. Of course (and without sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist), there is a great deal of negative press aimed at Linux and open source deployments through litigious means and various forms of propaganda (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

Do you have any plans for new books?
Plans? Sure, there are always plans. Unfortunately, I can't really say anything about them right now. It's all very hush hush, you know.

About Marcel Gagné
Marcel Gagné has written three books on Linux including the bestselling Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye! His third book, Moving to the Linux Business Desktop, was due in stores September 2004. Meanwhile, his highly acclaimed 2001 Linux System Administration: A User's Guide is still considered one of the best books on the subject. As a technology columnist, Marcel has written hundreds of articles for various publications.

More Stories By Ibrahim Haddad

Ibrahim Haddad is a member of the management team at The Linux Foundation responsible for technical, legal and compliance projects and initiatives. Prior to that, he ran the Open Source Office at Palm, the Open Source Technology Group at Motorola, and Global Telecommunications Initiatives at The Open Source Development Labs. Ibrahim started his career as a member of the research team at Ericsson Research focusing on advanced research for system architecture of 3G wireless IP networks and on the adoption of open source software in telecom. Ibrahim graduated from Concordia University (Montréal, Canada) with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. He is a Contributing Editor to the Linux Journal. Ibrahim is fluent in Arabic, English and French. He can be reached via http://www.IbrahimHaddad.com.

Comments (0)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.