|By Jon Walker||
|February 8, 2005 12:00 AM EST||
International Data Corporation (IDC) released a study in December 2004 noting that the worldwide Linux market for PCs, servers, and software will hit $35 billion by 2008. There's a general industry consensus that we're at the brink of a major Windows-to-Linux migration. However, with all the high-level discussion, there has not yet been much attention paid to the practical steps of moving from a Windows desktop to a Linux desktop. This article serves as a road map, outlining how to perform both a manual and an automated desktop migration.
Prep Steps: Advance PlanningIn planning a desktop migration, it is essential to determine whether or not Linux supports applications comparable to those currently in use on the Windows desktop. First, determine which applications are critical to your migration. Next, consider equivalent or corollary applications for your new Linux environment. For example, will OpenOffice.org replace MS Office? Will Novell Evolution or Mozilla Mail replace MS Outlook? Last, determine which of these applications must be ported, either through reengineering, modification, or a third-party application that allows a Windows application to run natively on Linux.
The next step is to choose your Linux graphical desktop environment, distribution, and Web browser. First, you should decide on a Linux distribution. There are many distributions available, including, but not limited to, Novell Linux Desktop (NLD), SUSE LINUX Pro, Red Hat Desktop (RHD), Xandros Desktop OS, Mandrake, and Turbolinux Desktop. Next, determine the graphical desktop environment - KDE or GNOME. Each user interface has its merits: SUSE LINUX defaults to KDE and Red Hat defaults to GNOME. Finally, consider which Web browser to use. Linux Web browsers include Firefox, Konqueror, and Mozilla.
If your organization uses personal digital assistants (PDAs), such as Palm Pilots or Pocket PCs, look into available enterprise support within your new Linux environment, specifically with regard to PDA syncing.
You also need to formulate a plan for the hardware on which your Linux desktop will run. Do you plan to buy new hardware or to utilize what you already have? Can Linux work on the hardware you are currently using? One of the advantages of Linux is that it runs well on older hardware, performing better than Microsoft Windows in this respect. Newer hardware can present challenges with Linux because, to date, there is typically no support "out of the box." However, companies such as HP, IBM, and Dell are improving their support for Linux.
Prior to performing the migration, you must consider how you plan to set up machines for your users. You must decide whether data will be stored on the network or locally. If data is to be stored on a network, perhaps a Linux thin client would be most suitable for your organization. However, if you have many laptop users, or other users who aren't always connected to the network server, a Linux rich client is more appropriate. It is also important to consider the access rights of a desktop user. Is software installation done by network administrators only? Who can access directories on the network? How do users interact with applications and programs?
Additionally, habitual concerns, such as supporting upgrades, patches, and backup, have corollaries on the new Linux machine and should be planned for accordingly.
Manual Desktop MigrationAfter the planning process has been completed and you've determined everything you need on the new Linux environment, including application compatibility, it is recommended that a pilot migration (1-25 seats) be conducted. This trial will allow you to recognize any technical difficulties that may exist and that may need to be addressed before deployment across the organization takes place. You should budget up to one day of work for one worker per machine. Given enough practice and experience, one worker may be able to complete two or three machines each day.
Custom dictionaries make a good starting point for a migration to OpenOffice. It is not possible to use the dictionaries from Microsoft Office because the format is slightly different. To grab custom dictionaries from Microsoft Word, first find the dictionaries in use by selecting Tools->Options from within Word, selecting the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then clicking Custom Dictionaries. Here you'll find a list of all your dictionaries (most of which will be in the user's Application Data directory, under the subfolder Microsoft\Proof). Copy all the dictionaries to the Linux machine and open them in OpenOffice. (Since the Word dictionary has just one word per line, the dictionary will open as a plain text file under OpenOffice.) Now run a spell check (from Tools->Spellcheck->Check) and repeatedly click the Add button. This will add the custom words into the new custom dictionary.
It is also important to migrate macros. Your migration will depend on how many macros you have and how complex they are. OpenOffice has its own macro format, which is similar but not identical to that of Microsoft Office. You will most likely have to treat macro migration as you'd treat the migration of an application, setting aside some time for rewriting and testing.
Many other Microsoft Office settings have equivalent configurations in OpenOffice. In most cases, default settings will be adequate for the majority of users. Some settings, however, may be configured so that all documents produced from a company follow the same theme. For example, you'll want to look into settings for Styles (available in Format->Styles & Formatting in Microsoft Word, and Format ->Styles->Catalog in OpenOffice Writer) and Templates (saved as .dot files for Microsoft Word and .stw files for OpenOffice).
Finally, in order to maintain productivity, you will probably want to configure toolbars and keyboard shortcuts to be as similar to those in the old environment as possible. The toolbars from Word are easily visible and toolbars in OpenOffice may be changed by going to Tools->Configure, selecting the Toolbars tab, highlighting the toolbar to be edited, and clicking the customize button. Keyboard shortcuts can be found in Word by selecting Tools-> Customize and then clicking on the Keyboard button; in OpenOffice, use Tools ->Customize and then the Keyboard tab. As these settings are quite numerous, it might be best not to customize them for each user. Instead, determine a standard toolbar and keyboard layout, then, before migration, copy the company standard OpenOffice settings folder (which, depending on the version, is ~/.openoffice, ~/.xopenoffice, or ~/OpenOffice-version) to each machine.
Bluntly put, work does not get done without e-mail. The successful migration of e-mail (along with contacts, calendars, and tasks) is therefore of the utmost importance. If you are using (and plan to continue using) a Microsoft Exchange Server with Microsoft Outlook clients, you'll want to migrate your clients to Novell Evolution and use the Exchange connector. Setup of the accounts and the migration should be automatic, since all data resides on the server. This process is similar for GroupWise - just use the GroupWise connector for Evolution. For both Exchange and GroupWise, you'll want to check that users are storing mail on the server and not on their local hard drives.
If your e-mail is provided via an IMAP server, most e-mail will migrate automatically. However, you'll have to manually move contacts, calendars, tasks, and any e-mail residing on the local hard drive (such as sent mail, drafts, or other saved messages). If you're using a POP server, you will have to migrate everything manually.
There is an open source product called Outport (http://outport.sourceforge.net) that can help you migrate from Microsoft Outlook to Evolution. Outport migrates most but not all data. On the Linux side, you'll have to set up accounts again and use Evolution import features to import data. You can visit the Outport homepage for further procedural details.
Perhaps of an importance second only to e-mail, files must also be migrated to the user's new machine. If your organization already has a policy of keeping documents on a network share, this step is simple: set up the reference to the new network share. Otherwise, if you're migrating to network-based storage (either on a Samba server or using Novell's iFolder), you'll want to copy the documents from Windows to the network share, then simply set up the share on Linux. Or, if you're still going to keep documents based on local hard drives, you'll need to copy all the documents over the network in some way. The simplest method is to begin by enabling sharing on the Windows machine for each folder that needs to be copied. Next, use the graphical tools (Konqueror on KDE and Nautilus on GNOME) to browse to those shares and copy the files locally. When copying files to the Linux machine, most files should be copied to a subfolder of the user's home directory.
The easiest way to migrate from Internet Explorer to Firefox is to use Firefox's built-in import feature. First, install and launch Firefox on the original Windows machine. A prompt will ask if you'd like to import settings from Internet Explorer (click yes). Next, copy the Firefox profile (this is the folder named Mozilla, found in the user's Application Data directory) over to the Linux machine and put it in the user's home directory. You must, however, rename the folder .mozilla (the "." at the beginning means that the folder won't show up in most directory listings and is a required part of the file name). You may need to change permissions on the folder so it can be accessed by the user. Now, set up Firefox to have the appropriate extensions and plug-ins, such as Flash, Java, and anything else the user will need on a daily basis.
Desktop/Background/Look & Feel
Most noticeable to many end users is the wallpaper migration. To migrate the wallpaper, first find its location on Windows. (In the registry, browse to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop and look up the value Wallpaper. Or, if the user was using an Active Desktop wallpaper, find the Wallpaper value in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Desktop\General.) Copy the file over to Linux (preferably to somewhere in the user's home directory). If you're using Gnome, set the wallpaper by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing Change Desktop Background, then clicking Add Wallpaper. If you're using KDE, choose Configure Desktop, select the Background tab, and click on the file dialog button for the picture.
The KDE desktop can be made to look and feel just like Windows, with fewer dramatic differences than those found between Microsoft Windows 95 and XP. For instance, the Redmond theme uses similar colors and nearly identical shapes for the Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons in Windows 2000 (the theme can be set from KDE's Control Center, under Appearance & Themes->Window Decorations). Likewise, the Redmond Splash Screen provides a Login screen that is familiar to Windows XP users. Other possibilities include using different icons, changing the look of the clock, and choosing among mouse pointer settings.
You may wish to make Linux look just like Windows, or you may decide to use some features that are unique to Linux. For instance, double-clicking the title bar can be configured to maximize and minimize the window exactly as in Windows (which is now the default on many Linux distributions). However, many long-time Linux users prefer the historical default "roll up" setting. Additionally, the GNOME desktop defaults to having the Applications menu and launchers on the top of the screen, leaving more room for the list of currently open windows on the bottom.
Instant Messaging (IM)
If you're using a protocol where the buddy list resides on the server, simply set up accounts on the new Linux environment. Assuming the user name is tied to the corporate login, you can simply set up the new account. Otherwise, you'll want to launch the IM client on Windows to see what the user name was, and let the user enter his or her password the first time IM is used in the new system. Some examples of instant messaging applications supported on Linux include AIM, Jabber, and Gaim.
Automated MigrationThere is a variety of software migration tools that save significant resources and technician time when moving from the Windows desktop to the Linux desktop. Two examples of these tools are Versora's Progression Desktop and Alacos' Linux Migration Agent. Customer surveys have indicated that an IT staff can migrate 20-25 machines (including testing) in eight hours if Progression Desktop is run on each machine. Reports also indicate that using Progression Desktop in conjunction with a systems management suite (such as ZENworks) can enable one technician to migrate up to 100 machines over the same eight-hour period. Compared to a manual migration, in which it takes one technician eight hours to migrate and test between one and three machines, an automated migration is a very attractive solution.
The Linux Desktop Has Arrived!If the recent migrations of high-profile global enterprises, municipalities, and universities are any indication, it's safe to say that the Windows-to-Linux desktop migration trend is gaining momentum daily. Given the growing frustration with Microsoft's licensing fees, inflexibility, security flaws, etc., organizations are becoming more and more open to alternatives. At the very least, IT staffs will be looking to support mixed environments.
Whether you choose to begin a pilot project for your corporation or on your home network, I think you will be happily surprised by the results. Performing this migration with one of the automated tools previously mentioned will make your migration run even more smoothly. Wishing you good migrations!
Automated MigrationStep 1: Create a Platform Neutral Package
Insert the Progression Desktop CD and run through the install wizard. You will be prompted to choose which applications and systems settings you wish to migrate from. When you have chosen, click next. You'll now be prompted to choose which files to move, either by selecting files manually or via powerful filters. When you're finished, click next. A prompt will now ask you to choose where to put the PNP file. Choose and click next. Progression Desktop will now create a Platform Neutral Package (PNP). This process may take anywhere from five minutes to two hours. Though not required, it is faster if the PNP is copied on the local machine. Note that these time estimates apply to computer time, not technician time. This step requires approximately 10 minutes of technician time per machine.
Step 2: Migration
Make the PNP file accessible to the Linux machine by enabling file sharing on the servers (recommended easiest method), by using a remote file server (most secure method), or by using burned CDs. Put the Progression Desktop CD into the Linux machine. Browse to the CD and double-click on ProgressionDesktop.sh. Enter a password if prompted, as Progression Desktop may need to install some dependencies. Follow the wizard instructions and select the PNP file.
Next, a prompt will ask you to choose either an express or custom migration. An express migration automatically uses default settings. Custom migration will let you choose application destinations, new file paths for stored documents, and other, more advanced settings. After the express or custom migration step is completed, hit next and the data will be applied. If performed locally, the migration step should take between five minutes and two-and-a-half hours. If done over a network connection, this step will take longer. Keep in mind that the automated migration requires only about 10 minutes of technician time per machine, while a manual migration requires eight hours of technician time.
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
Dec. 9, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 678
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
Dec. 9, 2016 06:45 PM EST Reads: 5,133
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 9, 2016 06:15 PM EST Reads: 1,760
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, 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 opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 2,363
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 462
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 1,460
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 9, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 1,883
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Dec. 9, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,293
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 9, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,862
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 9, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,234
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Dec. 9, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 982
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 9, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 869
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 639
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 1,043
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, discussed how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your aud...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:42 PM EST Reads: 255
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 9, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 822
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 9, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 1,785
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Dec. 9, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 7,384
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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.
Dec. 9, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,381
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Dec. 9, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,026