Welcome!

Linux Authors: Paige Leidig, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Liz Dickinson, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Linux

Linux: Article

Getting Down to Business with Linux

On the Move

With the recent release of SuSE 9.2 Professional and Novell's Linux Desktop operating systems, the Linux desktop is ready to compete with Microsoft Windows for client-side computing in a business environment. I know this is something of a debate among many, but the opportunities for Linux to garner a respectable percentage of the desktop market is not unreasonable if done correctly and the cost savings of using Linux on the desktop could easily exceed the savings realized by replacing just the server components of your infrastructure.

Linux desktop adoption will occur in waves. The first wave or opportunity will be in areas of specific-purpose computing. Those areas where the client primarily runs a specific application such as retail point-of-sale, government, scientific, manufacturing and applications in the medical field. For the most part, these client machines are not leading-edge Pentium 4-class machines and they do not need a fully configured office suite. For these environments the most important requirements are to run on modestly configured hardware and be reliable. Linux is perfect for these scenarios.

The next wave of opportunity will be in branch offices and remote facilities where security and reliability are important. The current OpenOffice suite on Linux is quite good and serves most people's needs. I travel a lot and my primary desktop is SuSE Linux 9.2 Professional, OpenOffice 1.1 and Ximian Evolution for my mail, contacts and task management. I've found Linux to be a very productive environment in many ways, but in particular, its lack of vulnerability to the myriad Windows worms, viruses and other security breaches has proven to be more productive than I originally thought. I can attest to this productivity gain because I'm able to keep working while others around me are running around trying to find the latest virus scanner to fix their Microsoft Windows desktops.

Moving to Linux

Linux is becoming much more attractive on the desktop with the delays of Microsoft's Longhorn until late 2006. Most realize that Longhorn also forces a rewrite of all the existing Windows applications - even those that were written to the Microsoft .NET standard. The cost of these rewrites plus the cost of upgrading most hardware to run the new Avalon GUI are major issues facing all IT managers. So, obviously people are evaluating the move to Linux sooner rather than later as organizations look to maximize their investments in existing software development, desktop hardware and infrastructure.

Tips on Getting to Linux Successfully

1.  Identify a specific area of business that will benefit from migrating to Linux keeping in mind that Linux will bring much higher levels of reliability and security and will support modestly configured hardware. This is where cost savings will be maximized and Linux will provide a substantial return on your investment. Avoid the pitfall of biting off more than you can chew. Find a subset of an application that can benefit from being ported to Linux. Don't try to rewrite your entire ERP system, maybe just the warehouse management component.

2.  Evaluate all your options before you start coding. Before trying to rewrite the existing application to run natively on Linux, you may want to test the Linux waters and take an interim step by looking at WINE as a viable alternative. WINE is attractive because it lets you execute existing Windows applications on Linux with minimal changes.

This is another heated debate in the Linux world - using WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) versus writing a native application for Linux. For those in the Linux world that believe nothing but a native application will do - get over it. The major inhibitor to adoption of Linux on the desktop is the lack of business applications, WINE helps accelerate the migration of existing business applications to Linux and, in the end, that's what is important.

By using WINE, you can avoid having to port the entire application to run natively on Linux - which is a monumental task. While most Linux distributions ship with the current stable build of WINE, let's not forget Code-Weavers' CrossOver commercial WINE technology. I've found Jeremy White at CodeWeavers to be very accommodating in addressing specific areas where WINE was lacking, and installing CrossOver can be silent and painless to the end user. Obviously, using WINE is only a stopgap measure that lets you test the Linux waters without significant cost. Ultimately, you want to have a true cross-platform application.

3.  Avoid writing an application that will only run on one operating system. Evaluate the existing application and its future in your organization. You do not want to write the application in a language that locks you into one platform, but one that will compile and run on either a Microsoft Windows or Linux platform. This improves your return on investment because you have a single source code line that can be compiled on either platform. In this way the application is easily maintained and simultaneous updates for both platforms is easier to manage. Whenever possible, choose a high-level language that offers a level of abstraction to relieve your team from having to trap every possible message or manag- ing every pixel on the screen. A high-level language lets you focus on the business case - not the nits of the operating system and its myriad function calls. A high-level language that compiles to either Windows or Linux will take care of the grunt work and improve your productivity.

4.  Choose a language that fully supports robust object-oriented coding practices. As you write the application you will want to create business processes in classes isolated from the user interface. This will provide maximum flexibility in the future since parts of the application may be suited to a rich-client model and some may be better suited to a browser-based model. By encapsulating the business logic in functional classes you have the flexibility to do either or both in the same application.

5.  Accelerate your development by choosing an integrated development environment that provides not just a colorful text editor but a robust debugger, intelligent prompting of defined objects and functions, a report builder to create business reports quickly and some source code management functionality that gives the team the ability to check code out, check in and do difference and code merge operations.

6.  To ensure success make sure the Linux version of the application is familiar to the end user. The application should behave just like the Windows version. This is important for end users to buy in to the new Linux application. Application familiarity will maintain end-user productivity because they won't have to learn a new application. Remember, in most cases the end user does not care what operating system they are using, but they do care if the application behaves differently than their existing application - especially if it's more complex or requires additional keystrokes.

7.  Watch out for products with dual licenses. You must read the license agreement of all development tools, report writers, debugging aids or databases and make sure you understand the license requirements. Some products don't require a license fee if YOUR product is open sourced, but others don't make this distinction. Some require that you buy a license to use it for commercial purposes, others do not. This is a very important point you must investigate before choosing a development tool, programming aid or database.

8.  Make sure the products you choose provide some type of technical support. Choose products that have installation support and an active news group to get your questions answered. If available, it would also be smart to buy a support contract for the first year to ensure your project does not get sidetracked on a technical issue that takes up valuable time and effort. Tech support contracts pay for themselves with just a couple of calls.

9.  Once your first project is up and running, monitor it and determine your return on investment and I'm positive you will find it to be substantial and that it will pave the way for future projects because management will clearly see the advantages.

10.  Finally, remember that not all applications are candidates for Linux migration so make sure you involve the end user in your investigation and thoroughly analyze the application before embarking on conversion.

In closing, remember to take a small application or subset of a larger application as your first project. Add an additional 30% to your estimate to account for the learning curve and most of all, keep track of the challenges you encounter and how you solved them so your next project can benefit from your learning experience.

More Stories By Charles W. Stevenson

Charles W. Stevenson, PhD, is
CTO of GUPTA Technologies, LLC.

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. 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--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.