Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: 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
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.