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Re: Linux desktop/Microsoft domain

On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 9:27 AM, Glenn Tofte <gtofte@idcag.org> wrote:
I am exploring the possibility of moving from Windows desktops to a Linux/Mac + Microsoft Terminal Server environment.

I am interested in hearing from you if you:
1. Have deployed Linux desktops to non-technical users in a corporate environment.

I've done this at one of my clients, deploying LTS 4 thin clients (from disklessworkstations.com) to about six non-technical users in a small office environment.

2. Know of a case study/white paper of a company moving this way.

At this point I am wanting to identify the challenges to such a move.

One of the biggest issues is providing the appropriate multimedia environment with Adobe Reader, Flash, and streaming audio or video. These have proved to be difficult to provide in the CentOS 5 environment and somewhat unstable and unreliable (frequent Mozilla Firefox hangs due to streaming audio issues). And with some websites only supporting Internet Explorer, we've had to provide Windows environments for some tasks.
I will say that I spend a lot less time maintaining the Linux thin-client desktops than my Windows desktops.

Gory details (for those who care to read further)

* Config I am currently exploring:
- Ubuntu LTS (Several of our servers are RH-based, but the 5 yr RHEL/CentOS life cycle is just too long and  Fedora is just too short.

We used CentOS 5.x on the server. I've thought about Fedora or Ubuntu to give a newer desktop to the users. But we've gotten by. OpenOffice and Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird have been getting some version upgrades in the server OS point releases, which helps.
- Strip down Ubuntu (no 3D effects, no extra programs)
- Use Ubuntu workstation for Web browsing, Zimbra groupware, accessing databases via RDP session to a terminal server, etc.)
- Authenticate to Active Directory upon sign on (currently testing LikeWise) for access to Samba shares.
- Open Office on the workstation so people will become familiar with Open Office as they open files that are e-mailed to them.
- On the Microsoft Terminal server, users would be able to run their databases and Microsoft Office (some components are needed for reports out of the databases).
- We are even looking at going green at the desktop (saving money on hardware and electricity) by deploying Atom-based desktops.
Similar to what we did, using thin clients.

- For the users that need proprietary software (like Adobe) for multimedia projects, we are looking at deploying a Mac instead of the Ubuntu workstation.  Obviously these computers would face many of the same challenges for integration.
I personally use a mix of Mac, Windows, and Linux systems and one of my clients in the graphics field has a mixed Mac, Windows, and Linux environment. In both cases we use Samba primary and secondary domain controllers (Windows NT 4 style) backed by Fedora Directory Server accessed via LDAP, which took some persistence to implement. Accessing file server shares on Windows and Linux servers from a Mac hasn't been too difficult.

Glenn W. Tofte
IDCAG Information Systems Director

-Mark Schwenk
 WellThot Inc.