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One of the most common objections to desktop Linux is fragmentation. With so many distributions, which one do you choose for serious deployment in a business environment? Given the amount of work involved in any desktop OS switch in terms requirements analysis, application selection, compatibility testing, integration with …

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Stop

User Familiarity

To those who are concerned about the users being lost if you stick linux in front of them, what are you going to do when those users need new machines? You're going to put the newest Win OS and the newest MSOffice in front of them, which "look and feel" absolutely nothing like "traditional" windows.

The users have to be retrained anyway. Do you want to be in this position again 5 years from now?

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@Toastan Buttar

Are you sure windows has better driver support than linux? Across all versions of windows perhaps, if your willing to hunt down out of business and merged companies for drivers that will only work with 3.1 and 95 but if your swallowing MS's load and running vista then that statement is so far from the truth it cant be seen from the top of a big hill on a clear day. Meanwhile I can link up some 1/2 inch reel to reel storage and a suction cup modem to anything modern with a serial port, stick the latest version of any of the major distros in the drive and have it all working as all the drivers are already in there.

Just to hammer my point home, recently picked up a vodafone 3g modem (Huawei e220). Plugged it into a p3 laptop running ubuntu, fired up kppp and connected to the net. Plugged it into a more recent desktop running sabayon (a derivative of gentoo), same thing. Had a few live cd's around so stuck them in the same box and all worked with all hardware without exception. Then plugged it into a relatives beige box running vista so he could give it a try....and, after much hunting through the net, was told it needed a firmware update. An 87MB firmware update. Over dialup. For a, what is it now, 2 year old OS? Form a company the size of vodafone? What was it you said about driver support again?

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Jobs Horns

Hmm

I currently run 64bit Sabayon (A gentoo port) and I love it.

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Silver badge

Slackware & BSD (&@Matt)

"Where's Jake on this?"

Just rolling out of bed ... Was up all night with a colicing horse. (The foreman & I let the hands sleep and walk them ourselves ... tired hands make mistakes. Tired jakes make mistakes, too ... but mine don't usually include tractors & fencing).

Anyway, mostly I use Slackware on desktops, and various flavo(u)rs of BSD on servers. Both are extensively cut down and modified from stock to fit the current situation. No two offices are alike. In smaller offices, I'll put Slackware on the servers, too ... minimizes the learning curve. I'll include other UN*X based systems and/or Windows and/or Apple based gear, according to the company's software needs. I'm not religious about it.

Why Slack? Because it works, and I've been using it for about 15 years. It's the closest thing to what I consider UNIX[tm] in the Linux world. It is also one of the easiest to customize.

Why BSD? ... Well, because it's BSD :-) I was lucky enough to be in the right place & time to attend ken's lectures at Berkeley ... I grew up with BSD, and it grew up with me.

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Flame

@Users are the problem not the OS

Nope. The problem is that right out of the box, you don't have a decent environment.

Example?

Ubuntu is supposed to be the most user friendly distro right?

The default Ubuntu install has a background that looks like someone smeared faeces up an old plaster wall.

Fail. Go back to square one.

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@AC 11:31

"I have an ooooolllldddd pc in my attic - I think it is branded Vax?? - will Linux run on that??"

My aging cluster of vaxen runs BSD. I rarely fire them up anymore ... although one of my nephews thinks the ASCII art Snoopy printed out on fanfold paper is the coolest thing EVER :-)

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On my Toshiba 230CX

P1, 133MHz, 6 GB harddrive, a massive 144 MB RAM - I run Puppy Linux

When I upgraded it to Windows 98 it didn't have drivers for the USB port so it hung around in a cupboard for a few years.

Its fine for email, browsing. I used it as a music server (Damn Small Linux) for a while. Next incarnation might be FREESCO.

I also run Ubuntu (x86 laptop), Xubuntu (x86 Desktop), and Debian (AMD64 Desktop).

Moved from SuSE to Mandrake, ditched that when the Company fired the guy that started it.

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Happy

Hobbyist versus serious deployment

hahahahaha.. good one.. had me in tears..

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Anonymous Coward

@AA

"The default Ubuntu install has a background that looks like someone smeared faeces up an old plaster wall."

Then change it. One click on the desktop will fix that.

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Ubuntu *and* Red Hat

Interestingly serious deployment of Linux on desktops means that you may end up running two distros. If you take a best-of-breed strategy then you want Ubuntu at the desktop, a no-brainer since Fedora isn't supported. At the back end you could run Ubuntu Server if you wanted, but the depth of the Red Hat support organisation is just so much greater than that of Canonical.

SuSE are an option, although not the leader in either field at least they have supported product offerings in both. Normally a single vendor would be better -- less buck-passing and so on. But when that vendor is Novell...

I've seen some pretty successful replacements of "green screen" systems by Linux. The trick seems to be concentration on getting the sysadmin costs per unit right down by automating system administration (using puppet and package managers) and using single sign on (Kerberos) backed by a diretcory (LDAP). Those old green screens had a few VTAM geeks running the show, and it's important not to lose the savings of cheaper hardware and networking by increasing head count.

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Anonymous Coward

A title is required.

Depends on the user. I jumped from OpenSUSE to Mint via Mandriva, Ubuntu and Fedora. In the end went back to Vista. The best compliment I could pay any distro was that it didn't make me want to throw my laptop up against a wall _quite_ as much as the previous one. Some of us don't really want to spend hours getting hardware to work, searching for the best "compromise" apps to replace the familiar Windows ones, and trying to convince Fedora that there aren't really 999 updates it needs to download.

I'm sure there are loads of very happy Linux users who wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm happy for them. I'm just not one of them.

Oh and for a brief return to the actual topic, I found Mint to be the best. Although this is based on only a week's worth of experience. All the apt packaging loveliness, boots up pretty quickly, useful bundled apps and drivers, and I quite liked the Mint menu (seeing as it's very similar to the Vista Start Menu - no surprises there then.)

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Linux

Coming of age..

I've been using Linux on the desktop since about 1996 (and it /was/ painful back then).

Tried many of the distros since then

but currently favour Debian as it works equally well on the

servers at work and home and my work and home desktops and netbook.

Using KDE3.5.10 for the desktop and love it. Finally convinced my wife to

give it a try after years of Windows this week and a couple of days in she's

loving it too.

On the other hand this comment was posted from lynx, sometimes a desktop is just overkill :-)

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SuSE

I've always found SuSE user-friendly and reasonably tolerant of my ignorance. Currently I'm spending a month or two living with 64-bit Vista - for my sins. Asap I plan to cut over to SuSE and run XP in a VM for those apps (Office, Quicken, etc.) that don't work on Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

Mint sauce.

Over the years I've tried most flavours of Linux in an attempt to find something that I can live comfortably with as a personal desktop. Finally I have alighted on Linux Mint which is a saucy little offspring of Ubuntu and just about the tastiest flavour in the kitchen. Obviously this is a subjective judgement but still worth sampling by any other seekers after simple cooking.

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Jay
Linux

What colour is that hat/why is Ubuntu always brown?

Can't be bothered (just yet) to read all the other comments above, so here's my dabblings.

Things at work are moving slowly from Solaris to things more RedHat-based. For reasons I won't go into this was first Fedora and now more CentOS. Though for a new project I've managed to secure some paid for RedHat licences. Though that's all server-based stuff.

On my Mac at home I've got Parallels running XP, Win7, Ubuntu 8.10, OpenSolaris, Fedora (8 or 9, I forget) and Puppy Linux. Whilst I'm more au fait with Fedora, I find Ubuntu easier to do the simple things.

On my EEE 701 I'm running EasyPeasy/Ubuntu.

Given my day job is sys admin and I don't feel I have the time to spend hours messing about with things any more then Linux doesn't get too much of a look in. Whilst I think Ubuntu is good enough to do the usual stuff (web, mail, Skype for example) I don't think it's quite ready for desktop primetime yet.

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Linux

@Benedict

You do have a point, but I don't know that I am wrong, I was fairly sure that I was right, to a degree.

The site you linked to had things like Local Area Security Linux, Damn Small Linux, various rescue cds et all which are hardly what one would consider to be desktop linux distros, they are more specialised niche distros. The list was too comprehensive.

IMHO when someone asks "which desktop linux distro" the answer (atm) is either Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE or Mint. Those are the top 5 (in no particular order).

Windows 3.1 (not sure what was before that apart from dos :) )

Windows 95

Windows 98

Windows 98SE

Windows 2000 } think these are the same by different names but meh.

Windows ME }

Windows XP Pro

WIndows XP Home

Windows XP Media Center Edition

Windows Vista Home Basic

WIndows Vista Home Premium

Windows Vista Business

Windows Vista Ultimate

Have I missed any? Thats more than 5. Granted not many will be using 3.1 or 95 etc but even if you disount anything before xp, its still more.

The reason so many linux distros exist is because its free to modify, and people who need it to do very specific things can mod the distro and create their own relatively easily, and they make those changes available back to the community. If you could do that with windows I'm sure there would be more (and better) versions of it around.

The point here is that if you get a list of all linux *desktop* distros, I'm sure there would be more but there are plenty MS distros too. I don't see it as an issue, the reason its an issue for wintards is because they are force fed a single current OS when they buy a new pc and thats the end of it, they dont realise there is a choice.

no trolling intended, honest.......

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Coat

@Jaowon

Fedora desktops, CentOS on the servers. Linux on the desktop since '94.

> Desktop linux commercially will never replace windows in my lifetime.

Smoke a lot? Drive fast? Take unnecessary risks?

I'll get my funeral director's coat.

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Boffin

No-one's asked the question

How about updates for Linux distros that you can deploy to the environment without each and every machine connecting and downloading them willy-nilly.

As for the comment that Windows has "multiple distros", c'mon, at least the basic OS and commands are the same. So what if XP Professional has more widgets than XP Home. No different to installing Red Hat and configuring the web services components. But try running your RH package upgrade commands on an Ubuntu system... or configure services... or setup the display.

I tend to agree that crap about OMG change to the desktop is often a bit of a red herring. Sure, that 1% of users will never be able to feel their way around something if the background colour changes, but just because a few are noisy doesn't mean that the vast majority of users have those problems.

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Anonymous Coward

rik

I Had ubuntu 7.04 and the users needed some usb mass storage devices, print service & web flash etc. , but it didn't work & I had a laptop with suse 10.3 working elsewhere so i switched.

Currently I have (leasing is awesome) Dell Ubuntu 8 for a dvd player, tux racer, eduware-gcompris & email user box, Dell ubunutu 8 server-lamp, (old HP) debian lamp & imap, (old compaq) suse 10.3 user web & media, an (Dell) xp for power desktop user. Most disappointing, I have an xp mini notebook (Staples) to get proprietary institutional access (not sure why only IE encryption plugin works).

Prior to this I ran cutom pcs w/ 98, freebsd, debian 3&4 & ubuntu 6 LTS mixed in.

cheers

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Thumb Up

debian and derivatives work for me...

debian on servers

#! Crunchbang on my business machines

Edubuntu for my kids

Ubuntu for my wife

Windows for my phone.

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Which? One you know and/or like.

Why not all of them? the power is freedom, freedom to choose whatever you like.

Personally the choice is Mandriva, but I also regularly use Knoppix (nice toolkit), Trinity (last-ditch virus scans before data rescue), and DD-WRT/Tomato for embedded routers or Untangle for PC based firewall/router, and whatever happens to be running on an embedded device I get my hands on such as the Buffalo LinkStation.

In the past I have also used and/or tried Red Hat (before and after the fork to Fedora, handful of releases), Fedora, Yellow Dog, Freesco, Coyote, Vector, Mint, Puppy, DSL, SME Server, SuSe (before, and after Novell got involved). Yes, I tried several Ubuntu releases too to see what the fuss was about, and it's quite nice.

Really, it's just subject to user preference. Much respect for those that create these things for us to use, thank you!

Written from a Mandriva 2009 + KDE 3.5.x + Compiz Fusion 'desktop' oriented HP Compaq nc6120 notebook, at the office :P

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@Trix

===

No-one's asked the question

By Trix Posted Friday 3rd April 2009 05:57 GMT

Boffin

How about updates for Linux distros that you can deploy to the environment without each and every machine connecting and downloading them willy-nilly.

===

Nobody is stopping you from rsync'ing the repositories to a local server overnight, and then allow the client PC's package managers access to that new local server when you're good and ready. :)

Squid as a caching proxy will help a lot too for your bandwidth woes.

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Dead Vulture

As I'm now a Consultant*

I use Ubuntu 8.10. Browse web, get e-mails - Tux Droid lets me know - fill in endless and pointless job application forms, write CV's, introductory letters, it's all I want. PC Compaq 700mhz, 512 meg, 20G HDD, and on the dole. Can't afford owt else. (OK, the eeepc is useful from the pub^H^H^H town but...)

<Eeyore_mode>

*DEFINITION: Unemployed bloke with leather patches on his Tweed jacket, trying to find some crumbs of work from his aged old laptop on his kitchen table in the second half-century of his sad bastard existence. Sigh. Pathetic, that's what it is. Pathetic. Some do, and some don't.

Senior Consultant? As above, but owns a Zimmer frame and a stair-lift. And dribbles.

</Eeyore_mode>

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