decoration decoration

When you want to know more...
For layout only
Site Map
About Groklaw
Legal Research
ApplevSamsung p.2
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Gordon v MS
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
MS Litigations
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
OOXML Appeals
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v Novell
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Unix Books


Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

You won't find me on Facebook


Donate Paypal

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.

What's New

No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Switching from Windows to Linux
Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:14 AM EDT

I got an email suggesting we set up yet another site, specifically for a detailed How To on switching from Windows to Linux, viewed from the standpoint of a business. We've had articles touching on this before, although more from an end user perspective, and I don't think we need a separate site, but I have created a page for the topic on Grokdoc. I have put the email there, because it's such a thorough list of what a Windows user contemplating a switch worries about. See also the Application Crossover Chart also on Grokdoc.

The big issue, I think, seems to be how to run favorite applications that run on Windows. So, if you have any tips on that, or any other topic on the list, please feel free to share, here or, ideally, on Grokdoc or both. We can add a chapter to the manual on this topic in particular. Here's the email.


1. Which programs on Linux have the same or similar function as a given Windows programs like:
a) Office - specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access
b) IE - bookmarks and IE specific applications
c) Outlook and Outlook express, email repositories, calendars
d) Graphics applications, formats
e) Firewalls and Anti-virus applications
f) Backup applications
g) Databases and database applications
h) Development tools
i) Communication tools and applications
j) Gui/desktop
k) System administrator and system management tools

2. What to do about windows applications that have no similar linux version or are very difficult to convert.

3. Coexistence - short term and long term, cost and problems

4. How to convert existing data from a given windows application to a linux application

a) List of conversion tools

5. How to convert users from a windows environment to a linux environment

a) How to set up "work groups" and "domain" under linux
b) How to replace Primary and Backup domain controllers
c) How to migrate users and user groups to linux
d) What to do about the active directory
e) User environment like printers, files and directories, etc.

6. A section on pros and cons of a conversion

7. A section about time:

a) How long will it take realistically
b) Suggested stages
c) Template plans for a conversion job

8. A section on costs - it will always cost something to convert and being realistic about these costs gives higher credibility.

9. High profile reference cases

10. List of where to get end-user, sysadmin and developer education for linux

11. List of Service organisations or consultants that can help or do a conversion

12. List of Linux FAQs and documentation for the different user groups

13. Some reasonable criteria for a deciding on a conversion

a) Why and why not
b) Skills
c) Costs


Switching from Windows to Linux | 313 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:32 AM EDT
From a business perspective, I believe that the most important key to a
successful migration from one operating system to another, is user education.
I've migrated from Mac OS to Windows OS in the past and if care is taken to
educate and train the end user on the new environment, the trepidation is
usually replaced by "Hey, that wasn't so bad". Its not the apps, its
the people.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections herre please.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:33 AM EDT
Although moving freom windows to Linux cannot be an error...


[ Reply to This | # ]

OT, links, etc here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:35 AM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Links and Off-Topic [OT] Discussions Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:36 AM EDT
Please reply to this message with new links of interest to Groklaw readers. This makes it easy to find them. Please try to use the HTML Formatted mode to make it easy to click on a link and follow it directly to the article of interest.

This is also the place to start discussions unrelated to the topic(s) of the article.

Please choose new and appropriate titles for new topics

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: dogsbestfriend on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:36 AM EDT
I'm just in the process of switching my desktop at work over to Linux. I've
been using linux at home exclusively for the last 4 years or so, so knowing that
it would work was a given. The company already uses Linux for all its servers,
so there was no problem with that either. The only problem was that some
windows programs were hard to find equivalents for, and the main 'challenges'
for me were:

* ssh session saver: I'm currently playing around with xterm command line
arguments, ssh-sec and putty (yes, putty for unix works great!)
* an oracle gui toolkit. The GPL'ed TORA is awesome
* AOL/Y!/MSN messengers: GAIM all the way!

These are old favourites, but I figured I'd list them anyway since I need them
for work:

* Office documents:, AbiWord, Gnumeric and plain ol' vi work
* Evolution for IMAP servers
* Mozilla / Firefox for web browsing. (gee, I hope I can get that Mozilla SVG
to work, I don't think Adobe has a linux port for their SVG viewer.. but thats
not critical)
* xm_s for all those _p3 files I listen to at work (oops!)

All of this on a PIII-750 / 512Mb / 20G computer, in case you're wondering..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Trolls, windows fans, MacOS fans here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:36 AM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching paradigms as well
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:51 AM EDT
Switching desktop flavors may represent a step forward for some users, but in our experience serving broadband customers and their respective LAN integration and security issues, the entire dentralization model to which Windows (and previously DOS) facilitated is a model which also needs to go.

From SOHO (small office/home office) client to medium sized banks, school districts to small city/county offices, none are showing an ability to maintain their Microsoft environments. The patch of the day requirement combined with exhaustive and excessive licensing requirements overwhelms nearly every client we see (again, in primarily underserved markets, though in our metro markets this is also much the case).

Solution? We've implemented Linux thin-client in the office and have had remarkable results, though there is still much work to do. Centralizing administration of patches, security, application offering, data backup, etc. makes a significant difference in maintenance cost and efficiency. Of course, we've had to spend some custom development time (using Zope -> to fill the gaps in various systems where off-the-shelf solutions did not exist by creating such access through the thin-client's web browser. Still, we've stayed F/OSS.

Linux thin-client is subsequently my recommendation for a winner strategy of solving the desktop issue. Don't compete head-to-head with Microsoft by attempting to out-Windows Windows. Kill them off with the agility of moving to a better paradigm. I'd be happy to work to support efforts such as that which has been proposed here if there and release our own implementations and documentation to F/OSS as well if there is any thin-client direction. Another Gnome or KDE desktop (which I am incidentally posting this from) is unlikely to succeed for mass commercial acceptance.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: brian on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:57 AM EDT

I got one answer to all this....

The Linux Documentation Project


#ifndef IANAL
#define IANAL

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux - Need data standards to help competition in the market.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:07 AM EDT
One of the problems that faces business... is that proprietary and open source
programs don't make it easy to migrate data between programs. It almost seems
that some software folks want to lock in their customers into difficult data
structures that makes migration from their program a very cost prohibitive thing
to do. To solve this problem there should be National and world-wide standards!
We know what Microsoft might say about this. But for everyone else in
business... it's about time that something happened along the lines of
"what is good for the economy of those that use softare vs what is good for
a few big companies that make it"!

The existance of standards (nationally reconized) would allow a business to shop
for the application provider that can best serve the business's needs.

Something with data structures for business applications needs to be done!

Maybe there should be an ANSI standard for software stuctures. Then every
programmer (large and small) could compete based on these standards.

Here is a snippet from the ANSI
web site (when reading below ask oneself "where is the equal for

" For eighty-five years, ANSI has served as the coordinator of the U.S.
voluntary standards system, a unique and diversified federation that includes
industry, standards developing organizations, trade associations, professional
and technical societies, government, labor and consumer groups. It has provided
a forum where the private and public sectors can cooperatively work together
towards the development of voluntary national consensus standards. The Institute
provides the means for the U.S. to influence global standardization activities
and the development of international standards. It is the dues paying member and
sole U.S. representative of the two major non-treaty international standards
organizations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), via the U.S. National Committee

The history of ANSI and the U.S. voluntary standards system is dynamic.
Discussions to coordinate national standards development in an effort to avoid
duplication, waste and conflict date back to 1911. In 1916 the American
Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE) invited the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE),
American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIMME) and the
American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) to join in establishing a national
body to coordinate standards development and to serve as a clearinghouse for the
work of standards developing agencies.

Two years later, ANSI, originally founded as the American Engineering Standards
Committee (AESC) was formed on October 19,1918 to serve as the national
coordinator in the standards development process as well as an impartial
organization to approve national consensus standards and halt user confusion on
acceptability. The five organizations invited the U.S. Departments of War, Navy
and Commerce to join them as founders.

According to Paul G. Agnew, the first permanent secretary and head of staff in
1919, AESC started as an ambitious program and little else. Staff for the first
year consisted of one executive, on loan from a founder. He was Clifford B.
LePage of ASME. An annual budget of $7,500 was provided by the founding bodies.

A year after AESC was founded it approved its first standard on pipe threads.
The organization undertook its first major project in 1920 when it began
coordination of national safety codes to replace the many laws and recommended
practices that were hampering accident prevention. The first American Standard
Safety Code was approved in 1921 and covered the protection of heads and eyes of
industrial workers. Today there are over 1,200 ANSI-approved safety standards
designed to protect the workforce, consumers and the general public. Overall,
there are approximately 10,500 ANSI-approved American National Standards. In its
first ten years, AESC also approved national standards in the fields of mining,
electrical and mechanical engineering, construction and highway traffic".

read more of the history of ANSI here:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Equivalent Software
Authored by: JScarry on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:17 AM EDT
This site lists linux compatible software for just about every need.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:20 AM EDT
There are a few applications that still have no exact
replacement in the free world.

In my case those are Adobe Photoshop and Borland Delphi,
and both seem to run well on i386 Linux using Codeweavers'
(I'm aware of The Gimp and Kylix, they still aren't up to
the task *for me*, but may be useful for others)

Crossover Office enables you to run 32 bit Windows
applications with little effort.

Crossover is a product of Codeweavers
( ), and it's based on Wine, an
OSS 32-bit Windows API layer for Linux
(Wine stands for Wine Is NOT an Emulator, it already comes
with many Linux distributions, but you have to tune it for
your applications yourself and that can be hard, Crossover
does this for you)

If you don't know what an API is, let's just say (rough
explanation) it's a big set of commands the underlaying
system understands, all application software communicates
with the operating system through an API, so having a
Windows API set in Linux allows us to have Windows
applications running on Linux unmodified.

Internet Explorer 6.0 was slightly trickier to install,
but it worked fine after all, I'm not using it anyway, I
did that just as a stress test, I couldn't come up with
worst scenario.

Also, having some Windows truetype fonts installed makes
text read better, Internet Explorer downloads fonts as
needed, you can later install them in your KDE Control
Centre. (I think Gnome has an equivalent function for this

Crossover Office is not free, it costs about $ 40 for its
standard version, and about $ 80 the professional version.
Each enables for a different set of applications, if the
applications you need are in the standard supported set,
you will spend less.

Borland Delphi was not in the supported application set
but it worked fine, so you may even get more than what
they advertise for.

In my case it was really worth it, I can keep using my
favourite (and costly!) applications in a safer, nicer and
free environment.

I get the best of both worlds, maybe it also works for

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why the license diallow commercial use?
Authored by: PolR on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:28 AM EDT
This topic is targeted to entreprises isn't it? How could they use this material
in internal documents if commercial uses are disallowed?

Don't we want consultants and consulting companies to spread the word? How are
they going to do that if commercial use is disallowed?

I think the Creative Commom License is the correct one. It is just that the
non-commercial option that should be removed.

On the other hand, the Share-Alike option is missing. Perhaps it should be
enabled to make the Creative Common license operate like the GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:29 AM EDT
A few links that are worth adding, it would be useful to have them all together anyway

1 The Official European Commission guide - Written in English, translated to many other EU languages already here

2 The German government guide here

3 The French government guide here< /a>

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:38 AM EDT
It seems a bit like preaching to the choir to post a story about converting to Linux on a site that's primarily about Linux lawsuits which would mostly be of interest to people who already use Linux.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

See The table of equivalents / replacements / analogs of Windows software in Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: pscottdv on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:43 AM EDT

In my experience, the biggest obstacle to switching clients to away from Microsoft software is in the psychology of the end user. End users seem ready to forgive Microsoft any headache or catastrophe no matter how destructive, but any minor glitch in the way they are used to doing things on other software and they get angry with me.

Me: A worm slipped past your antivirus software. I'll have to spend the day cleaning it off of all your Windows machines. Luckily, your Linux servers and the two Linux desktops in the engineering office are immune.

Business Type: Well, that's just the cost of doing business, eh?

Me: The cost of doing business with Microsoft, yes.

Business Type: Hey, that's not fair! It's not their fault people write viruses! By the way, I can't get to my attachments, there must be something wrong with that Linux-based email server you installed.

Me: No, it's Outlook Express, you have to click here, here, here, here and here and the problem goes away. You will have to do this each time you get a new security patch from Microsoft, because they always turn it back on.

Business Type: OK. But, hey, I'm getting hundreds of spam every day, can I do something about that?

Migrate him to Mozilla Mail

Business Type: Hey, look at that it just sweeps all my spam away into the junk mail directory. Cool! But wait, I can't get at this attachment

Me: Oh, that's just a setting. Click here, here and here and it is fixed.

Business Type: What! That's too complicated! I'll never learn to use all this--I just want software that works! I'm having an asthma attack! Put me back on Microsoft quick!

Me: [sigh]

Whoever it is around here with the sig quoting Bill Gates about getting people "addicted" to Microsoft software sure has it right.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Electronic CAD on Linux
Authored by: freeio on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:53 AM EDT
As an electronics and software design consultant, I am running Linux for almost all of the business operations.  I finally have the tools to do what must be done for daily  operations.    What has made it possible has been:

1.   SuSE Linux (I am currently running version 9.0) - The installation worked on all of my diverse hardware, even the IBM ThinkPad laptop.  Everything was set up properly and everything worked, including sound, printers, the scanner, networking.  The installation found it all and made it all work, without ever having to add a driver from anywhere.  That is amazing to me.  It also came with a full set of manuals to help me figure out what wasn't obvious.

2.  (I am currently using version 1.1.1) - For all of the things I used to do with Microsoft Office, this is my tool of choice.  It is absolutely stable, and has every feature I need, and then some.  The one thing to do is to go to the bookstore and get a book on it, as the features are not always where you would find them on a Microsoft product.  But this is not unusual - I always had to keep a manual for Word or Excel handy, as they have just as many hidden features.

3.    Eagle (I am currently running version 4.11r2e) - This is an excellent cross-platform electronic CAD system, which handles all of my schematic, printed circuit board, and autorouting duties.  It is available for linux and windows, and the data files work  on both.  It is based on Qt, and so it truly is native on both platforms.  This is a five star application.

4.   Crossover Office (I am currently running version 3.0.0) - This nifty tool allows me to run the few Windows tools I cannot do without, such as Adobe Photoshop 7.0, and Bible Works, on my Linux  system.  It uses the wine API which is already in Linux, and handles the installation and setup.  The programs run as native applications (wine is not an emulator) just as fast as on Windows.  This fills in the gaps for what I simply must have.

5.   Scribus (I am currently runnign version 1.1.6) - This is a page layout program to do all of the fancy page layout that I need to do. 

6.   gftp (I am currently running version 2.0.16) - This wonderful utility handles all of the file transfer functions which are required for the business.  I run several web sites, and have to deliver electronic copies of documents, and gftp handles this perfectly.

7.   Mozilla (I am currnetly running version 1.7) - For web browsing and web page composition, this is a great way to go.

Is this the perfect setup?  Goodness no!  But I will say that I do not have to run any sort of Windows on a regular basis, because all of this is excellent, and there is no need to go elsewhere.  It is also affordable.  I started my experience with Linux five years ago with Red Hat 6.0, and I must say that the progress since then has been spectacular.  What we have today is truly excellent.

You can see the what the facility looks like, with all that Linux hardware running here.


Tux et bona et fortuna est.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:55 AM EDT
I am sorry, PJ. You have just completely confused me. [Don't feel too bad, that is easy to do.]

According to the GrokDoc Main Page, GrokDoc "isn't an attempt to duplicate" others work.

If I click on the link to "Discuss this page" it tells me:

GrokDoc is meant to be a Linux usability study, not a general Linux repository for HOWTO's and tutorials.

Yet, the questions seem to be unrelated to "a Linux usability study" and most of them are covered in other locations, so attempting to answer them is duplication.

For example, question #1, "Which programs on Linux have the same or similar function as a given Windows programs" has an answer. Although it has not been updated recently, the The table of equivalents is an attempt to answer exactly that question. Why duplicate the effort?

For example, question #10, "List of where to get end-user, sysadmin and developer education for linux". An answer to this is fairly to easy to get by just doing a Google search for linux training or linux certification . This will quickly find a number of people willing to offer training. In fact, it will help locate a "Database of Linux Training Centers" . Why duplicate the effort?

For example, question #11, "List of Service organisations or consultants that can help or do a conversion". An answer to this is fairly to easy to get by just doing a Google search for linux consultants . This will quickly find a number of lists of Linux consultants. For example, the Linux Consultants Guide , and the Debian Consultants list . It would seem prudent to try to support and improve the existing lists rather than try to create a new specific list.

For example, question #12, "List of Linux FAQs and documentation for the different user groups", is the purpose of the Linux Documentation Proeject and similar projects, which are specifically listed in the GrokDoc Resources page .

If the author of the letter hasn't even taken the time to find the resources that are on the GrokDoc resources page, how are we supposed to help them?

My basic confusion arises because although the questions raised are certainly important ones, and they are interesting ones, how do they fit into GrokDoc?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Confused - Authored by: PJ on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 12:40 PM EDT
    • Confused - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 01:01 PM EDT
      • Confused - Authored by: PJ on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 03:47 PM EDT
Look to Novell
Authored by: OldNerdGuy on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:55 AM EDT
Novell is in the process of converting all their regular Desktop users to Linux
(wonder which one... doh!). In the past, they have always published white
papers on how they use their own technology. When I worked for them, it was
called Eating your Own Dog Food... I would expect them to continue to publish
on this, most important, topic.

The first step is to work on the Apps. Those are what the user knows. Convert
from Office to Open Office. Runs great on Windows. Once you have the users used
to the different apps, moving a new OS underneath is much easier.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: AntiFUD on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:04 AM EDT
This is a truly excellent idea. Thank you PJ and whomever.

A couple of additional topics, which wouldn't go astray, from my perspective at

Server Requirements:
Since many of the Groklaw readers appear to be 'experts' and 'gurus' with a
truly vast combined amount of knowledge and expertise, I would suggest that,
since this is a 'business perspective' exercise, a comparison of the server
requirements for each of a Soho, medium (up to 100 users) and enterprise (over
100 users) change-over, could be most beneficial. While I may be wrong, I have
been under the impression that one of the 'most significant' differences between
Linux and Windows relates to the fact that usually Windows requires a separate
'box' for each server while with Linux a number of servers can run concurrently
on a Linux box without a significant degradation of speed and efficiency. I
realize that I am generalizing here a bit, because form a security perspective,
especially in the larger, high volume, or ecommerce businesses, the need for
load balancers or software, DMZs, firewalls or software, are not only necessary
but are prudent, desirable and in some cases obligatory. Finally, because, as
we all know, a tuned Linux system runs at an equivalently similar level of speed
using far less RAM, CPU speed etc., the potential for 'old' Windows boxes to be
reused in the new Linux architecture can have a significant effect on the
overall cost of a change-over. Please note that I have struggled to avoid the
use of the phrases: 'bloatware' and 'embedded IE' and 'patches and updates' in
this suggestion, as I don't think I need to preach to the converted.

Equipment Requirements:
Possibly in conjunction with the foregoing discussion of system server
requirements, it would IMHO, be extremely helpful if this project gave the
potential 'advocates' and or 'suits' an idea, based on the combined real world
experience of Groklaw and Grokdoc readers, of the computing 'resources' that are
required, or have been found necessary, to run a Windows system and then a
similar or replacement Linux system, again from a Soho, medium and enterprise
business perspective. Since I am by no means an expert in the field of
'resources' I can only suggest that number and speed of CPU's (+/- on board
cache, bus speeds, etc.), the RAM requirements, the Storage and Backup
requirements, the Hardware support and optimal SLA uptime requirements, the
Bandwidth requirements, and the SysAdmin human resource requirements. From
experience in a 250 person/user business, that used Outlook, there was an
inordinate amount of SysAdmin time wasted every time someone changed a telephone
extension or department and the HR department or Senior Management changed the
Organization chart - each PC or Mac had to have its address book downloaded,
usually to a spreadsheet to amalgamate the user's personal address book with the
changed company address book - this could often take up to an hour a machine.
It wasn't helped by the fact that some users such as the CFO never connected to
the company's email server or LAN for security reasons (he had the salary list
and financial projections thus insulated from the ret of the world). Finally a
cost comparison and an equipment manufacturer satisfaction index would be

I would appreciate feedback from Groklaw readers on these suggestions before I
submit them to the Grokdoc project.

Finally, and that's the third 'finally' in this post, I would suggest that once
the 'project' reaches completion that each and everyone of us 'promote' it to
our local LUGs as ammo for dispelling FUD and encouraging local businesses to at
least look at 'converting' to the true faith.

IANAL - But IAAAMotFSF - Free to Fight FUD

[ Reply to This | # ]

First start using Open Source on Windows
Authored by: DannyB on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:27 AM EDT
For many people, especially businesses, switching everything at once may simply be too much.

It is a much safer and less disruptive approach to only disrupt a few things at a time, rather than all at once.

Switch your OS last, not first. First switch your applications. One at a time.

Concentrate on the biggest money savers first. This probably means something like

Another easy switch to make is

A great evangelism tool to give to Windows users is The Open CD. This CD makes a very good first impression of Open Source for a Windows user who is unfamiliar with Open Source. It has a good sample of high quality open source software for a Windows user.

Just switching Mozilla and give a business plenty of issues to deal with, without someone telling them to just switch everything at once.

In, you have document conversion issues to deal with. (I wrote a Document Converter which you can find at

For, you can get a lot of questions answered over at For clipart, check out the stick Clipart topic in the Draw forum at OOoForum. You can get templates and artwork OOExtras.

Once both Mozilla and are comfortably in use, you should focus on replacing other cross platform applications. The GIMP. Inkscape.

Last of all, try selectively switching the OS for some users. Even though a number of your now familiar Windows applications are the same, you still have to learn a lot of the Linux conventions. Where files go. Linux pathname conventions "/home/danny". New file management tools, like Konqueror, even though they look familiar, have a definite learning curve.

I personally believe that all of the cross-over applications are the real threat to Microsoft. Microsoft seems to be focused on Linux, while the cross over apps are the real short term threat.

The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: braverock on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:33 AM EDT
PJ says:
The big issue, I think, seems to be how to run favorite applications that run on Windows.
I've posted to the Grokdoc article on this, but I'll post here too for completeness.

It always amazes me that almost all the articles written by linux entusiasts and members of the more commercial press that attempt to talk about switching to Linux skip discussion of this very important topic. My opinion is that the linux enthusiasts would rather that you use linux native applications, and the mainstream press probably just isn't aware of the very viable solutions out there.

WINE Project
Allows many/most Windows binary applications to run without modification under linux, but can be difficult to set up and configure.

Crossover Office
CodeWeaver's Crossover Office product sits on top of Wine, and gives you a host of easy to use installation oand configuration options for installing Windows applications. They also provide support. The staff at CodeWeavers are the largest contributors to the Wine project, so supporting Codeweavers is support for open source in a very tangible way.

For converting your existing internal, proprietary Windows code to better run under linux, winelib exists so that you can recompile. Obviously only for shops with in-house programmers, but the fastest route to moving your internal applications to linux with the minimum ammount of pain.

- Brian

[ Reply to This | # ]

For Gamers !!
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:42 AM EDT
You don't have to throw Max Payne nor Half Life.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Companies Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:44 AM EDT
Great idea. How about adding a list of companies
that have moved to Linux?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: liderbug on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:56 AM EDT
My 2 bits. I run 2 boxes (chill.. I'll explain), 1 Linux, 1 XP. I live on the
Linux box and use the XP box for 2 (count'm, 2) 3d party apps that only run
under ms. I don't use XP for mail, I don't use XP for my browser, I don't use
XP ..... I do use Linux for: mail, browser, office, connections to other Unix
boxes, etc. etc. etc. When I must run one of the 3d party apps I run: rdesktop
ms-mach -u mylogin -d mydomain -g 1280x1204. Up pops a console window, I login
and run the app. I don't worry about virus because I *never* do email or IE on
the XP box. And co-workers have access to the box to do the same thing making it
a group box.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: jpetts on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 12:26 PM EDT
You can find a great list of application equivalents, including hotlinks, here. The list is regularly updated.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: eggplant37 on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 01:13 PM EDT
1. Which programs on Linux have the same or similar function as a given Windows programs like:

a) Office - specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access

KWord/KOffice suite

b) IE - bookmarks and IE specific applications

Ko nqueror
Beonex Communicator

More information here

c) Outlook and Outlook express, email repositories, calendars


d) Graphics applications, formats


e) Firewalls and Anti-virus applications

iptables (kernel 2.4 & above)
ipchains (kernel 2.2 & below)
netfilter (BSD & others)

f) Backup applications


g) Databases and database applications


h) Development tools

Every Linux system comes with a full barrage of compilers and related utilities, so many of which it would be futile to list them all here when a google search would do.

i) Communication tools and applications

So many more it's hard to list them all
Better to break down into subcategories

j) Gui/desktop


k) System administrator and system management tools

So many available, it's hard to list
Again, subcategories would be good

Most of this I found easily using google or simply by looking at the installed software on my own system here at home running Mandrake 10.0 Official. I've been using Mandrake since version 5.3, which translates back to 1999. Before that, it was Slackware from about 1994, and I learned Linux from my knowledge based on some OJT on Xenix 286 back in 1988. In my own estimation, Mandrake has been desktop, Microsoft-replacement ready since version 7.2, which is at about the point when I abandoned Windows altogether. If there was an app only available on Windows, I either found something that did half the job and faked the rest, or made do without.

[ Reply to This | # ]

what are consultants for?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 01:57 PM EDT

I believe that it is much easier to find the "right" Software for a
given Task for Windows than it is for FOSS. In an windows-environment the
available software more or less competes on a feature/price base and easy usage
while under GNU/Linux the focus is on getting the job done in the most efficient
way. Therefor feature-rich software for Unix-style operating systems tends to be
more complicated and sometimes doesn't come with a nice GUI and requires the use
of multiple little helpers. PJ asked a difficult question.

It cannot just be about switching the underlying operating system and simply
migrating to replacement applications that offer the same functionality.

I solely use GNU/Linux both at work and at home for at least the last five
years. When I sometimes watch other people trying to archieve similar results
using Windows I wonder what keeps them sticking to that operating system
(however other tasks are easier done in a Windows environment if not impossible
under Linux due to the lack of commercial tools).

For example:
I had a huge amount of simulation data last week and wanted to extract a nice
graphic. The 3MByte ASCII-output of the program had to be reformatted first.

I used the command line tool "sed" to remove some lines and disturbing
brackets and got a beautiful graphic with ploticus. This required a little bit
of thinking, but the next output on different data is just a keystroke away.

My coworker tried the same using Excel for Data-Import (and failed miserably, so
I helped him out using awk). He clicked his way through the applications to get
a similar graphic using Microcal/Origin. The total time required was about the
same (excluding the time he needed to reboot his computer once), but he has to
go through the same procedure every time he needs a new graphic.

A software comparision like the one suggested in the above Email would of course
rule out the command-line tools, although they where the better solution for
this task. (Note that these tools are also available for Windows - but it's a
lot of trouble getting them to work there - they are barely used).

The same problem arises in different areas. If you want a tool to write letters
you might want to try Openoffice or Koffice. If you like to write a huge
document and if you're not afraid of learning, Lyx might be the superior way to

A another poster suggested that a paradigm change is needed. The company willing
to change should first re-thing what they really need and get their questions
straight. A simple comparision table of available applications only helps to
figure out what you cannot do using GNU/Linux. This is only a small part of the

Most of the typical buisiness applications (with the exception of financial
software) are available for GNU/Linux. Difficult tasks are easier employed most
of the time but there is indeed a lack of certain specialized software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 02:58 PM EDT
I just installed SuSE9.1... Apart from it getting upset about my bluetooth / usb
keyboard and mouse during install it went ok.

Right I thought, I'll get the latest ATI linux drivers, which duly did.
Followed the HOWTO and installed it, then it told me to run a config progam.

It then started asking me all sorts of lovely questions like specify your mouse
port which defaulted to /dev/mouse. Nice easy question that. I don't think.
Anyway eventally found it on /dev/input/mice. Asked a few questions about
keyboard. Fine, can handle that. Then the best one. Specify Horizontal refresh
rate and gave me a load of options. Huh? I mean, a new user is going to
understand that? Hello?

I then killed this in digust and tried to configure it using YaST 2. Deleted
old card, selected the Radeon 9700 (for that is what I had). Configured it all.
Tested.. Looked ok... Rebooted.. keyboard and mouse doesn't work... No amount of
fiddling would cajole them to return, so rebooted back to windows again....

Linux for the masses? Not quite there yet, is it???


[ Reply to This | # ]

Sign of the changing times
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 03:21 PM EDT
I found this interesting article, Microsoft applauds open-source procurement memo in which MS praises a new memo from the Office of Management and Budget.
    Opponents of open-source software applauded a recent memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget that they claim puts proprietary software on competitive footing with open-source software in federal procurements.

    “We think it’s a great memo,” said Bill Guidera, policy counsel for Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., referring to a letter issued to agency CIOs and senior procurement officials by OMB IT and e-government administrator Karen Evans (Click for GCN story).

Seems the shoe is on the other foot now, and MS is fighting to even be considered for a growing number of governement contracts. Breaks my heart to so them whine so much.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't turn this site into Slashdot
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 05:44 PM EDT
Bassically, the only thing you'll gain is flamewars and off-topic discussions.

I'm reading the byline of your site, and it says that paralegals do research.

Since when do paralegals do software advocacy?

Theres nothing to add to this whole 'how can we switch to Linux' - Businesses
can switch to Linux when they find a distribution that does everything they

There is no shortage of information on doing pretty much everything with Linux
out there already - The problem with 'Bringing it all together in one place' is
that there is too much, and conflicting information. Different distros do things
differently, TIMTOWTDI (There Is More Than One Way To Do It), and a lot of the
things you need to do don't involve simply clicking a couple of checkboxes which
immediately puts them way outside the comfort zone of most 'average users'

If businesses were prepared to be part of the community, invest in fixing the
problems they find, and working together to provide clear user-driven
requirements for developers, well, they would have already switched to Linux
long ago. And many (such as, lets say, Autozone) have.

For the rest, Linux isn't there yet - and for a big percentage of them, Linux
won't be there until it looks, feels and behaves exactly like Windows. So let
those people wait (they could be waiting for some time) and let the others get
on with it.

I find the legal-centric content on this site a breath of fresh air - keep the
focus of Groklaw, and do what you do well.

It's a waste of time pandering to people who won't ever be prepared to move
unless they are pushed, Linux is not simply a 'Free Windows Replacement', and
there is no benefit to Linux by simply gaining a bunch of users who expect
everything in return for nothing - They don't contribute time or effort to
improve Linux - and as such they are completely irrelevant to it's development.

The other problem is once you start running a Linux advocacy page, that starts
to raise some fairly big 'bias' issues, does it not?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 05:44 PM EDT

Get Suse Pro download too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The problem - shockwave
Authored by: eamacnaghten on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 07:05 PM EDT
A chief reason why I cannot switch a lot of users over to Linux is Macromedia's

I know Crossover supports it, but I need a free solution to this before I can
convert people in earnest.

I have tried experimenting with wine a bit but I am having difficulty getting it
altogether there. Does anyone know how I can get shockwave to work (through
wine) preferably using the native Linux Mozilla or Firefox?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hibernate in laptops.
Authored by: senectus on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 07:26 PM EDT
My local LUG (Linux User Group) Had a seminar about making Hibernate (Suspend to
disk) work well under linux.
Seeing as Laptops are a big feature in business I thought I'd post a link.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 08:59 PM EDT
Avoid all of the above issues quickly and easily...

...hire me.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Prototrm on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:27 PM EDT
OK, my 2 cents, FWIW.

Converting from Windows to Linux is a long-term process for most people. For
myself, I have to make a living writing software for Windows, but I prefer to
live in the Linux environment. I won't be giving up Windows completely any time

I *am* using Suse 9.0 with a copy of Windows 98 running in a virtual machine,
using the Linux program Win4Lin. This is a better solution for me than Crossover
Office, since I can run my Windows development tools in Linux, tools such as
Delphi, C++ Builder, Visual Studio, Visio, and even SQL Server. No special
effort to install or run them, and even the debuggers work normally.

Suse supplies a solid, easily configurable Linux system that doesn't require
command-line expertise to use, while Win4Lin seems to able to run any Windows
program that doesn't require hardware video acceleration (e.g., games).

I firmly believe that you should be able to use 50 percent of a program or
operating system's features (except for a programming language) without reading
the documentation. By that measure, Linux still falls short, but is gradually
getting better. Until it reaches what I consider a proper level of ease-of-use,
using Windows in a VM is the ideal compromise.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stick to what you do best
Authored by: Prototrm on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:48 PM EDT

What you do best involves legal matters, not tutoring the unwashed masses on how
to ditch Windows. There are a lot of legal disputes these days involving
computers and technology. Since discovering Groklaw, I have a new appreciation
of the Legal and Paralegal profession. You have made the SCO matter
entertaining, if sometimes a bit scary.

Since the media will always follow the money, it will never give us all the
facts, just the ones that fit into their bottom line. Sites such as Groklaw, and
people such as you, can fill-in the missing pieces of the puzzle that Big Money
doesn't want anyone to know about. That's a huge responsibility, and an equally
huge subject matter to cover.

You do a great job. Stay focused on what you do best. Please.

Have a Great Weekend!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open standards
Authored by: m_si_M on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 09:56 PM EDT

I'm well aware that Sun isn't quite popular amongst some of Groklaw's readers. But they donated the file format specifications to the OASIS consortium. If governments were serious about interoperability and open standards, they could declare OASIS file formats as a fundamental requirement for governmental contracts. At least from that point of view Sun's emphasis on open standards makes sense. Imagine Microsoft being forced to offer OOo filters to fulfill public criteria! Of course they will find hundreds of excuses and almost certainly try to create new incompatiblities (embrace and extend), but if governments worldwide were to accept OASIS file formats, it would be harder for Microsoft to take customers hostage. And there would be real competition between FOSS and proprietary software.

From my knowledge of public administration this sounds like utopia, but I recently saw elephants running quite fast ...


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Open standards - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 02:34 PM EDT
Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 10:46 PM EDT
A lot of the discussion in the article here relates to specific applications -
Outlook/Outlook Express and IE are specifically mentioned, along with

While there are data conversion issues that need to be addressed, I think it's
very important to focus less on the <i>tools</i> used, and focus on
the <i>tasks</i> being performed by the users who are undergoing the

So rather than say "User uses Word, how do I give them Word on Linux",
focus on "User writes reports, what tools can they be trained to use to
continue generating these reports?"

If you can start them using the tools before you change OSes,, that makes it a
lot easier. I work for Novell, and that's what our migration plan is - to
convert applications first, then convert OS. Myself, I've been a Linux desktop
user for 7 years, using Windows through VMware only when absolutely necessary
(for example, Novell's expense management system requires IE and Microsoft's

Right now, the first phase of the migration is well underway, most of the
company is using OpenOffice under Windows in order to remove our dependency on
Microsoft Office. Phase 2 involves the replacement of desktops with Linux
desktops running the Novell Linux Desktop that's in the works.

Similarly, looking at "how do we replace workgroups/domains" is not
the question you want to ask. How do we share file storage and printer
resources on our network - that's the question you want to ask.

Duplicating a Windows infrastructure without Windows/Microsoft technologies
isn't the nirvana of networked computing. Providing the services to run the
business is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

But this is groklaw..
Authored by: Lord Bitman on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:54 PM EDT
shouldnt we be talking about legal issues, the kinds of things about open source
which closed-source vendors try to use to convince businesses not to use linux?
You can have linux running in your office by next week and have everyone be okay
with it by next month, but you need to get somebody to make the decision to do
so first.
Things like where to get warantees and support on this software which comes with
a license explicitely saying there are no warantees and support.
Legal issues about using open-source code, or using open-source products.

I dont know any of them, but this is grokLAW, let's talk about LAW-related
things :)

-- 'The' Lord and Master Bitman On High, Master Of All

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: Einhverfr on Saturday, July 17 2004 @ 11:55 PM EDT
My business (online at helps people do this. Here is my answer to these points and some additional tips: 1. Which programs on Linux have the same or similar function as a given Windows programs like: a) Office - specifically Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access Access is the biggie. The others can be reasonably substituted with OpenOffice, and for intensive spreadsheet needs, run Gnumeric (not as pretty but extremely capable). As for Publisher, there is LyX which is different and yet similar. Also there are a number of advancements in this area in the open source world. b) IE - bookmarks and IE specific applications c) Outlook and Outlook express, email repositories, calendars Migrate to Mozilla first, then back up your profile before you move. Alternatively you can export these and then import them into Mozilla and/or evolution after you move d) Graphics applications, formats Gimp supports most every graphics format. ImageMagick is also common. Not as powerful as photoshop but coming a long way really fast. e) Firewalls and Anti-virus applications Netfilter is part of the Linux kernel and is extremely powerful in this regard. As for anti-virus, eTrust works for Linux. For the most part, though Linux is less susceptible to viruses than Windows. f) Backup applications Tar, etc. can be automated. Fileroller can be used via a gui. Enterprise backup tools exist as well. g) Databases and database applications Oracle or DB2 for proprietary db's. PostgreSQL of Firebird for open source ones. Stay away from MySQL for mission-critical or precision critical uses as it is know to truncate numbers.... h) Development tools Hmmm.... Komodo, Kdevelop, etc for IDE's. OTherwise you have Glade, GCC, Emacs, VIM, etc. You pick. Supports the following languages: Java, C, C++, ForTran 77, Perl, Python, PHP, BASIC, ADA, Objective C, BASH, CSH, KSH, etc. This is one area where there is no shortage of apps. i) Communication tools and applications You will have to be more specific. You do have groupware servers and clients, PBX and softphones, instant messenge servers and clients, even programs like Talk... These are all communications programs and can generally generally be dropped in instead of their Windows versions. j) Gui/desktop Not any harder to use than Windows k) System administrator and system management tools Easier to use than Windows. More scriptable. More powerful, more secure. Not quite like GPO's though. 2. What to do about windows applications that have no similar linux version or are very difficult to convert. See below under other general tips. You should consider migrating little by little in order to solve these problems gradually. 3. Coexistence - short term and long term, cost and problems This is very hard to quantify due to the different options available to you with open source and the power of the UNIX paradigm (small pieces loosely woven) which permeates Linux (No this is not to say that there are any copyright issues with Linux, just that the idea of small pieces loosely woven is the powerful one). 4. How to convert existing data from a given windows application to a linux application a) List of conversion tools This must be evaluated program by program. Again this is why you impliment it slowly. 5. How to convert users from a windows environment to a linux environment a) How to set up "work groups" and "domain" under linux You could use replicate /etc/passwd, etc. among the systems for a workgroup-like setup, Seems more pain than it is worth especially since the software is Free. Better to go with the "domain" and use NIS or OpenLDAP backed by MIT Kerberos. These programs have good documentation associated with them. b) How to replace Primary and Backup domain controllers All covered in the Kerberos and OpenLDAP documentation :-) c) How to migrate users and user groups to linux You could use the net vampire utility to convert the users and groups using Samba. Or you could use other utilities to extract this info. d) What to do about the active directory What about it? You could use it if the value justifies the money you are paying Microsoft. But you would have to extend it somewhat. Pay me to do this ;-) Or you could get rid of it and just use OpenLDAP and Kerberos instead. e) User environment like printers, files and directories, etc. You can move these over, using Samba for the files. Some preferences will be lost and the user will need to set them up again. BUT with Linux you could push out much of this info using DHCP (print servers, XDM servers, etc) as well. 6. A section on pros and cons of a conversion Take a look at 7. A section about time: a) How long will it take realistically b) Suggested stages c) Template plans for a conversion job Depends on the number of workstations and the complexity. For most businesses, I would not suggest moving in less than a month. Try to spread it out over at least three to avoid burning bridges. Complex environments such as larger businesses may take many years to convert. 8. A section on costs - it will always cost something to convert and being realistic about these costs gives higher credibility. We provide quotes. In some cases, it was less expensive to install Linux than replace a bad Windows CD (small businesses) and the migration cost $100. For larger businesses, the costs could be in the tens of millions of dollars. 9. High profile reference cases 10. List of where to get end-user, sysadmin and developer education for linux The email lists and project web pages are a good place to start. Also check out your local Linux Users Group if applicable. 11. List of Service organisations or consultants that can help or do a conversion Again, we do. See our page at Or call me at 509-630-7794 :-) 12. List of Linux FAQs and documentation for the different user groups I would want to know exactly what you want to do before sending out hundreds of faqs. But the best place to start is 13. Some reasonable criteria for a deciding on a conversion a) Why and why not b) Skills c) Costs You can find our whitepapers which cover many of these issues at: Costs are extremely difficult to discuss and the best way to look at this is to ask the lowest possible cost. I would need to know more about your environment. Also if you want better return on investment, you will want to budget 150% of this number so that you can adapt your network to your business better.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to ... Linux ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 01:35 AM EDT
Why not from Windows to ... anything else?

I don't see why Linux should be an exclusive choice. There are lots of
operating systems/environments out there ... Linux is not the only open-source

[ Reply to This | # ]

Windows to Linux - The real problem
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 08:41 AM EDT
The real issue with switching from Windows to
Linux are DRIVERS. A lot of hardware lacks
support in linux.

The manufacturers can't, or simply don't
want to provide specs for their hardware
to the OSS programmers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Switching from Windows to Linux
Authored by: bobstevens on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 08:46 AM EDT
1st: Put Linux in the server room.

  • The IT people will get accustomed to Linux (if they are not already) and be better able to support the workstation roll-out.
  • Decide on a distro that is capable and well supported. My suggestion is SUSE Enterprise 9. The 2.6 kernel is fast and capable and Novell supports it well.
  • Use SAMBA sever to provide storage to traditional Windows workstations. The Windows users can map drives to it and won't see a difference.
  • 2nd: Workstations can be switched to SUSE Pro 9 with the Ximian XD2 desktop.

  • Ximian can make it look just like Windows and their version of OpenOffice has great fonts and saves documents as Windows Office file version by default. Very easy transistion for your users so there is less political problems.
  • Many of our clients transition users over by first getting them set up on OpenOffice running on Windows first. It's free and makes the transition to Linux and Open source easier since they make the transition in two steps instead of 1.
  • OpenOffice can handle the majority of your users' needs as an office suite. Documents created in OpenOffice are interchangable with Microsoft 200x Office. For those Microsoft programs you cannot do without, use CrossOver Office. It allows the installation of the entire Microsoft Office suite, IE, MS Project, Visio, as well as Dreamweaver MX and Quicken (since 90+% of all small to medium businesses use a version of Quicken or Quickbooks this will be critical.) A side benefit is that the MS Office suite runs faster in Cross-Over Office than it does in XP.
  • A workstation alternative is to go to the new Novell desktop. It combines Ximian (Gnome) with KDE features and comes with Cross-Over Office. It has that Windows look and feel and great fonts. Again, great support from Novell.
  • 3rd: email. In the back room, you can either keep using Exchange or GroupWise and use Evolution as the workstation front end. It looks and operates like Outlook and has connectors to both Exchange and GroupWise servers.

  • If you want to change email programs, go with SUSE Open Exchange Server. Full email collaboration with calendar, fax, etc. The Evolution client can talk to it with no problem.
  • 4th: Look at the great services available from open source. For example, if you need a SQL database, MySQL will do a great job even for large DBs. Apache is already handling 64% of all web pages seen on the Internet now.

    5th: Updates. The reason I have stressed SUSE in this post is that you can use YaST Online Update (YOU) to update servers and workstations like MS Automatic Update.
    An alternative to YOU is Ximian's Red Carpet. You subscribe to Red Carpet channels for both your OS and your software and get updates for them all. You can then push them directly to machines or aggregate them and push them out at your schedule. Red Carpet handles n-level dependancies (program A needs B which needs C....n).

    I hope this helps. As they say, been there, done that and continue to assist clients to do so.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A Real Life Case Study on Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 11:55 AM EDT
    Most of the comments above have been tidbits of *perceived* traps and pitfalls of switching.

    I thought I'd alert everyone to a real life example of one company that has made this migration. These actualities may indeed open some eyes to the possibilities. And some of the estimated costs as described by the Munich study did not materialize.

    Ernie Ball

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    More things for the "concerns" list
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 12:27 PM EDT

    I currently don't use Linux, but I read Linux magazines from to time and I did once use Unix as my work environment for a couple of years. I write this note in the spirit of trying to help people who would like to see Linux used more widely. My list of the kinds of things that keep me from pursuing Linux has remarkably little overlap with the list in the email to PJ that forms the basis for this page. Here are some of the items on my list, not necessarily all that well thought out:

    1. 1. Distributions. These are really a pretty serious concern.

      With Windows, I pretty much know the score, which has been stable for some time. There is W95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2K, and XP. W95, 98 (as opposed to 98SE) and NT are dead. ME is essentially a crippled version of 98SE, and is thus a dog. XP is copy protected with a mechanism that adds significant risk to the user (it can and will intentionally break itself when Microsoft thinks that is in Microsoft's best interest, and that is not in the user's best interest if the user has any serious dependencies on the system), and is hence a dog. That leaves 98 and 2K as sensible versions to have. 98SE is a bit of a kludge built on DOS, which is good (because it isn't really a secure environment, and that allows a level of hacking that enables some things, like better game performance) and bad (because it isn't secure and it crashes more). 2K is more or less a real, multitasking, secure (in principle - I'm not interested in debating MS's code quality shortcomings here) operating system with a competent underlying design that is not all that much unlike Unix or Linux. Microsoft has things called Service Packs, which can basically be downloaded or obtained on CD free (or at near manufacturing/handling cost) for anyone, so for the most part I need only think about the most up-to-date sub-version of each of these windows versions. For the most part, updating Windows versions is maybe a once in seven years event (I'm not talking about apply fixes, but changing versions.)

      But with Linux, there is Debian versions a,b,c,d,e, SUSE versions a,b,c,d,e,f, RedHat versions a,b,c,d,e,f, Slackware ..., Mandrake ..., SCO ... (oops), Corel ..., and what not. I'll be darned if I have any real concept of how they all differ, if it matters, or how much it matters. I would guess there is some new version from someone about once a month. How are they maintained? Can I get fix packs or other updates? On CD's? For how much? From who? How often, and for how long, for a given numbered Linux version? Am I screwed if I only have a modem internet connection? Is bug fixing a constant process of upgrading to a new version (e.g., RedHat 8 to RedHat 9), or is it more equivalent to the Microsoft fix pack scenario? How much trauma does such a version number upgrade typically entail? When and why should I do it? After I get/have whatever version of Linux that I end up with, how much do I need to worry about the fact that my friend has a different version? I keep hearing about apps (WordPerfect 8, for example) which have dependencies on old libraries which are no longer distributed (but will still work if you can find a copy of the old lib) -- what kind of nonsense is this and how should I think about it? Is there an equivalent to "DLL hell" that exists in the Microsoft world? I hear about applications being distributed in "RPM" format, and also in some other format whose name escapes me for the moment -- what are the consequences of these multiple formats other than the obvious nuisance value? Is installation and uninstallation of apps the same kind of mess on Linux as it is on Windows? If not, what kind of mess is it? If I install 50 apps, then uninstall them, will I have a system as "clean" as when I started? Is there any long term plan by anyone to fix this mess?

      Linux still really suffers from what made Unix non-competitive with Windows for years (and probably what really killed Unix), namely, a zillion hardware box makers each shouting that they had the real version of Unix (although it's no longer box makers who create the chaos). The Linux magazines are terrible - just the usual nonsense that each of the latest versions is the one that you just really need to have, and virtually nothing that gives you a picture about what each of these version is likely to mean in terms of allowing users to make OS upgrades a once-in- seven-or-so-years event.

      Is it possible to summarize the Linux version situation in a few paragraphs, not unlike the Windows paragraph that I wrote above?

    2. File system semantics 1.

      "32bit" Windows systems do something quite significant to help out legacy DOS/Windows users - they generate an 8.3 "alias" name for every file, and they have a case insensitive, case preserving filename semantics (e.g., if I have a file called abc.efg and touch it with an old DOS app (which will actually "use" the name ABC.EFG, since old DOS apps "know" only about upper case 8.3 names), the lower case name will be preserved).

      Does Linux have similar functionality? Under what circumstances (e.g., VFAT disks only, perhaps)?

    3. File system semantics 2.

      Windows systems allow one to have a separate "current directory" setting for each separate partition/disk. This is very useful when one manages partitions to take advantage of it. Does Linux have similar functionality?

    Anyone care to take a shot at these questions?

    There are a lot more questions like these, but I don't have time now and I suspect that this note will never be noticed or responded to if it doesn't make it onto Groklaw in the first day or two of the conversion-from-windows-page's existence.

    (Which, by the way, is probably a reason why a conversion- from-windows page on Groklaw is a bad idea -- Groklaw pages represent wonderful reference material for a lawsuit, but each page on Groklaw typically degenerates to a stagnant, no longer updated page after about two or three days.)

    Wally Bass

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 01:40 PM EDT
    I've encountered quite a few problems since I put linux on one of my machines to
    run some expensive engineering software.

    While it seemed easy to get the box programmed to talk to my router, I've never
    been able to get it to talk to my lan and other (win2k) machines. Since I have
    no lan, I use a usb memory stick to move files back and forth.

    Now this is really dumb. To get the memory stick to work, I was told to create
    a dummy directory and use a cryptic "mount" command to get the
    computer to "see" it. Good grief. Both xp and win2k do this
    automatically when you plug the stick in. (I'm no Microsoft fan, but ...)

    I took the box over to another shop to show them a design and the thing took
    about a half hour to boot. It didn't like the fact that the network wasn't the
    same, so it kept hitting these time-outs. I tried to fix it (their dhcp rather
    than my fixed ip) and ended up killing the license server for my expensive
    software. Apparently it's tied to the host name and when I dinked with it, I
    messed everything up. I got it back, but was sweating bullets while I fixed it.
    Who on Earth would design an operating system that hangs when the network is

    When I first loaded Fedora and the engineering software, I made the mistake of
    trying to increase the display resolution. The software is, after all, for
    laying out integrated circuits. After that, the machine wouldn't boot. Since I
    am new to linux and have never been a unix administrator (user yes), what could
    I do? I reloaded linux and started from scratch.

    Gnome still complains with an error message every time I boot the machine. I
    have no idea why, or how to even start to find out why it's complaining. It's
    probably from one of my excursions into trying to network with Samba, but
    that's just a guess.

    I tried doing a dual boot with win2k once and that didn't seem to work.
    Instead, I bought a portable drive setup and just swap out hard disks to change
    from win2k to linux.

    I did get my lan printer working with the linux box. I count this as a major
    success :-) (hp2200dn)

    I did a web search before I started all this, and found a minimal support
    claimed for new hardware in linux. I opted to use an old machine to avoid these
    issues. This works for layout since it's not that demanding, but my spice
    simulator uses 100% of the cpu when it runs. I have to have the fastest
    computer I can buy to avoid week long run times on some jobs. I can pay someone
    to build a bleeding edge machine for me, but then I'd be petrified to make even
    the slightest change once it was running.

    The point is that it's not only possible to get yourself into problems you can't
    get out of with linux, it's highly likely this will happen.

    I've designed IC's for 27 years, but am not a programmer. I managed to figure
    out how win2k works well enough where I don't have problems like this. I like
    what I've seen of linux and feel perfectly comfortable as a user. I just wish
    there were a way to get simple things working without putting my installation
    at risk.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Why with all the Microsoft posters?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 03:44 PM EDT
    Did they receive a memo from corporate HQ?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 06:34 PM EDT
    Switching your OS isn't what's difficult. The applications a business needs to
    run are *the* barrier to adoption of alternative operating systems. Forget about
    Office for a moment because that's both obvious and not the issue for many

    Many businesses rely upon industry specific applications to do their work. The
    insurance industry is a very good example of this, along with say the banking
    industry, medical professionals, the list goes on. But lets talk about

    Insurance companies frequently employ commercial insurance rating applications
    to rate commercial lines of business. The data they use is usually provided by a
    3rd party company which also provides an application to use the data. Virtually
    NONE of these type of applications have a Linux version, and many of them are
    DOS based. Pile on top of that that most insurance companies run an application
    called Series III. This system is widespread, nearly every insurance company
    uses it, and right now the only stable version of it runs on OS/2. There's a
    Windows version out now but translating the applications built on Series III v6
    and v7 is time consuming and expensive. It took over 10 years of the insurance
    industry complaining about supporting OS/2 for this to get the application's
    manufacturer to actually write a windows version, which is very buggy so not
    many are switching to it.

    Since a considerable number of workstations must run Windows and/or OS/2 in this
    environment, it simply isn't an option to convert "some" of them to
    Linux. That would in fact cost the company more money than just supporting
    Windows and OS/2 alone, due mainly to the increase in support staff or support
    staff abilities required to support the additional OS.

    And it is this supportability that is *the* issue for CIOs in large
    corporations. They worry about document compatibility with Office, whether their
    old and somewhat unsupportable DOS and Windows apps can be run on or converted
    to Linux, etc. No CIO is going to run Linux on a PC that has a requirement to
    run a DOS only application when the manufacturer of the application says they
    won't support an install on Linux with an emulator. And frequently there is NO
    alternative application option.

    If you want people switching from Windows to Linux en masse anytime in the near
    future, someone needs to kick development tools in the butt so applications
    written in Visual C++ can easily be ported to Linux and compiled. Without that,
    software companies don't see a need to redevelop and maintain a separate code
    tree for an OS that isn't widely adopted, and without key applications available
    on Linux, most companies won't adopt it for large scale use on desktops. It's a
    vicious circle.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 07:25 PM EDT
    The complete lack of any ease of use is a problem. All Linux is, from my experience working with it, is that it is a GUI for a Comand Line. I DO NOT want to go back to the days of DOS and have to use a command line to do simple things such as extracting a zipped file, especially not having to unTar it then using gzip to extract it. This is something that irritates me.

    Also, the lack of anything resembling a simple executable is ridiculous. I had a hard enough time getting Firefox .8 to run on Redhat 7, Firefox .9's executing code file won't even run, for no reason given.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, July 18 2004 @ 10:36 PM EDT
    I tried switching a record store I work at over to linux recently. Their
    stock-system and point-of-sale is all a clarion based app and I spent several
    weekends getting it to run under wine. It seemed to work great. Unfortunately as
    soon as we tried a live machine that accessed the real data files on a samba
    server we got data corruption errors and their entire POS system went down.
    (fortunately it wasn't during opening hours). I don't think I'll be trying it
    again, far too frustrating.

    So many businesses use specialized apps like this, I think they would always be
    a serious sticking point for migrating to linux.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: Bill R on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 08:36 AM EDT
    As mentioned in the article, data is a factor that needs to be addressed. More
    to the point, the method of transition and sharing of data is of equal or
    greater importance.

    In our organization, we have a fee added to the purchase of each new system to
    transition data from the old to the new box - network storage is not popular
    here. Many of our users also do peer to peer file sharing as well. Since it is
    likely that any transition will require access to Windows and Linux for quite
    some time, users and support staff will need to be trained in how to share files
    using sharing protocols under Windows and Linux. As well as how to access this
    data through one of the Linux utilities to browse a Windows network
    neighborhood. Likely, Linux users will need to set up sharing using Samba for
    Windows and NFS for Linux. If there are OS X users, this will need to be
    considered as well but OS X can handle multiple file sharing protocols. In a
    Windows environment, Samba can be set up to access a Windows or Samba domain
    controller for accounts but user security will still need to be considered.

    We setup default sharing folders in our default installations for Windows users
    to allow them to easily setup file shares on their systems. We also have a
    server setup for the temporary storage of data during the system transition.
    Most of our transitions are Windows only but this capability could still be used
    to transition from Windows to Linux. If an organization requires central storage
    for user data, this will need to be considered as well to allow Linux and
    Windows users to coexist.

    I would recommend your site include detailed information about not only what
    FOSS applications will read your existing data but also what services are
    required to share this data and how to install and configure these services.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: David Gerard on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 08:58 AM EDT
    Preconceived Usage Patterns Hamper the Wider Adoptation of Linux from

    Basically, the biggest problem is that people will deal with every hiccup by rebooting. (Meaning consumer Linux better use ext3 or ReiserFS by default!) Or by reinstalling.

    The problem is not using it - it's learning how not to think in Windows terms about a very stable operating system.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Excellent website
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 09:31 AM EDT

    There are a couple of very interesting articles. Somebody get this guy in here!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux, user logon ?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 09:57 AM EDT
    I can understand the clients or desktops. What I can't understand is how to set up the clients so that the username on one client/desktop is the same when logging on to the server. When I tried an older version of Suse, it had something called NIS. From what I've been able to read, OpenLDAP has replaced NIS. But how do I use this? If I set up a server, creating user names, then set up a desktop, am I creating the same user names, and then editing files to make sure the user names all have the same user id numbers as on the server? Or how else is this handled? I'm assuming OpenLDAP, but I'm still having trouble understanding it. Do I create a different user name on the desktop, that doesn't exist on the server, and then once logged on as that different user, then log on as the correct user onto the server? Using this method would avoid different user ids between the desktop and server, and would also avoid extra work when setting up the desktops, but it doesn't seem efficient.

    I'm aware this can be avoided by floppy booting or pxe booting from the desktop across the network to boot off the server, but by doing so, you are losing the processing power of running X locally instead of streaming X across the network from the server, aren't you?

    Is there a guide somewhere to read that explains something as simple and fundamental as to how the server/desktop user name/id/signon works?


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Switching from Windows to Linux
    Authored by: rev_matt_y on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 12:07 PM EDT
    There are many forums online where you can get great info about switching as well. One I frequent is Desktop Linux.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The Soya-Milk Effect
    Authored by: BitOBear on Monday, July 19 2004 @ 05:11 PM EDT
    The one thing I do like to point out to users swtiching away from any platform
    really is what I like to call The Soya-Milk Effect.

    If, when you first try Soya Milk on your cerial, you are expecting it to taste
    like Dairy Milk, you will be sorely disapointed.

    It's not that soya-milk acually tastes bad, its just that it doesn't taste at
    all of milk. If fulfills all the requirements of milk, vis a vi Cerial, but it
    is usually sweeter and more tart. Alos, lacking the animal origins of the milk
    you are used to, it will lack a gaminess that you are expecting. (It therefore
    tastes "clearer" or "more bluish" or something.) This
    latter is the pehnominia that new adopters find most disturbing.

    This is a direct analouge of the experience of switching from systems or
    products one is familiar with to something new and different.

    So when switching between *any* two platforms, you *must* do so with the
    expectation that it will not taste the same. Some things will be smoother, some
    sweeter, and some ineffibly absent. If this is something you *expect*, then it
    can be interesting and exotic and pleasureable.

    If, however, you don't expect the change before you taste it, the differences
    will be disturbing at a deep and profound level.

    It's like when someone just hands you the giant dirnk-box of soya milk, tells
    you "it's just like milk" and "its what we have, so you have to
    like it." That scenerio is doomed to fail.

    The most important part of doing the switch-over is to prepare your audience to
    appreciate the differences. DON'T minimize them, and DON'T try the "you'll
    never notice the difference" ploy. If there weren't a difference, they
    will ask, then why are we switching?

    If you fail to plan for and appreciate your audience and all their expectations,
    every surprise will be seen by them as a bad one; "lots faster" will
    feel "slippery and insubstantial"; "different cut-and-paste
    semnatics" will feel like "missing functionality"; and
    "distinct and complete apps" will feel like "lack of

    Prep your user base with a "why this will feel different" or
    "thins you will love and hate" presentation, preferably with as little
    advocacy as you can manage. "This new system is not stupid like the old
    one" will be heard as "everything you know is wrong and stupid"
    which will not win you adopters.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A brief Knoppix guide
    Authored by: vruz on Tuesday, July 20 2004 @ 12:29 AM EDT
    Installing Knoppix 3.4

    Knoppix is, from my experience, the easiest and
    quickest path to get a decent desktop GNU/Linux
    installation up and running.

    Quick as in about 30 minutes in a Pentium III 700 Mhz, 256 Mb RAM machine, this
    may vary of course, depending on your hardware.

    Please note this is a guide for PC Computers, but I know there's a Knoppix for
    Mac available too.

    A fellow groklawer pointed us to some HOWTO, but it looks like that
    documentation is outdated and it refers to an old Knoppix version.

    First of all you should get a Knoppix 3.4 CD-ROM

    Depending on your internet bandwidth, geographical location,
    and change in your pocket there are at least three ways to
    do this:

    1) download an ISO image of the Knoppix 3.4 CD-ROM

    2) get a CD-ROM copy delivered to you for a few bucks
    (and support the project efforts)

    3) If you happen to be in Germany, you will be able to
    get a preview of the upcoming Knoppix 3.5 DVD for
    about EUR 10 at the LinuxTAG fair.

    The Knoppix homepage in english:

    In order to have Knoppix 3.4 installed in your hard-disk you
    have to:

    1) boot from the Knoppix CD

    You may have to configure your computer BIOS Setup to
    boot from CD if you haven't already. Computers handle
    this in many different ways, if your computer doesn't
    seem to boot from the CD, please have a look at your
    computer BIOS configuration manual

    2) Press Enter
    wait for KDE to start

    3) Using the "Run" option of the KDE menu execute:


    After dismissing an "about" dialog, a menu should appear, giving the
    following options:

    1) Configure Installation
    2) Start Installation
    3) Partition
    4) Load config
    5) Save config
    6) Quit

    The configuration options are pretty straightforward from
    this point, except for the hard-disk partitioning process
    which can be troublesome if you have to share it with
    other operating systems, there's still no quick fix for that, but Knoppix will
    gladly make a clean Linux-only partition for you automatically if your hard-disk
    is blank.

    If you need further assistance, you can contact me:

    vruz (AT) digipromo (DOT) com

    or if you are patient enough, on irc at:
    channels: #ruby-es #knoppix
    my nickname there, is also "vruz"


    --- the vruz

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
    Comments are owned by the individual posters.

    PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )