More inroads for Linux

Linux’s TuxWhile it seems every year someone proclaims this will be the year of Linux on the desktop, there are always a steady stream of those who ‘get it’ and are reaping the benifits of freeing themselves from the upgrade and licencing cycle, making it feel as if a tipping point is indeed at hand. Here’s a roundup of some very interesting news in that regard from this week. First up, a California school district aims 5,000 desktops at Linux. “Windsor, Calif. School District IT administrator Heather Carver is migrating most of the district’s 70 servers and most of its 5,000 desktop machines from a mostly-Windows environment that is quickly becoming obsolete to a new mixed environment that includes PCs running SUSE Linux, Wyse Linux thin-client terminals, and a smattering of Mac and Windows machines. When all the phasing-in is completed sometime next year, the district will be operating about 2,000 SUSE Linux desktops, 50 SUSE Linux servers, 2,700 Linux thin clients, and a few hundred Mac and Windows machines for special purposes, Carver said. Additionally, she expects to save thousands of dollars each year in hardware and software costs by doing it. “One key to all this is that we’re using Citrix (as the bridge) to run Windows apps on thin-client terminals – which the adults are most used to – on the new SUSE Linux 10.1 servers,” Carver told “The kids, well, they adjust to new operating systems and applications very quickly, so a changeover to Linux is no big deal.

Next up, the Federal Aviation Adminsitrion considers ditching Microsoft’s Windows Vista And Office for a Linux and Google Apps combo. While this could just be an effort to ruffle feathers and get a better deal from MS, if this hold true it will continue my “no one needs Windows and Office to edit some spreadsheets and do word processing. (see this video for a demo on how to signup and use Google Apps for your domain for free (I’ve set this up for my own domains, it’s very slick – look for a full post on this soon). “March is coming in like a lion for Microsoft’s public sector business. Days after InformationWeek reported that the Department of Transportation has placed a moratorium on upgrades to Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Internet Explorer 7, the top technology official at the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that he is considering a permanent ban on the Microsoft software in favor of a combination of Google’s new online business applications running on Linux-based hardware. “It’s a different sort of computing strategy,” he said. “It takes the desktop out of the way so you’re running a very thin client. From a security and management standpoint that would have some advantages.” Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition last month at a price of $50 per user, per year. It features online e-mail, calendaring, messaging, and talk applications, as well as a word processor and a spreadsheet. The launch followed Google’s introduction of a similar suite aimed at consumers in August. The new Premier Edition, however, offers enhancements, including 24x7 support, aimed squarely at corporate and government environments. Bowen said he’s in talks with the aviation safety agency’s main hardware supplier, Dell Computer, to determine if it could deliver Linux-based computers capable of accessing Google Apps through a non-Microsoft browser once the FAA’s XP-based computers pass their shelf life. “We have discussions going on with Dell,” Bowen said. “We’re trying to figure out what our roadmap will be after we’re no longer able to acquire Windows XP.

Speaking of, Dell is getting a Linux push from its users asking for them to provide Linux solutions which would help to boost their the sagging market share of the Austin, Texas company. “If the customer’s always right, then let’s hope that Dell’s ready to deliver. Since February 16 when it launched Ideastorm, a customer-based crowdsourcing site, over 100,000 comments have addressed the possibility of offering leading Linux versions preinstalled in addition to, or in place of Windows.” Dell spokesman David Lord confirms that the Linux buzz is being “taken into consideration” and tells us we should “certainly stay tuned.” Despite the vague update, Dell no longer has the luxury of turning a blind eye to high customer demand since it’s getting exactly what it asked for in the first place. Believe it or not, Dell is no stranger to Linux, according to Lord who explains that it sells custom-designed, high-end Linux desktops for use in oil and gas exploration.” You can read the post that stared all of this here on the Dell Ideastorm site.

And lastly HP seems a bit ahead of Dell when it comes to considering Linux, perhaps due to their more recent attempts at integreation. “Hewlett-Packard is closing custom deals for thousands of desktop PCs running Linux, which has the company assessing the possibility of offering factory-loaded Linux systems, an HP executive said. “We are involved in a number of massive deals for Linux desktops, and those are the kinds of things that are indicators of critical mass. So we are really looking at it very hard,” said Doug Small, worldwide director of open source and Linux marketing at HP. “We are in a massive deal right now for … multi-thousands of units of a desktop opportunity for Linux. That’s an indicator.” He declined to give details about the Linux deals. Though HP doesn’t offer a specific SKU of a notebook or desktop PC preloaded with Linux, several of its notebooks are certified to work with Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 operating system and with Red Hat Linux. The Palo Alto, Calif., IT giant also provides Linux-loaded PCs for custom orders, such as large enterprise deals. […] Robert Brentson, CEO of InTech Solutions, a Penfield, N.Y.-based solution provider and HP and Novell partner, agreed that the Linux PC segment is reaching an inflection point. He pointed to integrated SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for ProLiant and BladeSystem servers and suggested that “at the desktop, I do think you’re going to see a similar amount of support as well.” Brentson said stumbling blocks to Linux on the enterprise desktop – particularly in the education space – have been the availability of support training and end-user training plus the deployment of technology such as Novell’s ZENworks Desktop Management. Brentson said his firm, a Novell certified Gold partner, is on track to begin providing such training and consulting in the near term.

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