Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some notes on Windows vs. Linux


Jack Wallen of Tech Republic has an important paper today on considerations in deciding whether an business (typically a smaller business) should convert from a windows-based to a Linux platform. The title is “10 Questions to Ask Before Migrating to Linux.” The document is a PDF, free but requires registration and can be downloaded from this link.

Most major applications (like Adobe) have Linux equivalents. But the critical issue seems to be selecting a “desktop metaphor” for associates. Employees will have to learn different practices and techniques for removable media.

Another issue is whether your company purchases outside technical support. It’s interesting that he mentions Debian as presenting support issues; with the one-person ISP that I used from 1997-2001, I used Debian for my statistical reports on my domain (now it’s all Urchin).

He also suggested considering employee experience. He says that there is little practical difference between Open Office and Microsoft Office.

In view of Wallen’s paper, visitors may want to look an older IBM position paper, by David Mertz, from 2004: “Linux on Mac: A Power Programmer’s Primer: Your favorite operating system isn’t only for X86”, here. I played around with terminal mode on my iMac back in 2002 but found little reason to deal with it. But when I had support problems with Apple (particularly with the DVD burner), they would dictate commands over the phone in their proprietary scripting language that resembled Unix and Linux commands but were their own.

An associate of mine from the 1990s developed a version of GNU/Linux that fits on one 1.44 floppy. I actually tried a version of it a few years ago on an old 386 Everex laptop, and it worked. It’s called “Tom’s Root Boot” and you can learn about it at this link. For Tom, feline curiosity is the greatest of virtues.

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