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Posted on February 11th, 2011 by Barry Collins

Running PC Pro on Ubuntu: the verdict

Ubuntu

Yesterday, something remarkable happened. Our entire editorial team migrated to Ubuntu overnight and – by and large – it was business as usual. The website ran as normal, magazine copy was still written, we (just about) fulfilled our day jobs. (You can see how PC Pro’s Ubuntu day unfolded here.)

Several of the many excellent comments on yesterday’s live blog suggested our day-long experiment wasn’t a fair test; that no IT manager worth his space in the car park would migrate an entire office to a new operating system with almost no preparation or staff training. They were right. Yet what our somewhat reckless experiment revealed is that Ubuntu could cope. On a rag-bag selection of laptops and desktops, installed as a Windows “app”, a dual-boot or within a virtual machine, Ubuntu worked (sometimes at the second or third attempt) every time.

What our test also revealed is that the underlying operating system is becoming less and less relevant: what really matters are the applications. So much of our working lives are now spent in the web browser – updating the web CMS, scouring websites – that it really doesn’t matter if it’s Windows or Ubuntu propping the browser up. The Chrome and Firefox sync tools are so well implemented that you’re up and running with familiar bookmarks, extensions, search history and passwords within minutes.

What our somewhat reckless experiment revealed is that Ubuntu could cope

The single biggest complaint was the lack of viable alternative to Outlook. The built-in Evolution was too unreliable, and Thunderbird refused to play ball with our Exchange server. Tim even attempted to install Outlook 2010 using WINE, but hit a brick wall (earlier versions apparently work better). Could we work long-term without a decent way to search our bulging inboxes or to schedule a team meeting? No. But solutions exist if we did plot a permanent switch to Ubuntu, such as running Exchange email and calendars via Google Apps.

So are we going to take the plunge, wipe Windows, and make PC Pro an Ubuntu shop from now on? No. For starters, it would be irresponsible for us not to run on the operating system used by the vast majority of our readers, and so much of our day jobs involve testing Windows-only software and hardware that it simply wouldn’t be practical.

But are the team breathing a sigh of relief and wiping their Ubuntu installations? Or are they tempted to keep experiment with Linux in their professional and personal lives? I’ll let them answer for themselves.

Tim Danton, editor, writes:

My day on Ubuntu can be summarised in three words: liberating, fascinating, frustrating. Liberating because it was actually enjoyable to be forced to use a different OS than Windows. Several weeks ago I downloaded 10.04 and burned the CD, but hit a problem (I can’t now remember what) when I tried to install it on a home system. Yesterday’s experience will make me try again with a little more determination!

And it was fascinating to see a different way of doing things; you realise the gaps in your knowledge, between being a computing expert and a Windows expert. I wouldn’t describe myself as either, but yesterday definitely filled in a few gaps.

Ultimately, though, it was frustrating. I generally get through all my email in a day, dealing with it then deleting it or filing it away. Because Evolution proved so slow as to be unusable, and Outlook Web Access on Firefox or Chrome so aggravating, there are 50 extra emails sitting in my inbox. When Outlook popped up on my screen this morning, I gave a very satisfied sigh.

Darien Graham-Smith, technical editor, writes:

I already use the netbook edition of Ubuntu at home, and I’ve been using Unix-type systems on and off since my university days – so I was expecting to breeze through the experiment. But even if you’re au fait with the basics, switching from Windows or OS X to a fresh Ubuntu Desktop installation is a disorientating experience.

The problem isn’t the OS so much as the applications. The lack of familiar office and productivity software doesn’t feel like a big problem on a netbook, but on a full-fat desktop you naturally want to make full use of your computer’s potential, and it’s painful to have to abandon industry standard applications in favour of more, shall we say, homely alternatives – if indeed such alternatives even exist. I love the responsiveness and stability of Ubuntu, and I’ll definitely be keeping it as my netbook OS; but if it’s to become a real general-purpose alternative it needs more support from outside of Canonical.

David Bayon, deputy reviews editor, writes:

The core Ubuntu experience was really rather refreshing. The interface is so clean and the workspaces so intuitive, and I love that the Software Centre gathers useful applications to pick and choose from – with no messy installations either. For a home environment, where a lot of what I do is browser-based, Ubuntu can certainly do the job, and I have every intention of putting it on my home laptop. I’ll dual-boot at first, but we’ll see how it goes.

Alas, work wasn’t quite so rosy, with one big barrier: email. Evolution proved sluggish and unreliable, and lacks all of the surrounding features that I’ve come to rely upon so desperately. Outlook is my email client, calendar, to do list, contact book and Twitter feed integrator, and – as I don’t delete things – an indexed directory of everyone I’ve ever had dealings with at PC Pro. I simply have too much invested to do without it. I also had big problems with the ATI graphics drivers when I tried to move Ubuntu to my work PC, meaning I couldn’t get my two monitors working properly.

Is it simpler to setup than Windows? I don’t think I could hand a clean install to my parents and expect them to get the kinks ironed out, put it that way, but I think they’d get used to the environment very quickly. And issues aside – or perhaps because of them – Ubuntu restores something that the ranks of sealed boxes in PC World are rapidly killing off: a genuine sense of exploration. And that’s priceless. Yet Ubuntu is free.

Jonathan Bray, reviews editor, writes:

Ubuntu day was a rollercoaster ride for me: up on top of the world in the morning, down by lunchtime, feeling sick by the end of the day. For the most part, I’m perfectly happy using it – at home it’s installed on a couple of laptops, the family has no problems with using either – but when it came to work everything fell apart.

I never managed to get the Evolution email client to play nicely with the office Exchange server, severely hampering productivity. Video playback is poorly supported – I had to boot back into Windows 7 to view footage from a camcorder I was testing. I managed to get it playing smoothly via MPlayer and the command line, but it never looked right.

So am I more or less likely to use it as a result of our experiment yesterday? At work, definitely not – I felt a joyful jolt in my chest this morning when that Windows symbol first appeared on my screen, not something I thought I’d ever admit to feeling. But at home, I’m going to continue experimenting. It’s quick, usable and nippy. I think, in time, I could even be persuaded to consider letting my dad loose on it.

Mike Jennings, senior staff writer, writes:

One day with Ubuntu taught me more than I’d ever known about the most popular open-source OS around today. It’s far more user-friendly than I’d ever given it credit for: the initial install was easier and quicker than Windows 7 and, once that’d finished, I found it incredibly easy to get going thanks to Chrome’s bookmark syncing, the range of pre-installed software and immediate internet connection.

Ubuntu certainly has its idiosyncracies, though. Every change I wanted to make to my PC was heralded by a little box that asked for authentication, and it sometimes wouldn’t disappear – and trying to activate the existing graphics driver meant my system wouldn’t boot. I wasted too much time  fiddling with drivers and the Terminal trying to get software to install, tutting at its strange UI quirks or simply rebooting my machine to see if an update had worked.

One thing that also struck me was the friendly, supportive community that rallied around the #ubuntupro hashtag. I was tweeting throughout the day, and every message was greeted with suggestions, tips, popular apps and more, with several problematic posts prompting three or four different solutions from knowledgable users. It’s by far the busiest day I’ve ever had on Twitter, and there was nary a negative message among the dozens I received.

It might be tricky for a novice, but Ubuntu is definitely getting better, which is why I’m considering installing Ubuntu’s lightweight laptop variant on my netbook, even if it won’t displace Windows on my work or home machines.

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76 Responses to “ Running PC Pro on Ubuntu: the verdict ”

  1. Nick Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Thing is, Linux has been “getting better” for the past thirty years, yet still isn’t there. Is some of this application support – yes, no doubt about it and the move away from desktop to remote applications is marked these days but something is obviously lacking for it not to be considered a viable office replacement to Windows.

     
  2. Julian Edwards Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    A lot of the complaints seem to be of the “it’s not what we’re used to” kind which is always predictable when showing Ubuntu to Windows users. If you take an Ubuntu user who has never used Windows and put them in front of it I guarantee the same reactions.

    That said, it’s hard to move away from familiarity which is why Windows is so entrenched.

     
  3. Jonathon Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Ubuntu “Sex Panther” Linux… 60% of the time it works every time.

    It stings the nostrils. In a good way

     
  4. darkhairedlord Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Have to agree that ubuntu is good good good. but….
    exchange integration is bad bad bad.
    ffs its not down to linux, I mean, if my android phone can sync with exchange why the heck can’t evolution or any thing else?
    or am I missing something?

     
  5. Blarney Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It seems that the biggest problem was Evolution and Microsoft exchange email. As a Linux user for nearly 4 years I’ve never used Evolution either. Thunderbird is much better in my opinion and by using davmail most of the exchange problems would be solved. http://sourceforge.net/projects/davmail/

     
  6. Andrea Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    W Ubuntu forever..and down with all these money-stealer bad-software-makers like Microsoft, Apple and company.. :)

     
  7. Andrew Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I just want to commend everyone at PC Pro for trying a new operating system. It is rare for people to try something new.

    I am surprised by the trouble some have mentioned regarding the video. I have an ATI HD4850 and since Ubuntu 10.04 release, had have no problems in using the proprietary driver with my dual display.

    I was also surprised that you had trouble with Thunderbird. That is the program I love using and have had no problems with it. I have tried evolution but did not care for it as much.

    Two programs that Linux does need is a better calendar program, something like Vueminder for Windows and a home business accounting package like Quickbooks.

     
  8. Grepnix Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Exchange integration is not high on Linux developers list of things to do I suspect. Mostly, because they know it will always be a ‘catch-up’ game as Microsoft break operability with newer versions. They do not want it to work well with Linux. Monopolies will always have the advantage of creating standards even if they are not particularly good standards.

     
  9. Luke Benstead Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    @Nick Err.. Linux was created in 1991…

    Anyway, Ubuntu is perfectly adequate for the office, the only negatives this experiment has shown is that
    a.) you can’t just switch OS overnight without testing
    b.) Evolution and Thunderbird’s Exchange integration could use some work.
    c.) Not all Windows apps run on Ubuntu (surprise!)
    d.) Third-party support is still lacking (the whole market share catch 22)

     
  10. Seagull Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for a fascinating story – hope it encourages more people to try it out.

     
  11. Doug Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    One day isn’t enough time to evaluate something.

    Our university uses exchange but I just have gmail fetch all my mail combined into one account. You get so many other advantages by doing so when combined with android, google voice, integration with google apps like calendar and docs, etc. Google’s voicemail is far superior to the system our university spent a fortune on, and gmail is far superior to exchange clients, esp. the awful web-based client.

     
  12. senshikaze Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    As a Linux user for the past three years, I have to say that I find what PCPro did was commendable. Alot of their problems stemmed from exchange support, which is dismal. The problem there is not a problem of no desire, but microsoft isn’t known for open source nature, so exchange support for desktop clients is near impossible. (Mobile clients use a little backdoor microsoft has opened, originally for win mobile phones, that allows you to get into an exchange system. This hole is how, last I checked, evolution does it. If you have ever used an iphone or android phone with exchange you know you don’t get all the bells and whistles. For how it is doing it, evolution seems to get you about 60% of the way there. It is up to MS to release API to get them the other 40%.)

    Did anyone try zimbra with exchange? (www.zimbra.com)

     
  13. David Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I ran Evolution against my old company’s Exchange servers for several years. Yes, there were issues. I mostly got around them by figuring out how to configure my client side when the Exchange admins couldn’t tell me what I needed to know (e.g., what address and port to use for the GAL server). From what I gathered during that time, there were a lot of configuration settings that _could_ have been tweaked on the Exchange/AD side that would have made integrating third-party clients a lot easier. In one early case, I remember specifically that the folks running Exchange would NOT allow the particular login security methods that I needed, and I ran Outlook 2000 in CrossOver until they figured out that they needed to be doing this regardless, and switched over.)

    You know, there’s a whole world of Exchange alternatives out there, if you’re tired of being tied down like this. VMWare’s Zimbra is pretty dang spiffy, and works well with Evolution. Even if you don’t like Evo, the version just released yesterday has got a great, full-fledged web client (they tout it as a competitive advantage over OWA), with integrations for Facebook, Twitter, WebEx, LinkedIn, and others. Whee! We use it at work for two companies, and I run it at home.

     
  14. Joe Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I applaud the staff for daring to step outside of digital conformity by trying out a free OS… I don’t mean free as in “free beer!”; I mean free as in “FREEEEEDOOOOM!!!” The complete and limitless customizability is the most attractive feature of Ubuntu for me — the ability to modify EVERYTHING about the OS to make it truly Mine. The added benefits of stability, reliability, and efficiency are icing on the nearly perfect cake! I still think the reluctance of some would fade with more experience in Ubuntu. I now loath having to using Windows for anything!

     
  15. russg Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    One thing to say: Seamonkey Mail! Would that you had solicited tips before trying the experiment. I dual boot my work machine, and my Outlook mailbox is always near its full 200MB allocation (as I file everything). I had the same problems with Evolution that you describe, and found Thunderbird was even worse. I finally discovered that Seamonkey’s IMAP support is fast and reliable, even when there are hundreds of folders on the server. Point it at your IMAP account on the outlook server and it just works. BTW Seamonkey is the descendent of the original Netscape suite. :)

     
  16. Vole Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Seems to me the major complaint was with Exchange not Ubuntu. ;)

     
  17. BSD Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Who on earth would want to run an Microsoft Exchange server?

    Certainly not any Unix/Linux users.

     
  18. Lestibournes Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    There are basically 3 complaints here:
    1. Hardware issues. This is more PCPro’s fault than anyone else, for just slapping an OS on top of random hardware without checking first whether or not the 2 get along.
    2. No adequate replacement for outlook.
    3. Some problem installing Adobe AIR. Not sure what it is, since I didn’t have that problem. My problem was I think with installing AIR apps, not AIR itself. Solved by running AIR’s installer as admin (root), although that required some non trivial work.

    Aside from that there was one feature that would have been nice to have (automatically detecting the VMWare host and installing the appropriate software for the user), and a lot about being stranded in an alien environment and not knowing how to get around. My dad never thinks to look in the Ubuntu Software Center to install stuff, only at most to remove software, if he remembers that tool even exists. Old Windows habits die hard. He’s only using Ubuntu because Vista is running like a lame duck and he hadn’t gotten around to buying Windows 7 yet anyway. Once he does get around to it he might not only remove Vista, but Ubuntu as well. I’m guessing that the new desktop GUI in 11.04 isn’t going to help convince him otherwise.

     
  19. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I would also like to commend highly for PCPRO really putting Ubuntu/Linux in the spotlight.
    My only concern is how much good or bad PR this has generated for Ubuntu/linux.
    Some of the issues were very true, the 3rd party software catch 22 is one that in a way may become irrelevant to a point with cloud computing and hosted services for most people. Its a issue which will remain for while although brilliant features like this would help by maybe making forward thinking software houses to take notice and develop software for Linux as it continues to gain traction and market share on tablets, phones, netbooks etc.
    However some of the issues raised by PCPRO are as people have pointed out very unfair to Ubuntu. Even a day or two planning and google searching would have easily prevented and solved alot of the issues especially email and graphic/monitor related issues. This is evidenced by the very simple solutions people presented in tweets and blog posts. Solutions which a tech savvy team such as PCPRO could easily have overcome.
    I havent experience the issues with email or graphics ever and I actually thought the two biggest stumbling blocks would be printers and flash but you seem to overcome these very quickly.
    Overall this has been fascinating thrilling and thoroughly enjoyable.
    Thank you PCPRO.

     
  20. Anon Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    The Exchange problem is more on Microsoft’s end than on Ubuntu’s end. Keep in mind that it is in Microsoft’s best interest to keep their stuff from working with Linux as much as possible.

    That said, there are plenty of cheaper, more reliable, and more interoperable alternatives to Exchange out there if you look around.

     
  21. MB Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Good on you for trying.

    Davmail is the way to go for integrating with Exchange server, I do it at my workplace. There are definitely some huge gaps in the app space, though, where the Linux apps either don’t exist, or completely suck.

    @Nick – Linux isn’t 30 years old. It was started in the mid 90s, and didn’t even pick up steam until the 2000s

     
  22. alex Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Running Ubuntu for one day is just like driving car (Windows) for all the life and then try to drive a motorcycle (Ubuntu), it is not better it is just different, you have to learn how to ride it and when you do, you would never which back to car. That is why running Ubuntu for one day is not really fair to compare.

    But when ever you would like to switch to Ubuntu (from Windows) you have to know that switching OS is not a problem at all, what you need to do is switch applications. So replace Internet Explorer with Firefox or Chrome, MS-Office with OpenOffice or LibreOffice, switch Outlook with mail client like Thunderbird (you also need to replace your Exchange server!), replace Windows Messanger with Pidgin, replace Paint.net with Pinta, replace Windows Media Manager with VLC Player etc. This switch should be taken in months not one day and when you are ready to use all of the software that are installed on Windows and Ubuntu, then you are ready to switch to Ubuntu. If you switch Windows for Ubuntu, you will be most probably stuck with some Windows like problems (thinking like driving a car, but you have to know you are riding a motorcycle).

     
  23. Legion Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    The real lesson here is, don’t build your mail system around a service that ostensibly locks you in to one platform.

    If your ability to switch between OSs is hamstrung by a proprietary mail server that doesn’t really interoperate with anything outside its proprietary client, that’s the thing you should be looking at as a problem.

     
  24. dragonbite Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    So, effectively
    Microsoft’s vendor lock-in controls (Exchange) wins the day! And if they were running one of the other PIM servers out there, would this be the same issue?

    So let’s take a system and try to monkey-wrench it into a competitor’s system and complain when it doesn’t work. That’s like complaining that iWork doesn’t work on Windows after switching from Macs to Windows?! :P

    I bet things would be different if
    1. A solution was brought up for the Exchange/Evolution issue and not an “oh, I thought this would work out-of-the-box” (like any piece of software is perfect out-of-the-box?
    2. Give it a week or a month and then let those people that want to go back to go back. Then do a follow up article on their feelings when they return to Windows (the good and the bad).

    This really isn’t much different than the arguments Apple endured about 10+ years ago. Take some articles from back there, switch Apple and Mac with Linux and Ubuntu. You’ll probably be able to re-print the article and nobody would notice.

     
  25. Michael Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    For connecting to Exchange in Evolution:
    http://library.gnome.org/users/evolution/stable/exchange-configure.html.en

    That stated, it does depend upon WebDAV access, which has always been a bit slow, in my experience, no matter the platform.

    On the Windows side of things, I cannot STAND Outlook because it is so slow with my company’s IMAP server, it is borderline torture.

    I have been using MS Live Mail of all things on my Windows box and Mail.app on my OSX system. On Linux, I have been using Thunderbird/Lightning 3.0.

     
  26. Andrew Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Changing the mailserver would have helped. Using something like Zimbra for the day would have made the evolution hassles disappear. it has web-client, desktop client, talks IMAP and CalDav (Standards) so is completely cross-platform client compatible.
    Tx. (Hey I don’t work for them, but I use zimbra)

     
  27. Anon Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Try Zimbra for email

     
  28. bratticus Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 1:43 am

    “We ran our office on Ubuntu” yet we used exchange. How is that even possible?

     
  29. mrtechphile Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 2:58 am

    I’m an avid Linux/Ubuntu user. I think Linux as an OS has progressed to a stage that is on par with the other two major OS’s (Windows/OSX) if not better.

    Having said that, and I say this as a dedicated Linux user, there is a long way to go. We have to remember that the OS is really a platform which contains the applications we need and use. The OS is not the goal, in fact if it is a good OS it should be barely visible, it’s just a conduit for your applications not more. For people who depend on their livelihoods for good quality, easy to use applications this is essential, not the OS it’s self.

    Linux seems to have got the OS part right, but unfortunately the applications are way behind. Yes, there are many excellent open source applications but there is a huge gap in terms of dependable office/work related applications. This is not Linux’s fault, as it has proven itself as a dependable platform, but there is no interest from application developers due to the small market share that Linux holds and also the belief that the Linux culture is against non-free propriety applications. I think once a reasonable compromise can be reached where by companies can feel financially secure to develop applications for Linux, which there is a demand for, we can then truly see a flourishing of Linux.

    This excellent trail by PCPro shows the above, basically that they were happy with the OS, but not with the quality/reliability of some essential applications, a lack of a suitable “Exchange” alternative is one example. Finally, again, it is the applications that make the OS not visa versa.

     
  30. Sceptic Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Congrats to PCPRO. The experiment has proved that
    1. You should not try to use things folks do not want you to use unless you stick to their things (like Microsoft Exchange Server). Analogy is , why try to use restricted Microsoft fonts if they don’t want you to use them while running on OS X or Linux?
    2. Windows has never been out-of-the box working: You need to install all your applications, and then antivirus if you want to go on the web. My wife stopped using Windows after Norton could not catch the Trojan that was popping up messages all over the screen. She has not complained for 18 months after switching to Ubuntu
    3. @Andrew: For home finance, try GnuCash

     
  31. Sceptic Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I meant Symantec, not really Norton, about the antivirus-not-working problem.
    I wanted to add, for a home netbook, the playful Meego (Intel-Nokia offering) would do for what most people do on their netbooks. Of course you can add the Abiword, lightest word processing program adequate for most, or add anything that works on Linux.
    I have also been putoff by Suttleworth’s Unity interface on Ubuntu 10.10, and stick to the 10.04

     
  32. David Wright Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Oh, the irony… I’ve been using my old PC (Q6600 Scaleo P) as a server for testing purposes and I have to install Windows 7 back on it, as I am giving it to my prospective brother in-law.

    Apart from the graphics card (stuck with 1600×1200, not 1920×1200 after initial boot), all of the onboard hardware was recognised and had default drivers installed.

    Microsoft have certainly learnt a lot from Linux over the last few years. SuSE has been doing similar levels of hardware recognition since 2003.

    As I said in the comments on the other blog post, a 1-day test only really shows the teething problems in setting up the computers run a different operating system.

    A better test would be to plan the upgrade, carry it out and then run one magazine cycle with Linux on the desktop (and the lab on Windows for testing software, or use a Windows VM under Linux).

    That way, you can test out how the operating system really works in daily use. Setting up a machine is a “one time” affair, you don’t fiddle with new drivers or apps on a daily basis with Windows, and once the machine is up and running, you don’t do that on Linux either…

    As others have mentioned Evolution is not a good replacement for Outlook on an Exchange server. There are good alternatives to Exchange, which run on Linux servers.

    As to the comment above about Android and Exchange, that is something very different. The Exchange ActiveSync access to Exchange from mobile devices is very different to the protocol used for accessing Exchange over a local network from Outlook…

     
  33. Tnoy Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    @Sceptic – Well while I have dabbled in Linux ( Ubuntu ) , I have to say that Windows 7 works pretty well out of the box. With a free av like MSSE or one of the others , I haven’t had virus issues on family PC’s yet. Of course , yes you do have to pay for the OS.

     
  34. Jason Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    For me, i tried using ubuntu on my home build system. The main gripe i had was trying to get my blu ray drive to work. Beacause ubuntu is open source blu ray suppliers do not like it and make it very difficult to play there disks

     
  35. Windywoo Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I was surprised that so many journalists working for a PC magazine weren’t familiar with Ubuntu. I was even more surprised that they were surprised when Exchange didn’t work.

    I’m glad that so many of them found it a positive experience, but surely there should be at least one of them willing to keep track of all that open source has to offer rather than the occasional server review?

     
  36. Dave Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Sure you all did. So no need for Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator in the upcoming issue huh? Or are we calling that part of the operation Production not editorial?

    So basically a bit of a stunt where you could hack in text, do the odd email & browse the web. Hey, I can do that on my phone OS so it’s not that remarkable is it?

     
  37. Mark Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Commendable to attempt, but a horrible ill prepared one.

    Give 100 people who have never used a computer, give them an Ubuntu and a Windows disc and guarantee the experience will be more enjoyable with Ubuntu.

    Surprised at PC Pros lack of any computer savvy above my Grandma’s level.

     
  38. Xavier Sythe Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Why Ubuntu? There’s no one desktop Linux distribution. Linux Mint KDE is infinitely better, in my opinion. (Don’t even bother with Kubuntu)

     
  39. Kirill Borisov Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Lol, guys :) your complaints about Outlook not running are irrelevant. Everything will be browser-based soon and moved to computing clouds. Many companies are already using Gmail for their mailing needs.

    Ubuntu is rock-solid, virus-free and does everything Windows can do, and then more!

     
  40. Powernumpty Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I can see this was a good stunt to provoke comment and not a real test of an operating system. Can’t see you installing Win7 over say XP across the board in a working day without checking compatibility etc. Like many of the other comments have repeated I find it heartening to focus of a few problems mainly around connecting to a mailserver that doubtless has many reasons to stop you to connect to it using anything other than one of their cash cows like Outlook. It is so close to working now for people with more than a stunt in mind.
    Davmail is good but I find it does eat bandwidth (IMO) so there does need to be a way to support paid for Exchange installs OR a middleman server that buffers the exchange into proper universal access. Running davmail standalone server may become the beast but it early days. Councils and other organisations that have Exchange will want to keep it if it works but there is massive scope for Ubuntu on the desktop replacing XP and the like for a more secure exploit-reduced reliable platform. I see Windows as legacy OS now and have done for a while, we are that tipping point. For Tnoy (sic) it is inaccurate to say you have “I haven’t had virus issues on family PC’s yet” the truth is any viruses you maY have are not those recognised by the AV you are currently running, Trojans and Viruses that exist in small numbers no matter how destructive only become flagged by the Antivirus programs once they hit a critical mass. Ubuntu is not risk free but at least the software installed has a better chance of being patched than the millions of MS boxes with holes in out there because the OS applies patches to very little and often after the exploit has been there for a year or more.

     
  41. Cyberindie Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    @Kirill

    Browser based apps are definately becoming more popular but it’s still quite a time off before everything is done in the browser/cloud.

    For example video editing – massive amounts of data and lots of processing required – not something today or even next years broadband is suitable for. Who knows in 10 years time though I’m still doubtful

     
  42. Adam Williamson Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 4:14 am

    By the way, David Bayon is clearly doing it rong ™. You should *never* set up your workflow such that it’s entirely reliant on a single application, environment or computer. You should be able to lose your system tomorrow and be forced to switch to a different one, running a different operating system, and be able to pick up work without missing a beat, as far as that’s possible in your general working environment.

     
  43. Mackenzie Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 5:19 am

    So why didn’t you just turn on the IMAP setting on the Exchange server and be done with it?

     
  44. Wes Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Well done on the team for trying out an alternative OS – hopefully some minds have been opened to the fact there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    Though perhaps PC Pro should consider renaming to Windows Pro, to avoid any confusion? :)

     
  45. David Wright Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    @Mackenzie – because IMAP only provides the user with a fraction of the functionality of Exchange.

    Exchange server is more than an e-mail server. With IMAP, you don’t get contacts, calendar, public folders etc.

     
  46. salparadise Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    “…it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Windows or Linux propping up the browser…”

    Yes it does. Security being the point.

    For a new start up, Linux offers sufficient software to be able to run more or less the entire operation (specialist software like Photoshop notwithstanding).
    For an operation that has been up and running for a while, changing over to Linux would be problematic due to MSOffice file format nonsense and Exchange.
    This is “vendor lockin” in all its grubby glory. Microsoft products made in such a way that it’s hard to leave and go elsewhere. Your data is essentially hi-jacked in order to keep you using Windows, Office and so on.

     
  47. brian mullan Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    CodeWeaver’s Crossover enhanced wine installed Microsoft Office 10 very easy.

    I’ve been using it to access our corporate email using Outlook for about 6 months now.

     
  48. Jeff Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    The exchange issue is really not that hard to solve. People just have to be willing to try something different. With a bit of planning it can be done – we went to Zimbra, but there’s also horde, opengroupware, sogo, and a host of others. And think of the license revenue you could recover!!!

     
  49. Jeff Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I will also say to the naysayers here that ya might wanna put down that windows crack pipe. Dependence on a single application along with an unwillingness to use anything that does not function identically to say photoshop says a lot more about your shortcomings than that of the alternative applications or operating system.

     
  50. YetAnotherBob Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    For the Editors,

    You seemed to have a consistent complaint that the Outlook functions with the Exchange server didn’t work well in Ubuntu. OK, Exchange is designed for Outlook.

    I wonder though, how well Outlook works with the Lotus Domino server? Domino is designed for Lotus Notes.

    Perhaps you should have updated your mail/calendering/PIM server at the same time, just to be fair.

    Also, how well would Outlook work with the Linux servers designed for Evolution or Thunderbird?

    Complete systems solutions don’t work well, if chopped in half, which is what you did. They all fail.

     
  51. John Pugh Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    No one seems to realize that MS has gone to great lengths to force users to use MS software with other MS software. The staffer’s experience was not unusual. Had they truly switched, the switch would have gone flawlessly by replacing the proprietary software completely with open standards software which will work together well.
    Never expect anything other than MS software to work well with other MS software – it’s by design.

     
  52. Bob Harvey Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Glad it went so well for you. And interesting that Outlook remains the stumbling block.

    Of course, in 1 day then there was probably not time to try wine, or any of the other ideas above. Perhaps the editor – and just the editor – could be persuaded to take a week and then a month and let us know what happened then?

    But well done for tying, and for reporting back.

     
  53. steve Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    It is refreshing that you have tried this and admit gaps in your knowledge. I have never been comfortable with “pc” magazines that pretty much promote Windows, do not challenge their monopoly, do not challenge the fact that you can’t buy in a big box retailer a pc/laptop without windows (exclude Apple for a minute). It is for this reason that I do not purchase any computer magazines.
    Any computer journalist should be proficient in many OS’s, especially the top 3 or 4, only then can any of your reports be subjective (don’t start me off on Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC!)Only you can change this industry, as it stands you merely pander to MS by “breathing a sigh of relive when Windows appeared”, do me a favour!
    I ignore “a pc is a computer with windows” as this is entirely marketing and brainwashing by Microsoft and have always found it frustrating again that many computer magazines in no way challenge the current situation, could it be because there industry like many businesses are locked in to the MS way of doing things. Have you never thought to question why you can’t buy a computer without an OS of the shelf in PC world, why is that every Dell advert says “Dell recommends Windows” , why won’t MS make Office/Outlook for Linux, why did they tie their browser to the OS………it is certainly not because Windows is the best OS out there, that’s for sure.
    I accept the applications issue, this situation though is totally driven the same issues as having one dominant OS.
    Ask yourself this, would you accept the current situation in any other product that you purchase. I can accept that “ordinary” consumers who do not know any different just do, the fact that many IT professional do frustrates me, again supporting the status quo/cash cow. Even Nokia have rolled over…………..sigh!

     
  54. JohnP Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Microsoft is fully embedded in your environment and expecting any other OS to “play nice” with proprietary systems from Microsoft isn’t really fair.
    Step 1 – Replace MS-Exchange – Zimbra is a complete replacement.
    Step 2 – Replace MS-Active Directory with any other LDAP.
    Step 3 – FREEDOM.

    Oh, step 0 – replace all your file and print Microsoft servers with Linux running Samba/CIFS – cut the CAL license cord.

    MS-Outlook is the 2nd largest virus ever written, after iTunes.

     
  55. Jake Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I imagine that was an interesting experiment. I personally would have gone with Suse or Linux Mint for that type of project, but I’m sure Ubuntu was more or less up to the task. If it can get a bit more polish (and I think it will with the help of Android) it may really go places.

     
  56. David Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Big pat on the back to all of you for trying this, and kudos for explaining to all of your readers that it works well, and is competitive with the major proprietary system from MS. I particularly like the way you have highlighted MS’s costly proprietary “lock in” that restricts user choice so effectively.
    Personally I have been using Linux for about 10 years, and I find it fulfils my needs very well, and as you show, due to the open nature of it formats I have had few problems swapping between applications when I choose to look for alternative applications, as long as I don’t use MS products.

     
  57. tekkidd Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Im glad you guys decided to try out Ubuntu for a day, however most of the complaints you guys had could have been resolved if you had just used the OS longer. I don’t know why so many of you disliked evolution as i use it with MS Exchange and i love it.

     
  58. homer Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 2:53 am

    So many things are unfair to Linux in this “test” that I don’t know where to being.

    1. You didn’t actually perform a fair comparison by wanting Linux to be fully compatible with a closed source proprietary email system. What you should have done is exported all the users mailboxes to an imap server and pointed a decent mail client at that. Fail No 1.

    2. One day does not a OS convert make. It takes months to really appreciate the flexibility, usability, stability and reliability of Linux. Your expectations in doing this can only be:

    a) It won’t be anything like windows in which case it’ll be deemed a failure or
    b) It would be so similar to windows that no-one would notice.

    Either is a fail. How many years have you warmed to the idiosyncrasies of MS software yet you’ll complain immediately when a Linux productivity suite doesn’t correctly work with an MS backend?

    You people need to read and understand http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

    Fail… Fail… Fail….

     
  59. David Wright Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 7:07 am

    For a long-term trial, replacing MS-Exchange with Open Exchange Server or Zimbra is a good idea, for a 1 day trial, it would probably take longer than a day to convert the database, let alone configure it correctly… Which is one of the reasons why I said that a 1 day trial is pretty pointless, it just points out the initial problems people have when installing the OS, not how they actually use the OS in their daily routine.

    As to the Photoshop comments, I’ve worked in an agency which used mainly Linux for its web development, but the photo retouching artists still had Windows PCs with Photoshop, becuase there isn’t a suitable open source alternative, which can be used in the professional space.

    We used The Gimp for simple retouching jobs on web graphics, but the model shots for the on-line shops needed a lot of work with tools which just aren’t available in The Gimp and other open source tools, or the results are visibly inferior.

    For the developers who worked on Windows machines, they had the choice of Adobe Creative Suite or any other product they wanted. Most went with JavaBeans or Eclipse, as they were much better development tools than CS – the main exception obviously being the Flash developers.

    We also had 1 machine with MS Office, to double check documents written in Open Office, because OO.o screws up the formatting on most documents, when they are saved in MS formats, which the customers expected.

    The company had a very open policy, they mixed and matched hardware and software, using the best for their needs, the photographers used Apple kit, the touch up artists used Windows and Adobe CS, the developers used Windows or Linux with mainly open source tools, the web platform was pure LAMP.

    Being all Linux is as bad as being all Windows or all Mac. You should be using the best tools for the job, which will probably mean that you will have a mixture of operating systems, as the operating system is just there as an enabler for the applications.

    If you are concentrating on the underlying operating system, ahead of what applications you need to use, then you have already lost the productivity battle.

    Once they are up and running, there is very little difference in daily use between Windows, OS X and Linux. If you can use one, you can use the others, you can just concentrate on using the apps that best suite your workflow.

     
  60. Mike Austin Says:
    February 15th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I agree with the comments re email clients such as Evolution and Thunderbird. I get around the problem by running Outlook 2007 in WINE – works a treat. I run Macbuntu – Ubuntu with a Mac look alike desktop – on my desktop PC and Macbook Pro. It really fools Mac users.

     
  61. Draculas Guest Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Well done PC Pro for covering Ubuntu. Its about time!

    I was a bit concerned that the article would read along the lines of “Linux is different to what I’m used to, therefore it sucks”, but I was pleasantly surprised. Its encouraging to see the PC Pro staff were so open minded and willing to step out of their comfort zone.

    As a full time Ubuntu user myself, the thing that amazes (depresses) me the most is that some people are antagonistic towards Linux without ever having tried it!
    Its unfortunate, but we’ve been filtered down into this monoculture where a PC = Windows, and running an alternative OS is viewed with suspicion by some.

    I think anyone with an interest in computing should at the very least TRY Linux. Its free of charge, and the big name distros can be run directly from the CD without having to install anything. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and boot back into Windows, so there’s nothing to lose.

     
  62. Fred Flintstone Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I don’t use ubuntu simply because I haven’t been able to find adequate and reliable replacements for the general apps that I need to use and find it a waste of my time messing about trying to make windows apps work on Linux through things like WINE.

    One thong has always puzzled me. Linux as the OS, whatever distro isn’t really the problem since it is the app experience and interoperability with the rest of the world that comes into play. So if everyone that promotes a Linux doctor does so because MS is bad and money grabbing but also has to admit that the market share is not big enough to justify these mainstream apps being ported as native apps, then can someone explain to me what the incentive is for people to develop powerful and complex apps to bolster this Market place if so many of the OS users are inherently against the idea of software being paid for?

    In the hardware world you tend not to find manufacturers building free PCs and those that do are really getting that paid for by some other means.

    If Linux is to go global and become the standard, is everybody willing to accept commercial software to the level that justifies it along with the potential requirement to support multiple flavours?

    It is a concept that has always puzzled me. Yes we can have a free OS and we can get by with the apps that are available or somehow squeeze in some powerful windows ones, but without something to allow people to get paid for their efforts longer term where will the innovation and competitive edge against the commercially supported OS types come from?

     
  63. Fred Flintstone Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    For those tempted to point out my thong and doctor errors please don’t. This is what happens when a tablet browser without spelling/grammar but a very enthusiatic predictive text check gets combined with a small comment box and a long comment.

     
  64. JulesLt Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 7:34 am

    It’s interesting to see the barriers drop each time something like this is conducted, and in reality, if if you were seriously looking at an alternative OS, you’d also be looking at changing the server.

    (Exchange has long been a problem for OS X users too).

    There’s big savings to be had on client-access licences by moving away from Exchange to alternatives. And for mail, they work, well. The bigger problem is group calendaring, and separating out mail, calendar, etc., rather than the unified Outlook view.

    r.e. photoshop, etc – it’s not people refusing to use software they’re not familiar with, so much as the fact that if you are paying a graphic artists salary, the cost of Photoshop is pretty trivial compared to the cost of retraining her to use The Gimp to the same level.

    This is something I constantly have to point out to my own staff – their time is the most expensive cost to the business, so anything that makes them more productive is worth investing in.

    Too many businesses treat IT as a cost, to be reduced, rather than measuring productivity.

    And that, to me, would be the only reason to move to Linux – if, on balance, it increased the productivity of my staff. (There are places where it definitely would, and I hope to introduce Linux VMs this year to achieve them)

     
  65. Simon Humby Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Very interesting. Now you’ve identified the issues why not try again next year? I’m locked into Windows by my clients – but I really wish it wasn’t so.

     
  66. Graham Atherton Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I dual booted my laptop some time ago as I was tired of waiting for XPpro to boot. After a few days of adjustment I now routinely boot into ubuntu.
    Mail is Gmail so no problems there.
    A lot of my work involves CS4 so I have to go back to windows to run that so my work PC continues on Windows but after Ubuntu I find it an increasingly sluggish operating system alongside the all too necessary antivirus software. I am about to upgrade to Windows 7 but there is definitely room for Ubuntu in my daily routine, quite possibly an ever increasing proportion of the time.

     
  67. Mark Thomas Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Ubuntu experience and set my netbook, laptop and two desktops to dual boot. I like the faster boot times and had no problems with any apps I use and would consider using Ubuntu all the time except for two things.The portables were both wireless and connecting to the wireless network was no great problem; not so with the desktops. These use a Belkin wireless router and dongles and it appears that these are not supported for Linux so I will have to invest in equipment which is. More importantly was the inability to get my printer working. There were no specific drivers for the Canon Pixma MP630 in the software centre, though I did download some from Canon. This is now where Windows shows it’s superiority; installation routines. I read various articles about unpacking GZ and Tar files etc, some seemed to contradict and almost all assumed the reader had some Linux knowledge and understood elements that weren’t explained. Perhaps PCPro could give a detailed explanation of how to go about this as the instructions on pages 94 and 96/97 leave much to be desired.

     
  68. Bill Maslen Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Fascinating – above all, to see how many of the negative comments above relate purely to Exchange issues. I find the dominant position of MS-Exchange in the e-mail market incomprehensible, myself; we’ve been using other forms of groupware for years now, including FirstClass, DeskNow and more recently Kerio Connect – in my view tying your business to MS-Exchange is a positively antediluvian strategy. But that’s because nobody I know really enjoys using Outlook. Yes, they’ll use it because they have to, but it’s an unpleasant experience. Fortunately there is a growing number of high-end groupware systems with high-quality web clients (that do run on browsers other than IE!). Yes, Exchange is a “safe bet” – for now. But I don’t think it’s going to preserve its dominant position for much longer. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s clearly Exchange which has soured so many PC Pro staffers’ Ubuntu experience is something that really ought to be highlighted: next task for you all is, perhaps, finding the best groupware alternative. Now that would be a very interesting test!

     
  69. guna Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I commend the effort, but I thing the magazine should change their name to windowspro.

     
  70. peebee Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I don’t agree that it’s only the apps that matter, even if you are living largely through the browser. I use ubuntu 10.10 every day on my netbook and like it very much, but I only do limited things on my netbook. My main desktop runs Win7 and its taskbar functionality puts it head and shoulders above any other OS for the daily business of navigating files across different apps.
    My netbook has the infamous Intel GMA500 video – so installation is not simple – you’re on the command line almost immediately to put it right. And it won’t run the Unity interface at all. Linux enthusiasts tend to say this is Intel’s fault for not providing proper drivers, but if the fix is well known why can’t Canonical integrate it with the install? Indeed the Jolicloud distro (based on ubuntu) does just that. It brings home that the Linux world is still the wild west. The great thing is you can google almost any problem and find an answer. The bad thing is not all those answer are correct, and many assume prior knowledge, like how to navigate directories in the command line, or how to alter your Grub settings.
    Neither Windows or OSX are as transparent as they first appear (how many ordinary users know how to get to the MSCONFIG settings?) But ubuntu still has further to go to reach true “out of the box” usability. Also, I suspect its power management is not as good as Windows, and its font handling could be better.
    On the other hand it’s free. I first moved to ubuntu because I was fed up jumping through hoops when Microsoft decided that my product number was not valid (though it was). If I’ve paid for something I expect to be able to use it legitimately without further interference from the vendor. As a result I’ll never again buy a retail copy of Windows. Much the same goes for Office. After nearly two decades as loyal Word user I looked at the upgrade costs of Office 2010 and decided a few interface tweaks were not worth the £200 which as a sole trader I was being asked to pay. I finally made the effort to customise what is now LibreOffice to the way I like to work, and will never go back.
    Also interoperability between by ubuntu and Windows systems is really easy. I don’t have to worry about Exchange, but with a combination of Dropbox, IMAP mail and Google calendaring and contacts (which also link to my mobile phone) all my essential data is synchronised on all my devices.
    I guess we should all be careful about generalising from our particular experiences, but I think all this spells trouble ahead for Microsoft. Though I believe Win7 is the most mature desktop OS on the market, the alternatives are either becoming good enough, or the MSFT downsides are bad enough for a tipping point to be close. The biggest factor in Microsoft’s continuing leadership is the size of its enterprise base, and the inertia it brings, but that won’t sustain it forever in the face of what could be more rational alternatives. And although I started saying that the OS does matter to me, I suspect for most people moving between office and home computers the critical thing is actually the familiarity of the Office suite (assuming their web browser experience is going to be much the same whatever they do). For the moment enterprises will continue to be wedded to their Exchange and Sharepoint investments but if Google or someone else gets their cloud services together sufficiently and if LibreOffice can integrate with those services, Microsoft will have to change its licensing practices for its cash cows or face irrelevance.

     
  71. Subtitling Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Well we use Ubuntu, Debian, SuSE and Windows. The advantages of each are obvious.

    If my Mum wanted me to advise on an OS, it’d be Windows any day (especially as I’d have to support it).

    I find Outlook, like Word and Excel, are superiour apps, although they are an expensive alternative.

    Worse thing about Linux? For the low skilled users like me, would be the pompus Linux fanbois that infest forums and the irritation in downloading open source apps which inhabit websites that remind me of a challenge you would get from the Crystal Maze! “No I don’t want you to scan my computer thank you, just show me where the freaking download link is!”

    Best thing about Linux, it is usually free, and their repair tools and utilities are great.

    Nice artical PC Pro.

     
  72. TheGuyFromIT Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    To all those who suggested “just replace exchange system x”. You dont just “replace” a production server let alone an Exchange server. It’s all fine that there are alternatives to Exchange but how exactly do you turf an Exchange server along with everyone’s accounts. Seems a rather silly and uninformed suggestion and you cleary should not be in IT. And since all your email details are effectively stored in Active Directory how do you suggest a migration of all the SMTP addresses to the new platform? What about all their email? Perhaps contacts stored on AD? What if there is OCS in there? What about VC rooms which use calendars? What if you have subdomains? No doubt this will be a scripting and admin nightmare. It was nice to see an office change to an alternative platform but if the SCCM,SCOM) how long will a large company take to migrate. You dont have package management (no, not all workstations can conenct to the internet duh), you dont have centralized deployment, you dont have centralized account management, you dont have control over your organizations assets. These things are important to IT depts. Also, this has nothing to do with “freedom”. The companies IT assets are the companies and not yours and your “freedom” has no place there. I’m sure the HR dept will agree or sign your resignation.

    Linux has it’s place but not in the corporate sector. Before you mention Supercomputers and apache and MySQL (which are all servers), remember, staff have computers as well.

    Flame me all you want but no way in hell would I allow my IT dept to even remotely consider using Linux in the corporate environment just because it lacks everything MS has to offer corporations. License fees are NOTHING compared to the cost of keeping an employee.

    P.S. Will Canonical send me an engineer to help me? How about the “community”? Will you all follow my twitter account? Guess I’m not an online mag. Oh well, where is that Launchpad URL.

     
  73. Bill Maslen Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Well, thanks for that, TheGuyFromIT – yes, I’d agree it’s much easier for SMEs to make such sweeping changes, but I’m amused by your contention that AD and other domain considerations should present a major barrier. Kerio Connect, for example, has migration tools for Exchange and is AD-compatible as well – and that’s an increasingly common state of affairs in groupware. My own question to you would be: how daft do you have to be to entangle your organisation so completely in a proprietary platform that DOESN’T allow to migrate your data easily? For me, as a humble SME IT Manager, it’s one of the primary considerations. There’s absolutely no way I would want my data tied into a single-supplier solution – proprietary or open-sauce…

     
  74. Bill Maslen Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Another thought on the apps front: everybody tends to think of OpenOffice (or increasingly, LibreOffice) as the only Linux alternative to MS Office, but in fact there’s a very good (and very cheap) alternative proprietary solution in the form of SoftMaker Office (cross-platform – the Window version is also very good) which has superior filters for MS documents (as established by e.g. the German government). It’s a lovely suite, and runs very fast on most computers, even older ones. It would be nice to see a review of the latest version (2010) in PC Pro, would it not?!

     
  75. Sagar Patel Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    @guna: +1 :)

    But thanks to PCPro team for at least trying Ubuntu. Though, you guys could ask for a good list of applications before starting the day with Ubuntu.

     
  76. David Wright Says:
    February 18th, 2011 at 7:05 am

    @TheItGuy Yes, Canonical will send you an engineer. That is how they make their money. They provide the software for free and make their money on consultancy and support.

    We have a mixture of Linux and Windows here. Nearly all of our users use terminals here and we all work on either Windows Terminal Server or SuSE SLES. The developers tend to prefer to work directly on the Linux machines, the normal office workers work on the TS machines or a smattering of laptops – the IT Support staff have desktops, so they can still work and get things going again, in the event of a server problem, but spend most of their time working over RDP on the temrinal server.

    The software we sell runs on Linux servers, with Linux ASCII and graphic clients and a Windows front end.

    We have a mixture of Windows and Linux servers for file storage and other services and they work well together, the exceptions being an old Windows 2000 Server and an aging SLES 6 server, which don’t really want to talk to modern operating systems.

    We use Exchange for E-Mail and the users use either Outlook or Thunderbird (over IMAP) on Linux. If they want the more advanced features, they switch to a Terminal Server session and use Outlook.

     

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