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Limitations preventing in usage of Linux in Enterprise desktop space and suggestions to overcome common challenges. I am (Java/JEE) techinical arichitect and developer for a major IT consultancy and Linux supporter. I try hands on different linux flavors as part of my job. I found liking for Ubuntu in desktop use. I feel linux is lagging in enterprise level desktop use and I will give my reasons for it. I divide emloyees (for any size of organization) in three categories: 1. Managers 2. Office assistants (e.g. clerical, travel department etc.) 3. IT Specialists (from both development and support/maintainance)
Majority of non technical users don't care about OS and struck with M$ because of availability of user friendly and stable UI tools.
Key factors in enterprise desktop are: 1. Unified communication and collaboration tools 2. Good documentation tools 3. Security and Authentication & Authorization 4. GUI tools/clients for Enterprise applications 5. Tools for IT specialists (including operations and maintenance)
Organizations prefer one tool/client for one service for reasons of cost effectiveness and logistics (for procuring, training, installing and maintaining). In other words variety is good but not suitable for category 1 and 2 (i.e. non technical staff)
1. Unified communication and collaboration tools: This is the major hindrance in acceptance of Linux in enterprise desktop space. There are good independent tools exists for email, calendar, chat, voip and (only to some extent) meeting tools but they do not work together. Linux distributions has to either develop (or promote development) of a single collaboration tool (which has all above) or umbrella tool in which all these work together. Also need to work in partnership with Communication/collaboration server providers like IBM Lotus etc. to come out with stable and well featured clients (similar to their windows clients). (My sure guess is M$ won't even talk about Linux compatible tools for Outlook etc.) 2. Good documentation tools: Libre Office / Open Office is good but needs catch-up (and quickly). I think this will happen automatically if usage increases. Also these documentation tools should support (if not already) corporate templates/logos, headers, footers etc. (I am mentioning about printing here, although technically it is not under documentation) Linux driver base of printers, ease of installation and managing, and support for standard preferences and settings (e.g. default setting for whole organization etc.) 3. Security and Authentication & Authorization: We all know that independently security is higher and more granular in Linux systems than in M$ Windows (which is like ground floor house with open windows having no metal grills). Needs more seamless integration with LDAP & SSO. Also need to parner with makers of corporate security tools like Symantec etc. Also for IT administrators it is easy to manage what softwares are allowed and not allowed, automatic installations, versions in Linux than in Windows. 4. GUI tools/clients for Enterprise applications: This is another major hindrance of Linux in enterprise desktop space. Strangely not many enterprise application providers has GUI clients for Linux. Surprisingly this is same for even major ERP providers like Oracle, SAP etc. Enterprise applications which has browser based clients runs properly in IE only which is baffling. Siebel recommends Solaris / Unix / Linux for servers but officially supports only IE for client. Linux distributions has to work in partnership with these major ERP/CRM providers to have/improve GUI client for Linux and support for browsers like Firefox etc. (by promoting XUL instead of ActiveX etc.) 5. Tools for IT specialists: Who needs windows unless you are VB/.Net/C# developer. As a developer try running Eclipse, Database (Oracle or Mysql) and App server (JBoss or Weblogic) on your windows machine, you can have tea/coffee break between each Alt+Tab ;-). But not all green here. Linux lacks in development tools for enterprise applications. This is the major roadblock why Linux systems haven't accepted completely even by IT specialists.
To penetrate into enterprise desktop space, Linux has to win acceptance of category 1 and 2 employees. And for that areas (1) Unified communication and collaboration tools, and (4) GUI tools/clients for Enterprise applications need priority focus and out of which achieving (1) Unified communication and collaboration tools would be major coup.