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Need some expert advice

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#1
Cheers all,

I am really not looking to open up any debates about the various operating systems available. What I am doing is researching a way to keep using older XP based systems without having to buy hardware or buy new Windows software.

Background

I've been collecting data about moving systems to a Linux based OS starting with the XP systems. There is a lot of information, enough to establish a precedent, out there. It is being successfully done internationally at the government level. Either of the free office products can handle the day-to-day tasks. Mozilla has enough products to handle browsing and email.

The price tag is attractive. The learning curve can be addressed via phased in timing and peer assistance at least to start. One deal breaker is legacy software and I only can think of trying them one at a time with Wine*. Another deal breaker is various parts of the WAN access main frames (two I know of); they have to play nice together. Last deal breaker I can think of is all updates and access is IT controlled so they have to retain that.

Security thoughts

Let's face it, gone are the halcyon days when Apple and Linux were basically ignored by hackers, i.e. US CERT weekly posts. I have yet to find an enterprise grade anti virus / internet security program for Linux. At least one firm has expressed an interest but... Their development process would be after the fact if this idea has legs.

Why here and why now

I am bringing this idea here because; simply stated I've leaned to trust the community and experience of the members. I've done a bit of research including obtaining white papers for the French Police and a major German city that are and have done this respectively**. Have articles but not white papers from other nations and entities that are doing this heck even the Feds are discussing it. What I do not have is this idea being vetted by people who know how to do it, use it and just plain know a heck of a lot about it.

With XP's end we have a lot of XP based systems so now is the time. But in order to make this fly, if it can, I want my ducks all lined up. Any anticipated buy in for this idea is from the cost avoidance side and maybe some good press for the powers that be.

So here I am hat in hand, asking you to share your thoughts and any leads to additional information for this project.

Regards,

Null

*There are several custom windows based programs in use. Several are huge and may not directly migrate. My thought was tweaking how these systems access our network so they keep working.

**The German city took about ten years and that many millions of US$ to complete their change over.
 
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#2
Good Luck!!!!
Be Patient, the answers will come in the form of questions.

:lovetpu:
 
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#3
The french Gendarmerie is almost done switching to their Gendbuntu custom distribution (that's 80.000+ computers, across 6 years). I'm writing this from one of them right now.
 

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#4
Your plan sounds plausible, however I doubt anyone can tell you if your software will work okay under WINE or not. If your software runs under Java or a java-based language, I doubt you'll have an issue. Your best option is to get a machine, install whichever Distro you think will work best (I like recommending Debian,) and give it a whirl.

You also said:
Last deal breaker I can think of is all updates and access is IT controlled so they have to retain that.
It really should be IT determining if this is okay considering they have to maintain it unless you're part of IT. Also IIRC, Linux can connect to AD servers so at least for login to a Windows domain should be okay. Updates are a different story, you won't be able to rely on Windows to handle this for you so you'll need some kind of process setup for managing this in a distributed fashion. I bet you're going to have some shared resources with the Windows boxes like shared folders and active directory... maybe even more.

Just remember, once you figure the migration stuff out it's always that first PC that's the hardest to configure. Once you got a handle on it the rest go a lot smoother but if you go with Linux not everything will work out of the box. It will take some effort but is certainly not impossible.
 
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#5
Good Luck!!!!
Be Patient, the answers will come in the form of questions.

:lovetpu:
Arjai,

Many thanks as always.

Been developing this idea for a while; just over a year now. It is expanding because others are in the same boat too. A little more on that when I respond to blobster21

I would welcome questions; they help develop and clarify my thinking or what may pass as thinking in my case. :)

Cheers,

Null

The french Gendarmerie is almost done switching to their Gendbuntu custom distribution (that's 80.000+ computers, across 6 years). I'm writing this from one of them right now.
blobster21,

First and foremost thank you.

I hope you know how exciting the prospect of a person who has been through what I am trying to do and being able to provide first hand knowledge about how it works for them is to me. If you have any links so I can update my information on this it would be appreciated.

My town is small and the police are in the same boat. I've been talking with the Chief about what I'm trying to do at work and how it may save his budget if he were to do what you have done in France.

I'm not sure how to ask this next question so I must ask your indulgence first.

From your posting I assume you are a member of the Gendarmerie. If that is true then your feedback on the implementation of what your Gendarmerie has done would be of particular interest to my local police and at least two of my employer's Departments. My concern is that the information may not be entirely appropriate for a public venue. (On reread - I'm dancing around security issues.)

Would you share any experiences you had about the Gendarmerie conversion to Gendbuntu? Would you share some specifics about the custom distribution? I'd be willing to go off-line and communicate directly with you. If you would prefer to go off line I'll respond from my work email. (On reread - yes email can be faked, I just don't know of another way show where you information will be used.)

Cheers,
Null

Your plan sounds plausible, however I doubt anyone can tell you if your software will work okay under WINE or not. If your software runs under Java or a java-based language, I doubt you'll have an issue. Your best option is to get a machine, install whichever Distro you think will work best (I like recommending Debian,) and give it a whirl.

You also said:


It really should be IT determining if this is okay considering they have to maintain it unless you're part of IT. Also IIRC, Linux can connect to AD servers so at least for login to a Windows domain should be okay. Updates are a different story, you won't be able to rely on Windows to handle this for you so you'll need some kind of process setup for managing this in a distributed fashion. I bet you're going to have some shared resources with the Windows boxes like shared folders and active directory... maybe even more.

Just remember, once you figure the migration stuff out it's always that first PC that's the hardest to configure. Once you got a handle on it the rest go a lot smoother but if you go with Linux not everything will work out of the box. It will take some effort but is certainly not impossible.
Aquinus,

Thank you.

1) With all due respect, without buy in from the top nothing will happen. Yes, there is IT support but we still have Windows. The hooks this hat / proposal are being hung on are cost avoidance and that it is being successfully done elsewhere. In other words I am coming at this sideways with a proposal why this is a viable idea to break the log jam and at least start a discussion about how to implement.
2) I anticipate a phased in implementation. I am hoping folks here may have ideas about implementation because my experience ended in the 90s with a Novell based LAN. Any links would be welcome too.
3) Wine is all I know. Maybe there is something else out there that is better? I just do not know.
4) Since I have the big mouth proposing the idea and have some limited experience with Debain and Ubuntu the odds are it will be my system that becomes the test bed.

Bluntly, with Microsoft's three year extension, unconfirmed at this time, of XP support for a fee and the number of XP systems that will require hardware updates now is the time. There are many concerns about this proposal starting with will it work or will it die over implementation issues. That is why I came here seeking information. It is also why I value yours and everyone else's insights so highly.


Cheers,
Null
 
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#6
PM'ed you :)
 
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#7
Many thanks,

I've responded to your PM. :)

Cheers,
Null
 

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#8
OP...... please use the multiquote or edit function, there is no need to triple post.... I like to keep me forums tidy!
 
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#9
I would have to say that you could run on Debian stable with Crossover office to see if the software will work. If not, use Debian 7.4 stable and run a VM with an instance of XP on it.
 
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#10
Killer_Rubber_Ducky,

Foremost thank you for sharing you time and experience.

If I understand your post you are recommending Debain. Cool. Please, if you can spare some more time, help me understand in words I can share with the Powers That Be, why you recommended it. Please understand I am not disagreeing with your recommendation. Blobseter21 is completing the set up of 80,000 + systems on an Ubuntu derivative program. I am citing his success as why this proposal can work.

I have no dog in this fight. I am sticking what little remains of my professional career on the chopping block to recommend Linux can / will do what is needful and allow us to use our legacy programs. User learning curves is a big issue. Please give me some specifics I can use.

Cheers,

Null
 
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#11
Well, Ubuntu is based on Debian unstable. Very little is more stable than the Debian Linux Distro.
Debian is robust, secure and powerful. It does take a little bit of adjustment since it does not usually hold your hand like Ubuntu does. It is easy to install and has a vast collection of software and packages available for it. Most Ubuntu software will work on it. Though some require a newer kernel. Some hardware may have a harder time working on it since the kernel is older. That said, Debian is more minimalist and more thoroughly tested before being released. The Debian community is truly massive compared to Ubuntu's n00b oriented forums. If the organization being installed on is full of common 'surf the web' users and not concerned with occasional crashes etc, Ubuntu or Linux Mint is usually a decent choice. If your user base is more concerned with rock solid stability, speedy performance, and an excellent support group for issues; Debian is your choice.

Just about anything for Ubuntu that does not directly work on Debian can be compiled for Debian using the source code. You can use the testing/unstable release of Debian to have a rolling release style with constant updates and newer packages. Debian does support by default more processor architectures than Ubuntu.
 

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#12
If I were you I would put together a complete list of software that would be migrating over to Linux. Once you have that list compile another list of the linux alternatives them. Install a well supported OS like Ubuntu LTS and off you go.
 
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#13
Easy Rhino,

Thank you for your reply, it is appreciated.

We have several programs that are specifically designed for the Window's environment. Email, Internet, and Office applications are easy and I use and try out different ones on an ongoing basis; that is not an issue beyond user learning curves / comfort. I freely admit my Noob status in such things and have received some truly significant help here to see if at least some of them will work using any one of the three applications to do this.

I have one Windows centric work related program in use on my home system. Granted I am using a disk to run various Linux OSs yet this one program just won't work. It may be a short between the keyboard and seat or it just won't work.

One work around I'm researching is just isolating the systems using these programs and keeping them as Win OS based. Internet access, email access are available regardless of the platform aren't they? The vast majority of Office can just save as to share with the outside world or the rest of us, can't we?

My plan is to recommend several Linux OSs. We have many systems that are old enough to vote. Meaning I'm looking for a well supported OS that can play well with old hardware and new stuff in both a 32 and 64 environment. After all, the focus of the proposal is to save money by switching to a Linux OS not merely switch to a Linux OS. (Hope that made sense.)

One idea (posted by Killer Rubber Ducky and blobster21) I have high hopes for is using a Linux based OS and then via VM Ware running Windows and these programs within it. If I understand the concept the vulnerabilities associated with Microsoft's XP and Office 2003 support decision just would not apply because it is running inside a Linux OS. Any thoughts on this sure would be appreciated.

Once again thank you.

Cheers,
Null