Linux Migration Solutions
The use of Free and Open Source Software in the volunteer, community business, government and non-profit sectors is a rapidly expanding field. The Operating System Linux has proved itself not only on the server, but also on the desktop - just as easy to use, more secure, more stable and cheaper than other operating systems.
Already over half of small and medium sized businesses in the UK consider GNU/Linux to be robust enough for use on mission critical applications (Source: research agency Vanson Bourne), and the UN has endorsed Free and Open Source software as being more reliable, secure and flexible than proprietry software. There is no better time to evaluate the huge potential of using GNU/Linux in your organisation.
Linux provides a rock-solid and secure environment with a considerably lower Total Cost of Ownership than comparable Microsoft solutions. The following uses of Linux and Free/Open Source Software are popular in Third Sector scenarios:
Free/Open Source Software running under MS-Windows - replacing common desktop applications with Free Software that will run under MS-Windows is a worthwhile step, often reducing vulnerability to viruses and other malware, as well as reducing your organisation's licence costs.
However for many a migration towards Linux starts with Introducing Free Software onto your desktop. It's a proven way of increasing staff acceptance of Free Software, and a way to allow you to get used to some of the applications you may be using after a migration to Linux.
Some of the most popular Free Software applications are available for use under MS-Windows, for example:
Desktop Workstations - either as stand-alones or remote terminals. Imagine a desktop more powerful than MS-Windows XP and MS-Office, but without the costs - or the instability and licencing headaches.
Using a Linux desktop you can have the ease of use associated with MS-Windows, with applications to deal with your computing needs. Convert your existing higher powered computers to stand alone workstations, and older machines to act as Remote Terminals.
Remote Terminals (thin clients) - re-use older machines that are too slow to run Windows on. By turning your older machines (for example early Pentiums) into thin-clients you can enjoy high speed computing without heavy investment in new hardware.
Server side applications - print-server, email-server, firewall or even file-server. Using Linux, even a 386 can be an efficient print server (a computer which deals with all printing requests - this can really help when you have lots of users wanting to print on the same printer or users using different operating systems), and a Pentium I will be an adequate firewall for an intranet, a good sendmail email server, and can work efficiently as a file server.
Your Migration to Linux
Seeds for Change has the experience to help your organisation migrate efficiently and cost-effectively to Linux.
Our consultants are able to provide you with an on-site analysis of feasibility and benefits, and if necessary training for users and administrators. With this analysis you will be able to make a decision of how soon you wish to migrate your organisation.
Cost - Linux and associated software is freely available, and older hardware can be used more efficiently by Linux systems, leading to fewer, if any, hardware upgrades. Consequently the primary cost for Linux based networks is usually in the initial migration support and training.
The cost of migration support is still likely to be lower than the licence renewals for Microsoft software alone - and the fact that MS-Windows upgrades often require new hardware should also be considered.
Please contact us to discuss the extent of any migration scenario for your organisation.
Other Points to Consider
Security - Linux is a very stable and security conscious operating system - viruses are unheard of for desktop users, firewalls are built in, and the security is fully adaptable to your needs. For these reasons The Samaritans decided to use Linux for their confidential email service.
But security goes beyond viruses and crackers - data security is also an issue for the future. Will you be able to open up your proprietry .doc files in 20 years time if Microsoft decides it won't be supporting your version of Word anymore? Open Source software guarantees that your data will always be readable by releasing the source code of the programmes you are using.
Stability - System crashes and data-loss aren't a necessary evil. Your organisation doesn't have to put up with expensive and frustrating downtime caused by unstable operating systems. Linux has a well earned reputation for stability and reliability, whatever demands you make of it and whatever other systems it may be co-operating with.
Cost - Successive studies have shown that the total cost of ownership of Linux is, on average, up to 50% cheaper than proprietary alternatives like Microsoft software. This figure includes support, licences and (if necessary) hardware upgrades.
The cost of using Linux is mainly in the area of support during migration, since Linux and the software itself is freely available, and older hardware can be used more efficiently. It is rarely necessary to upgrade hardware, and even then the upgrade is limited to one or two servers, depending on the size of your organisation. The cost of on-going support can be reduced dramatically by making use of training provided by Seeds for Change.
Software - Free software is available for almost all the tasks you use your computers for. Generally Windows software will not run under Linux - although it is possible to run MS-Office, Dreamweaver, Internet Explorer and others under Linux (using Windows emulation software). However other programmes are available which perform the same tasks - see the screenshots below.
Some of these applications can also run under Windows - please contact us if you would like a CD of Open Source programmes available for Windows.
Common GNU/Linux applications: Screenshots
|Open Office |
See our Resources page for Linux tips and ideas.
A Consensus Handbook: the guide to consensus and facilitation