In light of the ongoing debate over the increased security of Linux, and the readiness of the open source OS for the desktop, an IT consultant has set out to answer the question: "Can Linux be used as a replacement for Windows 2000?"
After an intensive hands-on Linux project lasting several months, Thai IT consultant, Rob Valliere, claims he was able to provide his client with a pertinent answer to this question.
Effectively, rolling out Linux across a network containing one server and 24 clients can potentially save as much as $10,000 on the IT budget.
Valliere advises that if you want to make that leap into the Linux world "Red Hat 7.1 is very much the way to go."
"Linux Red Hat 7.1 can be used as an alternative to Windows 2000," he said.
Primarily, this means you will be stunned by the 'bang for the buck' that Linux offers, because it is free. However, Linux also offers desktop applications for corporate usage in much the same vein as Windows.
Despite the £10,000 saving on cost, Valliere also set out to dispel other myths surrounding Linux.
The graphical OS can run on ageing Pentium computers with 64Mb or more of RAM, "but do your homework first to reduce some potential hardware configuration challenges," he warned.
Red Hat in particular was found to offer an excellent installation wizard facility, including on-screen help, plug-n-play and Package Group selections.
But all is not perfect. Again, "the biggest hurtle may be the configuration of your graphic hardware," said Valliere.
Purchasing new computers with Linux pre-installed solves this headache, but obviously offsets cost savings.
In the case study, "very good" network file and printer sharing was achieved using Samba, which allowed for security, disaster prevention, and disaster recovery facilities.
On the application level, the KDE graphical desktop was tagged as "excellent and functions like Windows 2000." This was supported by the fact that a vast majority of Linux applications included with Red Hat, and office suites such as Star Office, are available free of charge.
Problems were encountered when finding an alternative to Microsoft's Access database application. In the end, a fusion of the Apache web server, the MySQL database and the PHP scripting facility was used.
Valliere claimed that "this Linux solution was not only faster and more powerful than the Access application, the software was available at no charge."
The end result was that 20 NT client machines and an NT server were switched over to Linux with equivalent applications at a cost of $5160. Four machines were left as NT for specific applications.
If the transition had been made to Windows 2000, the cost would have been about $15,060.
The full report, along with details of the pitfalls encountered in the transition, can be found on Rob Valliere's website, here.
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