A Microsoft Free Workplace in Six Months. Part 1

Thursday, 12. November 2009

Turning a small business into a Windows Free environment.

With many of our customers looking at yet another Microsoft upgrade, and all the costs associated with it, we are encouraging our customers to evaluate “other” solutions. In the current economic downturn, it is no surprise that we are seeing positive responses to this idea.

One company has expressed interest in evaluating a new solution. Over the upcoming weeks and months, I’ll be reporting on the progress of this project. This is the first post in this series.

Step one, what software does the client run, and what can we replace it with.

As with any journey, long or short, you must begin with the first step… In this case, the first step is to evaluate all the software the client currently runs, and see if there are Non Windows alternatives that can do the required job as well, if not better then their current programs being used. This customer runs has the following requirements:

  • Intel Compatible Operating System
  • Word Processor
  • Spread Sheet Program
  • Email Program
  • Browser
  • PDF Reader
  • ERP System with Inventory Control
  • File and Print Sharing

They currently use the following software to accomplish this task:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Outlook (Express)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Reader
  • Proprietary ERP System Based on Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Server 2000
  • Windows Fax Server

What we have recommended:

  • Ubuntu 9.10
  • Openoffice.org
  • Thunderbird
  • Firefox
  • AcroRead (Adobe Reader)
  • LAMP Based ERP (TBA)
  • Debian File Server (NFS, LDAP, CUPSYS)
  • HylaFAX

As you can see, we have not committed to an ERP yet, as the current ERP has many custom features written in to it. The plan is to evaluate ERPs separately to find one that has the most required features, then modify the new package’s code to implement the additional features required for the client’s industry.

The plan ahead.

The plan is simple, the customer will be using Terminal Services on their Windows 2000 server to access their current ERP system. This strategy will allow us to gradually transition the key business processes with little or no real disruption. Here is the general outline:

  • Install a Ubuntu Desktop with the support programs mentioned above, and allow a tester to evaluate.
  • After 2 weeks of evaluation, the tester will meet with us to discuss any issues during the test.
  • Once the named issues are resolved, the Ubuntu system will be put into service on the testers desk as their primary workstation.
  • After 2 weeks as a primary workstation, the tester will meet with us again, to review any issues.
  • Assuming that there are no “show stopping issues”, we will begin implementing Ubuntu Desktops on all desks.
  • During this transition, we will be assisting the customer in evaluating ERP software, installing the Debian server platform, and setting up the HylaFAX software on the Debian server

So, that’s it for this installment. Check back for more!

— Stu


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