Not using desktop Linux? You're wasting your money

There is a strong place for corporate desktop Linux -- if you know where to put it

Let me be blunt: If you're not using Linux on the desktop in call center and other fixed-purpose computing environments, you're doing your company a disservice.

It never fails to amaze me when I see environments with hundreds of Windows XP systems running TN3270 sessions to an AS/400, with a headset-equipped person staring at the green screen and talking to a customer. Even if there were a need for Web browsing and email for those users, why would you pay for Windows on that system in this day and age?

[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman makes the case for Linux to replace white-collar users' Windows XP desktops. | Neil McAllister explains why desktop Linux vendors may be sabotaging their cause. ]

And that's not the only place where desktop Linux makes sense. If you get right down to it, there are many instances where the only requirements of the desktop are to act as a portal to a Web-based application and possibly run an email client. With the push toward Web-based internal apps, there's little reason to require Windows at all. Heck, there's almost no requirement for a desktop or the ability to run anything other than a compatible browser.

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That's where Linux on the corporate desktop comes in. No, I don't think the CEO will be booting up Ubuntu anytime soon, nor do I think that the scores of administrative assistants and marketing folks will be logging into Fedora. However, in companies that have high numbers of desktops that run only one or two applications, it's almost a no-brainer.

In fact, you can even consolidate all of those desktops. Armed with a few 12-core servers and a bunch of RAM, you can easily build a Linux terminal server infrastructure that would be surprisingly fast and agile, one that would run more sessions per server than you can shake a stick at -- all without licensing, if you so choose. Naturally, you could buy Red Hat or Suse (does anyone run Suse anymore?) and cover your support bases, but you could also do this with Ubuntu Server, CentOS, or just about any other distribution.

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