There are a lot of good reasons for moving to Linux on the desktop, primary amongst them that is is more secure, it doesn’t have the virus problems that Windows has and of course you can save tons of money on licenses.For the IT department, once a Linux system is set up, it is very easy to manage and requires very little maintenance. Many IT administrator have found that they never have to attend to a Linux desktop, or reformat the machine every couple of months, or spend sleepless nights cleaning the viruses and wiping spyware.

But before you make the move, here are a few suggestions on the best practices to be followed before moving to Linux on the desktop.

  1. If you are already using Microsoft Office, consider switching to open source applications on Windows first . For example, if people primarily need an Office Suite move to OpenOffice on Windows and then to OpenOffice on Linux. This will make the transition a lot easier when you move to Linux because users have more resistance while moving away from their favourite applications. They are attached to their favour Excel macro, Outlook short-cut or even their favourite game of Solitaire. Fortunately OpenOffice can run their Excel macros and provide a familiar look and feel.
  2. Organisations have already saved a fortune by moving to OpenOffice alone. Ninety percent of users in any organisation need only ten percent of the functionality and OpenOffice today has most of the functionality an average user would use and a lot more. In fact today OpenOffice has many nice features such as export to PDF, native support for OpenDoc Format (ODF) and support for Microsoft file formats. It can also export presentations to Macromedia Flash.

    In addition to the office suite, Mozilla Firefox is an excellent browser. It is the fastest growing browser, it is secure and there are lots of extensions with which you can enhance the browser for your requirements. Removing the fees for MS Office in your company and introducing open source applications is a great way to break down resistance in organisations to making the leap to Linux on the desktop.

    See below for Some Open Source alternatives to popular applications

    Windows Applications Open Source Alternatives (These run on Both Windows and Linux)
    MS Office
    Outlook Express Mozilla Thunderbird
    Internet Explorer Mozilla Firefox
    Photoshop Gimp
    MSN/Yahoo Messenger/ICQ Chat Client Pidgin
    Windows Media Player VLC Media Player
  3. If you are investing in new computers for new users or applications. This is good time to start directly with Linux. Particularly fixed function workstations which are only running 1-2 applications such as POS terminals, Data Entry machine, call center PCs, etc. Eliminating paying for a fullWindows license for a fixed function is an easy justifications for moving to a Linux desktop in your business.
  4. A low impact way of persuading key people in the organisation to consider Linux is to ‘dual boot’ their windows machine with Linux. This is a very simple process usually and at start-up the user can choose which operating system to use. Very often, there will be some key hold-outs in any company who advocate no change. Increasing their familiarity with Linux, reassuring them that it works on standard machines and that it is compatible with their peripherals will go a long way to making the switch to Linux easier. It also offers them the reassurance of switching back to Windows should the decision not be made to go with Linux
  5. Change your IT policy! When buying new applications, computers or peripherals ensure that you buy products that work well with Linux. This protects you in the future. When tomorrow you move to Linux, you aren’t stuck with legacy applications which can’t be ported.
  6. And last but not the least. Invest some of the savings that you get from the licenses into training and support. This will ensure that users are more comfortable and they have access to expert support to rely on