Aditya Nag
March 28, 2005

This article was first published on

We have been speaking of Linux on the desktop in the previous few articles. The home desktop presents many challenges, and we have seen how Linux and Open Source is rising to meet these. In this article however, we will look at Linux implementations in business and Government.

Novell is one company that is helping to push Linux into the business arena. It recently announced a new version of it’s Linux Desktop that has been specially crafted for small businesses. Due to ship on March 31, 2005, the new version will be called the Linux Small Business Suite 9, and is intended for businesses with about a hundred users and three servers. It will include Novell’s Groupwise Collaboration Software, Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9, and the Novell Linux Desktop. At a competitive price of $475 for a five client license, it ought to shake up the market.

The German city of Munich is in the process of migrating to Linux across 14,000 desktops. It did this despite many efforts from commercial software vendors to stop the shift. It is doing this in a planned manner, and is due to be completed by 2007.

Venezuela’s science and technology ministry has recently ratified a decree ordering, in a first phase, central government entities to draft plan for migration to open source software platforms within three months. The Venezuelan president has also announced that the country’s public administration will migrate to open source software within the next two years.

The 14 ministries concerned by this decree are supposed to operate a complete migration on open source system in the two coming years, except in those cases where it can be proved that the migration would be impossible. During the three months needed to elaborate a plan, the ministries have to inform themselves on the use of free software, and how their systems can migrate towards free software.

The local government of Vienna is due to start migrating its desktop PCs to open-source software in the second quarter of this year.

Users will be free to switch from Microsoft Office 2000 to and from Microsoft Windows 2000 to Linux, without the need of changing their operating system. The Municipality of Vienna has identified 7500 desktops (of 16 000) that could be migrated to OpenOffice, of which 4800 could migrate to Linux.

According to Erwin Gillich, the head of operational information technology at the Austrian capital’s municipal authority, only a few hundred users might migrate to open source software in the first year, but this number might increase after.

The French Gendarmerie is going to adopt an open source solution for its operating system. The migration was announced in the ADAE Conference, 2 February, in Paris.

At least 80 000 PCs will be concerned by the migration before the end of the year. In a first step, 35 000 PCs will be equipped by before the summer. OpenOffice will be used, as Microsoft Office, for the rapports and statements, but will offer more services than Word and Excel.

The National Gendarmerie has announced that the migration, the technical support and the personnel training will be managed without any external help.

It is expected to save 2 million euro by year through this migration.

NZX – the New Zealand stock exchange has become the first major New Zealand company to adopt the Oracle 10g database running on Red Hat Linux.

Apart from being able to consolidate 21 databases into one, the new NZX system runs faster, more reliably and at less cost, says the company’s tech team.

Yahoo Inc. has started moving onto Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. It already had many servers running Linux, but now it has started moving its homegrown infrastructure applications from it’s custom operating system to RHEL 4. Many of the company’s large databases already run on Linux, and the number is expected to double within the next twelve months.

The world’s largest Linux migration, the German national railway’s, is moving smoothly. It has successfully moved all of its 55,000 Lotus Notes users onto the open-source operating system.

The company has already shifted its vital train time-tabling system from HP Non-Stop to Linux. Next, it will move various SAP systems, including sales support, from UNIX to Linux. And by the end of the year, all remaining critical systems–including databases, application servers, Web servers, mail servers, and network infrastructure–will be running on Linux.

The vast project, which dwarfs the frequently quoted migration of the Munich Council to Linux, was agreed upon last year; and the railway had moved half of its 300 or so servers by November 2004.

The Czech post decided to review its operating system in favour of a non-proprietary environment.

Thanks to its reliability and also to its customisation capabilities, SUSE LINUX technology was selected.

According to Josef Svoboda, Project Manager for APOST at Czech Post, “Our people trusted Linux and the decision really paid off. SUSE LINUX attracted our attention and won our admiration because so we can tailor it to our business.”

SUSE LINUX has been installed on the existing Intel-based machines and instead of sending qualified IT personnel to each site, the IT staff manages the new operating system from a central location.

Since 10 months, it seems that the transition to SUSE LINUX is a success: the new operating system runs now on 4 000 servers at 3 400 post offices across the country, as well as at 12 000 client terminals used by 20 000 employees. The Czech post has centralized the infrastructure with support for remote monitoring that will significantly reduce administration costs.

Furthermore, the migration to the Open Source platform benefits the citizens; thanks to its flexibility, the new APOST system enables employees to adapt their services to the client’s demands.

The worldwide leader in terms of broadband Internet penetration with more than seven of 10 households having access, South Korea, is launching a government wide promotion to increase the free use of Linux in the public sector.

The Ministry of Information and Communication of South Korea has said it will provide a total of 3 billion won (US$2.95 million) for government agencies which want to use the Linux and other open-source computer programs this year.

Countries like Brazil and India have been supporting Linux and Open Source for quite a while.

Governments worldwide are recognizing the benefits of Linux and Open Source. The commercial world is also looking closely at Linux, and many companies have either shifted, or are in the process of shifting various parts of their business processes onto Linux. Many companies are running pilot projects to gauge the impact of Linux on their bottom line.

If you are running a small business, or are the technology manager at a government organization, you are probably already conducting research on the benefits of incorporating an Open Source solution into your organization.

In case you haven’t, we hope this article helps you decide to examine the pros and cons of running Linux, at the very least.