[svlug] Migration questions and suggestions

James Leone linuxcpa at netscape.net
Fri Aug 29 19:34:57 PDT 2003

dcurry at cariocas.com wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>I am looking at a large project for a friend of mine.  They want an
>actionable plan on migrating their office from MS to Linux. 
We have been looking at a migration to Linux here in our office, so I 
have some experience in dealing with the issue.
You are going to need someone on site that can answer staff questions. 
The FUD factor will decrease exponentially over time so long as 
solutions are tested and complaints are dealt with quickly.  
Furthermore, the initial setup can be time consuming if you aren't 
experienced. Keep a floppy with your configuration files on it in 
equivilant directories.

Depending upon your experience with Linux, it can take a long time for 
you to find and deliver everything staff wants or needs.  Even though 
you might not think so now, the little things make a big difference. 
When I first looked at Linux, a Netware client was one of them. It could 
be the ability to use a fancy Multifunctional, a Palm Pilot PDA, etc.  
Right now SuSE 8.2 and Mandrake 9.1 can plug and play configure 
handspring visors, web cameras, printers. That's the kind of 
configuration setups that I am happy to not have to pour over outdated 
documentation for.

I own Red Hat 9, Mandrake 9.1, SuSE 8.2 Pro and Lindows 4. The reason I 
go with SuSE is because it looks the most businesslike, and it comes 
with antivirus protection and the online update service is free.  I 
don't like Red Hat because it is not setup for plug and play, and its 
tedious to move around in.

 Staff will have to learn how to find files and use Linux, so you should 
replicate the Windows experience as much as possible. Give them a my 
computer folder, provide icons for the network shares and hard drives.

I also made a list of applications that we used but were not working in 
Linux yet,  and then looked for replacements. In my opinion, your goal 
should be to provide the same functionality in Linux as is available in 

But it still will be a lot of work to gain acceptance.  Do everything 
you can to give them the best experience they can have in Linux. 
Remember they are GUI users, and they just want things to work!

Here are my suggestions:

* Be available to answer questions and support the move

* Keep your config files on a floppy

* Move your servers first - they are actually easier to move - there are 
a lot of little things that have to be dealt with to set up a desktop 
for a user the way they like it.  This also gives you time to finish 
your list, and create the prototype desk. Further, Linux desktop 
migrations are just starting. As time goes on, more people will have 
experinces to share.

* Make a list of applications and computing functionality that will need 
to be fulfilled. Based upon this, present a protytpe desk to them and 
let them test it. Deal with the issues that come up until they are gone. 
At that point, you are ready to start moving desktops.

* Use as much eye candy as possible. That means KDE 3.1

>Existing services include ...MS Exchange, 
I have tried a lot of different open source applications, without much 
luck. I have never installed SuSE's Open Exchange server, but I am 
confident enough in SuSE that I would buy it if we needed one tommarrow.

>Veritas Backup Exec,
Supported by the vendor, but the issue will be the additional cost for 
functionality already provided in Windows. I have a super cheap setup 
for making backups here, we just copy and paste over to a 5 year old 
monster HP server.  We also make drive images with partimage. It has 
restored a few lost Win2k partitions nicely so far.

I wish I knew about some other Open Source backup applications....

>Oracle on MS, 
That is definitely Vendor supported.  I don't know if they will let you 
switch without cost.

>and several other small things 'they can live
My experience is that the devil is in the details. The biggest 
complainst stem from the small things that staff initially think "can 
live without." Later these will be the reasons why the most vocal staff 
will say Linux is somehow lacking on the desktop.

I have yet to find a computing function in which no one has tried to 
make an Open Source solution for. Not all of the solutions are 
acceptable, but there are probably a lot more than you would imagine.

>The client systems are running Win98, Win2kPro, and XP Pro.  Office 97
>and 2000 Pro, heavy emphasis on Outlook, 
Ximian Evolution

>Word and PowerPoint.
Supported in Cross Over Office. Cool thing about cxoffice: just set up 
the fake Windows drive/directory once, and copy it to all of the 
workstations. Beats setting up all the desks one at a time. Keep a 
backup, and if anything breaks, just copy the fake WIndows 
drive/directory down into the users home directory.

>Also include Arcobat in the mix. 
Adobe Acrobat 5 works fine in Linux in Cxoffice, and version 6 of the 
reader works fine under the Vanilla version of Wine.  I use that, not 
because I forgot that Linux has a version of Acrobat Reader, but because 
the Windows version has nicer graphics and staff tends to think that 
version 6 is better than version 5.

> Only two people use Access, at all.  Their
>finance guy (part-time) uses QuickBooks 200x.
We run Quickbooks Pro 2000 here, using Cross Over Office. I have tried 
out Quickbooks Pro 2003, and it will install, but it is not very 
functional beyond that.  The problem is that Intuit is not very nice 
when it comes to Quickbooks backward compatability.  They do have 
"Quickbooks for the Web" which requires Internet Explorer, Mozilla 
browser spoofing IE logs you in but functionality is lacking.  
Codeweavers supports Internet Explorer 5.5, but I found that it would 
crash when it started up sometimes, but I made a script linked to an 
icon, that does a registry edit to fix the problem temporarily.

>One of the 'goals' is that users with laptops can run 'locally' while
>out of the office, but as soon as they connect to the local LAN, (not
>the VPN) their local home directory gets dumped to the server.
There was a very nice article @ using CVS for backups in the Linux 
Journal or Linux magazine. CVS works like a Palm Pilot, it synchs up two 
file sets.

>Something like a roaming profile in Win2k, done right.  This is for data
>protection purposes.
>Management wants to be able to restrict what users can do, such as
>surfing the web, so I am looking at some users being configured for
>'thin client' mode using X sessions.
Seems like they will have a hardware penalty too...What type of 
restrictions? You can do as little as purchasing a router with a content 
filter, or as far as removing DNS numbers from the ethernet 
configuration so they can never go on. You could turn the gateway on and 
off at certian points.

>For users I am looking at a solution of Ximian Evolution for e-mail and
>OpenOffice.org for other 'front office' software needs.
>Due to virus and security issues, their IT person is not looking at
>having a long career with them.  He is a mega-strict MS is great, and
>Bill Gates is God type of person.  So this is all to be done with little
>or no assistance from him (all the better, in my view).
>The largest part for me to get straightened out is where to start,
Start with the servers, application & function lists, and _don't_ do 
everything at once. You will have to earn some grey hairs.

>and what programs to use to replace Exchange.  Input and sample plans or
>just lists of tasks in an order would be greatly appreciated. 
>Definitely seeking experienced suggestions with this from anyone willing
>to share.
I have a book of lists that I can pdf for you if you like.


James Leone


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