Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can I finally free my company?

Well, I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I stumbled across possibly the best reason yet to move our entire company over to a fully FOSS solution (remember I'm only the Systems Admin/Programmer here).

The program that has given me so much hope is SeamlessRDP. This little tool allows me to run all our companies Windows-only applications on any Linux machine by streaming the application over the network. This means that the application acts just like another program on the users desktop - but in reality it is being run from a Windows server over the network.

For me, this is huge news.

Recently in a Directors meeting we discussed the pending need to start updating our systems because in 2014 Microsoft will end update support for Windows XP. The Directors didn't like this because we have around 50 computers and laptops and the upgrade costs for our company would be a huge hit on our resources.

Given this situation, I gave them a short presentation on the state of Open Source solutions and what it can offer us. I discussed program compatibility (we use OpenOffice extensively already) and thanks to the discovery of SeamlessRDP, I was able to give a clear solution to the problem of Windows applications that we can't do without (at the moment).

To my utter surprise, they were very receptive of my ideas and said that they would be very willing to move to a full FOSS solution if it could free them from the Microsoft money treadmill. They were also very impressed with KDE 4.2. I use KDE4 at work 24/7 and they were all very impressed with its usability, prettiness and great programs. A number of the staff have asked why they're "not allowed to have it" yet.

So, that's it! The move will need to start happening by 2011 at the latest (in the form of pilot programs), and I will be giving an extended feasibility and risk analysis report to the directors on Free and Open Source software.

If that all goes well, we'll be using free desktops, laptops and servers by 2013. I know that the number 2013 seems far off, but in the business world, and for me (considering the current workload I have) that is really JUST around the corner.

I'm excited. Cautious, but excited.

11 comments:

  1. I know Aaron Seigo talked about (some time ago) being able to have plasma activities streamed across the network to clients that connect to the network. I think the example he gave was that a KDE user staying in XY hotel could be prompted if they wanted to use the hotel's custom 'activity' for their desktop, showing things to do around the place, meal times, service numbers, TV guides and such things. Very cool stuff.

    That would be brilliant in my circumstances. We have quite a few staff members with laptops and netbooks where having KDE change its self to suite our work environment and adapt to the staff members needs would be invaluable (plus awesome coolness =D).

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  2. SeamlessRDP is nice, but be advised that not all windows applications are capable of running on a remote desktop server. At our department, we have experimented in moving some of our computation intensive applications to remote desktop, but many of them did not work properly.

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  3. The people in charge of the Linux migration in Munich ("LiMux") have a website. Maybe you can find some useful information on large migrations there. Most of the content seems to be available in English.

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  4. that's awesome! keep us imformed pls of what you're gonna do and how.. maybe you'll help other ppl move to FOSS..

    thanx!

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  5. Thanks for the comments people. =)

    @Christof

    Thankfully none of our Windows-only applications are that computation intensive. I've tested all the applications that we need and all work exactly as expected. One 'hitch' I have to circumvent is the fact that by default, Microsoft will only allow one RDP session on the server. But there was an update from Microsoft some time back that inadvertently dropped this restriction temporarily (until the next patch came along). I'll be making sure I get that update. =)

    @malelcum

    Thanks for the heads up. I've been looking around for some good websites that deal with migration issues.

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  6. Socceroos,

    I could really use that "inadvertent" update as well as I plan to do a migration that is very similar in nature to what you are doing.

    Please post the specific update if you know it.

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  7. @Porcel

    Good to know others are doing it too.

    Following is the link the the patch:

    http://www.kood.org/terminal-server-patch/

    Hope this helps.

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  8. @Porcel

    Despite what the website says, you can use the patch on a domain if you put the following in a BAT file and have it run when the computer boots:

    @REG ADD “HKLM\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Terminal Server\Licensing Core” /v EnableConcurrentSessions /d 1 /t REG_DWORD /f >nul
    @REG ADD “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon” /v EnableConcurrentSessions /d 1 /t REG_DWORD /f > nul
    @REG ADD “HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon” /v AllowMultipleTSSessions /d 1 /t REG_DWORD /f > nul

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