A departement moving to Linux...

Michael Halcrow mike at halcrow.us
Sat Feb 18 07:18:45 MST 2006

On Fri, Feb 17, 2006 at 02:29:33PM -0700, Charles Curley wrote:
> Well, IBM has been running a pilot program to convert employees'
> desktops to Linux, but strictly volunteers. What they are finding is
> that the volunteers tend to be the early adopters, and they become
> so enthuiastic about Linux that the laggards decide to try it. The
> EAs become inadvertant Linux evangelists. Then it's Fred in the next
> cube over recommending it, not some IT weenie, which is much more
> powerful. I don't have current figures, but last I looked, IBM had
> more than 15K employees using Linux.

As some of you may know, the whole company is running Lotus Notes for
email, calendar, and miscellaneous database applications. While the
email can be forwarded to an IMAP account and the calendar notices are
in iCal format (hence apps like Evolution can decipher them), it's
hard to avoid needing to access some Notes database every so often to
get some tasks done.

The only way to run Notes under Linux is with Wine and some unholy
magic. I have one mystic build of Wine from the year 2004 that I can
trust to actually run Notes on my Debian workstations. The folks at
IBM research have configured a Wine package that just works with Notes
for RPM-based distro's.

Of course, pretty much everyone in the IBM Linux Technology Center
runs GNU/Linux. A couple of guys on my team run Gentoo. I am the
Debian champion. Others run Fedora. At least one guy runs SuSE on his
workstation. We all, of course, keep SLES and RHEL installed on
various lab/test machines. Suffice it to say that we run a large
variety of GNU/Linux distributions, and things work out just fine,
because we all adhere to open standards in our document formats. Of
course, we *are* all professional open source software developers. And
IBM's IT department is very flexible in its ability to track and
manage security issues for any operating system you could have on your

In my opinion, for non-Linux-savvy employees, deriving and internally
distributing your own distro, including all the productivity packages
tailored for that organization in the installation procedure, is
something I would recommend for any organization of a decent size. It
really isn't that hard to do. In fact, if an IT department is not
competent role its own distro, it has no business trying to deploy
GNU/Linux on a massive scale in the first place.

(All content of this message are the author's own subjective
                         Michael A. Halcrow                          
       Security Software Engineer, IBM Linux Technology Center       
GnuPG Fingerprint: 419C 5B1E 948A FA73 A54C  20F5 DB40 8531 6DCA 8769

A hacker does for love what others would not do for money. 
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