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*nix Thread, Ubuntu Desktop vs. Win 7 Pro - hidden costs, unexpected issues, bad surprises? in Technical; I have about 200 PC's that need to move from XP Pro to something else. Some users need Windows apps ...
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    Ubuntu Desktop vs. Win 7 Pro - hidden costs, unexpected issues, bad surprises?

    I have about 200 PC's that need to move from XP Pro to something else.
    Some users need Windows apps (mostly admin support staff) and these boxes will upgrade to Win 7 Pro. But most of the classroom PC's are used for nothing but web browsing (students are using Google Apps for school assignments) and would crack under the strain of Win 7. Ubuntu Desktop seems like the obvious choice for these boxes.

    You don't have to convince me that Ubuntu is better than Windows from a technical standpoint, and I can figure out on my own how much less it will cost. But here's the question: who has transitioned from Win XP to Ubuntu Desktop recently, what unexpected issues did you face, and were there any unanticipated costs? Was there anything about the change that users (esp. teachers & staff) found particularly hard? I really want this to go well and would like to be prepared for all possibilities.

    Thanks!

    Luke Jaeger | Technology Coordinator
    Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School
    www.pvpa.org

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    glennda's Avatar
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    The main one would be what do you use for an MIS, i.e do you need the ability to take registers from the machines. If so can it be done web based then easy if not then does the app run under ubuntu.

    We run most of our back end server side off ubuntu but not been able to put a machine in a classroo.

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    misterfriendly (6th December 2011)

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    do you mean taking attendance? (sorry, my British is a little rusty) - that's all done via web, so not an issue.

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    I've turned some xp machines to linux, it was certainly faster than XP or Win7.
    I'd suggest going with Linux mint - of the problems we had with ubuntu is making sure all the non-free codec, flash,java etc is present (I appreciate it's quite easy to install) but Mint has it all pre-configured. Mint 12 also has a good setup of Gnome3, which looks quite like Gnome2 meaning you don't have to endure the misery of Unity.
    We also found remote imaging a pain - it can be done with FOG but needed very large image files, we found it quicker and easier to use ddrescue and do disk to disk.

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    misterfriendly (6th December 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    I've turned some xp machines to linux, it was certainly faster than XP or Win7.
    I'd suggest going with Linux mint - of the problems we had with ubuntu is making sure all the non-free codec, flash,java etc is present (I appreciate it's quite easy to install) but Mint has it all pre-configured. Mint 12 also has a good setup of Gnome3, which looks quite like Gnome2 meaning you don't have to endure the misery of Unity.
    We also found remote imaging a pain - it can be done with FOG but needed very large image files, we found it quicker and easier to use ddrescue and do disk to disk.
    That's a good suggestion, I haven't looked at Mint in a while. The humorous messages in Terminal were a nice touch. Unity is definitely hideous.

    Was there anything about transitioning your users from XP to Mint that went badly, or that you'd advise someone to watch out for?

    Imaging is a whole other issue - I've had good results imaging Linux boxes (and Macs) with clonezilla, but you still have to touch every computer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterfriendly View Post
    do you mean taking attendance? (sorry, my British is a little rusty) - that's all done via web, so not an issue.
    yes thats what i meant!

    With regards to Imaging,Take a look at Fog is you havn't already, one the task has be sent to the machine hitting f12, network boot and jobs a goodun, I did 900 over the summer easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterfriendly View Post
    Was there anything about transitioning your users from XP to Mint that went badly, or that you'd advise someone to watch out for?
    not for the interface. We found that most users don't really use windows, they just launch apps. The bigger problem was transitioning people from MSOffice to Google apps or LibreOffice - that is a much bigger challenge. Printers can sometimes be an issue, 99% of the time they are fine - but even with decent HP printers you sometimes need to carefully choose drivers as occasionally certain documents can print with artefacts.
    Citrix and Google apps really help with cross platform compatibility, esp if users are used to using them before an O/S migration.

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    misterfriendly (6th December 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    yes thats what i meant!

    With regards to Imaging,Take a look at Fog is you havn't already, one the task has be sent to the machine hitting f12, network boot and jobs a goodun, I did 900 over the summer easily.
    I love FOG for imaging Windows boxes, haven't quite got the hang of making it work for other OS installations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterfriendly View Post
    I love FOG for imaging Windows boxes, haven't quite got the hang of making it work for other OS installations.
    I did manage to get it to image my ubuntu box - did it using version 0.30 and all i did was setup a capture as if it was any other box, although no fogprep

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    not for the interface. We found that most users don't really use windows, they just launch apps. The bigger problem was transitioning people from MSOffice to Google apps or LibreOffice - that is a much bigger challenge.
    That's what I figured, and I'm working hard to untangle the two things (MS Office vs. Google Apps / Windows vs. anything else) in peoples' minds. Bottom line is that if it's going to cost $20K to install Win 7 there's going to have to be some greater benefit than the fact it makes people comfy.
    Printers can sometimes be an issue, 99% of the time they are fine - but even with decent HP printers you sometimes need to carefully choose drivers as occasionally certain documents can print with artefacts.
    Citrix and Google apps really help with cross platform compatibility, esp if users are used to using them before an O/S migration.
    We serve all our printers thru PaperCut which uses standard Samba and CUPS printing. It's already working great on our pilot Ubuntu desktops. Citrix would be an elephant gun for a school our size, but who knows, we might use it for something someday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterfriendly View Post
    most of the classroom PC's are used for nothing but web browsing
    Absolutly nothing else? Might as well have a web browser start up on boot/login and transition the users to the ChromeOS web-browser-as-OS model. It seems to be working okay in our prep (kindergarden) classrooms where we have some EeePC netbooks booting Debian to run XFCE with Chrome (which keeps itself up-to-date and has built-in viewers for Flash, video and PDF) as a web browser.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Absolutly nothing else? Might as well have a web browser start up on boot/login and transition the users to the ChromeOS web-browser-as-OS model. It seems to be working okay in our prep (kindergarden) classrooms where we have some EeePC netbooks booting Debian to run XFCE with Chrome (which keeps itself up-to-date and has built-in viewers for Flash, video and PDF) as a web browser.
    Printing is the dealbreaker, otherwise I'd do something like ChromiumOS or Webconverger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by misterfriendly View Post
    Printing is the dealbreaker, otherwise I'd do something like ChromiumOS or Webconverger.
    You could look at the webprint part of papercut - files are uploaded into the machine which then prints them. Also you can connect chromeos to printers its just a bit fidderly, and not sure how well it would work in production.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    You could look at the webprint part of papercut - files are uploaded into the machine which then prints them. Also you can connect chromeos to printers its just a bit fidderly, and not sure how well it would work in production.
    We use webprint for guest laptops and I love it - but I think the users would balk at having to use it for everything, all the time. What it does is very cool but it's undeniably clunky.

    ANYWAY we are getting far afield here - my question wasn't 'which non-windows OS should I use' but rather 'what are the hidden costs of switching to Linux at the desktop'. It could well be that there aren't any, which would be great news.

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    Well its a case of listing software you currently have on your network and seeing if there are alternatives on linux which staff would be happy with. At the end of the day without knowing the staff and the software you currently use on windows and how its used its very had to comment IMHO

    I.e if staff use windows movie maker in the classroom is there an alternative for it which is simple to use on linux. The major type of software there are alternatives for such as libre office instead of m$ office etc.

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