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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Linux Desktops @ Cisco

Cisco is majorly into pushing Linux desktops inside the company says Craig Manning, an IT manager at Cisco Systems who manages Cisco's internal network. as per this slashdotted article from LinuxWorld magazine. Cisco has already converted more than 2,000 of its engineers to Linux desktops, with plans to move many laptop users to the platform over the next few years. Manning says the driver for Linux on the desktop is not cost savings, but easier support. "On the desktop, you're not going to save that much money by replacing Windows with Linux," says Manning, who is also chairman of the Open Source Development Lab's (OSDL) Desktop Linux Steering Committee.
Factors that even out the Linux/Windows desktop costs include
- retraining employees,
- installing applications that support Windows applications on Linux, and
- support subscription fees from Linux vendors such as Red Hat, which are necessary for software updates and patches.

The advantage of Linux on the desktop is the ease of administration, provided by some of the built-in tools and properties of Linux. Such tools include Secure Shell (SSH), which can allow a remote administrator to easily access and trouble shoot a desktop. Also, the ability to hide and partition underlying system files and OS underpinnings from users on Linux is helpful. "You don't get people going into their registry or other areas of Windows and tweaking things," Manning says. Manning estimates that it takes a company approximately one desktop administrator to support 40 Windows PCs, while one administrator can support between 200 and 400 Linux desktops. Manning is skeptical of the notion that Linux is the cure for buggy Windows desktops, which are vulnerable to attack. Manninf says, CISCO is not going to get everyone onto Linux," and is targeting to get 70 percent of the company. I agree with Manning's hesitancy to declare Linux as more resistant to viruses and network attacks, saying "Windows has 95% of the market, and it gets slammed because it's so prevalent. When Linux has 95 percent or the market, it will be interesting to see how much it gets attacked."

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