Linux Desktop: Seven Leading Applications

Profiles of products equipped to play a key role in the adoption of the Linux desktop: what they do, their strengths and weakness, and their management team.
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While many CIOs like the idea of Linux in principle, most of those who have shifted have done so in limited ways. Committing to Linux on servers can be justified through cost and performance considerations, but when it comes to the desktop, most enterprises are still reluctant.

With so many applications so tightly linked to Microsoft operating systems, the thought of migrating all that data is daunting. Beyond that, finding the appropriate open-source counterparts to the most critical applications, fine-tuning those applications, and retraining both IT and end users are all potential show-stoppers.

However, it’s wrong to think that migration is virtually impossible, and as Vista begins to penetrate the market, requiring application upgrades anyway, now might be the time to take the leap.

For those serious about considering Linux as a desktop alternative, here are seven applications and open-source projects that could help tip the scales towards Linux, moving it beyond servers to full enterprise adoption.

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1. Versora’s Progression Desktop

What it does: Versora’s Progression Desktop migration software automates the process of moving files, settings, and data from Windows-based applications to Linux. The software also facilitates Windows-to-Windows migrations and can be used to upgrade to Vista.

How it will help you: Let’s be honest here, most Windows-to-Linux migration is done by open-source true believers and experimental techies. It happens on a small scale, one machine at a time. When it’s done organizationally, it usually involves a limited number of devices and only a single department or work group.

If you ask those same true believers and techies to replicate this for hundreds or thousands of users, even the most intrepid ones will contemplate strangling you. There are simply too many data types, appearance preferences, networking options, and application settings to do this manually.

This is where Versora comes in, automating the migration process. Versora’s Progression Desktop moves critical data, application settings, network settings, desktop settings, directory structures, etc. in a predictable way that can be automated by your IT staff.

Obstacles to adoption: As of now, migration tools are niche items, since enterprise adoption of Linux on the desktop has been slow. On the other hand, Versora’s ability to migrate data between Microsoft OSes means that its success isn’t entirely tethered to Linux.

Another consideration is the Web Services/Software as a Service trend. If these applications ever do migrate online, something like Progression Desktop won’t be nearly as alluring in the long run.

Developer: Versora, in Santa Barbara, CA.

Management Team: Mike Sheffey, CEO, previously served as VP of sales and professional services at Miramar Systems, which was acquired by Computer Associates in 2004.

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