As things stand now, there are more Linux distributions available than most of us know what to do with. However, there are still instances where going along with the crowd and using a ready-made distribution might not be the right fit for your company.
Whether it's from a branding perspective or marketing opportunities, the reasons to seek out an alternative to the "big name" distros could easily run on all day. In the end, though, the goal is find a way to integrate the advantages of the Linux desktop into your workplace without feeling like you're being "re-branded" with the name of the chosen distribution itself.
In this article, I'll explore the mindset behind why a company might wish to "re-brand" a given Linux distribution or perhaps just remaster it to make sure that company requirements are handled better than "out of the box."
What's in a company brand?
For a company using a proprietary operating system exclusively, the idea of branding isn't really something that much thought is given to. However, for a business using Linux on the desktop, branding becomes a possibility that might be worth pursuing.
By having a remastered Linux distribution used within your company, your workplace has the freedom to brand the user experience from the opening splash screen down to the icon choices being used on the desktop. Then there's the ability to select which wallpapers and screensavers are used.
Perhaps none of these are considered a critical concern, but it's nice to have some computer-based fluidity with each workstation regardless. Besides, additions like these can also double as company outreach when used creatively.
The company business card
A few years ago, there was a growing trend where business people would hand out business cards on CD. Truth be told, the CDs handed out were generally of little value to the recipient and often ended up in the trash. Yet despite this setback, the idea of a high-tech business card isn't completely without merit.
Now consider for a moment that the same CD business card contained something of value. Imagine if this media contained a copy of your remastered Linux distribution with the explicit idea of providing your client with a means of staying in touch with your company.
If the company you work for provides tech support and this CD is being used as the bootable OS if the client's regular OS is down, the value provided is instantaneous. With the user's current operating system having problems, the end-user can use the CD to boot into your distribution and get back to work.
It would even allow them to get access to files on the hard drive that wasn't booting before. During all of this, your company name is right there in front of them. This is a powerful experience that will stay with the user long after the computer is fixed.
Another less impressive way a CD Linux business card might be of value is to offer a privacy-friendly way for clients to connect to the Internet. Just boot to the distribution, select the browser and enjoy! This could be helpful for those who are using a public computer during a business trip. Best of all is that other users are sure to question what the client is using and your company's name is bound to be mentioned.
But this is only one side of using a company-specific remastered Linux distribution. There's also a practical, IT department-friendly side to this as well. After all, marketing alone shouldn't be the only department benefiting from this.
The practical side of desktop remastering
For most IT departments, the real selling point for having a remastered distribution is the control over the kernel choice, software and user interface. This kind of control ensures everyone is using the same software, kernel and other items that are needed to run smoothly for the company.
Not only do you end up with a branded, customized distribution of Linux that your company can deploy on to company workstations, your customized distribution also meets your own company's IT needs as well. This translates into improved productivity with fewer distractions.
Remastered distributions made simple
At this point, there's likely some concern over the idea of having to incur countless working hours trying to set up the perfect remastered Linux distribution for the workplace. The truth is, this need not be overly time-consuming or complex. Using tools like SUSE Studio allows enterprise users the freedom to customize a Linux distribution to meet their needs without a significant time investment.