Desktop Linux: Novell leads from the front

Desktop Linux: Novell leads from the front

Summary: Novell chief information officer Debra Anderson has been charged with the task of migrating more than 5,000 employees onto desktop Linux and Open Office during the next 12 months

As CIO for Novell, Debra Anderson is in tricky situation. She may be head of internal technology at a technology provider but her software and hardware decisions have very real external ramifications for a company keen to be seen as 'eating its own dog food'.

Anderson's latest mission is to deliver on a commitment made by Novell senior management in March to migrate the majority of the company's 5,000 users from Windows and Office to open-source alternatives.

The company's chief executive Jack Messman recognises the importance of being seen to lead from the front when encouraging users to ditch the tried and semi-trusted world of Microsoft for the disruptive and unknown world of desktops running Linux and and OpenOffice, which is an open-source alternative to Microsoft's Office application.

ZDNet UK found some time in Anderson's hectic schedule to get some details on moving an entire enterprise worth of desktops onto a relatively untried platform.

Why is this migration being done? What is it about the Linux desktop that makes this migration so compelling and worthwhile?
Frankly I think we are moving to the Linux desktop for two reasons. One is corporate strategy but if I put my CIO hat on and say 'why would I do this', then for me it's about flexibility, choice, security. There is a lot that Linux has to offer that Microsoft says it's doing, but the more I read the more it seems what they're supposed to be coming up with is late.

So what is the timeframe for the migration from Office and Windows to Open Office running on the Linux desktop?
The aim is to have 90 percent of Novell on OpenOffice by the end of July. We are well on track for that. We think it's very important to give everyone a hands-on feel for open-source software and take it department by department, rather than rolling it out in a big disruptive way. As we go we are finding more and more material to help them migrate.

We took a rough guess of what the training costs would be for each person in the company and we are actually not finding it to be as big as we expected it to be, which is great.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

Hunter S. Thompson

Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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