I've been asked by a KG client to run through a specific set of functions on a specific set of desktop environments and report back to them on my experiences. I'm to include such things as how long it took to set things up, how quickly it would take their staff to become productive in their new world, compatibility with data/files they've already created, and an evaluation of what it would cost per staff member if the entire environment was made up of that one desktop environment. The client chose a short list of operating environments and hardware platforms that included Apple Mac OS X, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), and Windows XP. I thought you'd be interested in a few random thoughts that have come out of this project.Setting up Windows and Mac were "out of the box" experiences. The machines came pre-loaded with the operating system. I had to load Novell's SLED on a recent Dell Latitude D620. From this one perspective, SLED wasn't as easy to deploy as the other two environments.
I was easily able to set up all of the machines to send and receive Email from both POP and IMAP servers.
I was easily able to access remote Web-based applications that the client was concerned about (some public applications, some custom applications they developed).
Firefox and OpenOffice.org both were easy to download and worked similarly on all three platforms.
The Mac and Windows systems had no trouble finding and configuring a file server on the local network. I'm still futzing with SLED to get it to find the shared directories. SLED had no trouble with FTP-based directories. It's not finding the Windows shares and I've yet to figure out why.
Calls to technical support for each operating system was an eye opening experience. For the most part, it was what I expected -- no major support contract equals long wait times and efficient, but unfriendly service. Novell's service was a welcome surprise. I was able to quickly speak with someone (Kyle Head) who was knowledgeable, friendly and seemed to go out of his way to make me feel like a valued customer.
Since all of the systems are configured roughly the same when processor and memory are considered, I expected a very similar experience. I have been pleasantly surprised by how responsive both the Linux and Mac based systems respond when compared to Windows XP.
Have any of you gone through a similar exercise? What was your experience?
I spoke with an old friend, Jeurgen Geck, also known as the Gecko, about the issue of Linux and the file server. He made a suggestion on how to get Linux to mount the file server. His suggestion worked perfectly. While the process wasn't automatic, as seen in both the Mac OS X and Windows systems, it would be perfectly workable in a corporate environment in which IT is going to configure systems for staff members.