Shhh…you’ll wake the Linux…

Shh…Microsoft is up to something. When isn’t Microsoft up to something? Usually never. Redmond has quietly been developing something in the background to silence the Linux rise in the business sector and perhaps even the educational field.

Linux has been attracting much attention as a cost saving alternative to Windows in the school system. Indeed, Linux is a very thrifty way of changing all of those Pentium II and III’s into a nice internet PC or email computer. An alternative way of configuring Linux in education is through using each computer as a thin client. In this arrangement, a central ‘server’ computer would be the main computer to which each satellite PC would ‘log in’ to and would run programs remotely using this server. This means that each satellite can have NO HARD DRIVE. Most of you probably already know about K12 Linux and The Linux Terminal Server Project. But did you know that Microsoft has been quietly readying their own “thin client” to battle Linux in this arena?

That’s right, Microsoft has begun development of a Lean or Thin Client OS Codename “Eiger” and you can bet that businesses are not the only ones Redmond is eyeing to push this ‘thin client’ on. While it is not technically a terminal server style computer, it would work on a 500MB hard disk with 1GB recommended and 64MB of RAM. If my memory serves me right, a Pentium II Dell or Gateway would be right up that alley. These machines could be configured remotely using standard IT deployment methods. While I think they’ll probably nail this in the business market, I don’t think they’ll be able to make it stick within the educational arena. Most schools have decentralized networks with a volunteer IT person to take care of things…I just don’t think it will hold water there though.

I just think back to a time when we configured about 10 computers using K12 Linux Terminal Server in a small community college. Nothing can match the power of a properly configured Linux thin client….and then there was the best part…you only had to install updates to ONE COMPUTER…not to mention zero virus threats (well, actually about 4 I think but you gotta be really dense to get a Linux virus). Very nice. Let’s see Macrocrud match that one.

In the meantime, remember that Linux can run quite nicely using 4MB of RAM and a Pentium 75Mhz CPU or equivalent and still remain quite productive. It’s a shame that businesses didn’t know that one…they might have kicked their Windows 95 boxes to the curb.

Discovering Redmond

Some readers of this blog know that I recently moved my family from North Carolina to Virginia. The move went smoothly and I now find myself employment with a Fortune 500 company as a project manager. Therefore, I am in both unfamiliar territory as well as familiar territory. Familiar because there is a complete lack of Linux in this entire business; which is something I’ve read about considerably across many Linux websites…and also unfamiliar because I thought that reading these same articles allowed me to know the scope of Microsoft in business. I was dead wrong.

Unveiling the Beast

How could I have been so blind? I ask myself this question often now… Other new IT Professionals finding employment in corporate America might have asked themselves the same question. My conclusion is that Microsoft is far larger than I had EVER imagined. It’s model, its business presence, its structure, and its existence in IT. Straight massive. They’re everywhere IT is…no matter how large an operation or how small it is, Redmond is staring back at you from every neck of the woods. It is so large that I can’t even get a firm grasp of every market it is in or every area it encompasses, nor every niche it has found foothold. Microsoft has a department for every new technology and every standard currently being developed. They also have the largest piggy bank in the world and they don’t hesitate to raid it.

You’re saying, “Yes, Yes, we know this. Everyone that uses Linux knows this.” Perhaps some OSS users get it. But I don’t think everyone truly grasps how large Redmond is and how far its tendrils thread out in business…a majority of Linux users don’t have the whole sprawl of Microsoft in front of them daily to allow it to ‘sink in.’

Most Linux users have to settle for reading about this “whole sprawl” at a technology website or hearing it from a friend of a friend whose brother works at Microsoft. In these situations, reading or hearing about something and actually seeing it put to action are two separate things. With this line of thinking, most Linux users may not fully comprehend the size, involvement, and area that Microsoft currently has.

Being a project manager here has enabled me to see each and every area that Redmond has infiltrated in corporate America. It’s everywhere. And not just in my company, it is also ingrained in every other company that we work with. It’s everywhere and in everything. I was flabbergasted and knocked for a loop when the realization hit me. No longer was it David vs. Goliath. Microsoft is much larger than Goliath could ever hope to be. Nay, it became a spec of dust vs. the sun.

I was completely sunk for about a day. I looked at the Linux business desktop (mainly Suse 9.3 and Red Hat) and then back to XP with all of its enterprise and server manipulation tools staring at me on my work computer and I physically dropped my jaw and slumped my shoulders in disappointment. The Linux business desktop is far inferior in abilities to Microsoft and is conversely inferior to corporate businesses because of its lack of features and abilities. I do understand that this isn’t the fault of Linux but rather, because most vendors develop third party applications to run using Windows. The lack of third party server admin applications and enterprise manipulation tools on the Linux desktop is painfully evident and completely understandable as most vendors do not support *nix desktops. I’m sure that there are many active projects in this area right now. That’s the beauty of Linux…when something isn’t present and there is a need for it, a project springs up and developers begin to remedy the situation.

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