Now that Windows XP is really out of support, there are some posts that revisit migrating to Linux. Personally regardless whether it is enterprise or for the home user that refuses to upgrade, I recommend just sticking with Windows with the enterprise sticking with Windows for their desktops.
Why stick with Windows for the enterprise desktop?
The cost of training existing people or new people is just too high when you switch over to a totally new platform. Not to mention having to ensure that all their apps work on the new platform.
There are established training programs that can be leveraged by enterprises to train their staff on the new Windows version.
Of course if you don’t have those legacy issues, I would probably push on the Mac because of manageability and system standardization (you only deal with one vendor for all your base desktop needs).
Why stick with Windows XP on the home desktop?
Unless you’re masochistic enough to train the person who refuses to upgrade their machine with newer versions of Windows or if you want to keep your sanity, a Mac. You’re going to have to be the IT guy for the person when it no longer becomes fun.
If the bloody thing works with XP, let them stick with it until it totally breaks and they’re about to lose their data. You can come to the rescue and take their data out and let them know that it is time to get a new machine. If the needs are simple enough, get them to switch to the Mac and offload the work of supporting them to the Apple Genius Bar.
Don’t support piracy for them either, let them pay for the software if they really want to use it. Namely Office and Photoshop. The sooner you get them onto a gated device like the Mac or even Windows 8.1 and disable installing apps outside of the app stores, the better off you’d avoid having to deal with “what the F is this iMesh software or some other toolbar for Internet Explroer”
The server side
On the server side, it depends on the middleware being used. If the product such as Curam, DB2, Oracle or WebSphere are supported on only specific versions of UNIX, then you have to use that UNIX.
I would likely tier things anyway and support two UNIX systems. One being AIX which a lot of enterprise middleware supports and Oracle Linux (amongs all the other server Linux distributions).
With Oracle Linux which is based on RHEL6 you at least get Oracle level support. It also supported on IBM zSeries systems which is a boon for leveraging multi-site sysplex and disaster recovery support on the base level rather on the individual OS level. It is also easier and cheaper to find people with UNIX based experience rather than zOS experience so you can limit the amount of zOS costs by making them focus on the lower level infrastructure. The main point of Oracle Linux is the portability to Amazon Cloud Services if you want to push off some of your infrastructure to even save costs.
Oracle Linux is going to be a terrible hobbyist Linux distribution just because it’s excessively secure by default.
Personally I would recommend zSeries for any base level server infrastructure for the enterprise that can afford it. At least for their critical data. The web apps or application servers can be offloaded to cheaper systems initially but ideally should be put on the same infrastructure to avoid having to set up each application/machine virtual or not to handle disaster recovery and multisite support. It would also be cheaper for companies in the long run because the physical space it takes up is much less than having an array of cheap computers. Also you can pay per usage rather than investing heavily up front.
For hobbyist who have a lot of time on their hands, it would depend on how powerful their old machines are. If it is so antiquated that it can only run XP, I would just run FreeBSD on it, it’s lighter weight than any linux that is really useful right out of the box.
For hobbyist servers, definitely Ubuntu Server. It’s so much less hassle than others and significantly less secure out of the box that prevent me from doing actual work and focusing on ensuring the security settings are in place. Plus I get the latest software for the most part. DO NOT in any circumstances put that server out on the Internet without some form of firewall and security on any open port that goes to the Internet.
Linux on the desktop
If I had to go for a Linux on the desktop, I’d go for Ubuntu, Fedora Core or even OpenSuSE over most other Linux distributions just because their upgrade cycle can upgrade to the latest release rather than being stuck with a backup, install, restore cycle like Linux Mint or perpetually compiling like a mad man in Gentoo. Just remember it’s going to be pointless for any real games which are designed for Windows first with random FPS drops.
For non-hobbyist machines
For home systems, I generally recommend people to just get a Mac for people who can afford it or don’t know how to avoid dealing with viruses in the first place. At the very least I can direct them to the Apple Genius Bar if they have questions or problems rather than being the free IT guy for everyone and sometimes feeling like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory going into Howard’s closet.
If the person really is too cheap to upgrade and you refuse to install a pirated copy of Windows XP. I’d just install Mint just because it has a lot of things preconfigured and it isn’t too far off from Windows style. Even if it is still “different”.
This article was written with pain and suffering using:
- Linux Mint
- Oracle Linux
- Ubuntu Server