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  • timnwells
    started a topic Linux on the business workstation

    Linux on the business workstation

    It seems to me that Linux lacks some of the required components to make it a considerable option for a lot of businesses.

    I will make no secret of the fact that I am Australian, and my opinions and experience is somewhat bias towards australian conditions.

    I am currently working with a company to help implement some management systems, as well as give them an online presence. The staff have often inquired about the weird OS and software on my laptop, and I have explained a bit about Linux to them. Most of them seem very interested, and after all what business doesn't want to save money on software?

    Are they using it? No..
    - The management won't use it because they think openoffice looks old and crappy and where is Outlook
    - The accountant wont use it because MYOB or Quickbooks wont run on it
    - The rest mostly complained about not having iTunes to sync and backup their iPhones

    It may be a lot to do with perception, but I can't help but feeling sympathetic to the situation of the accountant. He has used MYOB or Quickbooks for a long time as they are the most popular accounting systems in Australia. He knows them, he understands them. I might be able to find a decent Linux based accounting system, but it would take too long for him to learn to use it.. etc etc

    I am aware that it is a catch 22 situation, MYOB or Reckon won't build Linux versions unless there is enough market, yet there won't ever be enough market until applications like this can be used by these people on the Linux platform.

    I for one struggle every time I go back to using a windows computer for anything more than the occasional game and I think Linux is great. I think there needs to be some attention given to the markets that currently are not really supported (Business and Gaming).

    Apple have really given Linux a kick in the gonads with the iPhone/iPod and the fact that iTunes only runs on Mac and Windows. It really removes the viability of Linux for a lot of people who have these devices.

    I get excited to hear news of Linux Steam Clients, even if it is only strings outputs. It gives me hope that one day soon I will be able to get rid of Windows altogether and play the games I like on Linux.

    I would be just as excited to hear news of any commercial/free software being made available to Linux, especially if it makes the Linux platform more attractive to 'Business users' needs and the 'Average iPhone having users' needs.

    I would like to know peoples opinions on how Linux fits for business use and if anyone is coming across the same sorts of issues as I am.

  • ?John?
    replied
    Goog news, everyone!

    There is hope - at least as far as accounting on GNU/Linux is concerned.
    Here in .CZ, there is a company making a program called FlexiBee. The program used to be known as WinStrom and as you can see, they've even gone as far as taking the stupid "Win" (along with the implied Winblow$ exclusivity) out of it's name.
    It's written in Java and based on PostgreSQL database. The company is based in Plzeň and the sales representative told me that the program is actually developed by quite a few of my former schoolmates (guys from the same college, faculty and major I used to be attending to, many of which like and support libre software as much as we do).
    She also told me that their marketing studies noticed increasing numbers of companies running away from Winblow$. Granted, most of them end up as MAC OS zombies (at least for the moment), but I think we should be grateful for anything that keeps shattering M$ monopoly - after all, modifying MAC OS-compatible codebase to add GNU/Linux support is much easier than messing with Winblow$-only bits.
    I'm not sure if you're watching the same Google ads as I am (probably not as they seem to be location-aware), but as far as I can tell, the link to it's website actually made it all the way to [Phoronix]'s Google ad box.
    Bottom line is that whatever small company wants to start using GNU/Linux now has a chance to do so. And by the way, at least the invoice format is standardized over here (see ISDOC)

    In my spare time, I'm administering ICT infrastructure of a small company right next to where I live and over the past few years I gradually got them to a point where 4 out of 6 of their computers are running Ubuntu, so I can tell it's most certainly feasible. It simply boils down to the programs they're using and DOSbox is running their old accounting software just fine. I actually got inspired to try that by seeing a computer in my favorite drug-store booting Gentoo.
    However, highly specialized Winblow$ programs (often cobbled together from M$ crapware using Visual Basic and therefore almost impossible to run in Wine) usually make the switch very tricky, especially when they require hardware keys, which are extremely difficult to get working even with virtual machines.

    Leave a comment:


  • timnwells
    replied
    Originally posted by mirv View Post
    I'm quite sure there would be a version of MYOB for Linux if desktop use took off, but I can't see them investing money into it before then - they wouldn't get enough of a return.
    My point exactly, they would do it if people are already using linux, but a major barrier to a lot of people using linux is that they haven't done it.

    I know hundreds of people personally that would use linux if they could use myob, but without the hassle of virtual machines etc.

    If people always accept that it won't be done until more people are using it then it won't get done at all because the 2 largest markets for linux on the desktop are gamers and business, the current linux desktop users are mostly hobbyists as they have to fall back to windows/mac for an accounting system they know how to use or to play a particular game.

    Leave a comment:


  • mirv
    replied
    Originally posted by timnwells View Post
    If you reading a book or doing a course on MYOB, you should be learning how to use myob, not how to use the OS. I don't see that training needs to change all that much if the applications function the same regardless of OS.
    My comment was aimed more at developing competing software, but as you've written that, let's not forget that there are slight tweaks that may be different (from key bindings to printing) and the company will have to offer support for it.
    I'm quite sure there would be a version of MYOB for Linux if desktop use took off, but I can't see them investing money into it before then - they wouldn't get enough of a return.

    Leave a comment:


  • timnwells
    replied
    Originally posted by mirv View Post
    This. Right here. It's not the underlying OS that's the issue - it's the training of people in using the software package.
    There's also the case of company add-ons - here I refer mostly to MSOffice, where each company has templates and/or macros for letter headers, page layouts, etc etc etc - that might have to changed, redone, and again people have to know where to find and how to use them.
    This kind of software isn't just a piece of software, it's a whole infrastructure: teaching books, TAFE courses, customer support, the whole works, and these things don't like changing unless there's sufficient motivation (which in the end means saving lots of money, or making lots of money).
    If you reading a book or doing a course on MYOB, you should be learning how to use myob, not how to use the OS. I don't see that training needs to change all that much if the applications function the same regardless of OS.

    Leave a comment:


  • timnwells
    replied
    Originally posted by frantaylor View Post
    Why not use Linux on the desktop and fire up a virtual machine for the (hopefully few) times that you need to run Windows.

    Or better yet get a mac and you can run all three at once. Opt-out of the whole OS flame war. Choose the best tools for the job and know that you can have them all at your disposal.
    Fine for me but the concept of "virtual" machines is not something that your everyday business workstation user is going to be familiar with.

    They want to start an application, not start an app, launch a virtual machine, wait for it to boot, then start another app.

    Leave a comment:


  • mirv
    replied
    Originally posted by timnwells View Post
    It may be a lot to do with perception, but I can't help but feeling sympathetic to the situation of the accountant. He has used MYOB or Quickbooks for a long time as they are the most popular accounting systems in Australia. He knows them, he understands them. I might be able to find a decent Linux based accounting system, but it would take too long for him to learn to use it.. etc etc
    This. Right here. It's not the underlying OS that's the issue - it's the training of people in using the software package.
    There's also the case of company add-ons - here I refer mostly to MSOffice, where each company has templates and/or macros for letter headers, page layouts, etc etc etc - that might have to changed, redone, and again people have to know where to find and how to use them.
    This kind of software isn't just a piece of software, it's a whole infrastructure: teaching books, TAFE courses, customer support, the whole works, and these things don't like changing unless there's sufficient motivation (which in the end means saving lots of money, or making lots of money).

    Leave a comment:


  • frantaylor
    replied
    Originally posted by timnwells View Post
    I do see your point.

    But are you saying there is no hope for Linux as a business workstation?
    Why not use Linux on the desktop and fire up a virtual machine for the (hopefully few) times that you need to run Windows.

    Or better yet get a mac and you can run all three at once. Opt-out of the whole OS flame war. Choose the best tools for the job and know that you can have them all at your disposal.

    Leave a comment:


  • timnwells
    replied
    Originally posted by RobbieAB View Post
    I'm not entirely convinced...

    The problem is tax compliant accounting software is highly specialised and requires highly specialised, non-natural geek skills, like a detailed knowledge of the tax rules. It is also quite high maintenance as it needs to be updated as the tax rules change and evolve. Add to that, it tends to be nation specific, and you often find that there isn't much of a market for more than one or two players in many countries.

    This means that those few players there are can, essentially, dictate the platform, because they don't really have competition. Certainly, it is highly questionable if many countries would be able to support a linux specific player at a competitive price.
    I do see your point.

    But are you saying there is no hope for Linux as a business workstation?

    Leave a comment:


  • RobbieAB
    replied
    Originally posted by timnwells View Post
    My focus was meant to be on the lack of quality/capable business/accounting software such as MYOB or Quickbooks for the Linux platform.

    It seems to me that there could be a potential market for a software developer to produce quality, taxation law compliant accounting software for Linux.
    I'm not entirely convinced...

    The problem is tax compliant accounting software is highly specialised and requires highly specialised, non-natural geek skills, like a detailed knowledge of the tax rules. It is also quite high maintenance as it needs to be updated as the tax rules change and evolve. Add to that, it tends to be nation specific, and you often find that there isn't much of a market for more than one or two players in many countries.

    This means that those few players there are can, essentially, dictate the platform, because they don't really have competition. Certainly, it is highly questionable if many countries would be able to support a linux specific player at a competitive price.

    Leave a comment:

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