Note from Richard: From time to time, we love to look beyond the world of pure SEO and focus a little more on interesting topics like the Ubuntu operating system and related technologies. On that note, I’d like to introduce Jeff Orloff, a technology coordinator with the School District of Palm Beach County. He also works as a consultant for Sequoia Media Services Inc., specializing in companies that are implementing social media into their businesses for collaboration and information-sharing. He is currently writing a book titled MediaWiki: A Beginner’s Guide. Today, Jeff will be talking about Ubuntu in the Office. Over to you, Jeff!
Since its inception, Ubuntu has based its operating system on the theme that “it just works.” While many home computer users have made the jump to working with Ubuntu, the corporate world has avoided this operating system despite the fact that from the time of installation, it can save hundreds of dollars per computer in software costs alone.
Photo by: Svv
But I get why the business world is hesitant to jump aboard the Ubuntu bandwagon? The misconception that Ubuntu (and other GNU/Linux distributions) is not built for a corporate desktop environment is perpetuated by those who feel that there is a lack of business applications for the OS. Eerily, this sounds all too familiar to the prejudice against the Macintosh in the early nineties.
Unlike Apple, Ubuntu hasn’t taken the same strategy. Instead of promoting itself as the hip, cool computing platform, Ubuntu makes sure that people know that when it comes to productivity, their OS is can provide results.
Home and small offices are limited in what they need their computers for. Generally, the business machine needs to have:
- Internet and email
- An office suite to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets
- PDF software
- Industry specific software
Fortunately, Ubuntu has an answer for each.
Internet and Email
Included in each installation of Ubuntu Desktop is Mozilla’s Firefox for web browsing and Evolution as an email, address book, and calendar application. Firefox works with no modifications necessary. Evolution requires you to set up your email box(es) before you can get started. Both offer better security and protection against threats than their Microsoft counterparts.
OpenOffice.org has been downloaded almost 55,000,000 times since its latest release (OpenOffice.org 3.1) and is in use by most colleges and universities worldwide. Not only is the switch from commercial office suites a breeze, but thousands of graduates will be looking for this on their desktops when they hit the workplace.
For some time, business users shied away from Ubuntu because they could not fill out PDF forms using this OS. While there are now applications like PDFFiller and Evince that will allow Ubuntu users to easily complete PDF forms, Adobe Acrobat with the plug-ins installed will also permit this if the original document was created as a form.
Industry Specific Software
This is where Ubuntu can take a hit in the corporate desktop race. Many businesses have specific software packages that they need to work with. With Windows being the market giant, much of this software has been created to run in this environment.
This doesn’t mean Ubuntu users are at a loss. Installing solutions like WINE (Wine is not an emulator) or Cross Over can help business users run Windows based software in a native Ubuntu environment. Of course, if this does not work Windows can always be installed on a virtual computer hosted on the Ubuntu OS to run the applications that need Windows.
Once users see how easy it is work with Ubuntu the fear of the unknown should quickly dissipate. Have patience with them as they learn how powerful this computing tool can be, and when they find out that they can install all of the software at home for nothing, even the most stubborn should start to turn.