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Sean Wheller
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Feb 23 2007
Linux for ready for Small Business
Friday, 23 February 2007
At last I managed to get my wife to move from Windows 2K to Linux. Well, she did not volunteer, her computer motherboard 'bombed' and I took it as an opportunity to reinstall her system.

It's been nearly a week since the switch from Windows to Kubuntu. She was  totally lost for first three days, even frustrated with the way things work. I won't repeat some of the comments and curses I received in the past week.

OpenOffice.org was a total failure, simple documents created in MS Word would not format correctly and her Excel spreadsheets just don't work. It became plainly obvious that OpenOffice.org is just not ready. The solution was to install CrossOver and then install MS Office. Now she has MS Office and is happy with that.

Other things she needed included graphic manipulation tools and ability to scan multiple page documents to PDF. I installed sane on our server and configured it to share two of the all-in-one HP devices we have. By configuring sane to share the scanners I was able to make both scanners and printers available via the network. To solve the scan to PDF issue I installed gscan2pdf and was amazed how well it worked.

For each of her computing requirements we took the approach of trying o implement an open source Linux-based solution. Kontact integration with our eGroupware system served well, Gwenview and DigiKam worked wonders for image manipulation and so far she is doing well with these tools.

I still get the odd complaint about some features. For example, the Kmail 'send later' feature cannot be set to send a message out at a specific time. It just places the message in the send que, where it waits for user intervention for sending.

I still have a few things to do for her, such as setup video editing tools. However, in general we have found ways to do most things needed for everyday business and complaints are getting fewer as she becomes more familiar with the Kubuntu KDE desktop.

On a bigger picture this means our entire business is now running on Linux (ubuntu and kubuntu) systems. We have our firewall, file server, printer server, scanner server, groupware system and all the tools we need to conduct business. Having reached this stage, I can confidently say that Linux and open source software is ready for small and medium business.

While I think it is entirely possible to implement a Linux-based IT system for small and medium businesses. I think we must take into consideration that it was possible in our case because I have the skills to configure and administrate the system. Something most small and medium sized businesses do not have.

The solution of course for small businesses is to outsource the administration of their IT system. This presents a few problems. First problem is that most small and medium business owners already have a reasonable level of ability to admin Windows system. Why change that when it would just cost more. Second. Small businesses typically use their local computer shop for support. In my area I know of only a handful of stores that actually have at least one person on staff that has Linux experience. Most stores just focus on Windows which makes it hard for Linux-based small businesses to outsource the IT function.
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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.





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