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Ubuntu Operating System

  • Has your nonprofit considered adopting the open-source operating system Ubuntu?
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • Hi, Willow,

    Your question is actually our "plan B" at this time. I have reviewed a number of alternatives and Ubuntu has been my favourite. Part of what I do is try to anticipate future trends and needs and construct a response or transition accordingly. With the increased interest of legislators across the globe in open source software, and some enacting that government agencies and even public service sectors explore the use of open source, I felt it's likely only a matter of time before our Canadian politicians begin to $ee the merit$. So in my "lab" (basement) I have constructed a few different networks and found Ubuntu to provide great ease of installation and setup, with the thin client support a great bonus.
    As a desktop environment for our users, I have been trying to make an environment not too unfamiliar with the current Windows, and keeping as many of our current applications intact as possible. So far, I think the learning curve is not so drastic as to discourage the end users, and with a few scheduled tutorials and help desk support I think it's a change we could implement successfully.

    I should qualify that there are a number of excellent alternatives available, and thanks to the work of TechSoup Stock they are not an immediate neccesity, but Ubuntu has become my personal choice when and if a transition is required.

    Thanks for a great question! Talk to you later,

    James
  • For those who are also considering Ubuntu, or who would like to learn more about this solution, TechSoup just published An Introduction to Ubuntu, shows you how Ubuntu stacks up to other operating systems and helps you decide whether it is right for your nonprofit.

    Please feel free to share additional questions here!
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • When it comes to Linux my personal preference is for openSUSE. Mostly because I started using SuSE almost 8 years ago. I'm currently looking at using decTops as a potential alternative to traditional PCs for some users who need what amounts to a Web Terminal since the applications they use are browser based. I'll probably use openSUSE on these. If that doesn't work I'll probably go with Ubuntu as the second choice.

    Jack Ungerleider
    IT Manager Community Involvement Programs
    All comments are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer.

  • I've been trying out openSUSE on a 4-yr-old laptop, but can't get it to print to a printer on our network, or to see its built-in wireless card. I'm thinking of trying a different Linux- Ubuntu or Mandriva. Our network has a W2003 server. Can anyone tell me if either of those is easier to use on a network than openSUSE? I have no prior Linux experience, don't know any commands, etc. Thanks,
    Jill
  • When installing openSUSE you should have the option to set it up to authenticate with your Windows Domain. I'm in the process of moving my test/development server from an Ubuntu machine (set up by one of my predecessors) to openSUSE 10.2.

    When I installed openSUSE it allowed me to join my Windows domain. You will need to install the Samba client files to do this. You should be prompted to install any missing software when that happens.

    Is the printer shared from another system on the domain? Is it connected directly to the network? The former should clear up once you are authenticating to the domain. The latter requires some more information on how you have tried to setup the printer.

    I don't think the age of the system should be an issue. I have it installed on a laptop that is about 3 years old and a desktop system that is about 6 years old.

    Note: If you are using a built in wireless adapter there may not be any native Linux drivers for it. This is more an issue of support from the wireless manufacturer than a lack of desire on the part of the community.

    Jack Ungerleider
    IT Manager Community Involvement Programs
    All comments are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer.

  • I use ubuntu all the time at home. I would like to setup a few workstations but I am not sure how to get them to authenticate against the windows domain or a linux server. I don't want to have add all the user accounts to the ubuntu workstations. I tried google for this info but there didn't seem to be an easy solution.
  • Authentication against a Windows domain will require ntlm_auth which is usually part of the package that contains WinBind.

    A quick Google of "ntlm_auth ubuntu" indicates that Ubuntu has a winbind package which includes the authentication piece. You will also need the Samba client package installed.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, openSUSE has a configuration option of this in YaST. Ubuntu might have something as well that will help with the setup.

    Good Luck!

    Jack Ungerleider
    IT Manager Community Involvement Programs
    All comments are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer.

  • Unfortunately it isn't easy to make Ubuntu authenticate against a Windows domain yet. You can track the progress at of this feature at https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/network-authentication
  • It didn't look easy to me.

    How about against a linux server? Has anyone done that?
  • I started with the mind to implement Linux as a server years ago. and since then I've went through several distributions at home and a few at work. Currently my servers and home computers are running Ubuntu.

    Some of the things that led me there.

    Desktop: Got a few for a year, finally ended up installing Mandrake 9 (I like easy install), Mandrake was good but then Suse 9.2 was better, though in Suse you get that commercial (better pay us money) feeling everything you do when looking for help. Ubuntu was just getting popular then and with that they has WAY better package management then RPM (using Deb) installation was easier, support was better and less stress. Features and updates appeared faster. So I am here. I don't run the latest (Feisty Fawn), but it still is very up to date.

    On the server: Red Hat was nice (bought it with the Dell Server) - I was using RH ES3 and could not afford 4, so I went to Centos 4.3 (an open-source derivative of RHEL), which had all the red had goodness (those admin tools on RH are sooo nice) But when I wanted to add some new project Centos was normally non-supported or poorly supported (i.e. in iFolder there was some dependency version problem in Centos, all the support forums offered was "oh well") So I went to Ubuntu because the community support is very active as well as quickly responsive to correcting issues or posting solutions.

    So in general the reason I am with Ubuntu is the community is there and it is the happening place to be.
  • I have read through all of the Ubuntu materials posted and I think the open OS is wonderful; however, as a dedicated Mac OS user I have some questions. First, does this mean I can load Ubuntu onto my Mac? And, if so, doesn't Ubuntu then replace my Mac OS? Second, can the Mac and Ubuntu OSs be partitioned and then move from one to the other? Third, can Ubuntu either be accessed VIA the web or placed on a server and be accessed by a Mac OS? Fourth, given all of the above questions would it not be easier to place Ubuntu on a laptop and not worry about my Mac OS? Finally, if I have to go to my fourth question, must all others we communicate with within the nonprofit as well as outside adopt Ubuntu?

    Thanks to you all!

    James E. Mullarkey Director of Development
  • My favorite way to install Ubuntu is to make a bootable USB drive, then configure it just how I like it and then install from USB.

    This way you can customize it and rapidly roll it out in around 5-10 minutes per computer.


    This assumes you're working with machines that can boot from USB.

    You can learn how to make a persistent bootable USB drive at http://www.pendrivelinux.com

    -n8
    Friends don't let friends use Windows.
  • On a vaguely related note:

    I read this morning that The French gendarmerie (the paramilitary police force) has decided to dump Windows and switch 70,000 desktops over to Umbuntu Linux. A couple years ago it switched from IE to Firefox, and from MS Office to OpenOffice.

    -ENO
  • RE Irish48's POST:

    > First, does this mean I can load Ubuntu onto my Mac?

    Yes, though if ytou have an older (PPC) mac there is not current PPC version of Ubuntu, IIRRc 6.10 is the last of the PPC versions to be distributed.

    > And, if so, doesn't Ubuntu then replace my Mac OS?
    Yu can set up your PC or Mac to be dual booting where you select the OS at startup, I think on the mac though you would be using BootCamp.

    A better alternative which lets you run both at the same time would be to use Parallels which lets you run a virtual machine in a window in Mac OS.

    > Second, can the Mac and Ubuntu OSs be partitioned and then move from one to the other?

    Yes. see above.

    > Third, can Ubuntu either be accessed VIA the web or placed on a server and be accessed by a Mac OS?

    That would either be remote desktop to Terminal server, and both are very popular. Linux Terminal Server is a way to manage large linux installations in schools and such (search for linux terminal server project)

    > Fourth, given all of the above questions would it not be easier to place Ubuntu on a laptop and not worry about my Mac OS?

    Thats how I do it, the PC laptops are pretty cheap now and you can get one for under $500 and run Ubuntu comfortably. Though the Parallels option is also a gret alternative from my perspective.

    > Finally, if I have to go to my fourth question, must all others we communicate with within the nonprofit as well as outside adopt Ubuntu?

    The Mac is based on BSD Unix, and Linux is Posix compliant (which means it works like Unix as if it were Unix. ) So compared to Windows, the Mac and Linux are very much along the same lines they natively use the same protocols.and in some places the same libraries.

    Do you NEED Linux? thats up yo what you want to do - many of the apps that are in Linux (open office, etc) are available as Mac versions (and Windows too). So if you are looking at Linux to use the programs you may not have to go that far. So if you create something say in Inkscape or Scribus, those other people don't need Ubuntu, though they will need Inkscape or Scribus (or whatever) and those versions are avialble for most other platforms as well (may vary on program but the most popular apps are usually cross-platform)

    Where linux shines (for non-profits) is in the cost and licensing you can use it, you can put it on all the computers you want and also offer it to others without cost. (though as many say there is the configuration/training factor, but once th system is setup the system is pretty much the same as Windows or MacOS, same settings just different places, etc.

    Hope that helps.