Is Fedora an appropriate distro for the environment.

markperl1 used Ask the Experts™
In order to enhance security, a tech at a very occasional client of mine wants to replace the Windows 7 workstations with Linux workstations using Fedora. When asked why Fedora, he replied it was because it was the distro with which he was most familiar.

This is a workgroup environment with about a dozen or so computers for a real estate loan company which is just now becoming very concerned about security.

I don't have a problem with replacing Windows 7 with Linux on the workstations, as long as the workstations are able to maintain the company's business. The problem for me is I haven't worked with Linux in years and know next to nothing about different Linux distros to know if Fedora is the best option.

And if Linux replaces Windows, are there some configuration changes over and above the standard installation to enhance usability and/or security?

Would appreciate all suggestions.


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Principal Software Engineer
There are some issues that, imo, make linux a less than optimal choice for this environment.

1.  Microsoft pushes security and function updates to Windows on a regular basis automatically.  If an update breaks something, you can back it out.  On linux you have to request updates yourself, and it's not wise to do that automatically on all systems because if an update breaks something, all that can be done is restore from a backup that didn't have that update in it on every machine and don't update again until the problem is resolved.

2.  Commercial software.  There's lots of commercial software for Windows but I'd guess that for every commercial package that runs under Windows, only one in 20 has a linux version.

3.  Antivirus.  Windows is the major target but linux is widely used and it is also targeted by viruses.  There aren't as many choices for linux antivirus as there are for windows.

4.  Hardware support.  If the client wants the new Snappy Product Zed, which comes with tested and approved Windows drivers, the chances of linux support for it are slim for about a year until somebody reverse-engineers a driver for it.

5.  Training.  Every school kid knows how to use Windows.  The linux GUI is "something like Windows", but it's not quite the same and employees will fumble some things because every other machine they use runs Windows.

If the client can tolerate all these issues, then I'd recommend debian as a free distro.  debian is always about a year behind the times but that's because they shake it hard to make the bugs fall out before releasing a new version.  If the client is looking at a paid distro instead ... hey, why not stick with Windows?
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014
I agree with Dr. Klahn.  Switching from Windows to Linux is a Big learning curve.  The Open Source 'equivalents' to Microsoft products are good but more like only 80% equivalent on things like Microsoft Office vs LibreOffice.  I have both Windows and Linux computers here and work almost always gets done on the Windows machines.  There is a lot more software available for Windows.  The things that Linux does better are generally server things.  And security is only better when there is someone to maintain the security.
the learning curve might be complicated and many users are not ready for such a switch.
additionally many domain features don't work as well or at all in linuxes.
you'd also need admins to be competent on linux.

now i must say i strongly disagree with the first 4 "arguments" :  1 and 3 are simply false. 2 is meaningless to many users and false to many others. 4 is debatable nowadays.

... basically you'd need to determine what are the actual needs in order to grab an idea of the feasibility, then you'd need to check with the admins, then the users, and try and understand what kind of security concerns they have and if moving to a different environment would actually alleviate them.

also note that security is also a matter of what is installed on the machines and how they are used : if the users use their personal mailboxes or dropbox to exchange professional documents, and use sunshine as their passwords for stuff they store on the network, ... there is no point in changing the OS.
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A real estate loan company? That is a disaster waiting to happen. One user being familiar with a Linux distro doesn't mean it is going to be smooth for most people.

There is obviously the learning curve already mentioned and Dr Klahn raised excellent points. Even though a lot of tools in real estate are web based, there are a number of things that are not designed to work with Linux systems (part because of underlying tech, part the application just not being compatible). Then let's not forget the cases of so many things begin designed to work with IE....

Aside from the already mentioned concerns, other reasons you do not see Linux getting hit as much is that you don't have nearly as many people who aren't tech savvy using it. So you cannot target nearly as users so easily.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.
I think the point is being missed.

What applications does the Real Estate Loan company want to run?  If they don't run on Linux then the question is without point.  You aren't going to run Microsoft applications on Linux.  Yes, you can run WINE and then install your Microsoft applications but this is not pretty and does not work for everything.  

You've got the Open Office and Libre Office applications which are reasonable equivalents for older versions of Microsoft Office and run nicely on Linux.

You've also got to consider connection with the other computers.  How is that going to be done?

You can get versions of Linux which do resemble the Windows desktop fairly well.  Linux MINT I think?

You also need to consider retraining.

Now the idea is nice but I think it hasn't been thought properly through.
You can probably move to a Linux distro with maybe fewer issues than moving to a newer version of Windows, so I wouldn't be overly concerned. I moved all of my systems over reasonably easily even with practically zero Linux experience. A couple basic Windows apps run perfectly in Wine on my desktop. Even the single Windows app that previously had no Linux equivalent runs in a Windows VM instance under Linux. (That goes away as soon as I decide to obtain the Linux version that came available last year.)

I even converted my wife's home desktop a couple years ago to Linux/Windows dual boot. But after some 18 months, she hadn't needed anything from Windows even once; so a few months ago she was upgraded to pure Linux. She's spoken a few times her preference now is the Linux setup. Significantly fewer problems. Note that she's not computer literate by any means, just a basic 'user'.


This would definitely need to be a staged conversion with at least three phases.

First, set up a couple demo systems that users can sit down at for simple personal viewing and experience. Use at least one other distro -- I'd go with Linux Mint 18, Cinnamon desktop, in addition to Fedora 25, Gnome desktop. I'd possibly also have a couple variations of each desktop with task-bars at top/bottom, docking differently, etc., so each distro could be booted two or more different ways. All required apps would be configured for user review. This phase would not only be for simple user introduction, but also for proofs-of-concept for apps, networking, hardware drivers, etc., for support person(s) to ensure that everything worked and was understood within this environment. Nothing goes forward until all actual problems are solved and documented.

Then, if that goes well enough, a couple users could volunteer for a live roll-out test phase. These users should commit to total conversion. No dual-boot nor VM fail-safes that allow them to do things the old way just because they like it better. It's necessary to see if they can simply become accustomed to changes that they'll learn. This needs to run a good couple of weeks. Support person(s) need to be ready to be helpful for the time period.

Then, if that goes well enough (the site determines pass/fail criteria), other users are converted, a few at a time over the final few weeks. Each week, maybe 3-5 users are converted. As a new group begins, earlier ones help teach whatever details or tips have been collected.

That's all simplified and should be fleshed out and customized; but as long as each phase concludes successfully, it should be reasonably smooth. Simply doing much of the first phase should tell everything needed for demonstrating feasibility. Older, used hardware can be enough for quick test, though expected production hardware needs to be used for formal progress.

Fedora 25 (Gnome) might be acceptable for this group. However, I prefer the most recent Mint (Cinnamon) distros for helping users adapt outside of Windows. It's usually a little behind many other distros in incorporating the "latest/greatest", but that's often a plus. It's common for latest/greatest to have issues when used in general populations, no matter how many Linux geeks have kicked it around for months. (You can manually update if you wish.) Mint updates/upgrades are deliberately kept to more stable levels specifically to keep disruptions to a minimum. (Issues can still arise; they're just rare and easily resolved if good procedures are followed.)


Thank you very much to all who chipped in with comments and advice!


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