The Stubborn Applications

In almost every large organization there are some specialist applications for which no Linux alternative exists. These may be commercial, off-the-shelf applications for particular purposes (such as, computer-aided design, or accountancy and payroll), or they may be applications that have been created in-house. If an organization wants to migrate to Linux, there are a number of answers to such stubborn problems.

The simplest is to accept that not all users need to migrate to Linux. If a particular group of workers really does require particular software that runs only on Windows, then maybe it makes sense to leave that group of workers out of the migration plan, at least initially. If the great bulk of workers who only need the core applications can be migrated to Linux, that is real progress, and the harder cases can wait.

For the Windows applications that cannot be replaced, there is the possibility of using Windows emulation via Wine (or the commercial CodeWeavers Crossover Office version of Wine). There is also the possibility of delivering the applications across the network using a Windows Terminal Server or Citrix Server.

Wine and CrossOver Office are discussed in Chapter 28. The principle of Wine is that the Windows binary runs directly on Linux; all the system calls that it makes are intercepted and reinterpreted by Wine. Many Windows applications will run perfectly (if rather slowly) in this environment, but not all Windows applications will run correctly. CodeWeavers has worked very hard to ensure that the most popular Windows applications will run well, but there is no guarantee that your particular stubborn application will run if it is not on their list.

The alternative that will work in every case is to offer the stubborn application across the network from a Windows remote desktop, terminal server, or Citrix server. Users can access the application using an Intelligent Console Architecture (ICA) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client on the Linux desktop. The major disadvantage of this approach is the cost of licensing.

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