How many and what type of users are expected?
Is this a workstation or personal desktop install? Is the workstation portable?
One of the key buzzwords to have come out of the dot com era is Total Cost of Ownership, and it is one that is fiercely debated when people talk about Linux. Those against Linux argue that although the software is free, the real cost comes in the amount of retraining and support necessary to move users to a new operating system. This can be circumvented by implementing Linux in situations where the end users are not directly affected, such as that web server that you have been planning to retire or the file and print server that needs more drive space. What is also often unseen is the increased availability that Linux-based systems offer companies. Quite simply they very rarely go down, unlike their Windows counterparts. Stability counts for a lot in this modern world of ecommerce where even a few minutes can cost thousands of dollars in lost orders and new customers. Talking about stability, one of the great things about Linux is that it does not necessarily need the latest hardware to function effectivelyI have a router at home that is based on an old 486 machine that I bought way back in 1993! Think how many computers are needlessly disposed of that could be used as print servers or Internet gateways. The savings generated by sensibly recycling existing hardware are very tempting and easily obtainable if you choose the Linux route.
In all of this, you need to be very clear what the objectives are. Specify exactly what you want to achieve from the project, what the Linux implementation will deliver, and how it will be used to replace any existing machines. What is the Linux machine replacing and what resources will be needed to maintain and support it? If you are rolling out to end users, what specific applications will they be using that you will have to provide support for?
Research is definitely a must before you embark on any project. It is also sensible to set up a test environment so that you can examine the performance of the new machine under set conditions to ensure that it functions in the way that you require. It is crucial that you spend a decent amount of time on testing because doing so will pay off in the long run with fewer bugs to fix and more positive user feedback.
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