Rant Mode Equals One: What To Do When You Find Windows On Your Linux LAN
Oct 23, 2000, 14:35 (28 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
I have to admit that I broke out laughing recently reading an
NetworkWorldFusion: "Linux: Renegade or ally". The article is this
piece with Orwellian overtones and a sort of chic madness bend
toward fear of your network LAN users when they, God Forbid,
install something other than what the IT staff has blessed.
In other words, what is a poor Windows-loving IT person to do
when they discover renegade Linux on the network. The piece is
fraught with quotes from network Admins like:
"Destroy their servers and fire
Attributed to some poor intolerant soul by the name of Jeff
God, Jeff, lighten up already. We're talking about an operating
system, not some sort of industrial espionage here. I'm picturing
you as an Admins in a big corporation (Jeff's an Admin for a public
school), and you want to fire somebody -- possibly a valuable,
creative employee -- because they dared install something you don't
understand or tolerate.
Maybe they should be burned at the stake too -- you forgot to
mention that. No, I've got it! First, lets examine them for
suspicious birth marks, or dunk them in water. You get the idea
here. This article is really a piece of work.
So, being the kind of guy I am, I started thinking about my own
experiences with people who are renegades. Often, the most creative
people in an organization are the most intolerant of bad
"standards" -- especially when they waste hours of their time. I
started thinking of my own home network. I started laughing -- at
myself. Why? Because I won't tolerate Windows on my home
And so I arrive here, at what I'm going to rant about this week,
which is what to do when you find Windows running on your network.
Of course, I had to interview some people too. It just wouldn't be
fitting without some sound bytes from anal-retentive Linux network
Admins, now would it?
Windows: Renegade or Ally
Here's some advice about what to do when Windows
moves into your network uninvited.
You may not plan to deploy Windows on your network, but that
doesn't mean that your company's users won't sneak it in. As the
soul source of power for many Disco lights found in modern dance
halls, its popularity is actually on the decline. Yet still many
users cling to it, in much the same way an alcoholic insists that
quitting is right around the corner.
But, what do you do when you find it? The use of unhealthy
legacy software and hardware has been the bane of IT's existence.
When PCs running Microsoft Windows were prevalent, Linux often made
its inroads as a departmental file server because of the lack of
stability that Microsoft brought to the picture.
People complained, but the stability helped ease the entry of
the new operating system. Now, as it makes inroads into the desktop
as a standard, the old guard users often insist on running legacy
programs and sneaking in pirated copies of proprietary software --
often against the will of the priests that guard the Linux
So, what's a God-fearing IT person to do when they discovers a
PC running a non-Linux operating system?
The answer depends upon whom you ask. Some readers Linux Today
interviewed were starkly intolerant; others were downright violent.
In many cases, IT managers dismissed any flashback of Windows as
just that -- a last ditch attempt by a misguided addict of a user,
wishing for the reboot filled days of the past.
Many IT managers were thoughtlessly tolerant of this kind of
behavior, but we here at Linux Today dug around the dregs of our
readership, skimming for sound bytes that would startle Howard
When asked about his feelings on the subject, veteran developer
Mike Cornall became nostalgic, "In the old days, a few good
floggings would have been enough to convince the hold-out Windows
users. But those were simpler times."
Others were not quite so relaxed in their attitude: "We keep 16
Megabyte 486's around for those users." Says Dean Pannell, Network
Administrator and noted Linux clown. "We believe in the gentle
touch here. It would say "I love you". I know that it would perturb
my network briefly, but we'd find all the covert Windows boxes in a
hurry. We'd invite them all to our latest cost-cutting move."
However, Pannell concedes that he recently worked out a
compromise with a group of technically inept users in Transylvania
who were running Windows on the company's LAN. "You know, it's a
funny thing. We used to have a problem with them, but we don't
anymore. We put in a new fully-distributed payroll system. It polls
your computer before cutting a check. If it doesn't find you, you
don't get paid. Took about 3 weeks for the last copy of Windows to
Others recommend taking a more moderate approach and assessing
how Windows fits into the IT infrastructure before you decide to
rip it out. Consider the merits of the Windows operating system,
such as the fact that it costs several times as much, is about as
stable as as a ping-pong ball in a tornado, and the pathetic
Windows LAN management tools.
What's more, look at the bloated applications you're forced to
buy and the ever increasing hardware costs placed upon your budget.
If Windows is going to play a part in the network, you need to find
a way to support it.
"I've resorted to selling drugs to support my company's usage of
Microsoft Office." Said one sys Admin, who wouldn't go on record
with his name. "The network license alone and the discount on the
crack I needed to bolster me during the cost justification phase
made it the only possible way."
Although not everyone is that innovative or radical in their
funding and execution of a Windows policy such as this, Windows can
sometimes play a tangential role in the IT infrastructure
Pannell recommends that you simply let the managers attempt to
justify whatever will do the job. "If they can put together a good
business case and get the approval of their manager, we always let
them use Windows. We've never had that happen, though. Seems that
any business case that calls for Windows gets 'em fired for
Still, the stress of new technology such as Linux, displacing
legacy Windows products seems to be affecting IT managers and users
alike. Managers need to learn more tolerance and keep stress levels
Cornall seems to have accepted that things are different today,
"My sensitivity instructor says I have to learn to embrace people's
differences. Apparently I'm not even allowed to torture them with
buggy versions of Minesweeper. So, if some shi--AAARGH . . .
[inaudible] [V-chip] . . . silly person wants to run Winblo--OUCH .
. . some other OS on his system, then I guess it's just his
dam--YIKES . . . gosh darn right."
Ah, the kinder, gentler days are upon us.
Do you have a policy regarding the usage of Windows
technology on your LAN? Don't let Dean and Mike feel left out here
-- use the talkback forum below.
Ferris is the Director of Technology for the Linux and Open Source
Channel at internet.com, and
has been covering Linux and Open Source news for over 2 years. He
is an editor for Linux Today
and a contributing author on Linux