I work for a large manufacturing company, which is considering Linux as a solution for some or all servers in its IT department. The company hosts an Oracle database on Unix, and the Unix servers that host this database contain several small programs that were custom made. Furthermore, Windows 98 is currently used on desktops throughout the company, and users store their data on Windows NT file servers. What considerations must I keep in mind before migrating the company's servers to Linux?
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Which distribution(s) and Open Source Software would you choose to accomplish this?
If you needed to create a report detailing the benefits of moving to an Open Source solution using Linux, what benefits would you list in the report to persuade others in the company that Linux lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO)?
You ask some good questions. Let's start with the considerations to keep in mind. You'll do well by separating the projects that you may wish to undertake. Porting your Unix application to Linux is a different animal than using Linux to replace your NT boxes for file and print services. The former is much more complex then the latter. Both actually start with applications. If you have off-the-shelf applications that run only on NT Servers, and you absolutely do not want PC clients to run these apps locally, you may be out of luck. I've said this before -- everything you do must start with an assessment: What do you have and what must you keep after the migration? It is not always the same.
If you want your file server to be used truly as a file (and print) server and not an Applications server, then you should be good to go. Samba makes most sense for you. It enables Windows PCs to use Linux (or Unix) as a file and print server. There is a ton of information on the net regarding Samba. Why don't you start here: www.samba.org?
Regarding the Oracle database, good news for you. Oracle runs very well on Linux, and there is a ton of information regarding Linux on the Oracle Website.
About those pesky little custom programs, what are they written in? Find out if there are compilers for Linux for those programs. My bet is that there are. Your programmers should be able to find out what's involved in recompiling the code. If the programs can't be recompiled and they are very small, maybe you rewrite them in another language native to Linux.
Regarding distributions, I would look at Red Hat and/or SuSE, as each is good and has enough resources that should work for you.
Regarding TCO, I'd start with cost of hardware, vendor support costs and software licensing (both applications and OS) costs. Also, follow carefully my current Linux tips, as I have a three part series on Unix-Linux migrations coming soon.
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