Kennards shifts 400 desktops to Linux

National equipment hire company Kennards Hire will migrate more than 400 desktops to Linux in a national deployment of the open source operating system.

Scheduled for completion next January, the migration, which started about 18 months ago, began with a trial of one branch, according to StraTech Consulting Linux systems engineer Lindsay Holmwood.

In a recent blog post, Holmwood described how he has been working at StraTech Consulting to design and implement a "Linux desktop SOE (standard operating environment) and backend" for Kennards Hire since April 2004.

The SOE includes "distributed LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) authentication" with "locked down Xfce and Gnome desktop environments".

Holmwood wrote that the full rollout will take place in January and will involve more than 400 machines running Fedora Linux on the desktop across about 80 branches nationally.

The Fedora Project is a community-driven Linux distribution started by Red Hat. Although not supported by Red Hat, company engineers work on Fedora, which is "one of the sources for new technologies and enhancements that may be incorporated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the future", according to the project's Web site.

Kennards' project, named Merlin, is due for completion in March next year and will also involve conversion of the company's point-of-sale (POS) systems to Linux. This will let Kennards use standard PCs for POS instead of proprietary dedicated devices. Computerworld understands the savings in licence fees will contribute significantly to the project's ROI.

Whether Kennards deploys Linux desktops at its corporate headquarters is yet to be determined.

Linux Australia vice president Pia Waugh said the organization is very pleased to see the Australian business market take advantage of the opportunities open source provides to solve technology and information management challenges.

"We look forward to being able to support the business community through our strong local Linux and open source technical community," Waugh said. "Open source software is good for business because it lowers yearly costs and reduces the risk associated with IT."

Waugh said open source allows a lot more capacity for small companies to grow rapidly without having to add extra people to the business. "The business can grow at the market rate and not the limitations of their wallet," she said.

Regarding the use of the Fedora Linux distribution, Waugh said Kennards' choice of distribution shows that commercial support for open source applications can be created, and if one vendor does not support the solution "you have a huge choice of vendors".

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