Subject: Re: support for a small US college going GNU?
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 22:17:41 -0700
Mon, 18 Jul 2005 22:17:41 -0700
on Mon, Jul 18, 2005 at 04:37:26PM -0500, Jeremy White ( wrote:
> Anderson, Kelly wrote:
> > On Saturday, July 16, 2005, Karsten M. Self escribed:
> > > 
> > >   4. Have a way out.  There are various ways in which to trial
> > >      applications and configurations.  
> > >      
> > >      Remote access means you can support GNU/Linux configurations over
> > >      XDMCP, VNC, or similar techniques.  
> > >      
> > >      Legacy MS Windows also offers remote access options, though with
> > >      very little of the flexibilty offered by GNU/Linux.  Tools such as
> > >      rdesktop and VNC can allow as-needed access to an MS Windows box,
> > >      and possibly Windows Terminal Services (WTS).
> > > 
> > >      Another option is virtualization software such as Xen and VMWare.
> > >      The former actually runs on base hardware, partitioning it amongst
> > >      several guest OSs.  VMWare can run in server (base HW) or
> > >      workstation (user-space application) mode.  Both allow access to
> > >      multiple environments and configurations.  While not ideal, for
> > >      users with legitimate needs to multiple operating environments,
> > >      they're powerful tools.

> > One possibly useful approach to having a way out (especially for the
> > odd application that is only available on Windows) would be to use
> > Citrix Metaframe, and set up Windows servers that could be accessed
> > through Linux desktop systems (That sounds a little backwards than
> > normal, doesn't it :-)

My understanding is that WTS largely accomplishes what CMF does, at
least technically.  I'm not sure what the licensing issues are, though
I'm pretty sure they're blecherous.  Microsoft have repeatedly tried to
introduce clauses to the effect that you cannot access a running
instance of legacy MS Windows unless that's what's running directly in
front of you.
> > Citrix Metaframe is similar to Microsoft Terminal Services, but it's
> > more highly configurable and manageable.
Any cost figures?  As that's a large part of the equation here.

The neat thing about WTS is that it's fast and simple, and for the user
who only needs access to a couple of legacy apps, it works pretty well.

> In my rather biased opinion, another key tool is Wine
> (  Wine lets you run Windows programs, unmodified, and
> they run as though they were native Linux applications.  The challenge
> with Wine has always been that it's a very ambitious project, and
> there are often warts or problems in running any given application (if
> you can get it running at all).


Wine's slick stuff.  I'm not sure that it's a general solution though.
It can certainly be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The upside is that, when it does work, applications run within the
context of a GNU/Linux session, and generally it's possible for MS Windows
and Linux apps to interact with one another.

A lot of apps are only partially supported (if at all), though and my
long experience with a number of cross-platform compatibility tools is
that most of them introduce quirks and annoyances.  A native app is
preferable to one supported via compatibility environments, and even
cross-platform apps (say, Firefox, as a widespread example, SAS as one
I'm pretty familiar with) tend to show quirks and/or favoritism.

This is among the reasons I suggested virtualization and remote access.
I've found that giving an application its own (real or virtual) native
environment to work in tends to work better, at least for that app.

That said:  I toy with Wine a bit, I don't use it extensively, and I
don't have any legacy MS Windows apps of note that I use on any
significant basis.  I've got Sim City 2000 and MSIE 6.0 running via Wine
(the former has audio quirks, latter is highly unstable), and it sorta
works, but it's not like being there.

So:  not to discourage anyone from trying Wine (the price is right), but
scale expectations accordingly.
> However, a certain friendly Free Software company has been working its
> heart out to gradually improve Wine, so that it is increasingly
> robust.


/me checks senders email address...

Ah....  And here I thought you were manufacturing cryptographic
pillowcases for the Countess de la Zeur....  ;-)

Anyhow, the upshot is that for compatibility, you've got a number of
options, and they're not exclusive:

  - Find a native port of a legacy MS Windows app (e.g.:  Firefox, OOo).

  - Find equivalent functionality in an alternate native application
    (e.g.:  Gimp vs. Photoshop (flames to /dev/null))

  - Run the legacy MS Windows app remotely (Citrix, WTS, VNC) and access
    it from GNU/Linux (rdesktop, VNC).

  - Run the legacy MS Windows app within a compatibility environment

  - Run the legacy MS Windows application within an emulated /
    virtualized environment (VMWare, qemu, Xen).


Karsten M. Self <>
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the
    thinking for both of us. Well, I've done a lot of it since then and
    it all adds up to one thing
    - Casablanca

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