Linux on the desktop for business

Hello All. I am considering deploying Ubuntu across about 25 workstations at a non-profit client. Microsoft recently changed the eligibility requirements for charity licensing and they are no longer eligible. I think I heard Tom said that he does not have any clients with linux on the desktop. This seems like a good use case, but I would love to hear about anyone’s experience and/or potential pitfalls.

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It really depends on if the software they use will work on Linux.

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Sorry, guess I should have stated that. Yes, the functionality is there. I was thinking more about the management side.

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Set them up like any other user in Windows giving the no more privileges than needed to get their work done, use SSH keys to manage all the desktops and doing configuration management via Ansible would make them easier to manage.


Several points:
-I would go with Linux Mint over Ubuntu; Linux Mint’s desktop environment is a wee bit more user friendly than Ubuntu.
-I would do testing on the hardware you are going to deploy the Linux OSs on to ensure the deployment runs smoothly.
-You’re going to have to have someone in location to be able to provide tech and emotional support.
-You may want to generate a well thought-out a change management plan. Migration to Linux from MS Windows can be pickle for many users.
-You may also want to have how-to-use document for your users so they can use Linux based apps to get their work accomplished without too much frustration.

You may have already consider some, or all, of the points. If so, then kindly disregard.

Good luck.


I’d do a small scale test deployment like @TDCLGrant said. Start first with one machine so that you know:

  • You know the hardware and OS play nice
  • You have a good idea of the difficulty/ease of installing & configuration for this client’s situation
  • You can document the install & setup process
  • You can test out the mission critical software your client uses

You do this on one machine to start (assuming all 25 clients are the same). Then expand to two or three tech savvy users and let them work with the new OS for a week or two (long enough for their work flow to get as much coverage as you can). Then review with you PoC at your client for final sign off.

At least this roughly how I’d approach it.

Good luck!


Thanks for the input. I appreciate your thoughts.

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@sschario All the above is good advice. I agree with TDCLGrant use Linux Mint and I would add use the MATE desktop it’s a little less hardware intensive than Cinnamon but both are good for those coming from a Windows environment. Don’t forget backup I would suggest Veeam Endpoint Backup for Linux free Edition. Makes backup and restores very easy and backs up not only data but system as well. I would also build them a FreeNAS as well.

Should they have problens opening Word docs in LibreOffice get a single user basic 365 account on one system and use either NOMachine or X2go for access to that desktop where users can open or compose for sending. While you can’t install the MS apps on Linux they will run in the MS cloud and you can save documents locally.

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To expand on @g-aitc’s suggestion regarding MS Docs, another option would be to use GSuite Docs with auto conversion on upload turned on. It is an extra step to export out an .docx document, but the cost is low enough at the standard level (if they don’t meet Google’s non-profit criteria) that this could be a good alternative; if your client now has a M$ aversion.

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There is one other option and that is an office suite known as Softmaker Free Office reads docx files well and runs on Linux. Two versions free and paid, cross platform Linux, Mac and Windows even give you a choice between Linux Mac style menus or the horrid MS ribbon menu.

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@sschario, with the upcoming EOL for Win7 we are also considering making linux our primary desktop OS. We’re a 30 year old for profit manufacturer with about 50 desktops. We are starting a limited pilot project in the forthcoming weeks to test the feasibility of such a move. I’ll share our feedback as we progress & I hope you’ll do the same.

Thanks for posting this topic.

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Howdy @Rand0, welcome! I’d love to hear how it goes for you and how you handled the roll out.

I know a number of SMBs in my area are looking down the same barrel, so if I had some examples to draw on I could guide them in what would work best for them.

@sschario how’s the switch going for you so far?(Welcome as well, didn’t see the first post banner for you when I replied before)

Having a well thought out plan for your conversion rollout should be priority 1. If your users are on Win 7 the desktop UI I would recommend is MATE very easy for users has a look and feel similar to Win 7. Keep the posts coming like to know your progress and help is just a post away.

Hey, @kingsolmn. Thanks for the welcome–I am a noob here :smiley:

Since this is an internal project & we’re small enough to be flexible, we can basically figure this out as we go. Our main requirements are limited as all we technically need to operate our business is Internet & a web browser (since most essential services are in the cloud). So I think we’re a good use case for moving to linux. But there’s always something that’ll come up, like maybe fax support on our copiers or things like that.

And @g-aitc, right now the plan is to test with stock Mint (Cinnamon is already pretty comfortable for our Win7 users), but if that desktop doesn’t work well with our hardware MATE is a great option. Thanks for the suggestion!

But, yes, I’ll post our experience, & I hope others will too so we can all learn from each other.


Think your choices are on the money Mint CINNAMON or Mint MATE, MATE is less resource intensive than Cinnamon and is what I use as my desktop getting 1920x1080 @60hz from Intel graphics and 8GB ram. You and your users should be pleased with either.

@g-aitc I generally assume if it’s got the resources to run Windows it’s got plenty to run linux :grin:

But you’re right, I should setup a MATE test box to see if users prefer it as it is a lighter environment.


One of the nice things about Linux, choice. You seem to be out in font of the move, P to the 7th.