The variety of uses for desktop PCs includes communication, productivity, and entertainment. It’s important then to understand which classes of users will most likely benefit from each type of Windows application on Linux solutions.

Hobbyists and Technical Staffers: This class of user is among the earliest adopters of Linux. They typically have a high tolerance for manipulation and “tweaking” of software and have the skills and desire to customize their desktop operating system. They may have a need for a specialized application not available for Linux. The hobbyist may need gaming software which is probably irrelevant to your enterprise, but the technical staffers may require, for example, drafting applications that lack a Linux equivalent.

Task-Based Workers: The task-based worker usually has relatively modest computing needs, generally including office and communications applications. What they may face as an obstacle are probably proprietary data entry applications such as CRM software, groupware (such as Lotus Notes), and data manipulation applications (e.g., financial applications). In some cases Web-based interfaces lack the same functionality as a native application. The use of a limited interface could slow productivity, so maintaining these data entry and other applications in a Windows environment may provide some advantage. In many cases these users will have one particular Windows on Linux need specific to their market vertical or enterprise.

Education/Shared Workstation Environment: Students and educators are often victims of tight IT budgets and shared workstations. They seldom have a dedicated PC and rely on machines maintained by administrative staff. As new technologies emerge, educators are pressed to teach students on the old software while preparing them to deal with new standards. Hosting Windows applications side by side with Linux applications can provide students the means to learn two types of technology at once.

Government: In government PC installations there is often concern related to the management of systems including installation and software maintenance. Additionally, they often have security concerns. These installations require a strong user-based system to control data and application configurations on PCs. They can also be expansive, as are some agencies of the U.S. government. These institutions may have such a wide user base that they are hard-pressed to adhere to standards without access to legacy Windows applications. Because of the breadth of these organizations, it is likely they will have a variety of Windows applications. In cases where security controls need to be maintained alongside standardized applications, Windows hosted in virtual machines on Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux) could be a very powerful and pragmatic solution.

Knowledge Workers: Knowledge workers are the most demanding class of PC users. These users often require a wide range of applications to complete their desktop. They are, as you saw in earlier chapters, the most complex and risky Linux desktop candidates. They might benefit the most from a hosted Windows session on a Linux desktop.

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