Pope's conversion target consisted of about 10 PCs and six staff. As an accounting outfit, there are people ranging in age from the 30s to mid-60s.
His first step was to look for open source applications that could be used on Windows XP, the operating system that the company was using. He wanted the workers to become comfortable with the layout of the new applications, the menus, the screens and the feel of the applications.
"Convert over to OpenOffice.org, Thunderbird and Firefox (from MS Office, Outlook and Internet Explorer)," Pope says. "Identify the applications they need and only work on Windows. Then find alternatives that work on Linux or get them working under CrossOver Linux."
CrossOver Linux is a desktop productivity tool that allows many popular Windows programs to be run on Linux.
At times, says Pope, there may be an alternative which is still Windows-based; he says this could be adopted and made to run under CrossOver.
He chose to convert the entire outfit to one that runs Linux thin clients; he used the Linux Terminal Server Project - which adds thin client support to Linux servers - and decided to use Ubuntu as his distribution.
He advises building a server with plenty of memory, putting the old Windows system into virtual images and keeping the hard drive as a backup, swapping over to Ubuntu LTSP with a switch in the BIOS to boot off PXE. This means that a switch back to the old hard drives, if needed, is easy.