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Integrating Linux Into Your Windows Environment

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Are you afraid of getting burnt by Linux? Is it possible for a Windows-centric user to incorporate Linux into their infrastructure? In this article, Stephen Morris describes how it’s not only easy to use Linux in a Windows environment; it’s also a good opportunity to save money and learn a thing or two.
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The use of Linux is no longer the sole preserve of IT administrators and tech-savvy computer users. Linux can now easily be incorporated into your environment without even having to go through the hassle of re-partitioning a disk. My previous article on VMWare illustrates that Linux is now pretty much a tool for everyone to use. However, one argument often made against the use of Linux is the difficulty of managing it. For instance, can you easily store and retrieve files on a Linux machine? Also, what about the problem of just interacting with and running the Linux machine? Isn't keeping up to date with Linux security patches a big problem? These are all good questions that I answer in the remainder of this article.

It's worth remembering that there are also solid business reasons for using Linux. For one, there's no hefty licence fee for downloading and using Linux. Indeed, as you saw in my earlier article (if you read it!), you can download a free copy of Linux from any of the numerous distribution sites, such as thoughtpolice. As I've often said in the past, there's no such thing as free technology! All technology has a cost of ownership, but Linux is compelling because of the absence of licence fees. Also, the fact that Linux requires only a modest platform helps to keep costs down. So, the question must be asked: Is Linux worth it for the average business and personal user? I believe the answer is yes as long as you have the right tools. Fortunately, the tools I'll be looking at are open source and also free.

In the rest of this article, I'll briefly describe how to get set up with Linux on your Windows desktop. After that, I'll show you how to interact with the Linux infrastructure using some simple free tools. Once we've done that, you can then decide if you feel that Linux is now a tool for the average user or is instead the sole preserve of the IT professional.

Getting a Linux Machine Up and Running

In my earlier article, I covered in detail the steps for getting Linux up and running in a VMWare image. So, I'll just list the main pointers here:

  1. Download a Linux image from thoughtpolice. The one I've selected for this article is Ubuntu-server-7.10-i386.
  2. Download VMWare Player.
  3. Run the Linux operating system image inside VMWare Player.
  4. Configure the virtual image for networking.
  5. Get the required updates for the virtual Linux image.

Once you've got Linux running, you can then get the tools needed to do some management. But, just before we do the latter, we have to update the Linux image so that, among other things, it supports the SSH protocol.

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