Towards the end of 2008, dozens of computers in Kazi Farms’ Dhaka head office were infected with the Conficker worm. This caused a huge loss of time. The management of the company looked at the comprehensive ways to prevent future virus attacks.
The loss occurred mainly because the Windows Operating System used in all the PCs of the company needed to have both the operating system as well as the anti-virus software updated periodically.
This was a cumbersome manual process, as not all PCs had internet access due to security and bandwidth restrictions. As a result, several months went by without Windows and antivirus updates, leaving the company vulnerable to viruses.
The decision was made to move away from Windows to the free Linux Operating System. Unlike Windows, Linux is free from viruses and does not require any anti-virus software.
The transition to Linux was made in two stages. Firstly, all copies of Microsoft Office and Bijoy Bangla software were replaced with LibreOffice (downloadable from www.libreoffice.org) and Avro Bangla (downloadable from www.omicronlab.com).
Since LibreOffice is available both in Windows and Linux, and can read Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, all documents, spreadsheets and presentations created became usable in Linux without any waste in time.
All Bangla files could also be used in Linux. Additionally, all copies of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express were replaced with Mozilla Thunderbird (available from www.mozilla.org for both Windows and Linux). This ensured that all e-mails were stored in a format which could be easily moved to Linux. Internet Explorer web browsers were all replaced with Mozilla Firefox (also available in both Windows and Linux).
In the second stage, Microsoft Windows was replaced with the latest version of Xubuntu Linux (downloadable from xubuntu.org). Since Xubuntu Linux has the same LibreOffice software, it was easy for everyone to make the switch while retaining all their old files and e-mails.
Even the GPRS modems used in all company locations to connect to the Internet were compatible with Linux. The only issue was with the existing inkjet printers, most of which did not support Linux. These had to be replaced by HP postscript-enabled laser printers or Epson dotmatrix printers, which worked with Linux and had lower printing costs per page as an added benefit.
As a result of these changes, Kazi Farms now has a completely virus-proof Linux based IT infrastructure. It also has no fear of the US government-enforced future crackdown on piracy of Microsoft software, since all pirated software has been replaced by the free software.
The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.1, dated April 2012.