Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We are a rapidly growing startup in our 3rd financial year. As we are expanding our resources (read team members) we feel the need to decide what is best

We are about 5-6 people expanding to 10-15 What is suggested?

  • Individual laptops to everyone on network (quite a regular solution)
  • Central server with login for each team member (keyboard + mouse + display)
  • Other?

Our requirement

  • We use MacOSX + Windows + Linux at different machines/projects for our products and services
  • All MacOSX machines so far are pro laptops. They need to seamlessly connect
  • All desktops (so far) are MS-windows + Linux dual-boot
  • We need a stable backup management (currently using physically attached disk with each computer)
  • We need security and safety of data (client + ours)

What are the most significant factors to consider?

  • safety & security?
  • versatility?
  • simplicity?
  • cost?
  • other?

Any help here would be appreciated.

Update (22-Sep-2011): Thanks to everyone for their valuable suggestions. We decided to just add a few more desktops in the existing network and keep using the google, skype, other collaboration techniques we have been using.

share|improve this question
you couldn't have a worse combination of operating systems to work with. – tony roth Sep 21 '11 at 14:28
my best guess is that your costs/complexity will be nonlinear and grow rapidly based on number of users in relationship to OS type. – tony roth Sep 21 '11 at 14:37
You should consider standardizing your desktops. Maintaining Windows+OSX+Linux in a enviroment where everyone bascally need the same services (file shares, backups, backoffice, crm etc) takes a lot of time. – pauska Sep 22 '11 at 9:48
We must have MacOSX, Linux, Windows environments for different projects needs. We have been working appreciably good so far with dropbox file sharing, USB pen drives for large file sharing (people within reach), google apps for calendar, docs, time sheets, etc... and skype/gtalk/chat-channels for communication, teamviewer/vnc for screen shares, ... and so on. – ramonrails Sep 22 '11 at 9:50

I assume you're talking about a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure setup, where people connect to a bunch of virtual machines on a central virtual server from thin clients.

The most significant factors to consider are usability & flexibility. If your users find a Virtual Desktop setup difficult to use or unable to meet their needs then it doesn't matter if its a bit cheaper.

As for cost, you might find that the cost of the right network and server infrastructure to support a good reliable VDI environment isn't that cheap (keep in mind that right now if your PC goes down then YOU cannot work but if the VDI server goes down in a VDI environment then no-one can work, so you can't cut corners here) and don't forget the cost of the VDI thin client itself. It's not just a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

As for simplicity, it might make it easier for the person managing this stuff, but from the user's perspective this sort of change is either going to be neutral or a net disadvantage.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. very valuable input! – ramonrails Sep 22 '11 at 9:41

This is really a matter of preference. I would avoid going to a Virtual Desktop environment until you reach a lot larger size. My last couple organizations have had 100+ users and we were just barely starting to think about using VDI.

In a mixed mode environment like this I would probably go with a combination of windows and Mac laptops and have a collection of virtual Linux boxes. You could go either Parallels, Workstation or one of the server class products.

All of the factors that you have listed are important. As you environment grows dual booting will become a pain in the butt. From my history I'll tell you that most folks will prefer to have Windows as the main day to day OS.. You environment may differ of course.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. Very valuable input! – ramonrails Sep 22 '11 at 9:41

If you want to get your feet wet with virtualization then you may consider making your dual boot machines just a Windows install and use a hosted virtualization solution - like VMware Workstation or Oracle Virtualbox. That way you will have access to the Windows host and the linux OS (guest) at the same time - No need to reboot and boot into the other OS. Also with VMware Workstation 8 that was just released you can share VMs (guests) between each other just using Workstation. If you have some resource (software) that you want to centrally manage, one of the pros of running VDI, then you can keep it updated on that one VM and people can connect to that shared VM in your environment.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.