Using Linux at Home: #2

Lots of people have told you that Linux is cheaper than Microsoft's Windows brand systems; this column explores a different question: what are the risks and consequences of using it at home?

In today's installment I'll look at the use of email and calendaring on Linux at home for people who use one of Microsoft's Outlook or Exchange products at work.

The good news is that there are lots of smart, easy choices. The bad news is that all of them require some degree of co-operation from the Windows gurus at work if you want to access your work email and schedule from home. If you don't, there's no problem at all --Linux comes with all the mail, collaboration, and scheduling facilities you're likely to need.

Connecting to your office email isn't technically difficult either, but it does require the co-operation (although often only through inaction) of your office network and server administrators because they control the server accesses you'll need.

Among the many options three stand out as particularly effective:

All three of these solutions come with some degree of risk even if that's nothing more than the chance that someone will break in and steal the documents on your home machine - along with the machine itself, of course.

The bottom line on using Linux at home to access office email and scheduling running in an all Microsoft environment is that there are several very good choices, but all them depend on some co-operation by the people who run your office systems. Their "nyet!" may be pure reflex, but your response shouldn't be.

Understand that the inevitable will happen, their network will be breached, some documents or files will be compromised, and "their" first response will be to blame you even if your entire home Linux system is inherently more secure than their Microsoft client-server network.

The right answer here is the same as for any other predictable crisis: preparation and planning. Before you start using office email and scheduling on Linux at home, get a paper trail in place on what the risks and benefits are to your organization. If your boss sees the risks as outweighing the benefits - simply don't do it. On the other hand, discuss both the risks and the benefits with your boss, get that support visibly in place, and your decision to use Linux at home won't mark you a maverick, it'll make you a leader.

next in series (Is it kid safe?)