Is Linux right for your Small Business?..

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted but in my defense I’ve been busy with work and some project for a couple of clients not to mention school. Well let’s get down to it.
I’ve been doing a few deployments for small businesses for people like me who do their day to day business administration from their house. In addition I have been doing some smaller deployments of windows boxes. The biggest complaint from customers is the cost of licensing, since each computer running windows requires it’s own license to be considered legal even if you are using a single image for all of them. Typically I include the batch licenses in the over all price of that the customer is billed, however this is sometimes make customers uncomfortable about the price of the project.
This got me thinking what about Linux? I know most computer users are used to windows but however since users on a domain are not allowed to install software or make any system changes anyway there shouldn’t be an issue with this. I so i began testing a bunch of different versions of Linux and came up with the best solutions. This is especially true for business that have moved most of their applications online, for example things like CRM applications like MS Dynamics or SugarCRM. This move to a centralized web based environment makes it easy for everyone especially us IT folks because it eliminates the need to push software updates to every computer on the network. So I started with Ubuntu which is great for users new to Linux and is very easy to use but I don’t think it is conducive to business needs but can still be used. I tried OpenSuse and Fedora both are good but had issues with things like wireless devices such as the Boradcom bcm4300 series of wireless cards, though with some work they did work, but all in all they would not work well for laptop users. The last one that I tried was CentOS 5 which is based on Red Hard Enterprise Linux but without the support of RHEL . However the OS was solid and worked almost flawlessly though is was still unable to get the wireless devices to work.
My final opinion? A combination of CentOS and Ubuntu would be ideal for most business needs. The reason I suggest Ubuntu is because of the relative ease in which I got the wireless working compared to the others so I would suggest Ubuntu for laptops and CentOS for desk bound workstations. They can all be managed using openLDAP, which I tested in a virtual lap I created for this post and from what I hear it should be able to work with Active Directory ( Linux folks correct me if I am wrong)though I haven’t tested it myself. More to come on this topic.