Much has been written about huge roll-outs of GNU/Linux in education and government but most organizations are much smaller in size and have different problems. The schools where I worked were mostly smaller schools not part of a large school division with central IT management. In the real world there are many organization of similar size from a few PCs in a single office to a few buildings with a bunch of PCs in each. Such organizations may not be able to afford the labour of maintaining that other OS and GNU/Linux is an excellent choice.
Canonical, which ships Ubuntu/Linux, describes such an organization, the City Hall of Skalica, Slovakia. With 120 PCs running XP they were working hard just to keep up. They decided migration to “7” was too expensive because they would have to upgrade all the hardware. They chose Ubuntu and had an immediate pay-back, saving â‚¬25,000 per annum just on licensing and 70% reduction in IT costs altogether. Also, â€œWe were really surprised by how easily everyone adjusted to the new operating system. Weâ€™re talking about users who are between 25 and 50 yearsâ€™ old. Some of them are coming up to retirement age. They all made the transition with barely any support required from the IT team.â€ Whoah! That’s quite a different picture than the naysayers tell. It’s consistent with what I have seen. I have worked in schools where orientation sessions of ~1h or none at all were given to staff and once they found their browser, word-processor and printers, they were laughing. “It’s so fast.”, and “It’s just like XP.” were the kinds of comments that I hears. It’s a GUI folks, point and click.
Since they were new to GNU/Linux they chose to pay for an expensive centralized management system and still saved money. A few scripts and openSSH would have done the same for them. Typcially, in my schools, I would get Wake on LAN working and at my convenience start every machine in the building and upgrade the software without leaving my comfortable chair. Chuckle. No need for AD or anything like that if you know what you are doing.
Skalica did its migration within a year. Munich took years to form a plan and years to execute the plan. That shows a huge advantage of small organizations. Since the organization is small the number of tasks needed doing and the interactions between those tasks has barely begun to be a problem of scale. Really, if one can set up BIOSes to boot over the LAN on wake on LAN and from the hard drive for normal booting (e.g. our old IBM machines), one can do a roll-out with an imaging system like CloneZilla or FlameThrower/SystemImager.
There was no angst about applications being unavailable or users finding things difficult. It was mostly smooth sailing for me. Decide to do it and get it done. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it works for you and not some corporation.