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If you want to use these specific applications, which do not run on Linux, then you need to use a different OS. If this does not please you, please contact the vendor of the software and as for a Linux version (that should be good for a laugh at least).
If you just want similar functionality, there may well be usable alternatives. You should define your requirements functionally rather than by products which only run on other OSes.
Distribution: Arch, CentOS, Fedora, OS X, SLES, Ubuntu
I concur. I'm all for linux/FOSS, but if it falls completely outside of your work needs, don't use it.
If you're just rabid at the mouth about it, though... I guess you could install linux, then add VMware workstation and a valid Windows XP install for a virtual machine--or use rdesktop to connect to a Windows Terminal Server/workstation. But that sounds like a lot of work.
I think it's just going over the edge. If your job is to work with a Windows farm, the most reliable tool to do that is Windows. If you get paid for it, and most probably your workplace hands you the Windows machine you're supposed to use, why deny it? I don't think you're asked buy your own machine and own OS to do the job you're hired for..so it's not up to that.
Linux is a great thing but when it comes to working, getting the job done, it's not about the solution that suits your ideology or what you want to see at the desktop; your job pretty much says what you use, especially if it's about Windows. Don't make your life hard by spending endless hours finding, testing and tweaking some Linux solutions that don't 100% co-operate with the Windows solutions you mentioned; do your working hours with Windows (as it works natively with the other Windows systems), get the paycheck and enjoy Linux at home.
I don't mean Linux couldn't do the job, but if your goal is to do a job you are given, you are handed the tools to do it and have an option to either use the ready-given native solution, or take a non-native solution that's completely up to you to make and have working, you must be clever enough to take the native solution. Changing one machine from Windows to Linux doesn't make the Earth roll the other direction; if you would like to use Linux instead of Windows because you think it works better, you would have to change (nearly) all the other machines as well, to make it generally as compatible and native as possible.
Sorry if it sounds raw..but that's the way it goes. If I had several Windows machines, an Exchange server, AD and such things to handle, and I didn't have to (personally) pay for using Windows to manage them, I would rather get paid for the management and spend lovely spare time after work than spend my evenings wondering how to get Exchange and AD play it nice with my Linux OS of choice.
Even though Linux is good, it doesn't have to be everywhere. Windows tries to do that, and shows how bad it can be.
Yea, thought about using a VM but don't want to go that far, just testing the waters to see if someone else has done this and what tools they used.
Active Directory: create,change and manipulate employee information
Exchange Tools: create, change and manipulate employee information
Nortel: just a connectivity client to connect to the domain from outside of the office.
Right ... you need either the active directory tools (that are windows-native, ie: only run on windows) or you need a very extensive knowledge of the inner workings of Active Directory (vis a vis LDAP) to do those first two pieces.
Linux on an AD domain is more and more feasible every day (particularly when Samba 3.2 drops). But it's a complex beast that you're best off avoiding unless you really need it. If you live in a hybrid environment, it's reasonable to live in a linux box and use rdesktop and/or various virtualization techniques to get your windows on, but if you're in a monoculture, you're definitely better off just drinking the Kool-Aid.