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Munich Votes for Linux Migration Plan 396

Posted by michael
from the killer-penguin dept.
JoScherl writes "The German news site Heise reports (German, Babelfish version) that the city council of Munich (3rd biggest city in Germany, 1.3 million inhabitants) has voted for the detailed concept of the LiMux - Linux for Munich (German, Babelfish version) project with votes from all parties except the CSU (Christlich Soziale Union, christion social union). With this decision the 13,000 Desktops and Servers of the city administration will be migrated to Linux. CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux since its Feierabendprogrammierer ('leisure-time coders') would destroy Munich's IT-landscape (Microsoft Germany and other big companies are located in and around Munich) and they also fear that the personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice and other migrated systems. The migration plan has the following steps: This year the Windows NT desktops get OpenOffice and Mozilla as their default office and browsing suite. In 2005 and 2006 the systems will be migrated to Linux, with some applications running on Windows application servers. In 2008 all applications should run native on Linux."
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Munich Votes for Linux Migration Plan

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  • google does better (Score:3, Informative)

    by elykyllek (543092) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:32PM (#9448119) Homepage
    babelfish's tranlation sucks
    google seems to do a better tranlation [216.239.39.104]

    Resident of Munich town councillor segnet concept for Linux migration off

    30 million euro the expensive project LiMux can start: The town councillor Muenchen adopted the stage plan on today's Wednesday for the conversion of the entire computer landscape for those approximately 16,000 coworkers of the city administration officially. For the Linux migration tuned the red-green coalition governing in the city hall together with representatives of FDP, OEDP and the Party of Democratic Socialism. Alone the CSU governing in Bavaria votierte against the introduction of the penguin into the offices. Conservative politicians expressed doubts that the "end of workday programmers" would destroy the IT economy of Munich from the open SOURCE corner. They were afraid also risks for the persons employed, who must learn now above all handling a new text processing. Announcement

    With LiMux the migration of approximately 13,000 Desktop computers and the pertinent servers lines up. First the project responsible persons in the city hall want to select concrete open SOURCE products in the framework of bidding procedures. IBM and the Novell daughter Suse are not only to come to the course, even if the original LiMux Design of the two sizes comes in the Linux market. One of the main goals of the migration is it however to create jobs directly in the residents of Munich IT economy and to receive a competitive market. "we must now watch out that we some monopolist loose will want by we the next global giant to use up", explained themselves the green town councillor Jens Muehlhaus already first under allusion on Microsoft and Big Blue. It wants to bring the small and medium-size IT companies into and around Munich particularly with the necessary specialized technical and special solutions in the play. Opposite heise on-line regretted Muehlhaus the decision of the CSU, which did not understand yet that at free software money is made main with services.

    In detail the migration is to take place in three steps: First in this year all computers in the administration, which run so far still on Windows NT, are equipped with open Office and Mozilla as Browser. "first the transformation lines up to that approximately 7000 Office macros for forms such as vacation requests or travel expenses accounts, which can be finally centralized thereby ", are pleased Muehlhaus. 2005 and 2006 go it then to the migration of all office PCS to the new operating system Linux, which is to finally work completely with free software. Until 2008 then the difficult adjustment of specialized's applications lines up, for which according to Muehlhaus creativity and a good co-operation between the administration and open SOURCE developers are necessary. The know-how developed thereby might be internationally in demand however and "also exported themselves and sell to let", is safe itself of Muehlhaus.

    The migration motivation is not only to be reported for this reason with the coworkers concerned in the meantime again risen, white the green town councillor. In January from individual city hall departments warning voices had to be heard that the problems with the conversion could grow the residents of Munich over the head. "in the meantime we have the full support for LiMux", get straight Muehlhaus. All involved ones would regard the project as feasible and meaningfully. The timetable for the Green has a who courage drop still: The residents of Munich schools are to be reequipped only in two years on Linux, so that the training grow up up to then still with the Windows world. Microsoft offers very cheap licenses for the education sector "on". There it falls heavily, which political will for rapid migration to bundle ( Stefan Krempl )/( jk /c't)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:33PM (#9448127)
    ...of those bargaining things where they are just trying to get a better deal from Microsoft?
    • Are They In? Or Out? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by soloport (312487) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:21PM (#9448440) Homepage
      From the post, it's hard to tell...

      With this decision the 13,000 Desktops and Servers of the city administration will be migrated to Linux.

      and then

      CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux

      So, which is it? Can someone who knows the political landscape explain? Much appreciated.
      • by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:34PM (#9448516)
        CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux

        First of all, the CSU is a political artefact. It only exists in Bavaria and not in all of Germany. It is sort of the Bavarian complement of CDU, which is the nationwide right-wing party and not present in Bavaria.

        The party is on the right side (somewhat) of the CDU and of course they believe they are at least as important as the CDU. But in reality they are a small, local party with an inflated sense of importance.

        The CSU did not win the European elections. There is no such thing as winning the European elections. The seats in the European parliament are distributed roughly according to the votes each party got. In fact the larger countries have more seats and smaller have less, and the seats per country are distributed accordingly to the vote distribution in that country. But for example, I cannot vote for a German party, since I am Austrian. I have to vote for an Austrian party.

        Anyway, by "winning the elections" they mean sort of a moral win. i.e. they got more votes that the parties in power. Since CSU is Bavaria only, it actually means they got more votes in Bavaria than the parties in power in Germany got in Bavaria. On an European scale the CSU has no importance whatsoever. On a German scale they are nuisance-level.
        • by netsharc (195805) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @12:04AM (#9449022)
          CSU did win the EU-elections in Bavaria [bayern.de] (Stimmenanteile = votes share), but I wouldn't be surprised at that (I'll explain later). Their friend CDU won [bbc.co.uk] 40 out of the 99 seats for Germany in the EU parliament. CDU and CSU are in coalition, as well as SPD and the Greens (Grünen), SPD and the Greens managed to win the national German elections 2 years ago, but this loss in the EU-elections show the public's opinion of the way they are running the country so far.

          The CSU has always been winning in Bavaria, it's a local party to the state. Some also joke it's the national party because "Bavaria is not Germany". This view is also the reason it doesn't get good results everywhere else, who'd want to have a "foreigner" as their chancellor? ;-)
      • by lelitsch (31136) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:13PM (#9448720)
        That was just an unfortunate comment by the original poster and the /. editors.

        The German polical system in 1 minute:

        -There are four main politcal parties in Germany
        -The two largest ones (about 30-45% of the vote each) are the SPD (Social Democrats) and the CDU/CSU (Christian Democrats)
        -The two smaller national parties are the FDP (Free Democrats) andf the Green Party. Both get between 3-10%, depending on the individual election.
        -In the former East Germany, the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) a successor to the former socialist party that ran the GDR until reunification is getting about 15-25% of the vote in local and state elections.

        -Seats in the Bundestag, the more powerful lower house are awarded by the total number of votes a party gets, as long as they get more than 5% of the total vote, or win three electorial districts outright. So there are usually 4-5 parties in the lower house and they have to form coalitions to get a majority.

        -Currently, the majority in the lower house is a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Green Party. The chancellor is a Social Democrat, the foreign secretary and vice chancellor is from the Green Party

        -Most state governments are either Christian Democrats or coalitions of the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats.
        -Since the members of the upper house are nominated by the state governments, the above also have a majority in the upper house.

        -The Social Democrats got basically vaporized by the Christian Democrats in the European elections last week.
        -There are some more fringe and single issue parties, but none that has any influence on the state or federal level.
        -All of the parties above are well to the left of the US Republican Party, the Christian Democrats are the most conservative, along the lines of the more centrist wing of the US Democrats, the Social Democrats are best compared to the left wing of the US Democtatic Party, the Free Democrats are more free market, which would put them closer to Republican positions, but more liberal socially. The Green Party is a green party, but less nuts than Nader, and the PDS are unabashed socialists.

        What does this have to do with this decision in Munich? Nothing whatsoever. This decision was made by the city government, which is domianted by Social Democrats and the Green Party. The Christian Democrats have an overwhelming majority in the Bavarian state government, but it is purely up to the city government what software their employeers use.
    • Not this time. If you followed the events carefully, they are paying more for Linux than they are for Microsoft (Due to the cost of the migration and all the customizations needed). The situation was so dire that MS sent Steve over there to talk, but they insisted on going on with Linux, IIRC.
      • If you view the migration away from MS-Windows to anything else to be inevitable, then the migration costs should be largely accounted as removing-MS-Windows costs rather than buying-Linux costs. In which case Linux costs an awful lot less than MS-Windows.

        You also have to figure in the ongoing cost of maintenance, along with a number of so-called "extraordinary" items like cleaning up after the next CodeRed or MSBlast hits you. Linux is extremely unlikely to ever raise such costs.

        But the big reason is that Germany really, really hates being run by foreigners, particularly Americans (but they have other pet peeves too), in any way.
  • Sounds cool to me. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wig (778245)
    Although, I think they'd be better off instead of "babying" the employees so to speak and taking such a long time to migrate. Just do it, give them courses, maybe an hour a day for a couple months. Four years seems like a long time just to convert to something extremely simple.
    • by citog (206365)
      It's a nice idea, sometimes. However, bear in mind that the people involved are city administrators. So your comment about it (OO etc.) being extremely simple is optimistic. It's also notable that there are 13,000 desktops involved. How much time do you want to put into deskside support? If they get people used to the application on a familiar OS (i.e. something about the new environment feels the same) then they can cut across later with much less resistance.
    • by Canberra Bob (763479) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:09PM (#9448372) Journal
      Do you have any idea how government / business works when implementing / changing new technology? 4 years is actually a remarkably quick time to change ALL software over to Linux.

      So they have decided to do this. Firstly, they have to determine what problems they will encounter. What apps might they need that they may have difficulties finding under Linux? Code may have to be migrated from ASP / whatever. Excel / word macros rewritten. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Implementing a radical change in a very large organisation goes beyond just deciding "hey, Ive got this really cool idea, lets just format all the hard drives and install Linux".

      Even training, each hour the employees are in training is not only costing for the training, but also for lost productivity. The IT support has to be re-trained in the new software.

      And on the server side, any code / app migration is no "simple" task.

      So no, it is not "extremely simple".
    • by AusG4 (651867) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:09PM (#9448375) Homepage Journal
      While this may be hard for you to understand, most people (strange as it is) could care less what operating system or browser they use. All they know is how to accomplish their jobs using the tools they've been trained on, and most of them spent hours upon hours learning those tools.

      As a result, when they turn on their computer and their icons aren't in the same place, many people assume that the machine is broken and conclude that the best option is to call IT and open a trouble ticket.

      That said, "babying" them, as you put it, can never be done enough. Switching to Linux isn't that simple for someone who couldn't tell the difference between Intel and InDesign. You can replace the word "Linux" with any operating system, application, or even desktop theme.

      A smart IT plan never doubts the inability of the users to -not understand-, and the CTO/IT staff who remembers this keeps his/her job. On the other hand, the unemployed IT staffer "-just does it-, giving them courses for -maybe an hour a day for a couple months-".

      Add to the fact that this is a government we're talking about, and taking 3-5 years to migrate an entire city IT infrastructure into as yet uncharted waters is probably being -too-optimistic.
      • by emorphien (770500)
        While this may be hard for you to understand, most people (strange as it is) could care less what operating system or browser they use. All they know is how to accomplish their jobs using the tools they've been trained on, and most of them spent hours upon hours learning those tools.

        Similarly true for graphic designers, photographers and other media folk (music, movie), however they tend to bring an attitude of what they use is best. This is commonly seen with the majority of these people that use Mac sy
    • There are always little apps that you didn't know about and no one else has heard of, except for the one guy in Accounting who absolutely needs it to run payroll every month.

      Sure it's okay if you migrate it. But it has to work exactly as the current one does. Same input, same output, same format.

      And it's a mess of spaghetti code from 20 years and 50 programmers. All undocumented.

      And he needs a specific boot disk to make it work.

      Moving 95% of the apps for 95% of the people is easy.

      It's those one-of-a-ki
      • And I've yet to find a manager who understands that REWRITING that fucking piece of ancient shit in Perl or something in five days or whatever is better than trying to keep the stupid thing running forever.

        Managers are morons. That simple.

        At City College of San Francisco, we run SCT Banner as the MIS system. This thing is a piece of crap from the mainframe days reworked to run on Oracle on HP/UX and PCs. The screens are obviously mainframe crap reworked in Oracle Forms (which is also crap) and the data
    • by irokitt (663593)
      Not only is such a large migration more complicated than you may imagine, but think about the changes that will happen to Free Software/OSS in the intervening period, between now and 2008. By that time, Linux and the GNU accoutrements will be more mature, and will probably be just about ready for desktop use by government officials (who, at least here in the US, are typically anything other than power users). So by delaying, Munich is not only playing it safe, they are gaining a lot of usability that isn't
  • $30mil EURO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:35PM (#9448145) Homepage
    $30m divided by 13,000 machines = $2300/machine? Is this the reasonable cost companies should budget for to migration from Windows to Linux?
    • Re:$30mil EURO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wwest4 (183559) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:47PM (#9448227)
      European companies buying for their European offices pay with (currently strong) Euro, so it's not neccessarily meaningful to convert it to USD. Also, consider that migration project budgets typically include hours and buffer - 2000 Euro per machine isn't that unreasonable, especially if you take for granted that it's worth it to escape the "MS tax."

      • Re:$30mil EURO? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JPriest (547211)
        You are looking at $2300 just for software on the machine (most of which are still on NT).

        So the hardware is possibly behind the times, this means a future upgrade will likely include hardware + new version of Linux distro, which may be more prone to introducing compatibility problems than Windows.

        So they may also have to recompile some of the software they are using upon upgrading.

        It seems to me more like they are sacrificing themselves to help pave the way for others, it is going to be a long time b

    • If that includes software, support, instalation, and training, is it really so bad?
    • by sbszine (633428) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:49PM (#9448235) Homepage Journal
      I'd say a little bit of that goes to the labour cost of upgrading all those machines, and the rest goes to the retraining of staff. Two weeks of professional training could easily cost $2000.
      • Just think of all those people who will be able to add Open Office and Linux familiarity to their resumes. Will they be able to negotiate raises based on their exceptional proficiency? Munich is taking a small gamble that the rate at which other organizations adopt Linux won't greatly impact their hiring and employee comp. I say small, because it's generally likely that other orgs migrating to Linux will find it more efficient to train existing personnel and hire locally than offer a salary that will draw p
    • Re:$30mil EURO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:40PM (#9448541)
      $30m divided by 13,000 machines = $2300/machine? Is this the reasonable cost companies should budget for to migration from Windows to Linux?

      It is. Actually it is a bit more expensive than staying with MS for the moment, but the main criteria were stability, security and removal of the dependency of one company only (MS). The move is expected to pay of in the long term (>10 years). Cities are long-term planners, or at least should be.

      That is why Balmer failed to convince them to stay with MS by offering better prices. The fundamental motivation was not the current prices, but strategic reasons.

    • Re:$30mil EURO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:42PM (#9448553) Homepage Journal

      $30m divided by 13,000 machines = $2300/machine? Is this the reasonable cost companies should budget for to migration from Windows to Linux?

      It's not that simple. This is an I/T plan covering the operational and support costs of the next several years. Keep in mind that if they didn't decide to do this, they were looking at having to pay, IIRC, some 23M Euro in licensing fees to Microsoft to stay on Windows, plus some hardware upgrade costs. So a better estimate of the Linux migration cost would be something less than 7M Euro divided by 13,000 machines, call it 300 or 400 Euro per machine. That's not so bad when you consider all of the migration labor and the retraining costs.

      Whether or not it's worth 7M to get off the Microsoft treadmill is a pretty subjective and speculative question. I'm glad they think so.

  • by tekiegreg (674773) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:37PM (#9448150) Homepage Journal
    Ok Linux is a good OS, but they're about to have to retrain approx 16,000 workers, many of whom never heard of Linux and some are total creampuffs in computers. They will be retraining to a platform the users may not like as well. The long run costs will probably be worth it as upgrades are free. However the short term costs of re-training I shudder to think about. At 16,000 workers they need a whole university's capacity of retraining. In fact any Linux guru looking for a job? Munich sounds like a good bet...
    • by log2.0 (674840) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:41PM (#9448186)
      Well, they will first be trained in OOo and mozzy while still running windows. Then a few years down the track comes linux. I would expect that in a few years, linux will be a lot easier to use than it is now. Even now, if you are given a linux desktop box that has already been set up, its easy to use.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        My company (which is also based in Munich) is getting on this bandwagon as well, except in a more subtle way. Users are getting used to Mozilla and open source graphics programs on Windows... then we'll replace their engineering workstations with PCs running linux... ta-da, Linux on the desktop.

        Granted, it probably won't undercut terminal services for cost per seat for office and groupware, but the acceptance of Linux as a desktop platform opens the possibility for competition at that level of the enterpri
    • by sohojim (676510) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:42PM (#9448195) Homepage
      I would wager that >90% of the computer-using employees only use a browser, an email client, a word processor, and a spreadsheet.

      Those are all pretty much platform-independent. Interacting with shared files and printers? Pretty much the same on either platform "\\server01\accounting" is the same in Windows or Linux.

      These people won't be installing hardware drivers or trying to get the latest game to run or tweaking .conf files. Relax.

      • Well I did the same thing with my parents before I left. I had 3 computers in the house and one of them was a my linux server. So of course no one touched it. Once I found out I was going to be moving to a place where I only had dial up, I realized that my server had to stay.

        So I switched all their programs to the linux variants (Firefox, Thunderbird, AMSN, Open Office). At first they were scepticle, but I told them it was to prevent viruses.

        Then 3 days before I left, I took my linux computer and gave it
      • Re:I would wager (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eltoyoboyo (750015)
        I will take you up on that bet. I will even tell you that none of those four applications: e-mail, browsing, word processing, and spreadsheets are enough to place a computer on a municipal employee's desk. The government killer app varies by department. But each department most likely has a client server application related to providing city services: Water billing, tax collection, property records, etc. None of these would need the above mentioned 4 apps.

        The overall IT scenario is a mix of Telnet/Termin
      • I'd take that bet (Score:4, Insightful)

        by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @12:15AM (#9449067)
        Haven't seen an office yet where almost everyone doesn't run at least some sort of custom app.

        - A zillion Excel spreadsheet macros to be converted to OOo
        Whatever their payroll system is.
        - Custom reporting in Access out of the Oracle/SQLServer backend needs to be rebuilt
        - The city engineers need some new CAD package to manage the sewer sytem. Oh, and all those existing files may need to be converted.
        - All of their current Word/Powerpoint files need to be bumped against OOo for compatibility. It's not quite as seamless at it appears.
        - All of their current development tools

        Converting the one machine in your living room is one thing. Switching a whole business/city is quite another.
        • by DF5JT (589002) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @03:49AM (#9449866) Homepage
          " Haven't seen an office yet where almost everyone doesn't run at least some sort of custom app.

          - A zillion Excel spreadsheet macros to be converted to OOo
          Whatever their payroll system is.
          - Custom reporting in Access out of the Oracle/SQLServer backend needs to be rebuilt
          - The city engineers need some new CAD package to manage the sewer sytem. Oh, and all those existing files may need to be converted.
          - All of their current Word/Powerpoint files need to be bumped against OOo for compatibility. It's not quite as seamless at it appears.
          - All of their current development tools"

          We should be glad that the transition is done at this point of time. At a later stage the city would have been locked into all kinds of proprietary technology so that a switch would not be feasible anymore.

          And that is exactly what this migration is about: Vendor lock-in with a company that abhors open standards (and makes migrations like this on such a pain).

          With Micorosoft's upcoming DRM-crap and all kinds of additional (and proprietary) security solutions there are many, many institutions that are looking at Munich right now, knowing that they, too, will have to consider switching to Linux lest they want to be completely dependent on the mercy of one single provider of software as the foundation of their entire infrastructure.

          The migration will be horribly expensive and it will reveal a lot of shortcomings in the current state of Open Source software. However, with both IBM and SuSE on the team, there is a huge number of developers on board who will deal with each of these shortcomings as swiftly as they can and the results will be beneficial for both the Open Source community and every other institution that will want to escape a vendor lock-in for the next couple of decades.

          I consider that money well spent and it buys added value that Microsoft cannot and does not want to provide. Their choice.
    • by smash (1351) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:45PM (#9448209) Homepage Journal
      This is brought up every time someone proposes switching to linux/anything else.

      Fact is, virtually none of my 150 users know how to use Windows, so why should Linux be any different? Its the applications that users care about.

      In fact, one of the biggest excuses for them not trying is "i'm afraid I'll break something".

      If they're not logged on with a root account, they can't really break anything, so if anything, Linux will be easier for them to learn, too :)

      Besides, the re-training thing is just as bad when switching from Windows 98/NT to Windows XP anyway....

      smash.

      • If they're not logged on with a root account, they can't really break anything

        Famous last words, especially with the users you describe
        • If they're not logged on with a root account, they can't really break anything
          Famous last words, especially with the users you describe
          They can still corrupt or erase their own data, which is really the only thing that matters on a single-user system. Hard to stop that one though.
      • Besides, the re-training thing is just as bad when switching from Windows 98/NT to Windows XP anyway....

        Hmm. Lets look at two transition scenarios for a typical office worker.

        Windows Anything to Windows Anything

        • Microsoft Office -> Microsoft Office
        • Internet Explorer -> Internet Explorer
        • Outlook -> Outlook
        • Windows Explorer (or predecessor) -> Windows Explorer
        • Half Dozen Productivity Tools -> Same Half Dozen Tools

        Windows Anything to Linux

        • Microsoft Office -> Open Office
        • Inter
        • Konqueror functions as Windows Explorer, and I've never had a problem with it.

          What manner of productivity tools are you talking about? Games or something? Geez, they don't need games. Give them Tux Racer and Nethack and they'll be happy. If not, they should play games at work anyways... unless they're netadmins.

          In terms of comparable software to Outlook, you might look into Thunderbird. Less security holes, and it doesn't launch crap just by loading a message in the preview pane.
        • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:03PM (#9448671) Homepage Journal

          Microsoft Office -> Microsoft Office

          You imply there are no retraining costs here, which isn't true. Staying on a supported version of Office will mean moving your users from Office 95/97/whatever to Office XP, and the tools are just as different from each other as they are from OpenOffice.org.

          Internet Explorer -> Internet Explorer

          I agree there are no retraining costs here, but moving to a different browser like Mozilla or Konqueror is also pretty seamless, unless you have IE-only web applications deployed. Munich is being smart here, they're migrating the browser and Office suite first so that by the time they get around to dealing with the OS, these issues will be dealt with.

          Frankly, I think there are lots of good reasons to switch to OpenOffice.org and Mozilla even if you keep Windows.

          Outlook -> Outlook

          Take a look at Evolution. If you actually use all of the calendaring features of Outlook/Exchange server, then this is going to be a painful one. Otherwise, there are plenty of excellent tools on Linux.

          Windows Explorer (or predecessor) -> Windows Explorer

          There are a variety of tools that pretty seamlessly fill this role on Linux as well. No one who can navigate Windows Explorer should have any trouble doing the same thing with Konqueror, for example.

          Half Dozen Productivity Tools -> Same Half Dozen Tools

          This is often the kicker. To take a trivial example, consider my wife's computer, which I'd like to migrate to Linux for a whole raft of reasons (the biggest being that it requires more administration effort than the other four computers in my house, which all run Linux). But I can't migrate her easily, because of Quicken, PrintMaster and some of the kids' games. There are Linux equivalents, more or less, but she doesn't want to learn them.

          In the office environment, depending on what kinds of apps and how many, there may not even be any replacements. Munich is going to handle that with Window app servers, which minimizes retraining costs, but imposes others. For other cases, it may be necessary to build or buy new apps to replace the old ones. In some cases that can be a good thing even after considering retraining costs, if the old ones were terrible, but most likely it's a pure cost with no upside. This may kill a migration.

          In this case, Munich has worked out all of the details, estimated the costs and decided they think it's a good deal.

          One of these scenarios has drastically higher training costs than the other.

          As I've explained above, I don't think this is categorically true. In every category but the last, retraining on the OSS tools won't be much greater than the cost of retraining on the newer versions of the MS tools. In the last category, it depends on the details too much to make any kind of a blanket statement, except to say that it won't be free.

        • Just to touch on some of your comments. I'll preface this by saying I've been paid to move small offices over from Windows to Linux in the past (at the workstation level), so take my views and opinions as you will.

          Microsoft Office -> Open Office is fine, and the training for OpenOffice is comparable to training someone on a new revision of Microsoft Office, obviously there are other features, lacking features, differently named features, etc. from the two, but these can typically be covered through bo

      • Besides, the re-training thing is just as bad when switching from Windows 98/NT to Windows XP anyway....
        A very good point- switching to Longhorn is not going to be cheap either, so organizations might as well choose now to keep their options open.

        It's not the change of OS that is most scary to me. It's thousands of users using a new productivity suite, and 7,000 macros that have to work like they did previously.
    • by martinX (672498) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:49PM (#9448231)
      In an office environment, most workers are using a limited number of apps. Even further, they are using them in limited ways to perform a limited number of tasks.

      We recently migrated from W95 to a locked down SOE of XP, with commensurate migration to Office XP. 3000 people in my local area. 50 000 across the state. It was (and still is) a very big job (mostly) ably handled by the IT staff.

      Users' biggest complaint? They can't customise their desktop picture or use their own screensaver.

    • by einhverfr (238914) <{chris.travers} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:51PM (#9448600) Homepage Journal
      I have been moving a few people to Linux. I can tell you my experience is that the "cream-puffs" as you call them have very little trouble. They can get in and do what they need to. I call these people absolute beginners.

      The only people who have any real trouble are the intermediate Windows users. These people have more trouble because they have learned all the Windowisms and have to learn a different way of doing things.

      You see, Linux is one of the easiest OSs I have ever seen for a *complete beginner* to learn how to be productive on. Much easier than Windows. But for many people it is just a bit harder they are used to Windows, and the culture shock is what gets them.

      Personally, I think that Munich's plan is great. It means that they are moving applications one at a time to give people a chance to learn things a little at a time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:39PM (#9448173)
    Is IBM going to donate the services (as in lots of IT help for free, again) of a large crew of techs to assist in the transition like they did for the earlier part?
  • A plea to Munich... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overbyj (696078) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:40PM (#9448180)
    I hope those in charge of this migration is honest in reporting how the migration goes. I wouldn't expect the migration to go without some hitches somewhere and I hope it is reported what the glitches are. Of course, expect MS to jump all over the problems and say "I told you so!" but overall I hope Munich becomes the standard bearer for a mass migration to Linux.

    Basically they should come out and say hey here is how things went, here are the problems and here is how to avoid them. The moral of the story hopefully will be that any large entity can migrate to Linux and get away from the MS lock-in.
    • The city of Treuchtlingen (also in Germany and not so far from Munich) with just around 13000 citizens moved their municipality to open source. They also have setup a webiste [open-government.org] (unfortunatley in German only) where they give details about what and how they did and how the acceptance of the people that have to live with the solution is. Ok, I guess their project is very much smaller than the one of Munich, but at least it reads like a success story.
  • Razors edge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noelo (661375) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:41PM (#9448188)
    Linux fans had better hope that this goes well because if it doesn't you can guarantee that Microsoft will be hopping up and down screaming "I told you so".....or "Ich tolden youze sozen" (in German)
  • "The German news site Heise reports (German, Babelfish version) that the city council of Munich (3rd biggest city in Germany, 1.3 million inhabitants) has voted for the detailed concept of the LiMux - Linux for Munich (German, Babelfish version) project with votes from all parties except the CSU (Christlich Soziale Union, christion social union)."

    Trying not to sound to troll-ish, but why was the Christian group the only group to say nay to this? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, correct?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:42PM (#9448196)
    In other news, the CSU passed a law preventing youth groups from spending their leisure time collecting trash in order to prevent huge damage to munich's Trash Collection-landscape.
  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:51PM (#9448250) Journal
    We are bound to get a score of people telling us how staying with windows is easier and how it is the past of least resistance. They also said this about the server a few years ago, although they are quieter on that front now.

    What they do not understand is that this was a strategic and long-term move for the city of Munich. When you are creating infrastructure, you care about long-term benefits. In my eyes, the city of Munich is making a serious investment to create a future they can control. No doubt, this is a political move, but it is one that highsight will reveal as path-breaking, as in, breaking the path-dependence of Windows.

    Finally, I have moved a bunch of small non-profits to Linux, and all these alleged retraining costs are not there, even for the computer challenged. Real computer novices can get to work after an hourly week of training. Those that have used a computer before can do so almost immediately, with the occasional question posted on the site's intranet and quickly answered by yours truly.

    Come on, guys, if we are to bring on the Linux desktop, we need to dispell the myth that it is hard to use. Suse 9.1 or Mandrake 10 are a freaking joy to use.
    • This is true about public infrastructure. If a city tore out and repoured its sidewalks every three years, the citizens would be up in arms about such a waste of money. But with computering infrastructure, this is just accepted. Even projects funded by entities such as the WPA, which were intended to generate employment, were built to last. Many of the sidewalks in my town still have the letters WPA cast into the concrete. In fact, the Munich Linux installation may become one of those seemingly permanent pieces of public infrastructure that future generations will marvel at for its solid construction and longevity.

      Great Accomplishments in Civil Engineering:
      1. Hoover Dam
      2. Roman Aqueducts
      3. Brooklyn Bridge
      4. Munich Linux installation
      • Poor analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Osty (16825)

        You missed the most important fact -- computers (hardware and software) age exponentially faster than the physical counterparts you compare them to. Sidewalks are always useful, so long as they're in good repair. Sure, you may occasionally need to widen a walk to handle more human bandwidth, but in general you could pour some concrete for sidewalks and then leave it alone for decades (but for a periodic cleaning and weeding), and never have a problem.

        Try doing the same thing with computers. Go ahead, g

    • Not highsight, but hindsight....

      And I meant after a week where each person devotes an hour in their day to training. There are a few other things I'd have phrased differnently, but most of it should be clear.
    • Come on, guys, if we are to bring on the Linux desktop, we need to dispell the myth that it [Linux] is hard to use.

      Not entirely myth.

      You are entirely correct in that much of what normal users need and want to do is in fact quite easy with Linux, often easier than with Microsoft.

      The thing is that the optimum level of use with Linux is substantially higher than that of Microsoft, like comparing vi with pico. Linux is harder in that it's worthwhile learning to do stuff that isn't worthwhile learning with M
  • by eddy (18759) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:57PM (#9448295) Homepage Journal

    This is going to be interesting to follow. The biggest problem will probably be the users that Do Not Want Change. There's always some of these, and they'll raise a stink about it. Hopefully, things will go mostly smoothly [desktoplinux.com] such that not to many No Opinion Either Way-people are swayed by their bickering.

    I hope that IBM/Novell/SuSe provide some easy and well documented way (should be in the training "If you have a problem, don't mumble, speak up and we'll fix it!") for the users to send in bug reports. That and some developers/funds dedicated to fixing those precise problems could dramatically improve OpenOffice.org and the other applications they're switching to. That way, the users will see "Hey, we can actally influence this!" and the software projects will move forward, regardless of how the switch project ultimately ends.


    • I hope that IBM/Novell/SuSe provide some easy and well documented way (should be in the training "If you have a problem, don't mumble, speak up and we'll fix it!")

      Sure they will, as long as they get to say: "That will be E200 / hour please..." They might consider taking a loss leader to get things started, but remember these are public companies. Their institutional shareholders care about earnings much more than desktops.


    • In my experience it's the users who think they kow it all about Windows that'll cause the problems. They're the ones who stand around the company helpdesk all day talking about the latest articles in IT magazines, annoying those who are actually trying to do some work. They're the ones who have all their little tweaks set up, and the ones who cause all the problems helpdesks lose their reputations trying to fix.

      They're also the ones who know thatthey know more than the company IT department, and any big ch
  • This is good to hear, I think. They're going slow so users get used to the new stuff (not that word processing on OpenOffice or browsing on Mozilla is all that different from MS stuff), and will eventually do a complete OSS converstion (yeah, I guess I just restated the article...). What does sound interesting is the part about specialty software, and how that will probably end up as open source. I'm curious as to what will come out of that.
  • by golgafrincham (774723) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:58PM (#9448307) Journal
    CSU, which has just won the European elections[...]

    sorry, but that's wrong. the party-system in germany is transparent and clear, except for the cdu (christian democratic union) / csu issue. the cdu is a big german party and the csu is a pure bavarian party. and in bavaria there is no cdu. but when it comes to nationwide elections these two parties run as one. they have different programms and different campaigns, but you can only vote for cdu/csu.

    it is a major flaw in germany's democratic system bacause one can't elect one party without electing the other. the reason for this (there maybe are historical reasons, but that's no excuse): both parties are very conservative, but bavaria is an ultraconservative state (the csu gets always around 50-60% in bavaria) and so there is an ultraconservative christian union especially for them and no one else.

    btw, i don't even understand why there are religious parties in a democracy.
    • > i don't even understand why there are religious
      > parties in a democracy.

      Because the demos (the electorate) is(/was)
      religious?
    • *btw, i don't even understand why there are religious parties in a democracy.*

      because there can be.
      don't like it? make up your own party. convince people to join and vote for it.

      It's commonplace to see 'election alliances'(the proper english word eludes me right now) between parties in just about any multi party system. if you don't like the allegiances the parties have made, tactically to get more of their own folk elected, then vote some other party's members. those two parties are obviously co-operatin
      • "Election Alliance" is usually called a coalition. You find that in most multi-party countries. Contries with a two-party system usually don't have such a thing.
        Anyway, from my own experience in Australia, eventhough we have a coalition (Liberals/Nationals) when we vote we have a choice to vote per group (party) r to vote for individuals (including the party members). Many if not most people vote on a part basis because it is easier than wading through a list of sometimes 50 names to select your candidates.
    • by Erwos (553607) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:27PM (#9448469)
      As others have pointed out, the CSU is "Christian" in name only.

      However, I don't understand why you think that religious parties don't belong in a democracy. People who are serious adherents to a religion tend to feel in a similar way about certain issues (death penalty, abortion come to mind), and thus it makes _sense_ for parties to come together under a religious guise. This does not mean they should be exclusionary, of course, but it's not at all unbelievable that the party would initially form under a religious core.

      A religious party does not necessarily mean imposing your religion on everyone else, either. The strict Islamist party won in Turkey, yet Erdrogan hasn't rocked the boat like some people imagined he would. Obviously, in the more liberal European states, the idea of imposing a state religion is even more laughable.

      Of course, some /.'ers hate religion in general, so it's not a surprise they would hate religious parties. A matter of opinion, I guess.

      -Erwos
  • by solferino (100959) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <mehczah>> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:16PM (#9448413) Homepage
    If you'd been reading lwn.net [lwn.net] you would have already noticed their link to a Bloomberg article [bloomberg.com], written in english, which covers this.
  • by Tarantolato (760537) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:40PM (#9448543) Journal
    It sounds as if they're going from a Wintel fat-client/server architecture to a Lintel fat-client/server architecture. Whether or not you agree with me that this is a dubious decision, consider that deploying a true multiuser operating system in effectively single-user mode is a lot like deploying chainsaws to a bunch of chimpanzees.

    In my experience *nix's strengths become apparent when you use it as it was meant to be used: a lot of terminals plus maybe a few high-powered standalone workstations. For many standalone machines it's no less of a headache than Windows and in some ways more of one.

    I know, I know, thin-clients never took off, yadda-yadda. But I maintain that the biggest part of why they haven't is that deploying Office this way is prohibitively expensive. If you're moving to OO.o, it starts to look a lot better.

    (One nice thing about a Linux thin-client setup is that legacy Windows machines can act as terminals with Cygwin/X, allowing Windows and Linux apps as to be deployed in parallel.)
    • by sasha328 (203458)
      I agree that Teminals are much better suited to some tasks than stand-alone PCs.
      The company where I work has a lot of call centres. At the moment, many of their application use terminal clients running on Macs/PCs to access databases on Unix servers. The rest of their applications run over a Citrix server. These are much better served using thin clients.
      It is never clear why this never kicked off at all.
      Maybe other people can shed some light on this.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:49PM (#9448594) Homepage
    This is one time where it would have been a good idea to not RTFA.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:58PM (#9448640) Homepage
    Switching from Office 97 (what everybody really uses) to Office 200x is as traumatic as switching to OpenOffice. As Microsoft points out, OpenOffice is comparable to Office 97. And Office 97 is about as good as Office ever got. Beyond that, it's tons of features you don't need, and integration with stuff you don't want to integrate with.
    • And Office 97 is about as good as Office ever got.


      Spoken like a person who has never used Word for anything except writing a college paper. I prefer Open Office to MS Office, and I think that there are plent of problems for MS Office. But saying Office 97 is better than the more recent versions is delusional at best.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:18PM (#9448741)
    "CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux since its Feierabendprogrammierer ('leisure-time coders') would destroy Munich's IT-landscape (Microsoft Germany and other big companies are located in and around Munich) and they also fear that the personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice and other migrated systems."

    Sounds a little too much like "direct from Redmond" FUD doesn't it? Let's hope these Microsoft shills don't have the power to sabotage the whole thing. We can expect Microsoft to try to buy politicians in Germany just like they have in the US. At any rate I would suggest that the government of Munich be prepared for Microsoft's interference.

  • by mm0mm (687212) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @12:08AM (#9449040)
    they also fear that the personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice ...
    so, are they saying that learning MS Office is substantially easier than learning OO for an average city employee in Munich with no previous experience with office application? oh, are they talking about vi?
  • Bergen, Norway (Score:3, Informative)

    by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette@g m a il.com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:30AM (#9449338) Homepage Journal
    Bergen is also going over to Linux [aftenposten.no] (article in Norwegian)
  • Translation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:43AM (#9449386)
    Here's a translation of the first half of the article. I find that part particularly interesting because of the inherent argument between the Greens and the Conservatives about how to make money with free software.

    Munich's Town Council blesses Concept for Linux Migration

    The 30-million-Euro-project LiMux can start: On Wednesday, the town council of Munich has officially agreed to the step-by-step plan for transitioning the entire computer landscape of the about 16,000 workers in the city's administration. The governing red-green coalition, along with representatives from FDP, OeDP, and PDS voted in favour of the migration. The CSU, ruling with absolute majority in Bavaria, voted against the Penguin moving into the offices. Conservative politicians expressed concerns that leisure-time programmers ("Feierabendprogrammierer") from the Open-Source camp would destroy the IT economy of Munich. They feared risks also for the employees, who mainly must learn how to use a new word processor now.

    LiMux means the migration of about 13,000 desktop computers and the corresponding servers. Initially, the project leaders in the town council want to make bid invitations to select concrete open source products. Not only IBM and Novell's subsidiary Suse should be involved here, although the original LiMux design was done by those two major players in the Linux market. One of the main goals of the migration is, however, to create jobs right in Munich's IT economy and to maintain a competitive market. "We must be careful now not to get rid of the one monopolist by making ourselves dependent on the next global giant," said green councellor Jens Muehlhaus up front, alluding to Microsoft and Big Blue. He wants to involve the small and medium-sized IT companies in and around Munich, especially for the non-standard programs (Fachanwendungen) and special solutions that are needed. Talking to heise online, Muehlhaus regretted the decision of the CSU, who still hadn't understood that with free software, money is mainly being made through services.

  • by PizzaFace (593587) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:50AM (#9449414)
    CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux since its Feierabendprogrammierer ('leisure-time coders') would destroy Munich's IT-landscape (Microsoft Germany and other big companies are located in and around Munich)...
    This is a very common anti-pattern of political rhetoric, used by special interests whose goods and services aren't worth the price the government is paying for them: the reduction of their subsidy will harm the current recipients, and eliminate jobs.

    The answer is, the government will spend that money on something else, or (better) leave it with taxpayers so they can spend it on something else. The money will then flow to other jobs, in businesses and industries that are more competitive, where the government should be encouraging capital concentration and job growth.

    That answer goes to software publishers, fruit farmers, coal miners, steel makers, missile manufacturers, and any other interest that thinks it should be paid, not for the value of its goods or services, but because such a fat pig is entitled to its place at the public trough. Off to slaughter, piggies!
  • by melted (227442) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @02:01AM (#9449445) Homepage
    or a tremendous PR disaster. If they fail, you can bet your ass MSFT will not get tired pointing this out. If they succeed, Novel/IBM/RHAT and everyone else will be touting the precedent.
  • by qute (78334) <(kd.etuq) (ta) (todhsals.etuq)> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @02:23AM (#9449526) Homepage
    Did anyone notice that first they are going to make the users run some of the open source apps on their windows?

    Then the change won't be so huge, when they switch from Windows to Linux. All of their apps will still be right there. The browser and mail-client being the most important.

    Some people get angry that good open source apps are being ported to windows, but really: It's the best(only?) way to do it.
    It's must easier to switch if you can take all your base^H^H^H^H apps with you.
  • by Sweetshark (696449) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:41AM (#9450504)
    Netcraft [netcraft.com] confirms! [netcraft.com]
  • It's funny... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4lex (648184) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:05AM (#9450858) Homepage Journal
    that a larger project [linex.org] in Extremadura, Spain [wikipedia.org], doesn't get this kind of attention (Some background for the spanish-impaired [linex.org]). It's already working (I thinks it's a little over two years now), it's been distributed to hundreds of thousands [linex.org] (including every desktop in the schools, one computer for every two students, mind you)... it even has inspired at least one already working project [guadalinex.org] in Andalucía, Spain [wikipedia.org] (and seeds of several others, as in Madrid, Zaragoza or Valencia; it seems all education in Spain is migrating to linux in the next few years).

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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