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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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  • 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?
  • 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 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?
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:55PM (#9448277)
    So they are pretty much the republican party? Mouth the words but don't give a shit?
  • by citog (206365) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:01PM (#9448330)
    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 aminorex (141494) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:09PM (#9448373) Homepage Journal
    > i don't even understand why there are religious
    > parties in a democracy.

    Because the demos (the electorate) is(/was)
    religious?
  • 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.
  • Re:$30mil EURO? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JPriest (547211) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:12PM (#9448389) Homepage
    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 before they start to see the savings.

  • by focitrixilous P (690813) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:13PM (#9448394) Journal
    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
  • by emorphien (770500) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:13PM (#9448399)
    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 systems. Macs aren't bad, but they'll never accept they're not any better, or that they do something wrong. There's a certain elitist attitude, even though they hardly know anything about the system.

    Disclaimer: I realize there are exceptions to this, but dealing with the media students at RIT, I can safely say that the demographic here largely supports this observation. So biznitchin!
  • 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 SSpade (549608) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:28PM (#9448476) Homepage

    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
    • Internet Explorer -> Konqueror
    • Outlook -> Nothing comparable
    • Windows Explorer -> ?
    • Prouctivity Tools -> ?

    One of these scenarios has drastically higher training costs than the other. Even if you believe the long-term benefits outweight the short term training and support costs (which they may, or may not, depending on the particular situation) the short term costs in training, IT support and lost productivity will be pretty large.

  • by danharan (714822) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:33PM (#9448509) Journal
    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 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:36PM (#9448518)
    cheer when an American company loses a contract.

    Do you mean Microsoft Deutschland Gmbh losing out to IBM Deutschland?

  • 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.

  • 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.)
  • 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.

  • Poor analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Osty (16825) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:48PM (#9448586)

    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, get some ancient computing hardware from the 70s, 80s, or even early 90s. Install the ancient software. Now try to use that effectively in a technologically-advancing world. Oops! You can't! At least, not as user desktops and such, if you want to keep productive and happy users.


    Now let's flip it around. What you're suggesting already exists. How often did you hear about banks and financial institutions using 20-30+ year old software because it still worked during the lead up and fizzle of the whole Y2K crap? And what did those institutions do when a serious threat came around? They started hiring people to fix the current software (patch the sidewalk). Very few chose to upgrade their systems instead (rip up the sidewalk and repave).

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:12PM (#9448717) Homepage
    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 database design is brain dead. The program names are coded like SWOSCHB, the letters of which mean something if you can be bothered to try to find it in the documentation (such as it is).

    It's a HUGE system - but it was designed for universities, not community colleges, so large sections of it aren't even used and other stuff must be custom built in house to handle the way a community college works. I found 400,000 records dating back to when the college put the system in sitting in a table which is never used and never cleaned out.

    I've offered to rebuild the entire goddamn thing using PostgreSQL on Linux on commodity servers in a couple years for $100K, but nobody takes me seriously. Like it matters how long it would take - the college isn't going anywhere.

    The problem is never the technical issues of moving from one system to another - it's the politics and idiot managers - always.

  • Re:I would wager (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:21PM (#9448758) Journal
    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/Terminal emulation, Windows desktop apps (VB/VC++/FoxPro/Office VBA), Intranet applications, DOS (yea really!) apps, and maybe even some desktop java. Can you migrate most of these to _Insert OS Distribution Here_? Sure, Why not. That is your decision. However, some groups are going to have a specific piece of commercial software that just will not convert easily or work with VMWare, WINE, or your emulator of choice.

  • by irokitt (663593) <archimandrites-i ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:23PM (#9448774)
    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 there yet and might not arrive for a while.

    That being said, I think a fast migration is perfect for either a small business or a business dominated by tech-savvy employees (e.g. a programming firm). Migrations just need to be tailored to the situation at hand, that's all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:32PM (#9448822)
    I've offered to rebuild the entire goddamn thing using PostgreSQL on Linux on commodity servers in a couple years for $100K, but nobody takes me seriously.

    I don't blame them.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Re: MS tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wwest4 (183559) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:23AM (#9449311)
    > 1,000 Euro will get you a name brand PC with monitor and MS operating system and > Office licenses.

    But that does not include installation, administration and infrastructure costs.

    > You have to really build up a lot of hatred for a vendor to consider paying
    > maybe 14,000,000 Euro over the top to oust said vendor

    Certainly you're right, and some people hate MS, but from where I'm standing, most people just hate depending on one thing and paying out the nose for it when they KNOW there are better alternatives. Ask any avid linux user who admins both platforms - if he's worth his salt, he'll tell you that eliminating Microsoft at any cost is not practical or even desirable - but allowing better alternatives in, where they exist, is crucial to saving time, money and aggravation.

    Also, you're not considering that those 14,000,000 extra Euro are seen as an investment for long term savings. Corporate licensing for MS is even worse then retail. At least you know in the short run what you're paying for and OTS application - the corporate licensing schemes have totally arbitrary terms (despite what is advertised on the MS site) and have you chasing your tail trying to figure out what you're entitled to. Forget explaining it to a CFO once you've got it nailed down. Then the whole paradigm changes with the next wave of releases. When using mostly free software, you have relative certainty in the form of more-or-less predictable labor and hardware costs - planning is much easier, a little less air needs to be added to the budget, and you have a better chance of staying within budget.

    I'm personally counting on this to pressure MS and other big software vendors to either drop prices or increase quality, as well as provide me with the odd chance to roll out something that works instead of dealing with certain packages I know are not worth trying to support.

    I think it's turned out OK in cases where MS has been forced to compete. IE was free and improved for a while (at least until they had a dominant lead, IE6+ has been a nightmare) and Exchange got better by version 5 in order to compete with Lotus on the groupware front and sendmail on the MTA front... meanwhile, MS cut server package deals that basically gave it away. Their OS has gotten a bit more stable, probably in response to the perception of Linux kernel as being rock-solid. Maybe MS Office or Citrix will get cheaper faced with the prospect of Linux desktops running centrally-managed open source office productivity software over X.

  • Re: MS tax (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:34AM (#9449355)
    You don't understand how Microsoft works.

    Factor in the costs of getting locked-in to a single software technology provider. Then you must use Word, Excel, whatever. Factor in the costs of non-interoperability of your files for future revisions of the software. And I mean like on the scale of 30 years. Factor in the cost of lost man-hours due to the Worm of the Day. Factor in the cost of lost man-hours due to viruses. Factor in the cost of constantly rebooting the machines. Factor in the cost of system administration for Windows. Etc. Etc.

    There are so many hidden costs when dealing with Microsoft.

    Besides, why should Munich buy from Microsoft, when there's a better alternative?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 s0m3body (659892) <martin@hajduch.de> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:18AM (#9449985) Homepage
    don't forget, significant part of these 13M will stay in germany, may help to create new jobs there, etc ...

    so paying 7M for windows can be more expensive (for germany at least) than paying 13M for linux
  • 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 test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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