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Munich to Go Ahead with Linux After All 142

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the bring-on-the-penguins dept.
Saeed al-Sahaf writes "According to Groklaw and the German publication Heise (it's in German, of course) Munich's mayor Christian Ude has held a press conference, in which he said that the bidding process for the switch from Windows to Linux will go forward as originally planned, despite patent issues. InfoWorld (in English), quotes Bernd Plank, a spokesman for Munich town hall, saying that he expected that the administration would take a maximum of 'two to three weeks' to decide whether the EU's Directive on software patents could affect the city's plan to switch to Linux, and that would be no 'dramatic setback.'" We reported this earlier as well, but now that it's making the rounds again in English, more of us can read it without resorting to Babelfish.
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Munich to Go Ahead with Linux After All

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  • Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bunburyist (664958) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9942124)
    The more organizations deploy Linux, the lower the cost will become for further deployments. For example Munich will use VMWare while slowly porting their special Win-only software to Linux.
    The next generation will do without VMWare and will lower the cost to migrate to Linux.
    Oh, and I might add that 5 cities in Bavaria are also thinking in joining Munich directly.
    Also, in 3-4 years, if any hardware company will want to sell hardware to Europe or Asia, it will have to provide Linux drivers which will be beneficial for ALL Linux users.
  • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superpulpsicle (533373) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9942131)
    Most countries around the world are not flooded with lawyers like it is here in the U.S. Depending on your perspective, there is a good and a bad. According to slashdot, mostly bad.

  • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danidude (672839) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:27PM (#9942149) Homepage
    Did Microsoft not lower their prices enough at the mention of them going to Linux?


    Maybe there is more in it than just price, ya know...

  • Re:Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#9942252) Homepage Journal

    The more organizations deploy Linux, the lower the cost will become for further deployments.

    Not only will a sizable deployment of Munich office workers using Linux reduce the transition costs of future organizations migrating to Linux (that is, applications evolve more into what people are used to from Windows), but it will also help drive further improvements in the quality of Linux applications and tools (we want this new feature added to this Linux application).

    Munich could very easily be the first leak in what could turn into a torrential migration.

    Every day that goes by, the costs of migration away from Windows go down and the benefits of migration to Linux go up.

  • by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:45PM (#9942301)
    So the Munich Greens thought that having a small temper trantrum about the patent trheat in Linux would have an effect. Instead, they discovered that all they'd done was shoot themselves in the foot.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    So now what happens? The city government takes the same gun, and shoots itself in the other foot. "No, Linux is still threatened by software patents, but...uh...well...we're going to go aghead with the bidding because...we're going to ignore the threat we tried to blackmail all of Europe with." Yeah, that's the ticket, boys -- make it intentionaly infringement. Right.

    Somebody send these guys a clue, please?
  • by Bandit0013 (738137) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:05PM (#9942465)
    I hope for Linux's sake that the community gives Munich some special attention/aid if they decide to migrate and that whoever they have doing the migration knows what they're doing.

    Imagine the field day Microsoft will have if the project goes over budget or outright fails!

    I still say you have to throw the cost argument right out the window though. In the end, organizations will pay a premium for quality support/service and applications that play nice together easily. That is the biggest challenge Linux has to overcome before it can truly stand toe to toe with Microsoft.
  • Re:Why (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:09PM (#9942505)
    This may be offtopic.
    On the EU software patent issues:
    Just what are they going to do about pre-existing software patents? Just void them and keep the money spent in obtaining them? Will said patents be grandfathered in?
    I'm not a fan of software patents, but if I did spend good money in getting one, it was made useless/unenforcable, and I didn't get a refund, I think I'd be rather pissed off about it.
  • by michaelzhao (801080) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9942591)
    With the trouble the US has had with Europe, this very well might be political. Microsoft is a very big US company and switching from Microsoft to identityless software may improve the mood of some Europeans. This is not a unfounded belief. Korea-Japan-China initiative to develop an alternative OS was to depend less on the US software industry. The result was Red Flag Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:21PM (#9942612)
    Software is already protected by copyright, and patent infringement is not stealing anyway! - Why the HELL should you have a "right" to stop me implementing something that you also do anyway? Patents are antithetical to the competitive free market. I wouldn't try to stop you walking your dog just because I walk my dog.
  • Re:Why (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:34PM (#9942712)
    So? Slave owners were rather pissed too about losing their slaves.
  • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgodNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:37PM (#9942741)
    Maybe city officials realize something that a lot of businesses have yet to discover. Even if the initial investment and TCO of Linux and apps were higher than Windows, the fact that it's all built on open standards leaves the ability to make an easier switch in the future to new hardware and software platforms. Take VAX for example. It's a rock solid platform that can be trusted to run smoothly with little or no intervention. That's why many people still have them in operation today even though there are better applications that can be run on faster hardware. It's also going to be a big problem when the time comes for migration. Emulators for VAX have been mentioned on here before. With open standards, Linux won't have near the trouble when it comes time to migrate to new hardware architectures, different apps, or different operating systems. It's fairly easy to port apps between BSD, Linux, and other Unix variants. Future emulation probably won't be an issue once a total switch has been made. Basically, if it's a computer, Linux can be tailor made to run on it. Once the OS is ported, apps will follow. As for the apps themselves, instead of saving your documents as proprietary files, you have an open standard so you can easily move files between different applications without worring about compatability or licensing issues. To sum it up in one sentence: Linux offers a trustworthy migration path even with an unclear vision of what the future holds.
  • Re:Discounts? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HexDoll (778270) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:43PM (#9942789) Homepage Journal
    Surely this proves that Microsoft is now seeing Linux as a credible threat to their business model and dominant market position.

    Of course, even if they halved their prices they'd still be making a massive profit.

    This is encouraging, perhaps Linux is just what market needs to bring back competition into play.
  • Re:Show respect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tomcat666 (210775) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:53PM (#9942848) Homepage
    I don't know how it is in $YOUR_COUNTRY, but in Germany, if a city/state/federal government doesn't play by the rules of a big company, they usually say stuff like "You won't do this? Oh yeah? Well then we'll go to another country that will appreciate our efforts!"

    You're right, this is far from being physically dangerous, but it could cost the city lots of money in lost taxes, jobs and the image of the city. Getting Linux into their offices doesn't mean abandoning Microsoft altogether, and losing money in the process.

    Considering my city's moves towards Daimler-Chrysler (Stuttgart), I think it is courageous of Munich to not give in to the demands of a big corporation.

    About Microsoft being the Mafia: Most big corporations here behave like the Mafia, not only Microsoft. What Daimler-Chrysler demanded here was outrageous considering how much money they earn.
  • by BarryNorton (778694) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:54PM (#9942855)
    Reading through the thinly-veiled racism on this board, who could blame them? And let's not forget the non-US origins of Linux itself...
  • by flacco (324089) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:58PM (#9942885)
    Somebody send these guys a clue, please?

    they might have a long-range clue. this dilemma raises the issue of software patents in a stark way *now*, while policy is still being formed.

    can you imagine trying to roll back software patents *after* they've been absorbed into the consciousness (and bottom line) of the german economy?

  • by dekeji (784080) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:03PM (#9942924)
    That's like the question "when did you stop beating your wife?", which simply plants the idea in everybody's head that the person questioned did, in fact, beat his wife.

    The fact is that Linux does not have any more or less "patent issues" than any other OS: nobody who develops software and has good legal advice will try to do background searches on patents. Instead, the rational thing to do is to develop the software and then see who complains. As a result, just about every major piece of software infringes on lots of patents.

    Given that Linux source code is out in the open, any patent holder who believes that their patent is being infringed can complain, and as soon as they do, the infringing code will be removed from Linux and life will go on.
  • Re:Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:05PM (#9942945) Homepage
    There is another factor.

    The germans are generally considered to produce the finest things in the world on a technological standpoint. They also recognize the finest things, technologically. People all over the world (and there are) know this.

    I contend that while Linux may cost more than windows in TCO, it is a better investment because it is a better, more reliable product.

    Not to mention that a lot more money stays in the country when linux is used, and that always affect the elected ones.
  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @08:32PM (#9944224) Journal
    Insightful, my ass.

    This was incredibly smart as they are now producing a legal report that the goverment will have to act upon, thus derailing the European directive to approve software patents as unanimity is likely to be needed on the Commission.

    They have not admitted to the existence of any patents that affect Linux, but rather have stated that it is a troubling issue that needs to be examined.

    This was very shrewed. They raised public awareness, will get the city's legal department to produce a patent-unfriendly report which will be elevated to the German national government, which will then adopt a no-patents European position at the Comission.

    The trees not letting you see the forest?
  • by NeoNastyNerd (624859) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @09:04PM (#9944426)
    I think that Munich is doing more than just what is best for their network. They have been in a bright, global spotlight since the news that they rejected Microsoft's offer broke, and they are now in a very favorable position to set an example for other city and state governments, (national?), to migrate and stand up to the Giant's licnesing trap.

    I for one, welcome our new open source leaders...

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