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French Parliament To Go Open Source 231

Posted by kdawson
from the desktops-and-all dept.
dhoyte writes, "Newsfactor.com reports that next June the French parliament will be switching from Microsoft to open source products such as Linux for desktops and servers and OpenOffice for day-to-day documents. They see it as a cost-cutting measure." The French have not settled on a Linux distribution yet. The article quotes an analyst voicing a note of caution: "'The evidence on the cost savings attributable to a switch to Linux has been mixed,' according to Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at research group NPD. 'There has been some evidence that companies have to spend a good deal on training and support after you deploy...'"
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French Parliament To Go Open Source

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  • mandriva (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nocomment (239368) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:12PM (#17028150) Homepage Journal
    It'll probably Mandriva. Isn't that a French company anyway?

    • Re:mandriva (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@ema . i l> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:35PM (#17028362) Journal

      I think Mandriva will be the best choice for Linux transitioning to desktops. It's easy to install (probably the quickest and most straightforward installation next to Ubuntu), pretty simple to maintain, and is in my opinion the most user-friendly operating system for home and small-business users. I think of it as the Red Hat of Home Linux; it has fully dedicated support channels, premium content that is pretty nifty to have, and a very solid online community for those that cannot afford support. Last time I checked, the only other two mainstream Linux distributions that have all of those advantages are SuSE Linux (Novell) and Red Hat Linux.

      Every time I have used Linux, I land up turning to Mandriva or Fedora. Fedora is good for ultra bleeding edge stuff, while Mandriva is the Linux distribution that "Just Works" (save the casual Linux stuff, of course). I think that if they do not use the other two said distributions, Mandriva will be a very probably candidate. I would most certainly switch to this distribution if I had a project of this magnitude.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kripkenstein (913150)
        Distrowatch [distrowatch.com] says this about Mandriva: "Cons: Some releases are buggy". Sadly this has been exactly my experience with them. Granted, I may have run into some obscure bugs by my own bad luck, but having Distrowatch say what I quoted seems to support that it wasn't just that (and I kicked myself for not listening to Distrowatch).

        This was around a year and a half ago, so perhaps things have changed.
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Distrowatch says this about Mandriva: "Cons: Some releases are buggy". Sadly this has been exactly my experience with them.

          Same here. Not really a major problem if you're familiar with Linux but new users (which Mandriva more or less targets) certainly would have been at a loss to set things straight. I left them whet I moved to a 64 bit machine so I don't know what the current situation is either. It might have improved.

          Although even back them, buggy releases certainly weren't exactly the norm. They did

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I've seen this with Mandriva, however I've also seen it with just about every other distro out there. Most of the time the bugs in Mandriva are acceptable. I tried SUSE 10.1, and the updating software was completely broken on a fresh install, and this is an acknowledged bug. How this got out the door without being caught is beyond me. With Fedora I've had problems with X not starting up on a fresh install, even when I tried using the standard VESA driver. I admit that sometimes Mandriva is a little bugg
      • " Last time I checked, the only other two mainstream Linux distributions that have all of those advantages are SuSE Linux (Novell) and Red Hat Linux."

        For, me PCLinuxOS, a Mandriva derivative, is my thing now that I can use Win4Lin kernel 2.6.8.1 without my system locking up....

        Maybe. But, I recently hit the wall with tiring and trying to get Mdv 2005, 2006 *and* 2007 to run stably or at all the Win4Lin 2.6.8.1 kernel. I for what, now 2 years, was stuck on Mdk/Mdv 10.1. I couldn't even go to 10.2. At least n
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by smilindog2000 (907665)
        I tend to throw out Fedora because of their habbit of including unstable code, SUSE because of Microsoft, and RedHat because of the cost. Mandriva sounds good, but Ubuntu and Debian are where I usually land. You can't beat the 19,000 pre-compiled packages maintained in the distro! For a government, I'd want Ubuntu over Debian, since it has to be easy for morons to use :-)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          If you want lots of packages, and you like Mandriva, you might want to try using the PLF sources, via EasyURPMI [zarb.org]. They provide tons of packages, and I very rarely find a piece of software for Linux that isn't available via this channel. Makes installing software a breeze.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      I thought Mandriva was what you do to a guy with a dildo attached to a cordless drill.
  • Hope it goes through (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thedarknite (1031380) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:17PM (#17028192) Homepage
    Although I am a little bit skeptical about news that states large organisations will be switching to open source. I recall similar a story in Australia, in which Telstra (IIRC) was going to switch to Linux until M$ offered them below normal pricing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think it's more than just a measure for saving costs. They don't want to depend on one large company that doesn't mind to blackmail others. What if Microsoft suddenly threatens to drop its products in Europe? Both Europe and Microsoft will lose, but the difference is that Microsoft is in control while it should have been the government (representing the people).

      Being less dependent while saving costs can only be a good thing. Let's hope that they prove it's possible so others will make the step as well.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thedarknite (1031380)
        I agree that is likely not a cost saving ploy. However, I will maintain my skeptism until they begin rolling out a distribution. It is possible that they may end up maintaining the status quo, because it's even cheaper to not upgrade.

        At one of my previous jobs I had to install and setup a piece of specialised teaching software, and quite a number of large organisations were sitting on very old Windows installations.

        But, I like I said, I hope it goes through and doesn't get shot down by some vocal mino
    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:53PM (#17028484) Journal
      Telstra (IIRC) was going to switch to Linux until M$ offered them below normal pricing.

      I can confirm that, worked for them at the time. Had a CIO poached from Sun around then, too. Bill Gates flew in to talk to Ziggy Switkowski (then CEO) and after that it was all roses between them. My opinion at the time was that it was all just a ploy to beat down Microsoft's prices, sort of the corporate version of talking to a vendor with their competitor's coffee mug on your desk.

      Everything's negotiable, especially if you have 40,000 high-profile desktop licenses at stake.

    • by bedonnant (958404) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:54PM (#17028498)
      that very well may be, but i think it is also a political move of independance. Being French myself, I find it quite surprising that the software used at the center of democracy, where all of the economical, political and social decisions are made, still relies on a foreign company, microsoft. this is especially true since the UE has started giving microsoft fines; on one hand we punish microsoft, and on the other we ask them to please allow us to not cripple our democracy. this move to opensource is very good news.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:20PM (#17028222)
    'There has been some evidence that companies have to spend a good deal on training and support after you deploy...'"

    Nonsense! Linux is so easy to use you can take it out of the box and plug it in. And be working that same day.
    • You owe me a new scarcasm meter.

    • by Fred_A (10934) <`fred' `at' `fredshome.org'> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:45AM (#17030358) Homepage
      Besides I've seen with my own eyes a 12 year old girl recognising an obscure Unix file manager after a mere glance. "I know this, this is Unix !" she exclaimed in front of a clueless audience of hundreds.

      So don't tell me Unix is hard. 12 year old girls can use it.
      • Well, my 6 year old can login (KDE) and play Yahtzee etc. and has been doing so for at least a year (so he's already equipped for a rewarding life as an IT Manager!)

        When he was two, left alone with a system prompt, he would be quite easily hit many random key combinations that *were* actually *nix commands!
    • Last time I tried installing XP from scratch it took me about two weeks to get it working. That was five years ago, and it still isn't working without problems.


      OTOH Linux, as you say, can start working on the same day, unless, of course, you start the installation less than ten minutes before midnight, in which case it won't be working until the next day.

  • by Kjella (173770)
    ...must be a nexus point in the Matrix, déjà vu seems to happen quite often around here.
  • Retraining. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyphercell (843398) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:24PM (#17028266) Homepage Journal
    I'm sick of hearing about retraining as being a reason not to change to Linux. The facts are that you're going to have to retrain everyone when you're forced to upgrade anyways. The big difference being that your Linux rollout will cost less, and provide future savings in the form of not having to upgrade and retrain for the next big change in an MS Office menu.
    • Re:Retraining. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:49PM (#17028462)
      I'm sick of hearing about retraining as being a reason not to change to Linux. The facts are that you're going to have to retrain everyone when you're forced to upgrade anyways. The big difference being that your Linux rollout will cost less, and provide future savings in the form of not having to upgrade and retrain for the next big change in an MS Office menu.
      I'm with you. I know this is going to upset some people, but I don't care. If you really need training to move from Internet Explorer to Firefox, or MS Word to OpenOffice Writer, I think I'd rather replace you than train you. You weren't smart enough to use 95% of the features of the old app, and if you can't pick up the 5% you need in a few days, you were probably going to be lost at the next Office upgrade anyway. Look! File / New! It's still there! Select words! Change font! Print! Center, Justify! My mom made the jump in less than a day, your users can too!
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Funnily enough, msoffice 2007 does away with the file menu, you have a circular button with an msoffice logo on it which takes the place of the file menu, but performs much the same function.
      • by SlashDread (38969)
        My mum switched from MS Office to OO, and still doesnt know
    • Then you don't even know you've changed.
      • by ajs318 (655362)
        This is a very good point. The company where I work is based almost entirely on in-house-written web applications. The backend is a mix of perl and bash (yes!) CGI-scripting and PHP, with MySQL (when speed is important) and PostgreSQL (when anything else is important) databases. Everything is tailored to the workflow. Most people don't even need to use OpenOffice.org; templates get filled-in and faxed or e-mailed automatically.

        We could write our own GTK frontends; but the Mozilla people have alrea
    • Honestly, what company ever actually does ANY training that you're aware of?
      Certainly none that I've ever worked for.
      • My experience has been that "the amount that training and ongoing education is emphasized in the interview is inversely proportional to the amount of training and ongoing education you'll receive in the position".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dangitman (862676)
        Universities.
      • by kimvette (919543)
        If I had mod points today. . .

        You're right. What job actually provides training beyond "here's your computer, your login name is foo and your password is bar. Get to work."
  • Cost of Training (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel.bcgreen@com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:30PM (#17028314) Homepage Journal
    This means that the best time to change from Microsoft to OO would be when changes in MS's products would require a heavy investment in training and support for a new product, in any event ... such as.... 2007 .

    Can anybody get some estimates of the cost of training and support for a recent majour MS Office update? I figure that that should be somewhere near the cost of a switch...

    FOI request anybody?

    • Can anybody get some estimates of the cost of training and support for a recent majour MS Office update? I figure that that should be somewhere near the cost of a switch...

      Dunno, some of those new Catalyst switches from Cisco aren't that cheap...

  • by MikeFM (12491) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:30PM (#17028320) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that money spent on education tends to pay off all around especially when that education teaches people how to do things without being locked to a certain vendor. Education passes from one person to another whereas buying commercial software locks you to that vendor and is not allowed to pass from person to person. Even if the costs are identical the opensource solution empowers the user more than a commercial solution.

    My experience though is that if the tasks you need to do can be done using opensource you will save quite a bit of money. If there are rough spots you need fixed you can spend a little bit of money to hire, or sponsor, an existing developer of that project to make things work the way you need. For what you could spend to buy a few licenses of your average commercial app you could have the opensource equivilant customized to your needs. That is power over your own fate. How much is that worth over years or decades?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      It seems to me that money spent on education tends to pay off all around especially when that education teaches people how to do things without being locked to a certain vendor. Education passes from one person to another whereas buying commercial software locks you to that vendor and is not allowed to pass from person to person. Even if the costs are identical the opensource solution empowers the user more than a commercial solution.

      Switching fom one platform to another entails pretty much the same 'trai
    • by nuzak (959558)
      > It seems to me that money spent on education tends to pay off all around especially when that education teaches people how to do things without being locked to a certain vendor.

      You would seem to be confusing training and education. Training is what you give dogs and employees. Sit, speak, roll over, click File, click Save As, click RTF. Education is something you give tuition reimbursements for. There's precious little generalization you can get out of most corporate training.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      My experience though is that if the tasks you need to do can be done using opensource you will save quite a bit of money. (...) For what you could spend to buy a few licenses of your average commercial app you could have the opensource equivilant customized to your needs.

      I suppose that depends on how much you're paying that person. If it's like a contribution as in "I would be working on it anyway, but sure I'll take some extra cash too" or "I want full compensation based on competative programmer rates to
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:31PM (#17028330) Homepage Journal

    As Stallman explained at WSIS [fsfe.org], if we argue based on cost, they can offer that too, but if we argue based on freedom, they're not even in the running.

    • Everybody cares about money.

      A strict subset cares about freedom, and they're probably already running Linux.

      I think the real trick is convincing people that freedom itself is worth real money. Yes, switching will cost you, but then, next time Microsoft says "You will buy Vista.", you don't have to. When you have this software that does X but you need it to do X+1, you can make it happen by hiring people, and there is nobody to tell you no. Presumably if you care about X+1 it comes down to "because it will s
    • if we argue based on cost, they can offer that too, but if we argue based on freedom, they're not even in the running

      Depends what you mean by freedom. For a lot of people, it's the freedom to walk in to work on Monday morning knowing an upgraded desktop is waiting for you... and already knowing how to use it and the apps that run on it. Essentially, the freedom to dive right in a get your work done. The vast majority of people don't give a rat's ass about the freedom to modify their operating system and
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Those vast majority of people who don't care aren't the people making the purchasing decisions anyway.
        Those who run and/or own the company, who do have a vested interest in it's continued success, and do make decisions, really should care very much about freedom.
        How many people complain they can't migrate away from windows because they're locked in to various proprietary technologies and freeing themselves of these proprietary bonds is too costly? How many more areas will they need to get locked in to, befo
        • by ScentCone (795499)
          How many more areas will they need to get locked in to, before they realise how badly they've screwed themselves over?

          I don't know... probably about as often as a business gets on a multi-year track of parts/maintenance from the particular company from whom they buy their forklifts, or freight elevators, or fleet or vehicles. There are all sorts of arrangements like that which don't leave businesses feeling "screwed over," as long as they have half a negotiating bone in their bodies... and you seem to be
    • ... argue based on freedom ...

      and security.

      I still find it a little surprising that any large non-US organization, particularly governments, run non-open software. It's basically just baring their throat to Uncle Sam and M$. A stupid thing to do, particularly when national security is involved.

      Those billions that non-US organization might spend on military hardware and/or competing commercially could easily be hobbled if the US government or M$ decided to sniff, corrupt or shutdown the computers th

  • translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:36PM (#17028368) Homepage Journal

    The French have not settled on a Linux distribution yet.

    Translation: We want to see what Microsoft's counteroffer will be; if it's too low, we'll state we're picking Ubuntu, and if Microsoft still hasn't given a huge keep-me deal, we'll say we probably want Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spectrokid (660550)
      I see you don't know the French. Youu see, it is not true that they hate Americans. They just like making decisions by themselves. With Mandriva being largely French, you can be sure they just won't see the need to buy foreign.
  • long term savings! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by radarsat1 (786772)

    "'The evidence on the cost savings attributable to a switch to Linux has been mixed,' according to Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at research group NPD. 'There has been some evidence that companies have to spend a good deal on training and support after you deploy...'"

    Oh my god am I tired of this argument... some people seem to have very little grasp over "long term" and "short term" savings.

    "It's different! It's hard to learn! Therefore it can't be good for us in the long run..."

    Some

  • by frogstar_robot (926792) <frogstar_robot@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:19PM (#17028680)
    The path of least resistance is to switch pure functionality servers first. Things that provide services like DNS, DHCP, and NTP. The Linux machines can also hold the file shares even if Windows is still serving the directory. Anyhoo, you start simple and work up slowly on those.

    On the desktops, deploy FOSS apps one at a time as dependencies allow. Even Office is tough if a lot of bespoke apps laying around use it as a development environment. Sneak up on that as long as you can too. Once the users are broken in on FOSS app replacements, begin switching the OS for those users you've managed to get using purely FOSS apps. Move up through the users from there. The last and most difficult cases can be handled with virtual machines and terminal servers.

    If things are done this way rather than in one fell swoop then you avoid a user rebellions with great missing chunks of missing functionality amidst the kludges. You can also try things out first with the users who have a bit of clue and build up experience within the organization. Most of the negative Linux organization switch stories I've heard involved either the Fell Swoop approach or not having sufficient Linux/BSD/UNIX admin talent on hand.
    • by Gothmolly (148874)
      Getting someone to use OOo doesn't make it one bit easier to switch from Win32 to Linux on the desktop. That's like saying "I got my mother to use Winamp instead of WMP, so now I can install Ubuntu on her PC and she can use Linux".

      What color is the sky on your planet?
      • Cluebat time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#17029258)
        > Getting someone to use OOo doesn't make it one bit easier to switch from Win32 to Linux on the desktop.

        Oh hell yes it does, especially in an organization. If all of an organization's data is in Office format that organization will probably stay on Windows. Crossover Office ain't going to cut it (Office license + CX Office license and forget getting a sweet deal on the Office licensing) and neither will OO.o's import filters. First time a document doesn't work 100% in the initial testing a MS fanboy (MCSE type afraid of learning) will raise holy hell.

        Get everyone off of Office and IE first and swapping out the underlying OS is a lot easier. Remember, people don't run an OS they run applications.
  • I think governments just say that so M$ lowers their price...
  • From TFA:
    If you buy your software from a Linux vendor like Red Hat, you obviously have to pay for licenses [...]
    OK, if I buy disks from Red Hat, I have to pay for the disks -- but I don't think you *have* to pay for the licenses; you can get free versions if you want. You pay only for support.
  • anyone took seriously would convert to Linux this would be meaningful...
  • Maybe it is just be, but I never seen a single effort to migrate to FOSS, based only on cost cuts, that succeeded.

    From my experience (and yes, it will reduce costs), if you don't have any other reason for it, you won't have enough force to breach the number of barriers on the way of such migration.

    Unfortunately, "fixed mindset" is something very difficult to counter. And, like it or not, Microsoft is very good on the mindset terrain. People will complain, make a mess, and create overall havoc, up to a point
  • by Greyfox (87712)
    I know one Parliament that's hinting that they want a bulk discount on Vista for Christmas!

    Really, have any of these government or large business entities ever actually followed through once they've announced that they're switching to Linux? The usual drill is that $government emits a "Switching to Linux" message which in turn leads to Microsoft descending upon them with tidings of huge discounts. Then $government quietly announces that they changed their mind and are sticking with Microsoft. Announcing t

  • ``The French have not settled on a Linux distribution yet.''

    Well, same advice as always. Try them all for a few upgrade cycles, then decide.
  • "creation of an administrative authority empowered with the ability to prohibit [eucd.info] the publication of free software accessing protected works"

    "What does the new French copyright [eucd.info] bill do ?"

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