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Birmingham To Buy More, Not Less Open Source 232

Posted by kdawson
from the on-second-look dept.
K-boy writes, "Last week, the press (and Slashdot) reported that Birmingham City Council had decided to ditch its open source project because a report said its trial had cost £100,000 more than it would have cost to buy Windows. However, Techworld has discovered that the opposite is true, and the Council is actually planning to use more open source software as well as to roll out Linux in the next few years. The head of IT was interviewed and he gives a fascinating rundown of the problems he had getting open source working with his systems. More interestingly, he points out that now the trial is over and he and his staff have the technical skills, they expect to save lots of money in future by going open source. Oh, and the report's figures were based on the special rates that Microsoft gives Councils just to make sure the short-term budget look worse — £58 for a Windows license as opposed to the normal £100."
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Birmingham To Buy More, Not Less Open Source

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  • by cerberusss (660701) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:34AM (#17050534) Homepage Journal

    Birmingham City Council has defended its year-long trial of desktop Linux, claiming it to be a success, despite an independent report showing it would have been cheaper to install Windows XP.

    In an exclusive interview with Techworld, head of IT for the council, Glyn Evans, argued that the higher cost resulted from the council having to experiment with the new technology and build up a depth of technical understanding, as well as fit it with the complex system already in place.

    The 105,000 saving that the report says would have resulted from going with Windows XP has also come under question as it was calculated using the special discounted licence rate that Microsoft offers councils - something critics argue is a calculated effort to prevent public bodies from building up technical knowledge of open source offerings.

    With Birmingham's trial period over and with lessons learnt and understanding gained, the Council now expects to make cost savings over time, and contrary to press reports which claimed Birmingham had scrapped the Linux initiative, it will in fact "significantly increase" its use of open-source software, Evans said. The trial also had other positive results, he claimed, such as demonstrating the ease with which Firefox and OpenOffice.org can be substituted for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.

    The trial was carried out with the government-backed Open Source Academy (OSA), and planned to install Linux on 330 desktops in the council's libraries service, split between staff PCs and public access terminals, in an effort to build up practical experience that could be drawn on by other public-sector bodies.

    It ran from April 2005 to March 2006, but is still ongoing, with the council refining its Linux desktop image and planning further rollouts next year, according to Evans. "The project did not end when the element of original funding ended, because it is part of the Library Service strategy," he told Techworld. "This project is still very much ongoing, and now that a stable image... has been developed, we would expect significant movement forward."

    Over-ambitious

    He admitted the council's original plans were over-ambitious, with rollouts of Linux-based staff and public PCs originally scheduled during the one-year trial period. In reality, ongoing testing of the desktop configuration means no Linux desktops have yet been installed. Instead, 96 public desktops and 134 staff desktops are running open source applications such as the OpenOffice.org office suite and the Firefox browser.

    The council does plan to begin migrating those desktops to its Suse Professional 9.3-based desktop OS, however, a plan that should go into action in the near future, according to Evans. He said that far from scrapping the Linux initiative, as has occurred in some other high-profile cases such as the London borough of Newham, Birmingham is planning to "significantly increase" the number of desktops involved with the project.

    Evans' description of the project is a sharp contrast to the findings described in a case study authored by iMpower Consulting at the formal conclusion of the trial in March, which is available from the OSA's website [pdf [opensourceacademy.org.uk]]. The case study found that the council had failed to make a business case for its Linux desktops, largely because the half-a-million-pound cost of designing and implementing the system cost more than the estimated cost for a Windows XP installation.

    The difference is largely down to high "team costs", including setting up the project, technical definition and design, development and testing and training, all of which amounted to roughly 100,000 more than the estimated team costs for a Windows installation. The total cost of the trial was 534,710, compared to an estimated 429,960 for Windows XP.

    "The project showed that there are considerable costs incurred in de

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shmlco (594907)
      "Glyn Evans, argued that the higher cost resulted from the council having to experiment with the new technology and build up a depth of technical understanding, as well as fit it with the complex system already in place."

      As would anyone contemplating a move to new systems and new technologies.

      From my perspective it appears that both sides have a point. Free software has costs associated with it, just like "paid" commercial software. Those costs can be purchase price, future upgrade costs, support fees, trai
    • by tijnbraun (226978)
      For instance, existing Windows 3.1 public terminals used a program called Deepfreeze that rebooted the system at the end of each session, something that had to be re-engineered for Linux
      Could someone enlighten me why this program "Deepfreeze" was needed in the first place. And why this behaviour should be replicated in linux?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuessFan (621029)
        As a librarian who manage several public access terminals, we also use similiar software to reboot the system back to a know good state.

        1) Safety: so people can download various trojans, spyware or virus, without hurting other users who use the same terminal down the line.

        2) Copyright: People download all sort of copyrighted materials on public terminals. If we allow those to stay on our harddrives, the liability issue is a concern. With those software, it just flush everything out, so it's all good whe
        • by indifferent children (842621) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @02:19PM (#17053554)
          I suppose each session would be a new user with their own /usr/random directory . Once they are done, the user got deletedd.

          No, always use the same user account, such as "publicusr". At the end of a session, just run "rm -Rf /home/publicusr/*". That will leave the publicusr home directory intact, but remove all of its contents, including any downloaded material (copyrighted material, malware, etc.) and clear the browser settings and browser history.

          If you want to have certain settings exist in the user directory, copy them in from a pre-defined directory, after running the delete.

          Don't force a capable athlete to ride in an expensive wheelchair, just because all of your professional experience comes from working with cripples.

      • I (used to) see Deepfreeze in action in other libraries. It returned the OS to a known, preset state, including stuff that restricted users can change like backgrounds, font settings et cetera.
    • I couldn't help laughing out loud at the concept of TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) being soundly slapped over the rump. The reason that "Neutral And Independent / May Bill Gates Live Forever" studies show Linux having a higher TCO is because of the up-front retraining investment needed. Microsoft portrays it as a steep, unworthwhile climb. But simply by doing the trial, Birmingham went over the hump already, and is already on the downhill slope where they can sit back and recoup their costs for years to c
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:37AM (#17050574)
    This reminds me of the "You can teach a man to fish" saying...

    In this case the fishing classes cost some money, sure. And the report basically said the would have saved money by purchasing some fish... well duh. - but how long would that fish have lasted?

    They now know how to get unlimited fish themselves and are free from the stinking fish market.

    • by dasunt (249686) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:56AM (#17050932)

      I think we need a new saying:

      "Threaten to learn how to fish, and get a discount from the fishmonger!"

      Since MS seems to give discounts to anyone who looks at OSS, if I was the head of a large city's IT department, I'd put a cheap student intern on the job of writing up a migration plan and publicize the plan loudly. It may be impossible to get everyone to move to OSS (especially with local politics and entrenched technologies), but Microsoft seems to be willing to give discounts on the next round of pricing. ;)

    • by JanneM (7445)
      This reminds me of the "You can teach a man to fish" saying...

      You mean:

      Give a man a fish and he eats for a day
      Teach a man to fish and he gets rammed by a US submarine [pbs.org]?

    • by houghi (78078)
      http://www.itmanagersjournal.com/feature/21464 [itmanagersjournal.com] gives some insight about this and how The Weather Chanel percieves and uses OSS
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:38AM (#17050586) Homepage Journal
    City Councils are making pioneering tech policy decisions these days on open source, WiFi, broadband, and other tech procurement. But they're totally outclassed by marketing strategies that distort the facts on which decisions are made.

    With all of the rigged numbers originating in incumbent market dominators showing up in city council policy and budget analyses, it's obvious the councils need guidance. I know that the NYC City Council doesn't have any resources with "BS logs" of ongoing vendor distortions, except for consultants like me. State/federal or even international organizations that serve the people administered by these city councils should produce research to weed out the lies. Sort of like a "City Council Consumer Reports". In the US, the GAO (now "Government Accountability Office"), or the Office of Management and Budget, or some team at Treasury at the federal level, could produce them. Or the state Comptroller. Or maybe a "City Councils Association", that could reach internationally.

    Government is really big. In the US it's about 25% of our economy, though that includes the military (about 30% of total). So maybe these guidelines are already being produced, perhaps redundantly. The government response would be to produce similarly obscure guidelines on finding the guidelines. That's how government gets so big (especially the military). Is there a better way for City Councils to share wisdom, not just knowledge, about the information used to make these decisions?
    • by abigor (540274)
      Or, it becomes a whole new line of revenue for municipal councils: IT consulting to larger branches of government.
  • by njdj (458173) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:45AM (#17050728)

    At one point, realising that most of the usability issues were attributable to Gnome, which had taken three months to configure, staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE.

    I use Gnome, but it sure has usability issues. I hope the Gnome developers will take the trouble to understand why Birmingham dumped Gnome - sfter selecting it initially.

    • "I use Gnome, but it sure has usability issues"

      What specific usability issues would the average user have in Browsing, Emailing and Wordprocessing ? was Re:I hope the Gnome folks read this bit ...
      • by julesh (229690)
        What specific usability issues would the average user have in Browsing, Emailing and Wordprocessing ? was Re:I hope the Gnome folks read this bit ...

        There is no easily-discoverable user interface that allows a user to type in the name of a file they wish to open.

        Save-file dialogs use a totally different layout to open-file dialogs, requiring the user to learn two different user interfaces where the job can be trivially simplified to just one simple interface.

    • "Would you like some coffee? No? Yes?" isn't natural (unless you're a Gnome, I guess). But -- and this is just one example -- you can't pry the "logical way" out of the hands of Gnome developers. Can't convince a highly-technical (nerd) person that "practical" isn't always "logical".

      Yeah. Yeah. Let the flames about "Microsoft's way; Not 'natural' way!" begin. But who do you think has spent the most on usability studies? Who's studied how people like things presented, the most? Nerds should deal with
      • by dylan_- (1661)
        OSX does it exactly the same way...I think Apple probably did some usability studies at some point...
        • by hab136 (30884) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @02:06PM (#17053268) Journal
          OSX does it exactly the same way...I think Apple probably did some usability studies at some point...
          If you're talking about Yes/No dialog boxes - no, they do it differently.

          Instead of "Do you want to save the changes? Yes / No / Cancel" you get "You have unsaved changes. Save / Don't Save / Cancel". All of your choices are verbs. This avoids monstrosities like "Click Yes to do xxxx, click No to yyyyy", which I've seen in numerous Windows programs (Microsoft Access comes to mind).

          From: http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExper ience/Conceptual/OSXHIGuidelines/XHIGControls/chap ter_18_section_2.html [apple.com]
          "Button names should be verbs that describe the action performed--Save, Close, Print, Delete, and so on. If a button acts on a single setting, label the button as specifically as possible; "Choose Picture...," for example, is more helpful than "Choose..." Because most buttons initiate an immediate action, it shouldn't be necessary to use "now" (Scan Now, for example) in the label. Don't use push buttons to indicate a state such as On or Off (where it would be more appropriate to use checkboxes).

          • by dylan_- (1661)
            If you're talking about Yes/No dialog boxes - no, they do it differently.

            Instead of "Do you want to save the changes? Yes / No / Cancel" you get "You have unsaved changes. Save / Don't Save / Cancel".
            That wasn't what he was talking about. Apple doesn't have "Save / Don't Save / Cancel", they have "Don't Save / Cancel / Save". That's the ordering Gnome uses too that he was complaining was wrong.
            • The ordering itself is irrelevant. One way isn't any more correct than the other. That's the tree that GNOME keeps missing the forest over.

              I sometimes wonder how much better GNOME would be today if all that energy spent arguing over button order was spent instead solving real usability issues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Intron (870560)
      They are smart, I think I spent 6 months before abandoning Gnome for KDE. The last straw was when they broke the menu system.
    • I prefer GNOME, and I'm really curious about what 'usability problems' they had with it (hopefully we'll find out somehow?).

      Anyhow, ignoring the GNOME vs. KDE issue (which I hope won't flare up), there are other questions here: how did they come to initially decide on GNOME? Perhaps their decision-making process wasn't very thorough, if they later spent 3 months of work to arrive at a dead end. If they really didn't know the subject matter, then the decision to go GNOME may have been premature; they shou
  • This can't be good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:45AM (#17050730) Homepage Journal
    At one point, realising that most of the usability issues were attributable to Gnome, which had taken three months to configure, staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE. The new interface was up and running within a week.


    I don't (yet) run Linux but have fiddled with a Slack 10 and Debian installation but the above comment can't be good for the folks developing Gnome.

    Can someone with a bit more insight explain why one would work better in the above scenario since, presumbably, both do the same thing?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 0racle (667029)
      They do the same thing (provide a GUI desktop interface) but in very different ways. Apparently the way KDE does things worked better for them then the GNOME way. It's the same reason why people will prefer one over the other.
      • Gnome and KDE are both big, bloated, and slow. I have a lot of older hardware, and have spent some time hacking on Slackware 10 and 11 to set up an environment that's far from perfect but good enough. Knoppix will tell you it just can't run KDE in a measly 64M of RAM.

        A 4G hard drive is a bit cramped these days, so I've been experimenting with Reiser4, but who knows what will happen to that file system now, and "bzexe" (gzexe using bzip2 instead of gzip), and installing as few packages as possible while

    • by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:32PM (#17051492)
      Can someone with a bit more insight explain why one would work better in the above scenario since, presumably, both do the same thing?

      To Grossly over simplify, Gnome sacrifices customizability for usability and simplicity. KDE sacrifices simplicity for customizability In environments that demand a certain configuration which doesn't match Gnome's ideal usage case, KDE is often a better fit.

      They're both great desktop managers, and each has strengths in certain areas. And yes, I know "customizability" isn't a real word.

      BBH
    • by soloport (312487)
      Gnome==Different/Rebel/Grunge/"Logical" in a techno-nerd kind of logic
      KDE==Practical/"Don't make me think"/Get-stuff-done

      /totally *my* opinion
    • by thepotoo (829391)
      KDE has the start menu at the bottom left by default, with the clock at the bottom right.

      Gnome has the start menu (well, Applications) at the top left, with the clock also at the top right, but open windows are at the bottom.

      This makes things wildly confusing for clueless Windows users, who franticly search for their precious clock and start button (laugh all you want, I've given more people KDE than Gnome because of this).

      • Gnome to windows in 6 or 7 easy steps:

        Right click the clock, select move, and move it to the lower right.
        Right click notification area, select move and mave down beside the clock.
        Right click the top panel, select add to panel, select main menu.
        Right click the main menu button, select move and move it down to the lower left.
        Right click the top panel and select "delete this panel".
        Optional: Remove the "Show desktop" button, Workspace switcher, and trash from the panel.

        And now you have the screwed up UI that i
  • So far behind? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fitten (521191)
    The council does plan to begin migrating those desktops to its Suse Professional 9.3-based desktop OS,


    What's the logic of going with a version that is so far behind? I know that you don't go bleeding edge with such a project but 9.3 is ancient. I guess it is still supported but it seems like being *that* far behind would be leaving yourself open to a number of security/compatibility issues.
    • by NineNine (235196)
      Stability, and fewer bugs. In my business, I don't buy any software that is newer than a year or two old. 9.3 is only a year and a half old. That's certainly not ancient. If patches aren't being released for a product that's only a year and a half old, then I'd say that's a very serious problem (and I wouldn't buy it). You gotta remember, that they're not in the business of installing software. Like most businesses and other organizations, the software is supposed to be installed, and forgotten. If i
    • What's the logic of going with a version that is so far behind?


      Suse Professional 9.3 was released, what, a year and a half ago? That's not precisely ancient, especially given that the council apparently took time to take an existing base and then do their own customization.

    • by julesh (229690)
      What's the logic of going with a version that is so far behind? I know that you don't go bleeding edge with such a project but 9.3 is ancient.

      Huh? My desktop machine is on 9.1. I installed it from the latest available version substantially less than 3 years ago.

      And yes, I am rather annoyed that they've stopped issuing updates for it.
  • Under question? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:48AM (#17050786)
    The £105,000 saving that the report says would have resulted from going with Windows XP has also come under question as it was calculated using the special discounted licence rate that Microsoft offers councils - something critics argue is a calculated effort to prevent public bodies from building up technical knowledge of open source offerings.

    How could the savings be "under question" because of the discounted rate? What, do you expect them to calculate the savings while pretending that they would have had to pay full price? If so, Microsoft would have rightly stated that they were massaging the numbers just to make open source look good.

    What's more interesting is whether their numbers for open source included the costs of Windows XP, as they didn't actually install any Linux systems. (Not exactly a big win for Linux there, either.) How do you spend £534,710 on installing OpenOffice and Firefox on 230 Windows computers, and playing around with Suse for a year, anyway?

    • by Otter (3800)
      How do you spend £534,710 on installing OpenOffice and Firefox on 230 Windows computers, and playing around with Suse for a year, anyway?

      My impression is that they've been messing around with trials of different replacement technologies, agree that Firefox and Open Office are clear wins and are still trying to decide on spots where Linux would make sense. The money is probably mostly salaries of people putting in full- or part-time work on it.

      But, yeah -- that "based on the special rates" bit is brai

    • by ronanbear (924575)
      The importance of the discount rate it important for extrapolating the study to corporate entities. It is also important because of vendor lock-in. There's no guarantee that the discount will be available (or as good) in 5 years time. They spent 3 months trying to tinker with Gnome before switching to KDE. It's easy to see how costs could add up quickly doing that.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      How could the savings be "under question" because of the discounted rate?

      Well... this is a case study. As such, one question that comes to my mind is "how does this apply to my environment?" If I happen to be the Burmingham City Council, or another such Council it seems, then there's no question. But what if I'm representing another entity that doesn't get the special discounts? Obviously that's a part of the case study that needs to be highlighted as highly situational.

      There's also a whole slew of i

  • oh dear.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @11:49AM (#17050814)
    usability problems with the original Gnome interface. At one point, realising that most of the usability issues were attributable to Gnome, which had taken three months to configure, staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE. The new interface was up and running within a week.

    start the Gnome vs. KDE bun fight... 3, 2, 1...

  • Great news (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Somewhere near where the M6 joins the M5 .....
    Thees is bostin' nyohs! Oi main, an' all, oos Brummies 've bin pronaincing it as Leenux, and not Loinux, seence forever, loike. Way don' naid no steenkin' Moicrosoft!

    Anywy, are yo mashin?
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:02PM (#17051030)
    From the article...

    "At one point, realising that most of the usability issues were attributable to Gnome, which had taken three months to configure, staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE. The new interface was up and running within a week....

    I have long said that Gnome had a problem for most users in a typical business environment, and was met with comments referring to me as a troll and as one who was just a KDE fanboy.

    This article articulates just one of the problems with Gnome.

    For this particular problem, there are folks who say that I should use "ctrl + L". Though this keyboard shortcut is not even documented anywhere near where one would want to use it. Imagine that.

    • I want to be able to type in Gnome's file selector dialog. Gnome will not permit me!

    • Why should Gnome assume that every file I want to open *is* on the local system? KDE on the other hand, does not assume that. And you can type/paste whatever URL you want and it will do the needful.
    • Why can't I be able to do some basic file operations (renaming, deleting, moving) in the selector dialog itself? Why do I have to go back and open Nautilus?

    These are just *some* of the issues that make Gnome a non-starter for me and I am glad the Britons found out as well. This will make the developers think about what users want. How can a desktop environment take three months to configure? This is insane! These are not my words but quotes from the article.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by WWWWolf (2428)

      I want to be able to type in Gnome's file selector dialog. Gnome will not permit me!

      Uh... what file selector dialog and where? And what are you trying to type in it anyway? File names? Love letters?

      Why should Gnome assume that every file I want to open *is* on the local system? KDE on the other hand, does not assume that. And you can type/paste whatever URL you want and it will do the needful.

      Because GNOME-VFS is basically inadequate and no one has got around to writing a system that actually work

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        "Because people said "I want a file selector, not a file selector + submarine control dialog?" The fact that you can do something on a dialog that's not really none of the dialog's business is usually a symptom of excessive featuritis.

        (Agreed, I think it'd be nice if the dialog had a button that says "open in Nautilus" for the rare cases where file management is needed.)"

        And the reason why Gnome will never be taken seriously.

        Are you honestly telling me that in today's world of operating systems, (Mac and Wi
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Demona (7994)
          "DVD playback just works in Windows" You misspelled "not available by default in Windows so your DVD drive cannot play DVD's until you install a third-party application".
        • by ratboy666 (104074)
          DVD playback "just works" in Windows? No, it doesn't. I installed Windows XP -- it doesn't play DVDs (not without additional programming).

          As to convincing users to switch from Windows and Mac to Gnome... Is that the goal? Hate to break it to you, but it's not. In fact, that isn't even on the list of Gnome goals.

          Ratboy
          • by julesh (229690)
            Then Gnome shouldn't be the default desktop for most Linux distributions, as most of them do have that as a goal.
            • by ratboy666 (104074)
              I disagree. Converting Windows users is not a goal for most Linux distributions. Let me quote from several distributions:

              "Fedora Core is a free operating system that offers the best combination of stable and cutting-edge software that exists in the free software world."

              "Debian is a free operating system (OS) for your computer. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. Debian uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS to
      • by julesh (229690)
        Unix assumes you're on a local system. Go install Plan 9 or something, or wait until someone comes up with a really awesome FUSE hack.

        Both GNOME and KDE are doing this the hacky stop-gap way, and the only difference is that KDE folks have a solution that works, kind of. The elegant way would be to allow this stuff to work on any application. I'm not calling the present situation elegant until I can do "cat http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] ".


        You are aware that there's a FUSE/kioslave bridge available, aren't you?

        It's no
  • Calculating ROI is difficult in technology projects, because there's a factor which is difficult to measure. I'd call it Opportunity Cost, but perhaps there is another name.

    That is, several questions come to mind:

    - What's the cost for not being able to do something? That is, if there end solution doesn't support a given task, what's the cost? Perhaps they don't even know they could perform this task right now.
    - Imagine instead of spending time on this project, you did something else with your resources.
  • by rs232 (849320) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:13PM (#17051184)
    "no Linux desktops have yet been installed"

    It strikes me that thay attempted a roll out of a Linux desktop solution with no previous experience. They would have been occupied in bringing in an experienced company to do the job.

    "half-a-million-pound cost of designing and implementing the system cost more than the estimated cost for a Windows XP installation"

    What were they implimenting on the Suse desktop that required spending half a million pounds.

    "usability problems with the original Gnome interface .. staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE"

    Like what, Gnome is specifically designed to provide a rich user interface. Either of them can be replaced by a Windows look alike.

    "For instance, existing Windows 3.1 public terminals used a program called Deepfreeze that rebooted the system at the end of each session, something that had to be re-engineered for Linux"

    He's kidding, put a line in .bash_logout [nrc-cnrc.gc.ca] 'shutdown -r 0 now' and that's it. And besides which, why do you need to reboot at logout.

    "Staff also found that the OS was storing information about the contents of public users' removable media, and for privacy purposes had to develop a script to delete this information"

    Like where and how, Linux mostly uses /tmp to store temp files all you have to do is add another line to .bash_logout 'find /tmp/ -user $user -exec rm -r {} \;'. Or else put /tmp in a ramdisk and flush it to logout.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs318 (655362)

      "For instance, existing Windows 3.1 public terminals used a program called Deepfreeze that rebooted the system at the end of each session, something that had to be re-engineered for Linux"
      "Staff also found that the OS was storing information about the contents of public users' removable media, and for privacy purposes had to develop a script to delete this information"

      Or just don't fit public terminals with HDDs -- boot them from CD, or read-only Flash drive, with all writable directories in RAMdisk.

      You

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gsslay (807818)
        Or just don't fit public terminals with HDDs -- boot them from CD, or read-only Flash drive, with all writable directories in RAMdisk.

        You're overlooking the fact that they were using Windows 3.1 systems. Why do you think they were doing that? Because they thought it just couldn't be beat?

        What's more likely is they're using Windows 3.1 because the terminals are ancient and they don't have the cash to upgrade or replace them. So its rather unlikely that they have CDROMS drives, or flash drives, or gobs

    • by dylan_- (1661)

      What were they implimenting on the Suse desktop that required spending half a million pounds.

      You answered that with your first observation I think: they were bringing their own staff up to speed with Linux administration.

      [re deepfreeze]: And besides which, why do you need to reboot at logout.

      This shows their inexperience. Deepfreeze returns the machine to the exact state in which it was previously. It's designed so that people can screw up the machine and it'll be fine for the next person. You need somet

  • Short term budget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:24PM (#17051362) Homepage Journal
    It's unfair on several levels to imply that using short term figures is dishonest. The short term budget is the only budget you can point to with any certainty.

    Some people think Microsoft produces nothing but crap, and other people think Microsoft produces the nothing but the finest. Both views miss the point of Microsoft. Microsoft is about consistently delivering mediocrity, year in, year out.

    This sounds like damning with faint praise, but consistent mediocrity has its advantages. Think of all the once great products that were run into the ground; or the promising projects that ended up going nowhere. Microsoft might be mean old Mr. Potter, but too often the alternative is like the Bailey Building and Loan without George Bailey. Do you really want Uncle Billy managing your nest egg?

    Birmingham chose SUSE; how much trust should you put in Novell's future stewardship of SUSE, even granting the best of intentions?

    It's important to acknowledge the leap of faith that Birmingham is making here. Pretending that short term costs don't matter underestimates the guts it takes to do that. Somebody has to take a leap of faith, every now and then, but it doesn't always end happily.
    • by ajs318 (655362)
      At least if it doesn't work out with SUSE, they can jump ship to another vendor. All they need to do is <oversimplification>copy the whole of /etc over to whoever's distro they're using</oversimplification>, and it will pretty much work just the same as it did before.

      Only Microsoft can sell you Windows.

      That's the important difference. It's about the song, not the singer.
  • Why is the city of Birmingham, Alabama paying for software in British Pounds? Oh wait...
  • ...and usability problems with the original Gnome interface. At one point, realising that most of the usability issues were attributable to Gnome, which had taken three months to configure, staff ripped out Gnome and replaced it with KDE. The new interface was up and running within a week.

    I thought usability was Gnome's strong point? Time to re-evaluate perhaps? I've done some small trials of Gnome and KDE with some office works and they all seem to come down on the side of KDE. Whether it's because there

    • by julesh (229690)
      I thought usability was Gnome's strong point?

      Just my personal opinion, which is all you can really give here: no, it isn't. If anything, I'd say GNOME's strong point is its slavish obedience of the directives of so-called usability experts. The fact that most people seem to struggle to use it should tell us something: a lot of usability experts don't have a clue what they're talking about.
  • Cust: ..and the 4th service pack did not got through, something to do with key management?
    Vendor: Ah! let me tell you all about the suite tools an licensing for the 2007 roll out.
    Cust: Well, our budget is thight. We have a team working to port part of the application to Open Source servers.
    Vendor (smiling): Do you have ANY idea how much is going to cost?
    Cust: Well, the actual numbers are a big point of contention.
    Vendor: I'll save you the agravation, IBM? Oracle? they have R&D and D stands for deep pock
  • The one thing I noticed, which is going to be important for any initiative like this is the fact that people in this pilot still had real trouble with the Linux distro in terms of making it easy for non-technical users to use. The actual FOSS winner here was the applications, not Linux.

    Of course it shows that actually making Linux the centerpiece of your FOSS change is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. If you make applications that people don't need to install a new OS to use, and then make sur
  • It's remarkable how much that gets reported turns out to be unquestionably false. We hear reports of cows with accents, and it turns out that all of the quotes are from people who were mostly directly contradicting the story, but said a few things that could be totally rewritten to suggest support for it. We hear about school districts allowing text message slang in exams, and it turns out that this is entirely reporters extrapolating from schools not flunking students who make spelling mistakes when writin
  • The council couldn't afford to pay Galaxy's developers to port it to Linux

    See where you went wrong here? You bought non-portable software, and also it was proprietary, so you were locked into doing business, in a world full of millions of programmers, with one entity in order to get the maintenance that you wanted. See all the IT workers whining about having a hard time finding a job (i.e. people you could hire very cheaply)? You can't use them. You don't get to take advantage of the market. You did

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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