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Tamil Nadu (India) Shutting the Door On Microsoft 269

Posted by kdawson
from the penguins-on-the-march dept.
aprasadh writes "The government of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India, has begun initiatives to convert all of their IT systems fully to OSS-based software. (The link is a copy of a news item that appeared recently in the Deccan Chronicle, an English-language daily.) The managing director of the IT procurement, consulting, and training agency for the Tamil Nadu government describes the reasons why he has chosen OSS, and also how he dealt with Microsoft executives." From the article: "Initially, 99 per cent of government systems have been running on Microsoft systems but then 2007 will be a watershed year for the state IT sector... We have already dispatched 6,500 Linux systems to village panchayats and another 6,100 Acer desktop systems with Suse Linux operating systems are on their way. We are procuring 20,000 desktop systems for schools, which will run only on Suse Linux... I require at least 500 trainers to train 30,000 state officials across Tamil Nadu in the next six months."
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Tamil Nadu (India) Shutting the Door On Microsoft

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:27AM (#17441716) Homepage
    The numbers outlined looks good, but then they have always looked good. It really comes down to getting people who can actually make it happen. But if any one country has the IT manpower to make it happen, I'd say it was India... and cheaply too.

    I hope there are many eyes on this move. They plan to move pretty quickly and so people will not become quite so bored as when other such projects are projected to take 5+ years and often peter out or are otherwise persuaded not to continue.

    I also find it interesting that this particular Indian state seems somewhat uncorruptable. I'm not saying that anyone opting for proprietary software is corrupted, but I am saying that this guy's hard-line lacks any sort of compromise or wriggle room for Microsoft to persuade them against this. If Microsoft can't buy them, I have to wonder what these people are like.

    And just to put it out there -- I could probably be bought by Microsoft if I were to find myself in a similar situation. So I have to admire this Indian state's dedication. But I'm guessing Microsoft has only begun their campaign of dirty tricks, leverage and persuation. Rather like one U.S. state's intention to move to OpenDocument, while Microsoft could make the IT guy budge on his plans, they simply when around him and bought his bosses.

    But the bottom line is that if these guys are successful, a lot of people will be noticing.

    Microsoft has it right that the future is software as a service... well, at least the service part anyway. The software part should not be proprietary.
  • by udippel (562132) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:56AM (#17441808)
    The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are a Terrorist Faction, which consists of a minority of Sri Lankans who speak tamil.


    And so you believe. Who told you ? The chaps who had phantasised WMDs all over the by now destructed place ?


    The terrorists in this case are - I don't expect you to believe me, but I used to live there - the Buddhist clergy and their puppets, the Sri Lankan government.
    And no, I don't condone the atrocities committed by the Tigers of Eelam at all. But what they do is more on the side of self-defense than terrorism.

  • Re:Suse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jackharrer (972403) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:30AM (#17441966)
    You're absolutely right. Don't forget that over 40% of Linux code comes from company employed programmers. And it's still Open Source. Like for example RedHat. And Suse. So there shouldn't be any grievances about it - those companies push FOSS to market and give all FOSS community sense of direction.

    And coming back to India - that's brilliant news. Think that India has over 1 billion people. All of them will be Linux users. And finally they will come as cheap labour (IT support) to UK/US to promote FOSS. And don't forget about opportunities of opening cheap Linux support call centres there.

    We should be celebrating!
  • by aapold (753705) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:33AM (#17441988) Homepage Journal
    "We will train over 30,000 government officials in Linux Operating Systems and Open Office


    Just how many people live in this state anyway?
  • It doesn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flying pig (925874) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:39AM (#17442032)
    Using FOSS involves no economic loss to the US whatsoever. Microsoft is not the US. Although Microsoft employees may earn less and their shareholders get less in dividends, and they may pay less tax, this is balanced by the increase in profitability of all the companies saving money by not using their products.

    If you mean the loss of profits from foreign sales (i.e. the export market) this is a completely separate issue. The mere fact that other countries try to avoid buying MS products means that in the long or short term income from this source will dry up. From the point of view of the US, it is probably better that other countries continue to buy US products (Red Hat, Novell) than that they either do not develop an IT infrastructure at all, or develop entirely home grown solutions.

    The history of every major industry is one of declining prices. This leads to economic expansion, not contraction, whether it is steel, cars, television. Software is not exempt from economic laws.

  • Re:Suse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tanuki64 (989726) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:44AM (#17442064)
    but Microsoft will find it tough without a huge country like India buying their software packages
    Yes, but for another reason. Ok, it might be tough for Microsoft losing a large customer base like India, but I think that the migration of a large number of Indian programmers to Linux poses a much larger thread to Microsoft.

    One of the most often head FUD arguments against Linux is that there are not enough programs and this alone would be a reason why Linux isn't ready for the desktop. We all know the chicken/egg problem Linux had to deal with for a long time. With more and more countries considering Linux and a growing user/developer base this argument gets more and more ridiculous. And Indian isn't known for having the worst programmers.

    Even worse for Microsoft: Linux still has a little (!) problem with hardware and drivers. There are still too many hardware producers, which do not provide drivers or even specifications of their products. The situation got much better in the last years, but if one is honest, one must admit, that going into a shop and buying an arbitrary piece of hardware can still be result in quite a disappointment for Linux users. Maybe the hardware producers can afford to ignore the Linux users in Europe and America (stupid and short sighted, if you ask me), but can the afford to lose a whole country like India? Yes, Tamil Nadu might not be the whole India, but if this switch works, and there is no technical reason that it doesn't, the rest of India might follow quickly. Over night the remaining hardware/driver problems might be gone. And with that another FUD 'argument'.

    Losing India might be the worst that can happen to Microsoft. And not because of some unsold Office and Vista packages in India.
  • Re:Suse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jackharrer (972403) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:00AM (#17442140)
    Plus, there's also big movement in Europe. And Europe is the part of the world that CAN pay. They are choosing to switch because of Microsoft's monopoly. They want free choice and INTEROPERABILITY.
    That will boost India's software companies and both will benefit. Especially that companies are changing their business models. Now, with FOSS quite widespread, they change from selling product to supporting them. Look at RedHat.

    So India will soon have what Europe needs (cheap support, free software) and Europe has what India needs - cash, foreign currencies especially.

    Mutual benefit.
  • by Fedarkyn (892041) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:41AM (#17442306)
    this would be true if it were necessary 1 trainer for each linux user.

    One thing that MS and most people like to forget is that trainers are necessary if you are deploying windows too.

    tecnical training and support for windows are not free!!!!
  • by popo (107611) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:57AM (#17442368) Homepage
    Who was the Slashdick who modded me redundant? I can't really think of a more appropriate topic for this post and for this forum.
    The global balance of power is shifting more rapidly right now than in the last 100 years, and America (by most calculations) would appear
    to be the big loser. America has very little industrial/export capacity left and two if its remaining powerhouse industries are tech
    and pharma. I'm a huge supporter of OSS, and yet I frequently wonder about larger issues like the general balance of trade because
    geopolitically and economically it is clear that America is teetering.

    Redundant? Uh... wow. Sorry for boring you with uninteresting and non-current issues.

    Yar screw Sony and Micro$oft. Wii rocks. Apple really loves me. SCO is stoopid. Yay Google. LOL Penguins, get it? OMG Ponies! Yawn.

  • Re:Microsoft Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duds (100634) * <dudley@entersp a c e.org> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:05AM (#17442398) Homepage Journal
    What exactly do you mean they can't beat Linux?

    Linux is still a tiny proportion of consumer desktops and isn't rising at a measureable rate.

    Then again with that attitude it probably won't.
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:30AM (#17442590) Journal
    Microsoft is in a "can't lose" situation with VISTA in the developed world - OEM systems will all be shipped with it no questions asked, and most businesses will drink the TCO cool-aid and go with what they think is safe. But the margins are much tighter in the developing world, making proprietary software unaffordable. Their choice is either piracy, (and MS is really putting the squeeze on that) or FOSS.

    If FOSS can do the job at all they will use it, even if there are a few warts to deal with. The windows install base will start to erode not in America or Europe as expected, but in the emerging markets. MS themselves knew that when they came out with those international editions of XP at fire sale prices, but they were deliberately crippled in how many applications they could run.
  • Re:What a laugh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:49AM (#17442744) Homepage
    Aside from your obvious racist attitude, the concept of zero and the rules governing it [wikipedia.org] for modern mathematics were first described in India [wikipedia.org]. Since this is the first axiom for natural numbers [wikipedia.org] it could be argued that the Indians were actually the first to be able to count as we understand it today.

    Bob
  • by Excelsior (164338) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:04AM (#17442892)
    Slashdot gives you full control over the subjects you see on the homepage. If you have Linux selected, then yes, you'll repeatedly hear when Linux is deployed in favor of Windows. Since it seems you do include Linux on your Slashdot homepage, were you hoping to read about kernel scheduling latency, NUMA architecture, futexes, and devfs? I'm happy hearing about India choosing Linux.
  • by vtcodger (957785) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:28AM (#17443112)
    ***At what point does our loathing of Microsoft and our support of OSS equate to a massive economic loss to our own nation? At what point do American supporters of OSS achieve a shot to their own shared national foot?***

    Is this not essentially the same argument we heard three decades ago when consumers on the coasts started buying smaller, cheaper, higher quality Japanese cars instead of the gas hungry, shoddily built, creations from Detroit that cornered like buckboards? It's not MY fault that Detroit didn't start delivering cars that (sort of) met my needs until the 1990s. The American Automobile industry wasn't killed by its consumers or competitors. It commited suicide.

    It's likewise not MY fault that Microsoft is not delivering superior products with accessible source code at reasonable prices. If Microsoft's perception of its long term self interest is flawed (and I think it is) why blame the messengers?

  • by Eternauta3k (680157) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:54AM (#17443370) Homepage Journal
    It's likewise not MY fault that Microsoft is not delivering superior products with accessible source code at reasonable prices. If Microsoft's perception of its long term self interest is flawed (and I think it is) why blame the messengers?
    Exactly. When measures are taken to protect the local industry, more often than not it results in that industry relaxing and delivering a mediocre product, because they don't have to compete.
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:07AM (#17443506)
    read the article replacing "tamil nadu" with south carolina. believe it or not, the IT economy of south carolina is probably at least as large as that of Tamil Nadu. If the government of South Carolina suddenly decided to use all OSS, would we see half of the globalization-implications-scope comments we see here? No. Rather, linux fans would highlight this as a significant but ultimately small victory for OSS and the rest of the world would just shrug. After all, slashdot duly posts some article every time some town or municipality's government switches fo linux, but some of us notice that even at the rate of one a month, it would take centuries for the world's governments, much less the world as a whole, to take up linux.

    The proper solution for governments, indicidentally, is OPEN SOURCE SOTWARE, that is OPERATING SYSTEM NEUTRAL/AGNOSTIC. That is to say, it should run equally on Windows, Linux and Macintosh without too much problem. the operating system is not an interesting question (in fact, it can be OSS but microsoft only... i dont care) any more than the mouse is. the open-ness or closed-ness of the application software itself - that is, the bits of code that embody government policy about voting, welfare, whatever are the important bits to be OSS as long as we have reasonable trust that the underlying OS is fair (and, despite whatever hyperbole you might see here on slashdot, windows and osx are both certainly 'fair' in this respect - microsoft has not created any OS hooks that anybody knows or reasonably suspects to, say, detect voting software running on xp and change the results even though the software itself is correct).

  • Switched back (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KenSeymour (81018) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:24AM (#17443672)
    I used to run Linux as my desktop 95% of the time. That was for about 4 years. Then I switched back to windows.

    Quicken is much better than GNU Cash. On windows, I can choose between Photoshop Elements and GIMP. On Linux, I can only run GIMP. I can also run Open Office on windows.
    Same for PostgreSQL, JBoss, Eclipse.

    I got busy and no longer had time to figure out why when I upgraded my OS software, my CD burner didn't work anymore or my sound driver, or my digital camera program stopped working.
    Also, Eclipse works, but you can't use it to print (this was over a year ago) on Linux/Unix.
    Yet another feature.

    The final kicker was when my system failed and I needed to get a new computer up and running quickly. Do I re-create my triple boot system out of the Windows box I bought?
    I had just gotten Fedora Core with SELinux properly configured (which took some doing back then) just before the crash.

    Another big annoyance was trying to do my taxes and doing something simple like reports of transactions for a given category.
    The OSS answer: learn Scheme and write your own reports. Yeah right.

    With windows, I spend a whole lot less time keeping my desktop going. I have more software options. I can buy hardware without searching the web to see if it is compatible.
  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:02AM (#17444244) Journal
    I think he was just making a joke. Whether it was appropriate or not is a matter of opinion.
  • Re:Suse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <<slashdot> <at> <pitabred.dyndns.org>> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:31PM (#17446544) Homepage
    Man... just the other day, I stuck a Ubuntu CD in my notebook, which I specifically selected for Linux-compatibility, and everything just worked! I have bluetooth, sound, accelerated graphics, everything! It even connected to a nearby unencrypted wireless network automatically.
    I also installed Windows from scratch... what a pain, I had to go and download each driver, then restart the machine at least 5 times to get them all installed and up and running, and then I had to install my programs which all took restarts as well. Such a pain.

    My point? Get the correct machine, and Linux IS easy, and works out of the box. Just like you can't run Windows on a PowerPC, and wouldn't even try, get crappy hardware like a cheap laptop with no Linux support, and it won't work.
  • The LTTE are seen by many Tamils in Sri Lanka as the only hope for them. In many cases, the LTTE has provided a lot of change in Sri Lanka. However, their overall egalitarian view could cause more issues than solve at this stage. Also the use of killing to achieve the goals is another thing I am a bit objectionable about. This is why they are view by many as terrorists, even though their mandate, and their intentions are Freedom Fighters. Although most of what they do are for self defence, some actions do indeed go far beyond self defence. Certainly the LTTE are NOT on the same scale as Al-Queda, etc.

    The only difference between the typical terrorist and the typical freedom fighter is which news report they're on.

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