Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

Linux Business

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tamil Nadu (India) Shutting the Door On Microsoft

Comments Filter:
  • Suse? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:04AM (#17441616)
    Am I the only one that was excited to read about this, until it said Suse Linux?
    • Re:Suse? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MrWGW (964175) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:06AM (#17441846)
      Contrary to popular belief, using Suse does not turn you into a vile subhuman ogre. Also, it didn't say what Suse they were migrating to, so if they're downloading free copies of OpenSuse, I really don't see why you'd even care. The various SUSE distros are wonderful operating systems, and they are (mostly) FOSS, so even if you don't agree with the Novell deal, I don't see why you feel the need to keep trolling about it.
      • Re:Suse? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jackharrer (972403) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:30AM (#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 Petersko (564140) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:00AM (#17445038)
          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.

          By my calculation we're talking about 0.003% of those 1 billion people. And Indian call centres for linux will likely be pricier than their Windows counterparts (smaller pool, rising demand). Those call centres are already rising in cost anyway.

          Not that it isn't a promising sign... but to suggest all of India will embrace linux seems unrealistic.
    • Yes, out with SuSE for it has supped with the Devil!

      Force them to use Slackware. If we have to suffer why not them as well?
  • by AEton (654737) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:07AM (#17441624)
    I think it's pretty clear that the Tamils should run Tiger.
    • This is Tamil Nadu in INDIA. The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are a Terrorist Faction, which consists of a minority of Sri Lankans who speak tamil. Same Language, different people, Just like Americans and British, both speak english.
      • While the distinction between ta-IN and ta-SL is well-received (I don't identify myself as Tamizh, but understand a fair bit, and have friends from both sides of the Palk Straits), I'll still have to call you humourless. :-)
      • by Slithe (894946) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:53AM (#17443356) Homepage Journal
        The Tamil Tigers are not terrorists. They have an Air Force.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hoi Polloi (522990)
        I think he was just making a joke. Whether it was appropriate or not is a matter of opinion.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:24AM (#17441706) Journal

    I require at least 500 trainers to train 30,000 state officials across Tamil Nadu in the next six months.
    If anyone is interested then please deposit a small sum of money $1,000 into my bank account to cover the cost of getting your visa and other associated paperwork. Because I am so desperate for trainers I will be paying $100,000 so it is really only a very small sum of money.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:27AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by red crab (1044734)
      I am cynical about this. Large scale migrations are usually not successful. And when they happen in govt. enterprises you have every reason to be cynical. Nearly eight years back, treasury department of MP (another Indian state) had adopted Linux in a big way. The project was more or less successful. The erstwhile Chief Minister had made his preference for Linux/OSS clear for the forthcoming govt. projects. But then his govt. got voted out in next elections, new CM took over the reins and announced her alle
    • There are other big organizations in India switching to Linux. Kerala for one, as a commenter pointed out below, and United India Assurance (if I'm not wrong), for another.

    • while Microsoft could make the IT guy budge on his plans, they simply when around him and bought his bosses.

      Hmmm. I do not think so. In fact, following the story, it appeared that the bosses absolutely did not budge on this. Instead, MS bought a number of long-time ma congressmen to make this happen.

  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:56AM (#17441814) Homepage Journal

    Kerala was the first state to do this - slashdot story [slashdot.org] (and the oblig. dupe [slashdot.org]).

    But those stories paint Kerala as some hippie commune full of comrades - I've been following the developments in Kerala [dotgnu.info] for a while and in general all that makes sense.

    Of course, most of these states are picking F/OSS for economic reasons - but not exactly about freedom and stuff. I've heard whispers from the gubment that it is the support contracts which are deal killers for F/OSS in general, but of late the government has started taking a socialist approach of doing it in-house rather than contracting it out to vendors (well, it doesn't sound socialist when a company does I.T, right).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by The Cydonian (603441)

      I'm officially speaking out of my glorious backside on this, but I suppose language could be a key issue here. Tamil, famously, was the first Indian language with a full Linux UI. I have no idea (too lazy) to see if there's a Tamil version for Windows, but if there isn't, here's a very good reason. (And our Tamilian brethren, bless their hearts, are rather proud of their linguistic heritage, so there).

    • by Dasher42 (514179) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:32AM (#17442272)
      Considering that Kerala has achieved the highest literacy rate in India, and achieved life expectancy and health indexes [expert-eyes.org] to rival the first world when it'd been on a third world budget for decades, and is for that matter a leader in that country's impressive development in IT, I should think that its endorsement of Linux should have done folks here proud, whether or not Kerala's government has voted communists in and out and in again or not.

      But, Tamilnad has smart people too, so this is good news, especially if you find all that business of helping the working poor help themselves a radioactive concept and are keen to keep your distance from it. ;)
    • by killjoe (766577)
      "Of course, most of these states are picking F/OSS for economic reasons - but not exactly about freedom and stuff. "

      Not having to pay some corporation so that you could read the documents you yourself created is freedom too. In fact the number one reason why we all don't exclusively pursue what makes us happy is due to the fact that we need money (i.e shit costs money).

      Free as in beer is freedom too.
  • Microsoft's price (Score:3, Informative)

    by shreevatsa (845645) <shreevatsa...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:06AM (#17441840)
    The official offered the XP operating system for about Rs.7000 while he quoted Rs.500.
    ELCOT is not the loser when Microsoft did not accept our price of Rs.500; on the other hand, Microsoft loses out due to our big volumes involved," he said.
    In other words, the guy wanted XP for 11 dollars [google.com], but Microsoft would only offer it for 158 dollars [google.com]. Nice.
    • by ivan256 (17499)
      In other words, the guy was willing to pay Microsoft a price that allowed practically no profit (but probably a little) instead of the over 400% profit margin that Microsoft asked for.

      I'm all for Microsoft making as much money as they can manage, but it is hard to consider the $11 offer unreasonable when compared to the $158 price point. They both seem equally outrageous to me.

      (The Windows group at Microsoft regularly posts profits in excess of 400%, and $158 is a decidedly average price for a single unit o
    • At that price, MSFT put in a quote that was higher than what they charge for Academics and students. I checked a few links and prices and this one [clearances...outlet.com] seems to be about the average price for students.

      Now, if you were India, would you feel like you were getting a good deal when you know that students and academics are buying the product for about 1/2 of what you were quoted? I wouldn't be happy.
  • They're Safe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:13AM (#17441882) Homepage Journal
    And since they went with Suse, they're safe from being sued by Microsoft, thanks to the Microsoft-Novell deal.
    • by killjoe (766577)
      Only for the next five years, after five years are up any suse/novell customers will be the most likely targets for a lawsuit because they will be using a distro which will contain proprietary MS IP. In the next five years novell will be incorporating many "enhancements" to assure "interoperability" into suse and all that IP (formats, etc) will be coming from MS.

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``In the next five years novell will be incorporating many "enhancements" to assure "interoperability" into suse and all that IP (formats, etc) will be coming from MS.''

        That's a possibility, but there is also a possibility that if that happens, others will write unencumbered replacements, and all will be well. Also, 5 years is a pretty long time in computer land; who knows what might happen in the meantime.
  • Mr. Umashankar, IAS officer is a staunch supporter of open source software. You can see his commitment towards opensource in the EGOVINDIA [yahoo.com] group. He is the popular member of this active group. I believe his actions are in true spirit.
  • MS overquote? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:33AM (#17441982) Journal
    7000 rupees is about $150 USD right? That's not cheap at all. Not for XP volume licensing. Not in India. Not in the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sharkey (16670)
      Sounds pretty cheap for the US, at least for a smaller shop. Remember, XP and Vista can't be bought through volume licensing, only upgrades are available. You have to buy Windows pre-installed or retail, then buy Windows again though the volume programs. At our size (less than 200 desks), Windows XP Pro (the second purchase) without Software Assurance is $172. With SA for 2 years is $272, SA for 3 years is $313. This is on top of actually getting Windows pre-installed at an unknown price from major ven
  • by aapold (753705) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:33AM (#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?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Timesprout (579035)
      30,001. And I bet he still has to queue.
    • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:51AM (#17442104)
      From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] the population is just over 60 million which gives it a population roughly equivalent to the UK so 30K civil servants isn't that outrageous - especially as they inherited their civil service from the UK. Furthermore

      The sixth most populous state in the Indian Union, Tamil Nadu has the largest urban agglomeration nationwide. Increases in literacy have caused Tamil Nadu to report the second lowest decadal growth in population in India. Globalisation brought increased export opportunities, making Tamil Nadu the fifth largest economy among the states of India. The growing demands for skilled labour have caused the increased number of educational institutions in Tamil Nadu. It has the highest number of vocational training institutions in India. Chennai, which was known until 1996 as Madras, is the fourth largest city of India and the state capital. Chennai is the home of Marina Beach, one of longest beaches in the world. Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, Thirunelveli and Tiruppur are other large cities (Corporations) of Tamil Nadu.
      so it's not exactly a quiet backwater.
      • by dwandy (907337) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:02AM (#17442384) Homepage Journal
        And this is what (imho) we westerners seem not to get: when (not if) the switch to OSS happens it won't be here in the west: China and India make up some (half?) of the world's population, and once they come on board ... MS et.all are toast. And with them out, our IT staff becomes second-rate as they become irrelevant.
        • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:03AM (#17445082) Homepage Journal

          MS et.all are toast. And with them out, our IT staff becomes second-rate as they become irrelevant.

          Your perspective has drifted and needs to be fixed. You seem to equate M$ with US and US technical excellence. Most people would throw away a meter like you, but a new faceplate and a few twists should have you back in operation.

          Developers and IT staff at IBM, Red Hat, Novel, Ubuntoo, Mepis, Chrysler, Lowes, GE, and so on and so forth, would tell you that M$ and those who know only that are already second rate. They would not share you assessment of "our IT staff," nor do they fear foreign "competition". In their world, the more the merrier. American excellence does not have to be anti-social.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Just how many people live in this state anyway?

      Passed 62 million six years ago, so more than California and Texas put together. Mind you, the Indian civil service has always had a bit of a reputation for mass employment.

  • Hmm .. (Score:3, Informative)

    by sunsrin (842762) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:38AM (#17442018) Homepage
    The Information and Technology Minister - Dayanidhi Maran belongs to the same political party as the one in Tamil Nadu and he is seen hobnobbing with Billy [hindu.com] on launching MS products in India
  • hey.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by krunchyfrog (786414) <krunchyfrogNO@SPAMvideotron.ca> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @05:40AM (#17442038)
    Am I hearing chairs flying around?
  • by bmgoau (801508) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:16AM (#17442192) Homepage
    As Good as this news in, does the slashdot community have to constantly reminded not only of the benifits of open source but more annoyingly, of every single government and private organisation which switches from Microsoft to oss?
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      This reminds me that my pharmacy (or chemist, or drugstore, or whatever you call those places that sell prescription medications) also switched to Linux just last week.

      Just to keep you posted you know.

      I figured it wasn't worth a submission though.
    • by Excelsior (164338) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:04AM (#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.
    • Sure, the thing about Computers is that results tend to be difficult to obtain but replicable once done the first time (unless done by a hotshot, then they are totally impossible to replicate because of poor documentation etc.).

      Stories that entire office departments are able to move accross are really important because they give us examples to look up to refrence problems we can expect if I wanted to migrate a department of my own.

      Linux is still at a point where planning takes 10x as long as actually de
    • ... does the slashdot community have to constantly reminded not only of the benefits of open source but more annoyingly, of every single government and private organization which switches from Microsoft to OSS? (Text translated to correct US English free of charge and effort by my browser.)

      You are going to hear variations on the same theme here and everywhere. As organization and individual user discovers the advantages of free software they will tell you about it. The move has already reached far bey

  • by Joebert (946227)
    If their "SEO" & "Website builder" strategies are any indication of how their government operates, I bet Microsofts' real reaction to this would be more along the lines of "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, ya cheap bastards !".
  • Free Land [hindu.com]
    Free TV [yahoo.com]
    Free GOLD!!!! [rediff.com]

    The only complaint is rice is cheap not free [hindu.com] - can you imagine paying nearly $0.50 for 10 Kilograms (22 lbs)? Govt. these days....
    ....just kidding- TN is pretty good when it comes to most things comparitively. Glad that they went through with this - whatever their reasons may be (empty coffers must likely), the path they have taken is a brave one. There may be some FUD initially, but typically these govt. officials do nothing more than what they are told to do o
  • 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.
    • 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.

      A lot of businesses still run on W2K and 98 because XP took too much control. Those businesses are not likely to use Vista, which takes even more control and breaks even more applications they did not want to spend money on.

      Microsoft has failed to deliver what business wants, low costs

  • by Cicero382 (913621) <clancyj@tisc a l i . c o . uk> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:29AM (#17443124)
    ...it'll be India.

    I know a lot of us have experienced the despair of offshore IT "help desks" and many of those are in India. But they're just cowboys jumping on the outsourcing bandwaggon. Their days are numbered, for the most part.

    This part of the business gives a false impression of what the state of IT expertise in India is *really* like. It's pretty darn good. There are plenty of highly competent IT people there and, yes they generally have a huge advantage in terms of cost-of-living vs. expected-income. However, despite the rhetoric about the Internet making geographical location irrelevant, I don't see it happening just yet. For most of my work I still have to fly to the client's site.

    But, in their own back yard, Indian IT workers are in a position to do what the hell they like. They have the expertise, culture and work ethic to make it work and there is no way that anyone can force a second-choice solution on them. And if they see MS as second choice...
  • Isn't most software in that part of the globe pirated anyways?
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:07AM (#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).

  • by born4fun (1045582) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:21AM (#17443636)
    ... every time an IT system is converted from Windows to OSS, a chair in Redmond gets its wings!
  • Is anyone tracking how many of these announcements actually succeed, vs. how many give up after getting enough concessions / advertising dollars / lobbying money from microsoft?
    • by mark99 (459508)
      Fact is that MS profit margins are so great that there is a huge amount of room for concessions. Linux might be free, but the fixed costs of Microsoft are distributed over such a massive user base that they could give it away for almost free too. The fact that they do not shows how little impact Linux has actually had.

      I suspect it is no longer even regarded as the main threat, I imagine the main threats are considered to be Google and Apple, and maybe even Oracle.

      I think this is actually good for Linux, the

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?