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Swiss Canton Abandons Linux Migration 442

Posted by timothy
from the eaten-employees-eh? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Swiss canton Solothurn has put a stop to their ongoing migration to Linux. [Original, in German.] The project started in 2001, and has been under harsh public criticism ever since. The responsible CIO resigned this summer. Solothurn plans to convert all desktop computers to Windows 7 in 2011."
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Swiss Canton Abandons Linux Migration

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  • by sxpert (139117) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:13AM (#33618482)

    but it seems like this migration was rather ill prepared...

    • by PeterKraus (1244558) <peter.kraus@member.fsf.org> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:57AM (#33618632) Homepage

      Well, if it takes someone 9 years instead of 6 planned years to make the transition, and in the meantime they deploy web-based email software instead of Outlook, and Openoffice version which apparently wasn't able to run presentations, I don't know who's to blame here.

      • by Cytotoxic (245301)

        "Even if the baker has no more croissants, will the system with the trademark penguin almost made responsible Bader resulted in this conversation continues," the newspaper quoted the person responsible for the migration.

        I don't think you can blame linux for this one. If that's the closest the CIO can come to a coherent thought, they had no chance. In fact, they probably should sack the person responsible for hiring the CIO. They would have been better off hiring a bunch of llamas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lennie (16154)

        The article said they actually started the project in 2006, the decisicion to do so way have been made in 2001, but that isn't all that relevant.

        • by Taagehornet (984739) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:19AM (#33619376)

          No, Google Translate get's it wrong. The article actually only says that certain *parts* of the project were delayed till 2006:

          Ein Ziel, das nicht zu schaffen war, unter anderem, weil *einige* Ausschreibungen für das Projekt erst 2006 anliefen.

          Which roughly translates to:

          A target that could never be met, partly because *some* contracts only went out to tender as late as 2006.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:49AM (#33620254) Journal

        >>>in the meantime they deploy web-based email software instead of Outlook, and Openoffice version which apparently wasn't able to run presentations, I don't know who's to blame here.

        Sounds like they did things bassbackwards. When migrating to Linux, it should be a two step process:

        - Switch to all open-source apps (OpenOffice, Firefox, etc) while still using the familiar Windows environment
        - Then switch to open-source a year or two later, while still keeping the same apps

        Step 1 is where the real cost savings come from (imho)
        .

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darinbob (1142669)
          The problems it seems are not with software, but with managing the project. Now they'll have a new project manager along with the new software, and people will mistakenly think that it's the new software that solved the problems...
    • by Joebert (946227)
      Ill prepared? They've been fucking around with it for almost 10 years.
      • Yes, ill prepared. They seem to have hired a bunch of incompetent nincompoops to oversee the migration, so they failed to prepare, failed to even have a real roadmap, and failed to have critical modules ready to come online when required. This looks more like an indictment of the tech people, than of Linux. Hell, they should have just contracted with Redhat, or Suse, or one of the other major players. They apparently went cheap and/or local, and they got pretty much what they paid for - shitty support!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HangingChad (677530)

        They've been fucking around with it for almost 10 years.

        I don't get it. We're working on try to fix a Windows workgroup network put together by a bunch of amateurs. How any Linux network could end up in worse shape than this mess is a mystery to me.

        On the tech side we're using Ubuntu laptops and ClearOS on the network. The only problems we experience are the Windows clients though that's related to the history of poor administration.

        If you have your network set up right the client OS doesn't matter

  • Umm.. yea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:18AM (#33618494)

    Reading through the issues, it seems they didn't actually stage and test this before deploying it. Typically, in real IT shops, that's what you do. Development, Staging, Beta, rinse, repeat, certify it, freeze it, and then production.

    It sounds like that just slapped that shit app in there and didn't look at the how it was slamming the database. You can't change the database. You have to change the application. Which is quit a big deal without programmer's.

    Methinks none of those monkey's have ever done this before.

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:19AM (#33618500)

    Delays in the implementation, immature software, half-eaten staff,

  • If there was no new bad news, you simply made yourself which one:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:26AM (#33618528)

    From the article:

    Delays in the implementation, immature software, eaten employees...

    It's no wonder Linux never got off the ground, if employees have to fear being eaten, then there's something seriously bad about the implementation.

    Although I'm hoping this is just a Google Translation error, but seeing how many billions of dollars Google has to refine its programs, I'm doubtful that this is anything but a perfect translation.

    My condolences to the employees who were eaten by Linux.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:50AM (#33618590)

    Let's not automatically assume that's because Linux really isn't ready for desktop use - or that there's corruption going on.

    A major transition like this is hard. Linux doesn't have anything like Active Directory for the desktop (Anyone who suggests you use something like Puppet is living in another world. AD comes with policies ready to go, all you need to do is tick the necessary boxes and you can be reasonably sure that when you tick the box, it'll actually do what it says. Writing and debugging equivalent configuration for even a tenth of that in Puppet would cost a lot more in man-hours than all the Windows licenses you can shake a stick at). There's no realistic replacement for the combination of Outlook/Exchange. (BTW, I can't remember the username but every time I post something like this one of the authors of Citadel comes out of the woodwork and suggests I check that. Terribly sorry, but I have. No offence, but I don't believe you've used a properly administered Exchange installation if you honestly think Citadel's a viable replacement.)

    I haven't even considered the possibility of custom-written software which was intended for Windows and will require re-writing. Wine doesn't cut it when your suppliers' response to any query is going to be "You're running under what?!"

    Add to that the fact that a lot of people don't really know how to use their computer - they just know to click on the "button on the left" or "third one from the right". Even very subtle change will cause such people no end of trouble, and even if you're in a part of the world with at-will employment you can't sack them because otherwise you'd be sacking 20% of your workforce. I'm not even remotely surprised to learn that someone's tried a migration and messed it up.

    The thing that does surprise me is that the same desktop users who will call the helpdesk every 15 minutes with a Linux desktop will almost certainly not object anywhere near so vocally when they're put onto Windows 7 and an upgraded Office suite. Part of me wonders if you'd see different results if you took Ubuntu, changed the boot and login screen to say "Microsoft Windows 8", re-branded OpenOffice as "Microsoft Office 2009" but left everything else as a normal Ubuntu install.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      Honestly, I don't really believe in large scale migrations of existing Windows infrastructure to Linux. Large migrations are hard to do at the best of times, always cause a lot of resistance and frustration, and take a long time before they start paying off, if that even happens at all.

      Migrations from some Unix to Linux are a bit easier because you usually get similar and often better software than what you had.

      Migrating from the Microsoft stack of Windows, Exchange Server, Active Directory, Office, and, ce

      • by Lennie (16154)

        "This is where you hit your biggest resistance: they will have to re-learn things, which will take time, effort and money. People will get upset, they will hate the new system, and they will complain about it, loudly, and to anyone who will listen."

        They do the same thing at every upgrade, what is your point ? Bad PR for GNU/Linux ?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by fr4nko (1787462)

        Honestly, I don't really believe in large scale migrations of existing Windows infrastructure to Linux. Large migrations are hard to do at the best of times, always cause a lot of resistance and frustration, and take a long time before they start paying off, if that even happens at all.

        I agree 100% with you, large scale migration from Window to Linux are almost impossible. I'm a Linux users since a long time and I'm really happy with it but I'm working in a big international firm and a migration to Linux would be simply impossible. The main reason is that we depends on hundreds of different applications that only works on Windows and was developed with Windows in mind. Some of this application are also of critical importance so you cannot think to replace them without incurring in a huge

      • Now, for a different scenario, consider an organization that is just getting started. There are only a few people there, and the whole IT infrastructure still has to be set up. This, I think, is a scenario where free software can be very successful. It's also an interesting scenario to think about. Suppose you wanted to set up the IT infrastructure for at least a few hundred users, most of whom would have jobs where they have to use computers, without necessarily having any affinity for computers themselves. Assume you would need some common infrastructure: e-mail for everyone, calendaring would be very useful, and at least some desks will have computers that any among a group of people will have to be able to log into and get to work with (i.e. they won't have their own desk and their own computer). How would you do it?

        With a Mac.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by IICV (652597)

        ...so your users will simply not be able to do things the way they were used to doing them. This is where you hit your biggest resistance: they will have to re-learn things, which will take time, effort and money. People will get upset, they will hate the new system, and they will complain about it, loudly, and to anyone who will listen. And for good reason: they had a work flow that worked, and then management came and pulled the rug from under them and they had to re-learn things for no good reason.

        Did yo

    • by dbIII (701233)

      There's no realistic replacement for the combination of Outlook/Exchange

      Please be honest and serious - there were better implementations of mail transfer agents and email clients before either of those two existed (both are still flaky at times). The only extra thing they bring is a built in calendar instead of using a separate application.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jimicus (737525)

        Right.... but the fact is that the people who demand Outlook and Exchange aren't using it as a plain MTA and MUA. They're using the calendar, they're using the shared features of the calendar, they're using the ability to delegate checking email to someone else (how else did you think the CEO's PA checks his email without knowing his password? Magic?), they're using the global address list (something which Thunderbird still doesn't do properly, even with an LDAP server appropriately configured), they're us

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DarkFencer (260473)

          Beyond the straw poll thing, all this can be done with Zimbra without any problem. We did an Exchange/Outlook to Zimbra/Zimbra Web Client migration and couldn't be happier. Sync to Blackberries and other smartphones works flawlessly, shared folders/calendars, account delegation, etc - all work perfectly. All for a lot less money and headache.

          If someone wanted that straw poll thing you're talking about, it would probably be trivial to implement as a Zimlet.

    • Writing and debugging equivalent configuration for even a tenth of that in Puppet would cost a lot more in man-hours than all the Windows licenses you can shake a stick at).

      ...but, since it's FOSS, the moment someone actually DOES this, AND shares it back to the community, it becomes free and simple for everyone else to do it.

      So, if it's such an important thing, some company should buck up and pay for the man hours to make it happen. Open source doesn't develop itself. Freedom isn't free.

      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:43AM (#33619486)

        You seriously want a corporation to spend money developing something that their competitors will then get for free?

        You don't understand how the corporate world works, methinks... such a proposition has absolutely no ROI at all, because it's unsellable. Corporate greed will win out over free software in this case. If it's that important, and you want somebody to buck up and put in the work to get it done, why aren't you volunteering your own time?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You seriously want a corporation to spend money developing something that their competitors will then get for free?

          Yes, pretty much. They're using for free something that someone else spent money on, developing it to the point that it's at now. Improving it for the good of the community of users by putting some resources into further development of the project, and giving it back to the community is exactly how open source is supposed to work.

          You don't understand how the corporate world works, methinks... such a proposition has absolutely no ROI at all, because it's unsellable.

          I understand that a lot of corporations are locked into a greed mentality and are not capable of seeing the value of open source. They're happy to make use of things if they're

    • Or perhaps never know. I find that many of the "All Linux all the time," proponents have no real enterprise experience with it. They use it at home, of course, and they may have set it up for a small scale office. From this, they figure that means it is ready for the enterprise. It does everything they want, and they can't see any reason it wouldn't work...

      Well one of the things Microsoft is extremely good at is enterprise support tools. As you noted, Active Directory has no peer in the open source world. A

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      people in at my work cannot use the new version of microsoft office, because microsoft randomly changed everything. Don't think people are as hung up on the branding as you think.
  • It looks as if 2010 really is the year of the Linux Desktop! At least, compared to 2011.

    Local maxima etc.

  • Quick Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:05AM (#33618658) Homepage Journal

    For those who prefer a quick human translation over a state-of-the-art Google Translate result, here is what I gleaned from the article. German is not my first language; corrections and other improvements welcome.

    Short summary:

      - The project wasn't going well from the beginning

      - The project definitely failed, but you can't entirely blame that on Linux

      - Lack of organizational talent definitely played a role in the failure

      - In a survey, about 80% of employees stated they were satisfied with the new environment, 10% complained about issues they thought would be resolved over time, and only 10% were really dissatisfied

      - The media played a large role in the perception of the project by eagerly latching on to every bit of bad news about the project

    Partial translation, paragraph by paragraph:

    Nine years after the decision to migrate the computers of the Solothurn kanton to Linux, a radical reversal has come today: all desktops will be converted to Windows 7. Did Linux fail?

    The project wasn't a great success from the beginning; those who followed the media must have gotten the impression that it was a sequence of failures and bad luck.

    Problems during the migration, software than wasn't ready yet, angry employees who set up a homepage to vent their frustrations and who couldn't get any work done because of Linux - all of this suggests that tax money was being spent on a project doomed to fail. And it has failed now. But to blame it all on Linux would be short-sighted. When you look further, you will see that many factors were responsible for the failure.

    The decision to convert to Linux came in 2001. The goal was to have completed the conversion by 2007. However, that goal was unattainable, because some invitations to bid were only sent out in 2006. The choice for the Scalix web interface wasn't a good one: even in June, the webmail interface lacked a task list and some of the comforts of native e-mail clients.

    Many special applications could not easily be replaced by Linux solutions. This was compounded by problems with the Konsul database employed by the kanton of Solothurn for editing council decisions: the data file of this Windows software was not so easy to migrate. Project Ambassador was meant to allow interoperability with OpenOffice.org et al, but was postponed until end 2010 because of performance problems. As a result, none of the council members worked with Linux systems.

    An internal inquiry among employees showed that about 80% of them were satisfied with the new environment. Ten percent complained about "childhood diseases" of the software, and only 10% were really unsatisfied. But that is still 100 employees, and they were a very vocal minority.

    The Swiss media seized every opportunity to bring news of even the most insignificant frustrations in the kanton: a temporary printer problem that was solved quickly became "lasting printing problems". Quotes from employees who claimed to work more productively at home than at the office were gladly printed.

    If there wasn't any bad news, the media simply manufactured some. When the state attorney's office held a conference for attorneys in 2009, they neglected to prepare a Windows system for displaying the PowerPoint presentations. The kanton police, who, according to the Berner Zeitung had "successfully defended itself against Linux" helped out and saved the attorney's office from embarrassment. Of course, there are many things you can blame on Linux, but lack of organizational talent of the conference organizer isn't one of those.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)

      German is not my first language; corrections and other improvements welcome

      The link is to "heise Open Source" and and to what is unmistakably the argument for the defense: that any failings in Linux and Open Sourcce had nothing to do with this debacle.

      If you try to search Google for an oppossing - or at least independepent - point of view you loop back to "Open Source" and Slashdot as the only sources for this story.

  • I guess the bright side of this article is that it shows how badly tied up you can become without realizing it. At least now they know they are screwed, and perhaps they'll learn to be careful with new things they implement in the future.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:28AM (#33618728)

    Let's face it: If you do not have a clue hot to do an IT strategy and how to implement it, then Windows can at least give you a semblance of success. Not that anything will run well or cost-effective, but it will run. (For now at least.)

    With Linux , you actually have to know what you are doing. It is not really that hard, but some understanding is non-optional. Solothurn made a number of really bad and really obvious mistakes. I am undecided whether this was due to intentional sabotage of the effort or due to incompetence. I suspect a combination of both.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:31AM (#33618734)

    I'm sad to say that I, as a die-hard AIX/Linux/Mac fanboi have had to recommend migrating healthcare applications to Windows servers, and testing with Windows clients. This is because the healthcare organisations who will look after the applications in three years time at the end of the project, will not have the skills, enthusiasm or experience to run anything that isn't Windows.
     
      I accept that for most people, the desktop is and will be Windows. For some, who don't need encouragement Windows will always be anathema, and all flavors of unix, be they GNU/Linux, AIX or Mac (other versions are available) will be preferable and worth any effort required to use instead. I bet I could have fixed any and all problems that these guys came up with, but when you are faced with users who are baying for a particular solution, rather than establishing what their requirements are, it is a lost cause.

  • Notoriety wish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:13AM (#33618840) Journal

    I'm always surprised of how this things are implemented. They usually _start_ with a bang and public announcements and trumpets and all. That is, before they have done anything. When you see something like that, you know they are going to have lots of problems, simply because the people that thinks that way (first let's make a big decision and a big press conference) usually cannot think in the way needed to solve the very difficult problems that arise in big migration.

    IT systems have become very complex things that pervade our work and private life. They have evolved for decades to adapt themselves to peoples' needs, and people has changed too to adapt to the IT systems. Windows has been part of that mutual evolution for many years now, and Linux hasn't. That's the elephant in the room that nobody speaks about. Linux won't be able to compete with Windows till it has many many years, not of existing, but of being widely used (even in special locations like call centers and so), after it.

    For doing migrations I'd recommend the following guidelines:

    - Gradually is the thing. Start with localized users, preferably new people that haven't got used to the old system.
    - These new users have to get a good experience. If you cannot make it happen for a couple of desktops, sure you won't be able to make everybody switch.
    - Provide comparative advantages to the new users. Things like putting big screens in the Linux systems will make other people wish they had been migrated.
    - Everything you use should work in both systems. If something cannot (Outlook/Exchange, custom apps, Access databases) then you have to search for an alternative or replacement. If no alternative exists that is good enough, you better forget about the whole idea.
    - Even if everything works in both systems, when you set up something new (database or anything) make sure it works a bit better in the Linux than the Windows systems.
    - Set no end date for the migration. You are going to keep Windows for a long time, so don't fight it. Gradually is the thing, remember.

  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:15AM (#33618850) Journal
    I can't read a lick of German, but I work with people who can... So I got a rather quick verbal translation of the article...

    These guys basically steamrolled the users onto Linux without doing an adequate evaluation of their environment and without following through with a solid beta program. I'm sensing this *could* have been successful if they'd been more organized about it.

    I speak from experience as a guy whose been responsible for a somewhat medium sized (several departments in a large corporation) migration from windows to Linux.

    The first thing you do is you go talk to your users and figure out what they're doing for a job and see if Linux actually will work in their environment! If they spend all day writing VB applications that interact with a SQLserver database... Linux probably won't be a good fit.

    The next thing you do is go and recruit some beta users who are willing to be guinea pigs. Then setup a system that'll work for them. Be prepared to sit in plenty of offices and debug issues. After the kinks have been worked out and they've been happily working for a week or two... convert a few more users... rinse, latter, repeat. It might be that you'll get all the kinks worked out and you can do 20 people at a time.

    A few things you need to consider even before doing this...
    * Authentication... is each machine going to be an island? Most corporations really frown on this... are you going to tie them into Active Directory? Setup a NIS bridge? Things to think about..
    * Home Directories... Where's their home dir going to reside? In my case, peoples home directories hang off a unix machine running NIS / Samba, so that wasn't such an issue...
    * Printers, etc.

    Also remember that your users will never give you the full truth... invariably you'll get a call because [insert obscure scan/printer/web cam] doesn't work.

    Another thing you need to be able to do is concede defeat in some cases. In each department I've got probably ~20 people who didn't want to switch. Either they didn't want to switch or there was some compelling reason that they couldn't switch, be okay with it and move on.

    So this migration had nothing do with Linux not being suitable for the desktop, this was a IT failure.
  • Not so easy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sideh (978022) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:50AM (#33618978)
    Replacing windows with Linux using centralised authentication isn't that easy. We tried it recently where I work where we run both Linux and WIndows 7. This meant it had to be AD.

    Using ldap for web services was easy enough as was getting win 7 desktops joined up. The hard part was getting Ubuntu machines on the domain...

    The first thing I tried was likewise-open which I had a number of problems with. We eventually settled on winbind which worked incredibly well for a samba file server joined to the domain, but for desktops it wasn't ideal. If the domain controller became inaccessible for whatever reason, the whole machine would freeze up even with cached credentials turned on. The other caveat was user's inability to change their domain passwords from Linux. Well.. it was possible but whenever they changed their password, both the new and old passwords would still work. (see http://wiki.samba.org/index.php/Samba_&_Active_Directory#password_changes [samba.org]) It was also impossible to force a user to change their password, it would fail constantly.

    If I weren't so determined I would have likely just gone with Windows 7 for ease of use despite the extra cost. There is one more commercial product I need to try and that's centrify. Fingers crossed.
    • If you're going to spend money why don't you just buy a damn SBS and use AD?
      • If you're going to spend money why don't you just buy a damn SBS and use AD?

        The GP did use AD. Re-read this quote from the GP, my friend:

        This meant it had to be AD.

        If that doesn't convince you, read this quote, then read up up on the description for the likewise-open [ubuntu.com] package.

        The first thing I tried was likewise-open which I had a number of problems with.

        If the GP wasn't using AD, then what the heck were they doing using a tool that provides "authentication services for Active Directory domains"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Americano (920576)

      Fwiw, my company uses centrifydc, and has been pretty happy with the results. Largish (~35k users) enterprise, aix, solaris, Linux, and lots of winxp & server. As someone who primarily works on the Linux/unix side of things, I was skeptical about the whole "AD integration!" aspect, but it's been a pretty solid tool. Only noticeable hassle is I no longer have a sudo to unlock a user's account if they fat finger their password. :). We did have to upgrade a couple of our samba servers to a centrify-comp

    • Ya it's a pain (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:22AM (#33619752)

      We are a Windows/Solaris/Linux shop and central authentication and management is a big problem. Using an AD as the backend would probably have been easier, but our UNIX guy would not accept any situation where Windows was the core of the system. So we use LDAP. However OpenLDAP was not at all suitable for the purposes, Sun Directory Server, which is free but the servers it runs on are pricey. It is also no longer available from Oracle so we are going to have to consider what to do. That then required the use of IDsync, which wasn't free, as well as a good deal of custom programming. The current solutions works, and has an LDAP server and AD that are sync'd to each other, but are running separate and one can continue if the other fails.

      It also means that management of the two kinds of systems is totally separate. Other than logins, which are of course global (the whole point of the system) and automounting storage, nothing else is shared management wise. Windows is managed through the AD, Linux through Puppet, at least when Puppet works (it is rather problematic). Solaris is more or less all central, no apps on individual systems, only central apps because of management problems. Windows is per system, of course. We have different support people who deal with different domains of the system.

      At any rate it works, but it was not easy to make work. Also none of this deals with migration, this is side-by-side support. I wouldn't even want to think what it would take to try and support some of the things done on Windows on Linux instead. It would NOT just be "Oh use OpenOffice instead of MS Office," never mind that even that would be problematic (OO doesn't do everything MS Office does).

  • It's not easy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fmaresca (739871) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:14AM (#33619056)

    I did some small and medium business migrations towards FOSS software and I can attest that it's not easy.

    Key factors I've encountered are: users have a bad predisposition, they always prefer windows because they (think they) know it, they have it in their home computer, notebook and phone, and they don't want to make the effort to learn another system; there are custom developed apps that not always are easy or at least economically feasible to migrate; there are software that are probably easy to migrate but you lost support if your server is not windows, and you are setting yourself in a position where you will be blamed by any problem a computer could ever have, related or not to FOSS.

    In my experience trying to perform a 100% migration is not very easy not desirable: except in very restricted environments, every non trivial system will always be made up of heterogeneous OSes and apps. Because of smartphones, laptops and embedded systems, that mixture is pretty much guaranteed these days. So it's better to move early the back systems: replace mail servers, file servers, databases, printservers, backup systems, http and ftp servers, LDAP, routers, firewalls... and make sure they work and are appropriately configured.

    Then deploy OOorg to _windows_ WS, perhaps with Firefox and Thunderbird (I always though that the Thunderbird developers would be looking at Pegasus Mail, sadly they weren't). That way your users will be familiar with the apps and then changing the "desktop" will be more easy. Change the users WS OS progressively, change first the WS of the more "advanced" users and try your best to show the deployment of the "new" system as a privilege; if you can, change the OS and put a new WS for it, or at least a new or bigger monitor.

    Important factors in success and collaborative users is to provide them with compatibility: you're migrating, the rest of the world no. So you have to make sure your users can communicate with the external world: not only OOorg has to open xls and doc files; they _need_ to chat in the msn network, watch videos on youtube, and so on. Those are as much as important as to be able to do the work if you want your users supporting you.

    Be careful choosing a X environment: the popularity of Ubuntu these days hides the fact that it can be obnoxious and overcomplicated for end users. A smaller, lighter and more orthogonal desktop environment (like XFCE) could be better.
    Don't try for the new environment to mimic "look and feel" of windows: it's far more irritating to encounter subtle and minimal differences in behavior that to face a complete different approach. Most users spend 90% of they time in two or three apps (mail, office suite, some custom or enterprise app) and they simply don't care about anything else.

    Your ultimate goal is to be asked to install "linux" on their home boxes or laptops. That will happen when they feel comfortable and familiar with the new system.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:38AM (#33619822) Homepage Journal

    "The second saddest thing about the Swiss is that they think they combine the creativity of Italians with the organization of the Germans; the saddest is that in reality it's the other way round."

        -- Oscar Wilde

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

Working...