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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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  • Re:FOSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:40AM (#33618562) Journal

    Yeah, it clearly shows that OSS cannot compensate stupidity from the planners, and that it is very easy to put the blame on Linux instead.

  • by PeterKraus (1244558) <peter.kraus@member.fsf.org> on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:57AM (#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.

  • Re:FOSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:59AM (#33618648)

    "Yeah, this story is pretty self-explaining... good work FOSS!"

    Yes, this story is pretty self-explaining... but I question what does indeed explains.

    It's almost a meme around here that "joe sixpack" simply doesn't pay attention to computers but here it seems there has been a strong campaign in press against the migration from the very begining as if it were a sensible issue for general public.

    And then, this project has been cancelled when internal polls show that only around 10% of users -and it seems "end users" are implyied, not sysadmins, were dissatisfied and 80% were satisfied with the new environment (I'd bet that's and expectable turnaround for *any* environment change).

    One should ask himself if there might be some kind of pressure from "other vendors with deep pockets".

    It's obvious too that has been some managerial mistakes that, as such, could be an expected source of problems no matter what the migration path were as, per instance, towards Windows 7 instead of Linux. There has been problems that tough counted on the negative side of the migration seem indeed to be more on the side of the lackings from the preceding environment (like a closed database that ends up being difficult to transition -heck, that's why you are migrating: to avoid things like that to happen... from then on).

    All in all it's an enlighting example... mainly about how carefully the "soft side" of a migration towards open source should be managed. As in "be prepared to withstand attacks from the older stablishment trying to regain its lost power -and licenses" or "people will take the problems with a Windows to Windows upgrade as a non issue -it might be because the name doesn't change, even if most of the environment so does, while in a Windows to Linux migration everything and the kitchen sink will be Linux' fault no matter what so you'd better choose very carefully your stakeholders and make sure they feel involved as a driving force".

    By the way, any new news about Munich?

  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:28AM (#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 maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:44AM (#33618756) Journal

    "You apply these changes one evening, and the next morning, 20 thousand workstations across your network are rebooted so that they receive this policy on startup."

    OK, I'd prefer to be able to do this without rebooting.

    Indeed. Imagine the slightly changed scenario: The organization-wide video broadcast is needed not tomorrow, but today, in five hours. Do you really want to reboot your whole network during work time (and lose valuable work time, not to mention the angry reactions of employees you'll have to expect) to enable that video?

  • Re:Quick Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:02AM (#33618810)

    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.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:06AM (#33618822)

    How the hell is Powerpoint the killer app?

    I mean, seriously? I can see people being quite attached to their VBA Macros in Excel, their Access database with forms, or even just pissed off because Word and Writer don't have exactly equivalent formatting and their documents look like ass when opened by Office. But Powerpoint? It puts stuff up on a screen. So does Impress.

  • Notoriety wish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:13AM (#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.

  • Re:FOSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nashv (1479253) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @07:36AM (#33618936) Homepage

    But unfortunately, that is precisely the rhetoric that the OSS community is accused of brandishing all the time. The bottom-line is people do not care about the principles of freedom of code and other Stallmanisms when they are at work (which may come as a surprise on Slashdot). There are certain applications for Windows that just don't have a replacement on Linux yet, period. I'm sorry you can't argue with that fact.

    I know the beauty of Linux/OSS is that anyone can write a replacement app - but I am a molecular biologist with a research grant. I find it easier to purchase the Windows license (which is usually in built in the cost of the computer anyway) and the 5000 Euro worth of licenses I need, than to hire a Linux coder or write the programs myself - it costs more in hours that way. And I'd rather be doing molecular biology , which is my job and expertise, than to be figuring out the innards of the Linux kernel (OSS means I can). To be honest, Windows 7 is rather well-done in my opinion and that makes the move to Linux even less lucrative.

    I believe this is the case in every situation where there is a organized system already in place and the computing has to merge with the existing framework - such as the bureaucracy at a city department, or a research pipeline.

  • Re:FOSS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:45AM (#33619200) Journal

    Yeah, it clearly shows that CSS cannont compensate stupidity from the planners, and that it is very easy to put the blame on Windows instead.

    No, it doesn't show that. Maybe a future story about their problems migrating back to Windows will, though :-)

  • by MogNuts (97512) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:57AM (#33619256)

    I have to say, that's pretty disappointing.

    These companies and its bosses have to grow some. If I was a boss, or it was my own company, I'd implement Linux. Period. If people complained, they can get either accept it or get the hell out.

    I'm not talking about serious stuff, but for basic office purposes, if you really can't figure out it out, I wouldn't want that person as an employee.

    This isn't 1995 anymore. Everyone 45 and younger now has significant proficiency in computing skills, compared to users past.

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @09:43AM (#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?

  • by Monchanger (637670) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:01AM (#33619606) Journal

    You can't fix stupid.

    No amount of access to technology will solve these problems for 100% of the population. On the other hand it's completely legal to not hire those boneheads. Seem whoever Mr. Bitter here works for is part of the stupid. I feel sorry for the kid.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @10:05AM (#33619632) Homepage

    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 free, but don't seem to want to put any effort into making those things better, even if it benefits their own interest.

    Corporate greed will win out over free software in this case.

    Who exactly is the Swiss Canton competing against? If a free, democratic government can't do things like contribute significant improvements to open source projects for the benefit of the public good, the common weal, then who the fuck can? Swiss tax money can't benefit all the people of Switzerland, and at the same time benefit the Puppet community? What do the Swiss gain by not contributing value to the open project, in favor of a closed off the shelf solution?

    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?

    Why am I not volunteering my own time? Because it's not my problem. I personally do not manage nor need to manage a directory services solution, or centrally manage the desktop configuration of workstations.

    Where I do use open source projects, and where they do need improvement, and where I can contribute something to improve them, I certainly will. Whether that be code, or documentation, or bug reports, or feature requests, or testing, being an active participant rather than a passive leech of open source software is important.

    If a corporation wants to use FOSS to obtain Freedom and gain the benefits of Freedom and all the values that comes with it, then it *is* the problem of a corporation, and they should be willing to work to improve the solutions that solve those problems. It's the problem of many corporations who commonly face this same problem.

    These organizations have resources to devote to solving these problems, and should if they want them solved. They can throw resources at Microsoft, or they can throw resources into developing open alternatives. I'm not here to preach about which course of action is best; that's for everyone to decide for themselves.

    Many open source projects are developed primarily by employees of corporations that contribute to the project in order to make it better for their own purposes, as well as the community of users who also benefit from the project. Open source projects win because the corporation benefits not just from the labor of their own paid employees, but from the labor of all the contributors to the project. That's how the open source development model works.

    If no one's working on a problem that you care about, there's nothing stopping you from devoting resources to solving the problem. Once someone steps up and does this, the entire community benefits from it. If you're too selfish to commit to the project, but expect it to benefit you regardless, then you're a leech and don't understand how open source works. If there's another, possibly cheaper/better, way to achieve your goal available to you, then you have to judge the merits of open source in the context of those alternatives.

  • by lotho brandybuck (720697) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:20AM (#33620060) Homepage Journal
    Sure, watch this:

    If Microsoft was allowed to make as much money as it should under a properly operating closed source software ecosystem, people from Seattle wouldn't need to sell overpriced coffee to get rich!

  • by ContractualObligatio (850987) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:22AM (#33620070)

    It's not too difficult to understand if you think about what's going on in the use case: presentation software is used in situations where the presenter is having their competence judged.

    Imagine this prosecutor shows up with an .odp file that can't be used by the industry standard, PowerPoint-based set up provided by the venue. So after bit of confusion, he gets it saved as a .ppt file. It looks like ass. He started late. Some of the transitions or animations go funny in the change of file format. He's put off his stride and doesn't do a great job in front of an important crowd. 400 of his peers think he's an idiot. Suddenly the conversations he'd been planning to have with a few key people are more about the style rather than the substance of his presentation. A minor IT problem which no-one had ever thought to mention in the cross-training from MS to Open Office has a critical impact.

    If all IT had to say was, "Seriously? It just puts stuff up on the screen," then I wouldn't blame the rest of the organisation just shutting down the migration process due to incompetence.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:30AM (#33620120) Homepage

    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.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:31AM (#33620132) Homepage

    If I was a boss, or it was my own company, I'd implement Linux. Period. If people complained, they can get either accept it or get the hell out.

    Try that style in public management and you'll be on the street before you even got to sit in your office chair. In the private sector, you can often be a hardliner because of the bottom line says you're profitable, nobody say how you should run this business (or LOB, division, department) because you know that best. Public offices often deliver quite intangible services which generally aren't charged to the customers like a private company would. And when it comes to private companies, in practice it's a very narrow chain of command to argue with.

    In the public sector, very often your job is to justify the number of employees and your budget necessary. Why do we need X people and X million dollars to run a city planning office? And everybody from the press to politicians to interest organizations will butt in on the process. In the end it doesn't matter how efficient you run, it's how efficient it seems to be run. You could run an extremely tight ship with ten people and a $1 million budget but if you've given the impression this can be solved by a handful people on a shoestring budget, you will fail. While if you've convinced them that it really takes 50 men and a $10 million budget, you're golden.

    Particularly when it comes to politicians, they are press tools more than anything. If the press requests a comment on their "outrageous Linux spending" then 99 out of 100 politicians will find a way to put themselves on the attacking end as they seem aggressive against government bloat and wasted money, which everybody agrees there's too much of. Very few want to stand up for the project and say this is money well spent, because they know there'll be little proof to show they're right. I'm sure you've figured by now that TCO studies can be written to give pretty much the concolusion you want, so you can end up with a political diaster that "everyone" agrees was a bad decision. The kind of studies Microsoft loves to pay for and whoever punched through Linux can't afford.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @11:52AM (#33620278)
    The trouble is, the people who whine most about having to use Linux, OpenOffice or just about anything else tend to be the people who haven't achieved a basic level of competence with the platform or package of their "choice" (such as it is). They just whine more loudly than the people who have the basic skills necessary to just get on with their jobs.
  • by jbengt (874751) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:10PM (#33620392)
    I understand the feeling against overusing Excel (or any spreadsheet program), but often there really are good reasons for using it instead of the application design for the task. Mainly, especially if you're good at using macros and writing custom functions, spreadsheet programs allow a lot more flexibility and customization. Purpose-built applications are often good at what they do, but that does not always translate into exactly what you are trying to do.
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:11PM (#33620412)

    Because the press has blamed Linux for everything (including things which clearly are not Linux's fault), and they couldn't withstand the public pressure any more. Note that 80% of the users were satisfied with the new desktop, and a further 10% just complained about transient problems

    You make it sound like end users just being picky, when it is about end users not being able to do their job or the OS/Apps not being capable of providing the features they need. This is also not about application lock in, but about fundamental shortcomings in Linux that will not be addressed without a lot of bandaids from people that spend time outside the Linux world and go, oh, we can't do that, or that, or that.

    Additionally, it was not just about the end user results. The process of getting to where they are even today was horribly painful.

    These are the same flaws that non-fans see everyday and deal with everyday and have to sort out and deal with users everyday.

    I think people have left Windows and other options for far too long, this is no longer 2000, and WinME is the alternative.

    Windows7 does some pretty impressive feats on a rather robust kernel model, that is often faster. NTFS still is offering features that takes several layers of software on Linux to copy, and the WDDM/Video subsystem is still years ahead of anything in the Linux or any OS's world, with fairly advanced rendering features, but important things like GPU scheduling so that the OS controls the GPU and application usage and allows for non-graphical GPU processing without worry that games or the application UIs will suffer, stall, and fail to render.

    Users are not only giving up features from 2001 they are used to, but they are also missing out on a ton of features that are years off in the Linux world, that Microsoft has been shipping since Vista was released.

    Linux had a huge chnace here and instead demonstrated what many of us find all too often, for an old kernel model, and an old OS model, and an old graphical protocol, it is not a mature OS for the mainstream. Good concepts, but dated, and too many bandaids to try to bring these to modern computing effectively.

  • by Americano (920576) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @12:32PM (#33620560)

    Of course it does, and I didn't say that those two items are the only components of TCO.

    I was illustrating a point, where somebody basically claimed that, because of "license fees," the "TCO of Windows" was infinite, and that Linux was clearly the lower TCO. Anybody with a shred of common sense knows that license fees are a vanishingly small portion of TCO, and it's easy to see that simply the cost of labor to deploy, maintain, and manage could offset the license costs.

    As far as: "How about the costs incurred by vendor lock-in?", converseley, how about the costs incurred by having to develop your own solution because no pre-existing software for Linux is available?

    Let's not pretend that Windows has only negatives and Linux has only positives.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @01:42PM (#33621042) Journal

    Ditto. I don't mind that Ubuntu moved the windows gadgets to the left, and quickly adapted where most people my age bitch and moan about it. (Although I do think it was a pointless; there's nothing gained by the change.)

    I've also noticed the same thing in music where people my age refuse to listen to the latest songs, but instead insist upon switching to the oldies 90s or 80s station. I like 90s/80s but it's not really any better than 2000s stuff - just nostalgic. Their brains have calcified, and they refuse to try something new, instead choosing to call it "crap"

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:02PM (#33621178)

    To add to this point, although age is a factor, the real difference is a willingness to understand, learn and adapt. A fair number of youngish people I encounter simply don't have the attention span or interest to learn the various systems, and a lot of older people, while they have the attention span, just don't seem willing to learn or understand. They want you to tell them all the steps so they can follow them, without having an understanding of the concepts involved.

    Personally I think that the truth is there are simply a lot of lazy people in the world, who have it pretty easy compared to their grandparents and simply won't acquire the required skills because, let's face it; if companies fired all the lazy people the unemployment rate would hit 50% overnight, and that's not going to happen

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @02:54PM (#33621468)

    Uh, UNIX $HOME was for thousands or tens of thousands of desktops. I fail to see why "With AD you can do this to thousands of desktops" is a killer feature.

    Really.

    After all, if you have 10,000 desktops that are all different, you're going to have a shitstorm for either Linux or AD.

    If you have 10,000 desktops and about four roles, then your 10,000 desktops becomes four. And AD doesn't make a difference.

    "-Group Policy applies to OUs, Sites, Domains, and (after 2003/GPMC) allows you to do security group filtering."

    And security group filtering is WHAT when it's at home?

    Limited run processes? Group execute.

    Web access restrictions? If you're on a properly segmented LAN, then your DHCP can give you all the locality needed.

    If you need per-user restrictions, yes, that's available in writing to a ~/.mozilla file.

    "-User John is in the Call Center department. He needs certain rights locked down on the machine. You create John's AD user, throw them in the call center OU, and they'll get all the policies applied."

    Why didn't John in the Call Centre department not have the rights locked down? And rights for WHAT? Access to printers? Again DHCP and default kprinter profiles sort all that out.

    Really, you're just using jargon that you've read in the blurb for AD and why it's so leet.

    "-Later on, John is moved to the Sales department. Sales has a different set of policies, say, his machine is more open and lets him customize it a bit more, he needs certain software,"

    a) if you're on a different segment, or the machine is named with a "Sales" moniker, then agan DHCP can sort all that out.

    b) if the user moved jobs not place, then again, the user gets a default profile written since effectively he is a new John, this one working in Sales.

    "he needs a different company homepage,"

    WHY? He's moved DEPARTMENT, not EMPLOYER.

    Shit, this is the problem I have with AD fluffers. Making shit up that I have NO CLUE why businesses need to do it, merely that they CAN do it, so they do.

    That's if they even do.

    " requires different browser security zones. You simply drag his user to the new OU, reboot his machine, and he's good to go."

    And ~john has a different ~/.mozilla setting, done when he changed job. Reboot after setting it up and he's good to go.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:46PM (#33622064)

    If Linux geuninely gas higher TCO, perhaps adjusted for intangible employee morale, then obviously you shouldn't transition. I can't fathom the incompetence it'd take to have higher costs when moving to Linux for basic office jobs, though. One can have pretty much one or two images that take care of all desktops, they can run a streamlined desktop environment, etc.

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:06PM (#33622216)
    Because the company that writes your pay check made a business decision to move to that new system. Don't like it? Start your own company and make all the decisions. I did.
  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:47PM (#33622440)
    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...

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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