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Germany, IBM Sign Major Linux Deal 382

Skip Franklin writes: "IBM and the German government are getting together to implement Linux as the government's computing platform of choice. The deal is being touted as a big blow to Microsoft, although personally I prefer the glass-half-full perspective of a big win for Open Source. The BBC has the story."
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Germany, IBM Sign Major Linux Deal

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  • by nam37 ( 517083 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:10AM (#3631048) Homepage
    I'm sure is the support and roll-out assistance that is being paid for... this is the government of a strong world power, not a h@XX0r site on the net. People (at least those that matter) don't mind PAYING for a good SUPPORTED product...

    What too many people don't seem to understand around here, is that "free as is beer" is not NEARLY as important as "free as in speach."

  • by seldolivaw ( 179178 ) <> on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:17AM (#3631112) Homepage
    Not alone

    Mexico, for instance, has mandated open source in its education system - although it is widely believed to have botched the implementation. And Peru is considering a law mandating open source software.

    Microsoft wrote protesting about the law and warning of collapsing software markets and portraying a nightmare scenario of incompatibility. But the answer - from a Peruvian congressman - refuted the letter point by point.

    Hee hee! Viva la revolution! :-) There does seem to be an encouraging trend towards the use of Linux by big institutions and governments. And since people tend to "buy what they know" perhaps we will see a top-down pattern to Linux usage -- companies first, and then their employees at home -- rather than the bottom-up approach everyone seems to be expecting.
  • Office? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fogof ( 168191 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:20AM (#3631135) Homepage
    I wonder what is going to happen to the .doc format.
    I hope that ppl will start using open formats to comunicate important documents.
    If more govs do the switch. I wonder what will happen to closed file formats.... ( or will M$ port office to *nix )
  • Not so sure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `srevart.sirhc'> on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:25AM (#3631172) Homepage Journal
    I am not sure I agree with the Open Source vs Microsoft paradigm that everyone seems so caught up in. I think that people pick on Microsoft because they are big and visible, but no one picks on Adobe, or any of a number of large closed source companies when they lose contracts.

    I think that there will always be some areas where closed source software is the best option (OrCAD being a good example), but many other areas are ones where open source simply is a better model of development-- operating systems, office productifity apps, some games, dev environments, etc. (there will always be closed source games, I think, though).

    This is significant because it indicates that the Germans are making the very logical choices with regard to security (not trusting a foreign company), etc. and shows that open source IS the best solution in many cases.
  • Re:Why IBM? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phpdeb ( 563275 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:37AM (#3631281)
    Someone has to do the work. A contract that size doesn't just get dumped into the lap of your favorite linux script-kiddie.

    You may not know this but companies, including MS, were bidding and working hard to get this contract it's big money. IBM spent a shitload of time and energy into landing this contract, it's how businesses make money. This is how Linux will win, not by selling cd's and shit. Big support contracts that implement Linux solutions that are supported by large respected corporations, ok maybe just large corporations.

  • Re:Flawed argument (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaper ( 88544 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:38AM (#3631285) Homepage
    From the article:

    "We are raising computer security by avoiding a monoculture, and we are lowering dependence on a single supplier," he said in a statement."

    and the poster commented:

    This is not really a valid argument, since all systems need to be secure. More systems, more potentially open doors.

    No. Diversity in computing paltforms (in a very general sense) increases total, overall security, especially to automated attacks, e.g. worms and viruses.

    For example, in a network of 50% Windows and 50% Linux, a windows virus can directly infect only 50% of the systems. In a network of equal numbers of Windows, Linux and BSD, one of these new hybrid Win/Linux viruses will be unable to directly infect one third of the systems. And the rule goes both ways. Windows boxes will be untouched by Linux worms that use Unix-style features like sendmail and portmap remote exploits.

    Even for non-automated attacks, some level of diversity is more secure. The potentially successful cracker has to know not one, but at least two or more attack methods to be able to get at all boxes in an overall system that contains a mix of Windows, Linux, BSD, Irix, VMS or whatever.
  • Re:Why IBM? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Snake ( 13761 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:41AM (#3631312)
    Why did Germany go with IBM? I mean, if they wanted to go with Linux to save money or for other reasons, why didn't they just contact SuSE?

    To this question, three possible answers:

    • According to the article, IBM will be using the SuSE linux version anyway. SuSE will certainly get $$$ for this.
    • Servicing the government is a huge task. SuSE was probably not up to this level in term of service capabilities. IBM, on the other hand...
    • Finally, there is a possible explanation... The UCA (United Corporations of America) is well known to be prompt to protect the profit of its members by pressuring foreign governments. The german government nipped potential diplomatic troubles in the bud by hiring another american firm.
  • Suggestion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by justsomebody ( 525308 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:48AM (#3631374) Journal
    "Any policy that favours one thing over another isn't helpful," a Microsoft Europe spokeswoman told the Journal.

    "It limits choice rather than increasing choice."

    I think it's time to proclaim this Microsoft representative a troll. Two way reality is "their monopoly is greatest tendency to achieve what he says it isn't good in this case".

    By the way, I don't recall they would say anything good about any other platform or software. They are always favouring their side and limiting choices with their "Security by obscurity" and closed formats.

    Well, things you say must really depend on one fact "Who got it and who hasn't"
  • by Chemicalscum ( 525689 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @12:10PM (#3631519) Journal
    >I think someone at the Beeb is confusing Linux and Unix. As far as I know (although I expect I will be corrected) there isn't an Open Source Unix.


    BTW The Beeb uses a mix of Solaris and Linux for its servers.

  • Actually, the use of linux has received its start from the bottom up. But, the numbers are hard to come by.

    Many professionals in IT have started using linux on their home and personal systems for many reasons. And, when they find (found) that open source systems work just fine and can contribute, those technologies have worked their way into corporate systems.

    But, the major bump will first come when the top companies in the industry openly support a linux/unix solution across all systems including the desktop.

    It is stupid to sell Microsoft desktops and linux/unix servers when Microsoft designs its technology to harm those customers who try to benefit from non-Microsoft technology.

    IBM, Hpaq, DELL, SUN, Gateway and others have to wise up and avoid the companies that design its products to interfere with the effective use of the technologies out there. And, that is precisely what Microsoft is doing. So, Microsoft is the company to avoid.

  • Re:SUSE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <> on Monday June 03, 2002 @01:36PM (#3632218) Homepage
    IBM offers SuSE on their servers, which, according to people who have actually read the article, is exactly what the Germans are buying. Red Hat is the default Linux for IBM servers, but several other options are available. It's quite likely, actually, that SuSE will have a share of the support contract, and so will benefit quite a bit from this, if not as visibly as IBM will.

  • Exactly (Score:1, Insightful)

    by PhysicsGenius ( 565228 ) <physics_seeker&yahoo,com> on Monday June 03, 2002 @01:54PM (#3632347)
    Conformism, whether in the form of raingear or deodorant, is to be fought tooth and nail. It is only by violently offending the non-elite that Linux will succeed.
  • Re:Flawed argument (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T-Punkt ( 90023 ) on Monday June 03, 2002 @02:10PM (#3632534)
    Actually the flaw in the argument is that exchanging one monoculture (MS) against another (IBM/Suse's Linux) doesn't change the situation. - I haven't seen an article about Germany's government talking about other [OS or not OS] OSes so far.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant