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Munich to Go Ahead with Linux After All 142

Saeed al-Sahaf writes "According to Groklaw and the German publication Heise (it's in German, of course) Munich's mayor Christian Ude has held a press conference, in which he said that the bidding process for the switch from Windows to Linux will go forward as originally planned, despite patent issues. InfoWorld (in English), quotes Bernd Plank, a spokesman for Munich town hall, saying that he expected that the administration would take a maximum of 'two to three weeks' to decide whether the EU's Directive on software patents could affect the city's plan to switch to Linux, and that would be no 'dramatic setback.'" We reported this earlier as well, but now that it's making the rounds again in English, more of us can read it without resorting to Babelfish.
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Munich to Go Ahead with Linux After All

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  • Discounts? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HexDoll ( 778270 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:21PM (#9942098) Homepage Journal
    Did Microsoft not lower their prices enough at the mention of them going to Linux?
    • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danidude ( 672839 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:27PM (#9942149) Homepage
      Did Microsoft not lower their prices enough at the mention of them going to Linux?

      Maybe there is more in it than just price, ya know...

      • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9942593) Homepage Journal
        Maybe there is more in it than just price, ya know...

        IIRC, there was. The Munich government reps who were involved in the decision making were insensed that Microsoft didn't make their best offer when asked the first time, but in steps. I certainly know enough people who would have jumped at Microsoft's offer, but the germans were apparently insulted. There's also the likelihood that they were focused on Long Term TCO rather than short term, which was all Microsoft was really offering them. Look at what's going on with Microsoft since, all the patching (which in recent stories highlights the expense of testing, certifying and accepting patches and understanding their impact on software already in use.)

        They're showing uncharacteristic good sense and courage in making such a decision... one would almost be convinced these weren't bureaucrats, but aliens who have taken the place of the bureaucrats.

        • The Munich government reps who were involved in the decision making were insensed that Microsoft didn't make their best offer when asked the first time, but in steps.

          It would appear they have a deep misunderstanding of what "bargaining" is.

          • Re:Discounts? (Score:3, Informative)

            by Knuckles ( 8964 )
            Don't know. MS gave a ca. 50% rebate when GNU/Linux came into play. As a customer, I would feel ripped off, and I can well understand that one decides not to want to have to do anything with this vedor in the future.

            However, money was not so much involved in the decision. The study and decision papers are online [muenchen.de]. After the rebate offered, MS was the cheaper solution in the short term, but Munich weighed independence of public data and long-term saves more heavily
          • Besides, business rules differ from culture to culture, and what is fine in one does not have to be in the other. Doesn't mean anyone has the "right" approach
        • one would almost be convinced these weren't bureaucrats, but aliens who have taken the place of the bureaucrats.

          In related news, Munich government reps have been asking about something called a "Continuum Transfunctioner". News at 11.

      • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Izago909 ( 637084 ) * <tauisgod&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:37PM (#9942741)
        Maybe city officials realize something that a lot of businesses have yet to discover. Even if the initial investment and TCO of Linux and apps were higher than Windows, the fact that it's all built on open standards leaves the ability to make an easier switch in the future to new hardware and software platforms. Take VAX for example. It's a rock solid platform that can be trusted to run smoothly with little or no intervention. That's why many people still have them in operation today even though there are better applications that can be run on faster hardware. It's also going to be a big problem when the time comes for migration. Emulators for VAX have been mentioned on here before. With open standards, Linux won't have near the trouble when it comes time to migrate to new hardware architectures, different apps, or different operating systems. It's fairly easy to port apps between BSD, Linux, and other Unix variants. Future emulation probably won't be an issue once a total switch has been made. Basically, if it's a computer, Linux can be tailor made to run on it. Once the OS is ported, apps will follow. As for the apps themselves, instead of saving your documents as proprietary files, you have an open standard so you can easily move files between different applications without worring about compatability or licensing issues. To sum it up in one sentence: Linux offers a trustworthy migration path even with an unclear vision of what the future holds.
        • Take VAX for example. It's a rock solid platform...

          Probably Munich will miss the 'rock stability' of its previous platform too...
      • Re:Discounts? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HexDoll ( 778270 )
        Surely this proves that Microsoft is now seeing Linux as a credible threat to their business model and dominant market position.

        Of course, even if they halved their prices they'd still be making a massive profit.

        This is encouraging, perhaps Linux is just what market needs to bring back competition into play.
      • There shouldn't be, they should go with the lowest long term cost solution that allows them to get the job done. If it is Linux, than so be it. The cost per seat may be less, but that isn't really your main cost source in most cases, your bigger cost center long term is probably administration. In this case, Linux is probably cheaper because once you get over the initial road bumps, you don't have to worry about patching, email viruses etc.
    • No, it was probably the drinks Ballmer served Munich's mayor.

      Or maybe it was because Ballmer tried to convince them not to switch.
    • Re:Discounts? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by djfray ( 803421 )
      is this your pathetic way of again trying to demonize microsoft? Because, as I said, that was pretty pathetic. When you complain and complain about them lowering prices to beat out competitors, and then they actually don't do it, like you've been pleading for them to do, you make sarcastic comments about it. This isn't nearly as interesting as it is flameworthy
    • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by thirteenVA ( 759860 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:40PM (#9942261)
      Actually... they did. They lowered the price considerably on a couple of occasions. However Munich wound up approving the go ahead of a more expensive solution despite the Microsoft price cuts.

      Here's the usa today article [usatoday.com]
      • Re:Discounts? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:33PM (#9942702)
        Even though the Linux proposal is more expensive, a lot of that money stays in (i.e. helps) Germany's economy whereas with the Microsoft solution, essentially 100% leaves the country (i.e. enriches Microsoft). Perhaps that had something to do with the decision.
        • Really? What about Microsoft GmbH, also seated near Munich and its employees? They don't code for food and they spend their money on goods produced in the Munich area, so the vast majority of the money won't leave the country.

          And even if, the guys in Redmond buy Mercedes (Stuttgart), Porsche (Zuffenhausen) and BMW (Munich) anyway with the money they earn so it all comes back. ;)

          My point is, you can't blame companies for making money, that's what business is about. Free software is about free as in speech,
      • There is the higher short term cost for the next few years against the long term cost of being locked into a single supplier (Microsoft).

        Anyone with any sort of long term perspective will go for the solution that can be supplied by maney vendors.

    • Attention, K-Mart Shoppers! Over in the aisle marked 'Asia', you'll find lovely gift-wrapped editions of "entry-level" XP OS for Windows-based machines. Do your Christmas shopping early! Pick up an extra copy for those unexpected guests! Excellent stocking stuffer! Fine print here (always read the fine print):
  • Why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by garompa ( 714684 )
    Would the city of Munich care about the UE software patents issues ?
    • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9942131)
      Most countries around the world are not flooded with lawyers like it is here in the U.S. Depending on your perspective, there is a good and a bad. According to slashdot, mostly bad.

      • Re:Why (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Teun ( 17872 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:22PM (#9943039) Homepage
        Most countries around the world are not flooded with lawyers like it is here in the U.S.

        I recently heard that *half* of all legal books published around the world are in German.
        The reason being that German (especially tax) law is so complicated.

        Even when this story is only half true it would be remarkable.

        Of course there is not necessarilly a lawyer for every book :-)

    • Re:Why (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This may be offtopic.
      On the EU software patent issues:
      Just what are they going to do about pre-existing software patents? Just void them and keep the money spent in obtaining them? Will said patents be grandfathered in?
      I'm not a fan of software patents, but if I did spend good money in getting one, it was made useless/unenforcable, and I didn't get a refund, I think I'd be rather pissed off about it.
      • Re:Why (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So? Slave owners were rather pissed too about losing their slaves.
      • Re:Why (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And if you bought a bag of high quality cocaine only to discover that it was just powdered sugar, you'd demand a refund as well?

        The people who filed for the patents knew they were unenforceable at the time, and no garantee was ever made that they would ever be made enforceable.

        Caveat Emptor, suckers.

      • Re:Why (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wolfbone ( 668810 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:47PM (#9942812)
        "I'm not a fan of software patents, but if I did spend good money in getting one, it was made useless/unenforcable, and I didn't get a refund, I think I'd be rather pissed off about it."

        Then you should have read Article 52 of the EPC which explicitly excludes software patentability. The companies that have been granted software patents by the EPO are mostly the same companies now lobbying for legislation to make valid their patents. They knew the score. They have gambled. They will lose. Tough.
      • No need to get pissed because they were not made useless/unenforcable by a change, but knowingly made useless/unenforcable in the hopes that they will be changed to usefull/enforcable. There is no guarentee that these useless/unenforcable extra-legal software patents will become usefull or enforceable if or when the EU law changes to permit them.

        These people are gambling when they got their "patents".
  • No fish? (Score:5, Funny)

    by general_re ( 8883 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:22PM (#9942110) Homepage
    ...now that it's making the rounds again in English, more of us can read it without resorting to Babelfish.

    What the hell fun is that?


    City Munich continues Linux migration

    Despite legal ambiguity and continuous fears of a patent war approximately around open SOURCE of Munich wants to start mayor Christian Ude the bidding procedure for the re-equipment of the Desktops in the city administration on free software. This announced the SPD politician on today's Wednesday on a press conference in the city hall. The Prozedere is brought to the active migration phase of the LiMux project after a "pause for thought by few days" in course, gave to Ude with well one week delay green light for the introduction . An appraisal and the participant competition should be final up to the autumn. If a conversion to Linux appears then harmless, can be begun immediately with the Bieterverfahren. In any case one however wants to remain the city with its confession to Linux: "it remains with the fact that the city Munich decided for open SOURCE."

    Ude announced that the city will give a legal opinion for clarifying to the question in order, which effects the disputed European Union guideline to the patenting barness of "computer-implemented inventions" in its present version of the Council of Ministers have could. Of the Federal Government Ude information required, why she had votiert in Brussels at all for a change before good of the version of the directive which was called by the European parliament. If one wants to promote to Berlin of far open SOURCE projects, how from the Federal Department of Justice week passed stresses again , one must create right security for the public and private expenditures also. Furthermore Ude requested other cities, municipalities and authorities, which work on Linux migrations, to the shoulder conclusion with Munich -- the argumentation residents of Munich of the city head and the demands on the Federal Government submitted the city equivalent again in writing therefore .

    With the temporary stop of the LiMux advertisement the residents of Munich city administration at the beginning of of August had fed the continuous debate over software patents and the lining up Brussels legislation on an expanded summer high floated -- in addition, doubts about the feasibility of the Linux re-equipment. Also the camp of the proponents of free software was in disagreement itself in the estimate of the concrete danger for the residents of Munich of migration plans. In a pointed reaction to the interruption of the project the Free warned software Foundation Europe ( FSFE ) and the LinuxTag e.V. Beginning of the week again together before the abuse of software patents "for psychological war guidance" in the economy.

    "at present mechanisms from the cold war are adapted for the keeping by interests of enterprise", echauffierte themselves olive Zendel, chairman of the LinuxTags. The principle of the atomic deterrence is replaced by armament by Patentportfolios, while other companies nonaggression treaties would lock by a Kreuzlizenzierung of the own patents. Wrong-basic are thereby "programmers, small and medium-size enterprises and thus the economic situation Europe." Disturbingly to it above all, supplemented FSFE president is George Greve that do not even need to be prozessiert: "a confused rumor is completely sufficient, in order to bring a complex and complex project for days from the trace. It would be interesting to compute the economical damage."

    The residents of Munich city administration does not see so far under any circumstances eliminated the fears of the open SOURCE scene despite the appeasement attempts from the Ministry of Justice. It has a number of open questions listed, approximately after long-term investment security for LiMux estimated approximately 30 million euro, after appearing a patent flood in the software range, itself the complaint waves and its consequences for the innovation strength of the economy,

  • Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bunburyist ( 664958 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:24PM (#9942124)
    The more organizations deploy Linux, the lower the cost will become for further deployments. For example Munich will use VMWare while slowly porting their special Win-only software to Linux.
    The next generation will do without VMWare and will lower the cost to migrate to Linux.
    Oh, and I might add that 5 cities in Bavaria are also thinking in joining Munich directly.
    Also, in 3-4 years, if any hardware company will want to sell hardware to Europe or Asia, it will have to provide Linux drivers which will be beneficial for ALL Linux users.
    • Re:Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#9942252) Homepage Journal

      The more organizations deploy Linux, the lower the cost will become for further deployments.

      Not only will a sizable deployment of Munich office workers using Linux reduce the transition costs of future organizations migrating to Linux (that is, applications evolve more into what people are used to from Windows), but it will also help drive further improvements in the quality of Linux applications and tools (we want this new feature added to this Linux application).

      Munich could very easily be the first leak in what could turn into a torrential migration.

      Every day that goes by, the costs of migration away from Windows go down and the benefits of migration to Linux go up.

      • Re:Linux in munich (Score:5, Insightful)

        by chris_mahan ( 256577 ) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:05PM (#9942945) Homepage
        There is another factor.

        The germans are generally considered to produce the finest things in the world on a technological standpoint. They also recognize the finest things, technologically. People all over the world (and there are) know this.

        I contend that while Linux may cost more than windows in TCO, it is a better investment because it is a better, more reliable product.

        Not to mention that a lot more money stays in the country when linux is used, and that always affect the elected ones.
        • Are you serious? I've never heard that, but I do find it very interesting, considering the fact that I'm German.
          • Heard this joke before?

            Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it's all organised by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lover's Swiss, the police German and it's all organised by the Italians.
          • It is true Germany has a reputation for engineering excellence. Think about it: they built cars that last forever, they were the first to land on the moon (by proxy, but still)...
    • Yes, this concerns me a bit - I really, really doubt they will be able to just magically "port" all their Windows software. For starters, I'd guess a lot of it isn't owned by them. So they have to pressure the vendors. That may work when the vendor is a little family outfit in Munich itself but not when the vendor is a bigass consulting company who can live without the city of Munich bugging them for a ton of ports.

      Even when they're little vendors in Germany, I seem to recall there being severe problems

  • by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:28PM (#9942159)
    Before you bring up some of the standard arguments in defense of software patents, please read the FAQ [ffii.org]. There is a lot more good analysis in that section [ffii.org]. For an easier to understand example of how software patents affect real world applications - a big reason many small businesses oppose them - look at the webshop [ffii.org] demo.
    • I am pleased that FFII did not contribute to the Limux FUD despite the fact that a draft of a FFII supporter listing patents was involved.

      Of course there is a problem with Software patents but is does not apply to Linux or Free Software in particular.

      Everybody knows this from recent slashdot reports.

      I think what is really needed is a FFII US to combat software patents on a global scale. Are there such organisations?

      An American mailing list about the patent problem in the US can be found here [ffii.org].
  • by marika ( 572224 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:30PM (#9942175)
    It's german.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#9942245)
    Offen runnenboxen ach du lieber Augestien. Heil Torvalds. Fingerpoken offen mousenkeyboarden unixen blitzkreik der vindows. Uber Alles!

    Der fingerpoken filterin Unix tochen English softranslaten Deutch offen. Sour kraut.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:39PM (#9942255)
    All they're doing is re-opening the bidding process. Not the actual migration.

    From TFA:

    Mayor Ude, who said he's been thinking it over for a few days, says there will be a legal study completed by Autumn concerning the migration, and if it looks safe, they will go forward and meanwhile the bidding begins.

    With any luck, this will crystallise the issues surrounding software patents more clearly in Euro MPs minds and make them think about more than Microsoft et al's bottom line. Indeed, looks like Munich is really pushing that bit:

    He also announced that the city is going to request a legal study on the question of what consequences the EU-directive on the patentability of "computer-implemented inventions" will have in the current version of the Council of Ministers's proposed law.

    (All emphasis mine)
  • Show respect (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tomcat666 ( 210775 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:40PM (#9942262) Homepage
    I just expressed my respect to those people a minute ago. It takes a lot of courage to do this, having Microsoft Germany in your city and all that...

    If you want to show them respect, go to http://www.muenchen.de/home/81124/contact_form.htm l [muenchen.de] and put in your thanks!

    The fields' descriptions are as follows (top to bottom):
    Given name
    Topic (use "Sonstiges" = Miscellaenous)
    Comments / Questions / Suggestions
    • I just expressed my respect to those people a minute ago. It takes a lot of courage to do this, having Microsoft Germany in your city and all that...

      What do you expect Microsoft to do ? Break their legs ? "Mr Ballmer is very unhappy about all of this..." Move ? Even if this might be a foreign thought for some people here: MS is not the Mafia, it is not the Spanish Inquisition and it is not someone's secret police. They are just a (albeit very big) corporation. Munich is still free to do what they like. Co
      • Re:Show respect (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tomcat666 ( 210775 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:53PM (#9942848) Homepage
        I don't know how it is in $YOUR_COUNTRY, but in Germany, if a city/state/federal government doesn't play by the rules of a big company, they usually say stuff like "You won't do this? Oh yeah? Well then we'll go to another country that will appreciate our efforts!"

        You're right, this is far from being physically dangerous, but it could cost the city lots of money in lost taxes, jobs and the image of the city. Getting Linux into their offices doesn't mean abandoning Microsoft altogether, and losing money in the process.

        Considering my city's moves towards Daimler-Chrysler (Stuttgart), I think it is courageous of Munich to not give in to the demands of a big corporation.

        About Microsoft being the Mafia: Most big corporations here behave like the Mafia, not only Microsoft. What Daimler-Chrysler demanded here was outrageous considering how much money they earn.
        • Re:Show respect (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Wudbaer ( 48473 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:26PM (#9943058) Homepage
          You know, I am in Germany, too, not far from Munich also (Ulm).

          I know that it seems to be the thing to do at the moment over here (as well as in other Western countries) if you are a larger employer to go running around demanding all kind of silly stuff and shouting "Do to my bidding, or I will move to Elbonia/fire all my workers and replace them by robots or do something else undesirable". But to be honest, those companies either never put up or they wanted to do those unpopular things in the first place and were just looking for a pretense so the public blames politics and not those companies.

          Part of this used to be part of the usual haggling between companies and cities about tax advantages, subsidizing, whatever, and usually both of them got something out of it to show for their efforts. Today some companies (Siemens, Daimler etc.) seem not to understand what is decent and reasonable and what not and I am sure the public will pay them back sooner or later one way or the other.

          Regarding Microsoft: If MS really would state to the major of Munich that they would leave the city if Munich does not buy MS they would make themselves look like complete fools. And by that they would basically force the city to decline any offer MS could make, for ever, even if they paid them money to install their software. MS is a lot, but they are neither stupid nor bad tacticians.

          That doesn't mean that they don't tell the relevant people "Oh ! Don't buy that hobbyist stuff ! Bad things will happen !" But every company does that when a customer wants to leave (a former co-worker experienced something like that when switching a large project from IBM to Sun some years ago, it must really have been funny), and all those threats and promises do not have any real meaning and value.
    • It looks as if many people did what you asked. Can't connect to the website.
  • by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:41PM (#9942274)
    i forgot where i read this, probably linux today or here at slashdot. but apparently the guy who stalled the linux implementation because of the patent problem is in the Green Party [worldsummit2003.de] which is very much for open source and against software patents.
    the article suggests that stopping the linux roll out and citing software patents as a roadblock was a way to wake up the government and public to get them to see why software patents is a bad idea
    • by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:54PM (#9942370)
      Call it a auto-da-fe Public relations of the Limux project. They didn't expect the media reaction in Munich, so they cooled it down. They didn't want to spread FUD about the Limux oproject, they wanted to say that software patents are dangerous for them and cause costs. They wanted to urge the German Government to stop software patents [ffii.org].

      Even FFII was surprised about Munich's initial press release, Hartmut Pilch wrote [ffii.org]:

      We were surprised by the announcement of Wilhelm Hoegner and the mayor. I learnt from both only through the media.
      Yet I think their message is exactly to the point.

      Municipalities must assess the risk caused by software patents. Some government authorities in Sweden and the UK have already seen themselves forced to litigate against frivolous software patent claims in order to retain their freedom to do basic day-to-day business. Interestingly, in these cases there was no Linux or free software involved. Yet, it can not be denied that solutions supplied by local SMEs on the basis of free software, as envisaged by Munich's IT strategy, involve greater patent risks than a contract with a single big supplier such as IBM or Microsoft. In any case it is the normal procedure to try to assess the risk and insure it, be it through the supplier or through a separate insurance. Recent estimates from the US suggest that such a patent insurance could cost more than 100,000 eur per year. The costs would be very similar in Europe, if the Council's political agreement, for which the German government and other national governments have been fighting, became law. If, on the other hand, the European Parliament's version of the directive was adopted, the risk would drop to zero.

      It is a good exercise for municipal governments to estimate patent risks in terms of insurance costs, and it would be an even better exercise for national governments to start serious assessment of the effects of legislation. No such calculation has to date been made, in spite of regular calls from Brussels to do so -- not to speak of calls from FFII to calculate the macro-economic costs of the various legislative options. The message from the Munich's mayor is therefore timely and should be heeded by other municipalities and governments, regardless of whether they plan to deploy free operating systems or not.
  • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:45PM (#9942301)
    So the Munich Greens thought that having a small temper trantrum about the patent trheat in Linux would have an effect. Instead, they discovered that all they'd done was shoot themselves in the foot.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    So now what happens? The city government takes the same gun, and shoots itself in the other foot. "No, Linux is still threatened by software patents, but...uh...well...we're going to go aghead with the bidding because...we're going to ignore the threat we tried to blackmail all of Europe with." Yeah, that's the ticket, boys -- make it intentionaly infringement. Right.

    Somebody send these guys a clue, please?
    • Somebody send these guys a clue, please?

      they might have a long-range clue. this dilemma raises the issue of software patents in a stark way *now*, while policy is still being formed.

      can you imagine trying to roll back software patents *after* they've been absorbed into the consciousness (and bottom line) of the german economy?

      • If they'd had a single clue to rub together, much less two, they'd have gone about this in a different way. What they've done is make themselves worse off. First, they tried to blackmail Europe with one small politically-motivated project in one city. Then, when the EU called their bluff, they turn around and say, basically, "Didn't mean it! Don't worry, we were just trying to scare you." That's not going to stop software patents in Europe. It only makes the opponents of software patents look foolish a
    • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @08:32PM (#9944224) Journal
      Insightful, my ass.

      This was incredibly smart as they are now producing a legal report that the goverment will have to act upon, thus derailing the European directive to approve software patents as unanimity is likely to be needed on the Commission.

      They have not admitted to the existence of any patents that affect Linux, but rather have stated that it is a troubling issue that needs to be examined.

      This was very shrewed. They raised public awareness, will get the city's legal department to produce a patent-unfriendly report which will be elevated to the German national government, which will then adopt a no-patents European position at the Comission.

      The trees not letting you see the forest?
  • I agree that this is a great step forward for Linux, and can have some profound effects.

    At the same time, I wonder how many people that work with these computers on a daily basis are confused/frustrated about the transition. I wonder how they'll feel about 3 months after the transition.

    I just know at my office, any kind of deviation from a working norm is frowned upon.

    • any kind of deviation from a working norm is frowned upon.

      Yes, but the frowning doesn't stop it from happening. A MS Win98 user's machine finally croaks and they buy a replacement, and it comes with the alien-looking MS WinXP where everything has changed just enough that it's confusing.

      Whether it's MS WinXP or Gnome or KDE or whatever, the change is about the same. Transition and frustration is going to happen anyway, so you might as well have it be transition to something you can trust. Retraining a

  • by Bandit0013 ( 738137 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:05PM (#9942465)
    I hope for Linux's sake that the community gives Munich some special attention/aid if they decide to migrate and that whoever they have doing the migration knows what they're doing.

    Imagine the field day Microsoft will have if the project goes over budget or outright fails!

    I still say you have to throw the cost argument right out the window though. In the end, organizations will pay a premium for quality support/service and applications that play nice together easily. That is the biggest challenge Linux has to overcome before it can truly stand toe to toe with Microsoft.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:11PM (#9942522)
      The switch is mostly in the hands of SuSE/Novell and IBM. For them, this is a showcase project. If they can pull it off there, they can expect a lot of followup business.

      I guess they'll do their best, whatever that is :)
      • The switch is mostly in the hands of SuSE/Novell and IBM. For them, this is a showcase project. If they can pull it off there, they can expect a lot of followup business.

        No, they did make the cost estimation, if I remember correctly, but the city of Munich wants the main work to be done by local middle-sized companies. This is because the whole concept about switching to Linux is getting vendor independent and the city also wants that the money they're spending to stay in the city rather than flowing to

    • Imagine the field day Microsoft will have if the project goes over budget or outright fails!

      Then it would look like any normal Windows project. And that would upset them more.
  • by michaelzhao ( 801080 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9942591)
    With the trouble the US has had with Europe, this very well might be political. Microsoft is a very big US company and switching from Microsoft to identityless software may improve the mood of some Europeans. This is not a unfounded belief. Korea-Japan-China initiative to develop an alternative OS was to depend less on the US software industry. The result was Red Flag Linux.
    • Reading through the thinly-veiled racism on this board, who could blame them? And let's not forget the non-US origins of Linux itself...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Korea-Japan-China initiative to develop an alternative OS was to depend less on the US software industry. The result was Red Flag Linux.

      I don't think Red Flag has anything to do with the Asian OS project. The CJK "alternative OS" project began last year or so, but Red Flag [distrowatch.com] started in 1999. Most importantly, it only supports Chinese, not Korean or Japanese. Although KDE's standard tool sets may have other two languages available, I doubt that Red Flag's own management tools do. The Asian alternative OS

  • We reported this earlier as well, but now that it's making the rounds again in English, more of us can read it without resorting to Babelfish.

    mmmh, that means it will be posted again when it will be published in spanish, and then in italian, and then in french, etc. etc.
  • there was an article while ago somewhere that most german it projects ended up failing
    maybe this is another evidence why that keeps happening
    apparently they just can't make up their mind wheter to go one way or another and end up stuck in the switching process
    • There's a charming generalisation...

      I think you'll find that the truth is that European software, especially in public administration, is more accountable and failures are publically examined.

      This is also the case in the UK, for example...
  • by dekeji ( 784080 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:03PM (#9942924)
    That's like the question "when did you stop beating your wife?", which simply plants the idea in everybody's head that the person questioned did, in fact, beat his wife.

    The fact is that Linux does not have any more or less "patent issues" than any other OS: nobody who develops software and has good legal advice will try to do background searches on patents. Instead, the rational thing to do is to develop the software and then see who complains. As a result, just about every major piece of software infringes on lots of patents.

    Given that Linux source code is out in the open, any patent holder who believes that their patent is being infringed can complain, and as soon as they do, the infringing code will be removed from Linux and life will go on.
  • Asia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:05PM (#9942946)
    Everyone's focused on Europe and America. The battle of MSFT and SCOX and patent.

    Not paying any attention to China and Korea. China has the man (and woman) power to develop and manufacture their own processors. And they're already switching over to Red Flag. At some point, companies on both sides will have to exchange documents in a format that is intra-compatible. More than likely, American companies will convert their documents to something the Chinese can use, negating MSFT Office's proprietary format. The only way MSFT could combat this, directly and in their current spirit, is by not allowing conversions from within Office or Windows.

    I honestly believe China will bail us out of this whole mess. Just give them a bit more time; they're industrious people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @05:06PM (#9942951)
    What a transparent attempt to get cheaper GPL licensing terms from Stallman and the FSF!

    Germany probably demanded something extreme, like perpetual access to source code.
  • This will cause the open source community to replace the tired old patented ideas with new innovative algorithms and user interfaces that advance computing for the common good of mankind. And as a benefit, Microsoft won't be allowed to use these ideas in their products! The future is bright indeed.
  • ...but now that it's making the rounds again in English, more of us can read it without resorting to Babelfish.

    Damn it. There went my excuse for not R'ing TFA...

    ...oh...wait. I didn't need an excuse, after all!

  • I think that Munich is doing more than just what is best for their network. They have been in a bright, global spotlight since the news that they rejected Microsoft's offer broke, and they are now in a very favorable position to set an example for other city and state governments, (national?), to migrate and stand up to the Giant's licnesing trap.

    I for one, welcome our new open source leaders...
  • Major corporations all own a war chest of patents. Clearly, they are not engaged in endemic warfare over each and every patent, though they could be. Instead, they simply cross-license their patents, in a form of detente. However, any small upstart corporations have nothing to bargain with, and can be attacked and suppressed.

    One of Linux's large benefactors needs to step up and protect Linux under the aegis of their existing patent portfolio, with some kind of cross-licensing arrangement. Or HP or IBM bu

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein