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Government Linux

Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft 579

alphadogg (971356) writes with news that the transition from Windows to GNU/Linux in Munich may be in danger The German city of Munich, long one of the open-source community's poster children for the institutional adoption of Linux, is close to performing a major about-face and returning to Microsoft products. Munich's deputy mayor, Josef Schmid, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that user complaints had prompted a reconsideration (Google translation to English) of the city's end-user software, which has been progressively converted from Microsoft to a custom Linux distribution — "LiMux" — in a process that dates back to 2003.
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Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

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  • Re: Surprise? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:07PM (#47699215)

    Someone's due for a brown paper bag stuffed with cash...
    I converted a law firm to Linux to what could be close to 13 years ago (thin client setup). I can undercut Microsoft every time. In the process of migrating the desktop software to a web based saas. (Linux servers of course).
    Then they can run whatever on their personal computers however the systems and desktops I support will always be Linux. (Or a BSD flavor - I'm no fanboi) - however you can't beat booting straight into a full screen browser.
    Who needs windows for that? Is the simple explanation (and revelation) is that paying for windows/internet explorer is cost effective ?
    Anyhow I don't really care.

  • Maybe not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:07PM (#47699219)

    The rest of the council disagrees [] (google translate [])with the second mayor.

  • by Ynot_82 ( 1023749 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:07PM (#47699221)

    From arstechnica []

    Microsoft announced last year that it was moving its German headquarters to Munich. This move is planned to take place in 2016. While Reiter was involved in the deal that precipitated the move and describes himself as a "Microsoft fan," he says the criticism of LiMux is unrelated.

    Limux is a project which, up until 3 days ago, has been widely reported as successful. It's been going on for 10 years for god's sake.
    Now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it's a failure - according to one politician.

    This is a single politician in the german government trying to derail the project for personal gain.

  • Why not google docs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:16PM (#47699285) Journal
    Our (S&P Midcap) company switched to Google docs + Google Apps packages successfully. It lets people buy Microsoft products too if they ask for it. But except for a few fancy presentations including lots of animation no one on the engineering side uses Microsoft. Some in accounting use Excel. But almost 90% of the time people stay in google docs. Slowly people have figured out what features not to use in Microsoft to interoperate with Google docs. There is relative peace and clam. Its integration with gmail, and collaborative editing and sharing makes google docs very useful. We no longer have multiple versions mutating through the email attachments. That is the biggest benefit as far as the users are concerned.
  • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:19PM (#47699321) Homepage

    and the desktop for a regular office worker isn't it.

    It is pretty good in places that never developed a Windows culture. There are certain advantages for a regular office worker that come for the Unix way of doing things. I'm surprised that after a decade they hadn't switched paradigms and people weren't enjoying the Unix advantages.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:30PM (#47699415) Journal
    Microsoft used to pay hosting service providers to switch to IIS. To gain a few server count numbers in surveys or something. It actually paid people to use Bing. Well let us see how much they are willing to give Munich to buy one more headline. All the while Google is consolidating its position in search and is seriously undermining the Office monopoly through Google docs.

    I just met a 50 something guy who bought Nokia latest phone Lumia 650 or whatever. His phone constantly forgets the google log in, changes the ring tone and randomly shutsdown. Normally some kid or a nephew would have fixed the issue had it been a iPhone or android. There is no kid in his extended circle who knows to troubleshoot a microsoft phone. His complaint is not the problems with the phone. ALL his phones malfunction because he answers yes/no to prompts without fully understanding the questions. But there are always children who would bail him out.

    I wonder how long its desktop monopoly is going to provide the cash to try these gimmicks.

  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:41PM (#47699491)
    Work has recently added Lync to our standard MS environment. It's far from perfect, but we now have integrated everything. I do mean everything. We get IM/VOIP telephony/email/shared calendar/book rooms and meetings/desktop sharing/n-way calls/webcam video conferencing/etc, all in one package.

    Is there any open source equivalent that has all these features? Because that is what MS is bringing to the fight.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @07:48PM (#47699547)
    You are correct. This is a political move being driven by the Deputy Mayor of Munich. One can only assume that Microsoft is funding his rise to power (and promising to move their German HQ to Munich) for a reason. ($15.6 Million reasons to be exact.)
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:22PM (#47699767) Journal
    They are not using the free version of the google apps. The paid version has the server in our control, maintained by us. Google only updates the executables and server side stuff, they dont get to see any data or anything. The authentication server somehow switches from to $ somehow. What kind of redirection etc done and how much google can glean from this nugget I am not sure.

    Imagine, company A uses google docs. Company B sues company A and fires a huge fishing expedition subpoena during discovery to Google. No matter what the contract says between A and Google, Google will minimise its cost and it will not fight the fishing expedition as strongly as company A would. It would be very foolish of company A's lawyers to depend on the contract language with Google and allow Google access to the data of emails and internal documents. Our company legal is quite sharp. They really would not like our documents outside our control. I don't know how much we are paying Google. But given the response we get from Google for down times and tech support questions it is likely to be between 50$ to 100$ per seat per year.

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @08:56PM (#47699971)

    Here's the missing piece of the puzzle:
    MS has been in talks with the city administration about moving their HQ from Unterschleissheim to Munich, which would result in a rather nice chunk of extra municipal tax income.

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

    by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:07PM (#47700043)

    It is pretty good in places that never developed a Windows culture..

    I think this poster has identified the real issue. I doubt that Microsoft bribed people to complain, though I'm sure they provided subtle encouragement. I'm sure they also worked at a high executive level, not with outright bribes, but in the way that sort of thing is always done, the old FUD method.

    But really, it comes down to people who are used to Windows wanting Windows, and they'll do that (mostly) even in the face of a mess like Windows 8. "What's this weird Linux thing they're making me use? I never had to use that anywhere else! Other organizations aren't converting, why are we?" And so on.

    I don't buy that Windows is inherently more "office ready" than Linux for the vast majority of office users, all else being equal. The thing is, all else isn't equal. I do buy the idea that Windows is heavily entrenched and has a huge "incumbent" advantage, one that is going to persist for a long, long time, whether we like that idea or not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2014 @09:43PM (#47700217)

    Things the article doesn't mention (but other articles do, if you speak german) are that the city council is still perfectly committed to linux, that even the mayors own party considers his opinion on the matter extraordinary and uninformed, and that the mayor recently helped broker a deal to have Microsofts german headquarters move into the heart of Munich. It's as obvious a case of a politician and a bunch of company reps scratching each others backs as you are going to get.

    Also, yes, there are complaints about LiMux, but really, show me a single organization with 15000 Desktops where the users do not constantly complain about how THE MACHINE ISN'T WORKING and THE WINDOWS CRASHED. The only difference here is that in this case, it is THE LUNIX DOESN'T WORK instead.

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

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @11:27PM (#47700655) Homepage

    I've seen non windows office environments. They have an answer to you ". "What's this weird Linux thing they're making me use? I never had to use that anywhere else! Other organizations aren't converting, why are we?" They do things that Windows just doesn't do. For example a lot of them actually use network transparency and share windows between workers. I can't message "Ron take a look at this" and send him an image of my screen. Then he says come over and I move the applications screen to his system. Or (especially prior to things like VMWare View) they loved to pass whole environments between physical computers so they don't have fixed desks. The same way that employees frequently login and logout of their phone in remote offices they can now do that with their computer so they don't even need a laptop. Something like building their applications on Docker and thus they get the advantage would be the modern equivalent where Linux far surpasses Windows where they can run just about any piece of software on any system without having to worry at all about the underlying Linux. Or a lot of the gurus who in the windows world would be your Excel or Word gurus pick up a little scripting and love to automate tasks and so you have shell scripts or Perl scripts flying around the office. There is for example much more blurring of lines between servers, and network shares and desktops because server solutions are also free.

        If they are still doing things the Windows way then Linux is just a bad Windows. That's the key. The office culture changes and people don't do things the Windows way anymore. When new workers come in the work culture is so different they immediately see it is nothing like their old job.

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

    by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Monday August 18, 2014 @11:29PM (#47700663) Homepage Journal

    Well, that's what you get for running Ubuntu in a dev environment. It's a distribution that's meant to be installed from Ubuntu's repositories, only updated from those same repositories, and never really used for any third party software. I've got a 75+ year old guy using it, because he kept getting infected when he was running Windows. Hasn't had any problems with it at all, other than when a stick of memory went bad, and it started crashing all the time.

    For stable servers (and even workstations) I've been running Debian since at least as far back as 1997. There were some issues like you describe in the first 5 years or so, but honestly, the only thing I've run across in the last 5 years was when I tried to do a database server upgrade, and uninstalled the old postgreSQL version 7 before migrating the data to the new version 8 server. That was a relatively easy fix, though, and it only happened because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Other than that, every Debian machine I maintain (and there are A LOT of them...) just runs perfectly.

    I have a customer who installed an Ubuntu server because "it has a GUI and it'll be easy for me to use". I stuck with it for a while because they liked it, solving problem after problem that cropped up because we kept needing to add third party software to it, which broke on literally EVERY SINGLE kernel upgrade.
    Finally, I figured out the amount of time I'd spent fixing shit that wouldn't have broken if we'd been using Debian, and how long it would take me to back up, blow away, install Debian, and restore data. Turned out the customer would have been 4 figures richer if I hadn't had to fix all the Ubuntu screwups over a couple of years. Recommended migrating to Debian, they agreed, and that machine hasn't had a problem since. That was 6 months ago.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @01:53AM (#47701173)
    A better article has the answer:

    But Schmidt's comments have already been derided (translated from the German) as appeasements to Microsoft, specifically since the company is already doing a migration of its own: It's moving its German headquarters to Munich, and expects to be operational there by Summer 2016.

    http://www.fierceenterprisecom... []

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @03:35AM (#47701445) Journal

    Why is it always Autocad anyway?

    I am an engineer and I've not actually met one who uses autocad. The ones I know who regularly design 3D stuff seem to be rather fond of Solidworks. The richer and older ones prefer Pro/E. Autocad seems popular fot 2D stuff, but for 3D parametric cad it doesn't cut it as far as I can tell.

    Anyway, I don't use any of them. I use Cadsoft Eagle which woks like a charm under Linux.

    But yeah, familiarity is a HUGE thing.

    The things is, this was from 2003. I wonder how many changes the upgrades to the unfamiliar Windows 8 and the Office ribbon would have garnered?

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Imsdal ( 930595 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @05:01AM (#47701655)

    Just wrong. For what most people do, LibreOffice is just fine.

    That may or may not be true, but it most definitely isn't true at all for power users, and especially so for power users of Excel. These users may not be representable of a typical user, but they are the ones actually running the business and they have enormous power. Suggesting that LibreOffice is "just fine" for these people is ignorant, and also the reason Linux won't make it on the desktop. If you don't even try to understand your users, what you offer isn't going to be good enough.

  • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:49AM (#47702131) Homepage

    I've converted those Excel power users. BTW also Word Power users can be tricky. First off one can just leave them on Windows and just treat it as an isolated non-intergrated application. So for example the accounting department uses Excel in a VM or Wine (lags about 3 years and some addons fail but core program works) or they run Linux with their office integrations in a VM on their windows boxes. That's the easy way.

    If you want to make them go fully open source generally it requires a complete shift in their workflow which ultimately is beneficial. Your typical Excel poweruser is someone who is benefiting greatly from the flexibility and short time to answer of Excel while having become a poweruser to compensate for the lack of dimensionality and scalability of Excel. Introducing them to BI and Business modeling tools which are better in these areas allows the to offload their more complicated Excel functions. This transition makes them into non-powerusers and then you can switch the spreadsheet on them. They actually become more effective as they are now using tools which can handle what they really want to do with Excel. But..., and this is not a small thing, they training costs of bringing on new people are large. Accountants don't walk in the door with those skills. Which is fine for government (and Germany for that matter) with long employee retention.

    Most companies have IT accounting. If you can get those people on board and they have the skills, then via. training it can migrate down to the Excel Powerusers and from there to the Excel heavy users.

    Again this comes down to understanding Windows is a culture not just software and to change the software you really need to change the culture. Obviously this keeps getting easier as LibreOffice Calc gets more feature rich. It certainly would be easier today than it was a decade ago.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers