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Government Software Windows IT Linux

City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros 249

jrepin writes: The municipality of Turin in Italy hopes to save 6 million Euro over five years by switching from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux in all of its offices. The move will mean installing the open source operating system on 8,300 PCs, which will generate an immediate saving of roughly €300 per machine (almost €2.5m altogether, made up from the cost of Windows and Office licences) — a sum that will grow over the years as the need for the renewal of proprietary software licences vanishes, and the employees get used to the new machines.
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City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

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  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @07:38PM (#47894343)

    Well, the MS lock-in may just be starting to fray enough to make a difference.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12, 2014 @08:06PM (#47894457)

      One thing's for sure: There's no longer a shroud over Turin's OS source code.

    • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:12PM (#47894763) Homepage

      Europeans seem quite forward thinking when it comes to OSS. I found it interesting that a game I play and run servers for Xonotic has WAY more European based players than North American and they prefer the games because its OSS.

      • What idiot modarated this as a troll? I'm in Canada but its quite interesting how many EU players especailly in Germany love OSS.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Mostly, Germany is simply big and densely populated (by European/US standards), and with good enough infrastructure to be visible on the Internet.
          While in some parts still having a bit of a tradition of not spending more money than you have to (and/or having quite a lot of people not too poor to have internet and computer but still very tight with money).
          It also seems to have more Linux User Groups than most other European countries, not to mention Linux fairs/events, both of which are a great deal for enth

        • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @04:13AM (#47896025)
          Language support. MS is American and only do English well. Any other language is a total clusterfsck on Windows.
          • by GNious ( 953874 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @08:19AM (#47896427)

            Language support. MS is American and only do English well. Any other language is a total clusterfsck on Windows.

            That's kinda impressive - from experience, there aren't all that many Americans, that "do English well" :)

            • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @11:06AM (#47896905) Homepage

              That's kinda impressive - from experience, there aren't all that many Americans, that "do English well" :)

              The quality of the English version is what it is. The quality of the non-English version is what it is plus all that was lost in translation, it's certainly not going to be better. The worst is when they move around on standard shortcuts, for example in MS Office all English versions has Ctrl-F as Find and Ctrl-B as Bold. In Norwegian Ctrl-F = Bold (Fet) and Ctrl-B is Find (Finn) and I absolutely hate it every time. And yet in the interest of sanity they do keep other English shortcuts like Ctrl-S = Save (Lagre), even though that makes no sense in Norwegian. Never mind that when you're working with code or databases there is no Norwegian C# nor SQL, so it all ends up rather Norwenglish when you try.

              Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my language when it comes to identity and culture. But when it comes to communication having global terminology and one way of doing it makes everything so much simpler. Yes, there's a whole lot of "English" speakers out there but any resemblance of a common tongue beats trying to use translators. It's something of a first world issue though as 16% of the world is still illiterate in their first language but I hope that in 100 years you could talk to at least half the world's population in one language.

              • by GNious ( 953874 )

                Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my language when it comes to identity and culture. But when it comes to communication having global terminology and one way of doing it makes everything so much simpler. Yes, there's a whole lot of "English" speakers out there but any resemblance of a common tongue beats trying to use translators. It's something of a first world issue though as 16% of the world is still illiterate in their first language but I hope that in 100 years you could talk to at least half the world's population in one language.

                Now you know why I started to learn Mandarin a few years ago - yeah, I've accepted that I won't get far on Danish alone, and there are more people knowing Mandarin/Hindi/Spanish than English :)

                Meanwhile, I'm trying to recall the short-cuts in MS Office's Danish version ... thinking they are the same as in the UK version.

        • well there is a element of anti americanism in European states and given the recession to a non technical person it might seam simple to save money in this way where as its not that simple.
    • Does this put a Shroud on 12 year olds hacking into local sites?
    • MS only supports English properly. Europe has dozens of different languages that are all supported very well by Linux. This is a major item for most people.
    • If they do their own distro, they can call it Tunix, unless Asterix and Obilisk got there first!
  • A entire brand new PC capable of running Linux, LibreOffice, web browser, and typical programs that the average office worker or bureaucrat needs.

    Hell, you might even be able to buy a smart-TV for $300 that can run the same items.

    Microsoft either better cut their prices or give out free XP upgrades, unless they want to be upgraded out of business.
    • They shouldn't bother with XP upgrades, period. Let the dinosaur die already.
    • Depends entirely what the "average office worker or bureaucrat" actually does. The ones I work with need Acrobat Standar/Pro, Office (because LibreOffice still doesn't do a great job formatting documents created in docx), plus at least one industry-specific application (of which very few support Linux).

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @10:02PM (#47894931)

      Maybe 6-10 hours of staff time. What I mean is you have to factor what your people cost you. If someone costs $50/hour when you count in salary + ERE (meaning payroll tax, benefits, insurance and all other expenses) then 6 hours of their time costs $300. So, if your transition wastes more than 6 hours of their time, it is a net loss.

      You always have to keep that cost in mind when you talk about anything: What does it cost your employees to do? This is the same deal with old hardware. It can actually cost you more money, because it takes more IT time to support. Like if you have an IT guy whose salary + ERE is $30/hour and you have them spend 20 hours a year repairing and maintaining an old P4 system that keeps failing, well that is a huge waste as that $600 could have easily bought a new system that would work better and take up little, if any, of their time.

      That is a reason commercial software wins out in some cases. It isn't that you cannot do something without it, just that it saves more staff time than it costs. That's why places will pay for things like iDRAC or other lights-out management, remote KVMs, and so on. They cost a lot but the time they save in maintenance can easily exceed their cost.

      Just remember that unless employees are paid very poorly, $300 isn't a lot of time. So you want to analyze how much time your new system will cost (all new systems will cost some time in transition if nothing else) and make sure it is worth it.

      • But you have to compare it to what they would otehr wise be doing.

        If you pay them $50 an hour but this sucks out of their water cooler time, then no loss.
        If you pay them $50 an hour but this sucks out of "figuring out where the hell the command I always use went on the new ribbon system" then no loss.

        Seriously, Ribbons cost me well over 10 hours of time figuring out how to do what I'd always done.

      • Yeah but this fails to address the point of which requires more upkeep: Microsoft or Linux.

        It's been my experience that Linux is easier to administer (at least at scale) than Windows. Therefore, your argument adds to the fact that a switch to OSS would benefit the city.

  • Munich may be looking to pick up a bunch of Windows licenses on the cheap...

  • headline should read "...at least 6 million Euros"

    they get their number from the license fees **only**

    think about the savings from tech support & maintenance...

    then think about how much could've been saved the the US government had done this 10 years ago

    then think about how much of our tax dollars have gone to M$ or their subsidiaries just since 2000

    • Then you've never worked in an enterprise environment that uses it. You'll have a ton of tech support and maintenance costs with Linux. You not only have all the regular user shit, people who can't figure out how to use their computer, administrative stuff, etc. However I've also observed that a good bit of the stuff in Linux requires a lot of sysadmin work, scripting and such. We do Linux and Windows in our environment and we certainly make Linux work on a large enterprise scale, but our Linux lead spends

    • think about the savings from tech support & maintenance...

      ... because they won't need to support Linux or perform maintenance on it? Or do fairys do that for you with Linux?

      The retraining alone will cost far more than licensing costs over the last 10 years, let alone interoperability issues.

      Licensing costs are a drop in the bucket compared to an employees salary and time, the fact that you don't realize or consider this just shows how utterly disconnected you are from the realities of running a business.

      • think about the savings from tech support & maintenance...

        ... because they won't need to support Linux or perform maintenance on it? Or do fairys do that for you with Linux?

        Yep. The apt-get fairy does the maintenance. And it's considered axiomatic that a single operator can ride herd on about 10 times as many Linux machines as a Windows operator can on Windows machines.

        The "retraining cost" boogeyman argument no longer carries any credibility. It's a lot easier for most people to adjust to a Linux desktop than it is to adjust to that montrosity that Windows 8 foisted on us.

    • Really? So Linux is support and maintenance free? It just magically installs and configures itself? Trains the users? Installs patches? Or are you expecting each user to do this on their own? And who will monitor the security of each system?

      Also left out of this whole "saved" calculation is the cost of time lost due to frustration with incompatabilities between open source software and "global standards". Likewise the need to find replacements for more specialized software.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @08:41PM (#47894615)
    but I have to say: "Try A Different Distro"
    http://www.debian.org/CD [debian.org]
  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @08:50PM (#47894649) Journal

    hopes to save 6 million Euro over five years by switching from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux in all of its offices. The move will mean installing the open source operating system on 8,300 PCs, which will generate an immediate saving of roughly €300 per machine (almost €2.5m altogether, made up from the cost of Windows and Office licences)

    €6,000,000/8,300 = €723 Euro per machine. Subtract 300, up-front (OS/Office) = €85 per year savings, after the licenses.

    Let's say the average city employee makes €40,000/year (I have no idea what they make, but assuming one employee per workstation, those workers are about 1/4 of the cities annual budget of €1,266,000,000)

    So, the half a day's wage saved (€85) per year isn't a big deal either way - either they are happy with the open source systems and they make out, or they go back to proprietary software and spend a couple of days wages, if needed.

    And why does it need to be all or nothing? People should use what makes them most productive... within the support capabilities of the IT staff. Out of 8300 workstations I wouldn't be surprised if a large share of them could get by with basically running a web browser, but for those who need Windows or MacOS to get their work done, so be it.

    • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @12:08AM (#47895457)

      It is more than E85 a year, as this is only the upfront cost, excluding renewal of licenses.

      The amount is small on a per-employee basis, however that E6 mln that the city saves can now be used for other purposes. If there's no benefit of using Windows over Ubuntu, this E6 mln (or more, over time) becomes a waste of money. Explain that to your voters, why you'd throw millions of Euros to some foreign company for some unnecessarily expensive product!

      And why all or nothing? Because it makes the work of the IT staff a lot easier. Standardise computers, give them all the same hardware and software, and the bulk of the office can do exactly what they have to do. Maybe put in some non-standard (higher end, different OS, whatever) machines in the mix for the people that really need this - this are probably also the people that need the least support, so not much of an issue there.

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:07PM (#47894741)

    Do all 8300 employees need individual desktops? This is not a software development company, and those machines still need to be managed, maintained and replaced. Keep big depos of $250 chromebooks where anyone can get one for temporary or permanent use at office or home. Then return when done, as still working or broken. No IT costs, as data is in the cloud.

    For heavier use, provide computer labs with a choice of platforms, so if someone really needs to work on the latest version of Office or Photoshop, they can.

    And of course, anyone who is expected to work on computer for hours every day, or handle sensitive data, should get a laptop/desktop of their choice with reasonable price constraints. Savings from all the other use cases will more than pay for the luxury.

    • Yes they do, because ergonomics require decent keyboards, screen and mouses. They may not need fat clients and would be off just as well with thin clients, but laptops or that form factor do *not* replace desk top systems since they still need the keyboard, mouse and screen and will essentially be used as a desktop almost all of the time.

      They need access to their individual applications and data too. While it may be possible migrate all those to web applications or some client-server model, I doubt Turin h

      • You are forgetting something. They will save money by NOT buying new computers. In a bureaucracy the size of a city, there are tens of thousands of users that can use thin clients, tens of thousands more that can use thick clients and only a few thousand that need real desktops or laptops.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )

        Ergonomics is for 40 hours/week desk workers. If you are a gardening supervisor and spend most of the time interacting with workers, you can manage an hour/day hunched in front of a laptop filling in forms. In fact, you will prefer the flexibility to work anywhere, connected to a Windows XP cloud instance running your thousand custom applications. Obviously if you are going to spend most of the day at your computer, you should have a nice big monitor and a height adjusting desk.

  • by atari2600a ( 1892574 ) on Friday September 12, 2014 @09:17PM (#47894785)
    Replacement memory, batteries, HDD's for the 20% that approach EOL from overuse around this time, plus the labour to clean out all the fans. If they didn't factor this in, half their fleet's going to be dead within 3 years. This can still be a venture of savings, just not what they expect.
  • The council has 8,300 PCs to administer a city with less than a million people? Wow, what the hell do these people do all day?
  • Waning! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bjecas ( 1753752 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @05:05AM (#47896123)

    The company I work for has a number of workstations close to that of the one represented in TFA, in the 5 digits. Instead of forcing such a radical change down everyone's throat, they went about it step by step, over several years, and it's still ongoing.

    They started by gradually replacing several critical programs with web apps or frontends, killing off IE6 with "please use firefox" prompts for good measure. This part was met with only some token resistance by the users, mostly because of a couple of glitches that where promptly fixed. After the first couple of months, general opinion was that the change was very positive, especially because of how cumbersome and hard to use the old apps (some over 10-20 years old) where.

    The next phase was replacing Office, and it came with a huge backlash. The chief complaints where not so much about OpenOffice funcionality (along with some "it's *UGLY*!"), but about compatibility with MS generated documents. As of yet, it has been impossible to take MSOffice away from the "higher-ups", as any single minor UI or functionality change is bitched about as if it was a sign of the Apocalypse. Coupled with the long standing tradition of "sending down" 2-slide ppts, it was a huge mess.
    It's somewhat better now, as PDF has become the standard for operational documents, and xls or docs are glossed over to make sure nothing's horribly broken.

    Some areas (notably, reporting and analysis of KPIs) still rely heavily on excel features. Work is being done on that front, not so much because of the OSS push, but mainly because of the nightmare levels of voodoo in macro and VBA scripting involved. One hears talk of chicken blood and other dark rituals several times a week, which is how frequently something breaks.

    There's also a couple of critical windows-specific programs that haven't yet been replaced, but when that's done in another year or so, pretty much any OS is a viable pick. Though definitely not an easy change, it can be done in small steps and with minimal disruption. YMMV, mostly on how dependent you are on MsOffice...

  • from TFA:

    ...open source guru Richard Stallman...

    I am familiar with free software guru Richard Stallman, but who is this other guy with the same name?

  • by Pooh22 ( 145970 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @08:52AM (#47896527)

    Munich, Turin --- Linux

    Any other cities with a u and i in it? And would it work the other way, with i and u? /Simon

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @09:44AM (#47896661)
    I just talked to a guy from Microsoft, and they find this a revolting Turin of events.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday September 13, 2014 @01:54PM (#47897651) Homepage

    I remember when the Redmond faithful used to go on about needing Windows to get "real work" done. My work must not be real because I can do it on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS. I find myself using my Android tablet more and more for work and all my social media promotions.

    The operating system is becoming less relevant every day. People are choosing devices, not operating systems.

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