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City of Barcelona Dumps Windows For Linux and Open Source Software ( 255

An anonymous reader quotes Open Source Observatory: The City of Barcelona is migrating its computer systems away from the Windows platform, reports the Spanish newspaper El País. The City's strategy is first to replace all user applications with open-source alternatives, until the underlying Windows operating system is the only proprietary software remaining. In a final step, the operating system will be replaced with Linux... According to Francesca Bria, the Commissioner of Technology and Digital Innovation at the City Council, the transition will be completed before the current administration's mandate ends in spring 2019. For starters, the Outlook mail client and Exchange Server will be replaced with Open-Xchange. In a similar fashion, Internet Explorer and Office will be replaced with Firefox and LibreOffice, respectively. The Linux distribution eventually used will probably be Ubuntu, since the City of Barcelona is already running 1,000 Ubuntu-based desktops as part of a pilot...

Barcelona is the first municipality to have joined the European campaign 'Public Money, Public Code'. This campaign is an initiative of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and revolves around an open letter advocating that publicly funded software should be free. Currently, this call to public agencies is supported by more than 100 organisations and almost 15,000 individuals. With the new open-source strategy, Barcelona's City Council aims to avoid spending large amounts of money on licence-based software and to reduce its dependence on proprietary suppliers through contracts that in some cases have been closed for decades.

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City of Barcelona Dumps Windows For Linux and Open Source Software

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  • by chrism238 ( 657741 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @01:42AM (#55929859)
    In breaking news, Microsoft has just announced that it will supply the City of Barcelona with free licences for all of its software needs.
    • by deek ( 22697 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @01:49AM (#55929885) Homepage Journal

      If that truly does happen, can you imagine what the headlines the next day would be?
      Yep, every other city in Europe suddenly announcing a move to Linux.

      • I wonder how much Microsoft is willing to pay for Barcelona? As much as they spent on Munich?
        • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @01:25PM (#55932419)

          Well, it sounds like Barcelona has learned a thing or two from Munich's experience. They're not switching to Linux - or at least, not until the last Windows-only app is pried from users' cold, dead hands. They are going to standardize on the Windows versions of open source apps, like LibreOffice. And presumably some open sourced email and scheduling software. And they're going to plow the savings on Office and Exchange into getting replacement software written for whatever other stuff they need.

          Seriously, if they standardize on web applications for everything except perhaps stuff like LibreOffice, which exists on just about every platform - they're already way ahead of Munich. Munich made a valiant effort back in the day when desktop software was still king. Switching to Linux - and then trying to get all your desktop software rewritten for your chosen Linux target (another Munich problem - LiMux, whatever that is) turned out to be a recipe for partial success at best. But sticking with the Windows OS until you really don't need it any more for anything is a much better approach. And using Windows pretty much the same way you'd use a Chromebook (i.e. to access apps running on a server) is another way to save a bunch on IT support costs. Good luck, Barcelona.

          • by Humbubba ( 2443838 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @09:54PM (#55935553)
            Barcelona is amazing. First they try to leave Spain, now Microsoft.

            To avoid the Munich muck, Barcelona will have to more than replace Microsoft specific apps with cross platform and WEB based equivalents. Munich had pressure from the computer users, IT staff, politicos, businessmen, and a lot of the tech industry, not just Microsoft. It's hard to abandon the world standard.

          • My understanding is that LibreOffice was a big sticking point for Munich. They had trouble dealing with documents in Microsoft formats that other people sent them. They could have used their government power to MANDATE the use of open formats and simply refused to deal with documents in Microsoft formats, a move that would have furthered open source adoption elsewhere, but they did not. Perhaps Barcelona will.
      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        They did it in Munich. They move their headquarters there. And then politicians were very thankful and killed the LiMux project.

        • by e70838 ( 976799 )
          I think Limux failed because they kept a fraction of machines under windows. Cohabitation of Linux and Windows introduces many difficulties and costs that do not exist in homogeneous park.
          • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @07:41AM (#55930695)

            So, Windows-based networks can cohabit with Mac and Linux devices just fine, but Linux-based networks can't do this? That seems a little hard to believe.

          • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:08AM (#55930745)

            My understanding is that Munich had to keep a fraction of machines under windows, because some of their proprietary software was not easily migrated to open source. But they still wanted to (mostly) avoid the expense of migrating to a new version of Windows, which would have required hardware updates as well as new licenses. So they went ahead and got into some technical difficulties, as well as push back from users.

            Overall, I think Barcelona has the better strategy here, even if it will take them longer. Both in terms of a smooth transition on the technical side and in terms of less excuses for unwilling users.

            Because if you replace the software in smaller increments, the claim the whole system sucks does not work anymore. Instead, you can require people to be more specific with their complaints. Such as Joe Shmoe saying "Libre Office does not work with my documents". Then a support guy can visit Joe and ask him to demonstrate the problem, and how to fix it will become more obvious.
            - If only Joe did not understand how to use that feature in Libre Office, show him.
            - If many employees have problems using Libre Office, your training program might suck. Improve it, maybe invest in more training time for each employee.
            - If it is a genuine bug, work with the Libre Office developers to fix it. Maybe actually hire some developers for that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2018 @03:08AM (#55930101)

      Most IT shops do not know the answer to three questions
      1) How much (all up, everything) do we pay microsoft in licence fees per year
      2) How much do we pay other vendors for licence fees
      3) Over 3 years how much have we paid for software- all up, including lawyers, audits, and licence management packages, and administrators who add nothing to the bottom line ensuring 'compliance'

      Looks like one city has asked these questions, and cost per seat is visible. The main haters of open source are click and pointers who can't learn - and they need to go.

  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @01:53AM (#55929905)

    Maybe Barcelona and Munich could just meet up and swap all their computers!

    • Re:Here's an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @02:40AM (#55930037) Journal

      It would appear that Barcelona may have planned their migration to Open-Source much better than Munich did. Per TFS, Barcelona began using Open-Source applications within Windows, long before they took the step to replace the underlying OS. That way, they had all their staff trained on the Open-Source tools, so the switch of the OS would be less onerous.

      This will be worth watching. I wish them luck.

      • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @03:09AM (#55930105) Homepage

        You don't need to plan. Just get one of the experts on here to do it all. It'll just take a weekend apparently.

      • Catalans planned something better that Germans.

        Now I heard everything.

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          Well, the WSJ weekend edition just had an article on German military procurement. It turns out they've sucked at that for several years with badly planned systems, cost overruns, etc. It is enough to put a dent in their reputation for engineering prowess. Then there was the lying about vehicle emissions from Volkswagon.

      • That was the thing that made me cringe whenever I read about the Munich migration. Trying to move everything at once was a political statement, not a practical one. Windows should be the last proprietary software product that you abandon, and when you do it should be easy. First, move all of your back-end stuff to alternatives that use open protocols and work with different clients. Then move the clients for these over. Then start moving to LibreOffice or OpenOffice - have both installed, but mandate t
      • Yeah, I think that's the right way to go about it. Get everyone using Firefox and LibreOffice, and whatever other open source applications. Once that's all done and working, swapping out the underlying OS is relatively trivial.
      • by nashv ( 1479253 )

        Yes, but part of the problem is staff that requires 'training' to figure out off the shelf consumer level programs. An average school kid will usually figure out a word processor on their own. And if they have used Office before, the already (hopefully) understand the concept of a document, spreadsheet etc. So moving to another program that uses the same concepts shouldn't be difficult.

        The second more specific problem for a huge number of business people is that there is really NO alternative to Powerpoint.

        • The second more specific problem for a huge number of business people is that there is really NO alternative to Powerpoint.

          You say that like it's a bad thing. []

          • by nashv ( 1479253 )

            It's a bad thing because it is what people want. It is what the older generation of bosses is used to. I am promoting the merits of Powerpoint. I am underscoring its immense popularity and bemoaning the lack of a worthy alternative.

  • Spectrum (Charter / Brighthouse / Time Warner) Cable has switched to Libre Office for customer care and some other departments.
  • Next (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @02:01AM (#55929931)

    All the city's computers swich their locale settings to ca_ES.UTF-8, annoying the shit out of everybody. Then they hold a referendum to propose disconnecting from the internet and dumping their .es top-level domain name. Then the main server flees to Belgium.

  • I propose they use Manuel. It is from Barcelona.

    And if they are smart, all of their servers should be Fawlty resistant.

    And to change horses in mid-stream I can say I didn't get where I am today without having servers that were Fawlty resistant.

    Certainly not . . .

  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @02:26AM (#55930001) Journal

    What really makes this possible is the cloud. Typically industry specific software will make it really difficult to migrate away from Windows, but as more and more of these programs migrate to a browser based interface, Linux compatibility shoots through the roof.

    By going with a phased approach where the OS is the last thing to migrate, they have already demonstrated more forethought than many other organisations. The real milestones will be when they get finance to move away from excel and when they replace senior members of IT. Until they meet those milestones, this will in all likelihood end up being a giant waste of money and time.

    • Move from Excel to what?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a ( 778472 )

        That's exactly the attitude the finance people will have. Believe it or not there are open source alternatives to Microsoft Excel. You'll get finance people to switch to that as quickly as you'll get Texans to give up their firearms though.

        • The finance department will be over the moon about having to port all those spreadsheets to another piece of software for no obvious benefit to them I'm sure. Don't pretend you can just open them up and they'll work the same.

      • Move from Excel to what?

        Everything that should have been used instead of Excel in the first place.

        Seriously the only Excel tables which don't work on the several other office suits which are available are the ones that shouldn't have been setup in the first place (think payroll database that someone decided to implement in Excel). Migrating to cloud based services for management returns the office applications to their basic roots and makes adoption of other software easy.

        Now Sharepoint and Exchange on the other hand...

        • Move from Excel to what?

          Everything that should have been used instead of Excel in the first place.

          Thank you. Came here to post just this.

          There is so much excel abuse in the world that it's not funny. Entire businesses run off a black box of macros that someone wrote a decade ago. Hire someone to script it up in a sensible language and drop it into some sort of CVS so that there's some amount of transparency, backups, and the ability to debug it.

          One place I worked at had a major disaster in accounting because some guy's hard drive failed. Close to a month goes by as he re-writes his excel macros to be ab

      • Since most people use it as a glorified calculator anyway, there should certainly be some google-doc tool good enough to replace it.

        • Quite the opposite. The problem don't use excel as a calculator. They use it as a database, management tool, accounting tool, expediting tool, employee management, planning tool, scheduling tool, ... each of which loaded with enough VB script mostly copied and pasted straight from stack exchange and re-arranged until it gives the least number of errors while running that it is a wonder the computers haven't committed harakiri to spare themselves from having to execute it.

          Needless to say portability of those

    • Why "replace" and not "retrain" IT?

      • Don't cross pollinate Windows and Unix derivative users. The last we need is the former bringing down the IQ of the latter. :-)

      • People retire, move cities, change jobs for a promotion.

        There will be a few IT people driving this from a technical standpoint. Seeing them successfully replaced will be a real boost to the viability of this project.

  • So long as there isn't commercial support for all this open software that they now don't have to pay for, these transitions aren't going to work. I assume they aren't going to shift their license costs to developer costs to maintain and improve said open software. They're just going to sit back and think of all of those savings they'll be saving. Until the incompatibility stick hits them. Linux is only free if your time is free. As soon as you need to support that shit, it is just as costly if not more so t
    • >So long as there isn't commercial support for all this open software that they now don't have to pay for, these transitions aren't going to work.

      It's not impossible to contract support, even for Linux.

      > I assume they aren't going to shift their license costs to developer costs to maintain and improve said open software.

      Probably not, which is foolish. Let's hope they're not all fools and somebody points out the need at a meeting at some point.

      >As soon as you need to support that shit, it is just a

  • I once read an article on Linux on the Desktop, and the cases where it makes sense. Basically it was

    - Organisations which need very limited specialist finctionality (E.g. Point of Sale)
    - Very small organisations who can make do with a few standard apps and can spend time converting formats
    - Very large organisations that can have whole departments to customise apps (leverage open source) change formats of incoming documents, give support, etc.

    I would think that Barcelona would be medium sized and no
  • by The123king ( 2395060 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @06:28AM (#55930553)
    Buy all the kit Munich is scrapping whilst moving back to Windows!
  • The way LiMux was botched is a textbook example how to screw up a software rollout with shitty management. That some stupid n00bs can rollback a deployment worth 10ns of millions of Euros is a total desaster.

    I hope the city of Barcelona has the minimum requirements of basic brain functions to pull this off without to many problems and some ords screwing up the process. After the LiMux desaster we need a success in this field.

    My 2 eurocents.

  • They spent so much on Coutinho that they had no money left for licensing fees...

  • I know lots of Slahshdotters (?) love them some Linux, but I've heard this story before, and it rarely ends up well.
    Servers and specialized machines, sure... they are mostly running Linux anyways, so it's not a problem.
    Government employees' computers? It's not only because Microsoft comes later on with enticing propositions, it's because people can't get used to distros like Ubuntu even when it's this user friendly or close to looking like Windows.
    For regular users, it's almost like learning another languag

System checkpoint complete.