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The Woes of Munich's Linux Migration

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the eyes-of-the-world-are-upon-you dept.

Government 314

mikrorechner writes "The H Online has a writeup of the problems encountered by LiMux (Wikipedia entry), one of the most prominent Linux migration projects in the world, trying to introduce free software into the highly heterogenous IT infrastructure of the City of Munich. Quoting: 'Florian Schiessl, deputy head of Munich's LiMux project for migrating the city's public administration to Linux, has, for the first time, explained why migrating the city's computing landscape to open source software has taken longer than originally planned.'" Here is Shiessl's blog, in which he details some of the transition problems.

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I came first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542530)

Be sure to lick it all up! XD

They should switch to all Macs (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542548)

Then their IT infrastructure will be homogenous.

Re:They should switch to all Macs (1, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542572)

Newsflash there, AC. Not all mac users are gay. Sheesh, this is 2010, not 1995! Get over it. (I don't need to explain this is a joke, do I? Oops, I think I just did)

Re:They should switch to all Macs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542618)

only gays can tolerate that shiny plastic gleem that reeks of limp wristed asthetics.

Re:They should switch to all Macs (2, Funny)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542928)

Of course not. You don't turn gay immediately after buying a mac, it takes time.

Re:They should switch to all Macs (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543010)

Of course not. You don't turn gay immediately after buying a mac, it takes time.

How much time? (Looks around furtively).

Re:They should switch to all Macs (2, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543070)

Aw man, what do I tell my family? Especially my wife? I've been using macs pretty consistently for the last three years...am I slowly turning gay right now as we "speak"? Or is it more of a "you'll first slowly stop allowing your wife to pick out your clothes for you" followed by trimming your eye brows? What's next? A man purse? Oops, sorry, I meant a "European Shoulder bag".

Aw hell, I'm almost gay, aren't I?

Voice mode=Brando The horror! THE HORROR! /Brando

Re:They should switch to all Macs (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543428)

>>>You don't turn gay immediately after buying a mac, it takes time

My Quadra Mac was my third favorite computer.

Right after my amiga.

Re:They should switch to all Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543012)

Macs are super tho. They're just flaming. Oops did this seem too gayish? (I think it did.)

Re:They should switch to all Macs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542632)

Then their IT infrastructure will be homogenous.

Well, at least we're not homophobic.

Re:They should switch to all Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542972)

homogenous != homogorgeous

woa! Smit thee with penquin turds!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542550)

Yup !!

There is no free lunch (1, Insightful)

rshol (746340) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542580)

Either buy a proprietary system or pay to do it yourself. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Re:There is no free lunch (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542608)

Or you know.. buy an open system....

Re:There is no free lunch (2, Interesting)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542950)

Now seriously, I've read that all this migration has cost MILLIONS from public fonds and there are rumors that some heads are going to to roll soon because of this. In the university I am working for some IT-boss though it was a great idea to replace a well working First Class conferencing system that had been working GREAT for years by the Open Source Sakai. Well, the results: several millions have been wasted in this, there are (maaany) problems with the new platform, teachers hate it, students hate it... The "brilliant" IT chef is now working somewhere else after that disaster.

Re:There is no free lunch (4, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542998)

Poor IT chef.

But on that note, what an awesome IT department. They had a CHEF on staff? Fuck yeah!

Re:There is no free lunch (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543030)

Aaaah, I see now. If once piece of software is rubbish, then surely any other pieces of software under the same license must also be rubbish!

With this in mind I think it is safe to say that we can write off proprietary software from seriously competeing in the real world, you would not believe how many stories about proprietary software messing up I can find...

What is that? That's not actually what you were claiming, you were just being offtopic? Oh, I see...

Re:There is no free lunch (3, Funny)

huckamania (533052) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543458)

When considering open source software, you should never, ever consider the costs of replacing an existing closed source system that works in every possible way with an inferior open source offering. You should consider instead all of the very fine software projects that are produced by the open source community. You should also remember that closed source systems are, by definition, thought and deed, inferior to any open source software, even when it isn't, don't be lazy, you stoopid noob, you have the source.

I apologize for this post about replacing closed source software with open source software in a discussion about the city of Munich replacing their closed source software with open source software. It is obviously off topic.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542966)

...and then pay in house developers to reproduce all of the functionality that your proprietary system was providing. As the OP said, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Did you read the article? It mentioned a lot of VBA macros that had to be converted into a similar system that managed templates, automation, etc. In other words, the functionality had to be re-created.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543116)

Shouldn't that have been evaluated before starting the project in the first place? If you rely on a lot of legacy proprietary functionality, you should probably determine costs beforehand of either a) replicating that functionality in the new system or b) justifying whether you need the functionality in the first place.

That sounds like you have a bunch of xbox 360 games but don't want the console...then buying a Mac and wondering why the games won't work on it...

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

lastgoodnickname (1438821) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543316)

Yah, OO writer has macros, so no prob, boss.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543192)

Sounds like they failed at evaluation. They picked these shackles when they used VBA, sounds like piss poor planning.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543326)

Bitching about past decisions (to use VBA) isn't going to fix anything. Clearly you're not the kind of person who can solve problems.

Re:There is no free lunch (2, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543340)

VBA was probably their only choice. In 2000, where was OpenOffice? Where was the Linux desktop? VBA has been around for a "long time" when measured in IT years. At the time they probably went with the "free" tool built into the application that happened to be compatible with the majority of their other applications.

People bag on VBA like it is worthless. If was totally worthless it wouldn't have been used as often as it was. If there were good alternatives it wouldn't have the market penetration that it does. It is only now that there are alternatives that people are complaining about it. It's kind of like bagging on a 10 year old application for not being optimized for a dual-core CPU.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543452)

Sounds like they failed at evaluation. They picked these shackles when they used VBA, sounds like piss poor planning.

No IT department ever planned to based business processes off spreadsheet macros, its more like "Hey did you know this guy in accounting wrote a big nasty spreadsheet with 25,000 lines of VBA code?"

One of the the things mentioned in the article was that their IT support structure was decentralized and non-standardized, which would make for a difficult project even if they were doing a Microsoft-to-Microsoft migration. You could argue they bit off more than anyone could chew, which is why this is taking so long.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543084)

Yeah, I think he covered that ("pay to do it yourself"). Or do they have snazzy open systems that just automagically analyze your environment and deploy themselves successfully?

No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542788)

The advantage with FOSS is that Germany can hire German programmers to modify the software used by Munich's government (which is also German).

If they stuck with proprietary products, who would they be paying to improve it?

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (4, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542832)

The advantage with FOSS is that Germany can hire German programmers to modify the software used by Munich's government (which is also German).

If they stuck with proprietary products, who would they be paying to improve it?

This is an insightful post. However, I firmly believe if a US poster made this comment (about the US government) their comment would be labeled a troll comment.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542978)

God help the users if German developers and engineers modify the software. It will all run perfectly until someone makes a trivial human mistake.

Sorry, just trying to get over my BMW/VW nightmares. The flashbacks are terrible.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (0)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543466)

I flashed to stories about the German tanks in WWII which were amazingly advanced compared to their comtemporaries. However if anything happened to them in the field they couldn't fix them and they could not be mass produced anywhere near the levels of the U.S. inferior tanks.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543472)

Just be glad you don't have a Toyota!

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543078)

Why do you say that? If you interpreted khasim's statement as implying that Germany can and should hire German programmers out of some kind of nationalism (which isn't how I interpreted it), then that's offensive no matter which government we're talking about. Still, I hardly ever hear people (besides myself) saying that things like "Buy American-Made" is offensive anyway.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543230)

It seems more like practicality to me. If you are a government and have to spend similar amounts of money might as well spend it where you get some back as taxes. Exporting your wealth is generally a bad idea.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543242)

Nationalism:

1.national spirit or aspirations.
2.devotion and loyalty to one's own nation; patriotism.

Nationalism gets a bad rap, IMO. There's nothing wrong at all with being loyal and/or devoted to your own country. Heck, it permeates everything, just about.

Anyway, the point was exactly what I said, there's a double-standard on here where it's perfectly fine for someone from another country to look out for their country, but if someone from the US does it, it's troll-bait/flame-bait.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543436)

Surely the world would be much better off without nationalism. Just as the world is better off without Townism, Caveism, and Familyism. We are bigger than our countries make us look. Being proud of other people's achievements makes as much sense as being full after someone else eats dinner. You didn't do it, so why be proud of it? Simply because the person doing something cool was accidentally born in the same place you were accidentally born? How does that make sense? It's just people trying to find pride in anything that will, in their opinion, make them seem better to other folks. Only the insecure need nationalism & patriotism. Those secure enough don't need to wave someone else's flag to feel good about themselves, or to feel like they belong.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543336)

I'm surprised that there aren't any Microsoft fans with mod points today, or he would have been (incorrectly) modded troll anyway. Hell, yesterday in the thread about which AV software was best, I was modded troll for mentioning that Windows was the only OS that needed AV.

And they think Apple and Linux fans are bad!

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (2, Insightful)

haeger (85819) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542856)

Yes, because it's not like there's a large number of german companies that specialize in windows development and managing windows. That's only something that open source has.

Let's be a little honest about the benefits of OSS please. There are plenty, but saying that proprietary software is bad for the local economy is just misleading.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543254)

No, but paying for windows is exporting a heck of a lot of wealth. Proprietary software made in the local country would have this advantage too.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543440)

Yes, because it's not like there's a large number of german companies that specialize in windows development and managing windows.

Windows and MS Office are developed in Seattle and India. Linux is developed all over the world with some heavyweights from Europe and Germany, while OOo is mainly developed by the old StarOffice-Team in Hamburg, Germany (now Sun, soon Oracle).

While it is not "buy german" it is a lot closer to home and a lot less dependent on a single entity.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543034)

They'd be paying German programmers if that was important to them. Otherwise they'd outsource it to India like every other large organization. The article mentions that the IT department was somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 employees. Employees are trainable. It doesn't matter if they are running Linux, Windows, Unix or OSX. Their systems required trained administrators.

To all the OSS zealots, where is the cost savings on labor? Where is the meme that it takes more labor resources to manage Windows servers? Is Munich going to downsize their IT department once they're done with their Linux migration? Or are they going to find themselves living in the real world and realize that x number and y number of applications requires z number of staff to support?

I wonder how much of the "cost savings" on software licenses is being consumed by developer hours recreating functionality.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543278)

Munich’s IT as faced by LiMux in 2003 consisted of 21 independent IT units, every single one responsible for its IT operation. Different grown – and locally quite optimized – processes, tools and specific trained staff. 51 IT operating locations (small and big datacenters), about 1.000 IT staff for 33.000 employees. The technical diversity is a small mirror of the world’s different IT solutions. No common directory, no common user, system or hardware management. Different tools for software distribution and system management. More than 300 apps, many of them redundant, e.g. using Dreamweaver, Frontpage, Fusion etc. for HTML-editing. 21 different Windows clients, different patch levels, different security concepts

Where did you get the "300" employees" figure from? This is Munich, not Master Control Program-land. The cost savings on labor, if there are any, will probably come from the fact that the whole IT environment will have been standardized. When it comes to that, it doesn't matter whether they use a closed proprietary OS or an Open Source one, although software costs afterward for a closed OS environment might be higher.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543298)

I wonder how much of the "cost savings" on software licenses is being consumed by developer hours recreating functionality.

Even if it consumes every last cent, it would still be a big win. That is money you spent in the local economy not exported, plus it means they are free from future payments for this tech.

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543148)

If they stuck with proprietary products, who would they be paying to improve it?

The company that develops and sell the product ? and get on with their main business of governing and running a city ?

Re:No free lunch, but a range of benefits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543228)

Sorry but I don't see how this argument holds up.

All the big interesting FOSS packages are developed wherever they are developed. Meanwhile, the local customization and workflow apps are generally done locally even with closed source. There's probably only a handful of situations where some proprietary vertical app could be replaced with a locally developed alternative, and as far as I know Munich has not released any such things as "FOSS".

However Slashdot will mod up anything that sounds like a full employment act for developers.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543104)

No free lunch? Poor guy never had a grandma. Some other incorrect old sayings:

"You get what you pay for". If someone says that, hold on to your wallet, because you're likely to pay for far more than what you get. You usually pay for what you get, but you don't always get what you pay for. Ask any con artist.

"Money doesn't grow on trees, you know." Tell that to someone who owns an orchard.

"Nothing worthwile is free." Air?

"You pays your money and you takes your chances." OK, that one is usually correct.

Re:There is no free lunch (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543232)

...because, of course, there were never installation delays with a proprietary system...

Nothing on god's green earth... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542582)

...open source or otherwise has easily replaced anyone's highly heterogeneous IT infrastructure. Sounds like all those overpromises by endless ERP vendors.

From what I've seen, the most successful endeavors deal with a highly heterogeneous IT infrastructure as a fact of life and learn to manage that most effectively. Those that try one-stop reformulations are doomed to failure. Open source or proprietary.

It's like the old saying... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542604)

Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing.

Re:It's like the old saying... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542798)

Windows costs $$
You can either deploy it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

OS X costs $$
You can either deploy it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

Linux is free
You can either deploy it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

Re:It's like the old saying... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543462)

Of course the "free" in "free software" doesn't refer to the price.

Because every project is late (5, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542606)

Everyone always underestimates how long anything non-trivial is going to take. In this case it seems like not only were they trying to migrate to a new platform, but also trying to undo every past mistake, oversight and quickly implemented solutions that appeared on the surface to work just fine. That's going to take just a little while to get done.

Re:Because every project is late (5, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542744)

Indeed.

Every major project always takes longer than expected because so many small details are exposed as you uproot any existing system or workflow process. Instead of looking at this as something that may have been "more trouble than they bargained for" we should learn from it and understand that migrating to Linux won't be any easier than migrating to or from any other platform. I think there are two things to take away from Munich's Linux migration:
* It can be done.
* Being on the leading edge carries with it a lot of responsibility to those who will follow you.

Re:Because every project is late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543330)

It will also make a good case study in ways to improve the process so other organizations can better plan for a similar migration

Re:Because every project is late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543098)

...quickly implemented solutions that worked just fine.

FTFY.

Re:Because every project is late (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543376)

Everyone always underestimates how long anything non-trivial is going to take.

That's Hofstadter's law [wikipedia.org] . "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law."

I find this interesting (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542622)

Converting all computers to the Open Document Format (ODF) standard has overcome dependency on a single office software suite.

Does ODF now define formulas for spreadsheets? because my understanding was that this was still ambiguous in the spec, and it is a pretty big problem if it is.

Re:I find this interesting (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542656)

I believe you have to use the non-ISO versions of ODF for formulas. I'm not sure OASIS has submitted anything newer than ODF 1.0 to the ISO.

Yes it does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542690)

Yes it does, same as it did before: Do It Like MS Office 97. Which, oddly enough, Microsoft couldn't manage...

Re:I find this interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542718)

Nobody is using ODF for any non-trivial interoperablilty, its just freetard code for "we use OpenOffice".

Re:I find this interesting (5, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542802)

It's not ambiguous in the spec, it's undefined in the spec. But one thing is defined in the spec: a way to do application-specific spreadsheet formulas without breaking the standard and without conflicting with a standardized way of expressing formulas when it's finally standardized. The expectation is that applications will do formulas their own way, possibly recognizing other application-specific formulas (there actually aren't that many different formats). When formulas are finally standardized applications will begin using the standard and will convert any non-standard formulas they recognize into the standard form when the spreadsheet's read in, resulting in a quiet upgrade to the standard form.

And in the meantime, ODF can be used for things like word-processing documents that don't require formulas without having to wait for one spreadsheet-specific feature to be completed.

Re:I find this interesting (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543062)

What happens when you want to say... paste a spreadsheet into your document?

We thought about doing this in Canada (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542628)

But we couldn't find a catchy pun or play on words to name the project, so we ditched it altogether.

Re:We thought about doing this in Canada (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542786)

How about LinuxEh?

Re:We thought about doing this in Canada (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542842)

LEhnux

Re:We thought about doing this in Canada (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542840)

But we couldn't find a catchy pun or play on words to name the project, so we ditched it altogether.

Really? What about "Canux"? Isn't that already your nickname?

Move them all into the CLOUD (2, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542646)

1. Move them all into CLOUD computing 2. ??? 3. Profit!

Re:Move them all into the CLOUD (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542916)

1. Move them all into CLOUD computing
2. ???
3. Profit!

I believe #2 is "pray", unless you're a 'cloud host' and then it's "prey".

Bad title is bad. (5, Insightful)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542668)

I recommend to read the blog as it's more informative and it's also rather optimistic. Not just woes as the title would lead you to believe. Of course making the switch to free software takes work, but it's a great opportunity for constant improvement and as Mr. Shiessl points out, there is much digital waste to be cleaned up on exit from the proprietary.

Re:Bad title is bad. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542702)

kdawson is a Microsoft shill. At least that's what I'm told.

Re:Bad title is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542958)

kdawson just LOVES trolling and fud.

Doesn't matter who for, or against.

Re:Bad title is bad. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543312)

kdawson doesn't actually exist, its a sockpuppet the regular editors use because they're ashamed of associating with their juvenile userbase of lintard wingnuts.

Re:Bad title is bad. (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543206)

Can't speak to that, but having read the article, it bears little resemblance to the posting title. From what I can tell, this sounds like some mistakes in planning the migration early on. That would happen if you were moving to any new system, FOSS or proprietary.

Re:Bad title is bad. (5, Informative)

mikrorechner (621077) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543384)

OP here. I have to defend kdawson this time - he just posted what I submitted.

Myself, I'm certainly no Microsoft shill - I'm a Linux proponent, and interested in the LiMux project because I live in Munich.

If the title seems overly negative, I apologize - I'm no native speaker and might have chosen the wrong words.

Re:Bad title is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542750)

It doesn't take more work to switch to free software, it takes work to switch to any other platform, regardless of whether it's free or fee based.

Unfortunantly the blog as already been /.'d

problem: poor standards compliance (4, Insightful)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542858)

More to the point: Moving away from a vendor-locked-in infrastructure is hard.

Any time you build on top of quirks and such that deviate from standardized protocols, upgrading will be hard.

Re:problem: poor standards compliance (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542986)

I guess what you mean is once you want to adopt new standardized protocols that differ from the ones commonly in use, upgrading will be hard. Let's not pretend that these standards have been around for decades, they represent a change.

Re:Bad title is bad. (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542956)

Very true, by the sound of the blog most of their problems stem from how poorly the systems were managed before. Different versions of Windows running different levels of updates; hundreds of authorized apps, many with overlapping or duplicate functionality; unauthorized applications that had made their way into the work-flows without being documented; proprietary software that didn't follow open standards. I wonder how much of their effort has gone into just getting their infrastructure should have been before the transition even started.

Re:Bad title is bad. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543270)

there is much digital waste to be cleaned up on exit from the proprietary.

This is not a proprietary/FOSS issue. Every programmer knows that version 2 of the code is better than version 1. More than once I've "rm * .o" and gotten rid of more than just the objects on the way to recompiling them all, and every time that happens, the code I write to replace what went away is tighter, cleaner, and runs faster. I already know what works, I already know the processes, and I usually come up with a better solution to doing the same thing. (Of course I never benefit from that now, since it taught me to use RCS...)

This would happen with a change from Proprietary A to Proprietary B just as much as from Proprietary to FOSS. Or FOSS to proprietary.

The real reason its late (2, Funny)

Alanonfire (1415379) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542794)

They're installing Debian, which takes approximately 18 - 19 years for a full install.

This task involves downloading 142909 .iso images, burning and installing each disc on to every computer.

Re:The real reason its late (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543328)

1995 called. They want their opinions back.

how much did this all cost? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542806)

sounds like they spent a lot of money. what is the difference in spending the money on OSS compared to MS software? the software might be free, but it sounds like you will spend the same amount of money on making everything work like it did before with the same functionality

Re:how much did this all cost? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542910)

with MS, you've got the pleasure of renewing licenses and/or upgrading every few years ?

Re:how much did this all cost? (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543194)

With in house you have the pleasure of spending money on developers. Either you pay Microsoft developers or you pay your own developers. Don't like MS developers? You can pay IBM devs, Oracle devs, India devs, Vietnamese devs, American... (who am I kidding).

You CANNOT escape the fact that software requires maintenance. It comes down to cost. Is it more cost effective to do it yourself, or to pay someone else? There are benefits to each solution. You don't get a free lunch. How is an in house solution and less "locked in" than a proprietary one? You have access to the source code? Whoopie. What happens when your lead dev gets hit by a bus, or asks for too much money? What happens in five years when nobody can remember what function(23) does?

If you go with a known vendor, you are getting an application that a lot of people are using. Other organizations might find problems with the software before you do. The vendor will patch them before you have problems. With a big vendor they have the resources of all their licensing fees. It doesn't matter if the vendor is developing using Linux, Windows or BeOS. The real question is who does a better job of managing developers and development resources?

Re:how much did this all cost? (5, Informative)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542990)

They aren't trying to make "everything work like it did before with the same functionality". They could have

We could have switched to linux clients in just a few months, giving the order to all 21 IT units to set up a linux client until end of 2008. No further specifications, no standardization and no consolidation. I’m pretty sure they would have done this excellent and then I would have published great news in 2007 or 2008 “LiMux done, Munich completely on free software”.

but the aim is/was to move from a very heterogeneous network (in terms of used OS and software solutions) to some overall standard, which is why it takes so long.

Can I still keep my geek card if I actually read TFA?

Re:how much did this all cost? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31543214)

Can I still keep my geek card if I actually read TFA?

Hell yeah. Those haven't been bound to the /. Card for years.

Re:how much did this all cost? (2, Insightful)

CityZen (464761) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543020)

It's not really possible to asses that. The article really doesn't have much to say about Linux, so much as it was about all the crufty patchwork of multiple systems they were using before. There's a big cost associated with continuing to use the current kludges, though it is difficult to assign hard numbers to, since they come in the form of lost opportunities and inefficiency spread throughout the whole organization.

Moving to any modern, unified system, whether based around Microsoft software or OSS, is a tremendous task for a big organization like that. And without a parallel universe (that made the other choice) to compare to, you cannot really say which choice was better. You can only guess. Sure, you can try to make an educated guess by trying to figure out how much of the legacy applications will still work on the new system without changes, but until you try to actually do that work, you won't know how wrong you were. [99% compatible is worthless if you were depending upon the 1% of things that don't work.]

Re:how much did this all cost? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543026)

I can think of some befits.
1. The money be spent on in house staff and or local consultants instead of on Microsoft Software. That money will say in country and flow through the economy and not be exported out of country.
2. Long term savings. Once the migration is done there will be no need to purchase new versions of Office, Windows, and other proprietary software.
3. Enhanced expandability. To add a news server or clients do not require purchasing more CALs. also if you have spent the money on in house talent then you have more development staff to implement new projects.

Re:how much did this all cost? (1)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543134)

If I remember correctly, switching to open source was more expensive than keeping the propietary software. But they still went for open source and open standards, because long term it would be more cheap - no licenses, possibility of choosing different software that implements the same protocol, posibility of choosing better software vendors, not just one...etc etc.

Re:how much did this all cost? (4, Insightful)

Josef Meixner (1020161) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543170)

They hope to save in the future. As a lot of the costs are consolidating their terrible IT landscape it is not clear, what a migration to the latest MS offering would have costs, either. It is not as if it would have been free either, who knows how many of the macros would have broken down when run in a current version of Excel, who knows how many old programs might stop working on Vista (and be it due to a stupid installer). It would have been cheaper, at least probably because a lot would have still worked, but when they write that they found 21 different Windows setups with differing patch levels and security settings, I am not so sure if it really would have been cheaper.

What they probably hope is, that the next migration will be cheaper, the OSS they use won't cost them to upgrade, the costs of the upgrade in work to be done by their IT department are probably not very different when upgrading a Linux solution from a MS solution. But all the work to get their systems closer to a common base might actually make the next big roll out simpler and therefor cheaper.

Re:how much did this all cost? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543348)

I wonder how much of the cost is migrating away from Windows and how much is migrating to Linux.

Here's his problem... (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542846)

Previously, around 1,000 staff had been maintaining the 15,000 PCs making up the Munich computing landscape in 21 independent IT centres. There was, according to Schießl, no common directory, no common user management, no common hardware or software management. There were more than 300 applications in use, many of which did the same job. On the desktop side, there were 21 different Windows systems with different update levels and security settings

You can't convert a bureaucracy like this anymore than you can build a political/military empire by invading a dozen good size countries and trying to integrate them all at once. Rome wasn't built in a day. They should have gone in first with the intention of standardizing things, straightening out all of the kinks and quirks each little fief had. All of the file servers here where possible, all OpenOffice there...

Wrong approach (5, Interesting)

Sub Zero 992 (947972) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542852)

Well, they tried a horizontal migration strategy, moving from location to location and department to department. That meant the problems never stopped.

A better approach might have been to do a vertical top-down migration: Servers: first roll out a directory server infrastructure, then a CIFS strategy etc.; Clients: migrate away from MSIE / Active X, then to CUPS, then away from MS Office etc.. And then, finally, to change the desktop OS out from underneath.

A suggested strategy for those planning something similar: 1: migrate the server services (and create a shiny new unified and consistent infrastructure); 2: migrate the desktop apps to FOSS alternatives (chose apps which will work under your target desktop OS); 3: switch out the desktop OS for linux (the users retain the apps they have become used to).

Just my 0,02

Similar stories (5, Informative)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#31542890)

Regional government of the autonomous community of Valencia (Spain) also switched [lwn.net] to free software, last year they released a detailed report [gvpontis.gva.es] (english) of the problems they found and how they fixed it. It took a lot of time to complete it (4 years) and they still depend on propietary software for some systems. These migrations need a lot of work...

Good that they're reaching out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31542936)

It's good that they're talking about it to the community, maybe there's something we can do to help.

Why so prominent? (4, Interesting)

Mark_in_Brazil (537925) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543130)

Why is the Linux migration project in Munich so prominent, as mentioned in TFS? I know of much larger migrations, both in terms of the number of computers and the geographic area covered. The Brazilian government has been migrating to Free Software in mass. The Bank of Brazil, for example, has over 100,000 computers running Firefox and BrOffice. As of last June, the estimate was right at 100,000, with 65,000 of those machines running Linux and 35,000 running other operating systems. The Bank of Brazil has branches and offices all over Brazil, which is a very large country. The mass migration happened in 2006, before the migration really began in Munich. The number of machines involved (counting the Linux boxes only) is about 5 times as large as the number of machines to be involved in Munich, and instead of being located in a single city, they are spread out all over a country that's larger than the US would be if it didn't have Alaska, but smaller than the US with Alaska (i.e., larger in area than the "lower 48" plus DC plus Hawaii). In the year 2006 alone, the Bank of Brazil estimated that it saved R$20MM by using Free Software.

FWIW, I've also seen Linux desktops at the ITI (Brazil's IT Institute). Even totally non-nerdy ITI employees seemed perfectly at home on Linux desktops when I was there as long ago as early-to-mid 2005. The Bank of Brazil branch where my company has its account has all Linux desktops. The managers who take care of my account think it's funny when I crane my neck to look at their monitors and geek out on the software their 'puters are running. They are total non-nerds and not only appear to be happy with the Linux desktops, but told me they are. It took them a minute to figure out what I was asking - they didn't think of using Linux desktops as anything all that unusual.

Why has it taken longer than planned? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543356)

Because ripping out an infrastructure that relies on closed-source proprietary software and replacing it with free, Free software is hard. Really, really hard.

Yes, it's easy to rip out that clunky old Exchange server that has never really worked right, and slap in something running Exim and Courier-IMAP. The tricky bit is all the little edge cases and micro-applications - things that are *really important* that rely on someone running an Excel macro on the right machine at the right time. No, I'm not saying they should keep those - but you've got to make a very compelling case to get rid of them and have someone write an equivalent in $favourite_language.

It's harder than you think. If you don't think it's hard, send in your CV.

Problems with linux installations (2, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543360)

la la la la la la la ...I can't hear you ...la la la la la la la la

Perspective (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#31543456)

How does this compare to the problems experienced by people migrating 15,000 clients running various Windows releases to Windows 7? Is migrating to Linux more or less costly than migrating to the latest release out of Redmond?
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