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Swiss Canton Abandons Linux Migration

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the eaten-employees-eh? dept.

Government 442

An anonymous reader writes "The Swiss canton Solothurn has put a stop to their ongoing migration to Linux. [Original, in German.] The project started in 2001, and has been under harsh public criticism ever since. The responsible CIO resigned this summer. Solothurn plans to convert all desktop computers to Windows 7 in 2011."

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kinda like migrating to slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618472)

Imagine a giant penis flying towards your mouth, and there's nothing you can do about it. And you're like "Oh man, I'm gonna have to suck this thing", and you brace yourself to suck this giant penis. But then, at the last moment, it changes trajectory and hits you in the eye. You think to yourself "Well, at least I got that out of the way", but then the giant penis rears back and stabs your eye again, and again, and again. Eventually, this giant penis is penetrating your gray matter, and you begin to lose control of your motor skills. That's when the giant penis slaps you across the cheek, causing you to fall out of your chair. Unable to move and at your most vulnerable, the giant penis finally lodges itself in your anus, where it rests uncomfortably for 4, maybe 5 hours. That's what migrating to Slashdot is like.

Re:kinda like migrating to slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618790)

No, thats what SL is like...

translation hard to understand... (3, Informative)

sxpert (139117) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618482)

but it seems like this migration was rather ill prepared...

Re:translation hard to understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618516)

yep. has nothing to do with linux or windows.

nothing to see here.

Re:translation hard to understand... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618764)

If that's the case, why are they moving to Win7 instead of just fixing their issues with Linux deployment?

Re:translation hard to understand... (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618870)

Because the press has blamed Linux for everything (including things which clearly are not Linux's fault), and they couldn't withstand the public pressure any more. Note that 80% of the users were satisfied with the new desktop, and a further 10% just complained about transient problems.

Re:translation hard to understand... (4, Insightful)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618632)

Well, if it takes someone 9 years instead of 6 planned years to make the transition, and in the meantime they deploy web-based email software instead of Outlook, and Openoffice version which apparently wasn't able to run presentations, I don't know who's to blame here.

Re:translation hard to understand... (1)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618946)

"Even if the baker has no more croissants, will the system with the trademark penguin almost made responsible Bader resulted in this conversation continues," the newspaper quoted the person responsible for the migration.

I don't think you can blame linux for this one. If that's the closest the CIO can come to a coherent thought, they had no chance. In fact, they probably should sack the person responsible for hiring the CIO. They would have been better off hiring a bunch of llamas.

Re:translation hard to understand... (2, Informative)

Lennie (16154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619096)

The article said they actually started the project in 2006, the decisicion to do so way have been made in 2001, but that isn't all that relevant.

Re:translation hard to understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618682)

I wouldn't say that for sure, honestly.

MS Office, particularly Powerpoint, I suspect, is a true killer app for business and government that does not have a decent rival in the FOSS world.

That said I also don't doubt that poor planing may well have had a hand in it as well.

I'd be more for transitional migration rather than full migration. An effort to move an organization towards being able to operate on a small set of platforms rather than being locked-in to a single monolithic platform.

Re:translation hard to understand... (3, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618822)

How the hell is Powerpoint the killer app?

I mean, seriously? I can see people being quite attached to their VBA Macros in Excel, their Access database with forms, or even just pissed off because Word and Writer don't have exactly equivalent formatting and their documents look like ass when opened by Office. But Powerpoint? It puts stuff up on a screen. So does Impress.

Re:translation hard to understand... (3, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618908)

Powerpoint kills meetings dead.

Re:translation hard to understand... (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619172)

Wrong. PowerPoint presentations are the only entertainment during the dead meetings.

Re:translation hard to understand... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618866)

Ill prepared? They've been fucking around with it for almost 10 years.

FOSS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618484)

Yeah, this story is pretty self-explaining... good work FOSS!

Re:FOSS (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618562)

Yeah, it clearly shows that OSS cannot compensate stupidity from the planners, and that it is very easy to put the blame on Linux instead.

Re:FOSS (-1, Offtopic)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618818)

Yes, FOSS is so awesome, the only way it can possibly fail is due to human stupidity! \o/

Re:FOSS (4, Insightful)

nashv (1479253) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618936)

But unfortunately, that is precisely the rhetoric that the OSS community is accused of brandishing all the time. The bottom-line is people do not care about the principles of freedom of code and other Stallmanisms when they are at work (which may come as a surprise on Slashdot). There are certain applications for Windows that just don't have a replacement on Linux yet, period. I'm sorry you can't argue with that fact.

I know the beauty of Linux/OSS is that anyone can write a replacement app - but I am a molecular biologist with a research grant. I find it easier to purchase the Windows license (which is usually in built in the cost of the computer anyway) and the 5000 Euro worth of licenses I need, than to hire a Linux coder or write the programs myself - it costs more in hours that way. And I'd rather be doing molecular biology , which is my job and expertise, than to be figuring out the innards of the Linux kernel (OSS means I can). To be honest, Windows 7 is rather well-done in my opinion and that makes the move to Linux even less lucrative.

I believe this is the case in every situation where there is a organized system already in place and the computing has to merge with the existing framework - such as the bureaucracy at a city department, or a research pipeline.

Re:FOSS (4, Interesting)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619016)

I find it easier to purchase the Windows license (which is usually in built in the cost of the computer anyway) and the 5000 Euro worth of licenses I need

I did my MS in chemical engineering focused on quantum chemistry / molecular simulation / molecular modeling / "nanotechnology". In my field the mainstays all run on clustered supercomputers running some form of Unix: Gaussian (which has a Windows version too), DL_POLY, VASP, MOPAC, Cerius2, ... Even the visualization tools often were Unix-only requiring an X11 server. Though some of the grad students wished for more Windows packages, it was pretty much a given that doing real work in quantum chemistry means learning to love Unix.

I'm curious: which Windows-only packages are hot in your field?

Re:FOSS (2, Informative)

nashv (1479253) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619116)

Some examples :

1. Vector NTI (DNA manipulation)

2. All confocal microscope drivers and analysis software

3. Origin Pro (statistics and graphic with interfacing for Matlab and Labview

4. Bitplane Imaris (3D analysis on biological samples with a patented,proprietary and the only non-heuristic deconvolution algorithm)

That said , yes , our cluster runs Linux too. We just run whatever works best for a particular application (isn't that what it should be like, rather than insisting on one kind or the other?)

Re:FOSS (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619074)

But unfortunately, that is precisely the rhetoric that the OSS community is accused of brandishing all the time. The bottom-line is people do not care about the principles of freedom of code and other Stallmanisms when they are at work (which may come as a surprise on Slashdot). There are certain applications for Windows that just don't have a replacement on Linux yet, period. I'm sorry you can't argue with that fact.

But if you had read the article, it didn't mention a single such application which was a problem. The main problems were:
* An extremely bad choice of the free email system (it explicitly said that other systems existed which would have provided the missing functionality).
* A proprietary data base (and unfortunately they didn't even choose one of the major ones). There are definitely good free databases; moreover there are also closed source databases running on Linux.
* Mistakes which were completely unrelated to the migration being blamed on the migration.

Re:FOSS (1)

Radtoo (1646729) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618960)

If the next guy really sees no alternative other than to migrate everything back to Windows 7 again and pay Microsoft forever, that person is even more incompetent. The point was to save money, and now that the system is ready the other guy wants to ramp up costs again? What a joke.

5 Lessons for the next time. (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619058)

It was Microsoft throwing in a free KIN for each user that clinched the deal.

Seriously, the Swiss screwed up. It happens. Get over it, learn the lessons there are to be learned, and move on.

Lesson 1: Don't announce you're going to move everyone, and it's going to happen by X date. Not everyone is going to switch, and X is a variable, not a const.

Lesson 2: Some things take longer to "work with" than scrapping. The town council database app is obviously one of those.

Lesson 3: Stop with the stupidity of using a web interface for almost everything. It doesn't work. It p*sses people off (or as the article says, get them half-eaten). Get devs who can also code with qt or wxwidgets or java or tcl/tk or whatever.

Lesson 4: Sell to your users. Make it a privilege to be part of the transition. You want people b*tching and moaning about not being "upgraded" to the new linux desktop, not the other way around. Marketing 101.

Lesson 5: Provide effective feedback channels, so that people don't feel they need to set up a web site just to complain because you aren't listening.

Re:5 Lessons for the next time. (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619114)

You know, that is the first time I've read somewhere that people don't like using a webinterface.

The problem is usually they don't like webinterface x, just like they don't like desktop app y.

Re:FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33619018)

Yeah, it clearly shows that CSS cannont compensate stupidity from the planners, and that it is very easy to put the blame on Windows instead.

Re:FOSS (5, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618648)

"Yeah, this story is pretty self-explaining... good work FOSS!"

Yes, this story is pretty self-explaining... but I question what does indeed explains.

It's almost a meme around here that "joe sixpack" simply doesn't pay attention to computers but here it seems there has been a strong campaign in press against the migration from the very begining as if it were a sensible issue for general public.

And then, this project has been cancelled when internal polls show that only around 10% of users -and it seems "end users" are implyied, not sysadmins, were dissatisfied and 80% were satisfied with the new environment (I'd bet that's and expectable turnaround for *any* environment change).

One should ask himself if there might be some kind of pressure from "other vendors with deep pockets".

It's obvious too that has been some managerial mistakes that, as such, could be an expected source of problems no matter what the migration path were as, per instance, towards Windows 7 instead of Linux. There has been problems that tough counted on the negative side of the migration seem indeed to be more on the side of the lackings from the preceding environment (like a closed database that ends up being difficult to transition -heck, that's why you are migrating: to avoid things like that to happen... from then on).

All in all it's an enlighting example... mainly about how carefully the "soft side" of a migration towards open source should be managed. As in "be prepared to withstand attacks from the older stablishment trying to regain its lost power -and licenses" or "people will take the problems with a Windows to Windows upgrade as a non issue -it might be because the name doesn't change, even if most of the environment so does, while in a Windows to Linux migration everything and the kitchen sink will be Linux' fault no matter what so you'd better choose very carefully your stakeholders and make sure they feel involved as a driving force".

By the way, any new news about Munich?

Re:FOSS (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618708)

By the way, any new news about Munich?

Last time I checked only 2000 out of their 14000 computers had been migrated to Linux.

Re:FOSS (1)

AffidavitDonda (1736752) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619158)

As for March 2010:

Everybody is using Firefox, ThunderBird and OpenOffice
3000 out of 15000 workstations are using Linux
all other units of the City Council started the migration to Linux in 2009

Noooooooo (0)

conares (1045290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618492)

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

Umm.. yea (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618494)

Reading through the issues, it seems they didn't actually stage and test this before deploying it. Typically, in real IT shops, that's what you do. Development, Staging, Beta, rinse, repeat, certify it, freeze it, and then production.

It sounds like that just slapped that shit app in there and didn't look at the how it was slamming the database. You can't change the database. You have to change the application. Which is quit a big deal without programmer's.

Methinks none of those monkey's have ever done this before.

Re:Umm.. yea (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618552)

Excerpt of article, translated to English:

the database of the Windows software was not as easy to migrate

No shit, Sherlock. Microsoft Access fires up quicker and runs more smoothly on Microsoft operating systems?

Switzerland is known for its neutrality, but perhaps their brains are just shifted into neutral because they don't really know that the fuck is going on. They want comfort.

Except: you fuckers are in for a rude surprise when you access multiple generations of, um, Access databases. Enjoy your intermittent back-and-forth involuntary installs, you cock-smoking teabaggers!

(Because I work in a shop where Access '97 and Office 2K databases have to play nice with each other on a regular basis)

Re:Umm.. yea (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618666)

The windows data base they were speaking about was a product named "Konsul" (a proprietary data base developed by a swiss company). No, I didn't hear about that data base before either (I had to google it to find out it was a swiss product, although I suspected it due to the name), and of course it got lost in the Google translation.

Re:Umm.. yea (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619050)

Don't be dragging facts into this discussion! This is about religion. Access bashing may now resume ...

Re:Umm.. yea (0, Troll)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619038)

You morons OSS lovers don't know what a linked table is? or SQL Server Express?

I think I see what the problem was (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618500)

Delays in the implementation, immature software, half-eaten staff,

Re:I think I see what the problem was (4, Funny)

audunr (906697) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618556)

Finally, the year of Linux on the dinner table!

Re:I think I see what the problem was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618956)

Ewwbuntu? Did Red Hat change its name to Red Shirt? This project puts the "man" in Mandriva? Gentoo Linux is now Gentile Linux?

Re:I think I see what the problem was (4, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618570)

What do you expect? The baker had no more croissants.

Re:I think I see what the problem was (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618584)

Personalized searches I've heard of. But personalized translations are new to me. I get: "Delays in the implementation, immature software, eaten employees"

Actually the German text contains "angefressene Mitarbeiter"; while "angefressen" literally indeed means "partially eaten", this is an idiomatic usage in which it means "angry".

Re:I think I see what the problem was (2, Interesting)

Svippy (876087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618620)

I thought it meant 'unpaid' or 'paid less than required'. At least, that's its meaning in Danish ('afspiste').

Re:I think I see what the problem was (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618586)

That's the funniest translation error I've seen in a while :D

Angefressen actually means annoyed/pissed off - literally translated... yeah, partially eaten. :p

babelfish to the rescue (1)

ee2go (917739) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618604)

http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt [yahoo.com]

Oops, maybe not. Now. "angefressene Mitarbeiter" ="corroded coworkers". Has a nice ring to it, though.

Re:babelfish to the rescue (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33619094)

The correct translation for "angefressen" is "annoyed". It doesn't have anything to do with eating, the same way a "pissed coworker" doesn't have anything to do with urine. ;-)

Re:I think I see what the problem was (0)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618640)

Ouch. Looks like they tried OpenBSD instead of Linux, and got attacked by sharks [xkcd.com] .

Re:I think I see what the problem was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618796)

That comic is fun, but there is no tinkering involved with OpenBSD unless you are a developer. What works, works, and what doesn't, doesn't.
Recompiling kernels and tinkering with system internals without understanding them is a thing of the Linux world.

Re:I think I see what the problem was (3, Funny)

mickwd (196449) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618742)

Must have been some kind of byte-overflow error.

subject (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618514)

If there was no new bad news, you simply made yourself which one:

Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618528)

From the article:

Delays in the implementation, immature software, eaten employees...

It's no wonder Linux never got off the ground, if employees have to fear being eaten, then there's something seriously bad about the implementation.

Although I'm hoping this is just a Google Translation error, but seeing how many billions of dollars Google has to refine its programs, I'm doubtful that this is anything but a perfect translation.

My condolences to the employees who were eaten by Linux.

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618558)

Not just that!

Another trouble with the penguin 'promises great cinema, but only provides Bauer Theatre.

I don't get what they have against Bauer Theatre. [mystfx.ca] According to their website, you can "enjoy a fine performance space with thrust stage, fixed seats, balcony, and lounge area."

Also, I would love to see this penguin cinema.

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618650)

"Bauer" = "peasant" or "farmer". Can also be used in a pejorative sense for "dull person". Bauerntheather is an older form of play originally played by amateurs (usually peasants) about peasants for peasants. Usually comedy.

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (4, Informative)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618588)

Hehe. "angefressen" is colloquial and could be translated as "pissed". Obviously lost in translation, because "fressen" = (roughly) "to gorge".

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618900)

Is that "pissed" in Brit English or US English?

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (1)

jchandra (15040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619148)

'Fed up' is the closest in English which means 'pissed' but can be confused with 'eaten'.

Interesting translation error.

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618592)

Although I'm hoping this is just a Google Translation error

It is. Google literally translated "angefressen" where it was used idiomatically (it means "angry" in that context).

Re:Employees Eaten by Linux Torvalds (2, Funny)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618916)

maybe they use 64 bite linux

Even if the baker has no more croissants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33619036)

Even if the baker has no more croissants, will the system with the trademark penguin almost made responsible Bader resulted in this conversation continues," the newspaper quoted the person responsible for the migration.

Fantastic. AI has finally progressed to the point where it can create spontaneous Cantona-isms!

Hmm... (1, Interesting)

Zixaphir (845917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618538)

As much as I love Linux, it is nice to see a government who will do what the majority wants than what a niche minority lobbies for. Or perhaps it's nice to see a society that fights for what it wants, rather than a government where anyone who is against the corporate overmind is unimportant.

Of course, this is Windows 7 (and therefore Microsoft) that we're talking about. I'm certain ConsumerWatchdog doesn't honestly count as a public critic, so who is to say the same thing hasn't happened here. Dammit, I hate watching the fruits of the powers that be without getting a real glimpse of what's going on under the hood of the beast.

Ah, I hate being a conspiracy theorist, and I could probably throw out how corporations have rotted this world for their protection, and how the majority means nothing as the Dollar is king. Bow down to the almighty dollar who's at the top, and where are you?

But who is to say that happened here. I am just a rambler.

RTFA, then (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618854)

According to TFA, 80 percent of the workers were happy with the new system, 10 percent cited "temporary problems" and only ten percent were downright unhappy.

Quoth:

[...] it is nice to see a government who will do what the majority wants than what a niche minority lobbies for [...]

You, Sir, have a strange notion about majorities and niche minorities.

Or you are a Microsoft shill in disguise.

Re:RTFA, then (2, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618966)

The number of people who have to work with the system are clearly in the minority. Most people never have any contact with the system, and believe whatever the press tells them about it.

ha ha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618542)

that is all

In the absence a better translation (4, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618590)

Let's not automatically assume that's because Linux really isn't ready for desktop use - or that there's corruption going on.

A major transition like this is hard. Linux doesn't have anything like Active Directory for the desktop (Anyone who suggests you use something like Puppet is living in another world. AD comes with policies ready to go, all you need to do is tick the necessary boxes and you can be reasonably sure that when you tick the box, it'll actually do what it says. Writing and debugging equivalent configuration for even a tenth of that in Puppet would cost a lot more in man-hours than all the Windows licenses you can shake a stick at). There's no realistic replacement for the combination of Outlook/Exchange. (BTW, I can't remember the username but every time I post something like this one of the authors of Citadel comes out of the woodwork and suggests I check that. Terribly sorry, but I have. No offence, but I don't believe you've used a properly administered Exchange installation if you honestly think Citadel's a viable replacement.)

I haven't even considered the possibility of custom-written software which was intended for Windows and will require re-writing. Wine doesn't cut it when your suppliers' response to any query is going to be "You're running under what?!"

Add to that the fact that a lot of people don't really know how to use their computer - they just know to click on the "button on the left" or "third one from the right". Even very subtle change will cause such people no end of trouble, and even if you're in a part of the world with at-will employment you can't sack them because otherwise you'd be sacking 20% of your workforce. I'm not even remotely surprised to learn that someone's tried a migration and messed it up.

The thing that does surprise me is that the same desktop users who will call the helpdesk every 15 minutes with a Linux desktop will almost certainly not object anywhere near so vocally when they're put onto Windows 7 and an upgraded Office suite. Part of me wonders if you'd see different results if you took Ubuntu, changed the boot and login screen to say "Microsoft Windows 8", re-branded OpenOffice as "Microsoft Office 2009" but left everything else as a normal Ubuntu install.

Build the policy is a one-time expense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618646)

Build the policy is a one-time expense. Windows license costs are eternal.

Plus I HIGHLY doubt that, for anything other than a small business, the cost of writing the AD policy would cost more than the CAL never mind the other licenses needed.

Plus, and I really mean this, what AD policies are required. Really. I want to know, because it seems like the AD policy thing is rather like the CGI brouhaha where early on, people thought "this CGI stuff must be really complex and smart!" merely because it was jargon laden and they'd never done it. The opposite of the "anything I don't understand must be easy to do".

So, really, what AD policies are there that are so complex and why are they there (I could understand some policies that are required because without them Windows could be an attack vector, cf virus scanning on Linux).

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618700)

Just reading AD and Windows2000 book on the internet.

"Let's take a simple example from Leicester University. We administrators wanted workstation access to the Systems Administrator toolset, which normally is installed only on a server. While we could install these tools on our own PCs, we actually wanted the tools to follow us around the network and be available from any PC that we chose to log on from....With Windows 2000, we were able to use group policies to specify that the toolset was to be automatically installed on any client that I logged on to before the desktop appeared."

OK, why are you installing this on any machine you log in to? Why not, oh, I dunno, use group policies to defined who can execute the toolset and have it reside on a server? You can also set your "start menu" to what you need access to for the point-and-drool crowd. Seems like this problem is one from the Windows "It's MY computer" mindset.

"Let's take another example. At the university we use a central logon script for every user." .kshrc and .startx?

"This is no different than Windows NT. However, we also apply extra logon scripts for some sets of users based on which Organizational Unit they are in."

The default .kshrc scripts can be built once on account creation.

"We also can specify logoff scripts that run when a user logs off the system."

Gosh. So can startx.

"Similarly, we can have a central logoff script that applies to all users and a series" /usr/X11/etc/startx

" of other logoff scripts tailored to users in certain parts of the tree."

To do what?

"Workstations also can have scripts, but instead of executing at logon and logoff, these scripts run at startup and shutdown." /etc/init.d

" Want to install a new Dynamic Link Library (DLL) on all clients? How about using a startup script to do it?"

How about central installs? RPM. Cron job? /etc/init/rc.local?

"Have a desire to start the (normally disabled) web service on a series of workstations for a conference that runs for a week? Why not create a startup script in Active Directory that starts those services?"

Yah, this happens SOOO often. In any bureaucracy of any size, working out what and where to do that takes a fortnight.

xinet.d

"Let's take a final example. You are required to change a set of registry key values for every client in your organization so that the clients can all receive an organization-wide company video broadcast from the chairman and CEO."

No registry in Linux.

"You apply these changes one evening, and the next morning, 20 thousand workstations across your network are rebooted so that they receive this policy on startup."

OK, I'd prefer to be able to do this without rebooting.

xinetd can bounce and reread its configuration without needing a reboot.

But, as I said before, most of these seem to be "we can do these cool things" not, whether they're warranted or needed.

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618756)

"You apply these changes one evening, and the next morning, 20 thousand workstations across your network are rebooted so that they receive this policy on startup."

OK, I'd prefer to be able to do this without rebooting.

Indeed. Imagine the slightly changed scenario: The organization-wide video broadcast is needed not tomorrow, but today, in five hours. Do you really want to reboot your whole network during work time (and lose valuable work time, not to mention the angry reactions of employees you'll have to expect) to enable that video?

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618882)

Use gpupdate; no reboot required. job done.

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618914)

The organization-wide video broadcast is needed not tomorrow, but today, in five hours

Poor planning. Unless this is the very first video of this kind, users will already have the required settings and applications on the workstation. If it is the very first, some prior planning, testing, and deployment would have been in order.

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (1)

joelleo (900926) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619052)

Your examples all seem to relate to a single machine. Group policy exists to support customized configurations across multiple machines which can vary in their OS and hardware.

Take any of your examples and expand them to hundreds or thousands of machines (servers, workstations, kiosks - doesn't matter) across your enterprise then you'll have a more accurate idea of its capabilities.

One of the beauties of the way gp works is that machines or users that are added or moved in such a way that new or different policies apply have those policies applied automatically with no further administrative effort. The reverse also holds true for most policies - if a user or computer is moved in such a way that policies no longer apply the policies are removed from them - again, no further administrative effort. When you manage thousands of machines this makes an enormous difference.

There's a lot more to it. Dig a little deeper (and newer) than Windows 2000 gp and you may be suprised =)

Re:Build the policy is a one-time expense (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618950)

Hi MR AC! While FOSSies like to brag about the "free as in beer" part, in actually the cost of windows desktop licenses is so tiny as to not show up in most budgets in even the top twenty. so no selling point there. Two, MSCEs are a dime a dozen, competent ones not much more expensive, whereas good Linux gurus are damned high, if you can even find one. Third, say what you want, but AD makes administering windows desktops so easy i could teach my 16 year old to do it via AD in less than a couple of weeks. I have yet to see anything on Linux that makes multiple desktop policy management that damned easy. Oh and nearly all mobile devices have Exchange support, which is one less headache.

I honestly think the problem with FOSS and Linux is they are going about things ass backwards. They keep talking about how its a "drop in replacement for Windows" when in reality Linux is MUCH more like a Mac than it'll ever be like Windows. here is why, just as you can't grab any old piece of hardware and make a Hackentosh, so too can you not just grab any old parts off a shelf and make a Linux box that is reasonably decent. There is just too much common hardware that is seriously iffy in Linux. So you end up needing to buy specific hardware designed for Linux, which in the desktop, again like a Mac, will cost you more for less power than a windows machine. So in the end if you are gonna buy new hardware anyway, why not just buy a Mac and have better vendor support and less headaches?

In the end after trying Linux on more pieces of hardware than I care to count I've found that Linux really works best in certain niches, like say education where you've got old hardware that won't run any newer windows and which has long been reverse engineered by Linux developers and is thus quite stable even across upgrades. But on new hardware, which this being a government I assume they are on the standard corporate 3 year upgrade cycle, there is simply too many pieces of common hardware where support is dicey if you can get it to work at all. And of course none of the big OEMs are gonna offer you Linux except on their more expensive workstations, again adding to the cost.

Certain places Linux works well, like servers where vendors actually provide decent drivers for all the hardware, or embedded where you simply build only for that hardware and are done with it. But trying to deal with it as a corporate desktop with the whole 3 year upgrade cycle? Unless you are willing to shell out for workstation class hardware for the entire place every 3 years the headaches probably wouldn't be worth it, and it is certainly cheaper just to buy the dell El Cheapo desktops with windows included, than to go through all that. That is why if a SMB asks me about Linux I recommend a "try before you buy" period, where they migrate to the Windows version of FOSS apps like Open Office and Thunderbird, to see what kind of headaches they'll be looking at first. It sounds like they went for it without a plan and got seriously bit in the butt.

Re:In the absence a better translation (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618726)

Honestly, I don't really believe in large scale migrations of existing Windows infrastructure to Linux. Large migrations are hard to do at the best of times, always cause a lot of resistance and frustration, and take a long time before they start paying off, if that even happens at all.

Migrations from some Unix to Linux are a bit easier because you usually get similar and often better software than what you had.

Migrating from the Microsoft stack of Windows, Exchange Server, Active Directory, Office, and, ceiling cat forbid, SharePoint or BizTalk is a different story: I would go as far as to say that exactly none of these have equivalents on the Linux side that are compatible but better, so your users will simply not be able to do things the way they were used to doing them. This is where you hit your biggest resistance: they will have to re-learn things, which will take time, effort and money. People will get upset, they will hate the new system, and they will complain about it, loudly, and to anyone who will listen. And for good reason: they had a work flow that worked, and then management came and pulled the rug from under them and they had to re-learn things for no good reason. Think of all the stories on Slashdot, where supposedly computer literate people who aren't afraid of a little tinkering complain about Linux not doing this or that as well as Windows, or not in the same way. Now imagine what happens if you _force_ a few thousand users who have no affinity with computers, don't want to tinker with computers, and actually rather wouldn't work with computers at all to make the switch. That's what you're up against.

Now, for a different scenario, consider an organization that is just getting started. There are only a few people there, and the whole IT infrastructure still has to be set up. This, I think, is a scenario where free software can be very successful. It's also an interesting scenario to think about. Suppose you wanted to set up the IT infrastructure for at least a few hundred users, most of whom would have jobs where they have to use computers, without necessarily having any affinity for computers themselves. Assume you would need some common infrastructure: e-mail for everyone, calendaring would be very useful, and at least some desks will have computers that any among a group of people will have to be able to log into and get to work with (i.e. they won't have their own desk and their own computer). How would you do it?

Re:In the absence a better translation (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619176)

"This is where you hit your biggest resistance: they will have to re-learn things, which will take time, effort and money. People will get upset, they will hate the new system, and they will complain about it, loudly, and to anyone who will listen."

They do the same thing at every upgrade, what is your point ? Bad PR for GNU/Linux ?

Re:In the absence a better translation (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618912)

There's no realistic replacement for the combination of Outlook/Exchange

Please be honest and serious - there were better implementations of mail transfer agents and email clients before either of those two existed (both are still flaky at times). The only extra thing they bring is a built in calendar instead of using a separate application.

Re:In the absence a better translation (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619008)

Writing and debugging equivalent configuration for even a tenth of that in Puppet would cost a lot more in man-hours than all the Windows licenses you can shake a stick at).

...but, since it's FOSS, the moment someone actually DOES this, AND shares it back to the community, it becomes free and simple for everyone else to do it.

So, if it's such an important thing, some company should buck up and pay for the man hours to make it happen. Open source doesn't develop itself. Freedom isn't free.

Re:In the absence a better translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33619132)

Lotus Notes runs on Linux on both the server and client and could replace Outlook and Exchange. But if the goal was FOSS then yeah, no.

I think some Linux users for get that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619168)

Or perhaps never know. I find that many of the "All Linux all the time," proponents have no real enterprise experience with it. They use it at home, of course, and they may have set it up for a small scale office. From this, they figure that means it is ready for the enterprise. It does everything they want, and they can't see any reason it wouldn't work...

Well one of the things Microsoft is extremely good at is enterprise support tools. As you noted, Active Directory has no peer in the open source world. Anyone who says "LDAP!" or "Puppet!" is really just saying they've never used those things in an enterprise environment (FYI our environment is cross platform Linux/Solar/Windows so we DO use them and I know the pain that is involved).

Well guess what? Having tools that make your job easier and faster is worth money. Savings on license costs can be offset by increased staff time requirements. If the amount of time it takes to deal with problems rises with a Linux setup, that means that it costs more, and you have to factor that in. You can't just point to the licenses and say "We are saving $50/computer/year (or whatever software assurance costs) look at how much we are saving!" You have to consider what the costs to support the system are. Save $1 million a year in license costs, but require $3 million a year in additional IT costs, you have lost money.

None of this is to say that Linux can't operate in a large enterprise, just that it need to be looked at carefully, and objectively. You can't just say "Ya that tool is just like this, it'll work." You need to evaluate if it really does everything you need, and if not what the costs will be in making it do so.

To try and draw an analogy it is something like the difference between Linux and Cygwin. You can't just install Cygwin on Windows and say "There, just like Linux for programming!" It might be in some cases, in other cases it might need additional work, in still others it might not work at all. Sure it is "POSIX on Windows," but that doesn't mean there aren't any gotchas.

So it looks as if 2010... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618612)

It looks as if 2010 really is the year of the Linux Desktop! At least, compared to 2011.

Local maxima etc.

The best choice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618654)

..Is obviously the one where you can pay 500$/hour consultants to do it for you, not where you need marginally better trained IT staff, management and funding.

I know I could do a much better job at most things but nobody would want to live kingdom. But still they are idiots.

Quick Summary (5, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618658)

For those who prefer a quick human translation over a state-of-the-art Google Translate result, here is what I gleaned from the article. German is not my first language; corrections and other improvements welcome.

Short summary:

  - The project wasn't going well from the beginning

  - The project definitely failed, but you can't entirely blame that on Linux

  - Lack of organizational talent definitely played a role in the failure

  - In a survey, about 80% of employees stated they were satisfied with the new environment, 10% complained about issues they thought would be resolved over time, and only 10% were really dissatisfied

  - The media played a large role in the perception of the project by eagerly latching on to every bit of bad news about the project

Partial translation, paragraph by paragraph:

Nine years after the decision to migrate the computers of the Solothurn kanton to Linux, a radical reversal has come today: all desktops will be converted to Windows 7. Did Linux fail?

The project wasn't a great success from the beginning; those who followed the media must have gotten the impression that it was a sequence of failures and bad luck.

Problems during the migration, software than wasn't ready yet, angry employees who set up a homepage to vent their frustrations and who couldn't get any work done because of Linux - all of this suggests that tax money was being spent on a project doomed to fail. And it has failed now. But to blame it all on Linux would be short-sighted. When you look further, you will see that many factors were responsible for the failure.

The decision to convert to Linux came in 2001. The goal was to have completed the conversion by 2007. However, that goal was unattainable, because some invitations to bid were only sent out in 2006. The choice for the Scalix web interface wasn't a good one: even in June, the webmail interface lacked a task list and some of the comforts of native e-mail clients.

Many special applications could not easily be replaced by Linux solutions. This was compounded by problems with the Konsul database employed by the kanton of Solothurn for editing council decisions: the data file of this Windows software was not so easy to migrate. Project Ambassador was meant to allow interoperability with OpenOffice.org et al, but was postponed until end 2010 because of performance problems. As a result, none of the council members worked with Linux systems.

An internal inquiry among employees showed that about 80% of them were satisfied with the new environment. Ten percent complained about "childhood diseases" of the software, and only 10% were really unsatisfied. But that is still 100 employees, and they were a very vocal minority.

The Swiss media seized every opportunity to bring news of even the most insignificant frustrations in the kanton: a temporary printer problem that was solved quickly became "lasting printing problems". Quotes from employees who claimed to work more productively at home than at the office were gladly printed.

If there wasn't any bad news, the media simply manufactured some. When the state attorney's office held a conference for attorneys in 2009, they neglected to prepare a Windows system for displaying the PowerPoint presentations. The kanton police, who, according to the Berner Zeitung had "successfully defended itself against Linux" helped out and saved the attorney's office from embarrassment. Of course, there are many things you can blame on Linux, but lack of organizational talent of the conference organizer isn't one of those.

Re:Quick Summary (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618698)

In nine years, you can take a junior high student, have him finish high school, and college, all the time learning some linux on the side, and you can finish the transition easily. Don't blame the OS for human stupidity.

Isn't this the whole big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618746)

Sounds as though you can't successfully migrate to Linux if you're badly organized. But maybe that IS a big problem for Linux.

People used to complain that you couldn't use Linux on your desktop if you were dumb. The advantage of Windows was that, although it might sometimes fail badly even for experts, it would generally work okay even for idiots. Pat yourself on the back all you want if you're sure you're not one, but idiots are a big market, and a product that lets them outperform their idiocy is a tremendous thing.

Maybe the Linux desktop is safer for idiots nowadays, but it sounds as though the Linux ecosystem as a whole is not. And maybe this reflects a basic problem with FOSS in general. A million smart volunteers are good at lots of things, but how good can they really ever be at idiot-proofing?

Re:Quick Summary (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618810)

German is not my first language; corrections and other improvements welcome

The link is to "heise Open Source" and and to what is unmistakably the argument for the defense: that any failings in Linux and Open Sourcce had nothing to do with this debacle.

If you try to search Google for an oppossing - or at least independepent - point of view you loop back to "Open Source" and Slashdot as the only sources for this story.

Both good and bad (1)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618662)

I guess the bright side of this article is that it shows how badly tied up you can become without realizing it. At least now they know they are screwed, and perhaps they'll learn to be careful with new things they implement in the future.

What's a canton of . . . whatever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618696)

Who are these people?

Re:What's a canton of . . . whatever? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618714)

Re:What's a canton of . . . whatever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618880)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=swiss+canton

Website too slow, did not wait.

Basically due to incompetence and/or sabotage (2, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618728)

Let's face it: If you do not have a clue hot to do an IT strategy and how to implement it, then Windows can at least give you a semblance of success. Not that anything will run well or cost-effective, but it will run. (For now at least.)

With Linux , you actually have to know what you are doing. It is not really that hard, but some understanding is non-optional. Solothurn made a number of really bad and really obvious mistakes. I am undecided whether this was due to intentional sabotage of the effort or due to incompetence. I suspect a combination of both.

Re:Basically due to incompetence and/or sabotage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618782)

I think the users of this system used Linux as an excuse for not having do do there job, or when not doing it properly. If they switch to Windows 7, they well use the differences with Windows XP as an excuse for not having to do any work. They may even blame Linux for having missed the Vista step, and now they can't switch from XP to Windows 7 without a bigger paycheck.

Re:Basically due to incompetence and/or sabotage (1)

Radtoo (1646729) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618918)

It is by far not the only and first project with ~medium difficulty that failed. Swiss IT admins and computer scientists working for the administration are not rarely incompetent AND working with an extremely bad waterfall model [admin.ch] . That thing alone is the reason why we lost some millions and some billions in failed projects. I wouldn't be surprised if they used it, again.

Disappointed and saddened (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618734)

I'm sad to say that I, as a die-hard AIX/Linux/Mac fanboi have had to recommend migrating healthcare applications to Windows servers, and testing with Windows clients. This is because the healthcare organisations who will look after the applications in three years time at the end of the project, will not have the skills, enthusiasm or experience to run anything that isn't Windows.
 
  I accept that for most people, the desktop is and will be Windows. For some, who don't need encouragement Windows will always be anathema, and all flavors of unix, be they GNU/Linux, AIX or Mac (other versions are available) will be preferable and worth any effort required to use instead. I bet I could have fixed any and all problems that these guys came up with, but when you are faced with users who are baying for a particular solution, rather than establishing what their requirements are, it is a lost cause.

One thing to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618736)

omnomnomnomnom

Wonder how long the Win7 rollout will take... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618750)

Maybe 6 months?

Why Linux isn't desktop ready (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618762)

I know why Linux isn't ready for the desktop, but I'm keeping it a secret.

If I disclosed the reason, the responses would all be flames.

I have told people in the past, and all they did was deny its truth, however, things are what they are, and Linux ( and it's distros ) are what they are.

Keep hackin.

Re:Why Linux isn't desktop ready (1)

burdicda (145830) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618784)

I have been using Linux for my desktop since 1992 with no glitches whatsoever.....
and again.....

Why is Linux NOT ready for the desktop ????????????

Re:Why Linux isn't desktop ready (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618860)

The real reason is that Anonymous Coward is not ready to use a Desktop.

Notoriety wish (2, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618840)

I'm always surprised of how this things are implemented. They usually _start_ with a bang and public announcements and trumpets and all. That is, before they have done anything. When you see something like that, you know they are going to have lots of problems, simply because the people that thinks that way (first let's make a big decision and a big press conference) usually cannot think in the way needed to solve the very difficult problems that arise in big migration.

IT systems have become very complex things that pervade our work and private life. They have evolved for decades to adapt themselves to peoples' needs, and people has changed too to adapt to the IT systems. Windows has been part of that mutual evolution for many years now, and Linux hasn't. That's the elephant in the room that nobody speaks about. Linux won't be able to compete with Windows till it has many many years, not of existing, but of being widely used (even in special locations like call centers and so), after it.

For doing migrations I'd recommend the following guidelines:

- Gradually is the thing. Start with localized users, preferably new people that haven't got used to the old system.
- These new users have to get a good experience. If you cannot make it happen for a couple of desktops, sure you won't be able to make everybody switch.
- Provide comparative advantages to the new users. Things like putting big screens in the Linux systems will make other people wish they had been migrated.
- Everything you use should work in both systems. If something cannot (Outlook/Exchange, custom apps, Access databases) then you have to search for an alternative or replacement. If no alternative exists that is good enough, you better forget about the whole idea.
- Even if everything works in both systems, when you set up something new (database or anything) make sure it works a bit better in the Linux than the Windows systems.
- Set no end date for the migration. You are going to keep Windows for a long time, so don't fight it. Gradually is the thing, remember.

Here's my take on it... (2, Interesting)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618850)

I can't read a lick of German, but I work with people who can... So I got a rather quick verbal translation of the article...

These guys basically steamrolled the users onto Linux without doing an adequate evaluation of their environment and without following through with a solid beta program. I'm sensing this *could* have been successful if they'd been more organized about it.

I speak from experience as a guy whose been responsible for a somewhat medium sized (several departments in a large corporation) migration from windows to Linux.

The first thing you do is you go talk to your users and figure out what they're doing for a job and see if Linux actually will work in their environment! If they spend all day writing VB applications that interact with a SQLserver database... Linux probably won't be a good fit.

The next thing you do is go and recruit some beta users who are willing to be guinea pigs. Then setup a system that'll work for them. Be prepared to sit in plenty of offices and debug issues. After the kinks have been worked out and they've been happily working for a week or two... convert a few more users... rinse, latter, repeat. It might be that you'll get all the kinks worked out and you can do 20 people at a time.

A few things you need to consider even before doing this...
* Authentication... is each machine going to be an island? Most corporations really frown on this... are you going to tie them into Active Directory? Setup a NIS bridge? Things to think about..
* Home Directories... Where's their home dir going to reside? In my case, peoples home directories hang off a unix machine running NIS / Samba, so that wasn't such an issue...
* Printers, etc.

Also remember that your users will never give you the full truth... invariably you'll get a call because [insert obscure scan/printer/web cam] doesn't work.

Another thing you need to be able to do is concede defeat in some cases. In each department I've got probably ~20 people who didn't want to switch. Either they didn't want to switch or there was some compelling reason that they couldn't switch, be okay with it and move on.

So this migration had nothing do with Linux not being suitable for the desktop, this was a IT failure.

Scalix was the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618868)

I can understand that they failed if they were trying to use Scalix. It bills itself as an open source version of Outlook but it ends up being worse. When I tried it the clients frequently lost their connection to the server, it was extremely slow and it sometimes had random mailbox corruption! Plus it uses a loathsome 'commercial open source' model where all the good stuff is closed.

bagging IT up for the unclear nazi holycost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618924)

better days ahead.

fuddles already said it in his depopulation speech (really just a small step from"we just want to make great software"); if you can pay for your subscriptions, you can stay alive....well....sort of.....maybe.

Not so easy (5, Interesting)

sideh (978022) | more than 4 years ago | (#33618978)

Replacing windows with Linux using centralised authentication isn't that easy. We tried it recently where I work where we run both Linux and WIndows 7. This meant it had to be AD.

Using ldap for web services was easy enough as was getting win 7 desktops joined up. The hard part was getting Ubuntu machines on the domain...

The first thing I tried was likewise-open which I had a number of problems with. We eventually settled on winbind which worked incredibly well for a samba file server joined to the domain, but for desktops it wasn't ideal. If the domain controller became inaccessible for whatever reason, the whole machine would freeze up even with cached credentials turned on. The other caveat was user's inability to change their domain passwords from Linux. Well.. it was possible but whenever they changed their password, both the new and old passwords would still work. (see http://wiki.samba.org/index.php/Samba_&_Active_Directory#password_changes [samba.org] ) It was also impossible to force a user to change their password, it would fail constantly.

If I weren't so determined I would have likely just gone with Windows 7 for ease of use despite the extra cost. There is one more commercial product I need to try and that's centrify. Fingers crossed.

Just today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33618992)

I had "another trouble with the penguin".

It's not easy (4, Interesting)

fmaresca (739871) | more than 4 years ago | (#33619056)

I did some small and medium business migrations towards FOSS software and I can attest that it's not easy.

Key factors I've encountered are: users have a bad predisposition, they always prefer windows because they (think they) know it, they have it in their home computer, notebook and phone, and they don't want to make the effort to learn another system; there are custom developed apps that not always are easy or at least economically feasible to migrate; there are software that are probably easy to migrate but you lost support if your server is not windows, and you are setting yourself in a position where you will be blamed by any problem a computer could ever have, related or not to FOSS.

In my experience trying to perform a 100% migration is not very easy not desirable: except in very restricted environments, every non trivial system will always be made up of heterogeneous OSes and apps. Because of smartphones, laptops and embedded systems, that mixture is pretty much guaranteed these days. So it's better to move early the back systems: replace mail servers, file servers, databases, printservers, backup systems, http and ftp servers, LDAP, routers, firewalls... and make sure they work and are appropriately configured.

Then deploy OOorg to _windows_ WS, perhaps with Firefox and Thunderbird (I always though that the Thunderbird developers would be looking at Pegasus Mail, sadly they weren't). That way your users will be familiar with the apps and then changing the "desktop" will be more easy. Change the users WS OS progressively, change first the WS of the more "advanced" users and try your best to show the deployment of the "new" system as a privilege; if you can, change the OS and put a new WS for it, or at least a new or bigger monitor.

Important factors in success and collaborative users is to provide them with compatibility: you're migrating, the rest of the world no. So you have to make sure your users can communicate with the external world: not only OOorg has to open xls and doc files; they _need_ to chat in the msn network, watch videos on youtube, and so on. Those are as much as important as to be able to do the work if you want your users supporting you.

Be careful choosing a X environment: the popularity of Ubuntu these days hides the fact that it can be obnoxious and overcomplicated for end users. A smaller, lighter and more orthogonal desktop environment (like XFCE) could be better.
Don't try for the new environment to mimic "look and feel" of windows: it's far more irritating to encounter subtle and minimal differences in behavior that to face a complete different approach. Most users spend 90% of they time in two or three apps (mail, office suite, some custom or enterprise app) and they simply don't care about anything else.

Your ultimate goal is to be asked to install "linux" on their home boxes or laptops. That will happen when they feel comfortable and familiar with the new system.

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