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German Company To Install Linux On 10,000 PCs

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the jahr-des-linux-auf-dem-desktop dept.

Linux Business 328

jfruhlinger writes "Linux proponents used to proclaim that the era of Linux on the desktop was just around the corner. That may never come to pass, but there are still occasional wins. For instance, a German insurance giant will be moving 10,000 employees to Linux-based desktop and laptop machines."

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Adaption... (1, Interesting)

aetherian (2006940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919364)

The real question is, will it be worthwhile if some/all the employees have to learn to use a different OS all over again?

Re:Adaption... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919378)

We'll let you know the cost of learning the first one once they've finished... which is never.

Have you met users?

Re:Adaption... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919440)

Arrogant wanker.

You're one of the major reasons LINUX is being left in the dust.

Bottom line: If you can't sell an OS to the users, it's a turkey.

LINUX does sell itself as a server OS ... but as a desktop OS, it's missed the boat. (And I blame the fragmented factions of code cutting prima donnas who split off to develop different kernels, different installs, different GUI's, different API's and IDE standards, etc etc etc ... I find it difficult to find any two LINUX applications or utilities that operate in the same standardised manner, or even the same manner as the underlying OS - so I have no idea how the average app user would cope.)

Re:Adaption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919458)

Take a chill pill man!

I am pretty sure they have majority of applications based over HTTP(read Firefox) and email server(well, can be anything really, but most likely Lotus Notes, if they want to have most features implemented or Thunderbird/choose fav email client.)
Citrcix virtualisation works fine on Linux(so i heard). So... Why not?

I bet it wasn't overnight decision. Most likely they were migrating internal applications to web apps for years.

Re:Adaption... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919538)

over angry faggot.

Re:Adaption... (0, Offtopic)

lanc (762334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919626)

So, how many of the companytools are webbased? How is it relevant on what OS your firefox runs on? Linux may not win the desktop war - but windows still can lose it. By fading out into a browser-running-firmware. And then why pay for windows?
The new era is the one of the cloud. Bring on the vaporware jokes.
On the serverside it is very similar. ZFS needs some more features, taking over the role of the servicerunning OS, like browsers do on the client side ;)
Sadly the OS will fade into being a firmware, not more.

Re:Adaption... (1, Insightful)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919778)

Windows users are the same kind of people that cling to imperial measurement instead of the metric system.

Re:Adaption... (1)

Hultis (1969080) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920004)

I'll describe the average non-technical users' workflow for you:
1. Turn on computer
2. Start Internet (they don't call it Internet Explorer, just Internet)
3. Start Outlook (I admit, this might be a problem)
4. Start whatever program they're working in
5. Work

That's about it. If the program they're working in is compatible with Linux the only thing they will need to learn is a new email program. If they work in a Citrix/similar environment it should all just magically work, including Outlook. The only interaction they do with the OS is to click the icons on the desktop when they start the programs anyway. Given that this is an insurance company there should be mostly non-technical users there, so it could in theory work fine. In all honesty I don't think it will, there will either be some PHB who can't adapt or lobbying that causes them to go back to Windows.

Re:Adaption... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920050)

The non-technical user is a creature of habbit. I've seen them in a confused panic after Windows so much as takes an icon off the start menu quick-shortcuts, and when the ribbon came to office you'd thing the world was ending. If the save dialog looks a little different, or a menu item isn't where it used to be, they can't work.

Re:Adoption... (2)

iSzabo (1392353) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919388)

I'm skeptical about the frequently discussed difficulty of adoption if it's well planned. If most of the companies tools are web-based (and not forced to use MS due to dependencies on ActiveX, and the like) then it's entirely feasible that you wouldn't need to retrain employees much at all. The next major hurdle is email and document publishing. I'd be curious to see their adoption plan and the results.

Re:Adoption... (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919552)

I just helped a lot of people (>3K) adapt to W7 from XP. I know some stuff about enterprise stuff.

It's all about the apps. There are hundreds of enterprise line-of-business apps that are custom crafted to work with IE6 and its plugins. Getting them to work with a different version of IE is a nightmare. We put it over, mostly, but we had to brute force a lot of it. Some of it just would not go and was writ off as a cost of staying current. That story's not over yet, as some critical apps conflict with each other in W7.

If they had cared to craft their line-of-business apps with a server backend and a standards-compliant browser front end, we'd have saved a few hundred thousand dollars. But they didn't, they still don't, and they won't.

Go ahead - standardize on the next version of this crud. The unit cost goes up every year. Making it work is a grind, but if you didn't take it up, we'd have little work. That Linux and iOS stuff just works and there's no service money in that for me.

Re:Adoption... (4, Interesting)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919640)

That's pretty much it: where is the economic interest in getting end user apps migrated? Linux works great in a datacenter and works great for end users who are experienced with it. But where's the economic incentive to adapt users? If most everyone used linux in their homes that would kill off virtually Hundreds of thousands of jobs supporting the crap. No more $70 mom and pop shop reloads, no more field service calls that are resolved by running virus cleaner and repairing an infected machine, no more recycled machines that get put back into circulation simply because the owners perceives an infected machine as a hardware failure or simply not worth the investment in repair over an opportunity to "upgrade."

I use linux more than a decade now, and I can't imagine the hell of having to use windows again. And I feel kinda sorry for all those people out there who really don't know any better, who think windows is the only solution because they hate macs and believe the nonsense about linux sucking as a desktop. But I'm sure not going to go out of my way to convince them of their delusion.

Re:Adoption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919686)

If most everyone used linux in their homes that would kill off virtually Hundreds of thousands of jobs supporting the crap.

Broken window fallacy spotted.
Besides, people will need tech support no matter what OS they use. Otherwise Apple wouldn't have the Genius Bar or whatever it's called, and Ubuntu wouldn't have their forums.

Re:Adoption... (3, Informative)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919752)

People will indeed. But Ubuntu forums are free, and viruses alone are a major fraction of all problems encountered by "people". I know Windows Defenders (tm) will allege that Windows isn't intrinsically insecure or unstable, but historically, Windows is insecure and unstable. So much for the people -- in the corporate environment the real issue is scalability. Linux is enormously, absurdly, cheaply, scalable in a sensibly run enterprise environment. Standardize on a reasonably small set of hardware platforms, and things like kickstart and yum make it possible for one sysadmin to support far, far more people than one sysadmin can support in any Windows environment I've ever heard of. Automated installation is easy, automated upgrade is easy, security is easy and effective (because the Unix-derived client-server networking model has always been reasonably secure) viruses are all but unknown and with standard root vs user privilege control ordinary users can't really infect their systems with viruses that matter.

Linux has two or three problems. One is hardware support. In a wide-open home/laptop/desktop environment, it is difficult to guarantee that any particular piece of hardware is going to run, or at least be easy to get to run, under linux. But there is a more than spanning set of hardware to choose from that does run, and run well, and a skilled systems person can usually get almost all of the rest to work (eventually) with some effort. In a corporate environment, all this really means is that you should shop carefully for systems, something that you should do anyway even with Windows, and test prototypes to make sure that they will install and run well.

Another is marketing -- Microsoft has an enormous staff of people devoted to promoting their product, cutting deals that maintain their lock on various markets, advertising on television and in other media, and sowing FUD about any and all competing products. I can't find online statistics on this, but I'll bet that Microsoft has at least two marketing/business people for every software engineer or technical support person. Linux has virtually none.

The third is software. Like it or not, there is plenty of software in the Universe that only runs on Windows platforms. Not Linux, not Macs. Just Windows. There is far more software that runs on Linux (often only on Linux) these days -- there are literally tens of thousands of programs and libraries available, nearly all of them free, most of them of remarkably high quality. However, most corporate software, game software, and commercial software is written for Windows (or written by Apple for Apples on a proprietary basis). The reason here is obvious as well -- you make a lot more money with a proprietary package written for the most common operating system, especially when there is relatively little free software available for that system. If you try to write proprietary software for Linux systems, you face user resistance (everything else they use is free, why should they pay for your application?), you have to watch encumbrances such as GPL viral code or libraries, you risk being functionally cloned by your users in short order, and the "brilliant idea" underlying your application may well already be written and working fine under Linux, given its vast already existing library of free software.

If your business doesn't need proprietary packages -- just e.g. straight up office software, browsers, web servers, databases, and not this or that specific accounting package or word processor, then enterprise level Linux will save you a fortune. Even if you do, it is probably cheaper and simpler to still run enterprise level Linux everywhere and confine Windows to VMs only on those desktops that need it.


Re:Adoption... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920062)

Windows security has gotten better. In the 9x days, it was laughable. In XP, it became merely pathetic. With seven, it could be promoted as far as 'poor.' But the problem remains: Windows is made to be all things to all people, and specifically for non-technical users. Ease of use comes at the expense of security, and means the users stay dumb.

Re:Adoption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919756)

That is a load of shit. GNU/Linux has support needs just like Microsoft Windows. That isn't to say it isn't cheaper for both customers and small mom and pop shops supporting it. You just don't see it. Microsoft cuts into what I make. If I have to include a $100+ license for Microsoft Windows with every PC I sell that takes all the profit out of it. Compare that to a $249 computer where I MAKE $100. Then you also get to sell services on top of this. People only have so much money and GNU/Linux is cheaper. That means both customers and small mom and pop shops make more not less. We don't sell Microsoft Windows computers period. It just isn't profitable.

Re:Adoption... (2)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919830)

In my experience, Windows support tends to entail fixing things that don't work as expected, while Linux support tends to entail adding useful features that don't already exist. It's actually quite profitable, for everyone, to be able to tell a client that Linux is limited only by your imagination and your budget, and that anything that doesn't work exactly as you expect can be modified. There's a reason IBM makes lots of money on Linux services, and creates lots of value for happy customers in the process.

Re:Adoption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919796)

There would be just as much work for supporting end user Linux machines as there is with Windows. There is one problem that would remain the same, and that problem is the users.

Re:Adoption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919982)

Are you fucking kidding? Move all those clueless people to Linux and they'll all still get viruses and rootkits. It will take a fuckload more security measures that cannot be worked around to secure these people. As long as most people are clueless about computers there will be the $70 reloads.

Re:Adoption... (3, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919670)

In one place of work, we managed to get Firefox added to the new standard build by the simple expedient of writing lots of in-house web apps that didn't work in IE. (The tool used by about 20 people every day they worked there, which was broken in IE for six months with no-one noticing ...)

This is also the same way we kept Vista at bay.

Re:Adaption... (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919398)

Tough to say really. Depends on the applications they use: OpenOffice, Firefox, Evolution + necessary proprietary software for each division. If that's covered, and they get the fucking printers and scanners to work properly before installing on 10,000 machines, they should be fine. Text editors and IDEs are as good as or better than what you get in windows, so that's fine.

One thing though, they must be having some internal software provided and maintained them by a relatively small third party software vendor right? How are they gonna manage that?

Re:Adaption... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919414)

the 2nd paragraph of TFA:

The project included the conversion of 3,000 desktop and laptop computers in LVM's Muenster HQ with a further 7,000 in the company's agencies around Germany. The core software used by the company is LAS, a Java-based claims-processing application of its own design, backed by Lotus Notes, Adobe's Reader and the OpenOffice suite.

MS Windows on a Virtual Machine. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919582)

The power of a Linux distribution means that any company can have a massive install of Linux on their host workstations and their virtual machines can run a base clone image of a Microsoft Windows that isn't carved out of System Hardware Specifications.

Seriously, Microsoft needs to allow their OS to be more portable for upgrades and hardware swaps. At-least a VM makes the hardware look all the same, and that's just what Linux can do by helping Windows be that much easier to maintain and run and re-vision.

Re:Adaption... (1)

Malvineous (1459757) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919416)

Unless you're an IT shop I suspect many employees never fully learn how to use the OS anyway - ask anyone who works in tech support. And of course if you're in an industry where it's more important to limit what your employees can do (e.g. no downloaded apps, no USB flash drives, etc.) then running Linux is a much easier way to achieve it.

Re:Adaption... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919448)

USB flash drives still don't work in Linux? Or have they just been removed from the GUI in gnome 3?

Re:Adaption... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919490)

You're trolling, but for the benefit of those who don't know better, I'll reply.

GP refers to the ease with which Linux systems can be locked down to prevent common users from accessing a USB drive. System administrators who are competent can do the same with Windows, but there seem to be many sysadmins who are incompetent, and fail to lock USB access from common users.

Yea, really stops remailers (not) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919924)

For mailing files from a webbrowser out onto the web, to a public "remailer" (e.g. yousendit, or others like it out there online), back to yourself whereever that email address may be (which can be temporary like gmail, rocketmail/yahoo mail, or even hotmail accounts). USB sticks & stallling access to them for end-users won't prevent them from doing THAT to steal data. In the case of malware attack as well, that again holds true also. You can stop access to USB thumbdrives to help stop malware making its way onto any system that way, but the other ways in (usually via social engineering or HTML email with malicious urls in it) will work for hackers/crackers too (unless you educate users, and then there's always the "disgruntled employee" who is possibly also a "short timer" (about to be let go) who will go and click on the "FREE VIAGRA" emails too, and infest the company that way).

Re:Adaption... (4, Insightful)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919456)

I remember working with a travel agency early in my career. Their employees could type the craziest commands into the SABRE system that made me feel stupid. Yet, something as simple as, say, cancelling a print job in Windows left them stumped and getting in touch with the IT department.

So I agree with you. Users don't care about the operating system. They just want to get their work done. As long as the applications themselves do not differ in any significant way, nobody will notice.

Munich's experience: "We were naïve" (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919428)

The real question is, will it be worthwhile if some/all the employees have to learn to use a different OS all over again?

Perhaps Munich can provide some insight:

"LiMux project management, "We were naïve""

http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/LiMux-project-management-We-were-naive-958824.html [h-online.com] http://linux.slashdot.org/story/10/03/19/1633241/The-Woes-of-Munichs-Linux-Migration [slashdot.org]

Munich's experience awarded "excellent project" (2, Informative)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919896)

See http://www.muenchen.de/limux [muenchen.de]

and http://www.muenchen.de/Rathaus/dir/presseservice/2011/Pressemitteilungen/481205/fsfe_preis.html [muenchen.de]

In Google translation

excellent project LiMux - Document Freedom Day

(03/30/2011) For its commitment to open standards and free software is replaced by the city of Munich as part of the global campaign "Document Freedom Day" by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), an award that was contrary to Munich's mayor Christine Strobl IT now . "The city of Munich shows a model that can reach a large German Government on Free Software. With the project LiMux Munich is in the use of open standards is a pioneer in Germany and in Europe. We hope that this modern and open attitude by many imitators, "pointed Karsten Gerloff, president of FSFE, emphasized at a small ceremony in Munich's town hall, attended by the municipal IT managers Gertraud Loesewitz, head of IT, Karl -Heinz Schneider, LiMux project leader Peter Hofmann, staff of the LiMux project teams, departments and representatives of the Open Source community took part in Munich. "Munich is a citizen-driven, flexible and open city. This is also reflected in the use of open standards and free software. With the use of open source software, we also strengthen the economy in Munich, by giving the many Munich-based IT service providers the opportunity to participate in the development "explained Mayor Strobl Munich motivation for LiMux.

"LiMux" is presently the largest Linux project in the public sector. With it, the state capital Munich to 2013 about 80 percent of its 15 000 PC workstations on the free operating system Linux. All PC workstations are already equipped since 2009 with an open communication office (OpenOffice.org, Thunderbird, Firefox) and almost 6,000 computers have been converted to the Munich-based Linux operating system. The state capital also has the single document template system, developed WollMux 'which is as free software under the European Union Public License (EUPL) published and other users for free as an open standard available (www.wollmux.org).

I would still call that a success, even if they were initially naïve in some respects.

Re:Munich's experience: "We were naïve" (3, Informative)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919904)

Yep, this is really about this sort of change exposing all the very poor IT decisions done before. A migration to Linux shows many of these problems but even migrations to the next version of Windows often brings a lot of them to light. Companies seem to have a never-ending ability for short-sightedness. Look at all the places that did their entire websites in Flash or coded for IE6 not to mention Small/Medium business's prolific use of Quickbooks.

US Banks (in the USA) a few years back required MS-Java in order to use their website. When MS settled with Sun and pulled MS-Java there was no easy way to get MS-java (had to hunt around for hours for a client to find and install of an old version that worked) so new online banking customers could not access the site. This lasted about 6 months as I recall until their new online banking site was done. I'm sure that decision cost them a good bit of coin and annoyed / chased off several new customers. This is pretty much par for the course for many large companies.

Even now most firms talk about following standards but ditch that idea for cost or aesthetics or implement the purchase (and acceptance) procedure so poorly that don't actually get standards compliance in the end. This of course is not helped by things like ISO treating OOXML as a standard. Now more than ever companies need good IT people to plan for tomorrow, I just wish there were more of them. It often baffles me that the corporate world even functions what with the mass of solutions held together with chewing gum and bailing wire.

Re:Adaption... (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919430)

WTF is this "learning a new OS all over again" stuff? You talk as if most of the staff have to fire up the CLI and get shocked when their beloved dos commands don't work.

Many people spend much of their time either in a browser or some productivity suite. Since Firefox has made huge inroads the past decade, it's not so much a worry. Most mainstream browser have negligible GUI differences. That leave the productivity suite -- which, since I don't really muck with, I can't gauge and someone will have to answer.

What worries me is the 5% cases where it's either hardware like a network scanner that worked with proprietary software or some unique app.

Re:Adaption... (2)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919472)

What worries me is the 5% cases where it's either hardware like a network scanner that worked with proprietary software or some unique app.

That's a valid concern in general, but in this specific case if a company with at least 10,000 employees wasn't dilligent enough to make sure any hardware and custom software they needed to do their jobs ran in linux, the problem is huge and nothing at all to do with linux.

Re:Adaption... (2)

0dugo0 (735093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919604)

WTF that is!? Go explain the bean counters why their ages old excel macro's don't work anymore.

Re:Adaption... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920020)

Personally, on my Ubuntu systems I use Excel on Wine if I really need to use that old crap. It works as well as can be expected for Excel Macros.

OpenOffice has a much better word processor than MS Office 2003, which is what is still in use in much of the UK. Its quite easy to persuade people that its a free alternative to the hated Office2007 which eats screen space.And it opens their office97 documents reliably.

Re:Adaption... (5, Insightful)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919718)

My day job involves software targeted towards small to medium sized businesses... and let me tell you, the most TINY and seemingly trivial change in appearance (including color), behavior, or operation is noticed, felt, and a source of huge training issues, complaints, and drama, on a day to day basis.

Recent versions of windows are only OK because the hardware the businesses run on generally can't do Aero -- but even then, the Start Menu changes in Windows Vista and such were a huge source of drama. Fortunately, desktop shortcuts are there and haven't changed, so people just don't click on Start anymore.

That "ribbon" UI thing MIcrosoft is doing with its latest batch of Office, though? That's so totally unworkably different that we've had quite a few customers suddenly looking towards OpenOffice /just because/ the differences were less stark... whereas a few years ago, those differences (the /little/ bits) were things they couldn't get the time or resources to deal with.

I'm talking about people who don't understand that there's a difference between minimizing and closing an application: (let alone the difference between a document and an application). And this isn't some obscure, rare group we've run into: and neither is it a new phenomenon.

There's a frankly HUGE chunk of people out there who use a computer as a series of rote actions, with no real understanding of what's going on, and no -attempt- to understand the metaphors or flow of the process or programs. They know the entire operation as a firm, strict and unyielding series of precise steps and the slightest deviation throws them completely out of the loop. (And, half of these people are quite capable of doing their jobs very fast and efficiently this way).

Seriously. This is reality in a LOT of areas and a LOT of businesses and its not going to go away for a decade or three when they all retire and are replaced by a younger generation that grew up more computer-literate. (Its not even KINDA there now, in '11. Not even kinda.)

Re:Adaption... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919786)

You assume that this behavior has to do with lack of computer experience. In reality, it is just the natural way for people to efficiently use Windows: memorize groups of actions and practice executing them over and over again as quickly as possible. Workers must learn to use Windows this way because the entire OS and all the apps are built around a horrible kludge interface that is impossible to program or automate, even for advanced users.

Re:Adaption... (5, Insightful)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919898)

I make no such assumption.

These people are often able to automate what they know to a degree that I couldn't without a lot of Googling and trial and error: and others I've encountered have been just the same on MacOS (7, 8, 9, etc). Its not about "experience" (how are you grading that? time? in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the system?), its about how some people approach the computer. It doesn't matter what OS they use. None are better then any other. I've had to deal with some of the most god-awful custom little programs with the most horrid user interfaces -- and in the end, there is this significant class of user to whom that's not different then the well-designed, elegant interfaces. Sure, one may take longer then the other to develop the rotes -- but one class of user will use the computer as a computer, and another will use it via a series of rote actions they perform to achieve an end.

Some will always approach it as a specific tool to set towards a specific use: these people have no vested interest or desire (for any number of reasons) in learning to master it or understand it. It is, to them, simply an "application appliance".

Details like "minimize" and "close" are meaningless. The task at hand is there in front of them, or it is not.

The appliance does precisely what they expect, exactly, without any even slight deviation -- including wording, where items are and precisely how they are represented in the interface, and nuances of behavior. They are able to use this tool through pure muscle-memory. Its not because the interface is "bad": its because of how they learned it and use it. Its not even that they're stupid, or even old, or illiterate, or.. anything.

It's just how real people end up using things they don't care about, aren't interested in, and just... use.

The computer (its OS, and the applications) is a means to an end: its metaphors are an attempt to engage and express on a level that a lot of people just don't give a shit about.

And no matter how great you make it, how wonderful the interface, how programmable and automatable (? such a strange claim for you to put forth-- that programmability and automation have something to do with these users not really understanding their system -- I wonder if you've ever been tech support, be it for family, or commercially) it is, how simple it all seems to be. There'll be the people who won't invest. And use it as a series of rote actions.

Re:Adaption... (3, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919930)

Many people were caught out by the change in Office - I'm not a n00b but I remember searching high and low to print my Word documents, never thinking for a second that the 'orb' was in fact the new version of the 'file' menu.

I notice that I wasn't the only one as Office 2010 has replace the orb with a big orange menu called 'File'. Crazy huh.

But there's a lot more like this in modern Windows - a lack of consistency that used to be there and demonstrated that it was actually designed, now you feel its just kludged together by different groups who want to do things differently. eg. I used to change the back window colour from white to a ever so slightly pale cream, almost so you wouldn't notice but that would take the edge off the glare. Go to display properties, click the window back colour, edit it and every window suddenly was easier to look at. Today, you'll find many windows don't respect that colour - even explorer doesn't let you change the font! You have a choice of.. no choice. This is the new order of Windows - a lack of internal consistency that makes Linux's distributed development look like perfection.

Windows used to be held up as a system that you could learn once and forever understand - every app had the menu bar, every app had a file menu. This is no longer true, and it only makes sense that companies are starting to realise this as they see the bill from MS for licences for new OSs that cost even more in training (not just for users, think of how the control panel has changed - your tech support needs to understand how to set an IP address in the new Network and Sharing Center, not the ancient-but-worked network properties)

I see this in the phone software - no-one cares about Microsoft as a brand, when they have the chance they go with alternatives. I hope this will continue to break up that desktop monopoly.

I take it you've never worked in tech support... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919740)

My mother is a senior bureaucrat in her early 50s. She uses computer every weekday, usually 8-12 hours a day and has been doing so for many years. Everything she does is done by MS Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), by web browser or by a few inhouse applications for managing official documents (versioning, distribution, etc.). She can also use her smar phone for checking e-mail, etc... So in general, she is pretty decent with technology when compared to the average person in her age category. A smart woman, too (good project management skills, university education, etc.).

After all that background... A few weeks ago she asked me for technical support. She had a big folder with loads of documents and wanted to organize it to subfolders but didn't know whether it was possible or not and how would one go doing it. I walked her through the steps ("Right click... create new folder... click and right click the new folder, rename, write a new name and press enter... drag and drop some files there... repeat...") several times but I could bet that an hour later she would no longer remember how it was done. The thing is that despite her using computer over 40 hours a week, her work doesn't include that relatively rare task so she had never done it before and doing so felt alien to her. And, as said, she is probably more technologically literate than your average middle aged person that doesn't work in IT.

Now... Making 10 000 people like her switch to a completely new OS and completely new set of office products? There is no such thing as "Similar enough". The users will need massive amounts of training after the UI of the word processing product changes. Even worse, if they are confused by something and ask a relative at home to explain how something is done, they'll see it done in a different looking system and only get more confused.

It might be a good idea to switch in the long range as each generation is more familiar with computers than the previous one and small changes become easier to endure. In 20 years this problem might nearly disappear. Until that, it's a lot more complicated than you seem to think.

Re:Adaption... (5, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919450)

Based on the article, it is not an issue at all. They are dealing with a core Java application, OpenOffice, and Adobe Reader. The former presumably has been tested and operates properly under Linux. The latter applications are also available for Linux. It was also noted that they are using an older version of Windows, which means that some/all of the employees would have to learn how to use a "different OS" (presumably Windows 7) all over again. Yes, some would have been using that different OS on their personal machines, but those skills don't necessarily carry over very well to work environments.

It is worth considering that many corporate machines have highly customized configurations to start with, most of which are intended to improve security or the manageability of their systems. This ties into what I said about skills used on personal machines don't necessarily carry over to corporate machines. Many corporate machines lock out all but a subset of applications that the employees are permitted to use. This includes standard components of the operating system (e.g. the desktop shell).

Now I cannot comment fully on this company's situation, but it is highly probable that this decision was highly thought out from both a technical and employee level.

Re:Adaption... (1)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919452)

A bigger question, will workers like the migration to Linux? As most of us know, Linux desktop environments suck tremendous amounts of dick. They look butt-ugly and window refreshes are slow as a motherfucker. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours in front of a GNU/Linux box might cause workers to seek employment elsewhere.

Re:Adaption... (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919590)

Most of us are living in 2011, which means Linux desktop environments didn't suck and have actually looked quite nice (matter of taste of course, Personally I prefer KDE4's look to Win7) for a couple of years by now, ... here are a couple of videos to bring you back to this decade/century : starting at 20' [youtube.com] , here [youtube.com] , here [youtube.com] , and here [youtube.com] ... and that's just KDE4.6. Plenty other good looking, fast and easy to use WM/DE's where that comes from, or just do yourself a favour and educate yourself by trying some liveCD.

extra point to you for not going AC when troling though ...

Re:Adaption... (1)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919852)

Sorry, little prick, but it's not trolling to call a stinky pile of excrement a pile of shit, no matter how warped your sensibilities are. Linux desktop environments are still shitty, though I give credit to KDE for at least trying to catch up to the rest of the pack. I'm actually more educated than you and use Linux ONLY where it works well, on the server side. Remember, Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you're an asshole. :-) Checkmate.

Re:Adaption... (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919912)

No food for you anymore today. You'll have to stay under your bridge. Headshot.

Re:Adaption... (3, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919468)

There really isn't much to learn. Seriously. Browsers work the same, word processors work very much the same, Java and Flash work the same. The desktop can even look the same as Windows, if the people who are spending the money decide it's important that users "feel at home".

The average data inputting person will have to spend a week or two, learning how to access the database and other routine chores. Anyone competent to use an applicaton in Windows can become competent with similar apps on Linux within months, if not weeks. Obviously, the company thinks the "investment" worthwhile. Funny thing is, the only "failures" I've read about when companies/governments switch to Linux involved campaigns launched by proprietary concerns.

Linux fails on one front, only. Linux fails when it comes to offering kickbacks and bribes to decision makers.

Re:Adaption... (2)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919508)

The real question is, will it be worthwhile if some/all the employees have to learn to use a different OS all over again?

Why is that the "real" question?

Most users spend almost all their time using a small number of applications, not the OS per se. And all modern GUIs work pretty much the same.

And if you'd read TFA, youd; know their applications are already Java based, so they should work the same regardless.

"The core software used by the company is LAS, a Java-based claims-processing application of its own design, backed by Lotus Notes, Adobe's Reader and the OpenOffice suite."

Re:Adaption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919548)

Depends on how you define employees.

For the average end-user employee on OS is irrelevant, it is the applications that matter. For IT/support employee, an OS is very relevant.

Re:Adaption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919608)

how different is it really? if it was so hard, apple would never have gotten where it is today. pointing and clicking is pretty simple. windows and osx aren't any easier to use than gnome or kde.

Re:Adaption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919668)

Just like an upgrade to Windows <sarcasm>doesn't</sarcasm>?

Re:Adaption... (2)

ammorais (1585589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919954)

3 months ago I've made a linux migration of desktops with XP, on a small business with 25 employes. I've chosen Ubuntu desktop for Desktop, and Centos for the file and printer server, and kept 1 windows box, with Microsoft Office installed.
I have to say that the previous experience of this workers with Oo.org helped, but a lot of myths about people adaptation difficulty are, if not untrue, at least deeply exaggerated. I confessed I've expected a lot of more problems.
The end result was this: the company didn't have to upgrade windows, and didn't have to upgrade hardware also.

Re:Adaption... (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919998)

Alternatively they would have to learn Win7 from scratch. And if their work is with something like TIA, then what OS they are running is absolutely irrelevant. They could work in kiosk mode, for all they care.
Some people just plain fail to understand that Win7 is very different to WinXP in appearance. While the interaction model is actually shared across Windows and Linux.

communism (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919366)

when you install linux, you're installing communism

Re:communism (3, Funny)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919376)

when you install windows, you're installing bdsm.

Re:communism (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919394)

when you install windows, you're installing bsod.

Fixed that for you.

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919864)

Actually I haven't had a bsod or a complete system freeze in at least 5 years (or bdsm for that matter). I know this is heresy on this board, but windows 7 is actually pretty decent.
I will still stick with Ubuntu as my main system, but I have noticed a positive trend lately of Ms actually listening to customer feedback.

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919424)

I'm sure you meant bsdm. and no. windows grants you a radiant future where microsoft app stores decide what you can do with your computers!...or is that apple?

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919806)

BDSM is usually sane, safe and consensual, though. Windows is none of that. :)

Re:communism (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920006)

Windows is one of the world's most misunderstood puzzle games. But for some reason nobody has ever made it all the way to the highscore.

Re:communism (2)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919522)

Oooh, I want to play... When you install AmigaDOS, you're installing the dystopian future. When you install GeOS... Oh, darn, I can't think of anything.

Re:communism (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919596)

GeOs : steampunk future? ;)

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919890)

I am still trying to install Gentoo ...

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919776)

when you install windows, you're installing fascism

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919870)

when you install linux, you're installing communism

To be fair, you should have mentioned some of the negatives as well.

Re:communism (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920024)

I'm pretty sure that the country that invented communism is absolutely OK with it :-D

Hey come on (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919392)

IIRC Lowes has all of their machines running some KDE-using distro...

Re:Hey come on (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919652)

Aye, probably KDE 2.

Re:Hey come on (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919736)

Yeah & what made this interesting was because those CRT-era builds where PRE-ubuntu, back when Redhat reigned supreme in the desktop world, your neckbeard would have a neckbeard if you managed to install anything else, & I pronounce linux 'linux'. I wonder if it payed off for them back then...

Re:Hey come on (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919772)

From what I've seen, they're still using it, on much of the same whitebox hardware, while other retailers have probably gone through two or three hardware and software upgrades since then. I imagine it's paid off very well for them.

Can't tell if we're making progress... (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919408)

The Foreign Ministry left Linux back to windows just a little while back:
http://cuduwudu.com/2011/02/germany-bids-farewell-to-linux/ [cuduwudu.com]

I think the Munich government is still on it but may be wrong.

Re:Can't tell if we're making progress... (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919474)

The Foreign Ministry left Linux back to windows just a little while back:
http://cuduwudu.com/2011/02/germany-bids-farewell-to-linux/ [cuduwudu.com]

I think the Munich government is still on it but may be wrong.

In a couple of years, you're going to see the same thing with LVM. There'll be an article with a title along the lines of "LVM ends their experiment with Linux" in 2013 or 2014 or so.

What will kill this is the same thing that's killed Linux on the business desktop everywhere else... lack of commercial business apps and app support. Because even with idealogical issues aside, there is no "Linux OS". There are dozens of Linux OS's, and even "related" distros... such as Debian and Ubuntu... frequently have software that's incompatible.

Re:Can't tell if we're making progress... (3, Informative)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919510)

That was a political decision, not a technical one. It came promptly after the Ministry went to a FDP member (that is the "Liberal" party here, essentially the sock puppet of every industry lobby in the country) and is currently the subject of several parliamentary enquiries. An analysis of the Government's official response can be found here [henning-tillmann.de] (sorry, German only).

Re:Can't tell if we're making progress... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919630)

SA and Brazil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919460)

There are tens of thousands of government users of Linux in SA and Brazil. Linux is also used extensively in the North American and European banking sector. There is no good technical reason why any large corporation cannot use Linux. The problem seems to be an IT training problem, not a user training problem. Corporate IT people do not know Linux and therefore cannot deploy and support it.

German Company To Install Linux On 10,000 PCs (2, Funny)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919504)


Re:German Company To Install Linux On 10,000 PCs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919600)

The Blitzkrieg lives on!

I told you so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919532)

Linux is dead now. See, it will never beat Microsoft for PC.

Why do coperations like Ubuntu? (2)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919578)

There are free and paid support enterprise distros over a popular but unstable (and as far as I know still a home user focused) distro?

The only thing i can think of is that Canonical is a stable company (unlike Novel) and can undercut RH or do they want to move into the cloud.

I would think that suse/RH would have better security, package management, hardware compatibility with opensuse(my impression have no proof on this) and everything else that you want for a large company.

Re:Why do coperations like Ubuntu? (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919682)

Ubuntu is desktop-focused and does a server version; RHEL is server-focused and will also work on a desktop.

Ubuntu does things like One Hundred Paper Cuts [launchpad.net] to reduce the annoying little shit.

And Canonical has been around for a few years and is backed by a rogue billionaire who doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want. "I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year! You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year I'll have to close this place in sixty years."

Re:Why do coperations like Ubuntu? (0)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919748)

RPM-based distros... better package management


I'm not sure what is going on with Novell but RedHat has demonstrated repeatedly that they are not interested in the Linux desktop. Ubuntu may not be the most stable choice but at least their goals are aligned.

Re:Why do coperations like Ubuntu? (2)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919942)

RPM-based distros... better package management


Probably should have admitted package management from the post.
I was meaning Zypper and Yum would have better enterprise features. I have yet to find a reliable non biased overview on it, so from the opensuse website.
http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:RPM_sucks [opensuse.org]
Mainly allowing multiple versions, vendor locks and deltas.
Apt may currently have these google is not good at current information on this stuff.

But what will happen in 12.04? (1)

Duncan J Murray (1678632) | more than 3 years ago | (#35920000)

I think Ubuntu 10.04 is a pretty stable desktop, but what is going to happen in 2013 when support runs out for it? I just don't see businesses moving the desktop over to unity or gnome 3.


Re:Why do coperations like Ubuntu? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919980)

Canonical wants to do anything that gains then revenue - they can;t exist without that after all.

So, cloud computing - nice to do, everyone else is doing it after all, even Microsoft sees a nice revenue-generating bandwagon to jump on.

So I welcome that, if people want to use their cloud facilities, good for them. It makes the company more stable and that's ultimately what's needed for Linux adoption. Busineses aren't run by geeks, they're run by people who need to know their money isn't going to be wasted because their supplier's gone bust. (wasted because their supplier has brought out a new versions and demands you upgrade, that's ok though :) )

Likely outcome (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919588)

The company will rush into this without any care to what is actually involved, will get frustrated when switching to a different OS will actually take some investment, and will eventually switch back when the short-term cost of training outweighs the recurrent cost of Windows licenses.

Re:Likely outcome (1)

MadMaverick9 (1470565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919738)

Yup - and the core issue is "Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome" [google.com]

You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.

hopelessly dependent and inert are the main problems.

German Company To Install Linux On 10,000 PCs (2)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919610)

Now, *that's* what I call a Beowulf cluster.

Re:German Company To Install Linux On 10,000 PCs (1)

frank_carmody (1551463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919822)

Now, *that's* what I call a Beowulf cluster.

Haha... beat me to it!

Good luck to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919634)

Good luck to the helpdesk people. Our hearts go out to you.

And where IS that god damn start button?

Re:Good luck to... (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919648)

depending on the distro, at the top left, or at the bottom right. Same color, different label in KDE. next question?

Re:Good luck to... (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919654)

I meant Windows Manager ... shoot me

Re:Good luck to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919730)

next question?

What's that woosh sound going over your head?

Why not? (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919662)

I mean, they probably just use Office Suites (which linux has), and i they use some sort of proprietary software they'll have to modify it a bit if it wasn't written in java or something.

I honestly don't see why many companies don't just switch really. If you don't need a windows box to run windows software, you can get better results with a Linux machine.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919694)

Because of Active Directory, floating user profiles.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919768)

Linux can do anything Active Directory can. And on a large scale, it's probably easier to manage as well.

Does it matter? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919808)

Does it really matter to the user if the information is in NIS, LDAP, the variant of LDAP known as Active Directory or even there at all if they use the same desktop machine or laptop all of the time?
The only thing they care about is if they can log in and get their stuff.
There are many ways to do that. MS Windows may be the new boy on the block at that game with the fancy GUI tools but it's an old problem with a huge number of solutions.

Re:Why not? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919914)

LDAP and an NFS /home

My experience on many little firms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919690)

I am a programmer for small business management. In my experience companies are only interested in the program they use for work functions. They aren't interested in anything else. Lately, I invariably propose ubuntu linux and the only difficulty that I find are related to some peripherals (printers and scanners), but less and less. After the initial probationary period all employees said they were extremely happy. In one case I had to revert to Windows 7 for reasons more political than technical.
I also installed edubuntu in 5 schools and even in this reality, the responses were extremely positive. With 5000.00 € I restored 5 laboratories with 20-30 thin-client each.

Not the laptops!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919724)

Linux is great on the desktop, but when you sleep/resume cycle it 10 times, strange things start to happen. Also when moving around and connecting weird USB thingies.

They should leave windows on the laptops. The reason that they can switch to Linux is that the OS is mostly irrelevant for the end user. So it makes sense to use the OS that's best for the hardware.

Re:Not the laptops!!! (2)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919812)

Linux is great on the desktop, but when you sleep/resume cycle it 10 times, strange things start to happen. Also when moving around and connecting weird USB thingies.

I have similar experiences. I like Linux as much as the next guy, but there is still lots of fragile stuff, especially on laptops. Many times something weird (or simply nothing) happens and I have to go digging through the logs for the cause. Lots of unimplemented stuff here and there, too.

They should leave windows on the laptops. The reason that they can switch to Linux is that the OS is mostly irrelevant for the end user. So it makes sense to use the OS that's best for the hardware.

Remember that it was a cost issue too.

linux or not (2)

birdspider (1476517) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919758)

I hope they secure their sensitive data on those laptops
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