Solothurn Linux Migration Has Failed
Friday, 01 October 2010
This is one of the stories GNU/Linux, OSS and FOSS veterans don't want to hear in the first place. The last days the news spread all over the world that an effort in migrating government systems ultimately failed.

In that attempt Microsoft Windows had to be migrated to some kind of GNU/Linux distribution in Solothurn/Switzerland. According to several newspapers CTO Kurt Bader, who has been responsible for the whole migration effort, resigned this summer when 10% of the approx. one thousand government officials constantly complained about minor problems that came along with the migration process [1]. Some employees mentioned ongoing problems with printing and some others said they were more productive when working with their systems at home.

This however is kind of single edge reporting since most employees had no problems or minor problems at all when using the new distribution and installed programs, like the popular OpenOffice.org suite or their in house mail client called "Scalix". It rather seems like a bad management finally led to the decision to reintroduce Microsoft Windows and run these systems along with the currently installed GNU/Linux distribution. Experts say though, that Linux was not the problem but a bad time management and a much to small migration window - maybe even the fact that end users weren't involved and prepared enough for the newly introduced software. There also was a problem with details project managers tend to overlook. In June the state departments webmailer was still missing some functionality like task management and other comfortable things people got used to in the past when working with Microsoft Outlook.

Nevertheless some questions were still unanswered. Why did the government order a rollback when project "Ambassador" already solved the problems with the OpenOffice.org integration? Why turning away when 90% of the staff only had small problems with the new software? Why accommodating to public pressure and economists when Windows 7 plus further software from Microsoft would sum up and cost the tax payer several millions? The city of Munich in Germany recently announced the successful migration from Microsoft Windows to GNU/Linux and thus the finalization of project "LiMux"[2].

Strategic decisions are shortsighted often when it comes to security, stability and performance. One can run a system which has bad performance – it won't hurt as long as it doesn't affect daily operations too much. In a nutshell: such systems and system infrastructures can be optimized since there is a basis for improvement. When it comes to systems which lack stability even more effort is required, but these ones are yet secure. Running an insecure system however is the worst thing one can possibly do, since it may lead to a loss of data and therefore a loss of business secrets and privacy [3]. We at TRON-DELTA.ORG already experienced the security of Microsoft centric IT-infrastructures. Besides things like costs, problems with licensing, possible lock-in scenarios and the way we want to work with/modify our (operating) systems and applications, security is the primary reason for us to relinquish using software from companies like Microsoft [4].

We also think the Swiss government should have taken the above into account before their decision to return. They should have seriously consulted an organization like for example the FSF (Free Software Foundation) in advance [5].

References:
Last Updated (Thursday, 15 November 2012)
 
 
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