MS Windows the cheaper option: City Council pulled the plug on its £535,000 Linux open-source pilot

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Max Burke, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. Max Burke

    Max Burke Guest

    Criticism is mounting over the termination of a large-scale Linux project in
    As reported earlier this week, Birmingham City Council pulled the plug on
    its £535,000 open-source pilot after its analysis concluded that it was
    cheaper to upgrade to a Microsoft-based platform than proceed with open

    The council planned to roll out Linux software and applications on 1,500
    desktops in libraries across the city, but in the end it got no further than
    a 200-desktop project. Several industry watchers have voiced their concerns
    about the project, particularly around the number of PCs rolled out.
    Birmingham's expenditure averaged over £2,500 per PC.

    Microsoft's head of platform strategy, Nick McGrath, would not be drawn on
    the specifics of the Birmingham project, but he said: "I would always
    recommend that the customer took solid analysis, whether it is for
    commercial or non-commercial software. But with Linux and open-source
    software, free is just not the case. There is support and there is
    maintenance, in the same way as there is with Microsoft."

    McGrath added that there were significantly more IT professionals with the
    skills to support Windows systems, compared with open-source alternatives.
    "The skills required to own and manage open-source technology are more
    challenging," he said.,1000000121,39284758,00.htm
    Max Burke, Nov 17, 2006
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  2. Max Burke

    Who Am I Guest

    £535,000 over 1500 machines comes to £356.66, or in NZ dollars $1016.

    That is NZ$7100+, love to see how they worked that one out.
    Who Am I, Nov 20, 2006
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  3. Max Burke

    Chris Hope Guest

    It looks like they divided the total amount by the 200 they did
    install -> "it got no further than a 200-desktop project".

    What confuses me though, if all they were doing was installing open
    source equivalents of MS software, then surely it should cost no more
    in man hours to install this than it would be to upgrade all those
    machines to the more recent versions of MS software, assuming they had
    to install the software on a machine by machine basis.
    Chris Hope, Nov 20, 2006
  4. Max Burke

    impossible Guest

    The actual number of pcs rolled out was just 200 instead of the
    budgeted 1500. So 535,000 divided by 200 = 2675, or about NZ$7600.
    Nice work if you can get it.
    impossible, Nov 20, 2006
  5. Max Burke

    Who Am I Guest

    Linux to me is only useful if you neglect to account for your time.
    I have a Mac and run Parallels on it. Setting up XP on it was dead easy
    and I am no windows person by a long shot, however trying to get linux
    to work was a nightmare and I ended up giving up (Ubuntu, Suse).

    What I thought I would do is get the free linux version of RealBasic to
    play with rather than get the education version for Mac OSX at $105.
    However, by the time I take into account my time I have easily wasted
    the $105 in my time already, it would have been cheaper for me to buy a
    product that simply works.

    And there lies the crux of the matter, it is cheaper time wise to use XP
    on these machine as that is also what their customers are used to,
    therefore there are zero retraining costs associated with it.
    Who Am I, Nov 20, 2006
  6. Max Burke

    Earl Grey Guest

    Here's a story with a bit more detail,,1786068,00.html

    OpenForum Europe and the Institute for IT Training, two of the partners
    in the Open Source Academy project, have started Certified Open, a
    scheme to collect information on what operating systems and application
    software are required by specialist local government software. Graham
    Taylor, director of OpenForum Europe, says that buying specialist
    software can lead councils to suffer "hidden lock-in".

    This hit Birmingham city council's attempt to move 134 library staff to
    a full set of open source software, including SuSE's Linux operating
    system, OpenOffice 2.0 and web-browser Firefox. The city's library
    management software, Galaxy, works only on Microsoft Windows. DS, the
    supplier, was prepared to produce a Linux version, but this would have
    taken too long and cost too much for the trial.

    Les Timms, IT manager at the city's IT provider, Service Birmingham,
    says niche suppliers understandably focus on their area of expertise
    rather than on providing software for multiple operating systems. Staff
    have stayed with Microsoft Windows XP, although they have moved fairly
    smoothly to OpenOffice 2.0.

    The city also had mixed results with public access computers: after
    trials in three libraries, it is making 130 all open source, although 66
    used for education will use Windows and OpenOffice 2.0.
    Earl Grey, Nov 20, 2006
  7. Max Burke

    Chris Hope Guest

    Fair comments. Of course, it all depends what you're used to using.

    For me, it would be faster to install a desktop using Linux than
    Windows, simply because a) I know what I'm doing when it comes to Linux
    and b) it installs almost all the software I need in the 30 minutes or
    so it takes to run the installer. After installing XP I still need to
    install all the software I need, like an office suite etc. In both
    cases I'm going to mess around after the install getting the desktop
    working the way I want it.

    For other people, moving from Windows to Linux, or Windows to Mac or
    whatever else, is more difficult because they don't know where to find
    everything and the way the GUI works is a little different between each
    OS. Also it can be trickier getting some hardware to work on different
    operating systems. For a lot of people it's more or less impossible to
    even think about installing an OS... fortunately for them, PCs come
    preinstalled :) and unfortunately for some of us they have children who
    end up having to support them ;p

    I still believe Linux has a long way to go but it's getting there as
    more hardware vendors start making drivers etc for Linux.
    Chris Hope, Nov 20, 2006
  8. Max Burke

    impossible Guest

    Doesn't sound like the same project. Or is it? 1500 desktops, 134
    desktops -- that's quite a difference. If the 134 figure is right,
    then the projected costs were high to begin with. Are you saying then
    that the project was canned because they couldn't get a Linux version
    of a key application written? And that no one one looked into that
    *before* the trial began?
    impossible, Nov 20, 2006
  9. The idea that staying with Dimdows and Microsoft Office means no time cost
    is a myth. Look at this item
    <> about the prospects for
    users upgrading to Office 2007--there're going to be major retraining costs
    and time involved. Also note that OpenOffice has already got 10% of the
    total office-software market--hardly an insignificant chunk.
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 21, 2006
  10. Max Burke

    Who Am I Guest

    I had never said I was a windows user either....
    Who Am I, Nov 22, 2006
  11. Max Burke

    Who Am I Guest

    Who Am I, Nov 22, 2006
  12. Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 28, 2006
  13. Max Burke

    Who Am I Guest

    Who Am I, Nov 28, 2006
  14. Max Burke

    cyril Guest

    All sounds bunk to me, PC's for Library applications, lets see, Browser
    for general internet access and presumably some Librarian database
    application that is most likely (or should be) HTTP based, and perhaps
    printing access.

    Assuming it is a HTTP based database then wheres the cost differenc

    So where is the money, you cant spend that much money eitherway Linux
    or MS for a basic PC that has a tied down (ie content restricted )

    Seems its just incompentent financials and project managment that
    killed this one.

    by the way I sit at four pcs in my office, two MS, two Linux, both have
    there positives, not to sure which has more, depends on the day Im

    cyril, Nov 28, 2006
  15. Max Burke

    Fred Dagg Guest

    Fred Dagg, Nov 28, 2006
  16. Max Burke

    Fred Dagg Guest

    Most people that actually use both say the same thing, but try telling
    the Zealots (that have either not used Windows for years, or don't
    know anything about Linux).
    Fred Dagg, Nov 28, 2006
  17. Max Burke

    thingy Guest

    Actually I think its MS's desperation...but there you go.


    thingy, Nov 29, 2006
  18. Max Burke

    Fred Dagg Guest

    So the fact that Linux users all celebrate when one person changes to
    Linux, makes front page news, and people feel they have to post it on
    Usenet is actually MS's deperation??

    You may want to consider opening your other eye.
    Fred Dagg, Nov 29, 2006
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