back to article German state ditches Windows, Microsoft Office for Linux and LibreOffice

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's most northern state, is starting its switch from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice, and is planning to move from Windows to Linux on the 30,000 PCs it uses for local government functions. The announcement (in German) was made yesterday by the state's Minister-President Daniel Gunther, who has served …

  1. Timto

    Genius

    You can't have Sovereignty without Sovereign IT

    I should work in advertising

    1. Roger Greenwood
      Pint

      Re: Genius

      Prost!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outlook/Exchange ?

    From long and very bitter experience these are the key issues that will prevent the plan.

    If they have managed to move to Outlook365 (which is the logical move) then they may have a chance. But there is (still) no direct like for like desktop replacement.

    Best of luck though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      "From long and very bitter experience these are the key issues that will prevent the plan."

      Not really. Exchange of course is a pile of garbage, but most of today's non-Windows/non-Microsoft email/calendar applications can handle it, and have been able to do so for a while.

      "If they have managed to move to Outlook365 (which is the logical move) "

      What exactly makes you think that moving to Outlook 365 (which is what, Outlook in the browser?) the "logical move"? Especially when using MS365 has been found to be a breach of European data protection laws for EU institutions?

      You also forget that the whole world doesn't use Exchange, MS365 or MS Office. For example, most of the U.S. tech sector relies on Google Workspace while hardly anyone cares for MS Office and Outlook.

      And Google Workspace is just one of several alternatives, almost all of which are way more reliable than the infernal duo of Exchange and Outlook.

      "then they may have a chance. But there is (still) no direct like for like desktop replacement."

      That's only really the case where businesses have enslaved themselves to dodgy software solution which rely on MS Office/Outlook. Because as an email client, Outlook has been mostly unreliable shit for a long time, and that was before MS foisted it's latest crap shot called 'New Outlook' onto its users. And that's true even for most basic stuff like the shit search which often fails to find emails that are direct under its nose.

      If you think Outlook is great, I shudder to think about what you'd consider 'poor' software.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        If you think Outlook is great, I shudder to think about what you'd consider 'poor' software.

        Thunderbird.

        1. Smirnov

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          "Thunderbird."

          Don't say it's name!

          1. ghp

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            It's "its name".

        2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          Thunderbird sucks. No calendar support!

          It requires IMAP or POP3, don't be surprised if MS makes these unavailable in 365 soon, that is their preference. IMAP sucks anyways. oAuth2 support id flakey and requires administrative approval.

          The Outlook PWA works fine, most user will not see any decline in features.

          The Teams PWA also works fine it is just lagging behind the Windows client on features such as avatars.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            Thunderbird sucks. No calendar support!

            It has calendar and tasks support built in (as opposed to an add on). It's had it since TB 78 was released in 2020.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            The Outlook PWA (Outlook Web Access or whatever they're calling it now) is fucking horrible. Absolutely abysmal usability. I've had to use it on several occasions due to hardware failures on my primary machine, and it's just dreadful. It makes desktop Outlook seem ... well, not as bad.

            It also lacks the Journal feature of desktop Outlook. While Microsoft have largely abandoned that, it's still present, and it's useful for time- and activity-tracking.

            And it orphans the quite large historical archives of email in PST files that some users have.

        3. lockt-in

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          Thunderbird: I looked after a site with hundreds of Thunderbird/calendar clients, 1 or 2 calls a year.

          Outlook: I worked at an MSP with a couple of thousand Outlook clients spread across 150 companies, 5 calls a day for Outlook issues.

      2. Tabor

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        “And Google Workspace is just one of several alternatives, almost all of which are way more reliable than the infernal duo of Exchange and Outlook.”

        Name one. That is not Google, since you mentioned privacy earlier on in your post. You started well with the focus on EU privacy rules, and then you switched to the fact that the *US* (not EU) tech industry uses tools by the greatest data slurper ever ?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      "If they have managed to move to Outlook365 (which is the logical move)"

      What part of "sovereignty" did you not understand? They will be moving to a FOSS email server. TFA mentions NextCloud which provides calendar and contact servers which work perfectly well with ThunderBird, also mentioned.

    3. HuBo
      Gimp

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      Beyond Exchange and Office, I'd expect major challenges here to be similar to those faced by Munich (LiMux), where "about half of the 800 or so total programs needed [didn't] run on Linux". Unless they've developed OS-agnostic (eg. cloud-based/browser-based) versions of all those since then, they'll be up a shlitz creek dead end IMHO, without the needed paddle. Maybe they should run Schleswig-Holstein on smartphones instead (with AI of course!).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        This has always been the problem for businesses / professions switching to Linux. I recall an earlier Reg discussion where a CAD user was lamenting the lack of suitable CAD programs on Linux. A chicken and egg problem. Linux is better but Windows has the apps.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          Linux with WIndows VMs where required would seem the logical staging point. For those using specialist, no equivalent yet, or harder to transition software they can have a VM for that. However, everyone's base machine is still Linux. That way you try to break the addiction of new hires whilst working out what to do with the 20 of the 80:20. For anything that is so shit it cannot be VM'd then you can VNC/RDP into a centralised resource for that. Desktops are then more standardised.

          1. Dagg Silver badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            Why bother with a Windows VM for everything! If all you are doing is running a Windows VM on Linux to get the required functionality. Then just skip linux and run windows.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

              My, this story has brought out the hard-of-thinking.

              GP's post said explicitly to use a VM-hosted Windows for required applications that are only available on Windows. Linux would still be used on end-user machines for all other applications, including the ones most users use for the vast majority of their work: browser, email, "office" suite, virtual meetings, etc.

          2. bish

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            Wouldn’t necessarily need a VM - Wine is actually pretty good for most things now, in my experience.

            *runs for cover*

          3. Rich 2 Silver badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            VM’s are fine if they are just used as containers. But when you use a VM to run stuff that won’t run natively - as a sort of desktop app extension - then you end up having to shuffle data between the two environments. Which is possible, of course (you can use shared fish space) but becomes a real pain In some scenarios (sharing external devices etc)

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: Windows VW or WINE

              It's a bloody stupid idea. Let's decommission a computer that's running an OS that currently is capable of running all our necessary software (and does, today), to wipe and replace it with a new OS with a new learning curve, unknown driver support and a new workflow, so that we can VM the old OS to run our apps again!

              It's brilliant!! NOT.

              1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                Re: Windows VW or WINE

                "Let's decommission a computer that's running an OS that currently is capable of running all our necessary software (and does, today), to wipe and replace it with a new OS with a new learning curve, unknown driver support and a new workflow, so that we can VM the old OS to run our apps again!"

                It's not about the OS or the applications, it's about the data. But as long as you stick with MS, you are stuck with MS data formats and protocols. It's hard, and I suspect impossible for an average user, to use 365 legally (IMO). As TFA states, they are worried about data sovereignty, and as long as you use the MS stack you do not have that.

                So, let's replace all the applications we can - so mail, mail server, office applications (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) - with ones which allow us to control our data. When you've done that, for the most part, you no longer need the proprietary OS underneath either - so gets something you control for that as well.

                But, as pointed out, there will be some applications where you struggle. So for those, I'd suggest a remote virtual desktop would probably do for most users. Shifting files about isn't a problem - no sane business allows data to be held on the desktop, so that's going to be on shared storage which the virtual desktop will have access to.

                Of course, the hardest part will be fighting off the army of MS salespeople and laywers, using every trick in the book to derail the project because MS WILL put lots of effort into making sure the project isn't a success. Their business model relies on closed and proprietary data formats and communications protocols, and putting every obstacle they can in the way of people being able to use anything else without severe pain.

                1. Snake Silver badge

                  Re: it's the DATA

                  You missed the point! It is EXACTLY the data and when Linux can't run the application to access the data, THEN you're in trouble!

                  STOP focusing on your word processors and spreadsheets as if they're the only desktop applications on the planet run on business desktops!! What's wrong with you people? You're so single-minded that you can't see that the rest of us have DOZENS of data types beyond .DOC and .XLS files. I'm sick of saying this. You people act like the entire world only has to worry about their word processor and spreadsheet data. The rest of us have so much data...

                  from .INDD to .PSD to .SLC to .AI to .PDF to .CR2 to .NEF to .RW2 to .3DM to .STL to .3ZP to .PHP to .SL

                  (and this is just a PARTIAL list of the datatype extensions I'm responsible for administrating)

                  ...but all you guys care about is your word processors and your spreadsheets, and constantly think that Linux will be our saviour. I'm tired of yelling at you that the rest of the world does MORE than just browse the web, edit a letter and modify a spreadsheet, and (sadly) Linux often fails once you move past those (supported, thanks to LibreOffice) tropes.

                  Get your heads out of the sand and look at what the rest of the world is doing with their desktop computers. The answer: an almost infinite combination of daily tasks to make their world, and their jobs, better. Linux needs to step up with tasks beyond the simple office productivity suite if it EVER expects to actually take over the world.

                  1. Random person

                    Re: it's the DATA

                    Are you happy that your data is locked in by your vendors?

                    You can use tools like Dark Table to process and manage RAW camera images, e.g. NEF, CR2, RW2. A number of the file formats you mention are cross platform, e.g. PDF, PHP. Some of the file formats you refer to can be opened and managed in Linux tools e.g. the Adobe file formats.

                    If I remember correctly, Cannon stopped supporting the RAW file format in the earlier pro cameras.

                    I try to use file formats that allow me to use my data on whatever platform I want, rather than being locked in one.

                    No operating system is the answer to everybody's needs.

                    1. Snake Silver badge

                      Re: it's the DATA

                      Yes, some can indeed be opened by Linux tools. That does not mean that Linux's abilities even close to match those of the Windows apps that created them.

                      I'll place a "period" at the end of that statement as definitive, thankyouverymuch.

                  2. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                    Re: it's the DATA

                    The reality is that a very significant proportion of users do not go beyond "words", "numbers", "slides to bore people in meetings", and a few web accessed programmes.

                    At the moment, I don't think anyone (well hardly anyone) is suggesting that people with more specialised requirements should ditch everything. What the new project over in Germany will be looking at is "shift the 80 or 90% of users who don't actually have needs beyond those few I've listed" while leaving the much smaller number who still need Windows (or Mac, or whatever) as they are for now. Over time, look at all processes that don't current fit into the Linux desktop and see what teh blockers are - in some cases it will turn out that someone used a certain program "because we always did it this way" and there are alternatives, in other cases there may be alternative options, and for some it will mean staying on Windows for the time being. And of course, "staying with Windows" may (for light users) simply mean remote desktop onto a shared Windows server for certain tasks while doing most of their work on Linux - that's certainly how some of the tools I've used in the past were made available, but for that it was down to the economics of doing that vs licensing for multiple laptops/desktops.

                    As you hint at, any attempt to "rip and replace" 100% is going to fail because the right tools aren't there for 100% of users & tasks.

                  3. midgepad

                    Re: it's the DATA

                    Local government doesn't need to be very complicated in its basics.

                    It does need to be very stable and persistent.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          Yes, I'm the one that mentions CAD because our office runs CAD software, (3) 3D printers and (1) 3D milling machine. All but one run on Windows, exclusively. I'm the photographer / graphic designer of the outfit, so I use the Adobe suite - again, Win/macOS only. Let's not mention the Windows-only, industry-specific inventory control / accounts receivable package that I run, plus hardware-specific drivers running image capture devices on industry-specific software, etc etc.

          Linux is a very good OS. But I keep saying, over and over and over again, an ecosystem isn't just the OS. Linux doesn't have the software to take over the world, it just doesn't.

          1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            And the only way that will change is for government sized organisations to take the decision to break the vicious circle of "everything is Windows, therefore everything will stay Windows". The tools aren't there on Linux (or other open OSs) because the market isn't there; the market isn't there because the target users aren't using Linux; they aren't using Linux because the software isn't there.

            And the reason we are in this position is that almost everyone over the last few decades has simple gone with the "this is the easy way" option without thinking about what the consequences are. Not to mention various government allowing a number of businesses to get away with blatant illegal activity to engineer that "this is the easy way" (or even, "this is the only way") option in the first place.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: this is the easy way

              That's very true what you say, it's the easy way. But since time is money in business, very very few businesses will 'donate' the time and effort of switching to the 'unknown' and deal with the consequences of lost productivity.

              I'm sorry if that hurts. But it's the truth I have to deal with, every single day. Every day I must justify to my boss things that I might have to do, try to get accomplished, because he only sees the dollar signs of the time whilst I see the necessity of the task. It's a constant struggle to get him to see my view, that doing (A) means that (B) goes more smoothly - he can't see beyond the manhours used. Ugh.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: this is the easy way

                I probably have the same issues as you. My company files are graphic design and manufacturing and imaging; we have 100 employees and 220 apps on daily use.

                We standardised on Mac. Except where we use Windows. Oh, and the engineers are Linux.

                The thing is - every file is editable and storable an accessible in any of the O/S because we choose to invest in companies that take cross platform seriously. And we THRIVE, only companies that MS forced to do things their way ever say there's no option but to keep doing things the MS way.

                They won't get 100% Linux or 100% windows or even macos - but it's a huge, and I would absolutely be able to prove we save money in medium and definitely long term, to start encouraging (with your $$ spend if not outright telling them so) suppliers to pull their weight and stop only making Windows binaries. There is not an extension in your list that can't be opened in more than one ecosystem; but there are a lot of apps that are a lot easier to use in a user's chosen o/s.

                1. Snake Silver badge

                  Re: this is the easy way

                  Your suppliers are not going to "start pulling their own weight and make more than Windows binaries" because they'll lose their shirt - there just isn't enough market to interest the dev in developing and then supporting a Linux package.

                  Yes, that's a Catch-22. Not enough market to warrant spend on Linux support, which causes not enough market interested in Linux in the first place.

                  But that's the world facts of the matter.

                  1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                    Re: this is the easy way

                    I don't think you deserve the downvotes, because it's largely true. Supporting multiple OSs does cost a lot more than supporting one, and supporting a "niche" OS (lets face facts, we still haven't reached "year of the Linux desktop") most likely won't give you a positive return on your investment. That's why I've suggested it needs very large users (i.e. government size) to tackle this as a strategic project and create that multi-OS market - they are the only ones large enough to make it happen.

              2. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

                Re: this is the easy way

                It doesn't hurt that you say it, and generally not much that it's true. I was mostly pointing out how we got here.

                Really, the answer to "how do we get to there" is "don't start from here". But that would need a time machine to go back and encourage very large users (i.e. large corporations and governments) to consider the long term and see diversity as an investment that would lower costs/provide other benefits; rather than only looking at the very short term and ignoring where that might lead.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

            Yes, I'm the one that mentions CAD because our office runs CAD software, (3) 3D printers and (1) 3D milling machine. All but one run on Windows, exclusively. I'm the photographer / graphic designer of the outfit, so I use the Adobe suite - again, Win/macOS only.

            Here's a tip: Your situation is not universal.

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: not universal

              Actually, you are wrong. For example, the entire financial industry uses Bloomberg terminals. Guess what? Windows only unless you want to deal with Citrix Receiver fur visualization.

              So an entire MULTI BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY...is Windows.

              The ENTIRE creatives industry, from images to music to video, is either macOS or Windows. Only Blender and DaVinci Resolve offer any professional-level video in Linux; true professional level still editing in Linux is a joke. So, the majority of a multi-billion dollar industry is macOS or Windows.

              You are 100% wrong if you think that my examples are unusual. Industry-specific software - oh, let's just say RETAIL POS - is, entirely, Windows. And dozens and dozensb of industries make the same case.

              Linux desktop is irrelevant because techies will never admit these facts and therefore never address them. Like you just did. So Linux desktop will always STAY irrelevant, for techies only.

              1. midgepad

                Local government...

                Probably doesn't do much 3D milling.

                Bloomberg financials being inaccessible may not have a downside either.

      2. DJ

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        If your environment is truly supporting 800 apps, good luck on your migration journey.

        You might have a chance with 80, but 800?

        Guten nacht, herr direktor.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          > You might have a chance with 80, but 800?

          Personally, in the absence of any other information, I took the 800 figure as a raw figure from the device management system.

          A client uses a small (circa 12) set of desktop applications, however, the device management system reports a few hundred different applications because it regards application xyz 10.1.1.1 as being a wholly different application to xyz 10.1.1.2, obviously this happens because each system is at a slightly different stage of the regular patch cycle.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      The big, nay, MASSIVE problem with Exchange isn't even that it's crap, it's the fact that it doesn't really talk Open Standards other than with the greatest reluctance.

      Of course, that is to keep you locked into Outlook as there used to be no similarly integrated email/calendaring client that spoke Outlook, but if you switch to a service that speaks caldav en carddav on top of SMTP and POP/IMAP you can pretty much use anything you want.

      Except for Outlook - it still doesn't support carddav and caldav..

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        POP/SMTP is shit! Why do you think all the popular email services have gone to web/app-based platforms.

        The real problem is no one has come up with a viable, competitive, better functioning offer to Microsoft 365. G-Suit isn't it!

        1. Rich 2 Silver badge

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          Yes, POP is sub-optimal.

          But there is IMAP which works very well in my experience, despite what someone above reckons.

          As for SMTP - yes it has issues but right here and now your email wouldn’t get very far without it - try it

          And not “everyone” has moved to web based applications for email (not sure what an “app-based” platform is)

          As for MS365 being “better functioning” than anything else, please Scotty - beam me up

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          I have not used POP in literally decades, but I do know people who use it to ensure their incoming mailbox stays empty. With IMAP you have to make sure that you have enough storage, POP can empty a mailbox after pickup (depending on how you use it).

          This is the nice thing about Open Standards - it's pretty hard to find a use case where you can't make it work for you instead of what the supplier has decided he lets you have, and you can hook up any standards compliant application to it or even code your own (although that is for most users a bridge too far) without having to fork out license fees.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      outlook 365 is so shit it blanks it's interface for no reason. then needs a hard kill to get it working again.

      same for excel and word.

      it's like the newer versions are just wrappers for crappy internet explorer windows?

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

        Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

        Been using it for years, never had this happen. Maybe you should look at your own house before throwing stones!

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

          It's widely reported. I've seen it happen myself. Maybe you aren't everyone?

    6. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Outlook/Exchange ?

      surely the the software you use to read emails is the least of your problems in this endeavor

  3. druck Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It wont be technical issues which sink this

    But the problem of brown envelopes.

    And as we know from Bernie Ecclestone, even if caught, the penalty for his sort of behaviour in such jurisdictions, is to give more of the same to court.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

      Considering the billions which are at stake, it could be a lot more than brown envelopes.

      If one large organisation can make the successful transition then the rest of the world could follow suit, but as far as I'm aware no one has yet done this with desktops completely. I'm amazed that the NHS hasn't, considering their size.

      If I was one of the key players in this transition I think I'd make it very clear that I've not been having any suicidal thoughts.

      I mean if someone about to testify in a Boeing court case could suddenly succumb, then why not some German?

      I'll take my tin-foil hat off now.

      But seriously, next year *could* be the year of Linux on the desktop!?

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        Watch out for Windows.... those that open out onto a long drop. We have seen how opposition can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

      2. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        "If one large organisation can make the successful transition then the rest of the world could follow suit, but as far as I'm aware no one has yet done this with desktops completely. I'm amazed that the NHS hasn't, considering their size."

        Really not sure why this is a cause for amazement! NHS big IT projects are often a failure, and in this case they would have to train millions of staff (many of whom have much more important things to be doing) in new systems.

        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

          They already have to train millions of staff, in the software that's running on the desktop. The actual operating system GUI isn't really all that different. It would be a huge undertaking of course, but it would save them huge amounts of money on licensing. Although I expect they know this and therefore get a pretty hefty discount.

          But yeah, NHS big IT projects are often a failure. I worked on one 20 years ago (not my fault it failed).

          However, surely they would save themselves hundreds of millions every year. That could pay for quite a big team of smart people who could surely figure a way of making it work.

          Although I could imaging the headlines in the Daily Mail... "IT workers paid more than doctors to implement " bla bla bla.

          1. keithpeter Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            If such a project could come about, there would be less need to upgrade hardware as well. Could be quite a saving there.

            Not NHS but I work in a public sector organisation that uses MS 365 for email/office/file storage PLUS a shed load of other services of various kinds provided through the Web browser. Hardly any use of desktop native applications. I sometimes wonder if the OS fairy came one night and replaced Windows / Chrome with (say) Mint / Chrome would anyone notice?

            1. Twanky

              Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

              '...if the OS fairy came one night and replaced Windows / Chrome with (say) Mint / Chrome would anyone notice?'

              Yes, of course they would notice. MS would hike their licensing costs as a punishment.

            2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

              Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

              I work in the same environment and use Linux without any issues.

              The only thing I cannot do is use Active Directory PowerShell on my linux computer.

              I can, if I PSRemote into a Domain Controller with SSH enabled. But that's a remote server, not PS running on my laptop.

          2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            "but it would save them huge amounts of money on licensing"

            If they are on MS 365 it won't, Local Exchange? No. MS SQL server that an app requires? Nope no savings.

            So, you are saying OS license? You mean the one that comes with just about EVERY PC purchases? Sure, some vendors offer Linux, Some.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

              Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

              Wow. How is it you have spent so much time commenting on an article that it seems you haven't even read?

              Cliffwilliams44: "If they are on MS 365 it won't, Local Exchange? No. MS SQL server that an app requires? Nope no savings."

              The article: "The switch to LibreOffice and later to Linux, and the effort to operate them in tandem, are just three of six pillars Gunther lays out in his announcement. The state's email servers, directory, and telephony software will also be going open source... ...including Linux, Nextcloud, Thunderbird, open source alternative to Active Directory etc."

              There is no ambiguity here. We are talking about fully removing Microsoft from the equation. Keep up.

        2. Fading
          Windows

          Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

          Last time I was in an NHS hospital they were still using out of support windows 7 on many of their machines.

          1. Steve Button Silver badge

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            ... and then they wonder why they get ransomware attacks!?

            Could probably run a slim modern linux on the very same hardware. Perhaps not.

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

              Any hardware happy running W7 should be fine with a 5.15 LTS based linux and that's good for a few years yet. 10 year hardware refresh cycles cause far less of an issue with Linux than MS.

              1. david 12 Silver badge

                Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

                10 year hardware refresh cycles cause far less of an issue with Linux than MS.

                But in practice, that hasn't been the case where I work. The actual debian/bsd/ubunto distributions have been on long-term kernels, but the update channels have gone off line in a couple of years, unlike the "out of support" windows versions.

                I'm just saying. "Could have been done different": real life is messy.

                1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                  Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

                  But now Ubuntu offers Ubuntu Pro, which supplies updates for 10 years for LTS releases. It does cost, but it should allow PCs lives to possibly extend that far. Other distro maintainers are likely to follow suite if there is a market for this type of offering,

                  The Thinkpad T420 I use daily was launched in 2011, and it still runs quite happily for most things I do on it, although I have upgraded the memory and have an SSD in it now. Up to the end of last year, it was still running Ubuntu 16.04, so that was over six years, and still working, I intend to keep this system (though I may change the distro) until either it breaks, 16GB of memory is not enough or some major hardware limitation requires me to change, as it was the last Thinkpad to have the proper Thinkpad keyboard (although I'm told a T420 keyboard will fit a T430).

                  I don't know how much Ubuntu Pro would cost for someone like the NHS for a large fleet of systems, but my guess would be less than both Windows extended support or a cloud subscription.

              2. ICL1900-G3

                Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

                My main desktop is 11 years old and runs Debian just fine. Not great for gaming nor video rendering, but I don't. C compilation is snappy enough for me.

        3. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

          If the NHS is already pulling staff from duty to train on MS software then the change in software is just that - a change. I'd expect that (like most) the employees just pick up MS as they go along, that and from using it in School/College which obtained cheap 'educational' licenses, aka getting the punters hooked early...

          Now, if schools exposed pupils to different systems in an attempt to provide generic 'IT' and not just 'MS' then the training issue would largely go away over time, they're already using Android/IOS for most personal computing these days.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            "Now, if schools exposed pupils to different systems in an attempt to provide generic 'IT' and not just 'MS' then the training issue would largely go away over time, they're already using Android/IOS for most personal computing these days."

            Those same Android and iOS devices people are using for personal computing is what many, many schools are already using day to day because both have a large fleet management ecosystem in place and education devs are targetting both with their wares. Many schools have deployed Chromebooks and iPads to their staff and pupils across the U. I've been peripherally involved in a couple of massive rollouts of both, each of which numbered in the 10's of 1000's of devices.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            I suspect that once the staff are logged in they simply need to know how to start the app they spend their day using and the actual OS is really neither here nor there unless said app is strictly dose only.

            I have noticed some really crufty looking old apps kicking around in various settings so I'd love to know what the tech makeup is for the software in these places. i.e. x% web, broken down into browser independent and "some idiot locked us into ie6", y% desktop, broken down into generic vs specialist (medical vs office) and what the specialist software is written in and hence platform locked.

            Be interesting if any readers can give some guidance for what they've seen in the NHS as there's bound to be some current/ex tech workers here.

          3. hoola Silver badge

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            And what would schools use?

            The only viable alternative is Google Workspace.

            I struggle to find any benefit there what so ever. In terms of the OS that is mostly irrelevant however where Windows gains is the easy remote & centralised management particularly is you are using AD, Azure AD & O365.

            Until another OS or provider can achieve that in a way that does not involve huge cost or complication then people are not going to bother.

            Like it or not MS is inextricably locked into Azure now and most other solutions some for of cloud service. If they are not then there is on-prem infrastructure that has to be provided & supported. Schools just don't have the resources to do this.

            Equally just replacing one vendor everyone hates with another achieves nothing.

            People on The Register constantly push Linux & Open Source as this magic saviour of everything. It works where there are highly skilled people making it work. There are also far too many flavours of Linux out there and as soon as you pick a commercially supported one you are back to square one. The same with the software that runs on top. Again, Office is pretty much the same thing, a universal tool that has become the standard although the default format is not an open standard. That other products, whether free or paid for struggle to maintain formatting is where we are, in the eyes of the user they do not work. People simply cannot be bothered to make stuff work if there is an easier way to do it. I would hazard a guess that the time spent trying to correct formatting or functions far outweighs the cost of an M365 annual subscription.

            Good luck to SH if they can make it work however I will not be surprised if after a few years it is dumped.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

              "And what would schools use?"

              In the UK? Chromebooks and iPads. We've been shipping them out in the 10's of 1000's for years now.

              1. hoola Silver badge

                Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

                I don't disagree with ChromeBooks & Ipads and see plenty of both but you are using either Microsoft or Google Apps on top of that with the Office & Email.

                You have not actually solved the underlying problem.

                You have just replaced one huge vendor with another.

                Equally most of the most of the equipment ends up being rendered unusable long before it's actual end of life by physical misuse on the part of kids.

                The argument being made is that you can replace everything with Open Source, a ChromeBook & iPad are not open source they it may be possible for them to ran an open source application.

                That most users don't highlights the scale of the challenge.

                1. 43300 Silver badge

                  Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

                  Plus Android and iOS devices can be managed using Intune / Azure AD, alongside any Windows devices. And the managament capabilities are actually pretty comprehensive. In contrast, Intune only offers very basic management capabilities for any other type of Linux.

                  The trouble with many people on here (see all the downticks to realistic comments) is that they confuse what they would like to be the case in an ideal world with how things actually are. And, like it or not, the commercial systems from Microsoft, Google, etc, are much more straightforward, can be managed by fewer IT staff, have less need for developers to create bespoke solutions, and assistance is available in any geogrpahical area from IT consultancies. The powers that be will therefore mostly go for this, rather than some locally-developed solution based on Linux.

                  In the case reported here, a governmental body is looking to move away from Microsoft for ideological, not practical, reasons. This is absolutely a good reason to do so, but it's not going to be easy or cheap, nor is initial or ongoing success guaranteed.

        4. jake Silver badge

          Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

          "in this case they would have to train millions of staff (many of whom have much more important things to be doing) in new systems.'

          Just like they do every time Microsoft rolls a major rev? At least with Linux, the retraining only has to happen once for general use (applications are another kettle o'worms).

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

            "Just like they do every time Microsoft rolls a major rev?"

            Do they? We rarely do any formal training on new versions of WIndows as they are sufficiently similar to the previous one for it not to be required. Some basic documentation on the differences is all that is normally required.

            W8 was the exception, and this one was one of the reasons why we never adopted it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        "But seriously, next year *could* be the year of Linux on the desktop!?"

        Not if it's running that almighty PoS known as systemd.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: the POS know as SystemD

          While I agree that it is a vast overreach it is too late to stop the train especially now that Poeterring works for the Devil... a.k.a. Microsoft.

          Most users would never see any of its effects/habits/stupidity in a normal day.

          Even as a sysdamin, I rarely see it once the system is setup. All that setup is done using scripts.

          The POS can be tamed. I just have to bite my lip when having to setup a new service.

      4. Excused Boots Bronze badge
        Big Brother

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        "But seriously, next year *could* be the year of Linux on the desktop!?”

        We have always been at war with Eurasia!

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        > I'm amazed that the NHS hasn't, considering their size.

        Legacy and (Tory) government policy.

        Remember, the NHS, like government in general, has a lot of legacy dating back at least as far as Windows XP/2k3. Back then Linux wasn’t anywhere as good as Windows, so applications got developed for the Windows platform.

        What is sad is that many missed the wake up call when XP, when EoL and MS messed up with W8, and invest in enterprise open source. Perhaps if this had happened, LibreOffice (or Calligra et al) for example would be much more of an Office killer.

        However, given the wakeup call the UK government has been given ( https://www.theregister.com/2024/04/04/uk_cddo_admits_cloud_spending_lock_issues_exclusive/ ) things might change (not holding my breathe).

      6. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        If one large organisation can make the successful transition then the rest of the world could follow suit, but as far as I'm aware no one has yet done this with desktops completely. I'm amazed that the NHS hasn't, considering their size.

        The French Gendarme have used GendBuntu since 2011. It's on about 90% of computers. They started moving to OpenOffice in 2004.

        Admittedly that is not "100%", but then a lot of businesses aren't 100% Windows either - there's usually some Macs knocking about in the colouring-in departments (and the C-Suite!). It's also been a very gradual process - it took until 2018 to reach 82% coverage and then got to 90% in 2019. Of course the Gendarme also have to cover all the French overseas COM-DOMs (like Reunion, Martinique, etc). It seems they had an early burst on the "low hanging fruit" and then had to dig in for the grind of hard-to-replace applications.

        One of the Gendarme's early strategies was that people volunteering to migrate went to the front of the queue for a new computer (not simply getting Linux slapped onto their existing box) and a new widescreen monitor. Incentivising migration by giving early adopters shiny-shiny and deferring upgrades for people on Windows is not a terrible strategy. Makes people question what they value - "I get a better computer if I make the effort to switch".

        The difference in Schleswig-Holstein is that this is no longer simple activist politicians doing it out of principle or for claimed cost savings (which may not cost much less after you contract in support). It's following a string of adverse German court rulings against Google Workspace and O365, which means you also have compliance officers and legal starting to lean in and seriously look for alternatives.

        It seems reasonable to imagine that with the drift to more browser-based applications since Munich had a go (and then got bribed back by MS moving their German HQ into Bavaria and cosying up to local politicos). This probably means there will be fewer "difficult" desktop applications getting in the way, along with better coverage for linux-desktop software as a whole - more LibreOffice support options, etc.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

          Munich fsck-up technically as well. They decided to do it in a big-bang rather than a roll-out of certain roles/depts, they started with their own custom distribution instead of working with eg. Suse

      7. Teiwaz

        Re: It wont be technical issues which sink this

        <quote>I'm amazed that the NHS hasn't, considering their size</quote>

        I'm not, not knowing the senior management of the country is busy trying to sell it off to other corporations, seems perfectly logical for them to be encouraging NHS management to stay on a corporate teat.

      8. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. fg_swe Bronze badge
    Linux

    Great Intentions

    Now let's see how long they resist the "economic incentives" to switch back.

  5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I applaud their determination to embrace the paperless office. Because good luck getting Linux to print, Schleswig-Holsteiner/erinnen

    1. James O'Shea

      Not so. Ubuntu and Mint print just fine, at least around here.

      The GIMP, now, the GIMP has... issues. It hates, hates, HATES certain printers (HP LaserJet P205x, Epson WorkForce 35x0) with the fury of 10,000 suns. It's not a Linux issue, the GIMP is an equal-opportunity bigot, it hates those printers from Linux, Windows, and Mac systems. Or at least it did a while back, I haven't bothered with the GIMP in about five years, printing wasn't the only problem.

      HP P205x work nicely with Linux if you use the correct drivers. See, for instance, <https://www.openprinting.org/printer/HP/HP-LaserJet_P2055dn> or you could go here <https://developers.hp.com/hp-linux-imaging-and-printing> and Epson stuff are usually available directly from Epson. See <https://epson.com/Support/Printers/All-In-Ones/WorkForce-Series/Epson-WorkForce-WF-3530/s/SPT_C11CC32201?review-filter=Linux> for example.

      LibreOffice on Linux has been known to be a bit wobbly, but it's usually fixable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Linux is more reliable in my house than windows with our HP Inkjet. Admittedly, that's probably due to a shonky HP driver used on all the windows boxes.... (HP Smart.) Both windows and Linux play nicely with our Brother Laser though...

      2. Dagg Silver badge

        Ubuntu and Mint print just fine

        Not with ALL printers. yea, basic lasers ok, but if you have high quality photo inkjet don't even try. All you can do is very basic colour and that is that!

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Linux

        Mint here, running a shared print server for a networked HP (mea maxima culpa*) Laserjet 5.

        Not only does it print very nicely from local apps, it also prints from the wife's iPad and iPhone (neither of which will deign to print to a non-Apple AirPrint printer - meaning they totally ignore the LJ5 on the network but are fine going thru the Mint) AND my work Win10 lappie (whose HP generic PCL driver "no longer supports" the LJ5).

        Printing on Linux has improved significantly recently, in my experience.

        * in my defense, I got it non-functional, for free. Replaced the fuser assy, the drive gears, boosted the RAM and added a network interface card. YouTube is a wonderful helper. Parts for the LJ5, I discovered, are readily and cheaply available as a consequence of these units being in almost every business on the planet for many years, and the engine itself is metal, not plastic, and very repair-friendly. All done at the start of COVID, while WFH. Refurb units still available at popular prices (just check the web) if you're not a DIYer.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Unix printing

          Printing on Linux has improved significantly recently, in my experience.

          Well yes. For certain definitions of recently anyway. It would have been difficult to deteriorate much from where it was in the 1990s when it would only (often) print straight, unadorned ASCII or -- on very good days -- to some very expensive Postscript printers. Although I'm a unix fan, I have to admit that my experiences with interfacing printers and scanners to Unix have been -- pretty much universally -- extraordinarily painful.

          But I do agree that the situation seems to be much better today.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Unix printing

            Linux printing problems pretty much went away twenty+ years ago.

      4. Col_Panek

        I have a HP LJ 2055, Linux Mint and MX, dunno what you're on about.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Mike007 Bronze badge

      Inter-system data transfer, government style.

      Does this mean they will have to make things like online forms feed the data directly in to the relevant system, instead of sending it to the printer in the data entry department?

      The unions won't be happy about this...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Printing?

      My Rocky/Alma Linus servers don't have a problem with my Kyocera Colour Laser out on the network. No huge driver package to load. Success.

      The days of making Linux print taking an age and being pure luck are long gone.

      It seems that it is only Windoze that needs a 100Mb + driver package these days.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Printing?

        "My Rocky/Alma Linus servers don't have a problem with my Kyocera Colour Laser out on the network.

        Do you have user ID and billing set up for your network printer?

        By which I mean could I log into a client machine anywhere in the organisation / building and print something then toddle off to the printer, type my print code in, get my printout? And my nominal credit balance would be decremented by the 10p or whatever the printout cost?

        That is a biggie in my world (education)

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Printing?

          Yes, the follow me print services. Just plonk your lanyard access ID card and the printer offers to release your documents that you queued for printing.

          If the need is enough then other OSes will follow but Windows just seems the best supported.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Printing?

          "Do you have user ID and billing set up for your network printer?"

          We have a fleet of networked Xerox printers and MFPs, and printing including secure printing and billing accounts from Linux clients (a mix of Alma Linux, openSUSE/SELD and Debian on ChromeOS) works fine.

    5. sabroni Silver badge
      Pint

      Ignore the humourless who frequent this kind of thread, made me smile anyway!

  6. Ivy366

    "recently found that the European Commission's use of Microsoft 365 breaches data protection law for EU institutions and bodies."+

    Yes, let's just switch over to App... no wait.. Goog... no wait...

    "Hey, secretary, which European IT company actually delivers modern services?"

    The answer is zero. EU regulators can cry all they want about "Microsoft not being GDPR compliant" but there's no real alternative alive today.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      choose the least worst

      Not your downvoter, but sometimes there are no good choices. From outside the EU looking in, being GDPR non-compliant is a show-stopper, whereas being not modern or not a "real" alternative is just money / productivity.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Anything local is compliant

      It's "USA owned cloud" that's the problem.

      French, German etc cloud - compliant as long as they are not a subsidiary of a US corporation.

      On-prem - compliant.

      It's quite easy, all you have to do is know where the data is stored and who ultimately owns the hardware.

      1. Displacement Activity

        Re: Anything local is compliant

        You have quite clearly never looked at the regulations. The nationality of the owners has exactly zero relevance.

        1. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Anything local is compliant

          The nationality of the owners has exactly zero relevance.

          The nationality has some relevance since non-EU nations do not have the same GDPR protections, and this includes the USA given that young Mr Schrems has managed to get SafeHarbor/PrivacyShield/etc struck down as inadequate.

          But yes, cloud inherently not a legal problem, provided you have due diligenced location, ownership, etc.

          And GDPR does indeed cover a lot more than "I can point to the box the data is on".

          e.g. Saying "I can point to the box the data is on (but the root password is passw0rd)" is much, much worse than "Oh noes, it's in the cloud".

    3. Potemkine! Silver badge

      EU regulators can cry all they want about "Microsoft not being GDPR compliant"

      They have another thing to do than crying: slapping the infringers with a fine up to 4% of their total global turnover. It's quite efficient, some begin to feel the heat.

    4. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

      The answer is zero. EU regulators can cry all they want about "Microsoft not being GDPR compliant" but there's no real alternative alive today.

      And how do you fix that ? Do you a) just carry on as before because, well there's no alternative no matter what problems you currently have, or b) do something to fix the underlying problem ? If you go down route b and are big enough, then eventually a will solve itself. Unless the people driving succumb to marketing machine from the incumbents who do very nicely out of people choosing not to try and fix the problem.

  7. GyroBob

    I imagine the userbase will be a challenge. Having worked with users, anything new that does not look and operate exactly like their previous gui will be classified as rubbish and blamed for anything that goes wrong. Most users will be very familiar with Outlook and the MS Office apps, and will not be keen to move away. Good luck to them with the project, and I hope they do succeed.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      As if Windows and Office don't play "hide the function / button" with every version!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Version? Hell just a couple of updates will do that!

    2. elDog

      Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

      Leave the old codgers in the dark world of Microsoft.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

        Um, you do realize we're talking government employees ?

        If they had nimble minds and aptitude, they'd be working in the private sector.

        As far as I can see, this is just another large boast by a German state, which will be followed by close "negociations" by Borkzilla and will end up in everyone adopting Windows 12 and Office 2025. For a price that the German citizen will find on his taxes so, who cares ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

          If they had nimble minds and aptitude, they'd be working in the private sector.

          Oi, please stop with the insults. Anon for obvious reasons, but I work in a team of highly skilled engineers, working on a high profile defence project. I have to admit, with "just" a university degree, I feel pretty humbled at times with the number of colleagues with the title "Dr" I work with. I used to work in the private sector, now I'm a civil servant.

          1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

            Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

            I've no comment to make about public vs. private sectors, but I also work with a large number of people with the title "Dr." in front of their names. I've found that this tells you next to nothing about their intelligence or competence, though some of them certainly seem to think it does.

            *Edited to add: This is in a higher education setting. These doctoral degree holders I speak of run the gamut, as far as the subjects their doctorates are in.

            1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

              Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

              I have no argument with that description. In our case, those clever people are here because they are genuinely clever AND PRACTICAL engineers.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

        This old codger has been contributing to Linux for over thirty years, and to BSD before it was called BSD.

        Without us old codgers, you youngsters would be stuck with Redmond and Cupertino.

      3. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

        Leave the old codgers in the dark world of Microsoft.

        The Gendarme gave people a widescreen monitor if they moved to Gendbuntu.

        Might not work as well these days since decent screens and dual-screens setups are probably more standard (or there's no sense of ownership if you're WFH/hot-desking and just pick a space).

        Nonetheless, you can prioritise the Linux adopters and give them shiny stuff whilst stretching out the hardware cycle for Windows users.

        This is of course a bit arse-backwards since the old hardware is probably better suited to Linux. At least for desktops, you could be recycling old boxes (with RAM/SSD upgrades where required) and then bundling some premium peripherals to make people feel special.

      4. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

        Could you contemplate getting over yourself for a second?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

          Could you contemplate addressing the topic instead of embarrassing yourself by descending to argumentum ad hominem?

      5. Col_Panek

        Re: Maybe just give Linux and open-source apps to those wiith nimble brains and aptitude

        i'm 76, and don't have the patience to screw with Windows, so I and my wife run Mint because it has less drama.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      That'll be the same users that complain and "can't do work" every time that MS changes and "upgrades" things, including entire look and feel, never mind swapping menu items around and relatively regular basis. Personally, I don't actually see a great deal of difference between switching from one GUI based OS to another and having a supposedly consistent GUI based OS changed from under me by updates and upgrades.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        I came up with a definition of "user friendly" to accommodate this:

        User friendly is whatever I'm used to using.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Having worked with users, anything new that does not look and operate exactly like their previous gui will be classified as rubbish and blamed for anything that goes wrong."

      So once they've finally been moved over onto something that doesn't need to change every few years when Microsoft and its H/W vendor mates decide to screw the world for another H/W & S/W refresh then life will get a lot easier, won't it.

    5. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Correct. Changing once is cheaper

      Outlook rearranges my GUI literally every single month, sometimes more often. (It still can't update without completely trashing the layout and even forgetting which screen it's on)

      Teams rearranges things every week, sometimes more often.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Correct. Changing once is cheaper

        Facts.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Having worked with users, anything new that does not look and operate exactly like their previous gui will be classified as rubbish and blamed for anything that goes wrong."

      You must have worked with eremites then. They probably also never used a modern cell phone, and I guess they communicate with businesses only via fax and with their more remote family via telegram (the dah-dih-dih-dah variant, not the app). I also have to wonder how your users dealt with the constant UX changes Microsoft imposes onto its users on a regular basis, unless they expect to remain on Windows XP and Office 2003 'til they retire or drop dead.

      Because everywhere else is the ability to work with a changing variety of modern software applications considered a basic employee skill which is expected from every desk worker no matter what job level.

      "Having worked with users, anything new that does not look and operate exactly like their previous gui will be classified as rubbish and blamed for anything that goes wrong."

      Not my experience, and we supported the migration from Windows + MS Office + MS365 to ChromeBooks + Google Workspace for a number of large businesses (plus our own). And none of the projects had any major issues with user acceptance, quite the contrary actually (following the migration, the number of support calls per month has always dropped quite massively).

      Which isn't at all surprising, considering the many different user interfaces most people have to use in their daily lives - PCs, tablets, smartphones, IoT stuff, smart TVs, self-checkouts, hospital patient screens, and so on. All with a completely different UX.

      1. NATTtrash
        Joke

        Eremites

        You must have worked with eremites then. They probably also never used a modern cell phone, and I guess they communicate with businesses only via fax...

        Ah, I see you have been working in Germany. Because indeed, that is exactly the situation. (Especially for a foreigner) Germany is still largely paper based, and if for the majority of German companies/ businesses you get contact details for will have a fax number on there. As one of the jokes went, fired at the German politicians in the room during the "carnival speeches":

        "Do you know what the German definition of cyber warfare is? Sending so many faxes that the paper runs out on the other side" (Guido Cantz).

        1. Shalghar Bronze badge

          Re: Eremites

          "Do you know what the German definition of cyber warfare is? Sending so many faxes that the paper runs out on the other side"

          And thats exactly what happened to a "Viva" (one of the first "youth" cable TV channels in germany) moderator, pranked by some naughty amiga mailbox users. While some of them were distracting him on the phone, one other abused a certain fax software and the then much praised ZyXel U1496e to send an endless fax. The moderator only saw what happened when his fax machine in the background started to beep due to paper roll emptiness and the ensuing rage, live, with him grabbing the paper and standing literally knee deep in printout was hilarious.

          But dont fret, we have our shares of DOS attacks, virus laden emails, ransomware, botnets and suchlike.

          Germany seems to have ill repute due to keeping "backwards compatibility" to fax and suchlike. German politicians also keep nagging about the "abysmal" speed of internet or state of digitalisation, which seems odd when reading the complaints of US citizens here, concerning said internet speed and broadband access in the USA and wich seems even more suspicious when you look at those who complain, usually individuals with issues concerning the proper useage of a light switch or similar technical competence.

          While it may sound ridiculous in this forum, having things on paper may be stone age oldschool but helps a lot when a real cyberattack happens or when you have hard- or software issues. Having digitized everything might mean you have issues getting to important data in case something happend, be it cloud, internet, or even power outages.

          Another thing is while digitizing, if the pattern matching scanner software has some hiccups, you might have cincorrect data, and correcting this without the corresponding paper trail is impossible.

          There is an in depth discussion from the german chaos computer club about this, with high value names like even rank xerox being part of the mess.

          Lastly, manipulating paper is much much more work than manipulating electronic storage - be it mere destruction or falsifying entries.

          This doesnt mean everything should be paper it just hows that in some situations, high tech might cause issues that low tech simply doesnt.

          1. NATTtrash
            Pint

            Re: Eremites

            Oh don't get me wrong...

            having things on paper may be stone age oldschool

            ...I do agree and frequently invite youngsters to this new technological, sustainable and low carbon foot print marvel called paper (<<< Don't agree? Ever thought of the Wh your devices and their backend are gobbling up?).

            It's just funny to see, just like the (heavy use of the) printers at the entrances of the German banks for people to print out their statements.

            I'm not at all saying what's right and what's wrong. It's just interesting to see, just like the things they have on offer on Food Street in China...

  8. Nuno

    Baby steps

    The main change should be making the use of libre office mandatory.

    Then, find multi platform open source solutions for all the apps used. The active directory replacement is user transparent, nobody will notice it

    Then, the move to Linux is not an issue, most people will easily adapt within a week

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      There will still be departments putting forward cases to buck the trend. Some will be genuine, others will be marketing types insisting they need Apple or whatever :-)

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Baby steps

        "others will be marketing types insisting they need Apple or whatever :-)""

        Adobe equivalents on Linux? At least MS mostly has the equivalent software.

        1. Ethan Strongtower

          Re: Baby steps

          As an Acrobat replacement on Linux (for manipulating not just viewing PDFs), I have been using Qoppa PDF Studio Pro. It's not quite as capable as Acrobat Pro, and it's not FOSS. However, it's much cheaper, and it works pretty well.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      Don't start with the clients! The users will hate you and could easily stifle any migration.

      The first move should be on the servers and away from Exchange, this is after all the greatest dependency. People that are used to Outlook are going to find it hard to switch to anything else, especially if they have to share calendars, etc. so take time to find something that they like. And, while I like a lot of the technical features of Libre Office, I still don't think it has the fit and finish for the big time and, worse, I don't think the developers care.

      But there are plenty of other alternatives that are close in style to MS Office and might thus meet less resistance when switching: OnlyOffice or Softmaker.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: making the use of libre office mandatory

      But, management needs those sexy Excel charts !

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: making the use of libre office mandatory

        It's not Excel that they will bitch about, it's Power Point.

        My solution as a consultant is to fire anyone who claims to depend on Power Point. To date (for the last quarter century or so), this admittedly draconian solution has never failed to improve morale, increase profits and otherwise streamline the corporation.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: making the use of libre office mandatory

          > My solution as a consultant is to fire anyone who claims to depend on Power Point.

          Clearly not a management consultant then…

        2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: making the use of libre office mandatory

          "fire anyone who claims to depend on Power Point"

          It's the next generation of resume filtering: assigning negative points to certain keywords.

    4. Dagg Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      the move to Linux is not an issue, most people will easily adapt within a week

      Difficult when the majority of the stuff you need to run doesn't work anymore. Or if it does half its functionality is broken. Office is only part of what most offices use. There will be the company specific applications that will need to run.

      Years ago I was working for company that appointed a new C something O and HE wanted to use apple. The problem was the ERP that was being used at the time didn't work on apple. He actually tried to get the ERP change just because he liked apple. A CBA was carried out and he was told no way. About that time I left...

    5. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      -- Then, find multi platform open source solutions for all the apps used. --

      I do wish you luck with this.

    6. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      >The active directory replacement is user transparent, nobody will notice it

      Well, the admins will.

      Ok, so one can join a SAMBA DC to an Active Directory Domain. Good luck getting it to sync GPOs with Windows servers. And then good luck mapping the GPOs to Linux (note: sssd does pay attention to two policy settings. There are alternatives for Linux from what used to be called Power Brokers). And good luck downgrading one's forest / domain to a more elderly version. And, good luck administering it without a Windows desktop so that you can run the standard management (RSAT) that Microsoft provide for this purpose, and that Samba intends one to keep using even if one is using Samba exclusively for the servers.

      The reason why Samba exists is because Active Directory (and the control it gives admins) is actually very good - not just for security but for keeping stuff running - and no one in the Linux world has come up with a viable alternative. A lot of people forget that AD is a very good way of getting things set up for the less technically able users in an organisation, and replacing that with a "you're on your own!" Linux desktop risks experiencing mayhem.

      1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

        Re: Baby steps

        "Good luck getting it to sync GPOs with Windows servers. And then good luck mapping the GPOs to Linux."

        What Windows servers? What GPOs?

        I could be wrong, but I assume when they say "open-source alternative to Active Directory" they don't mean anything like what you are envisioning. Samba has an open-source *implementation of* Active Directory, not an alternative to it. I think they just mean some centralized management solution, which need not use Microsoft's GPOs at all once all the Windows machines have been ditched.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Baby steps

          It depends on what you have historically used GPOs for. All the organisations that I've been in have used them for helping end users, as much as restricting end users. Things like ensuring that certain file shares are automatically mapped, allowing the admins to re-target those quietly behind the scenes without having to tell anybody. Stuff like that. Ok, there's perhaps other ways of doing that exact task with Linux (e.g. some DNS server alterations), but it's that class of thing I'm referring to.

          If all of that "help" is embedded as GPOs, and one is moving to an alternative arrangement that is not based on AD, then somehow that's all got to be ported. If the clients are going to be Linux, then its difficult; either the admins get creative, or very busy supporting individual users, or something, but by and large their GPOs are dead. The transition is most definitely not transparent / seamless.

    7. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Re: Baby steps

      And….how will they communicate with peers overseas using Windows Office? The tools are “feature-compatible”, but not printed output compatible. If you ask someone to “just fill out the points on page 55”, then it having it shifted to page 56 on their screen because of a formatting issue, is a *massive deal* for misunderstanding.

      One very common use-case to handle co-working with many people, is sending the same doc with “Review Changes On”, to several contributors. These people often work for different companies each with their own corporate IT policies. You don’t control them, and can’t tell them how to do their job. The only thing you share, is that “everyone uses MS Office”.

      You get back N docs, marked up with Change Tracking, and you *need to just be able to merge those changes in, inside an hour before the meeting*. You just cannot manually look through a 200 page doc, looking for what changed. Nor can you force somebody else to use Libre Office, particularly when they don’t work for your company and work on a different continent.

      MS Office is the standard for interworking between *business humans*; and if you think the issue is the file format then you just haven’t understood the real world issue at all.

      1. mayan

        Re: Baby steps

        MS Office has historically a hard time understanding files formatted in different versions of MS Office. The only format that seems consistently understood is when you use o365 and read it on o365.

        This is of course the exact scenario anyone concerned at all with data sovereignty wants to get away from - it requires a cloud, and a cloud controlled by a foreign government who have a very different concept of privacy to you (and, let's be honest, different to what we as citizens actually think of when we use the term Privacy)

        LireOffice actually handles Track Changes pretty consistently, as does Google Docs. The only time it falls over is when someone *imports* the shared circulated document into a desktop version of Word - often because the company has a security policy which is "don't ever trust microsoft word to open an external microsoft word document" - and then everything gets anonymised and simple formatting gets borked. Problems I *never* have with companies using non-desktop Word, by the way.

        We can always find reasons why not but itn the end it usually boils down to "because I don't want to change". The world can handle more than "the way we did things in 1990" now.

  9. 3arn0wl

    One small step for [a hu-] man

    Upgrading to Open Source really isn't the huge leap it used to be : more like skipping over a few stepping stones.

    "Computer operators" have got used to using other-than-Micro$oft offerings on their devices since 2007 and, if statistics are taken at face value, increasingly prefer to do so.

    So all the buttons are perhaps in different places... so what?

    1. elDog

      The damn buttons and ribbons in MS products change all the time

      They spend more time with focus groups of fashion designers than looking at how real people get real work done.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The damn buttons and ribbons in MS products change all the time

        I assume in this case Schleswig-Holstein might look at how their users do things and tailor the UIs appropriately.

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Comingsoon:a large Microsoft office opening in Schleswig-Holstein.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      That's one way of increasing the local employment stats :-)

  11. Tefkater

    Let's see...

    ... whether the Microsoft head offices now move from Munich to Kiel, including all the suits with the black briefcases in order to reverse this decision ..m

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Let's see...

      Getting a few more states involved Germany should be able to give Microsoft a good game of Whack-a-mole.

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Wish them the very best

    However I would guess that the best way of doing this is by stealth. Just tell users it's the latest thing, keep quiet about the fact that it's Linux software. They'll cotton on eventually, but by then (hopefully) will have been pleasantly surprised at how little trouble they were having.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Wish them the very best

      Except that, if it doesn't work like Outlook, they'll be screaming bloody murder.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Wish them the very best

        Probably not, because Outlook doesn't behave like Outlook either.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Wish them the very best

        The average user wants an email client that displays a list of what's come in. Pretty much *every* other feature is an impediment. In particular, the ability to make me "late" for a meeting in my calendar by sending an email to me is an unmitigated evil that should be burned, poisoned, stabbed and flayed (along with its authors).

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Wish them the very best

        Doesn't work like Outlook? You say that like it's a bad thing.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's déjà vu all over again

    Munich transferred to a Linux desktop and it took a visit from Ballmer to reverse the situation. That and offering a 90% discount on Windows and Microsoft ‘investing’ in a local development facility.

    May 2003: Microsoft loses big deal in Munich

    May 2003: Munich May Opt for Linux After All

    July 2003: Revealed – Microsoft's Munich sweeteners

    Nov 2017: Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: It's déjà vu all over again

      This move appears to be timed to coincide with MS actually withdrawing from the market (of operating systems that run on the computer you already own) so it is hard to imagine a repeat of those events in this case.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      And in 2020...

      FWIW in 2020, new leaders in Munich pledged to favor open source after that switch back to Windows. But it's not entirely clear whether that achieved anything significant.

      If we find anything concrete, we'll build that into our coverage.

      C.

  14. TVU Silver badge

    "LiMux faced some technical challenges at first"

    ^ That was their first very big mistake - to go for their own customised Linux version rather than rely on one of the three existing supported commercial Linux distributions from Red Hat, Canonical or SUSE.

    1. sbegrupt
      Meh

      It seems to be a custom flavour of Ubuntu. Typically such builds are produced to bake in validated SSO/smartcard/VPN setup for the users to use out of the box.

      What worries me is that offering a custom Linux build may be also used to deprive upstream projects like Ubuntu, LibreOffice, Thunderbird of support money. Which brings back the question of long-term sustainability of this endeavour. It would have been much simpler for a German public entity to get supported SLES from German Suse.

      1. LionelB Silver badge

        > Typically such builds are produced to bake in validated SSO/smartcard/VPN setup for the users to use out of the box.

        Could tools such as Puppet not be engaged to automate customised deployment of, e.g., a Red Hat, Canonical or SUSE distribution?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uh oh, the Autobahn will be busy..

    I predict that Microsoft acolytes are already on the Autobahn on their way there.

    I wonder how much of a discount they will get from Microsoft now they've announced leaving, because MS cannot afford anyone proving they don't need to be exposed to malware and ransomware if they remove the common factor..

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Uh oh, the Autobahn will be busy..

      A bluff in any case, they want what Munich got and they will do what they need to do to get it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Desktop OSs are so passé

    I work for a multinational that uses Chromebooks almost exclusively. I mean if it’s in a browser, the desktop OS can be anything. Switching to Linux with O365 web or G Suite would make more sense and be far less technically challenging.

    I mean, how does Linux and LibreOffice handle collaboration? One of the biggest issues most companies face.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

      Collaboration is very important. 20 years ago (small business) we started using a feature in excel where a spreadsheet could be shared. It worked ok but was always flaky and when it crashed we had to shut down the app on all machines and restart. Sometimes that didn't work so we had to round trip the shared file through openoffice (which removed the crud). We could live with this as it only happened every few weeks but the file was used constantly by several people in different parts of the building. Then we discovered google sheets and have used that since without problem. Businesses generally don't care what the app is called or who owns it, we just want it to work! Libreoffice has been working on this feature I believe but I don't think it is there yet. Big business will have a "proper" solution perhaps, involving databases and stuff, when many just need something simple to share.

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

        "a spreadsheet could be shared"

        Thanks for the flashback. Some manager got wind of this feature and tried to borrow me to build such a solution. Fortunately I had seen the wreckage of several such trains: not only the intermittent crashes but also the near constant merge conflicts, followed by the fed up user cleverly making a copy on their own desktop and saving their work there, followed by the manager complaining that the data is not being saved correctly, and ultimately the "dev" being blamed for not building it right. Even MS Access would be better. When I pointed this out I was told to be nice and build it anyway. I flat out refused. Better to be thought difficult and competent than nice and incompetent.

    2. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

      There are other options: I work in an academic environment, where sharing and collaboration is paramount. We work collaboratively on WP and other docs via Google Drive (sufficient for our needs), calendars via Google Calendar, code via GitHub and LaTeX papers/publications via Overleaf. All platform-agnostic - we have people on Windows, Mac and Linux.

      I do, however, acknowledge that Google Drive (and its associated WP, spreadsheet and presentation suite) may not be sufficient for some business needs. I believe LibreOffice sharing/collaboration is under development.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

        In my opinion you may also want to avoid Google if you want to do anything confidential like, say, handling intellectual property..

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

          You're not wrong... we tend to use it only for internal admin, and not to share code/papers/data.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

      how does Linux and LibreOffice handle collaboration?

      Via a commercial outfit called Collabora who will charge €21/user/year or less if you have more than 99 users.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Desktop OSs are so passé

      If you don’t want to carry around a paperweights when there is no Internet connection, you need a desktop OS and l applications capable of being useful in standalone mode.

      Agree offline working does make collaboration systems more complex due to the re sync issues, but most of the time it isn’t a problem because the document management system handles it.

      What is passé is building an enterprise application, where some level of collaboration would be expected and for it not to be able to handle the collaboration. The catch is collaboration needs a server which today means a cloud SAAS. Aside I wonder whether AWS et al are offering an orchestration and collaboration broker PAAS, which would greatly facilitate the creation of joined up collaboration applications,

      1. midgepad

        "collaboration needs a server"

        Can that be proved?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libraoffice bugs

    Sadly I've recently found that libraoffice is becoming more buggy and unstable.

    I've found that track changes causes documents to lose content or become corrupted.

    Saving as docx is hit and miss. Needed to send to customers.

    Lots of pictures cause issues.

    The problem is you don't know there is a problem until you reopen the document after closing it... Which is too late.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moving to M$

    Sadly we are moving to M$ and it's my fault.

    We are currently mainly Google enterprise for day to day.

    However the tools suck when compared to office365 and teams.

    We are paying for both (need office for dealing with customers ) so it's going to make life less complicated just using one.

    We also need a windows and Linux integrated security solution for CE+. Surprisingly M$ has something that works... Google has nothing to offer.

    We don't have time to mix and match and while we use libraoffice internally it's not good enough for external documents.

    1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

      Re: Moving to M$

      At my work, we used to have both Microsoft and Google tenants also. We used Google for email and cloud storage/shared drives. For productivity and collaboration, users could choose their poison. We ditched Google about a year and a half ago, to save money and lessen our attack footprint. Migrating the email and data was mostly painless. Getting the users to switch from Gmail to Outlook for email was also not too bad. Training users on how to access their new cloud storage/shared drives was another matter completely. OneDrive/SharePoint is nowhere near as usable as Google Drive.

    2. midgepad

      LibreOffice

      Would be application claimed to be being departed.

      (Using word processors as ersatz desktop publishers to produce complex documents to send to customers or other agencies may not be ideal).

  19. 2Fat2Bald

    I applaud the sentiment, but I suspect they'll be back on Windows in a year or two after a flood of user complaints when things are "hamstringing the entire department!!!!" because

    Karen in accounting can't get spotify on the machine. I've had hard arguments about local admin privileges for users many times - how are they going to feel about an entirely new operating system and office package?

    MS do a wonderful job of making the shift away from Windows/Office *just* annoying enough to prevent people* doing it, whilst not so bad that it's actually preventing them to the extent where they have the kind of dominant position someone can take to court...

    *Except mac users. But for them it's often a matter of form-over-function. They want to be an enlightened "mac user", not a windows-using troglodyte like all the other kids. Some have genuine reasons, of course, but a lot of Apple fans just like to be different. Which is also true of a lot of Linux users - albeit in a different way. Using a mac is like driving a Saab used to me. A linux PCs is like using a car you built yourself from a scrapyard. Or so their proponents would like to think.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      "*Except mac users. But for them it's often a matter of form-over-function. They want to be an enlightened "mac user", not a windows-using troglodyte like all the other kids. Some have genuine reasons, of course, but a lot of Apple fans just like to be different. Which is also true of a lot of Linux users - albeit in a different way. "

      Yes, agree with all that, but one other actual advantage of Apple kit is the way the phones / tablets / computers all play nicely with each other most of the time, because they are designed to do so. Trying to get Windows to play nicely with any phones can be tricky. The Phone Link app in recent versions of Windows is useful for a few things (e.g. looking at photos on the phone and deciding which to copy over), but it's still missing loads of functionality.

      For the worst integration experience of all though, try getting an Apple computer to play nicely with an Android phone! Even the most basic functionality such as file copying is hassle and requires installing software.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I use a Mac these days

      Mostly because it “just works” and integrates nicely across devices. And isn’t trying to sell me apps and show me news when here there and everywhere.

      Honestly I just need a device that doesn’t get in the way of what I’m doing and for the most part macOS is brilliant at that.

      Plus of course Apple Silicon, battery life and performance etc

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: I use a Mac these days

        >Plus of course Apple Silicon...

        ...which, in the past few days, has been revealed to have an unpatchable sidechannel attack on anything cryptographics (like, https) in the system. The POC is native software at present, but I dare say that someone will get it running in Javascript in a web browser before too long. If you thought SPECTRE and MELTDOWN were bad, you ain't seen anything yet...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I use a Mac these days

          Thank God I already use the M3 chip which does not have that problem, nor does it have all the backdoors of the Intel chipset, of which the efforts of keeping the door shut has resulted in a serious performance loss on the devices so patched.

          So yeah, I'll stick with Apple. Also because it's a lot harder to smuggle in dodgy software. It's not impossible, but the barriers for it to actually run are a lot higher, especially if you avoid the use of Microsoft products. and there are enough alternatives to make that easy. LibreOffice for docs and spreadsheets, Apple's Keynote has always been far superior to Powerpoint (also more efficient as there's less faff getting in the way), and Omnigraffle is what Visio used to be before Microsoft got its hands on it and ruined both the UI and its functionality. Add to that SoundSource which makes handing audio I/O even easier (and is used by pro musicians) and frankly, I would not want to touch a Microsoft equipped device if you paid me.

          Unless you paid me enough to buy another Mac, of course :).

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: I use a Mac these days

            "Thank God I already use the M3 chip which does not have that problem"

            From the article linked:

            "DMP can be disabled on M3 CPUs, but not M1 and M2 chips, the researchers note, adding that disabling DMP is likely to seriously degrade performance."

            So sounds like the M3s aren't immune from this.

    3. LionelB Silver badge

      > Karen in accounting can't get spotify on the machine.

      Well, someone should have a word with her. There's a perfectly good Spotify client for Linux. It's even in the repositories for the major distributions.

    4. Shalghar Bronze badge

      "Karen in accounting can't get spotify on the machine"

      And if Karen in accounting is dumb enough to officially complain shes quite likely in for a reprimand ("Abmahnung", normally a maximum of three strikes and you´re fired) if shes lucky, a privat employee or in private business, if not a full Disziplinarverfahren (not quite "disciplinary action") if she tried this as a state employee on a state owned machine.

      Too much of german work law still originates from that guy who stole charlie chaplins moustache style, the failed postcard painter from austria. Private use of employer owned work equipment as well as not working as you should can trigger unpleasant response from the employer. Bonus unpleasantness if you are full fledged "Beamter"/life long state employee under oath.

  20. luis river

    Big chances...big profits

    Chesterday there is software from MS Boys, today change to Libre software from everywhere Boys, tomorrow god to say...but certainly if the final goal is hight level of efficience, security, power, compatibility, rapid and trusty solution software mistakes, future application developments, etc all need

    back many many economic resource and I believe in world very little companies their had that power. !!

  21. Displacement Activity

    Disappointing

    I read through 90+ posts looking for some insight into why previous Linux migrations had failed, and what the actual problems were. It was, of course, pointless: the only people who appear to have direct experience are massively downvoted, and the rest turned into the usual bunfight.

    So what exactly are the problems? If the NHS, for example, could migrate, then Windows would be finished. El Reg: how about a poll? The top 50 issues that would stop your govt department/hospital/whatever migrating to Linux? That would give us something to work on.

    My own non-government experience: I spend 90% of my working day on Linux. I started on Unix V7 back in the 80's, and have been through a large number of distributions since then. In about 2000 I started using Windows as a front-end, using xdmcp and then vnc to talk to my Linux boxes. This was because I never managed to find a usable Linux front-end, for various reasons: printing, Word and Excel equivalence, out-of-date browsers with limited update capability, and so on (Ok, some of this is a bit better now). My latest problem is that I've spent the last 2 years on an utterly useless Ubuntu GNOME desktop before giving up and switching to GNOME Classic. If I can't be persuaded to use a default Ubuntu desktop, then god help anyone trying to convert an entire govt department.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disappointing

      Linux in Munich failed not because of Linux but because of a series of management errors, coupled with a lot of political meddling.

      This is in contrast to a large number of Linux migrations which didn't fail, like the French Police and military.

      Linux migrations are not much different than any other kind of IT migration projects - the question of failure or success overwhelmingly depends on the thoroughness of planning and preparation and the quality of execution.

    2. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

      So what exactly are the problems?

      See here for example: https://www.theregister.com/2018/01/18/nhs_buntu_trademark_cease_and_desist/

      It's the lBoody govt. as usual!

      1. Displacement Activity

        Re: So what exactly are the problems?

        Missed that article; thanks. Note Marcus Baw's statement that "In fact I now strongly suspect that the reason we were getting any engagement at all at these levels was in order to strength NHSE negotiating position with Microsoft".

        Almost right, I think. About 10 years ago I quoted for a Health Authority contract to write some straightforward software. This was advertised on a govt procurement website. Did a lot of work, got to the meeting, and discovered that the only other tender was from a bunch of no-hopers. The only problem was that this bunch of no-hopers had already written a lot of stuff for these people. It quickly became apparent that they had no intention of using an alternative supplier; they just needed to demonstrate that they'd put it out to tender. I never bothered with the NHS after that.

    3. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing

      > My latest problem is that I've spent the last 2 years on an utterly useless Ubuntu GNOME desktop before giving up and switching to GNOME Classic.

      Why did it take you so long? If you didn't like it, you could have switched any time.

      > If I can't be persuaded to use a default Ubuntu desktop, then god help anyone trying to convert an entire govt department.

      There'd be no obligation for a gov. department to foist the (execrable) default Ubuntu desktop on anyone. They could roll out with any desktop they want - which, to cause the least pain to Windows-familiar users might well be, say, Xfce, Cinnamon or Mate.

    4. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Disappointing

      Reasons:

      1) Everyone else uses MS Office

      2) No one has done a decent replacement for Active Directory

      3) As machines tend to be shipped with Windows, that's supported. If you put Linux on them yourself, you're on your own. There are some machines that manufacturers support directly for Linux, but they're few and far between.

      4) Users by and large are ingrained with Windows or Mac. Linux and its software comes as an alien shock, an important aspect when one considers that >90% of the organisation and its future staff intake likely isn't an IT savvy person who is able to make-do on Windows, Mac or Linux. Users are going to have to get used to menu bars again.

      5) Desktop. The main Linux vendors are interested in selling support to server editions because that's where the bulk of the market is. Supporting desktop is not so profitable. So, the guarantees on consistency are less. For example, consider Ubuntu, Snap and KeePassXC. Nowadays, KeePassXC comes as a snap. That means when you go hunting for a keepass file, instead of having a sensible path (likely starting off in ~/Documents), you get dumped into /run/<gobbledygook random nonesense that changes every time>. And similar. It's a small point, but for a lot of users that's a real headache.

      6) Accessibility. It is illegal to discriminate against disabled persons in most of Europe (and quite right too), and for the major OSes there is a pleathora of tools, etc. that help. Linux had some, but a lot of those have been tossed into the dumpster by the rush to Wayland. If a German state council insists "you must use this" and no reasonable accessibility aid is available for an employee (or prospective employee), they're basically breaking the law and can probably get sued by that person. Covering that off with a, "Ok, you can use Windows.", doesn't do the job; if that means they're using MS Office and everyone else is on Libre Office, they're still being discriminated against (they're not able to fully participate in the workplace. One spreadsheet with untranslatable formulas, or a presentation they can't edit, and suddenly they feel like everyone else is looking to ignore them). ATK has done something to repair the damage, but it's still encumbent on individual software developers to incorporate it rather than being something the OS can bring to all apps. Not all of Linux has done so, though it is cheering to see that FireFox and LibreOffice have.

      7) Old data is not redundant data. An organisation that, suddenly, cannot efficiently work with its entire history of documents, files, is starting everything again from scratch. That's a lot of work. It depends on what's extant, but even simple things like spreadsheet formula can cause immense problems. It is potentially very difficult if you have complex financial spreadsheets with a bunch of formula; Ok, that's a really bad thing to have in the first place, but if it does exist it's going to keep on being important, and you don't want the numbers in the formula results to be different simply because it's been converted from Excel to LibreOffice Calc.

  22. CAPS LOCK

    Weel then, the lucky people of Schleswig-Holstein can look forward to...

    ...a Microsoft local headquarters appearing. Lucky them.

  23. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Extend the open source initiative to include education?

    I don't know what control German states have over publicly funded educational provision, but it might be sensible to wean schools, and tertiary education, off reliance upon proprietary software.

    Microsoft's grip upon educational establishments is tight. In most respects, these institutions are suckered into being loss-leader outlets for MS. Staff are hooked onto MS products, thereby their pupils/students are too. Upon entering employment, young people demand access to those MS products with which they are familiar.

    During the past decade, increased simplicity of use and greater reliability of Linux and LibreOffice software in the hands of non-technical people, has bloomed. A major factor is ease of installation, coupled with user interfaces not too dissimilar from those offered by MS; ordinary users don't care about what goes on under the bonnet.

    MS Windows, including its enterprise editions, offer bloat accompanied by degrees, according to the edition, of marketing by MS and its “trusted partners”. The 'Home Edition', presumably that handed out to pupils/students to take home, is garish and represents the tacky extremes to which some commercial vendors go; in fact, MS Windows and Google Android are in a competitive downward spiral of tastelessness; I know little about Apple products, but suspect they support a similar ethos.

    Concerns over privacy are legitimate. All MS products 'call home' from time to time (as do Linux and LibreOffice). In MS's case, the user has little control over what is altered under the guises of security and product enhancement. Whilst there is scant reason at present to assume MS abuses its position regarding personal information, that is, other than acting as an advertising platform embedded in an expensive product, there's no doubt of Windows being well-equipped to take on major rôles on the behalf of government agencies (especially in the USA), targeted advertising, in 'policing' distribution and use of copyright infringing 'content', and through facilitating censorship on behalf of private agencies.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Extend the open source initiative to include education?

      I don't know what control German states have over publicly funded educational provision, but it might be sensible to wean schools, and tertiary education, off reliance upon proprietary software.

      2019 - Office 365 verboten in Hessen schools: German state bans cloudy Microsoft suite on privacy grounds

      2022 - Microsoft 365 faces more GDPR headwinds as Germany bans it in schools

      Also:

      2022 - France says non to Office 365 and Google Workspace in school

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Extend the open source initiative to include education?

      In debian you are asked if they can enable telemetry, and if you say 'no' they never bother you again.

      Libre Office doesn't send telemetry from my machines and never has. I've been using it ever since it was forked from openoffice. I don't remember if I originally disabled it, or if the option was added later.

  24. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Sovereignty

    Sovereignty can only be had by switching completely to Linux Mint and LibreOffice and leaving the Microsoft Windows world in the rear-view mirror for ever. Just switching to LibreOffice isn't sufficient.

    Focus on developing web-based applications for your civil servants which can run on Linux just as well as Windows. Shun proprietary Windows-only native applications. Simple as that. Also, develop open-source solutions which can be used by many City Councils.

    I personally believe the government and politicians are corrupt and incompetent. There has never been an easier time to switch to open-source solutions, yet most governments are happily moving their workloads to the Cloud which fattens the pockets of the Tech Giants even more. The same will most likely happen with AI.

    1. chololennon
      Headmaster

      Re: Sovereignty

      > Sovereignty can only be had by switching completely to Linux Mint ...

      I'd say "Linux" (Mint is just one of several valid alternatives)

  25. Shalghar Bronze badge

    Wasnt this whole SAAS mess as well as the "all your data are belong to us(a)" enough reason to look for alternatives ?

    If i remember right, the netherlands wouldnt accept microsoft 361 to phone home too excessively so some of those spyware functions got officially deactivated.

    Anyone remembering how the deactivated autoupdater from WinXP suddenly updated against users choices might be a bit sceptical wether those reduced "telemetry settings" might suddenly be altered.

    As for the Migration as described in the article, anyone who has ever seen the software crap-as-trophy that german government procures might be of the opinion that any delays and any mess ups are just business as usual.

    In any case, theres not too much exotic software that might need to be rewritten and quite frankly, the change from MSoffice whatever to LibreOffice might be a tad less inconvenient than the change from MSoffice to MSoffice(updated). After all, one would not expect a well known software to suddenly mutate several key functions beyond recognition (except Microsoft and Firefox users) while a few differences in the much maligned "look and feel" are expected when changing to a different software.

    I would expect some minor hiccups due to changes from C: to /dev/sda1/ although for desktop users, after all the permissions are set correctly, the useability doesnt differ much from Windows. The different depth of information might also trigger issues, microsoft users are not accustomed to have relevant information readily available to them in case of errors or simple interest.

  26. Apprentice of Tokenism

    Sigh

    The state Minister-President’s surname is Günther. Spell it at least Guenther if you only have a limited keyboard layout. But it is with absolute certainty not Gunther. This is as wrong as spelling your surname Connatzer.

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