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$36 million to upgrade to something that's free?


I was reading about the city of Munich's move to migrate 14,000 computers to Linux and OpenOffice. I read that the city had originally predicted a price tag of $36 million for the migration, but has since backed off that number and the City Manager is declining to give a number now.

I understand that while the software is free there are implementation costs, but $36 million!? That's around $2,500 for each PC in the place.

I don't care about the long term ROI, yada yada, I'm just wondering how in the world you come up with a $36 million price tag implementing free software?

Festung
Thursday, June 17, 2004

And why aren't they using euros?

Just A. Troll
Thursday, June 17, 2004

"And why aren't they using euros? "

I believe that ComputerWorld had done their readers a service by doing the simple conversion mathematics....

Festung
Thursday, June 17, 2004

It's because in Germany you need to have union people do the installation, and physical moving on the computers, and union supervisors to supervise the union installers, and on and on...

Sgt Schultz
Thursday, June 17, 2004

And the cost of all the administration time, too.  Regardless of what modern and complex OS you're running, it's a huge amount of work to make major changes to existing setups.  Period.

Oh, and the time to train people to use the new stuff.

Junkster
Thursday, June 17, 2004

exactly: how does this figure compare to upgrading from something else TO microsoft whatever. or even from microsoft whatever to the latest version of microsoft everything.

mb
Thursday, June 17, 2004

The kernel and add ons (desktop + application) are free and sometimes the OS too (gentoo, slackware) but the services are not.

somemorone
Thursday, June 17, 2004

>> I don't care about the long term ROI

Precisely. Time will tell if this move and the $36 million it involved will lower the IT costs of the city of Munich.

Fred
Thursday, June 17, 2004

"exactly: how does this figure compare to upgrading from something else TO microsoft whatever. or even from microsoft whatever to the latest version of microsoft everything. "

How it compares is irrelevant, as MS does not use "it's free!" as a selling point for its products.

www.ChristopherHawkins.com
Thursday, June 17, 2004



Data conversion is usually the single biggest expense.

If there are new and identical machines, you can make one system and then ghost all the others.  This can be completely automated and is easy.  The place where I did my undergrad does it to all of their lab systems every Monday at 5am.


Data conversion on the other hand is a raging mess.  It's normally cheaper than buying all new licenses, but it's still a pain.  Seriously, that's why so many people have "that one app" which is preventing them from converting to Linux.

KC
Thursday, June 17, 2004

" Time will tell if this move and the $36 million it involved will lower the IT costs of the city of Munich."

Can't wait to see the cost of them moving back to Windows in a couple of years.....

Gen'xer
Thursday, June 17, 2004

Limitation of the English language, hence: "free as in freedom", not "free as in beer".

German handles this nicely: frei (as in freedom) versus kostenlos (as in beer).

- former car owner in Queens
Thursday, June 17, 2004

However, kostenloses Bier is ironically called Freibier...

Chris Nahr
Thursday, June 17, 2004

""free as in freedom", not "free as in beer". "

That's got to be one of the single stupidiest phrases I've ever heard come out of the OSS folks.

So software should be free? As in what? Free to travel, raise children free of government interference? What? How the hell does software have freedom?

I have this imagine of the MS Paper Clip waving an American flag singing "Freedom! Freedom!"

It's just stupid.

adelman
Thursday, June 17, 2004

<OSS hat>
It is not the software that is free, but the users of the software are.

See 'Free speech'

Rick Tang
Thursday, June 17, 2004

"exactly: how does this figure compare to upgrading from something else TO microsoft whatever. or even from microsoft whatever to the latest version of microsoft everything."

It was about 4 or 5 million  more expensive than Steve Ballmer's cut my skiing short in the Alps and give you our best price quote.  The city chose to go ahead, not because of lower up front costs but lower TCO on the back end.  Which by the way has been MS's argument.  "We might be more expensive up front, but TCO is lower cause we are cheaper on the backend.  I'm suprised the MS fanboys here didn't pick up on that.

I wonder how not having to worry if every virus or worm is gonna rip your infrastructure to pieces feels.

Quad
Thursday, June 17, 2004

A lot of the cost is in re-writing all the software they use.

chris
Thursday, June 17, 2004

> "So software should be free? As in what?"

As in: free to improve it, and (importantly) free to share those improvements, among others...  Richard Stallman's original motivation was a libertarian reaction to commercial restrictions being placed on academic freedom (there's that word again).

(Or so I understand the story, anyway... )

You sound kinda hostile, but if you care to read it, the story is here:

http://www.oreilly.com/openbook/freedom/ch01.html

- former car owner in Queens
Thursday, June 17, 2004

>>Which by the way has been MS's argument.  "We might be more expensive up front, but TCO is lower cause we are cheaper on the backend.  I'm suprised the MS fanboys here didn't pick up on that.

That is actually a important issue here. Remember, new MS products like the SMS (systems management server) eliminates the need to have people going around to each pc and manage the software updates.

I don’t believe that Linux has ANY kind of management server that will manage your pc’s, and the installed software base. I suppose, you could start hiring admins to write install scripts for you, but then again, that is going backwards about 10 years in the industry. (what..you have to hire people to write install scripts now!).

One of the great TCO issues here is that systems from MS are now being offered that mange all the software installs and updates. You need a new version of the GIS software for ONLY the tax department computers…you can roll this out with SMS.  You can do automated and remote installs with Linux, but you are now forced to start wiring install scripts and the like. 

Also, SMS can manage updates for windows (that way, you control bandwidth, as you don’t get 1000 computers deciding to update and swamp the internet connection. SMS allows the updates to be passed to local servers. and those servers thus then handle the updates in each location that has a server.

OEM cost for windows over 5 years. is what $12 per year? You just have to spend 1 hour of support on that pc..and you lost ANY gains in software savings by purchasing a zero cost OS. And, without products like SMS..I just can’t see how any money is going to be saved here?

Beyond issues of re-training, is even issues like manuals and procedures on how to do certain tasks. These types of things have been built up other the years.

On the other hand…perhaps the government employees and the IT guys do see the writing on the wall with products like SMS coming out from MS. These kinds of products will spell the end of a LOT of jobs for people who get to run around and install/setup pc’s in large companies.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, June 17, 2004

> I wonder how not having to worry if every virus or worm is gonna rip your infrastructure to pieces feels.

Probably much the same as paying an ongoing list of bills from IBM and other outsourcers, with no sign of it ever going away, and suddenly understanding it's never going to stop.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Let me see ... I can run my business using software that someone else must fix when it's broken, that someone else will upgrade when they have time to upgrade, or I can use software that I can fix when broken and I can upgrade when I have time.

The only reason I run some boxes with windows is because the software is not available on linux.  So I have windows just or that software on a box I use when I want to use that software.

Everyone is moaning about the lack of jobs etc. etc. Imagine if more companies used linux and they needed to have software modified but they did not have time. There could be lots of mom and pop shops offering just such services.

Look at what is happening with the debian distros. Redhat sucked (still sucks so it's only appealing to corporate types). Companies are sprouting up which SELL debian distros. I bought one recently. Paid US$12.00. I've got ALL the source code. I don't have to depend on the person I bought it from to fix it or upgrade it but if they offer good service I'll buy from them or do it myself or pay someone else to do it.

I love all these linux morons who bleat of the evil empire microsoft. "Not fair" they rale ... yet what are most of them doing in response? The ones I know who complain the loudest use that awful product redhat.  They are not providing an alternative to microsoft. But some are. lindows, mepis, I think there is another which sells their distro. Sun has their distro (get a debian distro ... redhat/suse ... neither one is any good unless you like wasting  your time).

It really is amazing that apparently intelligent people just wait to be fed with that spoon from microsoft. I too buy from microsoft but it's only because some people write software which only runs on an MS platform. My primary computers (server/workstation) are based on debian distros.  When there is a problem essentially the only person I can then blame is myself. Who would want it any other way?

me
Thursday, June 17, 2004

> There could be lots of mom and pop shops offering just such services.

Are you kidding, me? Who wants to do maintenance programming at $20 per home visit?


Thursday, June 17, 2004

I believe that MS is mostly pissed at Linux due to the GPL not it being opensource and free, else they would not like the BSD OS's either.

Its just that MS can't touch nor buy GNU/Linux software that pisses them of.

somemorone
Thursday, June 17, 2004

> Are you kidding, me? Who wants to do maintenance programming at $20 per home visit?

The poster said 'companies', not home users.

For example, a few weeks ago I was paid ($155 per hour) for a day to add a feature to an open source program. It isn't that uncommon.

Rhys Keepence
Thursday, June 17, 2004


"For example, a few weeks ago I was paid ($155 per hour) for a day to add a feature to an open source program. It isn't that uncommon. "

Someone is grossly overpaid.

Sarcough
Friday, June 18, 2004

> For example, a few weeks ago I was paid ($155 per hour) for a day to add a feature to an open source program ...

Thus bearing out my premise. Getting hired for a day here and a day there to do patches is not exactly a rewarding career.


Friday, June 18, 2004

> kostenlos (as in beer).

Danke vielmals! Ich hätte gern ein Weissbier!


Friday, June 18, 2004

For Albert, who thinks Linux on the desktop means people walking around to each PC and typing "./configure && make install" or something...

At the cheapest end all the serious Linux distributions include a software update service. In a home environment that means there's either a flashing icon or some other indication that you should download updates, and you click through some dialogs, you might be familiar with this in the form of Windows Update. Obviously at peak times, or when you're not directly connected to the Internet this won't work well, and it's not a managed process, so it's no use to big companies.

For corporate or enterprise use you have central management servers, either owned by the vendor (if you have maybe 100 desktops and a few servers) or provided as software by the vendor to be installed by your IT staff. All the PCs, servers etc. subscribe to this service and can be updated individually, in groups or as a whole and with any subset of the available updates from the comfort of a web browser in the IT worker's office. It's much less painful to do this with Linux in my experience, than with Windows, not least because so few updates require a reboot.

This type of stuff is one of the things included in that €30 million cost over the life of the project. Of course the vendor is "hiding" their R&D costs in this price too, just as Microsoft do.

-- IBM employees developing Linux are strategic, and are paid for as an investment in future consultancy business for IBM. On the other hand kernel & compiler engineers hired by Red Hat are there to make Red Hat's Linux offering more attractive, and to be last resort support for those 1-in-a-million customer questions that can't be answered by a phone monkey reading a web page. As someone who asks those questions I'm glad the Powers That Be bought Red Hat Enterprise --

I don't really see my Red Hat web server, and often have no clear idea where in the building it is, although I know who to ask if I need to find it. I write new PHP for it remotely, receive log summaries by email, and keep it up-to-date by going to a simple web page and selecting "Apply all updates on next check-in" and if I don't hear anything further from the management server I know it worked. If I wanted it centrally managed it would be included in some virtual group of "web servers" and updated whenever central IT staff think is appropriate.

Nick Lamb
Friday, June 18, 2004

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