Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Tuesday, June 10, 2008

  • Jun 10 / 2008
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Recent News from Munich

Because most of the communication about the migration to GNU/Linux in Munich is in German, it is hard to keep track of progress in English. I found a brief summary here.

The Munich IT department deploys LiMux, a customised version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. It offers the users the KDE desktop environment, OpenOffice, Thunderbird, Firefox and GIMP. Now a thousand work stations run LiMux. Some 6000 other PCs use OpenOffice. Of all the work stations in the Munich city council’s office, more than 90 percent uses Firefox and Thunderbird.

They are working on replacing 600 applications with web/platform-independent applications. It is the world’s slowest migration but it is still moving ahead. ;-)

  • Jun 10 / 2008
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Neelie Kroes Gets IT.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition Policy gave a speech:
Being open about standards
OpenForum Europe – Breakfast seminar
Brussels, 10th June 2008

  • First, we should only standardise when there are demonstrable benefits, and we should not rush to standardise on a particular technology too early.
  • Second, I fail to see the interest of customers in including proprietary technology in standards when there are no clear and demonstrable benefits over non-proprietary alternatives.
  • Third, standardisation agreements should be based on the merits of the technologies involved.

Allowing companies to sit around a table and agree technical developments for their industry is not something that the competition rules would usually allow. So when it is allowed we have to look carefully at how it is done. If voting in the standard-setting context is influenced less by the technical merits of the technology but rather by side agreements, inducements, package deals, reciprocal agreements, or commercial pressure … then these risk falling foul of the competition rules.

In addition, if we are to include proprietary technology in a standard, then ex ante disclosure may help those involved make a properly informed decision. Competition law should not stand in the way.

What a breath of fresh air compared to what was done during the fast-tracking of OOXML.

  • Jun 10 / 2008
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Recent Data on Thin Clients

The Fraunhofer institute has published a thorough article on thin clients in regard to environmental impact and consumption of energy. Unfortunately, they deal only in that other OS running on the terminal server and can max-out a server with 4 gB RAM with 35 users. The data is still remarkable, though.

Last week I had 24 students running in 2 gB happily. Here is an image of the system monitor with 21 Grade 1 students maxing out my 100 mbits/s network. With Gigabit/s I could run 40 easily. This image shows 1.7 gB RAM being used but does not show that hundreds of megabytes were used in cached files.

21 Grade 1 students max out the network

This means the report is ultra-conservative, because the energy savings reported are about half what is possible using GNU/Linux.

The report does have some other interesting bits:

“The market for thin clients is growing faster than that for desktop PCs ­ but ata much lower level. In the comparable regions of »EU-15« and »Western Europe« in 2008 more than 27 million new desktop PCs will be sold, compared to just 1.2 million thin clients. This is just 4.3 % of the number of PCs (cf. Table
8-5 and Figure 8-5).

Table 8-5: Comparison of new desktop PCs and thin clients

Device type 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Desktop PC 24,130,344 25,947,473 25,348,905 26,136,469 27,229,649*
Thin Clients 634,706 885,732 895,886 1,016,399* 1,152,675*
* Estimated

Clearly, thin clients are catching on , growing much faster than PCs year over year. This trend is world-wide and is helpful to GNU/Linux because it is much less expensive to run GNU/Linux on a terminal server instead of that other OS with a hefty licence fee and a per-seat fee. It is all good. There is no technical reason that GNU/Linux should not continue such rapid growth for years and restore competition to the market.