Munich/Limux at the Halfway Point

Actually Limux is further along than halfway since all of the applications in use are now FLOSS but the operating system on 6000 PCs is now GNU/Linux. At the rate they are going sometime in 2012 12000 PCs will be running GNU/Linux. Apparently they will have 3000 still running that other OS when the migration is complete. That’s a bit puzzling since everyone is using FLOSS applications for everything. There should be no reason to leave that other OS on anything. Perhaps something is lost in the translation:
LiMux project celebrates mountain festival

While Limux/Linux in Munich was not the first migration to GNU/Linux it was almost certainly the most public and the slowest. It reminds me of the slow bicycle races we used to have when I was a child. It takes a lot of skill to travel that slowly. They must have low staff turnover or great documentation …

“The project LiMux, Germany’s largest Linux project in the public sector, has set itself the goal of equipping 80% of all 15,000 PC workstations with the Linux operating system and work on all PC computers work only with their free office suite.”

The original goal was migration of all of 14000 PCs. Their system has evolved with more PCs being involved and somehow, M$ has managed more lock-in… Perhaps PCs died and were replaced with ones running that other OS. I don’t know. I have done several migrations and the migration rate per IT guy was a lot higher than Munich. They have 16 IT guys doing 6000 migrations in 2 years. That’s 200 per year per IT guy. I did nearly that many in 10 days back in 2006. I was younger then… Last year I did migrations by imaging in something like 10 minutes each. If I had the hardware for broadcasting it would have been 20 in 10 minutes. If they are using thin clients they can likely get the manufacturer to preconfigure so it could be just a few minutes to unbox and plug in.

Oh, well. They are better off in the long run no matter the cost or time/labour involved. One painful transition is much cheaper than staying on the Wintel treadmill forever.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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37 Responses to Munich/Limux at the Halfway Point

  1. Schools are special because you can migrate over the summer or Christmas/Easter break and disrupt nothing. That is, schools have lots of scheduled downtime. Schools also tend to be a single building so there may be only one rack to tweak and you can get gigabit/s over Cat-5. I have done migrations where I changed nothing except on Friday evenings so I could fix everything in a leisurely way over the weekend. Of course, I still think I can convert a school in 2h if I sweat a little…

    Yes, the corporate structure of Munich may be an issue. Accounting could be a “distributed” department as well with some clerks in every other department.

    Another issue is scale. On a very small organization where I work usually one person can know everything that matters for a migration. That makes migration fairly straightforward. That also makes supporting multiple operating systems as oldman advocates much more difficult. So, I think small organizations can do Hare easily and turtle is just extra work whereas Hare may be physically and psychologically impossible in a larger organizations. Schools are special. Some very large organizations (80K seats) have migrated on a weekend. It may be possible for a large organization to do Hare in each department if it has a simple structure like a school. Munich didn’t even consider Hare, I think. They needed provable solutions for every problem before they started. Even then the system evolved out from under them and they had to re-invent the plan a couple of times. It really does not matter in the long run how long the migration takes as long as it gets done. The future is infinite.

  2. oiaohm says:

    What would be interesting to know is what departments inside Munich are not migrated.

    Issues I have seen in some businesses is that its like the accountancy software or the cad software or the ones using photoshop.

    You can bet some is staff resistance but you can be others are pure lack of X software. Of course not every computer needs X software. This is the other advantage of turtle migration over hare. You don’t have to provide every bit of software used straight up.

    Turtle migration is also harder to be reversed. Since each section of the network is fort on a case by case base.

    Where a Microsoft person might be able to make a case for the Network as whole to be Windows.

    When it sliced up for Turtle style migration their are departments and sections that lose to Linux because Linux is truly better at doing the tasks in that department or is cheaper with same results.

    Yes Turtle that Munich is doing of course Microsoft supporters want to pick on. If more companies go the Turtle path to migrations to Linux. The more benefit they get for the least pain. Resulting in Less MS software sales.

    Of course Turtle migrations have a goal of achieving 100 percent migration one day. But its one day. This might be 1000 years in the future. Only locations suitable are migrated as the base idea of Turtle migration. Of course Turtle migration can have sections of hare when there is a large area of machines suitable to migrate.

    If you want an example of why not attempt hare “German Foreign office”. Rapid migration not case by case. So the complete thing exploded in their faces. Predictable failure when you read the migration plan. It truly blew budgets and everything.

    You find the same thing repeatedly the biggest failed migrations to Linux are all hare style. Almost all the successful ones are Turtle. In fact there is not a single record of a Turtle style migration to Linux not archiving cost saving or going over budget. Yes a Turtle style currently has a Zero failure rate for results.

    Schools are a different matter. If you disrupt student productively a bit you normally don’t have too bad of pitch forks. You have max number of pitch forks as the number of students and teachers.

    Where a Foreign or a Government. Can have complete countries on their back. So mistakes done at that level should not happen. Results are major problems.

    Something else that is not covered is their is a secuirty advantage to migrating sections. Network is no longer a mono culture. So attacker getting in with one exploit will not be able to go everywhere as simply.

    I think half the problem about people yelling about Munich is not understanding the two commonly used migration methods. Turtle and Hare. So they failing to see the markers that show a working Turtle become they are looking for Hare markers(ie 100 percent complete)

    Yes its true the Turtle and Hare race the turtle was the one that won in the long run. Hare either works or collapses in a heap from running out steam. Faster does not equal better in all cases. Migration is one of those cases.

    One thing we can basically bet it will be impossible to reverse the Munich converted machines. So the project is never going to be an 100 percent failure. Just might not be 100 percent success in our life time.

  3. Amen. I suspect the publicity surrounding the migration and the cultural inclination not to mess up are drivers for the glacial and provably correct migration. Whatever works…

    I certainly prefer the quick migration. Do the easy ones instantly. Leave a memo on the desk. Do the hard ones later. This gives the greatest benefit to the greatest number for a longer period of time. In schools where I work, it’s pretty trivial: save the documents, install GNU/Linux, put back the documents and create ODF versions, leave a memo… I often put a network boot loader on the hard drive or set the BIOS to boot PXE also. That way, I can boot the machine as a thin client and SSH into it to retrieve the files from the server by scripting. I once migrated a lab of 24 machines that way in 2h. One hour to tweak the machines and ensure I had all the MAC addresses and one hour to fiddle with the files.

    M$ encourages lock-in which means businesses and large organizations may prefer the slow method because there is more work to do per user.

  4. Thanks for your comment. You are welcome here.

    If the source code is released but not tagged with a version, one could build the current version and figure out which parts belong together. I understand the latest release is patched on top of that base, so it’s similar to what RedHat has done to hide the details of its version of the Linux kernel from CentOS, Oracle and such. I doubt the authours of the GPL envisioned that form of source code release but it compliant. I would like Google and RedHat to just let it all hang out but they have tough competition/customers and it certainly is not unfair to their competition to do these things. It works for the end-user and that’s what is important.

  5. oiaohm says:

    John Stamos
    “Eight years in, they’re half way done and overbudget, where isn’t the failure? A migration does not take eight years.”

    Word perfect some legal firms. 15 year old version of word perfect to access some old documents.

    To be correct its not overbudget. All reports show it coming in under budget for costs. Slower migration than expected to Linux yes. Migration to open source office suite was on timetable.

    Its the good old turtle and hare problem. Turtle process migration is slow. 8 to 10 years would not be strange. Advantage of Turtle process of just converting locations that are ready is no downtime.

    Hare style Migration you can complete in a 2 week but everything is bust with issues coming out everywhere.

    For success 100 percent migration was never a requirement. Cost reductions was a requirement.

    So less MS Office licenses required. Alone make the project quite successful at reducing costs. Migrated to Linux terminals is the cherry on top of the cake. Simple question what one costs more. MS Office or MS Windows. Bottom line MS Office. So the more important one to migrate off first is MS Office. What is done.

    They are on to icing the cake and putting cherries on. 50 percent migrated is a higher number than lot of MS supporting people expected.

    I remember people when the process started saying that only 20 percent of the desktops would be suitable to be converted to Linux. So outcome is already different to predicted.

    Remember 16 IT guys are still doing all the network maintenance and operational requirements. Its not like they got a boost in staff to do the migration.

    This is one of the reason why its not over costs. The staff would have been there anyhow. Also why it slow is the staff has to fit migrations in between the other work they are doing. So migrations are most likely done as part of the repair cycle.

    Yes 10 days full time. Is the hare method. Over the years I have done both.

  6. oiaohm says:

    “Ur clothes, give zim to me”

    The source code of android 3.0 is already accessible through google git. Not tagged. But released.

    GPL parts of android 3.0 are formally released all ready. Please read.

    The sections that are not tagged is the Apache Software License, 2.0 sections. But the source code is in the git for android and accessible. Just not tagged.


    DaDan Morrill is the person I questioned when I first heard about no source release from sparks. Also note what I said was a direct restatement of DaDan Morrill. DaDan Morrill is the project lead in charge of the Android source base. DaDan Morrill has final say. His statements are law. Sparks is deeper down the chain inside google and had mis interpreted not providing tag marking what parts make up android 3.0. To that the parts would not be released. In fact the parts have been released. Just you have no way of telling since they are not tagged. You would have found that out if you had spoken to DaDan Morrill.

    “Ur clothes, give zim to me” also there is no need to be insulting with my handle. Particularly when you are badly wrong.

    GPL requires source code released to uses of that product not everyone. Google is nice and releases the GPL parts for everyone.

    Basically troll solution. Insult the person who is correct.

    “Ur clothes, give zim to me” Also I don’t want to be talking about Android again in non related articles again.

    “Munich/Limux at the Halfway Point” was the starting article.

    Robert Pogson I have no problems with all my posts to this article. Being deleted. Because I fell for “Ur clothes, give zim to me” troll move. Of bring up a not related topic. Even worse is pure FUD.

  7. oldman says:

    “Android is not linked to the kernel but runs like an application on it.”

    In short, Android is as much Linux as OS X is NexStep, just because they are both built on the Mach kernel.

  8. The GPL only requires release of source code for stuff licensed under the GPL. Most of Android other than a few bits of GNU and the large kernel, Linux, is not GPL. Android is not linked to the kernel but runs like an application on it.

  9. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    “On wonders why anyone would want to release source code for stuff that won’t do what they want.”

    Bullshit, that’s against the GPL and you know it. You’re making excuses because you know that if you admit the sad reality that Google is raping FOSS that you’ll have no supporter of FLOSS at all and be stuck back at square one which is Linux’s failure to capture any market at all.

    It’s called cognitive dissonance Robert, look it up.

  10. The Linux kernel is GPL. That will be released or is already. The rest is not GPL. If it is unfinished they choose not to release it. That’s fine. Their next release will be finished in 2011 and will supersede and combine the features of both branches. Things are looking good.

    On wonders why anyone would want to release source code for stuff that won’t do what they want. That it is out on some products is a concern but they held the hands of OEMs to make it work on particular devices. That’s going above and beyond the call of duty, not undermining FLOSS.

  11. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Ohio Ham said: “Note they did not say they would not release the 3.0 source code. It was that they would not release it tagged.”

    It doesn’t matter whether they release it tagged or with pretty flowers sent to all customers, what they’re doing is violating the GPL by not releasing the source code. Full stop.

    Let me refresh your memory (from the GPL):

    “You may copy and distribute the Program (or a portion or derivative of
    it, under Paragraph 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
    Paragraphs 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of
    Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,
    b) accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
    years, to give any third party free (except for a nominal charge
    for the cost of distribution) a complete machine-readable copy of the
    corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of
    Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,

    c) accompany it with the information you received as to where the
    corresponding source code may be obtained. (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form alone.)”

    So, just to be clear, Google if violating the terms of the GPL.

    And again I iterate, you FOSSies have “teh hate on” for Microsoft but you’re ignoring other corporations out there who are essentially doing worse than what Microsoft has done.

  12. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    The first of the four freedoms is to use the software. That’s what the creators of FLOSS want people to do. So, Google taking advantage of FLOSS is a success.

    Shift the goal posts much? Is that an admittance that Google is not going to share the source code with “the community”?

    More people and organizations should do the same.

    I’ve heard that expression before but it was from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  13. If they had migrated from NT to “7” they would also have a lot of work to do. If they had migrated to XP it might have been less work but they would be on the second hardware cycle by now and doing the work a second time.

  14. The first of the four freedoms is to use the software. That’s what the creators of FLOSS want people to do. So, Google taking advantage of FLOSS is a success. More people and organizations should do the same.

  15. John Stamos says:

    It’s not a race. M$ did not support NT any longer. They had to go somewhere.

    Agreeably so, sad that nobody mentions how Microsoft had the most time and cost effective offer by a long margin. Based on the costs and time sunk into the Limux migration thus far, going with Microsoft’s solution would have amortized years ago.

    GNU/Linux does the job. Where is the failure?

    Eight years in, they’re half way done and overbudget, where isn’t the failure? A migration does not take eight years.

    They may not be on time but they are under budget and will see on-going savings.

    Time is money.

    The cost of upgrading that other OS forever was infinite.

    If by infinite, you mean negligible in the grand scheme of things taking amortizing costs in mind, I agree.

    The cost of upgrading Debian GNU/Linux is apt-get dist-upgrade every few years.

    And regression testing, can’t forget that, and there’s no guarantee that the next upgrade cycle won’t be as nightmarish as the initial migration. And isn’t LiMux their own brand of Debian? The cost of mainintaining your own operating system and supporting it is non-trvial.

    Claim victory when the migration is complete and the numbers are in, it’s all meaningless and quite frankly, a little embarrassing for Munchen currently. Personally, I think the completion of them migration is vaporware, but time will tell.

  16. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    I think poor Robert has gone to his “happy place” and is refusing to see that “the night in shining armor” is simply another corporation taking advantage of FOSS.

    He’s doing the equivalent of what a child does when they cover their ears and says “la la la, can’t hear you!” He’s been provided with tonnes of links to what Google and the open sores community is saying and yet he cannot bring himself to admit that Google could do any wrong.

    It’s sad really that a grown man like Robert has to resort to this. Definitely not the type of person you want teaching your children anything really.

  17. oiaohm says:

    Lot Android bull. 3.0 had a lot of glitches. I can understand google hiding it. Note they did not say they would not release the 3.0 source code. It was that they would not release it tagged.

    Android has also started something else. Linaro aiming to unify Linux graphics systems. From embedded to desktop.

    “The failure is the fact that they haven’t gotten it completed in 8 years and no they’re not on budget.”

    In fact they are still under budget of the non FOSS solution. Legacy systems can be extremely tricky to remove. I still have some systems I wish to kill that are on windows 3.11.

    A full failure is if the process has not created a cost reduction so is costing them money. This is not the case.

    Its a part failure of on time delivery.

    Also I want people to point to migration caused disruptions to service. The fact their have been none. Yes its simple to do a OS migration if you take an allowance for disruption. This means you have to run the two systems in parallel for a while until you get the records across.

    Its quite a milestone to get to half way in a non disruptive migration. 80 percent migration is still far higher than most MS Supporters said was possible.

    Big thing not being noticed is the complete place is running without 1 copy of MS Office. This may not be a full win for FOSS. Due to Linux migration remaining a long process. Of course at 80 percent will make Linux the dominate OS in their systems.

    Most likely in a lot of business only 20 percent of people require windows in the first place.

  18. Android runs on Linux for the hardware abstraction layer.

  19. bilbophile says:

    I fail to see the relevance of Android licensing for Limux implementation. Please, Mr Pogson, would you stay on topic?

  20. “Android is an open-source software stack for mobile devices, and a corresponding open-source project led by Google. We created Android in response to our own experiences launching mobile apps. We wanted to make sure that there was no central point of failure, so that no industry player can restrict or control the innovations of any other. That’s why we created Android, and made its source code open.”

  21. Yonah says:

    Time is money, and nothing wastes more time and money than government.

    Richard Chapman: “It brings out all the proprietary rats.”

    Now you see, Richard, it’s these kind of euphemisms that lead others to refer to you as a FOSStard or worse.

  22. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Google says it will be FLOSS. Whom do you believe, the boss or the employee?

    lolwut? Are you high? We’re not talking about some backroom contract programmer, we’re talking about the senior vice president of mobile at Google.

    Robert are you on any sort of medication or is this truly your religion?

    I’ve never met anyone before so willing to look away from reality and fill in its place absurdities.

  23. Google says it will be FLOSS. Whom do you believe, the boss or the employee?

  24. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Nonsense. See

    Jesus, did you even read the links? Their own employee admitted that 3.0 won’t be FOSS. Their own employee.

    You’re standing there like a 5 year old holding your hands over your ears screaming ‘la la la – can’t hear you’.

    Seriously Robert smack your head against the fridge or something, perhaps it may help. You couldn’t demonstrate any less of an ability to reason or show coherent thought.

  25. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    They can’t help themselves. To believe this is some kind of victory for Microsoft is total delusion.

    I never once said it was any kind of victory for Microsoft, I said that FOSStards hate for Microsoft has clouded your ability to see what else is going on which is another company screwing over FOSS.

    But hey, don’t let me stop you from wearing the tinfoil hat.

  26. Richard Chapman says:

    I love reading about this story. It’s the Pied Piper of Munich. It brings out all the proprietary rats. They can’t help themselves. To believe this is some kind of victory for Microsoft is total delusion. And that’s just what the rats were doing when they followed the music.

    Hey! Wanna know what a real luzer idea is? Sign on to this site with some real funky nym and then rank on its blogger using more funky spellings (Except that you kind of forgot yourself and started writing like your old self).

  27. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Robert, Robert, Robert. You’ve had “your hate on” for Microsoft for so long now that you’re missing all the other current companies that may or may not be playing by the FOSS rules.


    Google is slowly going closed source in a gradual way so that it won’t be such a sudden snap and plus, they’ll have made enough money off of it that they can back off for a bit while planning another strategy.

    Open your eyes man!

  28. “Ice Cream Sandwich will be version 3.1 of the Android oprating system, uniting a single UI and set of features across all devices.

    According to Google, Ice Cream Sandwich will be “all open source,” which should be a relieve to hackers who have been frustrated that the publicly available Android source code has been stuck at version 2.3 well past the release of Honeycomb.”


    see also

    DaDan Morrill, who’s in charge of open-source software and compatibility matters for Android, said technically it would be, because the collection of patches that constitute Honeycomb, each stored individually in an online Git repository, will become open eventually.
    The problem is that nobody outside Google will be able to tell which patches constitute Honeycomb, because Google isn’t publicly releasing that information.
    “Honeycomb is a set of patches. Ice Cream Sandwich is a larger set that includes Honeycomb patches. The source will get out there. The question is will we tag it to let somebody reconstruct a Honeycomb build,” Morrill said “We don’t know yet. It depends on how things shake out in the fourth quarter,” when Ice Cream Sandwich ships.
    But Dave Sparks, technical lead for Android’s media framework, was blunter.
    “We’re not releasing Honeycomb source,” Sparks said

    see CNET

    It’s hard to research today’s news but that sounds like they will release the source code when it is “done”. That’s what they have always done. Honeycomb was special because they wanted it out on tablets ASAP and it was not done yet.

  29. They did not hire any extra staff for the migration.

  30. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Where is the failure? They may not be on time but they are under budget

    The failure is the fact that they haven’t gotten it completed in 8 years and no they’re not on budget. Unlike you, government and companies count labor as a cost. That’s accounting 101.

  31. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    The latest news is that future versions of Android will run on both smart phones and tablets and it will be FLOSS.

    Uh, no, it’s going to be closed source. Do a search Robert.

  32. The latest news is that future versions of Android will run on both smart phones and tablets and it will be FLOSS.

    M$ is still the bad guy if you define that as taking money by compulsion.

  33. It’s not a race. M$ did not support NT any longer. They had to go somewhere. GNU/Linux does the job. Where is the failure? They may not be on time but they are under budget and will see on-going savings. The cost of upgrading that other OS forever was infinite. The cost of upgrading Debian GNU/Linux is apt-get dist-upgrade every few years.

  34. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    Another lulz is Android, no longer going to be open sores. But hey, Microsoft is still the bad guy right?


  35. Ur clothes, give zim to me says:

    I love reading about this story; it’s such a prime example of the epic failure Linux is on the desktop. Eight years and they’re not even halfway done?

    LOL. Epic failure.

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