Government of Portugal is Cutting Funding to M$

Until this year, the central government of Portugal has paid for M$’s software licensing for schools. This year that will end and schools will either have to pay out of their own meager budget or choose FLOSS. That’s good. Unlike consumers who only see that other OS on retail shelves, educators have a choice. This could affect tens of thousands of PCs.

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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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29 Responses to Government of Portugal is Cutting Funding to M$

  1. oiaohm says:

    “8500 mile long MLPS connection with 200msec latency. SSH crawled.”. Worst I have been operating out to is 4 seconds latency one direction. 8 seconds round trip. Highest recorded out of the team I never ever want to see is a 2 min latency one way 4 min round trip on signal due to interference. Yes the lost packet rate was insane. All graphical is dead at 2 secs latency completely no matter what you do.

    Yes at times it would be simpler working on something on the moon due to the moon having less latency than what we are putting up with.

    Yes I have worked with evil worse than what you are talking about. Something like the connection you would be describing I would call a decent connection.

    We have looked citrix is in fact heaver than our fall backs at times.

    We don’t send X11 or NX or RDP graphical between locations if we can avoid it.

    What is a hide saver oldman something I ripped into you before about cfengine. More secure than ssh for server alterations. Best it don’t need real-time. You send packets with stack of instructions cfengine gets packets process packets including checking checksums can respond back better can be set to only respond back if failed or has completely processed and it can have some brains as well processing threw a list of instructions like email/fax logs out and other slow transport methods.

    Yes bad connections is why using something like cfengine is mandatory.

    Dial ups in some places when things are bad we have had 150 bps connections as well. Cause telephone junction boxs filled with water. Not fun at all. cfengine will chew it way in on that. Yes we can go and do other jobs while cfengine scripts builds up a diagnostic report. No way even on a non encrypted terminal at 150 bps per second are you going to have a straight up human control it. Errors will happen. Also cfengine able to perform a stack of auto diagnostics from stuff already stored on the server so reducing network data transfers as well to get job done.

    Basically we cannot be sure to have enough bandwidth to even handle citrix when things go bad. When mother nature decides to attempt to kill us. This is part of being rural you get use to the fact nature will be after your hide.

    CLI skill allows you to make cfengine do lots.

    This is why as a rural I am so major-ally different. You have the option of graphical all the time. I don’t neither does anyone else doing it. Yes I do use cfengine to configure remote windows boxes as well oldman. Same reasons lose graphical I am forced to CLI. I do find Linux CLI lot more useful and Windows CLI when I am trapped on it. Yes cfengine controlled CLI.

    “8500 mile long MLPS connection with 200msec latency” This does not tell me bandwidth. X11 is hungry more ways than 1.

    Particular X11 windows management systems are particularly bad. For trying to run opengl over a datalink. VNC, NX and virtualgl stops this.

    Lightest remote interfaces with high lag tolerances are cfengine next are the items like webmin. By the time they fail you are 100 percent screwed.

    Exactly why oldman were you trying to connect graphical to a remote Linux system. Is this because you Windows training has made you that incompetent that the only way you can operate a computer is with graphical instead of using management solutions like cfengine?

    http://guacamole.sourceforge.net/ At-least you took the path of some small mercies and used NX not something like guacamole.

    To be correct we have many locations where Windows 2008 R2 RDP is not good enough it too heavy and fails in too many cases to be useful.

    “Command line games were kept to a minimum by judicious use of technology regardless of whether it was open or closed source.”
    Yes and no. cfengine keeps out command line games to a minimum will being able to operate extremely light and in extremely adverse conditions.

    For my line of work what you are suggesting oldman is pure incompetence non functional options to the environment I have to work in.

  2. oldman says:

    “Oldman take the operation you run place a 2 month hang time on qualified staff being able to go there and see how bad you fail. ”

    I don’t deal in corner cases, and that’s all that your situation represents.

    I was a member of the team that successfully brought up a site whose setup was botched. the site was at the other end of an 8500 mile long MLPS connection with 200msec latency. SSH crawled, and X collapsed, because as you . On the linux side replacing X with NoMachines NX Resulted in a decently performing Desktop based environment that include a shell windows. On the windows side the improvements in RDP on windows 2008 R2 again made GUI based troubleshooting viable. Command line games were kept to a minimum by judicious use of technology regardless of whether it was open or closed source.

    As far as your low speed fallback connections are concerned, Why didnt your system designers look into citrix?

  3. My Beast cost $700 and it acts as a server as well as a desktop. I doubt I have spent more than $3000 on personal IT in the last decade and it’s not because I could not afford it. The little woman is high maintenance. The house is high maintenance. The car, too… We’ve spent more than $3000 this year alone just buying dirt and spreading it around. The plan for spreading dirt cost $500. Still, I have unused PCs sitting around.

  4. Apparently not. A growing percentage of young people use the smart phone for everything and skip the desktop thing. see 25 percent use smartphones, not computers, for majority of Web surfing (That’s 25% of smart phone owners. 35% of adults use smart phones.)

  5. Wahoo says:

    You know, after thinking a little more about this, I get the idea that you are focused on saving money at all costs and not on enjoying new things. That is not the way that I look at life and I am fairly sure that most everyone else isn’t such a penny pincer either.

    I watch Hulu because the programs have minimal commercials, 30 or 60 seconds instead of the 5 minutes that the original suffered each break. A half hour show is 22 minutes. Even better, Netflix and Amazon have older shows on DVDs that have no commercials at all. Since I was traveling a lot years ago, I missed a lot of shows so they are new to me and I can watch them with no break taken at all. That is what I am paying for with the internet TV cost.

    When I use a computer at home for some intense purpose like paying the bills or E*Trade or anything else that needs a lot of detail, I will use my desktop with the big monitors and the ergonomic keyboard and the LED wireless scrolling mouse and my big desk and my high-back leather chair like I have at the office.

    If I am on a trip, which is rare now, or on vacation, I take my laptop with the 15″ screen. I bought a net-book a couple of years ago, because it was so compact, I thought, and my laptop then was getting kind of old, but it just doesn’t do the job I need doing with a computer. The screen was to small and the performance too pokey. I finally bought a new laptop about 5 months ago to take on a cruise.

    You can, I accept, get by with a lot less, but you spend extra time fooling around and sort of look like a schmuck doing it. You don’t save much money either, after all, the total investment I have in TVs, desktop computer, laptop computer, netbook, wife’s computer, Nook reader, and iPhone is less than 3 thousand bucks and that was over several years at that.

  6. Wahoo says:

    I have two internet enabled TVs, a 52″ Sony with a Blu-ray that has the internet function and a 42″ LED Sony with the internet WiFi integrated with the set itself. I have subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime and I watch them a fair amount. But they are not computers, they are television sets.

    I really do not see what all the fuss is about. It would seem kind of dumb to get a docking station for my phone (I don’t even think that anyone makes one for the iPhone that connects an external keyboard and monitor.) The whole idea is to get some quick answer on the phone itself right where you are, not lug around a ton of accessories or else have to go to some desktop area to use it.

  7. oiaohm says:

    Wahoo think the bigger version than just phones. Android tablets and ipad tablets and android netbooks.

    Have you ever used the phones with docking stations. Wahoo. Yes the ones you connect a conventional screen and keyboard up to the phone. The phone is the processing unit.

    This is the problem they are a lot closer to a conventional PC that a lot of people have noticed Wahoo.

    Issue is that you already have that hardware in a lot of cases. HDMI port and USB on the GO port all that is require to dock them. That is most modern android phones. Wahoo you don’t have the tight budget so don’t have to make do. So a lot of phones are functional for those on a tight budget to get what they need done with just a phone + keyboard + screen(what can be the TV).

    Here there are now android setop boxes. So you hook your TV up and browser the internet on your TV as well as the set top boxes recording the programs you want to watched.

    And yes your android mobile phone can be remote.

    Also there is mobile phone apps here so your phone can make your shopping list from bar codes of items you have just used.

    I guess Wahoo you don’t have a internet enabled TV yet. This is a big deal changer. You have the TV you now have to make some extra reasons to have the PC as well. As the internet enabled TV’s can do more there is less reason to have the PC.

    Again internet enabled TV’s will most likely come in two forms in future android and tizen.

    This is the problem its Microsoft vs all other devices in the house basically. I don’t like MS odds of winning.

    Wahoo basically start trying some stuff to see what gives you the most computer and phone and tv options for the least amount of dollars.

    Phone + TV + keyboard mouse combination. Is quite price effective.

  8. oiaohm says:

    oldman this is your problem.
    “Now I will admit that the environments that I have experience are not in the middle of nowhere and probably had far better infrastructures for their IT than where you taught.”

    Since I have to work in the middle of nowhere. My infrastructures do have to be a higher grade. It not an option all the time to use trained staff. You have to be able to use who ever is there.

    Something that is alien to you oldman is that spare parts if the require maintenance parts are not onsite its not a case of just order them and have them the next day.

    A failure to have processes correct could be a month or two of downtime just waiting on parts and staff to get there.

    Oldman take the operation you run place a 2 month hang time on qualified staff being able to go there and see how bad you fail. This is why our processes have be tested so hard. If a person of the street cannot do the job we might be stuffed. Because that might be the only physical human we have at the location. Rural adds a huge new stack of complexity.

    CLI maintaince in fact due to low bandwidth requirement has high advantages for rural operations. Yes CLI phobia is non productive in the rural setting.

    Again you might be on the fall back dial up modem because the main data line is down for some reason.

    Yes windows does come problem at times getting into it remote in rural usage.

    Yes oldman complaining that you don’t want to do CLI is fired in the rural operations.

  9. Wahoo says:

    Android is a huge success for phones, but phones are not PCs and I do not think that they can be considered as PC replacements. I certainly would not get rid of my desktop (and laptop and net-book and my wife’s desktop) just because I now have an iPhone.

    I use the phone a fair amount, true, but only for mail and weather reports and other simple things when I am away from a PC, which is not all that often I am sorry to admit. I still use a desktop for most computer related things, as I am now, and I take my laptop when I go on trips. My wife doesn’t use her phone for anything but calls and didn’t want a smart phone. (Good for me! ;-))

  10. oldman says:

    “I did that.”

    I’m sure tat you did, but then again I have more faith in your teaching skills that I do in Mr Ohio Ham’s alleged skills. The real issue here Pog, is, as I said, that there are more microsoft skilled people around than their are people like you Pog. Gear heads in teaching are few and far between. I suspect that your successor in Easterville was one of them.

    IN the rest of the world, It doesnt always work out that way.

    Now I will admit that the environments that I have experience are not in the middle of nowhere and probably had far better infrastructures for their IT than where you taught.

    N the end, what counts in your case is that a school that was chronically underfunded and understaffed in IT was left with a functioning system.

    One can in thje end not argue with what works.

    “APT and openSSH really makes system maintenance a breeze.”

    Only if you know what you are doing. CLI based maintenance remains IMHO a nightmare otherwise to the uninitiated, even with the best manual in creation.

  11. I did that. I was in Easterville’s Chemawawin school for six months and left the new guy in charge with a 60-page manual. He e-mailed me a few times for some hardware problems but the software kept ticking. Last year he installed the new Ubuntu release on his own on four terminal servers and a file/web/auth server. Basically the system was so reliable and had so much redundancy that only one of the hardware failures really affected performance. He had to move a bootloader to a good drive and he was back in action after a few hours. APT and openSSH really makes system maintenance a breeze.

  12. oiaohm says:

    “You are more likely to have staff who have a clue about windows systems than you are to find with linux skills. And even when the person is unskilled, the windows skills are easier to come by.”

    When it comes to unskilled this is in fact good. Reason they pick up IBM or redhat training manuals and the like and follow them. So the system operates properly. Yes the Windows skills that a person has in raw unskilled form is more likely to cause them to stuff the system up.

    “IMHO you are making the same mistake as Pog. Take yourself and your skills out of out of the equation and look again. Linux is on the whole harder to deal with and troubleshoot IME.”

    Really you are fool here I work rural Australia. I have to leave behind systems the people after me have to keep operational without me.

    Yes I have found many Linux systems that are setup and everything from nothing with no help from me and all they had used was the manuals. They had done a very decent job. Few minor improvements in methods to reduce work they had todo but otherwise perfect.

    Troubleshoot Linux hard? Really no I have seen enough people low skills trouble shot Linux perfectly just follow the IBM or redhat or equal written administration manuals. Really it harder for people like you oldman who have pre-made up ideas how stuff should be done get in way.

    Yes pure novice to IT admin is simpler with Linux than Windows.

    One of the god send of Linux is in fact the split log files. So trouble shooting is simpler due to not to seeing background noise.

    Trouble shoot windows properly is hard and you have already proven to me oldman you don’t know how todo that. Your incompetence from Windows most likely comes across to Linux so you find it hard so it has to be hard for everyone else. Yes it you who are applying you experiences to everyone else not me.

    Remember we test this over again as part of disaster management how low of skill can restore the system. Our goal is a person plucked off the street at random could do it. Slower than train but still pull it off. Yes we do meet that goal.

    Wahoo
    “At the end of the day, it is the totals that matter and it seems obvious to me that the vast majority of use cases in schools, industry, government, and homes show that Windows is the most prevalent OS by a wide margin.”

    Interesting point but there is a problem. The most prevalent System is very quickly becoming Android.

    This is including what use to be Linux settop boxes with locked interfaces now providing android interfaces. So homes without a normal computer(yes everyone they still exist) have android in phones and settop boxes and most likely in time in tv’s. So a PC will have to be a upsell offering some feature they cannot do already. Libreoffice end of next year on Android this now becomes a problem.

    Really android is the becoming the number one competitor Linux desktop has to face in the future not Windows. In fact android is becoming the number one platform for OS space to users.

    Yes shocking right that Windows will be very soon number 2 in the market. If Linux desktop does grow it footing we are talking Microsoft pushed to number 3.

    Wahoo
    “That is not to say that nothing will ever change, but the Windows domination has been going on for a very long time.”

    The windows domination is over the question is how long until the train comes to a grinding halt.

    Yes android 4.0 netbooks are planned to be released next year.

    Windows will be reduced to Apple of old. Specialist users only. All because of Android.

  13. That other OS has been avoiding competition, not dominating. There is a difference.

    Whenever I showed people GNU/Linux and XP head to head, GNU/Linux won. GNU/Linux rarely appears on retail shelves in Winnipeg but that is not the case in many other cities.

  14. Wahoo says:

    It is useless to cite anecdote after anecdote about what might have been the case at some site or another. At the end of the day, it is the totals that matter and it seems obvious to me that the vast majority of use cases in schools, industry, government, and homes show that Windows is the most prevalent OS by a wide margin.

    That is not to say that nothing will ever change, but the Windows domination has been going on for a very long time.

  15. oldman says:

    “oldman really it does not matter. I have seen the results of Windows dropped into schools without IT staff. Both Linux and Windows end up a complete failure without the right staff. Neither are self maintaining.”

    You are more likely to have staff who have a clue about windows systems than you are to find with linux skills. And even when the person is unskilled, the windows skills are easier to come by.

    “24/7 sort of coverage can be in fact way lower with Linux. ”

    IMHO you are making the same mistake as Pog. Take yourself and your skills out of out of the equation and look again. Linux is on the whole harder to deal with and troubleshoot IME.

  16. oiaohm says:

    oldman really it does not matter. I have seen the results of Windows dropped into schools without IT staff. Both Linux and Windows end up a complete failure without the right staff. Neither are self maintaining.

    “I don’t have any idea just how many computers can be managed by a single IT tech and how important it might be to have 24/7 sort of coverage.”

    Highest I have seen single IT tech with Linux is over 1000 computers. But this one had outsourcing of hardware repair. Sane possible is about 500 to 700 single IT tech repairing all hardware failures and maintaining network. Time issue here is not Linux limit but hardware repairs and staff requested customisation.

    24/7 sort of coverage can be in fact way lower with Linux. Livecd fall-back and boot from network fall-backs combined with a little staff training in the process of when it insert livecd or boot from network. So reducing how responsive IT staff have to be before effecting bottom line.

    If computer stuffs up insert livecd and boot. This can allow staff to keep on doing job unless machine is completely stuffed and in background have the livecd inspect the machine for faults.

    In fact one of the most advanced livecd’s I have seen would detect failed state hard-drives and ram and place a repair order for the machine. All without tech even having to go near the machine just local staff following instruction it insert the livecd.

    Least advanced I had seen simply logged that the livecd had be used and central network monitored if that kept on being the case. If that was the case setup rotation so that the machine would be packaged up and returned to head office for repair after replacement had been sent out to branch office.

    Again it downtime. Downtime is lower. Tech travelling is lower. So volume of machines a single IT department can manage with almost no downtime if business is Linux based is massive due to the techs that exist that reduce Linux staff personal requirement to be there 24/7.

    Linux livecd’s are very impressive compare to windows PE disks.

    Yes it Windows that has the higher 24/7 staff requirement to prevent downtime effecting production.

  17. oldman says:

    “For me it was 1/10 as much effort to maintain 80 GNU/Linux machines as that other OS. ”

    But your skill set is head and shoulders above the average person. I can pretty much guarantee you that if Linux was just dropped into a school without a robert Pogson around, the results would be even more disastrous that what you encountered in the IMHO badly maintained systems taht you had to support.

  18. For me it was 1/10 as much effort to maintain 80 GNU/Linux machines as that other OS. Malware and slowing down were two huge issues the GNU/Linux machines did not have and they had centralized package management for the OS and all apps. You can centralize that other OS’s management but it costs a lot compared to GNU/Linux. I hated Patch Tuesdays that interrupted my working day with critical updates that had to be done ASAP. With GNU/Linux everything could be done at my convenience.

  19. Wahoo says:

    I would not say that they were paying for nothing, if indeed they were paying for the kind of subscription that I outlined. They were using some 50,000 computers for about a million euros, which is 20 euros each. What they got for that is not stated, but it is not much money as IT money goes. It costs a lot more than that, for example, to buy one year of Ubuntu support from Canonical which is 88 pounds (not euros) per year.

    I would not say that the Microsoft deal is the best economy, though. As you say, Linux licensing is much less costly overall if you can use it effectively. I think the big problem that prevents that from happening more often is that you need a lot of Linux computers in one place to justify having your own support staff. I don’t have any idea just how many computers can be managed by a single IT tech and how important it might be to have 24/7 sort of coverage.

    Another issue is that the manager of the facility is often not in the business of IT technology, so the effort required to establish a Linux support capability may be too much to ask for, given the manager’s need to pay attention to many other pressing matters.

    We are taught as managers to avoid looking around for adding yet another monkey to our backs.

  20. “The new law also directs the government Agency for Administrative Modernisation (Agência para a Modernização Administrativa, AMA) to prepare rules and definitions on electronic data exchange, including documents formats, web interfaces and e-mail systems.

    The law is the result of the combination of two proposals that were submitted to the parliament in December.

    Five of the six political groups in the parliament voted in favour. The PSD (Partido Social Democrata, Social Democratic Party) abstained.”

    Go Portugal! That looks like rather broad-based support for open systems.

    The list of governments who are not M$’s “partners” is growing.

  21. oiaohm says:

    Wahoo there is a big issue in Portugal.

    http://www.osor.eu/news/pt-open-standards-become-prerequisite-for-government-it

    Yes there is a requirement to use open standards documents that MS Office is incapable of producing. Yes there is a requirement to produce ODF 1.2.

    There is also requirements due to open standard to use learning material standards like scorm(Sharable Content Object Reference Model) also make there education systems 100 percent compatible with resources being developed by unesco.

    Also there was a big case of MS cutting price winning contract in 2009 and a Official in Portugal got fired for taking MS over the Open source replacement and MS was not standard conforming enough.

    So price is not the only factor here. Price cutting on the MS side does.

    Finally the killer Portugal has been giving students Linux based laptops to take home since 2008. So they have been running a mix of Linux and Windows for a fair while now.

    Portugal and Venezuela are close on the ways todo things. I would not be surprised if Venezuela is the next to declare MS free.

    So this has been brewing for many years. It has finally come to a head.

    Wahoo remember education loss is the most damaging thing that can happen to MS. Reason when those people leave they get asked to write a letter they will think writer or equal not MS word. List goes on and on and on of the long term damage.

    Few million euros lost up front many times that lost long term.

  22. So, the government was paying M$ for nothing…

  23. Wahoo says:

    The subscription deals with Microsoft that I have been familiar with generally allows the customer to access the latest versions of the products that the subscription covers and to use them withing some limits based on the terms of the subscription. At the end of the subscription term the customer could no longer access any new products, but was allowed to continue using anything that was previously accessed.

    For example, an MSDN subscription would give you all the tools and OS copies that you needed for testing your own products. It also includes a pro version of MS Office for individual use as well as testing. If you do not renew, you can continue to run servers and workstations in a test environment and use the development tools as before, you just can’t get the new ones.

    I think that Microsoft is very interested in getting students used to using Windows on computers and have provided academic license terms that are intended to foster that goal. Apple did pretty much the same thing and may still do that, I don’t know. You say that your experience is that Microsoft is willing to donate the software, so that is likely to happen.

    From the article, it looks like the whole deal is mot much more than a million euros per year, which is a very small amount for Microsoft.

  24. None of those older machines (practically speaking) will run Windows 7—and there would be both installation AND learning curve issues even if they did—making this a good time to switch to free software. Free software is the future—why not educate people for the future instead of being stuck in the past?

  25. We don’t know what licence applies to the existing PC. The story implies that it requires annual payments. Those payments will cease. If schools have been using those payments to subsidize purchasing that other OS, at least for new PCs and upgrades, M$ will be impacted. M$ did donate software for the old PCs my last employer acquired. We wiped them to install GNU/Linux. Performance was better, licensing overhead was less.

  26. Wahoo says:

    The quick answer is that the schools are already using Windows on the old machines that were mentioned in the cite. Pro or con, it is what they have been using for the past 7 years or so. The article noted that much of this inventory is no longer in service anyway.

    To convert to Linux means the expenditure of some funds in order to make the change as well as some learning curve for Linux. So getting Windows for free or some minimal price is more economic than getting Linux for free.

    Microsoft probably could even take a tax deduction for whatever their costs might be.

  27. “Cutting a good deal” in MS terms also means restrictions and limitations on how software is deployed and used. Why should the Portuguese bind themselves that way when they can get better software for free?

  28. The price of things is not really the issue. Old machines don’t run “7” very well mostly because of the RAM. In schools where I worked XP did not run very well because of the RAM but Debian GNU/Linux was solid.

  29. Wahoo says:

    Or Microsoft could cut them a good deal, as they have done many times in the past.

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