Migrating to desktop Linux? Take a look at Norway

Migrating to desktop Linux? Take a look at Norway

Summary: Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer has demanded evidence that desktop Linux is gaining ground: Norway's second city Bergen has the answer


At the end of 2003 industry experts speculated whether 2004 would be the year when Linux on the desktop moved from an academic curiosity to a real alternative to Microsoft.

It didn't happen. Apart from the Allied Irish Bank and a handful of others, the private sector has given desktop Linux a wide berth so far.

The public sector has been braver, with numerous organisations including government departments in Paris, Munich and Singapore making aggressive migration plans but not all of them followed through. Paris City Council nixed its plans in the short term due to the costs of migration. Munich put its migration on hold for a few months while legal issues were sorted out, but the process is now due to start in the New Year. Singapore plans to install Microsoft Office's open source competitor OpenOffice.org on 20,000 PCs, but has been unwilling to commit to migrating to Linux.

In a speech at the Gartner Symposium in October, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seized on these setbacks as clear evidence that Linux is no competition on the desktop.

"There is no appreciable amount of Linux on the client anywhere in the world," said Ballmer. "The city of Paris, people said the city of Paris was going to adopt Linux. Well, the studies come back, it would be dramatically more expensive to move to Linux, there's no ROI case for the next seven or eight years to even consider a movement from Windows to Linux for the city of Paris."

"Now, Munich is Munich. There is the city of Munich. Yes, we lost the city of Munich. But the fact that the same story gets told 65,000 times and there's still only one customer and they're still -- how do I use a good, polite word here? -- they're still diddling around to some degree to try to decide when they're really going to do the migration. I mean, come on, where's the evidence?"

The question may have been rhetorical but Ballmer may soon get his evidence. The Norwegian city of Bergen recently announced plans to start migrating to Linux on the desktop next year.

Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, announced its decision to migrate to Linux on the server earlier this year. It has already transferred the majority of the servers in its educational network from 100 Windows NT to Linux, and is expected to migrate its database servers from HP-UX and Microsoft to Linux.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • A healthy dose of competition will do Microsoft some good. But evidence? Munich has been cited in the past as evidence, but their project is on hold. (BTW, how did they manage to spend US$35.7m on "free" software??? - http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,62236,00.html).
    Bergen is in the planning stages - it can only be "evidence" once the migration is successfully completed. I look forward to CRN's update on this project 12 months from now.
  • Linux is now maintream
    It is now proven in the real world and in the enterprise. Even on the desktop Linux is now the better choice. No more worries about viruses of spyware. All professional reports show and most importantly, Try it yourself.
  • The real problem in Windows to Linux migration is not the Linux OS or alternatives for MS Office. The real problem are the applications.
    Most likely, public sector's employees have to use some custom document and workflow management systems, some applications for managing taxes, accounting and so on.For many of them, a web based UI is not efficient. Huge investments were made in training people how to use these applications. The overwhelming majority of them do not have a direct Linux counterpart.
    So Microsoft's monopoly does not have its sources in the fine quality of the Windows OS or the enormous usability of Microsoft Office. The real power behind Microsoft is the fact that software houses do not consider Linux. The good thing is software houses greatly considers .NET, so if mono's WinForms gets completed next year, Microsoft might have some unexpected surprises...
  • Wish all the best to an individual - seems to be
    proud to be a "Norge" Lady. OK:Scandinavians
    nowadays are neither with blue eyes nor with
    blond hair. Therefore ... . I am - for my part -
    more and more open-worded. Bergen should plan to introduce
    or migrate to Linux, the Lady announced. So far
    so good. Her article is full of uggly business
    pictures, with other words yuppies, who never
    will produce anything than redundant LinuxCode.
    My recent experience is that Scandinavian States
    finance in large amounts Southern people and
    astonishing enough invite them to Scandinavia
    and pay their hollidays. As an old SS who knows
    that we burned down Bergen and founded Suomi
    - all Finns wear even today SS-Uniforms - I
    find it lucky that we remain what we always were:
    My Linux has the SS-Label.
  • I use a number of flavours of Linux and would like to migrate fully from M$ but can't because a anumber of activities, accomplished easily in the Windows environment, are not easily accomplished in the Linux environment. Some flavours will accomplish one activity, while another flavour will accomplish another activity, but few, if any, accomplish all of these activities painlessly or at all.

    This is the problem that Linux must overcome to be accepted in the mainstream, together with easier installation of addition programmes.

    Too many mutually imcompatible flavours doesn't help. One flavour with the best of all flavours incorporated is what is required. This is one area where competition is working against the adoption of GNU/Linux

    UserLinux is a long way from fulfilling this and currently, I cannot even re-install it, because of broken dependencies, after an update which killed my previous installation.