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


Despite the positive evaluation of Linux, Bergen decided to initially migrate the school computers to Windows 2000 and MS Office 2000; however, the school servers are being moved from Windows NT to Linux.

Tuftedal says this staggered migration is down to practical rather than technical reasons. If the school had migrated to the Linux desktop at the beginning of 2004, pupils would only have had a couple of months to learn how to use the new system before exam time -- PCs are used in examinations in Norwegian schools. Also, as teachers need to use Windows desktops for administration tasks, extra work was needed to make sure staff did not have to learn how to use two different desktops.

Bergen is now addressing how to ease the transition for teachers by redesigning the desktop, planning a training programme and is also considering allowing teachers to access the administrative software through thin clients.

Once the schools have been migrated to Linux, Bergen is planning to move all city employees to Linux, says Tuftedal. He expects this migration to start in 2006 and says it will probably take longer than the school migration, as there are a number of important applications with dependencies on the Windows desktop or MS Office.

Bergen is not the only Norwegian city government looking at Linux. Sarpsborg, a small city in the southeast of Norway is already using 100 percent Linux, according to Tuftedal. Other city governments are likely to move in the future, in particular the large cities which already have Unix skills that are quite easy to transfer to Linux.

"A lot of cities in Norway think about Linux or open source software," says Tuftedal. "They may be more or less willing to do this - it depends on their resources, the size of their IT department and whether they have in-house Unix skills."

Despite Microsoft's claims that Windows outperforms Linux in Unix migration scenarios, Tuftedal claims Windows has only recently caught up with Linux in terms of scalability.

"Microsoft's marketing has been ahead of the capabilities of its software, in particular considering problems of scale," he says. "It fitted the scale of small and medium business rather than the larger enterprise. If they have caught up it has only been in the latest versions -- initially software such as file services and the exchange server weren't scaled for the enterprise."

2004 wasn't the year of the Linux desktop, and given current rates of uptake it's unlikely that 2005 will be either. However, what is certain is that if more organisations follow Bergen's lead, Steve Ballmer may need to be a lot more cautious about asking for evidence of the open source OS challenging his company's desktop monopoly.

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.