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back to article Tamil Nadu's XP migration plan: Go Linux like a BOSS

The Indian State of Tamil Nadu will solve its Windows XP problem by adopting Linux. Tamil Nadu is home to over 70 million people and its capital city is Chennai, a hub for India's business process outsourcing industry second only to Bangalore. The decision to move to Linux is outlined in this letter (PDF) from the State's …

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Silver Lining

End of XP is not all bad.

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Re: Silver Lining

Yep, just like a BOSS

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JDX
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Re: Silver Lining

Seriously, you're taking notes from Indian IT?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silver Lining

An obscure state in a third world country where labour to look after high mantenance software is cheap picks the no money up front high maintenance solution - who would have thought it?! it must be the year of Linux on the desktop....

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An obscure state in a third world country?

"An obscure state in a third world country where labour to look after high mantenance software is cheap picks the no money up front high maintenance solution - who would have thought it?! it must be the year of Linux on the desktop"....

'Tamil Nadu possesses the second-largest economy (2011–12) among states in India after Maharashtra.`

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silver Lining

...the third world country where Satya Nadella was born and brought up, and received his degree Electronics and Telecommunications from the Manipal Institute of Technology...

...the third world country whose population (now 1.26bn) will overtake China's (now 1.39bn) in our lifetime (in 2028 by current estimates) to become the largest in the world...

From the tone and content of your comment, I assume you are a Microsoft attack dog trying to Scroogle Linux but of course I could be wrong

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silver Lining

AC I wish I could agree, especially given my long (and once proud) history of working as a successful Windows sysadmin as a day job. Here's the kicker though: after much frustration over years of volunteered support for small Windows-based networks for various organisations I figured there must be better ways of doing things for places that I'm not directly involved with for eight hours every week day.

As it turns out, migrating such networks to either to Linux-based (Ubuntu desktop/Zentyal server) or Mac desktops/notebooks and Qnap/Synology NAS has not just reduced but almost eliminated support overhead from my perspective. I get my time back and feedback from users is overwhelmingly positive. Stuff really just does work with little fuss and the computers don't mysteriously slow down after a few months use. A school I chose the latter path for was so amazed at the difference that they now discourage staff from using Windows devices, even though I was fully supportive of continuing Windows support for those who may have wanted to use it.

Now admittedly all-in-one solutions like Zentyal and Qnap don't scale so well to large networks, but Linux-based operating systems generally scale well to larger environments and there are some great FOSS solutions out there for SSO, policy and lifecycle management.

You really should get out some time and explore the *whole* world of tech a little - you might be pleasantly surprised!

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Re: Silver Lining

@AC

"An obscure state in a third world country where labour to look after high mantenance software is cheap picks the no money up front high maintenance solution"

The BOSS Linux desktop client appears to be based on Debian Stable, so that BOSS Linux 5.0 seems to be Wheezy based (GS 3.4.1 along with KDE and XFCE available on the install DVD). Not sure that I would describe Debian Stable as 'high maintenance'.

Tamil Nadu is pretty big as well and not obscure to me or my neighbours.

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JDX
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Re: Silver Lining

I guess all of you downvoters buy into Cameron's drivel about India as a massive source of hi-tech excellence, rather than actually having worked with the kind of developers their outsourcing companies provide.

My comment is nothing about MS/Linux, it's about Indian IT skill levels. Companies like Tata have terrible reputations for sending over incompetent workers and abusing foreign work visas.

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Holmes

Re: Silver Lining

Tata's incompetent workers doesn't implicate Indian IT in general, just like CACI's or HP's don't implicate US IT in general. When the customer is happy to keep paying for people whose only job qualification is a pulse, why spend the extra money to hire people who know what they're doing?

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Windows

Posting from BOSS 5.0 Re: Silver Lining

I'm posting this from a default BOSS 5.0 linux installation on a Thinkpad X200s, more powerful than target machines I guess.

The i386 DVD includes a live session, and the installer.

What you get is Debian Wheezy with Gnome 3.4.1 but set to fallback mode by default, with effects switched off. This is enforced by setting a dconf key and by commenting out the gnome-shell option in /etc/gdm3/greeter.gsettings. Someone thought about that so the live session and default installation will run on machines with lower end graphics and won't get spannered when fingers start playing.

Customised theme, nice icons, looks like Gnome 2 with the top and bottom bars comes with a BOSS user manual, and a first run pop up with toll-free support number and Web addresses. Applications include both Iceweasel and Chromium, the full LibreOffice, GIMP, Banshee, VLC, mp3 codecs and Gnash flash all out of box. I tend to set HTML 5 settings for Youtube to reduce the processor load.

Debian text mode installer has been simplified, and the installer has to run in English, no other language choice. Just type and confirm username, password and then accept defauts and you get a sensible setup. I was able to install offline easily, the network autodetect just ran and failed and then the installation resumed. There is an /etc/apt/sources.list file set up that points to the BOSS repository in India. About 30Mb of updates when rebooting.

BOSS add ons include an 'easy' installer for XFCE4 that does not require admin. Support for a long list of Indian language settings is included. There is a promotional video which gives you more of an idea of the target market, chaps in a village popping the CD into a tower PC with a 15 inch LCD monitor. Children producing printouts &c.

Conclusion: stable, some thought about target users on XP PCs, recent stable Linux, update system working, support available. Looks viable to me.

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Linux

The man from Munich

He says yes!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The man from Munich

And the fanboys say, "Squee!"

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Re: The man from Munich

(After carefully hiding the ~ €30 million it actually cost to migrate ~ 80% of their users fully and to have to run 2 sets of infrastructure for the foreseeable future...)

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Re: TheVogon

Citations? Or you are simply talking bollocks. Again.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2082460/moving-a-city-to-linux-needs-political-backing-says-munich-project-leader.html

"Munich city authority migrated around 14,800 of the 15,000 or so PCs"

"that migrating to LiMux instead of modernizing its existing Microsoft software would save it over €11 million"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TheVogon

About 20% of those 'Linux' desktops still have to access Microsoft OSs / software via Citrix when they need to get real work done or want a version of Office that actually works.

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Windows

Re: TheVogon

"...or want a version of Office that actually works"

LibreOffice $works quite well for me as it happens. A couple of sample PDFs produced from .odt files...

http://sohcahtoa.org.uk/pages/files/maths_gcse-rules-and-tools-number.pdf

http://sohcahtoa.org.uk/pages/files/maths_gcse-rules-and-tools-data.pdf

In my case $works = 'can produce fairly long documents with tables, mathematical formulas, drawings and imported photos easily with little fuss on a recycled laptop of modest spec'

Can you specify your definition of $works?

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Re: TheVogon

"http://sohcahtoa.org."

Thumbs up for the domain name. That brought back memories :-)

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Holmes

Re: The man from Munich

Not surprised that the resident MS shills are slamming the article or quoting FUDy extra costs. It's becoming predictable...

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Re: TheVogon

"About 20% of those 'Linux' desktops still have to access Microsoft OSs / software via Citrix when they need to get real work done or want a version of Office that actually works."

So, that'd be 80% that don't all of the time and maybe 20% that might need some access to MS software

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Re: TheVogon

@ John Brown (no body)

Americans use different words for Maths topics so you can register a lot of the maths word domains...

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Re: TheVogon

> maybe 20% that might need some access to MS software

It is unlikely to be a need to access "MS software" but to legacy applications that only run on [legacy] Windows.

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Re: TheVogon

"It is unlikely to be a need to access "MS software" but to legacy applications that only run on [legacy] Windows."

Well I'd be guessing unless you have specific info. , but the point is they have most of their desktops on Linux and even AC can't seriously have us believe that only 20% of their staff do real work

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Re: TheVogon

BTW

London borough to roll out Google Chromebooks to escape Microsoft's licensing costs

http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2337233/london-borough-to-roll-out-google-chromebooks-to-escape-microsofts-licensing-costs.

http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/public-sector/3509773/barking-dagenham-council-rolls-out-google-chromebooks-in-face-of-xp-deadline/

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Re: TheVogon

In my experience, it would be a miracle if 10% of the workforce did any real work..

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Why not earlier?

Brilliant! They can squeeze out some more years of work from existing hardware, support local software shops, that provide the distribution and if they go for a XP-like window manager like XFCE, they don't even retrain their people a lot.

The question is, if they can pull it off in such a short lead time? I think they are at least one year too late. Of course it depends on what they use their PCs for. If all applications are browser based, hosted on a central server, and perhaps a bit of local office suite usage for writing letters, it might even work.

Anyway - whatever OS they choose, they will be more or less in the same situation.

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Because they didn't believe in it

FOSS proponents have always noted that support for Windows will eventually run out and that if support runs out no organisation can continue using it for extended periods of time. If you have FOSS you can just continue to support it yourself, and you automatically pool your efforts with everybody else still using that software.

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We do not know if it is a short lead time

The death of XP has been forecast for years. This might be a tested and working solution sitting in the background waiting for an excuse.

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Re: Because they didn't believe in it

> f you have FOSS you can just continue to support it yourself, and you automatically pool your efforts with everybody else still using that software.

That rather assumes that your replacement software is FOSS too, not just proprietary on top of FOSS.

If you can't recompile, you'll run into the same issues as XP end of support.

I find it so inconvenient whenever I hit proprietary licenses - it pushes IT into all sorts of contortions to try to minimise costs. I've a project to run a couple of internet-facing sFTP Servers in an MS shop. Haha!, you want how much for a server OS and how much for patch management? Its really low throughput but we need dedicated HA through-out, so double the ftp servers, double the AD servers for authentication, network management servers. It's all for a function which could run a couple of atoms in terms of throughput. It's just madness!

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Re: Because they didn't believe in it

" you want how much for a server OS and how much for patch management? "

That's a lot cheaper on Windows than say with Red Hat. And much less likely to be successfully attacked as an internet facing server too.

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Hooray

I guess we will hear a lot of stories like this in the coming years. A refresh cycle of 3 years for hardware and software is not sustainable, except for the bigger players. Maybe 5-6 years with FOSS would possibly lead to big savings.

I took charge of a small infrastructure a few years back where the servers were 6-10 years old and they had a budget for one new server. I visualized the lot using a free virtualization offering on the new server and it worked like a charm.

Linux is truly achieving world domination at last

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Re: Hooray

As a matter of interest, how many 'user seats' were there and what were the licensing cost savings compared to continuing with (I assume) Windows? Did the users have any problems or difficulties adapting to the new system? etc....

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JDX
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Re: Hooray

You don't need a 3-year refresh cycle with Windows. The fact people are still running XP on the machines that came with XP is testament to this. Business support for Windows7 runs till at least 2020 so that's a 6 year refresh cycle right there even if you didn't already upgrade - longer if you did like you should've done.

If you buy into the sales pitch to upgrade every version of the OS you might lose out, but business has no problem skipping versions of Windows.

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Re: Hooray

@JDX: Looks like they also have no problem skipping multiple versions of Windows - Vista, 7, and now 8. Guess they'll probably skip 9 too?

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Re: Hooray

> skipping multiple versions of Windows - Vista, 7, and now 8.

Seriously, the _only_ people who would need to upgrade more or less automatically are the developers of software that _must_ run on Microsoft's latest-and-greatest - and the maintainers of that software. The rest of the world can take their own sweet time.

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JDX
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Sounds like a well executed plan

I mean they have at least a week.

I sense this might end up being referred to by pro-MS authorities as "look what happens when you try to ditch Windows", as a counter-argument to whichever European government went Linux a few years ago (Germany?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like a well executed plan

There is a growing trend to employ clueless managers in the IT arena. They are good at being yes-men, pencil pushers & bean counters... and of course excel following stupid orders.

Any transitional issues, including Munichs headaches, can all be attributed to this management shortcomming. IT should be left to people in the know, not the clowns with titles.

The choice of OS is the least of the problems - Windows 8 upgrades would fall victim to the same managerial incompetencies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds like a well executed plan

There is a growing trend to employ managers that are absolutely clueless, but that are good at being yes-men and following stupid orders. Independant intelligent thought is not encouraged and profit is not only the bottom line, but the only line.

Any transitional issues, including Munichs headaches, can all be attributed to this blindspot in top level corporate management. The OS is the least of the problems - Windows 8 upgrades would fall victim to the same incompetencies.

Leave I.T to the people in the know !

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Coat

Re: Sounds like a well executed plan

I first read that as "clowns with ties".

Actually, it still makes sense that way.

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Linux

Re: Sounds like a well executed plan

@JDX and all

Does anyone know what these PCs are actually used for and what the 'backoffice' is?

If they are just stand alone PCs with local printers and perhaps Internet access to open standards compliant Web sites - like a community centre/drop in set up - a direct swap out might work especially given a one panel XFCE4 desktop.

If they are like the (fully maintained Win7) client PC I'm sitting at now, there is the SharePoint based Intranet, the 'business applications' that look like Delphi on a bad day and the AD authentication to replace along with the SQL Server student database. Not happening any decade soon!

Is anyone from India reading here? Want to let us know what kind of operations we are looking at?

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Microsoft didn't think it through...

In their haste to migrate their users off XP (W7 then, horrors, W8) MS may have made a significant strategic blunder.

I have "numerous" clients for whom XP was more than sufficient. There was NOTHING in 7 or 8 that added to the functionality that already existed in the workplace environment which was worth the expense in an SMB setting. Perhaps if MS included a "lite" version of Office in 7/8, the migration MIGHT make sense. But if you evaluate the needs of a typical office drone, using word, excel and a browser, migrating made no financial/business sense.

As Trevor Potts pointed out in an earlier article, MS could save face by offering a subscription service for XP upgrades. But then again, I don't recall MS ever eating crow....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft didn't think it through...

"MS could save face by offering a subscription service for XP upgrades"

They already do for ELA customers.

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Unhappy

They already do for ELA customers.

Yeah... I just found out that the Dutch government also plans to give away a couple of million to Microsoft for extended support...

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Re: They already do for ELA customers.

A couple of million is still cheaper than new machines or a migration.

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Re: They already do for ELA customers.

> A couple of million is still cheaper than new machines or a migration.

But they _still_ need to do new machines _and_ a migration.

Extended support this year means they will pay even more (double) for extended support next year if they don't do a migration, which will likely require new machines, before then.

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Could be Linux's big break

This probably makes a lot of sense for an Indian organisation, the relative cost of upgrading to another Windows version would be a lot higher than for, say, a UK company. Support skills in India will be cheaper, but again this is relative so maybe a similar cost to UK organisations.

For UK companies though, the cost of upgrading hardware/software is trivial; the person sitting in front of the PC is costing 15,000 GBP per-year minimum. The desk and chair the PC and user sit on, together, probably cost as much as a low-spec PC. The main issue is how much lost productivity the organisation has during the "learning what's different" phase.

With Windows 8, Microsoft made that last bit much higher than previously and this was a major error; It won't kill them, but after such a solid product as Windows 7 it makes corporate IT very unlikely to upgrade until something more work-oriented is delivered.

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Re: Could be Linux's big break

I dont agree with all your post, but I do agree that this is a great opportunity for countries like India to take advantage of a Linux based OS.

The loss of XP should create a vacuum that can be filled with Linux based operating systems.

In fact, I wouldnt be shocked to hear about Linux OS's being tailored specifically to suit municipal services etc.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Could be Linux's big break

It also seems like an excellent opportunity for linux hater hackers to target TU guvmin agencies.

Maybe rather than shouting all about it before they do it it would be better to shout after it were done?

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Re: Could be Linux's big break

"[...] but I do agree that this is a great opportunity for countries like India to take advantage of a Linux based OS."

And develop the skill set of large numbers of IT support staff. Especially with migration issues. I think a few businesses could emerge from this that might be getting customers in Europe and States.

As usual we are letting a new market slip by here in sunny old Britain...

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Anonymous Coward

I should think

the real reason behind this is they got fed up to the back teeth with the calls from Microsoft Support...

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