back to article Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

The German city of Munich, which famously adopted Linux and open source across its operations, may be about to reverse that decision. German newspaper Süddeutsche reports deputy mayor Josef Schmid as saying the city is considering the move because users often complain about the functionality available in open-source applications …

Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

I can't believe that's really the reason. I can understand that migrating FROM Outlook might be a pain for a lot of companies, so they suck it up and stick with it. But if you're not tied to MS ecosystem already, why would you willingly adopt it?

There are a ton of solutions, both Open Source and proprietary. Gmail, Zimbra, and Evolution, just off the top of my head.

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FAIL

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Quite. And even if there really isn't anything suitable, paying someone to write software, or tweak existing software would be far cheaper than paying for MS licenses, and the hardware upgrades the monster would require.

And then to be bound again by a company that tried to force metro big blobby buttons onto it's customers..... WTF?

The thing is, none of the staff that are complaining have to foot the bill, and don't understand/care about the issues.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Possibly the significant comment is the one about it taking several weeks to set up the Mayor's smartphone to receive email.

That sort of embarrassment in front of the big boss tends to lead very rapidly to change, regardless of any other factors.

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Anonymous Coward

I smell a shill

I was thinking the same as you... no to mention the Horde of competent collaboration/groupeware available. Once you've escaped the strangle-hold you're free to cherry-pick from such a vast ecosystem of tools (including many of the market leaders) that the suggestion seems perverse.

I wonder what steps they've taken to trace/audit this vocal opposition. A handful of "shop stewards" could easily drum up a bit of noise. Quietly gossiping amongst the suggestible about how much "better" the new OE55® RibWizz™ UI is in TIFKAM 8.3 if only we could have it. Perhaps with a sprinkling of good old class warfare. The bosses all sit there at their expensive Macs and expect us to do all the work with this free crap. Won't even spring for Windows®©™ the tight bastards. I'd like to see *them* work with this shit. If it's good enough... Shows how they value... Etc...

Combined with natural "grass is greener" tendencies it could make the empire's new clothes look very shiny indeed. Seen the effect many times myself... NT - "better security"(!)... suppose that was in comparison to 3.11 - we were on NetWare at the time :| ...XP - no specific reason, they just seemed to know they wanted it even though in *reality* 2000 was fine. ...Then most recently and perversely everyone seemed to "know" they "needed" Vista - although that one did die away quite quickly. Anyone know how much advertising MSFT has been buying in Munich?

Could of course go straight to the top with a bung-you-can't-refuse...

We KNOW the Munich problem has been causing concern in Redmond. One has to wonder what action it has received.

Be interesting to see how all this turns out. They've got some bright, engaged people at Munich. Definitely one to watch.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Zimbra. That product which is so wonderful, VMware couldn't wait to be rid of it.

As VMware partners, my company decided to deploy this piece of garbage when they still owned it. First we gave users the web client, but they all wanted Outlook. Then we found that if using the Outlook connector there is no online option. All mail must be downloaded to a local ZDB (just a renamed PST file). As soon as you start adding shared mailboxes, it caches them as well.

If you try to store the ZDB files on a network location they will break.

This makes it totally unusable in any RDSH/VDI deployments unless you give the user a dedicated VDI machine with a disk big enough to hold the ZDB. The terabytes of disk space we would have had to add to our RDS hosts to cache all these mailboxes on EVERY server made the product a joke.

When this issue was raised with Zimbra support they showed a complete lack on interest.

We have now moved back to Exchange which gives you the option of running in online mode.

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Re: I smell a shill

I smell the same thing.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

" Possibly the significant comment is the one about it taking several weeks to set up the Mayor's smartphone to receive email.

That sort of embarrassment in front of the big boss tends to lead very rapidly to change, regardless of any other factors."

Sheer ignorance and incompetence is no excuse! That so called admin had the cheek to admit that, when really he/she should be looking for a new job....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Leads very rapidly to change...

Ten years? You must work in local government too

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

GMail is a non-starter, it is cloud only and the data will be stored outside of Germany (also see the current court case with Microsoft fighting to keep data held under European law from being illegally handed over in the USA), that is a grey area for a business, but it is a non-starter for a council.

They aren't allowed to store any personally identifiable information (emails, contacts, calendar invites etc.) on a server outside the EU and no tax relevant information outside of Germany, without getting a special dispensation from the Finanzamt (Inland Revenue).

It isn't so much Outlook as Exchange running in the background that makes it a coherrent whole. We have Mac users here, using Outlook 2011 with Exchange, who complain about the lack of facilities, compared to Outlook 2010 with Exchange.

Finding an open source equivalent of Exchange + Outlook is a very tough call. I don't know what they use in Munich, so I can't comment.

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Re: I smell a shill

An evaluation of whether the project was a success and whether it is sustainable is warranted. They should look at how the solution is running in the day to day business of the council.

Have they actually saved money? Are the users having specific problems? Are the users happy or unhappy?

I've dealt with upgrades in the past, moving from IBM DisplayWrite IV to WordPerfect 5.1, which was a much better product, we still had a small handfull of users who caused problems, because they knew DW4 inside out and people used to come to them with questions and they were scared of using their status, as everybody went back to square one and had to learn the way the new system worked.

The finance director was shocked at how much the support calls had increased, until we pointed out that, apart from his assistant, calls had actually dropped! She thought, if she could overload the helpdesk with calls, they company would switch back to DW4 - she logged the same problem (by converting from DW to WP the software ignored the set paper size (A4) and switched to Letter, which isn't a standard size in Europe, so the first time a document was opened in WP, the user had to set the paper size manually to A4, otherwise the printer would display an error message and not print) for each and every document she opened.

Her boss tore her down a strip for wasting company money, after that the support calls sank to lower levels than before the upgrade.

So that is the question, the users having problems, are they users genuinely struggling to get to grips with Linux or are they trouble makers who fear they have lost their cachet as the Windows Guru in the change and will do anything to get Windows back?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

To the people who have down voted my comments on Zimbra, I would be interested in knowing why. They are based on my companies experience of attempting to use this product in a real world enterprise RDS/VDI environment. It simply isn't suitable.

Is anything I have said inaccurate? If so, please feel free to correct me.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

You simply don't understand.

Here in the real world, companies want one solution that works. They don't want to waste months or years trying 'tons of solutions'. It is too disruptive.

Why would you adopt MS? Because basically it works. It is not very nice, it is quite expensive. But it is a lot less trouble than coblling together chunks of open source software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Yeah, and if you try to store a pst file from Outlook on a network drive, then they break, too. I've had to try and fix shit pots full of corrupted PST files - sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

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Trollface

Re: paying someone to write software

Here's some obey. Write me an open source clone of Outlook please. Easy, innit?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

> Zimbra. That product which is so wonderful, VMware couldn't wait to be rid of it.

...

So your reason for dissing Zimbra, is that it isn't very compatible to Outlook - which is incompatible with more or less anything else than Exchange.

Zimbra uses OPEN protocols, and then you should use clients that use OPEN protocols, like IMAP and CalDAV! There are a multitude of choices, including closed source software, since this is what the rest of the industry uses. Outlook is NOT one of them - it uses proprietary protocols, and is notoriously bad on anything that is open.

It is part of the MS lock in strategy - Exchange works best with Outlook, and Outlook works best with Exchange and works best on Windows. Exchange and Outlook have som crippled IMAP support, and Exchange can do some iCal export, but if you try to mix the MS stuff with other open alternatives you will suffer, and every now and then there are serious incompatibilities because MS changed something.

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Re: I smell a shill

Windows 8 really did me a favour.

Couple of significant users seemed to think they were loosing out on the upgrades race so they got Win 8 laptops, has really made them go quiet on the new is obviously better theme.

Users complain about software in use.

There is no direct correlation between users complaining and other software being a wise move.

User may complain that "Linux" stopped me hitting that deadline when hangover, distraction, lack of training may have been the bigger cause. The fact there will be financial gains to some vendors jumping ship would certainly be shill bait and call for scrutiny.

I can see that the early adoption may have given them some of the largest mountains to climb and I am grateful for the vision, just feels all wrong to consider users normal (possibly) moaning to get more consideration than a technical review of workflow and project plan based on the facts. Maybe the beards have given up and are drowning under the combined weight of the well incentivised political low brows.

What are the facts, not facebook rants and what is the comparative costs.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

It's actually not that bad. As the head of IT told heise.de it takes less than a week to setup a new mobile and this includes safety and security measures and other things as well as setting up caldav, carddav, smtp and imap accounts.

Munich does not have a policy about using mobile devices, so they have to work with whatever the politicians want at the moment.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

...and the hardware upgrades the monster would require

Quite so. Remove Windows from a modern desktop PC and install Linux, and you are left with vastly overspecified hardware. But do the opposite...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Love the translation from Bing:

"As the City Council in 2004 , decided to blow off the computer software giant Microsoft "

As to "But if you're not tied to MS ecosystem already, why would you willingly adopt it?"

I can only assume that you have never used Outlook / Lync / Unified Messaging - together with Office / Sharepoint / Yammer, etc? It's awesome. There is no comparison to any other product - it's the best integrated suite and the most powerful and pleasant to use product in that space that there is by a long long way.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

@Volker Hett

we don't have a policy either, regarding mobile devices. But with our Exchange set-up it takes less than 10 minutes from getting a new phone out of the packaging to having it connected to Exchange... "less than a week" is not a good yardstick.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

As noted in my original comments Outlook wasn't my choice, it was the users. We tried them with the web client but they didn't like it. They also didn't like the native Zimbra client either. Even if they did though, this also pulls the mail down and caches it locally so would heve been no better in our RDS environment.

Regarding the other posters comment about storing PST files on a network drive, yes they will break as well. It isn't supported and nobody with any sense should try. Since a ZDB file IS a PST file with a different extension it beggars belief that this was Zimbra's suggested fix for the lack of an online mode.

We asked them if there was client on their development roadmap which could work online without having to cache the mailbox. If there was, we may have stuck with it. There wasn't so we went to Exchange.

You may not like it, but the fact is that Outlook is a popular mail client. If you want to make a successful groupware product you need to provide decent support for it.

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IT Angle

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Yes, but the problem with the smartphone/email is the quality of the support staff not the infrastructure.

I for one think it would be great to see them go back. MS are so arrogant these days that Munich will be paying through the nose and kicking themselves for years! ROFL!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"Total urban machine on Linux were converted in the past ten years 15 000 , about 80 percent of all jobs in the Munich authorities"

So 20% still run Windows after a decade?! The cost of running two parallel infrastructures for so long must be horrendous.

""Linux is very expensive, as much itself must be programmed.""

Well there we go - so much for the Linux "cost savings". It doesn't work out of the box and costs lots of money to fix. As confirmed by the worlds foremost migration site.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"That so called admin had the cheek to admit that, when really he/she should be looking for a new job...."

It's not the admins fault that his management made him use a crappy Open Source platform for email that hardly anyone else uses and simply doesnt work reliably with mobile email devices.

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Re: I smell a shill

"We KNOW the Munich problem has been causing concern in Redmond. One has to wonder what action it has received."

No we don't. If you do then link? It's a tiny contract and near zero have followed down the same path after seeing that it took over a decade to only move 80% of users - and tens of millions of Euros of extra costs to get there with no real benefits. so I doubt it even hit the RADAR.

"They've got some bright, engaged people at Munich. Definitely one to watch."

If they were really any good, presumably they would be working in the real world for twice the money and not for local government...

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Agree. As a small business owner, I'm fine with the Open Office suite (plus LibreOffice) to the extent that I have not upgraded Windows Office since '97. But the lack of a contact manager from my veiwpoint has been a serious omission for years, and has inhibited migration to Linux. Some add-on solution which is not part of the "official" suite would take time to evaluate, and might disappear the day after I migrated.

I may be "wrong" in the eyes of the experts, but with limited time to address these issues, that's where I am. That said, the latest Windows offering are so unattractive that the next move may well be Linux.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I can only assume that you have never used Outlook / Lync / Unified Messaging - together with Office / Sharepoint / Yammer, etc? It's awesome. There is no comparison to any other product - it's the best integrated suite and the most powerful and pleasant to use product in that space that there is by a long long way."

I use them every day at work, and they purely suck. Outlook is a beast without comparison, Lync is faster than the crippleware Communicator, but has less functionality. Sharepoint, is a pain to use, that may though be our IT departments fault can't really say, still a pain and I'm missing a lot of key functionality that I do expect from it.

It's funny how consumer products are today more advanced than enterprise products.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Do you remember the study they did. If I recall correctly, Mac's were considered, they were also forecasted to have the lowest support and maintenance cost of all platforms, but the highest investment cost for a change, was it roughly 3 times higher than continue with pc's.

The mac way would have had MS Office and Exchange support, apps would have been quite similar to work with, that meant lower training costs than going with Linux.

I still don't understand what the criterias was that made them go with Linux. They surely were not criterias that was made from the users perspective.

I may though mix it up with another similar study. As I've read a few of them.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I use them every day at work, and they purely suck."

I have yet to see a better option.

"Outlook is a beast without comparison,"

Quite - no other product comes close to replacing it.

"Lync is faster than the crippleware Communicator, but has less functionality. "

Only if your IT staff have locked it down. Have they deployed Enterprise Voice? IM integration? Group Chat? Exchange Web Services integration?

"Sharepoint, is a pain to use, that may though be our IT departments fault can't really say, still a pain and I'm missing a lot of key functionality that I do expect from it."

Compared to what? And yes, Sharepoint is a framework, and it requires configuring / setting up properly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"MS basically works" ?? You're having a giraffe.

The gotchas and weirdness in Outlook 2010/Exchange Server 2010 calendar sharing are legion.

I've lost count of the number of times I've shown numerous threads on the MS community forums to people who wonder why it can't do what they want. I have to do that, because otherwise they don't believe me.

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Re: I smell a shill

Exactly. My first thought on reading the article was 'how much is this costing microsoft?' It is just too convenient considering the problems microsoft are having at the moment.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Sounds like you ran that through Google Translate, AC.

I would guess that that is 80% of employees, not every employee has a computer, or even a desk. That was 80% of all jobs, not 80% of all PC users, there is a difference.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"And even if there really isn't anything suitable, paying someone to write software, or tweak existing software would be far cheaper than paying for MS licenses, and the hardware upgrades the monster would require."

That is one of the funniest things I have ever heard!!! Jamie, I can only assume you are a software developer with self interest at heart?

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"Quite. And even if there really isn't anything suitable, paying someone to write software, or tweak existing software would be far cheaper than paying for MS licenses, and the hardware upgrades the monster would require."

Really? How did you calculate that?

It's cheaper to build something from scratch to support many different devices and whatnot, and then support it over a reasonable lifetime than to just pay someone who has already been there, done that?

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I can only assume that you have never used Outlook / Lync / Unified Messaging - together with Office / Sharepoint / Yammer, etc?"

Outlook is an appalling, bug ridden product with some serious usability issues and total disregard for any established standards. I'd more than happily shoot, multiple times to be sure, the developers of Outlook's HTML renderer, quite apart from the intentionally broken IMAP support, or as noted elsewhere broken anything non-Exchange. However the worst thing Outlook... is that it is better than anything else equivalent. I may be wrong on this, but so far I haven't come across anything close and I've tried a lot of alternatives - only Thunderbird came close and the UI of that was designed by idiots.

Lync may appear to have a clean interface, but it's amazingly bug ridden, bloated beyond belief and just performing simple tasks is an exercise in frustration. Once it's finally started which tends to take a long time.... and yet somehow after all this it is better than Communicator, but that isn't because it's good, just that Communicator was so bad. However to be fair, IM clients don't have a good usability pedigree and bolting extra functionality on top of very poorly designed, or intentionally limited interfaces, is not always an easy task.

Sharepoint is the devil's work. For good (sanity) reasons, I avoid this bloated, unwieldy monstrosity whenever I can. The security scheme alone makes the hatchet job of normal windows file/print security look well designed. As for all the ridiculous bugs that relate to data that are still in place... arrrgggh. On the other hand, if you want a quick alternative to shared spreadsheets that are used to do little more than record data, it does quite a good job and while the document management feels entirely cumbersome and has been implemented in a ridiculously inefficient manner, it does sort of work.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

@t.est they already had the PCs, they just needed to reprovision them. That is a lot cheaper than throwing away 15,000 perfectly good PCs and buing 15,000 new Macs... Replacement cycles would also be longer on Linux / Windows, given Cupertino's glee in stopping support on older hardware.

Also, don't foget at the time of the transition, that would have been transitioning to PowerPC, maybe there was something technical - such as the VMs for keeping virtual Windows instances around for special programs that didn't have a Mac equivalent were so abysmal back then... Now they could use Parallels or VMWare or even dual boot with Bootcamp, back then it was Microsoft's VirtualPC, which was a dog.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

BASICALLY WORKS.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

I think Lync is awesome; what don't you like?

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"Remove Windows from a modern desktop PC and install Linux, and you are left with vastly overspecified hardware. But do the opposite..."

Just to note that Windows 8.1 outperformed the latest Ubuntu in benchmark tests such as boot time, 3D graphics and copying large files...

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Linux today is as bloated as Windows. Don't say 'well try Puppy Linux or some other lightweight distribution (amongst thousands).' It is fair to compare commercial offerings, such as Redhat, with Windows.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

None of them are actually anywhere close to Outlook + Exchange. End of discussion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I smell a shill

>>If they were really any good, presumably they would be working in the real world for twice the money and not for local government...

Pardon? As one who works for "business", I think you are an idiot. Local Government has a rather bigger, more serious, more critical role than most businesses, even when such businesses are paid by local government to do some jobs.

Almost any business can fail and life carries on regardless unless you are an employee. If local governemnt fails, you get rubbish in the streets, roads becoming unusable, law and order breaking down, education collapsing and much more. Many of the staff are underpaid and too few for the jobs to be done, because people like you will happily pay over the odds for a private business product but resent even one penny of tax to pay for local governent workers and equipment.

Local governement tends to do its job so well that pratts are unaware of how effective it is and hurl abuse willy nilly.

Tell you what, why do n't you work for your local government and make things so much better?

I've worked for state bodies: but for most of my working life I have been with private enterprise. PE is incredibly inefficient, narrow minded and, technically, lacking as "business" prefers not to take risk and loves to save money on the essentials in order to pay the upper echelons and shareholders more than can be justified. Of course there are exceptions and, of course, some civil servants are appalling. But overall, I think we should have the best and brightest managing the infrastrucutre of our lives and society - if that fails, we are in big troubel very quickly, along with the businesses relying on the infrastructure of the society.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

My Take would be because the only provided options were: webmail or Outlook.

It's no surprise that Outlook doesn't play nice with third party servers when the email client vendor happens to also sell an email(/groupware) server solution..

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

Sharepoint, is a pain to use, that may though be our IT departments fault can't really say, still a pain and I'm missing a lot of key functionality that I do expect from it.

Someone hasn't used Jive then?

It's like someone showed an A level student Yammer and Sharepoint, and then got them to create it in Frontpage 97.

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Re: I smell a shill

I smell irrational open-source fanboy narrow mindedness.

It's all about the right tool for the right job - if a closed source product (even MS) can do that better, so be it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"Yeah, and if you try to store a pst file from Outlook on a network drive, then they break, too."

Bing 'Enterprise Hotfix Roll Up' - that's what you need. It's an SMB driver issue.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

It takes me less than 5 minutes to setup mail on a phone.

I think someone's trolling to see if MS will offer cut-rate deals to win back business (This is common, sales teams get huge bonuses for bringing back lost business and nothing for retaining people in the first place)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I would guess that that is 80% of employees"

No - it's most definately referring to 80% of computers.

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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I still don't understand what the criterias was that made them go with Linux. "

Windows is a software vendor lock-in

Mac is a software and HARDWARE vendor lock-in

Linux is neither.

MS got popular by being cheap, doing most things that were needed and not charging extra fees for added functionality.

So did Cisco.

Once they eliminated the competition, they changed to the same rape-and-pillage models the previous incumbents had used.

Sensible businesses don't willingly keep their head in a noose whilst someone's sawing away at the chair legs underneath.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"To the people who have down voted my comments on Zimbra, I would be interested in knowing why".

I didn't vote on your comment, either way. But I was rather surprised to read it. Zimbra is SO BAD that someone would rather go back to Outhouse???

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