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Author Topic: No more desktop Linux systems in the German Foreign Office  (Read 2379 times)
f0dder
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« on: February 21, 2011, 03:31:22 AM »

So, what took them so long? Wink

Quote
although open source has demonstrated its worth, particularly on servers, the cost of adapting and extending it, for example in writing printer and scanner drivers, and of training, have proved greater than anticipated. The extent to which the potential savings trumpeted in 2007 have proved realisable has, according to the government, been limited – though it declines to give any actual figures. Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality, a lack of usability and poor interoperability.

Source: H open.
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2011, 06:27:54 AM »

Lindows maybe? smiley
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2011, 06:51:11 AM »

Quote
Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality, a lack of usability and poor interoperability.
I don't want to rant against linux apps but seriously i see the point. Check out pencil animation app and synfig. You'll find that pencil is very easy to use whereas synfig built-on GIMP toolkit and is extremely hard to use. I mean seriously, it'll take plenty of time to figure out what the heck is synfig. I'll not be surprised if any user prefers to buy toonboom or anime/manga studio or even pencil (free) instead of wasting time learning synfig. Problem with linux developers is that they build things without thinking about users. I mean if you want to 'get things done' then you need to build software with some focused interface instead of scattered widgets like Gimp/synfig.
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2011, 07:37:09 AM »

It seems like there are large swaths out there that seem to delight in making "elitist" software - stuff that takes immense effort to learn. That has no place in the consumer world. Professional world? Sure. Often there's no other option as costs become too high. Consumer? Sigh... And this is why I never use my Mac... Too difficult to get basic things done. I find Linux easier.

In principle, I think it's better to use open formats and all that in government. But training costs? You need to be fiscally responsible at the same time. It's a tough call.
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2011, 07:50:11 AM »

If i remember correctly then OSX is unix based right ? I don't know what makes them more easier in comparison to linux/unix based desktops or respective software. If apple can keep things simple for users then why linux/unix developers don't learn something from it ? The reason why microsoft softwares are always easy to learn is because they pay attention to users learning curve. I found linux developers are so obsessed with 'release early, release often' stuff that they don't find time thinking about simplicity in UI. I agree on open formats point- this will keep the world in sanity instead of forcing monopoly on users.
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Josh
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2011, 08:04:06 AM »

Software usability and interface, even with the X Windowing system, is perhaps the Linux platform's greatest down fall. I have always felt that perhaps it is time to scrap X and start fresh with a system which is designed for the modern age. To me, X feels like a patch job where various pieces of code have been hacked together to make it work. Perhaps it's time to cut losses and redesign it with stability, usability and user interface in mind.

Usability of most software on the *nix platform is often times second priority when compared to the "cool features" of an application. Every developer knows that working on the "sexy" parts of an application are more fun than coding and designed a well formed and designed GUI or even back-end support. Who wants to code the printing system when we can code a way to make the window wobble when you drag it around screen?

Often times, it seems as thou developers of this software do not put thought into a GUI and the overall experience of the user. While this is not true in every case, most of the software I use on a daily basis in ubuntu and fedora feels this way. Heck, making a wrong move in either KDE, Gnome or XFCE will result in an unstable windowing environment and you will have to restart and pray that you didn't corrupt the configuration.

Windows and MAC have gotten it right when it comes to software. Yes, there are clunky software titles on both, but they are the exception and not the norm. Almost every MAC application is designed with usability in the forefront. Most Windows applications have well-formed and standards complying guis (Windows standards, that is). You can expect ALT+F4 to function the same in every application. You can expect the minimize button to actually minimize the window and not recompile your kernel because one of the developers felt it was a cool idea!

Now please, do not take this is a rant about Linux and FOSS, it is quite the contrary. I would love to see a shift in the software quality on the platform. It is moving slowly but I do not think it can keep pace with the breakneck speed of the modern computing era. I use Ubuntu, Fedora and Opensuse on a daily basis (Ask Gothi[c], he usually ends up providing me support much to his dismay). That said, I can see a very discernable quality difference between using Linux applications and most Windows/MAC applications.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 11:55:37 AM by Josh » Logged

Strength in Knowledge
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2011, 08:18:49 AM »

If i remember correctly then OSX is unix based right ? I don't know what makes them more easier in comparison to linux/unix based desktops or respective software. If apple can keep things simple for users then why linux/unix developers don't learn something from it ? The reason why microsoft softwares are always easy to learn is because they pay attention to users learning curve. I found linux developers are so obsessed with 'release early, release often' stuff that they don't find time thinking about simplicity in UI. I agree on open formats point- this will keep the world in sanity instead of forcing monopoly on users.

OS X is BSD based. BSD > Whatever > Darwin > OS X

But I find Linux easier than OS X. I think some of that may be in my own expectations of the platform though. I paid a lot of money for OS X and I had high expectations, of which it failed in every aspect. Linux on the other hand gives me few expectations, and over delivers in every way.

But my approach to software is changing. I'm fickle often, and well, that's that.

I think Microsoft really does a great job in a lot of things. At times I hate them, like today. (Issues with child application differences for DNN in ASP.NET on IIS 6 & 7. Grrr...)

With Apple, they've got a thing going with "there's only 1 way -- the Apple way", and that works for a lot of people. For others that are use to the Microsoft way or the Linux way, it's infuriating. In MS and Linux there are MANY ways to do everything and anything. I like choice. Apple is all about removing choice.
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2011, 08:24:47 AM »

Software usability and interface, even with the X Windowing system, is perhaps the Linux platform's greatest down fall. I have always felt that perhaps it is time to scrap X and start fresh with a system which is designed for the modern age. To me, X feels like a patch job where various pieces of code have been hacked together to make it work. Perhaps it's time to cut losses and redesign it with stability, usability and user interface in mind.

Usability of most software on the *nix platform is often times second priority when compared to the "cool features" of an application. Every developer knows that working on the "sexy" parts of an application are more fun than coding and designed a well formed and designed GUI or even back-end support. Who wants to code the printing system when we can code a way to make the window wobble when you drag it around screen?

Often times, it seems as thou developers of this software do not put thought into a GUI and the overall experience of the user. While this is not true in every case, most of the software I use on a daily basis in ubuntu and fedora feels this way. Heck, making a wrong move in either KDE, Gnome or XFCE will result in an unstable windowing environment and you will have to restart and pray that you didn't corrupt the configuration.

Windows and MAC have gotten it right when it comes to software. Yes, there are clunky software titles on both, but they are the exception and not the norm. Almost every MAC application is designed with usability in the forefront. Most Windows applications have well-formed and standards complying guis (Windows standards, that is). You can expect ALT+F4 to function the same in every application. You can expect the minimize button to actually minimize the window and not recompile your kernel because one of the developers felt it was a cool idea!

Now please, do not take this is a rant about Linux and FOSS, it is quite the contrary. I would love to see a shift in the software quality on the platform. It is moving slowly but I do not think it can keep pace with the breakneck speed of the modern computing era. I use Ubuntu, Fedora and Opensuse on a daily basis (Ask Gothi[c], he usually ends up providing me support much to his dismay). That said, I can see a very discernable quality difference between using Linux applications and most Windows/MAC applications.

You make some very very good points there.

Lately I've been doing more usability coding than normal, and it's time intensive. It takes a lot to get from functionality to USABLE functionality. There's a VERY VERY big difference there. And that difference takes a lot of time.

Spend 2 days to add 4 new features, or make 1 feature super-slick and easy? Typical developer reaction? >> F*** it. Add the new FEATURES! After all, we want the software to DO S**T, right? Wink
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2011, 10:31:42 AM »

    according to the government, been limited – though it declines to give any actual figures.

    Ok...well that proves it right there doesn't it?

    Typical of government - state something as 'fact' but [decline|forget|refuse|be unable] to provide specifics to support their statement.

    Users have, it claims, also complained of missing functionality, a lack of usability and poor interoperability.


    I think this is getting closer to the core issue in this case: the office workers are bitching, and the management got tired of listening to it.

    Don't know if Germany has produced a superior breed of office worker compared to the rest of the world. But if their office workers are anything like the office workers back in the US, any change in Cubeville is going to be greeted with a fusillade of negative feedback. Especially if it's something that would make things better or easier BUT would require people learn something new or make changes to one of their precious daily routines.

    I did a project where my client replaced its aging hodgepodge fleet of laser printers with several new high-speed high volume printers - complete with all the fixins'.

    Far from making everybody happy, it sparked a wave of complaints. Nobody had a problem with print times, quality or reliability. Some example complaints:

    • Jobs finished too fast. ("I used to like to take a break when I send my big reports to print.")
    • New hardware is too reliable. ("I liked fixing the printer when it jammed. It broke up the day. And people respected me for being able to fix it when it had problems.")
    • Network change. ("We got to name the old printers. It was fun. We called them things like Piccasso and Degas. The new names (ex: Admin-HP9040; Art-RicohColor) are impossible to understand. We should be able to name them again. If the IT guys have trouble knowing which is which they can just ask somebody.")
    • Environmental changes. (There's too many printers now. I used to like to have to walk to get to one. I could say "Hi" to my friends and get some 'ergonomics (?) that way.")

    In short, the new printers were different and required changes in personal routines.

    I won't defend poor interface or usability design. Nobody is a bigger bug about interface function and appearance than I am. And I'll also be the first to acknowledge many free/libre apps have a way to go before they can rival the 'finish' that comes out of companies that have the resources and budget to do serious usability testing.

    But by the same token, it's also important to remember you have a large number of people who grew up with and learned the Microsoft interface conventions so well that they're now accepted as the only "right way" to do things. Put a lifelong Windows user on a Mac and they'll experience the same bewilderment and resistance. Same goes for putting a longtime Mac user on a PC, except they'll probably have to go home for a cup of valerian thé and a quick lie-down afterwards.

    So at the risk of sounding like a real geek snob, I'm going to reserve judgment as to just how much this particular case in Germany "proves."

    We are dealing with 'something new' being brought into close contact with office workers and government agencies.

    Not the most representative of settings in which to draw too many broad 'real-world' conclusions.

    And I've also been around long enough - and been involved with Microsoft long enough - to know the kind of promises, veiled threats, arm-twisting, and financial incentives that get brought to bear anytime some major WinSheep shepherds try to lead their Master's flock away from the larger fold.

    So again, I'm going to have to reserve judgment until all the details come out.

    Assuming they ever do because...Hey! It's government we're dealing with here, right?  Wink

    Just my two... Cool Grin[/list]

    --------------------------------
    P.S.

    @f0dder-

    So, what took them so long? Wink

    C'mon, cut these guys some slack..

    Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with a plausible 'spin' story like that?   Winktongue
    « Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 11:46:30 AM by 40hz » Logged

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    f0dder
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    « Reply #9 on: February 21, 2011, 01:11:50 PM »

    Same goes for putting a longtime Mac user on a PC Windows machine, except they'll probably have to go home for a cup of valerian thé and a quick lie-down afterwards.
    There, ftfy - it's been a long time since mac hardware wasn't bog-standard PC :p

    And I've also been around long enough - and been involved with Microsoft long enough - to know the kind of promises, veiled threats, arm-twisting, and financial incentives that get brought to bear anytime some major WinSheep shepherds try to lead their Master's flock away from the larger fold.
    Yeah, and that was my first thought when I saw the article and noticed that no stats were given... then I realized that the project had been going on for 10 years - if it was mainly pressure/cash from Microsoft that made the germs run back to the fold, I don't expect it would've taken that long.

    So again, I'm going to have to reserve judgment until all the details come out.
    Me too, but I can't help thinking it's a bit funny, considering how loud the linux advocates usually yell about cash-saving and ease of use... (I'm also curious when we'll hear what went wrong with the London Stock Exchange, apparently they had some nasty problems after switching to a linux-based stack).
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    « Reply #10 on: February 21, 2011, 02:31:11 PM »

    Me too, but I can't help thinking it's a bit funny, considering how loud the linux advocates usually yell about cash-saving and ease of use...

    Oh I agree. It's a real riot since they were so cock sure about the savings claims they were making. Major platform changes always entail significant costs - even when there's no up-front software acquisition expense involved. Why some Linux advocates think it will be any different for NIX adopters is a mystery to me.

    I'm personally happy this thing went down. Periodically getting our collective ass handed to us is a good thing - if you're a genuine Linux advocate.

    If we can refute the arguments being made, it's a feather in our cap. If we can't, it gives us something to work towards. Either way it bodes well for Linux in the long run. Anything that doesn't kill GNU/Linux will only make it a better and more powerful computing platform.

    Besides, it keeps the discussion going - and it forces the NIX advocates to work harder - and not to start making the mistake of blindly believing their own claims where there's an absence of measurable and verifiable proof.

    That's Apple's stock in trade anyway. tongue

    « Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 02:45:29 PM by 40hz » Logged

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    zridling
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    « Reply #11 on: February 21, 2011, 04:56:50 PM »

    This is pure speculation, but reading between the lines it sounds like they were trying to run Win apps under Wine, thus the source of interoperability gripes. No mention of which distro, how old it was, which kernel, and which software they were having problems with, not to mention what they were doing with it. I presume a foreign office does mostly office work, database maintenance, and perhaps a very good address book? ha. The same presumption leads me to believe they're not using KDE 4.6.

    On the flip side, if their whole government is using Microsoft for everything, installing it in this agency isn't really going to cost anymore annually.
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    40hz
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    « Reply #12 on: February 21, 2011, 08:00:08 PM »

    reading between the lines it sounds like they were trying to run Win apps under Wine

    I hope that wasn't the case. Wine is a really sweet hack and a pretty cool 'science faire project.'

    But you're insane if you're using it in production for anything more than casual use unless you've done extensive pretesting with your target app(s).
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    40hz
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    « Reply #13 on: February 22, 2011, 12:00:06 AM »

    I'm also curious when we'll hear what went wrong with the London Stock Exchange, apparently they had some nasty problems after switching to a linux-based stack)

    Just found this news article. Sorry, but you'll have to link out to read it. I was going to quote a section, but their site's terms & conditions say they don't allow that.

    Supposedly the LSE is saying a very small number trading partners are experiencing minor delays that are caused by their own internal software interfacing to the LSE rather than it being a problem with Linux or the LSE's new trading platform itself.

    (Gotta watch those bloody APIs, Gentlemen!  Wink Grin)

    The official diagnosis by the LSE is that the affected trading partner's problems are largely "self-inflicted."

    Probably have to wait for a fuller and more detailed report once one becomes available.

    « Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 12:02:56 AM by 40hz » Logged

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