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Linux for the German Parliament

By Philipp in Technology
Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 08:57:16 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Some of you might have followed the discussion in the German parliament (Bundestag) to use Linux as operating system for their office computers ("Bundestux"). Today, finally, a decision was taken: Linux for Servers, Windows for desktops. Use your favorite Babelfish to translate the news.

Interesting arguments are made: The decision was not made over costs. The Linux on servers solution is even slightly more expensive (80,000 euros per year for a 9.4 mio euro budget), partly due to last minute discounts offered by Microsoft.

The compelling reasons seemed to have been the ability to gain independence from Microsoft and to have a stronger control on security.

Microsoft license policy demands updates to every of their latest releases to have cheaper license rates. A step that is not usually taken by large organizations, which like to skip versions.

But the debate concentrated mostly on security: both in terms of spyware and virus protection. Having the source code is seen as a clear advantage.

Some in the Parliament are pushing for Linux on desktops as well. This is mostly persued by the Green party and the Social Democrats. The Libertarians (FDP) warned against "ideological show fights" and voted against Linux. The Conservatives (CDU/CSU) were mixed, the former Communists (PDS) abstained.


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Linux for Business is good for
o nothing 5%
o server 33%
o desktop 0%
o ideology 14%
o all of the above 45%
o none if the above 0%

Votes: 68
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
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Linux for the German Parliament | 15 comments (14 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
An OT question (1.35 / 14) (#2)
by medham on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 05:49:23 PM EST

Do average Germans find "Kraut" offensive? How about "Jerry?" "Hun?" "Bloody Hun?"

Would the average German teen be more likely to fantasize about Peter "Otter Pike" Sloterdijk or Juergen "Mass Hops" Habermas?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

An OT answer (5.00 / 2) (#6)
by tantris on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 12:50:35 AM EST

They know that the term Kraut exists and would rate it between annoying and strange. ( It's like Germans calling Americans Ketchups instead of Amis). The other terms they would probably not even recognize as an insult.

The average German teen never heard about Habermas or Sloterdijk and probably fantasizes about either Pritney Sperms or his/her English teacher.

[ Parent ]
Now are you a hun? (1.00 / 4) (#7)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 01:26:01 AM EST

Because I found your comment informative. To prove it, I would like for you to translate the following into idiomatic German: "I've got womens in Vicksburg clean on into Tennessee/But my brown-skinned rider now harps all over me."

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Charlie Pattton? (N/T) (none / 0) (#8)
by Sawzall on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 12:43:14 PM EST

[ Parent ]
If security is the issue (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by jesterzog on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 06:17:01 PM EST

Could someone please comment on why linux so often seems to come up as the main alternative?

I'm just curious at the moment, because I would have thought that if something like security was the main issue -- and especially since it's only servers and not desktop that they're talking about -- would an alternative like OpenBSD ever be considered?

Is Linux easier or more convenient to implement in this situation, or is it because it's better known and more heavily promoted by all the distributions available, making it the more obvious alternative?

For the record to indicate where I'm coming from, I'm currently tied to 98 because of a couple of apps I have to run for someone else, but I've had various unix variants installed in the past and I'm interested in going back to them for everything in the medium term future.

jesterzog Fight the light

OpenBSD (5.00 / 3) (#4)
by klamath on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 07:35:20 PM EST

Could someone please comment on why linux so often seems to come up as the main alternative?
From my POV: high performance, stability, wide variety of high-quality server software, relatively large numbers of trained admins, commercial support, etc.
would an alternative like OpenBSD ever be considered?
IMHO, OpenBSD would be a bad choice. While it would be marginally more secure, the security of the default install is pretty meaningless for two reasons:
  1. A poorly administered box is insecure, whether it's running OpenBSD or anything else.
  2. Most of the security risks come from the non-OS services you're running. Security audits of the core OS are somewhat useful, but they're not perfect and only cover a very small percentage of the possible areas where a security hole could be found.
Plus, OpenBSD performs worse than Linux (particularly under heavy traffic or high-end situations: no SMP really limits it to quite low-end servers), has nonexistent commercial support, far fewer competent admins (in an HR's persons eyes, anyway -- I realize that a good UNIX admin can work with multiple flavours quite easily), has fewer applications (namely commercial stuff like Java and Oracle) and isn't as well tested in high-traffic, enterprise type situations.

Which doesn't mean that OpenBSD isn't a really cool OS. I'd be very likely to use it for, say, a NAT gateway, log server, admin/monitoring box, a low-traffic mail server, etc. But I'd say it's a bad choice in this situation

[ Parent ]

security is not the only issue (none / 0) (#5)
by tantris on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 12:38:38 AM EST

I guess you have a whole list of arguments, why OpenBSD is secure. But they all are technical arguments and none of them could be explained to a Computer illiterate politican. For them both Linux and AnyBSD ( I heared the word "Linux" before, but what's that BSE computer?) are considered geek and hacker systems. (geek=hacker=cracker) Nothing you would consider seriously as a secure alternative to an operative system developed by a big company like Microsoft.

The only reason Linux (and not FooBSD) has a chance is because it is pushed by IBM. I imagine it was like this:
Senator: What's the name of that IBM system again? Assistant: You mean Linux? It's not developed by IBM. Senator: But IBM and that other company are selling it. Assistant: IBM and Suse? They cooperate on this. Senator: Ja, like IBM and Microsoft back when IBM invented the computer. So, I guess that new IBM System has probably a big future and we could try it in a couple of years or so. How many PCs are running Windows and how many are running that IBM system?

- I admit, that's not true for the green party and the social democrats. But for the majority of the conservative party it is.

[ Parent ]
Not to bash... (none / 0) (#9)
by crumbz on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:45:14 PM EST

but the Germans are about halfway there...good for them.

[ Parent ]
Distro (none / 0) (#11)
by Curieus on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:10:06 AM EST

In this particular case, i'd be interested in the distribution they'd install. One "major" linux distributor is German. Suse is based in Nuernberg.
Is there a major xBSD distributer that is German?

As for another question: OSX wouldn't solve anything, it'd still be closed source. One of the more important arguments was security.

[ Parent ]
xBSD locations & OS X (none / 0) (#14)
by haflinger on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 07:32:00 PM EST

There are three main branches of *BSD. All of them come from the same original code, which was released by Berkeley and is consequently American. There are no distributions in the Linux sense. The reason is simple: the *BSDs are complete operating systems, like Solaris, AIX, etc. Linux is just a kernel. It needs other programs around it to make it useful (eg, cron, ifconfig, and so on). Thus, you have distributions, which take the Linux kernel and add on the Other Useful Things That An Operating System Needs. Anyway, the branches.

  • FreeBSD - probably the most international. However, the FreeBSD Foundation is in Boulder. They seem to be getting bandwidth from a provider in South Africa, according to my traceroutes, and Yahoo! as well. They have mirrors globally, but I think the majority of their developers are Silicon Valley. Certainly not German. There is, of course, a German mirror site for the Project. It's in English, although it gets its bandwidth from Tiscali.
  • OpenBSD - Canadian. Theo's in Vancouver IIRC. Not German. Not at all.
  • NetBSD - They're the closest in many ways to the original 4.3BSD-LITE release. However, the NetBSD Foundation is incorporated in the State of Delaware. They, too, like the FreeBSD people, are scattered: but the core group only includes one continental European, and he's Dutch.
Also, you'll notice a common, recurring phrase. Foundation. The *BSD world most operates non-profit. There are no Red Hat service contracts: you hire people to look after your *BSD box, and they download releases from the Foundation's servers. These are research foundations, btw.

Now, as for OS X. How about the desktop, boys? Apple should have been chomping at the bit on that contract. There's a major lost opportunity. Admittedly, they still have the closed-source problem, but that's much less of a problem in the client world, and they've got a significantly better security history than Microsoft does.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

how about apple? (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by jusx on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 07:06:37 AM EST

I wonder if OSX was even considered for the desktops.

India Arie says, "But I learned to love myself unconditionally, Because I am a queen"

Some background (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by isotopp on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 08:17:40 AM EST

Neither MacOS X nor *BSD were considered.

The Linux proposal was brought forward by SuSE Germany and IBM Germany teaming up.

No german politician could ever drive up in front of a conferrence or whatever in a car that wasn't manufactored in Germany, so it always comes down to Mercedes or BMW - and in the future perhaps the all-new luxury class from Volkswagen. It think it is only proper for them to chose a German linux distribution such as SuSE Linux. And I think it would be even better if they would chose an office package developed in Hamburg (Star Office is being developed by the former StarDiv developers located in Hamburg, now a subsidary of Sun Microsystems).

Not really surprising (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by RadiantMatrix on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:10:52 PM EST

This is an excellent descision, IMO. While I would love to see Linux on the Desktop more often, the reality is we're not quite there yet.

I'm glad to see that a government has the intelligence to hear the arguments for Linux, and I even understand why other alternatives weren't considered -- simply put, commercial backing. Linux has SuSE and IBM behind it -- and the Germans know that with large companies pushing an already-successful system, it will be around (and supported) for quite a while.

As far as desktop apps go, most of the good stuff for Linux (Star, Applix) is also available for Windows, but not vice-versa. Some pretty routine desktop operations (like scanning) are still less-than-simple on Linux, but supported by vendors for Windows. A hybrid desktop environment is certainly possible, but it's so much easier to stick with Windows for the Desktop right now.

Methinks once vendors start actively supporting thier hardware/software on Linux, we'll see broader corporate desktop adoption.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

Maybe here to. In Finland. :) (none / 0) (#15)
by danne on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 03:00:21 AM EST

I read today in www.helsinginsanomat.fi that the government has serious toughts about switching ~140000 computers to Linux. The savings would be ~27milj. EURO.

In a test 18 of 28 answered positively to a question if they could use free software based office tools instead of closed.

Reading from the end of the artickle they seem to also have some contract with Sun considering Open Office.

In finnish:


Linux for the German Parliament | 15 comments (14 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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