The more we invest together, the easier it becomes. German states can help Spanish states, and Finnish schools, Danish universities, and French businesses, etc. - collaboratively investing so that everyone benefits and Europe can build its own Tech industry and have some independence from the US.
This is absolutely critical to move away from the dominance of "Big Tech" to FOSS solutions that independent, small co-operatives can maintain together.
There were of course some technical problems as well, e.g. because a number of administrative tasks can only be performed using Excel 2003 with VBS macros enabled and stuff like that, as well as "technical problems", like "users can't install software themselves" (i.e. users don't have root on the clients).
Sure, Microsoft has a huge office in Munich, and they definitely applied political pressure, too (it'd be naive to assume they didn't). The project's stated goal was to be a showcase of how Linux can work in the public sector. But because of that goal, there was also massive political pressure the other way around.
The simple truth is that Microsoft's products were/are just far superior than what the Limux initiative shipped. The Linux transition caused massive productivity losses in the municipality's administration. It's easy to say that VBS macros are evil, but if you migrate away from them, you need to provide an alternative.
Simple things like a good calendar, working printing functionality, LOTS of basic stuff - it just felt like the IT was a decade behind. Here on HN, Windows continually gets roasted by how bad its UX is compared to Mac OS. With Limux vs Windows, the difference was practically 10x as large as that.
I REALLY hope the LibreOffice transition goes well. Hopefully, this is a much wiser approach than trying to migrate everything off Windows at once.
Some people may remember the hype over the One Laptop Per Child Project, which had a noble mission that many people could get behind. In 2011 I heard from someone at MIT who criticized aspects of the program such as no real planning for support when the devices broke down in the field. Other issues came out years later, including unrealistic cost estimates and the crank:
If you remember the OLPC at all, you probably remember the hand crank. It was OLPC’s most striking technological innovation — and it was pure vaporware. Designers dropped the feature almost immediately after Negroponte’s announcement, because the winding process put stress on the laptop’s body and demanded energy that kids in very poor areas couldn’t spare. Every OLPC computer shipped with a standard power adapter.
I used an Acer Aspire One when travelling through Germany as a student (to research jobs and conferences) - and it was amazing being able to program and write papers on such a small device.
Reading about the hardware issues reminds me a lot of the ZX Spectrum reviews (especially the keyboard!) - keeping a low price means a lot of compromises unfortunately.
R, JupyterNotebooks and LaTeX can be done without root.
Like in a legally-binding contract way or some hippie way hoping for the best?
for a more constructive reinforcement of what a "hippy way" might be, in business and government:
anti-rascist, that is actively inviting and communicating with others socially; inclusive generally; valuing cooperation; building and valuing talent for its own sake; bringing in arts to shared spaces; generally vegetarian; health proactive; tolerance of personal drug use including tobacco; deeply environmentalist; generally opposed to military-style administration; generally opposed to authoritarian governments; use of non-monetary trade goods; valuing education and definitely advanced education.
are these things "fail" in City Administration as the parent comment implies ? not necessarily
... ummmmmmm ... look in your username.
Seriously, your stack is running on hippies, top to bottom.
TOP TO BOTTOM.
May 2020 - Newly elected politicians in Munich take a U-turn and implement a plan to go back to the original plan of migrating to LiMux.
Furthermore, the French Gendermerie is using Linux at a similar scale, and there are no usability problems. If they can make it work, i don't think it's impossible for anyone else.
actually accenture's biggest partner is not microsoft, it's money. really, they would sell their employees souls for money.
our problem was: none of the tools we needed were available in the quality and richness as they exist today.
automatic deployment to hundred of PCs at the same time with extensive automatic configuration? session and configuration management per user?
departments want to use different backgrounds per house or subdepartment. all that stuff had to be built in a scalable way.
the solutions today were not available back then.
As to your first problem, the lack of software, yes, it was a huge problem then. What we had to use at that time was substandard. I personally suffered (even though I love Linux on the server). Also KDE was unstable and a memory hog, Gnome wasn't much better, and you couldn't just buy more RAM. I'm very happy these days are over.
Why not just use one of the avaible distros or why not even make a deal with SUSE (a bavarian company) to have a subscription model with support directly from experienced distro makers? Surely they could've made sure that all important features and workflows can be implemented.
Of course this would've needed to be a public bidding but if Red Hat gets it or SUSE does not really matter and surely is much cheaper than Microsoft licenses.
>if Red Hat gets it
If your goal is to run a proprietary OS you might as well stay with Windows. No reason to endorse outdated IBM enterprise crapware after they killed the only compatible distro that didn't require paying the IBM tax to test and develop software for it.
redhat might, but they borked it somehow as they said we would not be allowed to change anything or loose all support. at least that was what i heard.
and then there was supposedly the decision "we do not want any external company due to the bad experience with microsoft".
For the same reason there are hundreds of forks and counting: it is difficult to get the environment you want without rebuilding everything from scratch, and once you do that you have to maintain it.
One candidate was generally hated by the public and got fucked by the press with "creative photo editing", badly.
One candidate was poised to become the first green chancellor, but then managed to have not one, not two, but three case of academic fraud and lying about her past tacked to her ticket. Her party came in second.
One candidate was all about some nebulous idea of "freedom", which made him relevant enough that his party now is king maker, when the first-time voters, who traditionally would go to the Green Party, decided enough Covid Lockdowns is enough.
And one candidate did ... nothing. Absolutely nothing. Which means he also couldn't embarrass himself (even though historically, he's a ... problematic ... figure). This guy came in first, so he's going to be the next chancellor.
And that's just the candidates. Then you got the State of Berlin obviously unable to hold democratic elections, given
- there was a lack of ballots in many voting offices
- in some voting offices, there were ballots for other districts, which rendered those votes invalid
- they accidentally allowed 16-year-olds to vote in the federal elections (where you have to be 18 to vote)
- they accidentally gave a mandate to the wrong guy, who shared the same name, but not the same party affiliation with the actual winner
- some votes were cast after 18:00, which is the official cutoff date
- in some districts, there was a 150% participation rate
- some offices sent people waiting in line home because "it's unlikely you'll be in in time"
- ... I am sure I am missing a few catastrophes - a LOT went wrong in Berlin ...
It was hilarious to watch this mess unfold.
If anything that rings alert on my mind is the LO's Calc, which at times decides to become slow and consume the CPU for no apparent reason. Or equally annoying flacky interoprability betwen LO Writer and MS Office Word (works in general, but loses some alignment, magles styles etc.)
As much as I'm for LO and want them to succeed, I feel for the clerks dealing with these counter-productive issues.
I see this same shit with Excel all the time. It's fucking FULL of bugs that have just been around for so long, people just get used to it and work around it.
I mean, if you selected a group of 30 rows in Excel, then use CTRL to deselect one row in the middle... it doesn't deselect it, it "selects" the row again, so now it's just darker than all the other rows. Is this fixed yet? It was a bug in fucking Office 2016 and goes back years. Nobody said it wasn't ready for use!
It's such a fucking basic feature. To de-select a single row out of a group that is selected. It's the single most counter-productive thing ever. When I found this bug, I was blown away that nobody ever complained about it! I worked with thousands upon thousands of people with Excel and it was never a problem?!
Word doesn't even play nice with it's own files... ever moved a file from Office 2013 to Office 2016? I've seen it garble files a million times. Move a Word doc from Mac to Windows and shit gets hosed sometimes.
The clerks will get used to the issues. Just the same way that they got used to the hot fucking garbage that Microsoft charges enterprises and governments substantial amounts of money for, and provides precisely dick for support in return.
EDIT: I mean look at this shit! Apparently deselecting is a new concept to Microsoft!
Note: This feature is only available in Excel for Window if you have Office 2019, or if you have a Microsoft 365 subscription. If you are a Microsoft 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.
> “It's such a fucking basic feature. To de-select a single row out of a group that is selected. It's the single most counter-productive thing ever.”
Probably not as counter-productive as throwing away thousands of person-years of learned skill and experience because of some Linux fanaticism.
How is “it’s not as good but we can patch it until it’s equivalently buggy, people will get used to it” any compelling reason to change over?
How is “but but I hate microsoft” any compelling reason to change over?
And the techcommunity.microsoft thread from 2018 announcing deselect has people who used that “multi-click makes a cell darker” feature and are bothered that it’s gone.
> “Microsoft charges enterprises and governments substantial amounts of money for, and provides precisely dick for support in return.”
You mean like that feature you were crying out for and then found that they built? That kind of nothing?
Or like how Office 365 has collaborative editing and LibreOffice has a page saying it’s been in development since 2006 and isn’t ready and linking to an old mailing list post from 2020 talking about deprecating he API they had built for it, as the latest update?
Not sure what drives your experience, but I've been using LO (Linux based) continuously for the past 10 yrs. Still do. More so, tried to convert other users. I don't believe I'm the only one to stumble on some usability issues with LO.
Did I get used to dealing with the issues? Nope. This still annoys me every time, it's also a drag to interoperate with MS Office (no, it's not going away soon in this world). Other users? Well, most of my attempted converts now either pay the subscription or use the GSuite or ... stick to the older version of MS Office.
So I myself do want the LO to get better, but for the most of the failed "converts" it's a lost cause for now.
I worked at a place, folks had to go to the neighboring copy/print place to FAX themselves documents, because IT in its wisdom had locked down their machines and prohibited scanning docs (ie, they faxed to a virtual fax, then took those PDFs and sent them on).
I am convinced that part of the AWS appeal for many folks is to escape this "best practice" IT control that just results in no progress / ability to get work done. This was 10x during pandemic.
When IT hasn't yet gotten Zoom into default image, and you need Zoom or whatever to talk with others practically, so annoying.
But the idea is of course that the applications needed for work are all available in the company software catalog. When we locked this down we did extensive pilots.
As an EU company we have to certify each tool for privacy anyway and we can't allow unvalidated tools (and even worse: cloud services) for this reason. The fines are huge and we have a responsibility to our customers.
Personal machines are explicitly forbidden and not allowed on the network using 802.1x.
The admin rights prevent people from bypassing security controls. Such as disabling the proxy which checks for forbidden services for which we don't have a data processing agreement, like Dropbox.
I know it's not easy. But letting people do what they please is causing the kinds of data leaks we're seeing in the media almost every day.
I agree some things are a step too far and inevitably drive people into shadow IT but admin rights are pretty low hanging fruit these days.
And really, since we did this the company is still running :)
Main driver to want a Free Software system for public institutions is that it's a Free Software system, allowing for local companies to participate in development and fairly compete to only add on to the software, avoiding the entire provider lock-in.
Locking down admin rights is not just to lock down the OS but to ensure security restrictions aren't easily circumvented.
For the files we use AIP which protects against copying. You can't open those in a personal machine for example.
If i was in that situation I would just reformat the computer. Luckily I don’t have a company issued laptop. I gave it back because it was a Dell XPS aeroplane. I use my own laptop for work.
Outlook is a dumpster fire, and there are perfectly fine alternatives. Very few people actually need the full might of Excel, and you can always RemoteApp it to them, and have the rest use Libre Office. Or heck, provide them with actual tooling better fit for their requirements than Excel.
And in any case, IMHO, "public money, public code". Nothing should be paid for with public money without it being publicly accessible afterwards ( excluding weaponry of course).
How's the groupware situation on Linux? Mail, calendars, adding shared meeting rooms, etc.
Anymore I just keep Outlook web open in a web browser though. Not because Evolution is lacking, I just didn't really see the point in setting it up anymore.
KMail was actually financed for some time by the german gouvernment.
Then there's MS teams. I'd rather it just not run anywhere (die) instead of being a "good enough" solution bundled in to the suite. At least if it weren't there we could use something usable like slack instead.
This is one example of a real problem.
Linux desktops are great for professional Linux people and hard core enthusiasts. Once you try to take them out to non-technical people trying to do everyday tasks it's much harder.
I've driven numerous distros and keep running into UX problems masses will run into.
How do we get distros that can be good daily drivers for the masses? How do we get people interested in crafting those?
Heh, you might not like the answer.
There might be a ton of alternatives somewhere out there, but there's only 1 real thing that seems to work with the information we have so far.
So, what's the answer to these questions:
> Q: How do we get distros that can be good daily drivers for the masses? How do we get people interested in crafting those?
<<A. You pay them.>>
Desktop environment polishing work is technically boring work and a thankless job. It's grunge work. Only a minority of experienced devs will do it willingly for a long time.
THAT was their problem. before limux there was no permission management and everybody was admin.
On Linux this isn't typical. You usually need to be an admin to install deb or rpm. Things are changing but it's not fast.
You mean, the Unix way of "you run your software from wherever you want" needs admin for installing software, while Windows doesn't?
You can lock Linux down so that normal users can't replace almost the entire system on their sessions. This is possible. It is also usually a lot of work.
Having your core means of production and security essentially at the mercy of somebody else's support team seems kind of insane to me. I get the point in the 90s, when software was a smaller part of all institutions, but these days, it's just such a massive strategic disadvantage that even if the software is way better, it's still worse.
But that's exactly how big organizations handle most internal needs! They don't have mechanics on the payroll to repair company cars - they take out a lease with someone who handles all that for them. They don't employ cleaners, they contract it out to a service company.
That... that is exactly how factories operate. When something breaks, they call the manufacturer to bring someone in to fix it.
If every software supplier was like hilti when it came to support, I don't think there would be a problem - except, they aren't. An engineer from microsoft isn't going to turn up at your office if your computer won't switch on.
That depends entirely on the terms of your lease and service agreements. For high end equipment, like the CNC systems at my work, you may not even be given the option to purchase them, and they're so specialized you probably won't have someone that can competently work on them even if your service contact permitted it. Electronics manufacturers are also notorious for sanding off component info or burying components in epoxy blobs to hide information from competitors and customers alike.
I can see the closed-source approach working for really complicated subdomains (like a geometrical constraint solver) where you really can't fix it unless you're immersed in the relevant maths - but that's just not what most software is, or where most bugs lie.
Another thing is, how many of the machines in any given factory are that specialized? My dad works in a factory with a bunch of different machines, and only in a couple of cases would it make sense to call an engineer if they broke down, because most of the machines are pretty straightforward. Is that just warping my expectations?
Ha! Funny you should bring that up. CAD is one of the reasons why I don't run Linux as my daily driver and I just don't see the current projects ever catching up with companies like Dassault or Autodesk thanks to the size of their teams. Overall I think I agree with your assessment, there's nothing that special in most software that most people or companies need, but wow does it suck when you're not most people.
As for specialized equipment...if you're making boutique soap, the equipment is specialized but not terribly special, so you can and probably will work on it yourself or contract with a local service company rather than getting a factory tech for every little thing, but if you're cranking out high precision parts it's pretty standard for a tech to hop on a plane at a moment's notice to get your equipment running again because it's usually cheaper to do that with an expert than to suffer extended downtime. I couldn't say what the exact breakdown is of total machines in the US that falls into the two categories, but the more precise and automated it is the less likely you are to own or work on it.
It feels like a lot of closed-source software is like that. They have a few core components that are simply gorgeous, then over them, they just tack an inordinate amount of trash.
Stuff like geometry libraries, math libraries, etc are just so universally applicable that it makes sense to treat them like infrastructure. Treating them like secret sauce is such a waste.
As always: it depends. An automotive factory may have highly computerized systems in the hundreds for a dozen or so employees.
Or you may have mostly simple machines entirely serviceable by the factory personnel.
And anything in between.
Admittedly some work is non collab but more and more of that gets pushed to SaaS.
Also from my own enterprise experience, Office 365 cloud has still got a long way to go.
Switching is always painful and will result in some troubles. So keeping it at a minimum is a good idea.
Linux and OpenOffice. I think one of the major concerns at the time was that OpenOffice didn't work well with all the Excel and Word documents they needed to open, so people opted out and installed Windows instead. To the regular office worker, it didn't matter much if the computer ran Linux or Windows, as long as it worked.
To the IT admin, it might have been more work to administer thousands of Linux machines, due to the slightly less mature environment.
No, it was reversed for political reasons. The majority of users were happy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiMux
> It got rolled back after they elected [a] mayor who got Microsoft to move their German headquarters to Munich.
It always baffles me how we tech people lose sight of a product's quality and usability the moment it's a FOSS product. We feature new products here on HN everyday, which is "like X but better", and it gets lots of upvotes in the style of "OMG finally someone builds something better".
But then you have a FOSS initiative, and because of FOSS, we turn two blind eyes?
People in an administration don't care about FOSS or not FOSS. And they shouldn't. Their job is to solve other problems. IT and software is there to serve the administration. If, as a user, I can't get my actual job done, or only with much more hassle than before, then that's all that matters.
If we want FOSS to succeed in administrations, we have to put the same product hat on that we wear when we look at all the other software showcased here on HN. And Limux (that was the project's name) just brutally failed here.
Yes, but the failure was basically manufactured. You cannot keep every process as it was before and just install Linux/libre office, yet that is what they did.
Their current processes are optimized for windows to a degree that usage of the Microsoft office suite is part of the training they undergo.
Switching at this point would be a multi-year process that cannot be rushed. Each task needs to be evaluated separately and a new solution has to be tested and likely engineered from the ground up.
Isn't it just regular office software? What processes do you have for dealing with spreadsheets and text documents?
And fun fact: now 4 Years later, after the reigning political party has changed, they are switching back to Open Source and probably Linux.
Perhaps they weren't used to non-GUI automation.
Yes, that seems to be the plan. Literally the first paragraph says
> and the Windows operating system is to be replaced by GNU/Linux
I’m willing to speculate office workers won’t care. More and more people will have smartphone as the only personal computer. So it won’t be about them not wanting to use Linux at work because they run Windows at home.
5) lack of userland backwards compatibility
6) poor commercial application support...
Which might explain why India supposedly had the largest Linux user base then(Might still hold true).
Then Bill Gates made a deal with the Govt, Everything became Windows. Nadella made a even bigger deal, Everything became Azure.
P.S. Certain states in India e.g. Kerala could still be using FOSS in Govt. officers, but I'm not certain.
It literally says they are going to switch to Linux in the first paragraph.
Linux has quite improved from the early KDE 4 days. These days, you install Linux Mint with Cinnamon and you are good to go. Super easy to use and just works. It is based on Ubuntu, so you can use all the packages but with the bad stuff and experiments removed.
Modern Windows is absolutely dystopian in comparison. Not being happy with getting money from licenses, they try to gather all the data about you that they can and try to shove their other services into your face. And then the whole update story. Not only do you need to restart the computer, you can't even do anything else while it is updating and it is taking its time.
Plus every damn Windows Computer in every school, university or whatever has always been maddening slow. (Yeah, I know it all depends on the specs and how it is configured and if you are running some silly antivirus and so on but still. Install Linux and you get a fast and responsive experience and it stays that way.)
Honestly I don't see any reason to run Windows instead of Linux in 2021 except maybe running very specific software that does not run well on Wine.
But for me, Linux doesn't work. Or maybe it works 90%. Something's always broken, and a different thing is broken with each update. It requires constant tinkering.
One flawless and amazing experience I had was working on Linux at a medium-sized tech firm, which had a dedicated sysadmin team who knew what they were doing. As a decent Linux user I could never maintain anything like that level of service on personal machines.
I think it's quite telling that so few vendors sell you hardware+Linux+promise of it all working well. There are quite a few who will sell you hardware and pinky promise you can install Linux on it yourself, but that's not the same.
It depends on the machines.
I'm biased towards Linux. I also really like Macs.
I've had Linux machines that just works. Buuuuut, before getting my hands on those machines I researched online and ensured that Linux works well on those. In my personal experience, Dell (Inspiron/Vostro/Latitude/XPS) and some ThinkPads usually work fine.
On such machines, everything works out of the box. I've had to do nothing special on those machines to make anything work. Things worked right from the first install.
Now, there are definitely plenty of machines out there where Linux DOES NOT work well out of the box.
So, I guess Windows gets a brownie point for that — you don't have to investigate upfront if Windows is going you work on a given consumer machine; it probably works on more consumer computers than Linux. (However, there's more to it than this if you think about how this situation came about; I don't want to open that can of worms here).
My hope is that, if enough people choose to run Linux, then manufacturers might be incentivised to support Linux better so that even more people would choose Linux, and so on.
I refuse to run Windows because:
• I honestly just really like Linux, BSD, and unixy environments.
• Windows had a clunky developer experience the last time I tried it (a decade ago); I hear it has improved, but frankly I don't care.
• Statements like "Linux is cancer" from you-know-who never sat well with me. I suspect they're still evil.
I also refrain from running Cinnamon because that reminds me of Windows from long long ago, and I'd rather not be reminded of Windows.
Having said all that, I think LibreOffice is inferior to MS Office. It was the one Microsoft product that I actually liked.
Serious question because my experience is that I install Linux Mint and everything just works. Updates never break anything. Why should they?
The only arguable pain point is maybe graphics drivers but honestly installing proprietary ones is just a few clicks these days. Plus you don't need them for office work anyway. (Maybe also some power saving features on certain lesser known laptops? As a ThinkPad user I always enjoyed great support.)
If you’re using a Thinkpad, you’re well of. Try a cheaper machine, and be surprised by exciting tinkering opportunities like fast battery drainage, issues connecting external displays, external printers not being recognised, or Bluetooth speakers not playing audio.
We can fix it, my mom cannot.
Why would an employee that wasn't part of IT procurement ever be thinking about that? If you're telling me that it's impossible to hire a single person for procurement who can figure out whether your machines will run on the OS your organization has chosen, I'm going to insist that's not true.
> I’ve never had a Linux box that didn’t require me to open a terminal to fix something after a while.
I'm going to make the guess that you never run a stable distribution for your own personal desktop, like Debian stable, for example. For some reason, most individuals pretend to need a bleeding edge desktop. Organizations don't. Debian Stable is as fragile as a mountain.
Neither of these are good options.
That said, the exception is a browser, where I would prefer to use the upstream version for security reasons.
Honestly, anything that a developer has pushed. Sometimes I want an SVN build of DOSBox or need a bleeding edge feature of some tool I use all the time. On Windows, this is simply a matter of downloading a binary, but by and large Linux software doesn't work that way. Distros expect that you will use whatever version of a package they have seen fit to grace you with, or you compile from source like it is 1975.
It is not unreasonable or unrealistic to ask for a stable platform upon which one can run bleeding edge applications, yet this remains painful on Linux Desktop.
For the few cases were you need bleeding edge you can just download and run it just like on Windows. For most applications bleeding edge is really not necessary and you can just normally install via package manager.
Though I don't think the situation is that bleak. Any popular application where user have a reasonable interest in having the latest version should have some way to ship it on Linux?
Thinking about what I personally use, blender just has a tarball, no trouble, VS Codium, Godot, Unity, Love2d all have AppImages, the IntelliJ IDEs can be installed via snap. Browsers are handled by package manager. Most of my dev stuff is running on docker anyway.
Yes, it is a bit of a mess with all the different ways to ship binaries but I can't think of something I am painfully missing. I don't care about having the newest version for most apps though so maybe I am more easily pleased.
The IT department selects appropriate configurations that support the software they need. My university has no problem supporting a Linux laptop and desktop, and Germany's administration would be doing something similar.
There are many pages telling you how to debug a touchpad. I tried various incantations of installing, reinstalling, uninstalling drivers, one set or another. I ran some special commands to capture messages coming out of the touchpad - showing it actually, at some level, worked. Just didn't move the mouse. Nothing helped.
That it's even a thing to debug a touchpad is precisely what's "wrong" with Linux. Windows, crapware that it is, for me had never this kind of 1->0 failures. It's just all meh.
I dual booted a laptop Ubuntu/Windows for a while. And if a closed down Windows with the power cable connected then the NVidia card would not work in Ubuntu.
The touch pad probably need some magic numbers to reset some state.
As one recent example. For me MS works much better than Ubuntu on a day to day basis. I would much prefer a Linux, but I want one that gets out of the way and allows me to do work instead of hand hold it.
Things just break with updates, or sometimes do not work. I'm on Ubuntu 20 right now and Firefox can't detect the microphone on some websites like FB or instagram, but works just fine on Chrome. On my home computer running Arch and similar setup Firefox detects the mic just fine.
It's brittle, it feels like it's duct tapes all the way down and the breakage is mostly because not many foss projects really care about backwards compatibility.
However, on topic, the awful mess that is the Linux desktop experience does not matter since we're talking about public servants and not home use.
Honestly at least relative to the general mood of the software industry I wouldn't say that foss projects don't care about backwards compatibility. The kernel is famous for caring a lot about it. The Debian project is quite known for being relatively conservative. Unfortunately Ubuntu is known for experimenting on its users but thank god nobody is forced to use that.
Browsers have supported video calls for years now. Heck there are plenty of Show HN posts about the latest in browser virtual chat rooms with full video and audio.
I don't see the issue, yes Teams is crap in Browser but most WebRTC based solutions work fine, at least in Chrome. Plus if I can avoid installing proprietary Software that is always a plus.
This story is told since early days of Ubuntu. Reality still is not like that. As always, it strongly depends on what you do and what not. I'm using Linux as my main driver for 25 years, but still have a windows-install for certain tasks like gaming and certain hardware&software. And overall I consider the user-friendliness of windows still higher than linux. From my experience, casual task are working far better with windows out of the box than they do with linux. Though, this is of course not so much true for cases of heavy modification, as we have them in companies. In that case Linux seems to be overall better.
> Linux has quite improved from X. These days, you install Y and you are good to go. Super easy to use and just works. It is based on Z, so you can use all the packages but with the bad stuff and experiments removed.
People have been saying this since literally forever. Just replace X, Y and Z with whatever's in vogue right now. I've been through enough forum threads and chats all the way back to when forums were still a thing and IRC dominated the chat space. It's always the same "it's different this time around". No it's not, the Linux desktop has structural issues that will never be solved because of its decentralized and throw away nature.
I'm not saying this is a reason to pick Windows though, your gripes with Windows are valid too, but a Linux desktop to solve Window's problems doesn't seem like a solution to me.
The problems the LTT videos are pointing out are problems that office workers don't need to deal with. They don't need to deal with package management, drivers or games. They need a browser, a home directory and an office suite. The LTT videos struggle with the obvious problems, most of which come down to very specific use cases (say, video streaming) and compatibility stuff (getting things developed for Windows, mostly games, to work). Also note that while Linus has been having tons of issues, his counterpart Luke has mostly been encountering minor annoyances.
I think the Linux desktop is great for a) advanced users and b) beginners that only do basic home and office work. The pain comes when you need to do moderately advanced stuff like automations, system configurations and obscure tools that few other people are using, or that aren't designed to run on that platform. In those circumstances, the community will direct you to the command line more often than not, and those users don't have the experience (or even the need, normally) to use it.
In a recent podcast the LTT folks said they were considering doing an episode approaching Windows from the same standpoint as Linux. Getting some basic stuff working on Windows (or macOS, for that matter) can be as much of a pain as getting it done on Linux, but we've been teaching kids how to use those systems for decades now.
The LTT video hit one specific packaging bug in PopOS that was present for only an hour, and was unfortunate. But to judge so much on that is unreasonable, shit happens in software engineering, it'd be like trying to use Facebook in the window where it was down and concluding that Facebook is completely unreliable.
I'm not a PopOS user myself, but I have a lot of respect for everything they've achieved. It's not fair to constantly attack them for this one incident.
It's not just that. There are a whole lot more issues that were explained in the WAN show episodes, for example not being able to drag and drop between a GTK and QT app. As a technical user I understand why this happens but am frustrated that this issue exists in the first place as there is also no technical reason why it can't be fixed. As a new user or someone not technically inclined it must be completely mind boggling to have to find out the hard way that certain things don't work between certain apps.
The PopOS install ISO was made during when the packaging bug was occurring. and remained up for months. They finally replaced it after the Linus Tech Tips video came out. Anyone who installed Steam without first updating the system broke their install.
I used to run Ubuntu back in the day if that helps.
I'm curious to get a sense of how much has changed.
It takes a little bit of set-up / learning at the start. But you can easily try it out with a tool like ALMA - https://github.com/r-darwish/alma
See my preset files here - https://github.com/jamesmcm/arch-i3-usb
But PopOS is probably the closest to the previous beginner Ubuntu experience now.
While breaking has become relatively rare on Arch, it's simply easier to set up a stable environment without having to keep a close eye on updates with Tumbleweed.
fixed it for you ;)
Still I do some work on Linux Desktop. For example I am using Linux Desktop and Lazarus / Freepascal Combo to develop Linux Desktop GUI applications.
From my experience go with majors - Ubuntu and Mint. My reason for it is that those have most answers on Internet when doing search. Easiest to find packages for as well. Every time I tried something more exotic I was stopped by having to deal with the different package management and way more hassles to find up to date software packages I need or trying to build from sources. I am sure the "experts" could solve it but I have better things to do with my life and am not willing to learn some not really exciting stuff just for the kick of it.
In my way of seeing it, there are 2 main classes of distribution at the moment:
1) Rolling update distros like Arch.
2) Distributions which offer "releases" some of which are long-term ones that don't change much except for security fixes e.g. Ubuntu.
I love the rolling distributions like ARCH and its derivatives because I hate having to do the once-every-2-years "big upgrade" that you get if you want to have a modern linux.
You pay for that with the potential for slightly more breakage from time to time (that is usually quickly fixed).
This suits my personality perfectly but you might just want a safe drive and you'd choose one of the Ubuntu-derivates and download the Long Term Support release. You could be experimental within containers or virtual machines and benefit from having a more robust host.
I wouldn't waste time on Fedora - it's not too stable AND releases age quickly so I found it a pain to deal with.
Main reason is that searching for sulutions in the web is much better for distros with a big user-base. Additionally understanding the trade-offs of different distros is very hard if you are not already in the ecosystem, hence just go with something to get your foot in the door and don't sweat it.
Once you experience the papercuts and you get comfortable with them you can go into more advanced distros like Arch (derivatives e.g. Manjaro), Fedora Silverblue (what I currently use), etc.
If you can get a friend to help you go with the installation process, that 'll be very useful.
P.S. my TLDR suggestion would be to go with vanilla Fedora and use flatpaks for proprietary apps like steam/zoom/etc.
Need to perform an update on the fleet? Click a couple buttons to version a repo to dev, old dev to test, test to prod, schedule a remote execution of `yum update -y`, wait. None of this will it won't it work song and dance of Windows updates.
Need to perform a config change? Branch the ansible playbook repo, test your changes, merge to master, pull down repo on foreman, and schedule playbook execution.
No bullshit, all text files, all standard protocols. It just works as I would hope Windows would.
Don't forget that LTT is has two things that are not relevant for administration work: they try to game (which heavily influences their OS choice) and they need to figure out everything themselves. These cities can offer curated packages, the user does not have to figure out which package to use for what, the IT team provides them.
With those two things in mind, the LTT story shows exactly that this can actually work, provided there is support for the rough edges. Windows also has rough edges by the way.
I watched it, they failed to install Steam (the game platform) on Pop!_OS via the package manager, then tried to remove it. A bug also caused apt to remove the entire desktop shell (with 3 separate warnings to NOT DO THIS), and Linus happily typed "Yes, do as I say!" and broke the desktop env.
I felt like I could tell they were building it for actual users. There were things like the corner pixels activating logout, so you could just drag your mouse straight to the corner of the screen.
It also ran well on old hardware.
Ubuntu moving to the Gnome interface again was a step back in my opinion, but it shows what can be done if there is a business with a clear vision.
So you'll end-up having devs on the payroll instead of license fees.
Also, you'll need to compete with the US for the best devs to work on your platform now that you are effectively building a competitor.
Is there something more simple than the Gnome GUI that ships by default with Ubuntu? I've been playing with Gnome/KDE since the late 90's and they still are behind IMHO. Is there something more like iOS-simplicity for Linux distros? That would be key.
Did you even read the article?
AFAICT it really is the attitude pushing so much innovation out of the EU and not the legal environment much less the competition. The newer members like Hungary and Romania seem to have a lot less of this problem (but more of other problems like stable business environment and predictable rule of law).
If it becomes common, people just accept the minor incompatibility and move on. It will also get better as funds and attention flow to these projects.
As far as I'm concerned, LibreOffice lacks no features I would remotely consider using.
It's like when Windows was the sole mainstream OS, it wasn't an excuse "oh but I'm on Mac and can't run this". Now Macs are mainstream, and Linux is not, it's still in a "weird nerdy" corner. But not so if it just gets more widely used (it's happening, just slowly).
If LibreOffice becomes more popular people will receive an odt document, MS Office will format it funny and it will be their fault for using weird software.
Yup. I use it all the time just fine, and set the default format to .XLS and .DOC (not the X versions which are bogus MS bastardizations of XML anyway) and I've had no interchange problems.
Over the last decade or so, I occasionally see some Excel feature that might be switch-over-worthy, but then the whole MS setup is so much of a hassle I don't bother — NO I'm not interested in a monthly subscription, NO I'm not interested in online-only or Online-First, HELL NO I'm not interested in a Microsoft Account — I just want a package I can install locally and run when needed.
Then, the next version, LibreOffice has that feature.
So, great move by Schleswig-Holstein and also very strategic - right to repair, right to not be held over a barrel by a monopoly, etc..
Let's hope it catches on.
(And now that I'm writing about this, I realize I haven't sent LibreOffice a donation in too long, so I'm off to do that now...)
I don't like the proprietary nature of OOXML formats either, but why are the older formats like .xls and .doc better than them? At least I can unzip a .docx file to extract the media and get the text and formatting in a machine-readable structure, all without the help of an office suite at all.
But the funny thing is that Libreoffice has better compatibility with documents composed with older versions of Word than newer versions of Office do. When MS Office loads up an old MS Office document badly, people gripe about Microsoft. When Libreoffice loads an old MS Office document badly, people gripe about whoever made the decision to install Libreoffice.
That right there is EXACTLY the problem with LibreOffice. You see no problem with it. Other programmers see no problem with it. Programmers convert their grandmother to using it and their grandmother doesn't even notice. Success! Right? Wrong.
It's missing a lot. Just not the things a programmer would notice.
Here's a simple example:
I have a document with multiple languages in it. Sometimes multiple languages in the same sentence (it's a guidebook for translating between two languages). When I open it in Word, it detects where one language starts and another ends. It provides spell-checking for both languages automatically.
LibreOffice? I had to dig through the config panels to enable this feature, and even then, it was on a global basis. Not per-document. If I type a word in language B into some random document now, but it's really a word in language A with a typo, now LibreOffice will silently accept it. Maddening.
Microsoft office does more. If I were to produce a book with proper front matter and index, glued together from multiple chapter documents, I would choose Word. But Microsoft Office does not work collaboratively as well as Google Apps, which were born cloud-based. Microsoft Office is laggy and fails completely with large numbers of collaborators (i.e. 20+ simultaneous editors). But these use cases are for 2% of users.
Like when I worked at an MPI in Germany, all the machines used Ubuntu. In Catalonia, most of the universities also use Ubuntu. The Ayuntamiento uses LibreOffice (and maybe also Ubuntu in some parts) - and for the most part, it all just works. It was the same in Zaragoza too.
You only notice it when they accidentally send a .odt file to someone who is only using Windows for example.
So while it might not be a pure "MS tax" anymore, in a way there still is a corporate monopoly tax.
You want valid alternatives to keep the products offered competitive, and the competitors honest, as entrenched monopolies are rarely conductive to innovation and often extremely opposed to consumer interests.
What do you mean by this? Companies choosing the best option rather than the cheapest option is perfectly compatible with a free market. MS Office has been designed for decades to be easy to manage and support and has plenty of training resources available. LibreOffice still has plenty of rough edges in those areas. As an individual user, maybe those are worth overlooking for you. At the scale of a company where time is money, it's much more important to get something reliable.
Also, an unregulated free market always turns into a monopoly (or at best an oligopoly) eventually. It's been shown time and time again.
Free doesn't mean unregulated.
In my personal opinion OpenOffice is not a suitable alternative.
I still let MS suck money with Office365 due to great grammar and spell checking (in multiple languages),
A set of features I use a lot that are not available
in the competition,
A couple of useful add ins/integratioF
Full compatibility with other Office365 victims.
Plus, a huge set of templates are available for free or for purchase.
Corel Word Perfect Suite
WPS Office Suite
Quite a few people I know switched to WPS Office Suite when Microsoft demanded subscription fees.
It seems ok for most things.
Much easier for people to adopt coming from Office than Open Office.
The Apple Office Apps
Softwaker Free Office (German)
1) Some orgs are stuck with older LO versions
2) veresions that aren't good enough, MS marketing team probably doesn't have to make a lot of efforts to entice organizations to pay for their stuff. For instance Writer custom fields UI is way too hard to use (to the point i'm not sure it's not a bug). You can't make people work with that no matter how trained they are.
The whole office suite just feels so janky/stutter-y/not-smooth. Its like there are fps drops or slight pauses before many actions. It is quite irritating. Also on a hidpi/4k display, many things still do not scale properly.
Yeah, until the Ms sales guys wine and dine some German politicians and promise to build a new campus in $BIG_CITY that creates ## jobs, then they suddenly decide to renew their windows and office licenses instead. Rinse and repeat.
Either way, it's what people are used to, and changing everyone's well established memory will be very difficult and expensive.
The only reason people are used to it is because MS has spend decades, and plenty of money, getting their foot into pretty much every IT education of relevance.
Free student/teacher versions are just one example of that, which then leads to MS products being everywhere, and consequently MS products are what most people get taught on in most educational settings.
This doesn't just apply to Office software, it applies to whole operating systems and is what keeps the MS monopoly entrenched to this day.
This is the same argument that people have used for the last 20 years of "this year is the year for Linux on the Desktop!". I don't think it was true then or now. People that use Linux consciously, or unconsciously, build/buy systems that work with Linux. I've tried many times in the past but gave up and moved to OS X after getting tired of fiddling with wifi, sleep/wake, trackpad, graphics switching, and battery life problems. If I'm going to buy a system for an OS, I might as well optimize the integration by buying an integrated system/OS. I suppose you could claim those are the fault of MS popularity, but I claim it's the result of volunteers not having financial incentive to add support for the random hardware that was in my computer.
I was used to Windows, but I'm not using Linux only because I didn't buy a system for it.
It was true back then and remains true to this day even with smartdevices taking over and slowly pushing desktops out of the educaton sector.
Anybody who grew up since the 80s and had some kind of "IT related" education in school, most likely got said education on MS systems with MS software.
In Germany having "MS office knowledge" is considered the absolute basic for any office/admin job no matter how unqualified. People expect you to know your way around Word, Excel and Powerpoint because that's the software that's taught in schools and forced occupational trainings even at the lowest levels.
At the higher levels you often gonna need a long list MS training certifications to even be considered taken seriously.
It's particularly the entrenchment in the education sector that makes it near impossible to change anything about this. People are getting "primed" on MS in school like children are getting primed into religions by their parents; There is pretty much no choice involved for them.
I have many tech friends that gave up on Linux and moved to OS X. I would claim these moves are unrelated to Microsoft.
Edit: I don't get the downvote. Last week I spent 10 minutes of a meeting waiting for the presenter to apply some fix to his LibreOffice presentation because font kerning and sizes were corrupt in the full screen view.
I would love to ditch MS completely and use LibreOffice for all my work, but it has its weak spots.
Believe it or not, many German teachers have started using digital technology for real only in 2020, when the pandemic first hit. They are now totally entrenched with the Microsoft way of doing things. They know all the MS quirks and how to navigate around them.
Free software alternatives to MS products have different quirks that will need different workarounds.
Also, some action must be taken about MS behavior. They are the same company they were in the 90's. It is easy to find commit messages in LO explaining things like 'this is what MSO does but not what the specification says'. They recently change the algorithm the justifies text in MSO and it is not explained in the specification. So, even a simple text file without any especial formatting may not be viewed correctly with anything but MSO.
This is ridiculous. The use of such a format should be forbidden for governments. ISO shouldn't have ratified it.
I've been testing it on my notebook and its compatibility with OOXML is much better than LO. Of course, harder cases break on both. So, even combining both, something I've tried to do, is not enough to achieve good compatility with MSO.
But apparently, people in Germany are looking for software based on attributes that reach beyond the elemental metrics like "nice to use" or "supports corporate integration".
They might care more about the ability to audit the software's behavior and to easily make changes where necessary. They might also like to contribute patches back to the original LibreOffice community because they know that they themselves will benefit from more people reviewing their work and making it better as a result.
While I have no illusions about Microsoft's business model and motives, the truth is that "it just works" and makes collaboration very easy.
Create a team in Teams, add a document which everyone can edit (if needed at the same time), click a button, share it with someone outside the team, have a meeting with them, click a button, save the meeting video to OneDrive, click one more button and you're collaborating on a whiteboard. And all this works fully synchronized on my phone too.
As far as I can see (from their terrible website) LibreOffice does not offer this at all. Maybe Germany, known for being "digitally outdated" by 5-10 years, will suffer no consequences from that and their basic workflow is still "type document - print it - sign it - fax it". But it will be a sad day for my productivity when I am forced to switch to LibreOffice.
My org does that too for different reasons for years now. It just works is a lie. We also have a lot Apple devices for all our external employees. That doesn't 'just' work as well.
Sadly I have to deal with SharePoint integration which a lot of MS services are based on. Digitally outdated has a complete new dimensions here, even if you add half baked services like Flow on top of it. There are far more modern alternatives than what MS brings to the table, there are countless alternatives that are better to control and easier to adapt.
You could use teams on Linux and while the office integration is nice, it isn't essential at all. This "collaboration" in the MS cloud is a nightmare to archive or access and some of the APIs are in a beta phase. We killed our fax a long time ago...
And what would the patches be for? What use-cases do they have that are so unique that they need custom software?
If it's software integration, MS is hard to beat. It comes at the price of total dependence.
If it's about freedom then going full open source is great. But the cost in efficiency is huge, since the OSS alternatives will never be as streamlined as MS's stuff. not having to spend money on licenses is great but a lot of extra footwork will be required to get the job done.
I really would like them to succed, we really need a real MS Office competitor, but it's very hard, MS can be a powerful opponent
Over 15 years you would be paying 1260$(paid 7 per month) for the office. 119$ for windows.
FOSS community needs to gather up on this.