[clug] Any Public Service organisations using Linix desktop and Open Office?

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Thu Jul 3 02:15:22 GMT 2008

Tomasz Ciolek wrote on 2/7/08 8:07 PM:
> On Wed, Jul 02, 2008 at 04:41:19PM +1000, Chris Wallis wrote:
>> I can say with out a doubt there is no Linux desktops in a Federal Public
>> Service environment due to the lack of desktop distributions that has been
>> certified under Common Criteria evaluation. (See


> I believe that the reason that there is no Linux penetration in the
> desktop space is because of the preception that: 
> a) it is immature and hard to support
> b) it is expensive to retrain staff to use new systems
> c) there is no vendor we can sue in case of disaster , hence higher
> risk.
> d) it is generally easier to not chnage things that 'we invested so much
> money in'
> e) linux is like Unix, its a server OS
> At least that my $0.05.

I don't disagree with your assessment.

I think there's another part to the answer [and there'll be others/more

 - the 'gatekeepers' to 'technology' (IT) are mostly Windows-only
 - the CIO b& CEO are in a "Cover Your Arse" situation
   - has to be blameless
   - for their career options, wants to make "risk-free" choices
 - the senior management knows of & is 'comfortable' with Microsoft
 - *everybody else* is doing it
 - management is more politics than science.

My observation is that IT is driven by Fad & Fashion. Over time most
evaporate, some get accepted. e.g. Java on Servers, SQL, C, ...

Here's how my little list fits together.

 - The "people who sign the cheques" (CIO, CEO) are risk-adverse, making
 'Brave Decisions' is anathema to them because it *could* damage their
careers. Even if they inherit a stable, functional & productive
environment (e.g. Mac), they will 'normalise' it (to MS) quickly. I've
seen this up-close-and-personal twice... It was *never* about money,
support, functionality or staffing. They could *not* be different.
[This goes to the criteria for advancement. In the PS it *isn't* about
spending wisely/effectively, capability or performance.]

 - All those CYA managers do the Lemmings' Rush - following each other
in the latest Fad/Fashion. They cannot be seen to be 'brave' or 'different'.

 - The IT gatekeepers reinforce the effect by only offering MS options -
it *is* what they know, and each little step forward to a perfect MS
world will mostly be (costed as) cheaper.

 - In a real sense, the average CIO can *only* use MS - because that's
*all* his staff know. Implementing alternatives means adding new people,
firing old and/or retraining. All fraught

 - For technical staff, different criteria apply. They've nailed their
colours to the MS mast - they have a huge psychological & learing
investment in Microsoft - and sense their career dependence on MS
continuing... Plus, MS is sooo complex & arcane, they get to feel like
experts/gurus most of the time when dealing with 'mere mortals'.

 - Universal Human Trait:
    We are all wary of What We Don't Know.
    It's much easier, safer, more-comfortable to go with what you know.


How are all of these marionettes going to react if Microsoft falls flat
on its face financially?

MS will have to make some deep cuts - could they possibly abandon .NET?
My best guess is: MS Being "In The News" will put the wind up a lot of
these 'play it safe' guys - and if they discern a new Fad, will *leap*
towards it.

If Windows & Office start to dramatically lose sales, how can MS
respond? More features? Cheaper? They have no options that will restore
sales when the global PC market peaks.

The only problem for FOSS/linux I see is that, like Paul's story at
Transact, those same risk-adverse managers will be hunting for a 'safe'
solution - which at the moment is shaping up to be Apple.

A big part of the problem is, I believe, that LNX is not on the stock
market. By which I mean, there isn't *one* Linux company - there is just
too much real thinking and (shock/horror) some actual decisions to be
made to adopt a linux platform.

But - it much easier to introduce FOSS apps into a POSIX world than a


I know there are many more valid points of view on this subject.
I'd love to hear more opinions - especially ones that knock holes in my
arguments :-)


Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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