FOSS migration – Not so easy for India

January 20, 2007

Of late, there are lots of news about different states in India, seriously considering FOSS and ditching MS. Some of them are :

Well this may make up a good headline, but in practicality it is not so easy. Here are some of the reasons.

1. Cost of Training and management

The government employees need to be trained for using linux machines from the start. In addition to simple UI based training, they should also be taught to do some troubleshooting like what if X doesn’t start, Printer configuration, if network is not reachable.

Also, movement to linux requires a team of administrators to be present in each and every office to troubleshoot all the issues, that linux can present you from time to time.

2. Software development costs

Excepting few public sector departments like Regional Passport Office, public-sector banks, all others run application developed using Visual basic that can run only on windows. Are they going to ditch all these softwares and re-write something from the scratch in some language like Java or experiment with wine or something.

3. Not many linux-vendors

I can’t see many vendors supplying machines pre-loaded with linux. Also linux support right now is terrible.

4. Hardware drivers

Many offices still use dot-matrix printers made by Indian companies like TVS. I am sure, there are not much linux drivers available for those. We obviously can’t expect the government to churn out huge investment in buying latest laser printers.

In short, migration is not going to be easy.

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