The government in the Swiss region of Solothurn has reportedly confirmed that it will turn to Windows 7 after hitting problems in a long-running desktop Linux migration project. According to third party Internet sources, the plan, whose origins go back as far as 2001, had been for the canton to have deployed Debian GNU/Linux distribution for desktop users, backed up by OpenOffice, the Scalix email system, Firefox and a number of KDE desktop applications.
This headline part of this has now been abandoned, says a German language site, and Windows 7 will become the standard desktop operating system for the canton’s government users, backed by Outlook for email.
A small but significant defeat for Linux or an example of poor management that can hit any IT project? The reported evidence points firmly to the latter, not least because an unspecified number of the open source and free software applications will still be retained. Microsoft's involvement in the change of heart is unknown.
The site reporting the news refers to resistance from a small percentage of the canton’s employees to the move and a campaign in the local Swiss press mocking the migration’s alleged failings, complete with untranslatable jokes about penguins.
There were also problems replacing some established applications with open source equivalents, unfortunate delays in timelines, culminating last summer with the resignation of IT chief and project manager, Kurt Bader.
Switzerland’s public sector is otherwise considered as a heartland of Linux use. Perhaps that is what will hurt the free and open source community the most in the latest news.