City Council Drops Open Source

An article on is reporting that the project to introduce Open Source Software to libraries in Birmingham has “failed”. The article claims that the project cost £534,710 just to get 200 PCs up and running the FREE software! How on earth can they justify spending that much? Apparently the original goal was to set up 1500 such PCs, however this “was a figure plucked from the air at the time.” Hmm… plucking figures from thin air? Now there’s a sign of good project management.

A commentator on the original article also provides further insight on the failure of the project:

1) A trial of 4 differently configured Linux desktops (Ubuntu-based) and one Sun Java Desktop machine was held at Birmingham’s central library in the summer 2005. A local research company was employed to measure the outcomes of the double-blind trial, specifcally which configuration was viewed as the best by participants. The Linux desktops took the top four spots with Sun’s Java Desktop coming in last. Unsurprisingly the report was never published. BCC are a major Sun client.

2) The Open Source community… was entirely excluded from the project after the initial trial. BCC IT’s department thought they could undertake the deployment themselves.

3) BCC selected an obsolete version of Suse Linux rather than the Ubuntu desktops that won the Library trial. They were unable to replicate the winning desktop configuration because the IT department accidentially erased it.

Stephen Booth wrote a couple of entries on this topic last year (well, regarding the trial that was held in the central library), so perhaps if he’s around here somewhere he can give us his insider’s point of view on the matter!

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