[ubuntu-uk] Call to Ubuntu-UK Team to take account and action on this email

Fouad Riaz Bajwa bajwa at ubuntu.com
Tue Oct 17 21:02:31 BST 2006

Call to Ubuntu-UK Team 
>From Fouad Riaz Bajwa Ubuntu-Member & Ubuntu-pk Loco Team

This is an important call for action to the Ubuntu-UK team members; I would
like to direct you to this important Ubuntu activity and news **"East of
England FOSS in the VCS project"**. 

You guys must get ready to accelerate and support this activity. Ubuntu has
once again become the reason for a wave of positive change within the UK ICT
governance. Jono and I would suggest Ubuntu-UK to mobilize its team members,
contact Chris Bailey at the Social Rights and see how you can help out these
departments and their member voluntary organizations in the near future with
the availability of any possible voluntary services, training or technical
support, read below this line or visit the website http://foss.ciac.org.uk,
or organize a small meet-up with the department and organization IT heads to
discuss the report!

From: Chris Bailey <chrisbailey at socialrights.org> 
Results of Ubuntu Linux desktop tests by non-profits

As part of the East of England Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the
Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) project, funded by the UK government's
ChangeUp programme, 10 desktop computers using Ubuntu Linux were distributed
to non profit organisations in the East of England Region for testing and
evaluation. The resulting feedback by the organisations involved has now
been published online and is available on the project's website at

The East of England FOSS project was last week awarded the first "Open
Technology Gold Award for the VCS" by the national FOSS in the VCS project.
The award was presented by Nicola Thompson, Head of the National ICT Hub for
the VCS at the ICT Hub East of England Regional Conference.


DETAILS of East of England FOSS in the VCS project


Results of Ubuntu Linux desktop tests in the VCS Monday 16 October 2006 by
Chris Bailey 

Testing use of Linux on desktop computers

10 desktop computers using Ubuntu Linux were distributed to VCOs in the East
of England Region for testing and evaluation. 

The organisations were:

Fenland CVS
Ipswich CVS
West Norfolk CVS
Cambridge Independent Advice Centre
Voluntary Action Luton
Colchester MIND
Crossroads, Cottenham
Community and Voluntary Forum: Eastern Region (COVER) Cambridge Online Herts
Citizens Advice

A range of suitable FOSS programs were included:

Open Office - FOSS equivalent to Microsoft Office Evolution - FOSS
equivalent to Microsoft Outlook Firefox - FOSS equivalent to Internet
Explorer Scribus - Desktop publishing Project Planner - Project management
GnuCash - Finance


The organisations involved were invited to an initial session where they
were introduced to FOSS and Ubuntu Linux. They then all received a personal
training session at their own premises. After three months the organisations
were invited to submit an interim assessment of their use of the computers.
At the end of the project they were asked to fill in a questionnaire.

Assessment of results

Feedback from actual users was generally very positive regarding use of the
software. They found it intuitive and, with only occasional difficulties,
quickly adapted to its use. Many of them seemed very surprised at this and
at the range of good quality free software available. They had clearly been
influenced to believe this would not be the case, but soon overcome any such

Resistance to more general use of the software was however much stronger at
managerial and decision making level. There were a number of factors

* Strong resistance from some contracted technical support staff who saw it
as a threat to their entrenched monopoly position of using Microsoft
software. In at least two cases they put strong pressure on the
organisations involved to switch the computers to using Microsoft, making
clear that they would not supply any support for Linux and implying that
there were unstated dangers to mixing its use with Windows. This raised
fears with decision makers about being able to get longterm technical
support for Linux.

* Managerial staff often considered that they had invested so much money on
technical support and solving past problems that they felt that moves to
Linux would be a waste of the money already spent. Obviously people don't
change just for change sake and need good reasons to change to Linux from an
environment they have already heavily invested in. Linux desktop migration
is sometimes difficult when they have already heavily committed to a
Microsoft server environment, particularly if they are using Exchange

* To a certain extent these problems were compounded by our own initial
approach to the project. We had initially envisaged, and indeed were funded,
to only supplying 10 desktop Linux computers for testing FOSS on a stand
alone basis. However, when the training visits to premises took place it
immediately became obvious that everyone was expecting us to integrate the
computers fully into existing networks and work environments. Without this
they were not really prepared to test the computers properly. We therefore
had to carry out a lot of additional work not originally envisaged without
adequate funding and resources. This meant we had to draw a line somewhere
on how far we could go with integrating the computers into existing network
systems and gave a false impression concerning the full capabilities of

Despite these problems, in a number of cases managers were pleased to have
been made aware of FOSS as an alternative to proprietary software and said
they would certainly consider its use when making new major ICT investments
in future, providing the issue of good longterm technical support could be
dealt with.

Some conclusions

>From the experiences of the overall East of England FOSS in the VCS
not just the Linux on the desktop project, it is clear that FOSS use by the
VCS can be a viable and extremely cost effective alternative to proprietary
software. It could also eventually result in software solutions much better
adapted to VCS use than present proprietary "off the shelf" solutions that
are often aimed primarily at users in the business sector.

The rapid recent development of user friendly Graphical User Interfaces for
Linux distributions, particularly Ubuntu, have created products that can
quickly convince end users of Linux usability. However for FOSS to be able
to establish itself within the sector it will need to adopt a clear strategy
aimed primarily at decision makers:

* Concerns about longterm technical support have to be addressed. Much of
this will need to be done nationally through development of a Linux user
group dedicated to the VCS, training ICT circuit riders in Linux support, a
national VCS help desk and knowledge base for Linux, etc. Pressure needs to
be put on technical support suppliers to force them from entrenched
positions of only supporting Microsoft operating systems.

* Although there are clear parallels between the ethos of the VCS and the
Free Software community few VCS decision makers will decide to switch to
FOSS solely on ethical or political grounds. Cost is a much more viable
reason in their eyes and it is most effective when they are considering new
ICT investment. Management are open to the argument that they are not doing
their job properly if they are not considering the cost savings that arise
from using FOSS, other things being equal. This can be taken advantage of
initially through developing a number of very cost effective FOSS solutions
to key needs of the sector that involve little disruption of existing work
practices - use of Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird cross platform FOSS
programs, LAMP based CMS websites, Linux file server and backup systems,
suitable LAMP based groupware programs running on an internal Linux server,

* By proving the viability, stability, security and cost effectiveness of
even a relatively small initial number of FOSS solutions the conditions can
be created for convincing management to seriously think about moving more
widely to FOSS when it comes to times for considering major new ICT
investments, such as replacing old hardware, software upgrades, etc. This
present project represented an initial step in that direction.

References and Sources:

1. Source: http://foss.ciac.org.uk/article43.html

2. Interim assessments of using Ubuntu by participating organisations.

3. Herts Citizens Advice interim assessment. Longer interim assessment from
Herts Citizens Advice.

4. Voluntary Action Luton interim assessment. Longer interim assessment from
Voluntary Action Luton.

5. Questionnaire Replies. Questionnaire Replies from all 10 participating
organisations. http://foss.ciac.org.uk/IMG/doc/Questionnaire_replies.doc

Forwarded for information purposes by

Fouad Riaz Bajwa
FOSS Advocate

Forwarded for information purposes by
Fouad Riaz Bajwa
FOSS Advocate
Ubuntu Linux Pakistan Team


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