Migrating to Linux? Here’s How, Generally

I’m sure there are a lot of materials out there (I got lots of them) about the considerations and processes of giving up proprietary computing in favor of free and open source software (FOSS). But here’s promoting a great material, simple yet instructive.

Groklaw featured this migration guide on June 5, 2006. Cooked by Carlo Daffara, I’m serving the guide to you hot straight from the oven.

Intended for organizations seemingly trapped in ‘popular-ietary’ software system, the guide is titled “Guidelines on Migrating to Open Source/Open Data Standards Software.” Catch the full story on this site.

For the impatient, I’m giving below a preview of the guidelines.

Management Technical Social
  1. Be sure of management commitment to transition.
  2. Prepare a clear overview of what is expected from the migration, including measurable benchmarks.
  3. Make sure that the timetable is realistic.
  4. Review the current software/IT procurement and development procedure.
  5. Seek out advise or search information on similar transitions.
  6. Avoid “big switch” transition, and favour incremental migration.
  7. Assign at least a person to interacting with the OSS community or the OSS vendor, and try to find out online information sources.
  1. Understand the way OSS is developed.
  2. Create a simple survey of software and hardware that will be affected by the migration.
  3. Use the flexibility of FOSS to create local adaptations.
  4. There is much more software available than what is installed by default.
  5. In selecting packages, always favour stability over functionality.
  6. Design the workflow support infrastructure to reduce the number of “impedance mismatches”.
  7. Introduce a trouble ticket system.
  8. Compile and update a detailed migration workbook.
  1. Provide background information on OSS.
  2. Don’t force the change on the users, provide explanations.
  3. Use the migration as an occasion to improve users skill.
  4. Make it easy to experiment and learn.

The guidelines suggest that three sets of people are very important in the migration process: those deciding on which organizational resources may be used, those in charge of the technical stuff, and those using the computers for production purposes. Succeeding in two but one will render the migration process at best painful and at worst futile.

In my experience, convincing people (management and users) are not that difficult. The more daunting task is how to walk the talk, so to speak. So there may be a need to invest in few technical people to help management decide and the end-users enjoy the brave GNU world.

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