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City of Munich offers Ubuntu OS to its Windows XP employees

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September 17, 2013

City of Munich employees using Windows XP are now being offered free upgrades to the open-source Ubuntu operating system ahead of the definite termination of Microsoft support for the OS sometime in the second quarter of 2014.

The city's system admins have distributed no less than 2,000 CDs carrying Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (long term support) to libraries across Munich, for users to borrow, download and install the Linux OS. But this isn't new, the city of Munich had been pondering the idea for a while now.

The Ubuntu operating system is also being made available for download, with a link to the website. The CDs are targeted at those members of the Munich citizenry who are unable or not skilled enough to install Ubuntu via a download, the city said.

The city stressed it would not be supporting converts, though, and you’re on your own once you switch. Munich said it wanted to support customers of Microsoft who’d be affected by the end-of-support deadline for Windows XP next April.

If the pattern of Windows XP’s utilization in Munich reflects the rest of the world, then that would mean about a third of desktop machines are still on Microsoft’s dated operating system.

Windows XP is the world’s second most popular OS after Windows 7, with users showing little sign of budging – despite the fact there will be no more security updates from Microsoft after April 8, 2014.

Tempting users to Ubuntu would throw a wrench in the works of Microsoft's ultimate plans for Windows XP users to adopt Windows 8.1.

In general, the city of Munich is something of an advocate of Linux and open systems. The city has spent several years migrating 15,000 PCs in twenty-two departments at fifty-one locations from Microsoft’s Windows and Office.

The city is installing its own brand of Linux, a Ubuntu and Debian flavor it's calling LiMux, and has moved from Office to OpenOffice. The project began more than 6 1/2 years ago and was due for completion sometime later this year.

The city officially parted ways with Microsoft ten years ago, with a council vote to switch platforms. The vote was at the height of Microsoft’s war with Linux and industry battle over document formats, with the rise of ODF suddenly challenging the utilization of Office’s closed file extensions.

The transition towards open source began among some governments and local authorities in Germany, charged with spending tax-payers' money and suddenly concerned about maintaining open systems.

Munich elected to end its use of Microsoft to stop its reliance on a single company for its technology needs, which it called a "monopoly-like position".

Microsoft fought as hard as it could to retain Munich, offering deals and discounts and with chief executive Steve Ballmer interrupting a skiing holiday in Switzerland to pop across the border and personally lobby for the German city to stay in the Windows camp, but to no avail.

In other OS news

Microsoft says that it has just launched its new prototype HTTP/2.0 server. Not too many people in the IT community were even aware that the software giant was working on such a new prototype.

Microsoft's newly developed server is actually designed to implement the version 4 of the HTTP/2.0 protocol draft published by the IETF a few weeks ago.

The concept, according to IETF HTTPBIS chair Mark Nottingham, is that progressive implementations of the HTTP/2.0 protocol will feed back into the standard itself over time.

“We're working on some proposals in code as well as text. We're likely to have several such implementation drafts that progressively refine the approach we're taking”, Nottingham is quoted as saying.

Microsoft says that there will be a wide range of HTTP/2.0 implementations from various working group participants, with interop testing planned next month.

The software behemoth is using a C#-based open source Web stack called the 'Katana' server as the basis of its implementation.

In the blog post announcing the implementation, MS Open Tech says the prototype supports header compression and stream multiplexing.

The MS Open Tech implementation also supports the TLS-based ALPN (Application Layer Protocol Negotiation), the HTTP Upgrade mechanism negotiation mechanism, and some direct HTTP/2.0 connections.

Beta testers will be able to point their implementations at specific endpoints published at Microsoft's cloudapp.net service, although at the time of writing, the addresses identified (http://http2katanatest.cloudapp.net:8080/ and https://http2katanatest.cloudapp.net:8443) were not live yet.

The original concept of the HTTP 2.0 protocol is to slim-down the server to get performance improvements that you can't get merely by providing more bandwidth at the issue.

Simply reducing the application layer latency by cutting the amount of to-and-from between client and server, and supporting request multiplexing isn't always enough, and Microsoft is hoping that the new protocol will help solve those latency issues, among other problems.

Source: Ubuntu.

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