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Red Hat Challenges Swiss Government Over Microsoft Monopoly 245

An anonymous reader writes "'Linux vendor Red Hat, and 17 other vendors, have protested a Swiss government contract given to Microsoft without any public bidding. The move exposes a wider Microsoft monopoly that European governments accept, despite their lip service for open source, according to commentators. The Red Hat group has asked a Swiss federal court to overturn a three-year contract issued to Microsoft by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics, to provide Windows desktops and applications, with support and maintenance, for 14M Swiss francs (£8M; $15M) each year. The contract, for 'standardized workstations,' was issued with no public bidding process, Red Hat's legal team reports in a blog — because the Swiss agency asserted there was no sufficient alternative to Microsoft products.'"
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Red Hat Challenges Swiss Government Over Microsoft Monopoly

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  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:37PM (#28087357)

    For anybody interested how this interacts with all the pro linux movements from the EU recently, well its completely orthogonal Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

    Btw i believe the issue here is the lack of bidding process not that the contract went to Microsoft, like if all the contracts for costly wars in the midle east were given to a particular company without offering them up to any of the competition, good thing shit like that doesn't happen...oooh!

  • Re:Swiss (Score:5, Informative)

    by HappySmileMan ( 1088123 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:44PM (#28087439)

    Nowhere did the summary say EU.
    European != EU.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:52PM (#28087501) Homepage

    Just be aware that Switzerland is NOT an EU member, so only Swiss laws does apply.

  • Re:Swiss (Score:5, Informative)

    by carlzum ( 832868 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @04:56PM (#28087553)

    The Red Hat group has asked a Swiss federal court to overturn a three-year contract issued to Microsoft by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics, to provide Windows desktops and applications, with support and maintenance, for 14 million Swiss Franc (£8 million) each year.

  • by omb ( 759389 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:03PM (#28087627)
    Like the USA, Switzerland is a federation, much smaller, but beautifully formed. The Kantons (18?) are the main source of power, not the federal government. And Direct Democracy means that the equivalent of Presedential signing is a referendum on legislation AFTER is is passed by the Bundesrat. Actually the referendum is negative, ie it vetos what the pols passed.

    This is _why_ Switzerland is not in the EU, last time the pols tried it was thrown out by a 87% majority and that was the second asking so it wont come back for 30 years. Switzerland is in EFTA and has a bilateral treaty with the EU and is implementing the Shengen accord. Less strict frontier controls. If a question is decided at referendum it can normally be asked once again, but if voted down it is rude, and pointless to bring it back so pols cant saw, or piggy back the way they can in the US.

    Many parts of Switzerland do use open source, The City of Zurich (Stadt Zürich) uses it extensively, as does Academia. Kanton Zürich provides tax preparation software free for Linux, Mac & M$Win.
  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <sirlewk@gmaRABBITil.com minus herbivore> on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:10PM (#28087689)

    Responding to a troll perhaps, but I've never had a scanner that doesn't work with linux. Xsane is pretty solid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:12PM (#28087705)

    (contd. sorry for the hickup)

    Mr MÃrz was a bank manager and his policy could be summerized to "once the coorporates do well, the wealth will trickle down to the people (Obama)". With that he gave a free hand to the Swiss banks and they brought the system close to a grounding. Amazingly the people here failed to realize this and after the initial battering he seems to hold on.

    Reportedly Mr MÃrz personally interfered when the government tried to move towards Open Souce three years ago and nullyfied the whole thing http://www.inside-it.ch/frontend/insideit?&site=ii&_d=_article&news.id=8470 (German)

  • by siloko ( 1133863 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:14PM (#28087729)
    Well it is only one department, at least one other department [zdnet.com] has a different approach. The Swiss Department of Public Instruction, which has the motto "Long Live Free Software" and is responsible for IT policy in Swiss schools, has encouraged Linux boots in the interests of leveling the playing field for students unable to afford new computers with the latest Microsoft software, a policy in place since late 2008.
  • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:14PM (#28087731) Homepage Journal

    ... could someone like RH claim that they could provide a solution that'd be 100%-compatible with the existing MS environment at a lower cost? I seriously doubt this would be the case.

    Microsoft can't truthfully claim this, either. They certainly can't claim a lower cost than MS, but they can't even claim 100% compatibility, either.
    That doesn't stop them from making the claim, though...

  • by init100 ( 915886 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:18PM (#28087757)

    it makes sense they'd go directly to MS rather than go through a public bidding process when they want to upgrade.

    Many countries have laws that require a public bidding process when any governmental organization procures some good or service. You can't just ignore that when planning to make a large procurement, because that means that tax funds could be spent on a suboptimal solution.

    Of course, that may happen anyway, but a public bidding process lowers that risk somewhat.

  • by anss123 ( 985305 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:33PM (#28087893)

    Just be aware that Switzerland is NOT an EU member, so only Swiss laws does apply.

    Don't be too sure of that; they are part of the Schengen [wikipedia.org] and have various other treaties with the EU.

  • Re:Switzerland... EU (Score:3, Informative)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @05:33PM (#28087897) Homepage

    Because that is the unfortunate reality in most of Europe, not only in EU countries.

  • That's odd (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @06:16PM (#28088283)

    When I installed Linux my Canon scanner just worked.

    When I installed Windows, it told me I needed to install a driver. What does that mean?

  • by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 25, 2009 @06:37PM (#28088475) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. Switzerland states that only MS will do, but how can you truly know what's available without a public bid?

  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:14PM (#28088771)

    The Swiss like their operating systems like their cheese -- Plenty of holes.

    I know you're trying to be funny, but I'll put on my pedantic hat and remind everyone that Switzerland makes lots of cheeses, few of which contain holes.

    What you're thinking of is that yellowish waxy product made in Wisconsin or California that vaguely resembles emmenthaler [wikipedia.org]. By contrast, appenzeller [wikipedia.org] and gruyere [wikipedia.org], for example, are similarly popular, and have no holes.

    So much for your holey theory. ;-)

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:21PM (#28088825) Homepage Journal

    Bullshit. DO your homework. HP printers/scanners all work under Linux. I've not had a need to search for other drivers, but I'm sure there are more.

  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:53PM (#28089085) Homepage

    Just be aware that Switzerland is NOT an EU member

    But we did democratically vote and sign several bilateral treaties.

    RedHat challenges to see if they could use the implications of some of those treaties and ask for a public bid.

  • by andersh ( 229403 ) on Monday May 25, 2009 @07:54PM (#28089099)

    In fact I can go further and inform you that Swiss law is the only real issue here.

    Switzerland did not enter into the EEA-agreement and only has bilateral agreements with the EU on trade etc.

    All EU related law is processed by the EFTA Court (not the EU equivalent).

    The Schengen agreement only relates to travel.

    See more at http://www.efta.int/ [efta.int]

  • Minor corrections (Score:3, Informative)

    by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <jonaskoelker@yahTOKYOoo.com minus city> on Monday May 25, 2009 @09:09PM (#28089773)

    He's been promising an operating system, GNU Hurd, for a long time.

    He's been promising an operating system called GNU, and Hurd is the name of its kernel. Since it's the canonical (but not the Canonical :D) version of GNU, it needn't be called GNU/Hurd.

    Also, RMS suggests that you use a slash in "GNU/Linux" such that "GNU" isn't understood as an adjective. If the FSF made their own distro, it might be reasonable to call it "GNU Linux" to distinguish it from other distros (and since GNU is already in the name, calling it "GNU GNU/Linux" probably isn't necessary). Just like it's appropriate to refer to "GNU Emacs" to distinguish it from other Emacsen such as XEmacs.

  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Monday May 25, 2009 @10:03PM (#28090263) Homepage Journal

    This March deposition [groklaw.net] in Novell v. Microsoft is an insult to the court, the Law, and any intelligent reader. It's time they threw the book at this liar and thief.

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @12:36AM (#28091243)

    Somebody in the procurement department either
    (a) Has a report from someone in their IT Department that erroneously states that they need won't work with Linux, and therefore has to be excluded from the procurement process.
    (b) Has a report from someone in their IT Department that correctly states that they need won't work with Linux,

    Regardless, they are required to put it out for tender. Even if they think only one company is capable of supplying a service, it has to go thruogh an open specification and bidding process. Deciding on the vendor for a multi-millon dollar contract on the basis of a memo from some IT guy is not good government. It creates a huge incentive for corruption.

  • Re:Nope (Score:3, Informative)

    by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @02:03AM (#28091667) Journal

    Well, in fact it's a modification of VNC

    no, its a secure x windows implementation, not at all VNC, and considerably better, faster than VNC (and I still like/use VNC)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @02:43AM (#28091839)

    I work for the canton of Zürich, and I can tell you that getting a piece of OSS into the system is almost always a renegade act by a single sysadmin. In no way are we using OSS extensively. If you want to look at extensive OSS use, look at the canton of Solothurn, which has replaced all Windows-PCs and servers in public administration with ones running Linux.

    Zürich has a policy that states that OSS should be _considered_ on each round of software evaluations, but may only be used it it presents "no additional burden" to the user. Of course all of the senior admins, those who are in power, will find reasons to use their favorite Windows-based piece of software thanks to that clause. Anything else would simply be "an inconvenience to the user", and that's how you shoot down any attempt to introduce OSS.

    I work in a part of gov't that is reasonably independent, but even we were forced by cantonal politics to replace our (perfectly working) Postfix + Courier installation with a (very buggy) Microsoft Exchange solution that takes THREE TIMES as much hardware to run. And I don't know how much more personnel is necessary, adding a fixed slice to our running costs.

    Or do you have a list of where and what OSS is used in the canton? Would be interesting to see, as I've been trying to network with the responsible people for years, and all I get is screams of impotent rage from those who'd like to implement OSS and smug grins from those who oppose it.

    (Slashdot: Fix character encoding? My umlauts all died :( )

  • by Kirth ( 183 ) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:30AM (#28092353) Homepage

    Not quite..

    Yes it is a direct democracy. This means we have two powers, apart from choosing our representatives:
    - The power to take up a referendum against a proposed law. This takes some 50'000 people to sign a paper saying so. If this suceeds, there will be a ballot where every citizen (from the age of 18 upwards) may vote for or against it.
    - The power to propose laws. This takes 100'000 people to back it. If that suceeds, there will again be a ballot.

    The 26 cantons are not the main power. They have a lot to say in their respective area, like infrastructure or taxes, but they haven't too much to say when it comes to laws. Still, it's possible that one canton outlaws smoking in restaurants, where the others don't -- but it's just about impossible for a canton to lift the federal prohibition on drugs.

    The voters from each canton send 2 representative to the "Ständerat", some kind like the US Senate (Upper House); and some more representatives, according to the population, to the Nationalrat (House of Commons). Both of these Houses need to ratify any proposed law. The Bundesrat (7 people) is the executive and is not directly chosen by the people, but by the Nationalrat and the Ständerat.

    Anyway. This has just about nothing to do with the problem at hand. Which is that contrary to the rules, the Bundesverwaltung (administration; bureaucrats essentially) has given contracts to Microsoft without opening them for bids.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @04:19PM (#28100153)

    "The Swiss like their operating systems like their cheese -- Plenty of holes." - by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 25, @05:12PM (#28087709)

    Then, why didn't they choose Linux? It too, has had its share of "holes", such as this list below:


    Root Password Readable in Clear Text with Ubuntu:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/13/0525254 [slashdot.org]


    Is This The Biggest Linux Security Breach? REDHAT SERVERS HACKED:

    http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=827351 [slashdot.org]



    http://it.slashdot.org/it/07/08/15/1341224.shtml [slashdot.org]



    http://www.novell.com/linux/security/advisories/2003_014_lprold.html [novell.com]


    Weakness In Linux Kernel's Binary Format:

    http://it.slashdot.org/it/06/10/03/2122220.shtml [slashdot.org]


    Ubuntu May Be Killing Your Laptop's Hard Drive:

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/30/1742258 [slashdot.org]


    KDE Heap Overflow Vulnerability Found:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/21/0936249 [slashdot.org]


    Critical Security Hole in Linux Wi-Fi:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/15/1515259 [slashdot.org]


    Bitten By the Red Hat Perl Bug:

    http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/29/1423201 [slashdot.org]


    Debian Bug Leaves Private SSL SSH Keys Guessable:

    http://it.slashdot.org/it/08/05/13/1533212.shtml [slashdot.org]


    Ext4 Data Losses on Linux:

    http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/19/1730247 [slashdot.org]


    Longstanding Linux IO Wait Bug:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/15/049201 [slashdot.org]


    Intel Cache Poisoning Is Dangerously Easy On Linux:

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/22/1815226 [slashdot.org]


    Major Security Hole In Samsung Linux Drivers:

    http://it.slashdot.org/it/07/07/18/0319203.shtml [slashdot.org]


    Want more? I'll produce them, upon request... (especially ones that are indicative of USER LEVEL app problems, or those in hardwares)

    AND, sure - Some of those from my lists above MAY be fixed by now (hopefully @ least), but THAT is NOT THE POINT - THIS IS:

    Linux, BSD, MacOS X (all *NIX, in general/in other words) have/have had THEIR problems too...

    So, please - don't try to make it sound as if only Microsoft's Windows NT-based OS family has them, because they ALL do & it also largely depends on the skills, determination, & efforts of those ADMINNING those OS & their networks as well, period...!

    (What you have to hope for, is fast patching!)


    P.S.=> The "Pro-Linux" penguin crowd here NEVER FAILS TO AMAZE, with their "straight out of PRAVDA" propoganda (telling 1/2 the story to make Microsoft look poorly, but "StRaNgELy" always omitting THEIR OS' own downsides & such over time)...

    Now, of course, the owners of /. here know 1 thing, &

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."