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Re: News: Spanish's Extermadura abandoning LinEx, but maybe adopting Debian

2012/1/1 Ana Guerrero <ana@debian.org>:
> On Sun, Jan 01, 2012 at 12:09:33PM +0000, Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo wrote:
>> Hi,
>> (I post it in debian-project because I think that it has a broad impact.
>> Please move it to other list or ignore if not appropriate.)
>> Just read this morning these news from a Spanish newspaper (spanish only,
>> sorry).  Maybe other people know about english versions, or some insider
>> from the LinEx project also in Debian can share more news with us about
>> that.
>> http://www.publico.es/ciencias/414698/extremadura-abandona-linex
>> Confirmed in: http://www.linex.org/joomlaex/
>> Some highlights (possibly inexact or that will change in the future -- use
>> with care ;) ):
>> - Extremadura's regional government is the owner of the centre Cesje (Centro
>> de Excelencia de Software José de Espronceda), in charge of developing LinEx
>> (a Debian derivative created in 2002 especifically for the use and needs of
>> this government/region).  Due to wanting to streamline spending, they are
>> going to transfer the centre to Spain's government.  This, in principle,
>> will end the development of LinEx, the contracts of programmers and the
>> comissioning stopped since yesterday.
>> - More than 70,000 computers with LinEx are used in schools/education, and
>> more than 15,000 in health-care (roughly, equivalent of the National Health
>> System). Only about 1% of the rest of the administration (40,000 in total)
>> use LinEx, though.
>> - Apparently, Extremadura's government plans to keep using free software,
>> and they plan to migrate all of the computers with Windows OS to "another
>> free distribution".  In other part of the article they say that they're
>> going to migrate from LinEx "to an open distribution, in particular,
>> Debian".  They cite in some places of the article Ubuntu as a possibility,
>> as well, so maybe there are no firm decisions yet.
> Hi,
> Not answering Manuel directly but I want to add some comments since he brought
> up this news.
> This news is about the government closing the main development center of Linex
> and 'transferring' it to somewhere else where it is not clear if they can also do,
> want to do or plan to do this job.
> Linex was already very close to Debian and we even have someone packaging in
> Debian some of the stuff they use, and sometimes develop [1], mostly in one
> of the 'flavours' of Linex: linex-edu. My understanding is they also have
> sponsored people to improve some tools they needed in Debian / free software.
> My reading of the article (and with data from another blog post in Spanish
> [2]), is that don't want to pay the people who were working in the
> development and adaptation of Linex (between 4-14 people), and they are just
> announcing they will use Debian or Ubuntu directly, expecting those
> distributions will include all they need in terms of support, documentation,
> custom software, etc..
> I see all of this as a first step to kill Linux in Extremadura without
> announcing it directly but rather as letting it to die slowly.
> Ana
> [1] http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=jredrejo@debian.org
> See aptlinex, fonts-linex or controlaula as stuff they are upstream for.
> [2] http://alasombradeltomate.es/2011/12/16/extremenos-el-linex-ha-muerto/

I think I can explain it all a little bit, as I've been one of the
main Linex developer since its early beginnings, and I'm "still"
working for the project in Extremadura.

First of all: Nowadays "Linex" is more a brand than a real  product.
In fact there are several "Linex" in the Extremadura public offices,
schools, health centers, etc. And they all are Debian installations
with customizations depending on the user target.
In the early Linex years, Debian installer was mainly for hackers
users, Ubuntu didn't exist at all. We did a Debian derivative adding a
graphical installer and some customizations (mainly in the artwork and
in the special configurations we needed for our primary and secondary

With the years,  "Linex" installation cd is more a marketing question
used to keep the linex brand, done by a group with four or five people
(including those who made the documentation and web site), and that's
the group that has been closed now.
But, we still have about 120.000 computers in education and I don't
know how many more in the health system , and there are no plans of
reverting this situation.
But , always, from the beginning, Linex has been made with Debian, and
since aprox. 2006, it's really Debian, because all the things we
needed that were not in Debian we included them in Debian. Also, we've
been working actively in Debian Edu (less actively for the last year
because we have a terrible lack of resources and our bosses ask us
much more of what we can do), but we're using strictly Debian. In some
places debian old-stable, in some others Debian stable and in some
others Debian stable with a bunch of backports.
So, the "new" situation doesn't change anything related with Debian yet.

But, as Ana has said in her email, this article is just reflecting
what (from my point of view of an insider working since some years
with politicians and who's working with the newcomers) they want to do
in the future. The new people in charge of the Extremadura government
don't like the good press and name that Linex, and the free software,
gave to the previous party in the government. And they want to change
things. I don't say they're going to remove all the free software we
have in education (I don't think that's technically possible, and also
we can not afford it ), but they maybe will move from Debian to Ubuntu
or to OpenSUse or Fedora. They are firing all the people who made the
previous situation possible. Also, they are in negotiation with some
very big and famous privative companies, to put some applications
(offimatic aplications mainly) in their privative clouds, etc.

So, now they need to say that Linex was very expensive (which is
totally false, maybe it's expensive having thousand of computers in
education or funding big congresses, but not doing Linex at all,
because there has been at maximum 10 person working in Linex in the
peak moments, but for a long time, only two people were doing all the
technical job). They're making a lot of noise to justify their future
changes. I don't feel optimistic about those future changes, because
they're are motivated by personal ambitions more than by technical or
economical realities, so we can hope many nasty surprises in the

José L.

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