The European Union Interchange of Data between Administrators project has
(with the help of NetProject) published a document on how to migrate over
to open source software. This document is available as a 148-page
Much of this document will seem like basic common sense to many readers.
Remember, however, that the target readership is high-level
management, and one should not make too many assumptions with that crowd.
Thus, for example, we have suggestions like "have a clear understanding of
the reasons to migrate," "start with non-critical systems," and "ensure
that there is active support for the change from IT staff and users." All
of which is undoubtedly good advice.
The guidelines repeatedly suggest that, even if no changes are foreseen in
the near future, it is still a good idea to avoid doing things that would
make such a change harder in the future. Thus, web pages should be written
to work with all browsers, excessive use of scripts and macros in documents
should be avoided, standard file formats should be used, etc. This
suggestion, by itself, would make life a lot easier for many people even
if they never switch to free software.
The guidelines make specific suggestions for software to migrate to.
These include OpenOffice.org (best Office replacement, can run on Windows),
Evolution, Galeon (or Mozilla if it has to run on Windows too), MySQL, Exim
(Postfix is "an acceptable alternative"), PhpGroupWare, Apache, and Zope.
The report recommends GNOME over KDE ("netproject considers that
[GNOME] has a better architecture and believes it has a better
A great many migration scenarios are provided; here the guidelines begin to
resemble a system administration book. If you are looking for instructions
on how to export your Access data for ingest into MySQL or how to convert
your Word templates, this document has something for you. As a general
rule, the information provided will not be sufficient for those who do not
already have some expertise in making this sort of transition. It does,
however, show that the transition is possible and highlight some of the
The document concludes with 50 pages of appendices. There is a lengthy
list of available case studies, a detailed description of how mail systems
are put together, some fairly useless tables of package versions, a Red Hat
kickstart file for installing systems using the French language, and a
The Open Source Migration Guidelines may well prove to be a useful document
for managers trying to plan (or decide on) a change to free software in
their organizations. Its real value, however, may be found in a different
area. What the Guidelines provide is a convincing demonstration that this
transition can be done, and that the required tools exist. And that may be
what many people pondering free software need more than anything else.
to post comments)