21 May

South Korea is switching to Linux ahead of the Windows 7 shutdown

I know you got Seoul….

SOUTH KOREA has become the latest country to look at "deWindowsifying" as it sets out plans to migrate government systems to Linux.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety has confirmed it is making the change over cost concerns, as well as trying to stop the current stranglehold of a single operating system (ie Windows).

It was fairly inevitable that we’d get some switch-outs over the coming months, given that Windows 7 machines will need to be upgraded to Windows 10 (at cost) during the rest of the year, ahead of the older OS reaching end-of-life in January.

The document doesn’t talk in terms of timetables, nor of which Linux distro or distros are favoured. Its Northern neighbour already uses a customised Linux distro called Red Star, but it got more security holes than an Emmental Facebook.

The cost of the changeover has been put at around $655m (£514m). It’s not clear how much that will save, and when the break-even point will be.

Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that Microsoft will throw money at South Korea in an attempt to change its mind. That’s exactly what happened when Munich switched allegiance back in 2005-6.

Munich announced that it was going back to Windows in 2017 because it was all too much faff.

That doesn’t seem to have put South Korea off though, with plans for a test rollout, which will test the infrastructure and its security already in planning, ahead of a complete switchover at some point in the future.

There’s also the usual concern about legacy compatibility, particularly regarding existing web apps, extranets, intranets and the like.

It could be that Microsoft doesn’t bat an eye – the company under current CEO Satya Nadella has pivoted to ‘cloud first’ and makes far more money from Azure than Windows these days, so a bunch of office staff using an open source alternative is not the big middle finger it once was.

Whatever version of Linux is eventually selected, it will doubtless need localisation, customisation and ongoing support, but that’s still going to be a lot cheaper than the Microsoft alternative.

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