What it feels like to turn off windows XP and finally be totally dependant on open source

Last week I finally manage to get hold of a nokia E90 communicator, which has been the major holdup in my migration completely to open source. As I run my business a lot on the move, I decided early on that I needed to retain a mobile phone sync function that I had used for 4 years (nokia phones, PC sync and microsoft Outlook). The sticking point for me was that my current nokia 9500 communicator is not supported by zimbra mobile as its an old symbian operating system, so I needed to wait until the new E90 was launched to migrate away from outlook and windows XP.

Well after many delays, I got hold of one last week, and spent about 6-8 hours learning it, configuring it and migrating all my contacts and calendar across to zimbra ready to sync the new system.

Tasks included:

  • migrating contacts and calendar from the 9500 by bluetooth, because my outlook PST file was so corrupt that I couldn’t export them to CSV’s or iCAL files.
  • installing the nokia exchange software (nice to see nokia using php on their site!)
  • redirecting my email to the new email address
  • migrating all my email archive using IMAP to the zimbra server (which took a few hours)
  • getting used to the zimbra interface
  • exporting my outlook tasks (using copy and paste!) and importing them into Tooledo.com which I am using a temporary task manager until the next version of zimbra is released with task support.

Finally it was time to cermononiously turn off windows and reboot into ubuntu with all the business functionality I need to operate with open source as my sole software suite. God it felt good.

But, I reflected on the cost of this to date. Its been expensive in terms of time, very expensive. Probably a hundred plus hours of my time to get to this stage. Open source is great, reliable and cheaper in terms of license fees, but the migration is punishing.

Advice to new business startups is go with open source from the start – far better for compliance, functionality, reliability and cost saving. The more you get hooked into developing systems that are dedicated to microsoft, then the harder it is to get out of it. If you are considering open source as a short term cost saving exercise in your business and plan to use existing hardware or have special software, then my advice is dont. Have a long term strategy, or accept that its cheaper to stay with what you have.

That said, I dont regret the migration for a minute, and now I am the first person in the business running only open source software I will report on my experiences in the coming weeks before we start the roleout for all our other employees.

Its a great feeling to be free (in a very small individual user way) of the restricive, slow, unreliable xp/outlook configuration I USED to use!

  • Matthew Flaschen

    Congratulations, and best of luck with the company-wide roll out.

  • Congrats Adrian. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the determined, pragmatic, and thoughtful way you’ve approached the migration. Most small companies tend to either jump straight in and either ignore or panic patch the inevitable problems, or they simply move back at the first hurdle.

    I would agree with your analysis that open source should be a long term strategy, but you’ve achieved a full migration in a short space of time, and will amortize the whole cost over time, whereas others might move piece by piece waiting for each bit to pay off before moving on. Also many (most?) would not fully move to an open source only setup, usually keeping existing client OS (XP / OS X) and a few other proprietary systems.

    Now you have the complete foundation in place it will be really interesting to watch your progress (not that it hasn’t been interesting thus far). You now have a created a complete equivalent of what you already had, and while you no doubt already have advanced functionality, easier management, etc, it will be interesting to see what new stuff you’ll be able to do and what some of the hidden benefits of a complete OSS setup are as you roll out company wide.

    Congrats again and have a great bank holiday.

  • Adrian,

    Well done – I’m on the same path, jut a little behind you, so it gives me great confidence to see what you’ve achieved.

  • This has been a fascinating read Adrian. I am very grateful that you have actually taken the additional time to record the process and document it publicly with such clarity.

    I do not think you will ever regret your decision. (Especially as we can now see what M$ is really like with the total farce that is OOXML or Ecma-376)

    Many congratulations.


  • “The more you get hooked into developing systems that are dedicated to microsoft, then the harder it is to get out of it.”

    Congratulations on doing the digital equivalent of quitting smoking 🙂

  • Pingback: Quitting Microsoft Like Quitting Cigarettes: Difficult to do, but it feels great when its done! « Limulus()

  • Thanks to all for their feedback and support. A week down the line, all is going very well, and planning for the next stage…