How to migrate to open source software

How to migrate to open source software

Loading your laptop with some version of Linux used to be the private domain of hardcore geeks, certainly not something anyone running a business would ever think of doing. But no more.

“I’m using Ubuntu Linux on my laptop, and I can say it’s a lot more stable than Windows ever was,” says Mario Pommier, vice president of business development at Webjogger Internet Service, in New York’s Hudson Valley. “I don’t have the old Windows problem of memory being used up when running five or six programs simultaneously, and I love the mutliple desktops Linux gives me.”

“It still took a little tweaking, but I can use it for all my business needs now, both on the road and in the office,” Pommier says.

Spurred by Web apps and virtualization

A growing number of small and mid-size businesses — some put off by Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS) upgrade, Vista — are testing the waters by migrating some staff or certain functions to open source-based products.

The trend is also being fueled by two other factors: the rise of Web-based applications and virtualization. The increasing availability of Internet-based collaboration tools negates the need to use any particular OS. The growth of collaboration software like Zoho, Yugma, Google Documents, and many other Web applications makes it far easier to do much of the same work on any OS, without any of the compatibility issues that comes with using PC-based software.

The other factor is the advent of dependable virtualization technology, making it possible to run several OS’s on one PC. This neatly eliminates the potentially high cost of replacing software that will only run on XP, or 2000, or Vista. With virtualization, all things at least seem possible. At the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco last August, Dell CTO Kevin Kettler predicted in his keynote speech that desktop virtualization will provide the missing link for Linux to shine on the corporate desktop. “A lot of people are predicting that next year could be the year where we really see an explosive growth of Linux on the desktop in business applications, ” Kettler said at the time.

How to start your migration

If you find that Linux does indeed fit into your company needs, and you feel it’s time to consider changing, then make sure you first acquaint your office workers with the Windows version of OpenOffice before making the final move to the new OS. A full migration to Linux might be a bit daunting, but if your workers are at least comfortable with the open source alternative to MS Office, then it’s not insurmountable. Considering how different the Vista version of Office is from previous versions, the learning curve to swap over to OpenOffice is likely easier than trying to learn the newest MS Office anyway, some experts say.

Certainly, the idea of being able to use an operating system that’s free of licensing fees as well as a more stable, robust platform, can be tempting to small business owners. If you have workers who aren’t dependent on proprietary software, it might make sense to let a few give a Linux desktop a trial run, and see if it’s a viable alternative. Using a virtual machine software, like VMware, you can easily load any Linux version on an existing Windows installation without losing your Windows system. It’s even more stable to do the reverse — have a computer with Linux installed running a virtual instance of Windows.

Alternatively, Linux makes it quite easy to dip your company’s toes in and test the open source waters with a “live CD.” Many distributions, like Ubuntu, Knoppix, Mepis, and many other desktop oriented distributions offer this option. Simply boot your computer from the CD, and it will load with a fully functional Linux system, complete with tons of software. Once you’re done testing, simply remove the CD and reboot, and you’ll be back to whatever you have installed, with no changes.

If you find Linux works for some of your company needs, then you’ve saved money, not to mention gaining a potentially stronger desktop OS. If, however, you find it doesn’t work for your needs, then at least you know, and won’t have that nagging “what if” hanging in the back of your head. Either way, exploring all your options is good business.

Eyüpsultan Municipality in Turkey gained flexibility, cost savings, performance, and independence by transitioning its entire workforce to GNU Linux and other open source software.

How to migrate to open source software

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In 2015, the Eyüpsultan Municipality in Istanbul, Turkey, began a bold migration to adopting open source software. This involved several major changes: Linux on the desktop and major changes to the IT infrastructure, including a transition to the Zimbra email server and the PostgreSQL database.

This was a big decision, and it wasn’t made lightly. Open source technologies provide an important opportunity for our country to have an independent and secure information infrastructure. There are uncertainties about future terms and costs of using licensed software that connects users to a particular brand ecosystem. The more connected to these technologies we are, the harder it is to switch to alternative products. The commercial nature of key companies, to say nothing of pricing and licensing policies, poses significant risks.

As Eyüpsultan Municipality, we aimed to reduce service costs as well as external technology dependencies by using open source software, including the Pardus GNU/Linux operating system. Pardus was developed by the Turkish government as a desktop Linux distribution focused on graphical users in office settings. We wanted a solution that gave us an independent developer and increased sustainability, flexibility, and fiscal savings. In this respect, we consider our migration project to be a social responsibility. We are trying to create awareness of this goal by pioneering the use of Pardus in public institutions throughout Turkey.

Educating users

We knew from the start that this migration to open source would be a major undertaking. People were used to the systems they’d been using for years, but we wanted to make the move easy and painless.

Therefore, we didn’t change things without warning and communicating with our workers about our plans. We began our migration to open source in 2015 by training all our users on LibreOffice on Linux, as office productivity formed the bulk of the software they use on a daily basis. We considered this the first phase.

After the trainings, administrators installed the open source LibreOffice software to replace the licensed Microsoft Office software on all client computers. This decision to train users before installing the software minimized the problems they experienced when migrating from familiar software (including the operating system).

  • Free online course: RHEL technical overview
  • Learn Advanced Linux Commands
  • Download Cheat Sheets
  • Find an Open Source Alternative
  • Read Top Linux Content
  • Check out open source resources

Providing training throughout the migration was one of our key strategies. We did not stop after delivering training; we checked back with our users to verify that the training produced the expected results. It took us a year to uncover all the things people struggled with after switching from Office to LibreOffice, but we welcomed these issues and helped to solve them whenever they arose.

In Eyüpsultan Municipality, we have always valued education in all areas of what we do. Migrating software was no different, and education was an integral part of the plan. I believe that regular training during our open source migration project was the single most significant reason for its success.

Migration steps

We took a stepwise approach to the migration:

  • Analysis
  • Planning
  • ISO creation
  • Test
  • Pilot
  • Production

These steps may sound familiar, but there are two elements that were critical in making our project successful.

The first is analysis. We didn’t just do technical analysis at this stage; we did psychological analysis at the same time. By talking to people, we tried to find out their anxiety points. We learned that there was a common fear of an “encounter with the unknown.” We determined that if we could not calm this fear, the resistance to change would rise, even with the support of management behind us. After we realized this, we started to discuss how we could overcome this situation, and we decided to put a recognizable interface in front of users. During our research, we found a Windows-style theme and turned it into our default Linux window manager. The reaction we got on the first day of training was amazing, and I still smile when I think about it. Just a little bit of familiarity warmed people to the idea of what was technically, but not necessarily functionally, a change in the interface.

The second key element was creating a custom ISO image file of Pardus Linux. Pardus does have an ISO that you can download and install, but it includes many applications that we didn’t need. It would waste time if we had to remove unnecessary applications and install our preferred enterprise applications after installation. Therefore, we reconfigured the Pardus GNU/Linux ISO to include our suite of enterprise applications. This reduced installation time to 15 minutes and made all the required enterprise applications ready for use immediately upon installation.

Finishing touches

As the project matured, our management and monitoring requirements became clear. We installed the Lider/Ahenk server to manage our Pardus Linux clients. To monitor servers and clients, we installed the open source Zabbix application.

We wanted to ensure that the migration project was manageable and sustainable. So far, we’ve done a good job of it. We can now update hundreds of Pardus clients from a single point, provide remote support, implement policies, and detect problems early with alarms from Zabbix, which helps us develop solutions quickly.

Introduce open source to your organization

Open source software has many advantages, including flexibility, high performance, major savings on licensing fees, independence from any particular company, and compliance with open standards. The benefits of open source software are recognized all over the world, especially in the European Union member countries, and similar action plans and studies are being used all over for transitioning to open source software.

Take what lessons you can from our experience, which is ongoing. Introduce open source as a viable option for your workplace. Take on the responsibility of delivering education on the knowledge required to use open source solutions. With open source, you never know what will become possible.

A proposal to switch the German city’s workstations to open source software was denied by the state’s parliament

The German city-state of Berlin won’t migrate to open source software. Instead, its parliament decided in principle to choose workplace IT based on open standards.

Berlin’s Green party had proposed to have 25 percent of its standardized IT workplaces running open source software by 2018, according to the proposal that was voted down by the state parliament on Monday.

[ Learn how to install Apache on Linux in InfoWorld Test Center’s step-by-step guide. | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld’s Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

It is the second time the opposition Greens had proposed switching Berlin’s 68,000 workstations to open source software, and the second time they failed, said Thomas Birk, the party’s spokesman for government modernization, on Wednesday. The earlier effort was in 2007.

Switching to open source can work, said Birk. By switching over 80 percent of its 15,500 desktops from Windows to its own Linux distribution, LiMux, and OpenOffice.org software, the city of Munich said it had saved over €11 million ($14.6 million) by November last year.

“Munich’s example proves it is not witchcraft,” to switch to open source, said Birk.

Not every migration works though. The city of Freiburg announced in November it would dump OpenOffice and go back to Microsoft because of functionality problems due to a failed migration.

While Birk maintained that with good preparation it can be done, the state’s governing coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) decided not to accept the proposal.

Instead, the SPD and CDU introduced a plan to come up with guidelines for a standardized IT workstation for the state of Berlin that “in principle” is based on open standards, according to the proposal that was adopted on Monday. Those guidelines should “ensure a smooth exchange of documents between different platforms at any time,” the parties wrote.

The coalition also wants to explore whether the use of a government cloud could reduce licensing costs, according to the document.

Berlin wants to reduce costs and the variety of different IT systems currently used by the government and solve the problem of “island solutions,” according to the document. The standardized IT workstation should therefore not only include the same hardware, but also have an identical set of basic applications such as office communication programs, the coalition wrote.

While the proposed IT workstation should ensure the use of open standards and open source software, it was not specified in what way that should be done, due to procurement law that prevents buyers from specifying particular products in advance.

A motion from the Greens to change the IT workstation proposal to make the use of open standards mandatory was also denied, said Birk.

(Central Management Console)

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How to migrate to open source software

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It helped me get my first software engineering job

How to migrate to open source software

Jul 7, 2020 · 4 min read

How to migrate to open source software

I googled “how to contribute to open source as a junior developer”.

The advice given was not that good.

It hasn’t changed much over time. And didn’t help me back when I was a junior developer and followed it.

I’ll share some alternate advice based on my experience contributing to open source.

  • Find issues labelled “Beginner”
  • Choose a popular codebase
  • You don’t need to write code

This didn’t work. Despite signing up for mailing lists, finding “Beginner issues”, and trying to find documentation to contribute to…

I stumbled into my first con t ribution after discovering a small machine learning library didn’t allow importing a custom list of stop words. I needed this specific feature for the developer portfolio project I was working on.

So I wrote the code for it and made a PR. After several cycles of feedback and fixes with the repo maintainer, my code was published.

It turned out this was way easier than seeking out a repo to contribute to. Here’s why.

If you don’t use the library you’re contributing to, you’re writing code in the dark.

Using a library gives you a sense of the architecture under the hood. If you’re familiar with a library’s features, you’ll more quickly understand how its code fits together.

Takeaway:

Review open issues in libraries you use. If a simple issue comes up, try to fix it and submit a PR!

Just because you use a library (see above), doesn’t mean you like it enough to enjoy contributing.

If you think what the library does is interesting, you’ll have more motivation to power through contributing. Your first contribution won’t be easy after all!

Takeaway:

Everyone uses packages like pip, bundler, yum, yarn. But if you don’t think what they do is interesting, it will be hard. Find something that is interesting to you.

It might even be a good idea for your first contribution.

If the codebase is small, it will be easier to find your way around.

Yes, it’s possible a small library won’t be maintained in the future. But the same goes for most libraries.

Getting your feet wet in contributing is your goal at this point.

Takeaway:

Don’t shy away from contributing to a tiny niche library.

Some repos specifically flag easy issues for beginners.

If you’re going to tackle these, I’d recommend that you at least use the library and think it’s interesting.

Otherwise, contributing will still be tough. You’ll have to figure out how to use the library, AND how the code works at the same time.

Many packages have easy issues come up from time to time, they simply may not be flagged as such.

Takeaway:

Don’t limit yourself to libraries which flag easy issues for beginners.

You can maximize your chance of successfully contributing by writing features YOU want.

You’ll know exactly how it should work because it’s for your own use-case. Oftentimes in software development, this is half the battle in writing code.

This is what made my first open source contribution so approachable. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have succeeded so easily.

Takeaway:

If a library doesn’t do something you would like it to do, create an issue and ask if you can take it yourself!

I get it. Making a first contribution is daunting. And any contribution at all helps build confidence.

That said, you’re a software engineer, not a writer (right?). Part of you probably wants to contribute to help your career.

Editing documentation is an easy way out. The difficultly pales in comparison to actually contributing code. So if you must do this, move on to contributing code as quickly as possible.

Good documentation is super importance in software engineering. But our goal here is to get you contributing code ASAP. Come back to documentation later.

Takeaway:

Contributing to docs may build confidence but it’s only a baby step to contributing code.

As you gain more experience writing software, you’ll develop a sense for how libraries are written, including common architectures.

As you do this, navigating codebases and figuring out how to contribute gets easier.

To this end, I challenge you to crack open the code for libraries you commonly use and investigate how the functions you use are written.

This is not a guide for contributing to open source. It’s just my advice in accomplishing your first contribution.

Contributing to open source helped me land my first job. Back then I wasn’t a very good developer so I could do it, so can you!

Most developers don’t contribute to open source. But we infinitely rely on the generosity of developers that do.

CommServer software Migration and Maintenance

The project will be used to manage the migration process of transferring multi-parts software from an on-premise subversion repository to a set of GitHub repositories.

After migration, this project will aggregate the description of all activities addressing the software maintenance process.

CommServer is a package of software to manage data transfer. Built-in technologies and algorithms provide a smart data transmission that automatically adapts its parameters to the process needs and underlying communication network capabilities.

To learn more about CommServer software family visit the software home page.

The CommServer software was written by CAS Lodz Poland. I am the founder and Executive Director of CAS. Now CAS is just an individual business activity conducted by me, so I decided to move this software to Open Source.

  • CAS.Windows.Forms => mpostol/WindowsForms
  • commsvr-com/Help contains CAS.MAML
  • PR34-Documentation
  • RealTime – Real-Time Programming Helpers Library.
  • CodeProtect – Helper library supporting licenses creation and validation.
  • ASMD – OPC UA Address Space Model Designer
  • OPC-UA-OOI.ConfigEditor – Object Oriented Internet Reactive Networking Configuration Editor
  • ProcessObserver – Object-Oriented Internet Machine to Sensors Connectivity (OOI.M2S)
  • CommServer.DataProvider – selected protocol drivers, i.e. MODBUS, M-BUS, S-BUS, etc. simulators diagnostic tool
  • CommServer => mpostol/PO.Common
  • CommServer.DA.DataPorter => OPCDA.DataPorter
  • CommServer.DA.Viewer => OPCDA.Viewer
  • CommServer.DA.Server => OPC DA Server
  • CommServer.UA.Server => mpostol/OPCUA.Server
  • CommServer.UA.Viewer => mpostol/OPCUA.Viewer
  • CAS.Windows (#11)
  • TBD in commsvr-com/migration2os#22

NOTE CAS.MAML and PR34-Documentation requires installation of the SHFB tool to process MAML files.

We use Semantic Versioning for versioning. For the versions available, see the releases on this repository. For your convenience, the versions of the tools and NuGet packages making up the CommServer software has been listed in the next subsections.

The table below lists the latest versions of the published Tools.

Description Version Source Installer
Public release of the ASMD 4.1 mpostol/ASMD OOI – OPC UA Address Space Model Designer V 4.1
CAS Address Space Model Designer (ASMD) 3.20.1 mpostol/ASMD Windows installation released by CAS (V3.20.1 -2016)
Object Oriented Internet Reactive Networking Configuration Editor NA mpostol/OPC-UA-OOI.ConfigEditor NA

The table below lists the published NuGet packages.

C loning is nothing but the copying of the contents of a server hard disk to a storage medium (another disk) or to an image file. Disk cloning is quite useful in modern data centers for:

  1. Full system backup.
  2. System recovery.
  3. Reboot and restore.
  4. Hard drive upgrade.
  5. Converting a physical server to virtual machine and more.

In this post, I am going to list the Free and Open Source Cloning Software for Disk Imaging and Cloning that you can use for GNU/Linux, *BSD and Mac OS X desktop operating systems.

1. Clonezilla – One Partition and disk cloning program to rule them all

Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program similar to True Image and Norton Ghost. I frequently use Clonezilla software to do system deployment, bare metal backup and recovery. Clonezilla live is good for single machine backup and restore at home. Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment in data center, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. It supports the following file systems

  1. ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserfs, xfs, jfs of GNU/Linux
  2. FAT, NTFS of MS Windows
  3. HFS+ of Mac OS
  4. UFS of BSD
  5. minix of Minix and VMFS of VMWare ESX.

2. Redo Backup – Easy to use GUI based backup, recovery and restore for new users

Redo Backup and Recovery is a bootable Linux CD image, with a GUI. It is capable of bare-metal backup and recovery of disk partitions. It can use external hard drives and network shares (NFS/CIFS) for storing images. Major feature includes:

  1. It can save and restore MS-Windows and Linux based servers/desktop systems.
  2. No installation needed; runs from a CD-ROM or a USB stick.
  3. Automatically finds local network shares.
  4. Access your files even if you can’t log in.
  5. >Recover deleted pictures, documents, and other files.
  6. Internet access with a full-featured browser to download drivers.

3. Fog – Perfect cloning solution for Microsoft shop

FOG is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Linux (limited) that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. FOG doesn’t use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Your PC boots via PXE and automatically downloads a small Linux client. From there you can select many activities on the PC, including imaging the hard drive. FOG supports multi-casting, meaning that you can image many PCs from the same stream. So it should be as fast whether you are imaging 1 PC or 40 PCs.

4. Mondo Rescue – Disaster recovery solution for enterprise users

Mondo is reliable disater recovery software. It backs up your GNU/Linux server/desktop to tape, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R[W], DVD+R[W], NFS or hard disk partition. Mondo is in use by Lockheed-Martin, Nortel Networks, Siemens, HP, IBM, NASA’s JPL, the US Dept of Agriculture, dozens of smaller companies, and tens of thousands of users world-wide. It supports LVM 1/2, RAID, ext2, ext3, ext4, JFS, XFS, ReiserFS, VFAT, and can support additional filesystems easily. It supports software raid as well as most hardware raid controllers.

Mondo Rescue In Action

5. dd and friends – The ol’ good *nix utilities

Warning: dd/ddrescue/dcfldd are power tools. You need to understand what it does, and you need to understand some things about the machines it does those things to, in order to use it safely.

The dd command converts and copies a file. You can clone a hard disk “sda” to “sdb”:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=1M conv=noerror

To clone one partition to another:

dd if=/dev/sdc3 of=/dev/sdd3 bs=4096 conv=noerror

For more info see:

dcfldd: A fork of dd

dcfldd is an enhanced version of GNU dd with features useful for forensics and security. Here is an example of cloning a hard disk “sda” and store to an image called “/nfs/sda-image-server2.dd”:

dcfldd if=/dev/sda hash=md5,sha256 hashwindow=10G md5log=md5.txt \
sha256log=sha256.txt hashconv=after bs=512 conv=noerror,sync \
split=10G splitformat=aa of=/nfs/sda-image-server2.dd

GNU ddrescue is a data recovery tool. It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, cdrom, etc) to another, trying to rescue the good parts first in case of read errors.

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How to migrate to open source software

AWS announced today that it’s releasing a tool called AWS SaaS Boost as open source distributed under the Apache 2.0 license. The tool, which was first announced at the AWS re:Invent conference last year, is designed to help companies transform their on-prem software into cloud-based software as a service.

In the charter for the software, the company describes its mission this way: “Our mission is to create a community-driven suite of extensible building blocks for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) builders. Our goal is to foster an open environment for developing and sharing reusable code that accelerates the ability to deliver and operate multi-tenant SaaS solutions on AWS.”

What it effectively does is provide the tools to turn the application into one that lets you sign up users and let them use the app in a multi-tenant cloud context. Even though it’s open source, it is designed to get you to move your application into the AWS system where you can access a number of AWS services such as AWS CloudFormation, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Amazon Route 53, Elastic Load Balancing, AWS Lambda (Amazon’s serverless tool), and Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon’s Kubernetes Service). Although presumably you could use alternative services, if you were so inclined.

By making it open source, it gives companies that would need this kind of service access to the source code, giving them a comfort level and an ability to contribute to the project to expand upon the base product and give back to the community. That makes it a win for users who get flexibility and the benefit of a community behind the tool, and a win for AWS, which gets that community working on the tool to improve and enhance it over time.

“Our objective with AWS SaaS Boost is to get great quality software based on years of experience in the hands of as many developers and companies as possible. Because SaaS Boost is open source software, anyone can help improve it. Through a community of builders, our hope is to develop features faster, integrate with a wide range of SaaS software, and to provide a high quality solution for our customers regardless of company size or location,” Amazon’s Adrian De Luca wrote in a blog post announcing the intent to open source SaaS Boost.

This announcement comes just a couple of weeks after the company open-sourced its Deep Racer device software, which runs its machine-learning fueled mini race cars. That said, Amazon has had a complex relationship with the open source in the past couple of years, where companies like MongoDB, Elastic and CockroachDB have altered their open-source licenses to prevent Amazon from making their own hosted versions of these software packages.