I personally think that Ubuntu-derived would have been better.
Here a comment from Quim Gil (interactors.coop):
Press release in Catalan available at http://www.lafarga.org/node/view/709
We at interators.coop were part of the finalist team of companies and we were the ones that (logically) recommended a Ubuntu based solution. So you may imagine some of my feelings. :)
IMHO the problem is that who decides tenders like this tends to be (or trust) old style IT managers, grown with a mentality that gives the most relevance to servers, cables and processors, secondly to software and finally to content. These people trust companies like Microsoft IBM Sun or Novell for the previous reason and because they are big, they get a lot of revenue and (IT managers say) they can't fail.
My question is: what has all this to do with the development and support of a GNU/Linux distribution? But I bet in their eyes there was a default uncertainity about Debian based solutions, Ubuntu was possibly considered a too young project... I don't knoW.
Appart from this I definitely think Novell is doing a very good commercial campaign at least in Catalonia and we shouldn't misvalue the role of the union of five Catalan companies that won the tender. I haven't seen the details of their proposal, but the tender was not jjust about developing a distribution but also giving support to admins and users trough a web community, publish a printed manual, and so on.
So my conclusion today is:
- both proposals (the winner and ours) were technically balanced
- the companies behind each proposal could do perfectly a good job in both cases, and were (as companies) equally trusty.
- moving to a non .deb based solution would add some complexity because the Catalan government is setting free software collaboration agreements with .deb-friendly countries and regions such as Extremadura, Andalusia and Brazil.
- But the directors in the Educaton Department (that are heading this process just because they have external pressure to do so, they are probably happy with Microsoft and Sun) went for what they considered the "safest" solution. And at the very end they thought SUSE Linux OSS would be a safer option than a Ubuntu Breezy customization.
I think we could find many objective factors that would prove that going for a .deb & Ubuntu based solution would be a strictely safer option (with all the background of Debian projects in schools and a rich Debian&Ubuntu community in Catalonia, including most of the pioneering teachers implementing free software in primary andsecondary schools).
So from my point of view the problem is less technical than commercial. Novell is good selling, Debian doesn't sell itself and the ones selling it (and selling Ubuntu) haven't done it as good, at least in this case. And I feel partly responsible of this. :/
But well, I think the success of any project like this depends first in content, secondly in software and finaly in hardware. By itself going for SUSE or Ubuntu is not granting a success. Belief in the project, good training, interesting contents and very cool free educational applications grants the success with almost any distro.
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