2003 | Abstracts


Philip Hart

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A city council in New Zealand is implementing a real-time public information system for their buses, with arrivals and departures being displayed at bus stops, and next stop information inside the buses. This project started in April 2002, with the first phase being completed in November 2002. The displays are driven by a single-board computer. The original plan was to use Windows CE, but the cost for this 10 times over the planned budget. Additionally, the time to build a suitable version of Windows CE was 6 weeks, and this would have caused unacceptable over-run of time for the project.

A Linux expert was brought into the project. The application was originally written in C in a Windows environment, and this was ported to Linux. The Linux expert plumbed the application into the new environment. The initial reaction of the contractor to the change to Linux was one of horror, followed by amazement at what had been achieved in two weeks. The first phase of the project was successful.

The two major factors that led to the success are (i) writing the application with portability in mind, and (ii) employing people with the appropriate skills.

The major lessons learned are described. This is followed by an evaluation of the likely relative market positions of Windows and Linux from a competitive viewpoint over the longer term.

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© 2002 Linux Australia.