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City of Munich completes migration to Linux of 15000 desktops

munich_logoOn 12 december 2013, a full ten years after deciding to move away from the vendor-lock in that is called Microsoft Windows, the german city of Munich has completed the migration to their own Linux distribution called “LiMux“, a brand of Ubuntu with a KDE desktop environment. A full 15,000 computers are running Linux now. What an accomplishment!

The project had its setbacks but I applaud it for its successful ending. I know firsthand how hard it is to migrate institutions (governmental or commercial) to Linux – all my involvements have met with “death from above” meaning higher up in the hierarchy the decision was made to stop the pilots.

It is obvious that the commitment of the city counsil has been the crucial factor here. For the council, cost savings were not the goal, it was the realization that an external entity was able to dictate its terms to the city: to be precise, Microsoft required that all Munich computers would have to be upgraded from Windows NT to a newer version of the OS, and of  its Office Suite. At great cost since it affected 14,000 computers. In order to remove Microsoft from the equation, the “LiMux” project was started. During the ten years this project ran, Steve Ballmer visited the city in order to convince the council that they should reconsider and offered licenses for the Microsoft OS and Office suite at ridiculous discounts. But his words fell on infertile grounds.

Munich has calculated that it saved ten million euros by not upgrading their Windows software and instead going for Linux and Open Source. A number that has been disputed by several parties, including Microsoft. And to be honest, licenses are not the only cost factor in a migration like this, if you take into consideration rewriting/porting of critical software, educating people and running two IT infrastructures in parallel for a decade. A rock-solid conviction that freedom is more important than cost is required to stand fast against the big influencers. But Munich has a socialist majority, which has certainly helped to sustain the project through uncertain times. In this regard, when I look at my own dutch government, mostly my representatives are spineless and talking out of their asses. It’s not possible for me to point at someone who will get my vote and is member of a political party I hold in high esteem.

A shining example of the council’s commitment on the other hand, is the story told at LinuxTag 2013 by Peter Hoffman (LiMux project leader) about the time when Bill Gates himself spoke with the Major. At one point, Gates asked the Major what his reasons were for this Linux migration. The answer ‘We want more freedom” did not satisfy Gates, and he asked “Freedom from what?”. The major replied with “Freedom from you, Mr. Gates!’”

Read more about this epic voyage on the European Union’s JoinUp site, in Linux Magazin (in german) or on Tech Republic,  and of course the web site dedicated to the LiMux project (in german).

Comments

Comment from Sayth
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:07

one of the biggest issues usually doesn’t seem to be the OS but handling document formats.

managing docx and doc with odt formats. when handling documents between office versions and libreoffice, the formatting never stays consistent.

similarly companies dependence On Excel would cause many not too migrate.

Comment from Me
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 04:55

I wish my gov would do that to.
Congrats München

Comment from Janis
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:59

It is extremely rare case and exception as decision making politicians in our “modern” “democracies” is a damn cheap comparing to the profits a monopoly IT company can reap.

Comment from Light Kuragari
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:10

Way to go Munich!! That would be impossible here in Mexico, i think the government doesn’t even understand the concept of free software. I actually require windows to declare taxes! I know however, of a PC manufacturing company here that migrated their entire accounting records to libreoffice this year, since they didn’t like the licensing policies of the latest versions of MS Office, they gave usage courses to their staff and are now quite happy with libreoffice. I hope we start seeing more cases like this.

Comment from Light Kuragari
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:14

BTW, i really like your blog and work Eric, i think it’s admirable. Keep it up!

Comment from Niki Kovacs
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 17:44

I’ve been following the LiMux project since the first announcements in the german computer magazine Linux User. Microsoft did its best to sink that ship – and almost succeeded quite a few times. But to no avail. In France we have a similar – and even bigger – success story, with the police force migrating no less than 90.000 desktop PCs to “Gendbuntu”, a specialized Ubuntu spinoff for the Gendarmerie Nationale.

Comment from stephan
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 20:50

I am amassed that a conservative city like Munich is doing this. Anyway congrats from Berlin to Munich.

Comment from alienbob
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 22:00

Yes Niki, the gendarmerie project is much bigger. The french police also started their project a few years before Munich.
But I think that the acceptance of Linux as a viable to MS Windows, is generaly higher in France than in Germany. Large parts of France are still “rural” with not much of computer literacy and almost no connection to the Internet. Almost (excuse the phrase) like a 3rd world country in terms of computer adoption. And those regions are where you typically see a much easier adoption of Linux and Open Source – largely based on cost evaluation, not idealism.

Eric

Comment from alienbob
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 22:02

Hi stephan

München is not conservative! The SPD and Die Grünen (together with die Rosa Liste) have a comfortable majority in the city council.

Eric

Comment from Alan Aversa
Posted: December 16, 2013 at 22:18

10M €? wow

Comment from gregory
Posted: December 17, 2013 at 21:09

[quote] Large parts of France are still “rural” with not much of computer literacy and almost no connection to the Internet. Almost (excuse the phrase) like a 3rd world country in terms of computer adoption…[/quote]

But if most of the French have no internet connection and no knowledge in computer and IT related stuff, then how did they get to use Linux ? One true miracle for sure!

Comment from bratpit
Posted: December 17, 2013 at 23:32

Hi Eric

One question.
I installed your libreoffice on multilib 14.1 .
Everything is OK but I can not import any powerpoint presentation .Frankly speaking it import but immedietly freezes window so I can only kill libreofiice from console CTRL+ALT+F1.
Impress starting OK.
No errors , all dependiences from ldd OK.
Maybe some other during load ppt file.
Maybe lack Win$ fonts?
I do not know

On 32 bits works like a charm.
Any sugestions?

Best regards

Comment from Niki Kovacs
Posted: December 17, 2013 at 23:57

Your remark about France being a Third World country from a technological point of view made me laugh, the more so since this is the exact same term I use here, much to the French’s dislike. They’re a nation full of paradoxes, ranting against the “Américain” way of life yet cultivating the world’s highest concentration in McDonald’s restaurants. Thinking of themselves as “La Grande Nation”, yet unable to maintain even the most basic level of network connectivity in their more remote places. As a Friend of mine put it: “I love France. The only problem with France… are the French.” That being said, I’m doing my best in spreading the Linux gospel here. Last week I installed two fat Slackware file servers and a Slackware workstation for a company near Toulouse. Every migration begins with a small step.

Comment from bratpit
Posted: December 17, 2013 at 23:59

Thanks .

No longer needed :-)

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/slackware-14/impress-libreoffice-4-1-2-f5-freeze-on-slackware-current-4175480364/

Comment from alienbob
Posted: December 18, 2013 at 00:36

gregory, do not twist my words.
You ignored a couple of crucial words of my quote when answering me: “not much” and “almost no”.

Eric

Comment from Farid
Posted: December 20, 2013 at 16:58

Hi,

Alien i want tell you a BIG BIG thanks for all your works for slackware and slackware users like me, thank you very much.

Pingback from Linux in public service | Some Computer Help & Information – Stuff Happens
Posted: January 29, 2014 at 07:09

[…] it! The City of Munich has completed the migration to Linux of 15,000 desktops! An interesting short read of a decade long project. If you want to stretch your German here’s the original article. You could also offer it […]

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