Switching to Linux saves Munich over €11 million

The city has now migrated over 80 percent of its 15,500 desktops to LiMux, it's own distribution of Linux.

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Operating Systems, Linux

The city of Munich has extended OpenOffice with an in-house tool it calls WollMux, which adds features including templates, forms and letterheads. The city uses ODF (OpenDocument Format) as its document interchange standard. 

Munich is planning to migrate from a now-outdated version of OpenOffice, 3.2.1, to LibreOffice next year, said Schuler. After Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, which then managed the OpenOffice.org project, some OpenOffice developers forked the code to create LibreOffice. Oracle has since contributed the OpenOffice.org project to the Apache Foundation.

As of January the city had 15,000 desktops running the Firefox browser, Thunderbird mail client and OpenOffice productivity suite rather than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Outlook and Office. Migration of the underlying OS is taking a little longer. From 11,000 desktops at the time the cost study was prepared, the number of desktops running LiMux has now reached 12,600 and by the end of the year the city plans to have migrated 13,000 of the total of 15,500 desktops.

Schuler hopes to reach 14,000 LiMux systems next year, but says that because the city will be unable to migrate some programs, there will always be some machines running Windows. Most of those are now running Windows XP, and the city plans to upgrade them to Windows 7.

Munich's experience sharply contrasts with that of Freiburg, another German city that ventured down the open source path. Last week its city council decided to dump a combination of an outdated version of OpenOffice and Microsoft Office 2000 and switch to Microsoft Office 2010.

Compatibility problems and underperforming spreadsheet and presentation programs in the open source office suite aggravated and frustrated employees left the council's hopes for OpenOffice unfulfilled, it said. These were important reasons to contemplate Microsoft Office, which was the only viable option, the council said.

Open source advocates attempted to sway the council's decision by calling for the government to give updated versions of OpenOffice or its LibreOffice counterpart a chance and pointing out Munich's open source adoption.

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