UPDATE: German city drops Windows for Linux

ITworld.com –

Schwäbisch Hall, a community of 36,000 in southern Germany, plans to build its entire IT infrastructure on the open source Linux operating system, replacing Windows from Microsoft Corp.

The city government is believed to be the first in Germany and possibly Europe to agree to install Linux not only in its servers but also in its desktop systems, said David Burger, vice president of enterprise solutions at SuSE Linux AG. And many more are in the starting blocks, he said, declining to provide names.

"Numerous city administrations are already running Linux on their servers and we expect to see some of them make announcements in the first quarter of 2003 about their plans to extend Linux to the desktop as well," Burger said.

The local government in Schwäbisch Hall has decided to deploy Linux software supplied by SuSE Linux on servers from IBM Corp. and up to 400 PCs, SuSE Linux said Tuesday in a statement. The government is targeting an initial cost savings of more than €100,000 (US$102,300), according to the statement.

The savings will come in part from avoiding Microsoft's new licensing fee for product updates, said Thomas Hilbert, a spokesman for the city government.

According to Hilbert, the city government also plans to take advantage of favorable conditions for buying computers equipped with Linux from IBM, which earlier this year formed a partnership with the German Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin to supply hardware with Linux software to federal, state and local governments.

In addition to cost savings, the city government expects Linux-based IT infrastructure to provide greater security and interoperability with other systems, the city's mayor, Hermann-Josef Pelgrim, said in the statement.

Initially, the project will include the migration from Windows and Microsoft Office to the SuSE Linux Enterprise Client and OpenOffice.org for 120 client PCs, a number that is expected to rise to 400 client PCs in the final stage, said SuSE Linux in Nuremberg, Germany.

On the server side, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server software will be deployed on IBM's eServer xSeries servers, the company said.

Whether the city government will succeed in dropping Microsoft completely "is difficult to say," Hilbert said. "That's certainly our goal but we'll have to wait and see if we can achieve it."

The municipality hopes to have the migration completed within two years, according to Hilbert.

Importing documents written in Microsoft formats to open source formats such as OpenOffice, is no problem and exporting "works about 90 to 95 percent of the time," said Stefan Weder, senior sales engineer. "We're working on the areas where manual tweaking is still necessary."

Microsoft did not return calls asking for comment.

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