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LiMux Project Has Saved Munich €10m So Far 219 219

Mojo66 writes "After project savings had been estimated to amount to at least €4 million in March, more precise figures are now in: Over €10 million (approximately £8 million or $12.8 million) has been saved by the city of Munich, thanks to its development and use of the city's own Linux platform. The calculation compares the current overall cost of the LiMux migration with that of two technologically equivalent Windows scenarios: Windows with Microsoft Office and Windows with OpenOffice. Reportedly, savings amount to over €10 million. The study is based on around 11,000 migrated workplaces within Munich's city administration as well as 15,000 desktops that are equipped with an open source office suite. The comparison with Windows assumes that Windows systems must be on the same technological level; this would, for example, mean that they would have been upgraded to Windows 7 at the end of 2011. Overall, the project says that Windows and Microsoft Office would have cost just over €34 million, while Windows with Open Office would have cost about €30 million. The LiMux scenario, on the other hand, has reportedly cost less than €23 million. A detailed report (in German) is available."
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LiMux Project Has Saved Munich €10m So Far

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  • hope it's true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:19PM (#42075353)

    I hope the numbers hold water because that would make a great research case (all info has been public from the begining)

    • Re:hope it's true (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday November 23, 2012 @04:23PM (#42076355) Homepage
      If they're true Microsoft will whatever it takes to either silence them or make theirs cheaper. Personally I think their lower pricing for Windows 8 should be considered along the lines of dumping already.
  • Cancelled (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:20PM (#42075363)

    I thought I heard that the project had been cancelled because of problems in dealing with proprietary file formats (Word, etc). Was that somewhere else?

      • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <> on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:28PM (#42075453) Journal

        D'oh, that's Freiburg. I put Munich in my search Google!!!

      • Re:Cancelled (Score:5, Informative)

        by ilguido (1704434) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:51PM (#42075653) Homepage
        Freiburg != Munich
      • Linux Can't Bribe (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:27PM (#42076793)

        ..and of course It Can't Kick Back. The severest deficiency of all in the world of business and government.

        • by jc42 (318812) on Friday November 23, 2012 @08:11PM (#42078087) Homepage Journal

          ..and of course It Can't Kick Back.

          This is about a political/governmental entity, where such things are not called kickbacks; they're called campaign contributions.

          (At least that's how it works here in the US, where the courts have fully legalized it. And I've seen a bit of evidence that similar phrases -- translated into the local language of course -- are rapidly being (re)introduced in many other parts of the world. So you need to update your terminology. ;-)

        • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @05:39AM (#42080589)

          This comes up every time there's a Microsoft/OpenOffice discussion.

          Fact is its simply not true. This fantasy of some slick salesman passing a brown envelope full of unmarked £20 notes in exchange for a big order is just that - a fantasy. It just doesn't happen in most of the Western world for two reasons:

            - Retail margins are so slim that they don't allow it.
            - The risks involved in being unmasked as using dishonest sales tactics are too great.

          The most I've ever heard of is being taken out for lunch. Not even dinner.

          You want to know how to improve F/OSS's position on the desktop? Fine. You need to learn a few things.

            - Humility. If someone asks a question, there's a reason they asked and it's more likely to be "the answer is not obvious" than "they're stupid".
            - QA. If you can't deliver a working feature, turn it off altogether. Don't release something where bits of the software are just fine and bits are known to be dire if you can help it.
                - This doesn't necessarily mean everything has to be perfect. But some parts of open office are frankly beta quality and should never be included in a finished release.
            - Setting reasonable expectations. You tell someone "it's fine for most practical uses but it does have shortcomings; if you run into any let me know because I may not know about them myself", you'll get far more positive results than if you tell them "It's all singing all dancing and will make the tea!" when it patently isn't.
            - Self awareness. If you can't see any shortcomings at all in your product, how can you improve it?
            - Marketing is vital, that's true. But you can't polish a turd - frankly, if any of the big boys like IBM thought it was worth marketing a free desktop with paid consultancy to set it up, they'd have done so years ago. I think it tells you all you need to know that the company that's doing most to get Linux powered devices with a user interface in front of people (Google) is avoiding all the traditional desktop commercial application clones like the plague.

    • Re:Cancelled (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dupple (1016592) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:26PM (#42075429)

      I think you're thinking of Freiburg []

      It was on /. but I can't seem to find the story

    • Re:Cancelled (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dadioflex (854298) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:33AM (#42079597)
      Open Source software programs like Open or Libre Office and Google Docs in particular deal with Microsoft's proprietary data formats better than Microsoft does. Good luck getting your five year old Office installation to read the latest version from MS. Meanwhile Google et al can cope with it fine. Perhaps not perfectly, but fine. The lesson here isn't that using non-MS software gives a less than perfect experience, it's that using MS software encourages a less than perfect experience. 99% of users demand little or nothing more than MS was offering in the 90s, but they're forced to upgrade because otherwise they can't read the files they're getting from that work colleague with the new PC.
      • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @01:41PM (#42082187)

        Let's see. Five year old MS Office... this is 2012, so that would be Office 2007 (+/- one year), yeah?

        Which uses the same file formats as Office 2010. I haven't heard of any major file format changes for the upcoming Office 2013, (maybe I've missed a story? I don't really pay close attention). And there is a set of free plugins you can download for editing the docx, xlsx etc file types in Office 2003, which is even older.

        Of course, the feature compatibility isn't ever 100% complete between Office versions (otherwise, what would be the point of a new version anyway...), but I generally find that as long as you aren't relying on any new features in a document, it'll be largely fine in older versions of MS Office. But perfect backwards compatibility isn't required is it? You've already established that your personal baseline for adequate performance is

        Perhaps not perfectly, but fine.

        and that

        99% of users demand little or nothing more than MS was offering in the 90s

        Implying that someone using Office 2003 or 2007 (five years old!) is completely unable to use files generated in the latest version(s) of Office is pretty disingenuous. At least you weren't modded (dis)Informative.

  • Hard to ask this... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:23PM (#42075387)

    ...without sounding like a shill, but I'm really curious if the end result works just as well. If all your people are are trained on Windows and Office, switching to Linux and OpenOffice will have an associated cost in terms of retraining and reduced productivity while people become proficient in the new software, right? I don't read German, so I have no idea if those numbers are included in the final cost. And I think it's great that they are showing that home grown Linux can be cheaper (for their needs). I'm just wondering what the *real* cost is in the short term.

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <> on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:27PM (#42075439) Journal

      Look at it this way, can it be worse than Microsoft's switch to a ribbon interface? (And now brace for tiles...)

    • Stupid to ask it. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:28PM (#42075451)

      Since you can't have been Proficient in Windows 7 until it was released in 2011, staying on Windows would have cost you in terms of retraining and reduced productivity while people become proficient in the new software, right?

      And yes the figures are included in the costs.

      The REAL cost in the short term is -10mil. In the long term: priceless.

    • by sjames (1099) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:36PM (#42075541) Homepage

      Given the changes MS keeps making in it's UI, the retraining costs and productivity losses happen either way. There is a better chance that Linux w/ OOffice won't cause those costs to recur with each release.

    • by cgenman (325138) on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:13PM (#42075815) Homepage

      They're quickly becoming about the same. Linux and OpenOffice on the desktop are still bad, but getting better. Gnome, etc are all pretty trivial to use until you get to things like adding printers, and Open Office is basically Word 2000. Similarly, Windows / Word is fine, but getting worse. Adding networked printers in Windows seems to keep getting harder, and Word keeps adding more and more junk until it's useless. On top of this Google Docs is more than adequate for most tasks, and the multi-user live-document-editing is an amazingly useful feature. That gives 2 solid Windows alternatives.

      People don't really need training. The systems are about the same, and the parts that one would need to train for have become so far away from the normal user's abilities that there really isn't a point to training anyone other than your IT people. And your IT people shouldn't have a problem with any of this.

      • by Mathinker (909784) on Friday November 23, 2012 @04:30PM (#42076419) Journal

        > until you get to things like adding printers

        Interesting. I never thought that the CUPS admin interface was very daunting. All very "in the browser" GUI-ish.

        Getting networked scanning working under Linux (saned) isn't for the command-line challenged. But considering that Microsoft doesn't even provide a competing standard for networked scanners, the situation under Windows cannot be any better.

        • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @06:59AM (#42080789) Journal

          First you have to find the cups interface. I mean I realize that calling a printing system cups is really intuitive to some people but for the rest something that includes the word "print" might be more appropriate and easy to remember. You actually might pick say "Network Print" out of a list without anyone telling you about it and if they did tell you about it, you'd likely remember that "Network Print" was for network printing the next time you needed it.

          Even the driver naming is ugly and unintuitive. For many printers there are multiple drivers with no indication of which is the one you should pick. In other places it actually wants you to use these funky path things.

          A simple interface is one where it scans the network, presents a human readable list of printers and you select the one you want and it detects and loads the driver for you. There is nothing about that interface that precludes having advanced and/or more options buttons each step of the way. I have seen this sort of interface on some linux distros but sadly they generally don't actually work worth a damn.

    • by Zemran (3101) on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:18PM (#42075867) Homepage Journal

      We are now several years down this road and their people are now far more trained with Limux and OpenOffice (why?) that with MS and Office. The long term benefits are already being felt.

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#42075987) Homepage Journal

      The report seems to address that added cost for switching to systems the people were unfamiliar with. And, as already has been mentioned - people who stayed with Microsoft products have had their own training expenses!

      Remember too, that the report addresses relatively short-term savings. Over the course of the next decade, the saving will increase dramatically. The people are going to need less and less training and retraining as time goes on. IT expenses will decrease, probably dramatically, for that reason. Retraining for upgrades will probably remain. You can only estimate those costs if you have a crystal ball or something to predict how Linux and Windows updates/upgrades are going to work out in the years ahead. But - there will be NO LICENSING fees associated with any of those upgrade.

      And, if you scroll up to my earlier post, you'll have to consider the savings in virus infections and recovery, as well as the costs involved with leaking protected data, liability, etc. No, Linux isn't the end-all and be-all in computer security, but it's track record is superior to Windows, which should translate into tremendous savings.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Friday November 23, 2012 @04:05PM (#42076211) Homepage

        Remember too, that the report addresses relatively short-term savings. Over the course of the next decade, the saving will increase dramatically. The people are going to need less and less training and retraining as time goes on.

        I think that's a generous assumption, since most other people use MS Office they'll be constantly training new users, new administrators and figuring out new headaches with hardware/driver compatibility. Here in Norway our biggest OpenOffice poster boy with 20,000 seats (that's fairly big in a country of 5 mio people) dropped it last year and went back to MS Office after 7 years - you'd think they'd be well into the "long time savings" period by then.

    • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#42075989)

      ...without sounding like a shill, but I'm really curious if the end result works just as well. If all your people are are trained on Windows and Office, switching to Linux and OpenOffice will have an associated cost in terms of retraining and reduced productivity while people become proficient in the new software, right?

      Of course it would, but there's also a license cost and a training cost in upgrading Windows and Office to stay current. The total cost of Linux and OpenOffice is less. The real difference would show in productivity. If your staff ended up spending more time fiddling with settings and formats in OpenOffice or in Microsoft Office, that could tip the scale either way. But a city ought to have a policy regarding formatting and adhere to a bare style that minimizes the time spent fiddling with formatting and other unproductive work.

      • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @07:04AM (#42080799) Journal

        " But a city ought to have a policy regarding formatting"

        Indeed and my experience when working with government entities (here in the US) is that they impose their standards on 3rd parties not the other way around. Generally, it is you who needs to interact with the city. The city couldn't care less if you don't get your permits, licenses, whatever. They'll just fine or penalize you if you haven't managed to get the right paperwork submitted in the format they've dictated.

    • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday November 23, 2012 @04:24PM (#42076381) Homepage
      Open Office and Linux isn't *that* different for what the average person does with a computer. Most people can't remember where things are in Office and have to search or ask. So it doesn't matter if they're asking for Office or open office.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:16PM (#42076727)

      There have been a few interviews with the limux people, and the scope of what they're doing is a little more than just stick linux+openoffice on the desktop and be done. It includes user training too, among such things as close liason with the users and giving them the tools they need, getting-toes-wet opportunities and smooth changeovers. I suspect we haven't seen the end of the savings yet.

      Disclaimer: Not affiliated. Tried to but didn't get hired, which is a bit of a pity.

    • by bfandreas (603438) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:13PM (#42077163)
      This project has been going on for some time. Also OpenOffice's UI isn't that far from MS Office of yesteryear.

      Also you don't seem to be aware of the reality of IT workplaces in large organizations. They use custom software. Software built specifically for them. Stuff that doesn't come up when you google for it. They are used to learning new stuff. The Kreisverwaltungsreferat alone propably has a couple of hundred custom software solutions created from scratch and each of it unprecedented.

      They are constantly adapting just fine.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:07PM (#42079157)
      If you can't work out how to use a word processor and spreadsheet in 2012 then everything about working in an office is going to be a bit of a challenge. Training to use a different word processor or spreadsheet is like training to use a different model of photocopier.
      So sorry, you DO sound like a shill because there appears to be no substance to your nitpick, thus your petty little effort to sow uncertainty (ie. *real* cost) has nothing to back it up IMHO.
    • by GNious (953874) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @05:03AM (#42080477)

      Training and deployment has been in the estimates from Munich from the get-go, and some reports pointed to them being smaller cost-items than anticipated.

  • by miknix (1047580) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:32PM (#42075491) Homepage

    meanwhile somewhere in redmoon, a chair flies through the air.

  • by Seeteufel (1736784) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:39PM (#42075565) Homepage
    It is a smart decision to invest into Libreoffice []. The Libreoffice Development Conference this year took place at the German ministry of business and technology. Behind the scenes several European governments consider to cut costs with huge Libreoffice migrations. Add to that Libreoffice is a European foundation while is hold back by Americans. The likely solution to the competitive pressure would be that Microsoft goes open source with its own Office suite. The Chinese demonstrated the Europeans with their Kingsoft Office suite how to do it, how to break free from the Microsoft dependency.
    • by Lisias (447563) on Friday November 23, 2012 @04:26PM (#42076391) Homepage Journal

      You have a good argument, but I don't agree that going open source is the more likely way out to Microsoft.

      I think they'll push cloud computing first (if ever) going to some kind of open source. This way, the suite itself became expendable without compromising the monopoly.

      • by Seeteufel (1736784) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:45PM (#42076935) Homepage
        Actually they will open source Internet Explorer first. Simply because it is a giant waste of capacity to invest into a product without direct cash flows. It's not sold and all that matters is the default search engine. Google on the hand virtually got Chrome for free, all taken from KHTML, webkit and quite a cheap investment. Why did they get their browser? Because they could, and their employees develop probably five other browsers as well which were never turned into commercial products. E.g. ever heard of Classilla []?
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Friday November 23, 2012 @02:47PM (#42075619)

    He couldn't understand the long term viability of a software only business!

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <> on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:14PM (#42075821) Homepage

    This is nice because it tells us that with a large migration to a Linux based desktop saves about 1/3. What does this tell us about the migrations that will follow or are not so big ? Different factors pull in different directions.

    * Munich is big enough to demand that correspondents use file formats that they can support - this is more than about LibreOffice

    * The cost software rewrites (special bespoke stuff) could be amortised over many users

    * The overall project costs (design, IT staff retraining, ...) could be amortised over many users

    * They are pioneers - those who follow should be able to use their blueprint, avoid the mistakes that Munich made

    * They were probably getting large volume license discounts on propietary s/ware, more than smaller organisations would have got, so they saved less

    What do you think ? What do you say when a customer asks how much they will save ?

  • The training costs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:38PM (#42076001)

    Looking at the report, the savings come from not having to buy software licenses (~ €6 million) and hardware upgrades (~ €4 million). They have an additional €16 million in the budget with is applied equally to the all Microsoft, LibreOffice on Microsoft and LiMux cases. That money goes to support, customization, trainings and that kind of thing. The allocated budget for each item is exactly the same in all cases.

    I think there's an interesting message there: "staying with Microsoft saves you training money" is simply a myth.

  • by phrank (112038) on Friday November 23, 2012 @03:57PM (#42076155) Homepage

    As a munich resident i follow news coverage of the LiMux project from the beginning. About two years ago there was a documentation on TV (in german): LiMux - Freie Software für München []
    I am not sure, but I think, that guy with pink hair is a Debian maintainer. Probably, such projects succeed or fail with the competence of a few individuals, if they get the required backing. Also this weekend, a Debian bug squashing party is held in Munich.

  • Unless I am mistaken (tl;dr) each city in Germany seems to be considering gnu/linux separately and much effort is probably being duplicated in the evaluation, training and customization phases. I am curious:
    1) Wouldn't savings continue into the future with no need to buy Windows 2015, etc when supported version life ends?
    2) Couldn't the second city in Germany use what Munich learned, compare Munich's consideration process to their own situation and save a lot of effort?
    3) I don't know what kind of customization is involved, but wouldn't it be the same for say Stuttgart or Koeln?
    4) If 1 million Euros of the saved money from each city is put into hiring open source developers to improve the system, that would be a massive boon to the open source world and open source software in general. Is anybody thinking about this? Specifically:
    5) What are the chances / how would one go about in establishing a way for all municipal/state governments in Germany or EU for that matter, to pool their funds and make the necessary improvements such as oh I don't know, how about:
    - LibreOffice enhancements like fixing pasting of outlines from TextEdit into LibreOffice, making outlines import correctly from LO into MS Word, making templates for Draw for both government and small/medium/large companies, making templates for Calc, Write and Impress, making database templates that work with it all, gathering, organizing and fixing every glaring compatibility issue regarding MS Office interoperability, etc. It isn't rocket science and 50M Euros with some responsible project managers could stomp out all the distracting issues.
    - Multilingual video series on merits of free software, TCO, installation, training, submitting bug reports and enhancement requests, writing software.
    - Make a global clearing house for software/services wish list, and how to resolve issues on various distros site, so the wheel doesn't get reinvented all the time.
    - Make a global support and development job site that helps local developers

System restarting, wait...