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Munich Votes for Linux Migration Plan 396

JoScherl writes "The German news site Heise reports (German, Babelfish version) that the city council of Munich (3rd biggest city in Germany, 1.3 million inhabitants) has voted for the detailed concept of the LiMux - Linux for Munich (German, Babelfish version) project with votes from all parties except the CSU (Christlich Soziale Union, christion social union). With this decision the 13,000 Desktops and Servers of the city administration will be migrated to Linux. CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux since its Feierabendprogrammierer ('leisure-time coders') would destroy Munich's IT-landscape (Microsoft Germany and other big companies are located in and around Munich) and they also fear that the personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice and other migrated systems. The migration plan has the following steps: This year the Windows NT desktops get OpenOffice and Mozilla as their default office and browsing suite. In 2005 and 2006 the systems will be migrated to Linux, with some applications running on Windows application servers. In 2008 all applications should run native on Linux."
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Munich Votes for Linux Migration Plan

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  • Sounds cool to me. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wig ( 778245 ) <> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:34PM (#9448139)
    Although, I think they'd be better off instead of "babying" the employees so to speak and taking such a long time to migrate. Just do it, give them courses, maybe an hour a day for a couple months. Four years seems like a long time just to convert to something extremely simple.
  • $30mil EURO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:35PM (#9448145) Homepage
    $30m divided by 13,000 machines = $2300/machine? Is this the reasonable cost companies should budget for to migration from Windows to Linux?
  • A plea to Munich... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by overbyj ( 696078 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:40PM (#9448180)
    I hope those in charge of this migration is honest in reporting how the migration goes. I wouldn't expect the migration to go without some hitches somewhere and I hope it is reported what the glitches are. Of course, expect MS to jump all over the problems and say "I told you so!" but overall I hope Munich becomes the standard bearer for a mass migration to Linux.

    Basically they should come out and say hey here is how things went, here are the problems and here is how to avoid them. The moral of the story hopefully will be that any large entity can migrate to Linux and get away from the MS lock-in.
  • "The German news site Heise reports (German, Babelfish version) that the city council of Munich (3rd biggest city in Germany, 1.3 million inhabitants) has voted for the detailed concept of the LiMux - Linux for Munich (German, Babelfish version) project with votes from all parties except the CSU (Christlich Soziale Union, christion social union)."

    Trying not to sound to troll-ish, but why was the Christian group the only group to say nay to this? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, correct? Are they saying they support being locked into an operating system and helping a monopoly? I'd think they would be jumping for this...And hell, the philosiphy behind linux is one of sharing and helping your fellows!

    Just a thought...
  • by sbszine ( 633428 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:49PM (#9448235) Homepage Journal
    I'd say a little bit of that goes to the labour cost of upgrading all those machines, and the rest goes to the retraining of staff. Two weeks of professional training could easily cost $2000.
  • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:51PM (#9448250) Journal
    We are bound to get a score of people telling us how staying with windows is easier and how it is the past of least resistance. They also said this about the server a few years ago, although they are quieter on that front now.

    What they do not understand is that this was a strategic and long-term move for the city of Munich. When you are creating infrastructure, you care about long-term benefits. In my eyes, the city of Munich is making a serious investment to create a future they can control. No doubt, this is a political move, but it is one that highsight will reveal as path-breaking, as in, breaking the path-dependence of Windows.

    Finally, I have moved a bunch of small non-profits to Linux, and all these alleged retraining costs are not there, even for the computer challenged. Real computer novices can get to work after an hourly week of training. Those that have used a computer before can do so almost immediately, with the occasional question posted on the site's intranet and quickly answered by yours truly.

    Come on, guys, if we are to bring on the Linux desktop, we need to dispell the myth that it is hard to use. Suse 9.1 or Mandrake 10 are a freaking joy to use.
  • LiMux (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ryanmfw ( 774163 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:53PM (#9448258)
    So, is LiMux going to be a new distro, or are they going to be buying one from a certain vendor? The translation was a *tad* too horrible for me to figure out. It would be cool if they made a new distro, but I think the best goal would be to take a commercial one and just make it fit. Maybe take SuSe, strip out the unnecessary stuff, change the desktop and that's really all they would need. Of course, they have extra apps that they need to install. Well, I'm sure they have much more of a clue about what they need to do than I do. Good Luck Munich!
  • by mnmlst ( 599134 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:57PM (#9448290) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot's US-centricism is showing...

    Basically, the Chrsitian Socialists Union in Bavaria or Christian Democratic Union as it is known in the rest of Germany is the "Conservative" party of German politics. It's the big conservative party, so I guess for Americans it's the equivalent of the Republican Party. Helmut Kohl, practically Chancellor for life there for about 15 years, was from the CDU/CSU.

    Politically active Christians in the USA would find the CDU/CSU's positions on many issues abhorrent; the Christian label is just an historical anachronism from what I could tell during my two years in Germany.

    Gerhardt Schroeder, the current Chancellor, is from the major "liberal" opposition party- I forget the name now. For what it is worth, West Germany only had one Chancellor in the postwar era from the opposition party. All the rest were CDU/CSU until the "wiedervereinigung".

  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:57PM (#9448295) Homepage Journal

    This is going to be interesting to follow. The biggest problem will probably be the users that Do Not Want Change. There's always some of these, and they'll raise a stink about it. Hopefully, things will go mostly smoothly [] such that not to many No Opinion Either Way-people are swayed by their bickering.

    I hope that IBM/Novell/SuSe provide some easy and well documented way (should be in the training "If you have a problem, don't mumble, speak up and we'll fix it!") for the users to send in bug reports. That and some developers/funds dedicated to fixing those precise problems could dramatically improve and the other applications they're switching to. That way, the users will see "Hey, we can actally influence this!" and the software projects will move forward, regardless of how the switch project ultimately ends.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:58PM (#9448302)
    My company (which is also based in Munich) is getting on this bandwagon as well, except in a more subtle way. Users are getting used to Mozilla and open source graphics programs on Windows... then we'll replace their engineering workstations with PCs running linux... ta-da, Linux on the desktop.

    Granted, it probably won't undercut terminal services for cost per seat for office and groupware, but the acceptance of Linux as a desktop platform opens the possibility for competition at that level of the enterprise too... especially as an alternative when a windows solution is too costly or a hassle to maintain. For a while, Linux couldn't compete even when it made sense, because it was still a dirty word to MSCE IT managers. Now (hopefully) it will become a legitimate tool when appropriate.
  • This is true about public infrastructure. If a city tore out and repoured its sidewalks every three years, the citizens would be up in arms about such a waste of money. But with computering infrastructure, this is just accepted. Even projects funded by entities such as the WPA, which were intended to generate employment, were built to last. Many of the sidewalks in my town still have the letters WPA cast into the concrete. In fact, the Munich Linux installation may become one of those seemingly permanent pieces of public infrastructure that future generations will marvel at for its solid construction and longevity.

    Great Accomplishments in Civil Engineering:
    1. Hoover Dam
    2. Roman Aqueducts
    3. Brooklyn Bridge
    4. Munich Linux installation
  • by Hiro2k ( 264020 ) <[Hiro2k] [at] []> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:19PM (#9448428)
    Well I did the same thing with my parents before I left. I had 3 computers in the house and one of them was a my linux server. So of course no one touched it. Once I found out I was going to be moving to a place where I only had dial up, I realized that my server had to stay.

    So I switched all their programs to the linux variants (Firefox, Thunderbird, AMSN, Open Office). At first they were scepticle, but I told them it was to prevent viruses.

    Then 3 days before I left, I took my linux computer and gave it to them. And said You can use this just the same or you can fight with my brother for the other computer. They were shocked, but eventually they came around. All they do is browse the web, chat, and check thier mail.

    NO Problems what so ever. And if there is, I can always SSH into the box and fix it for them. So it took a few months, but it was worth it. And my parents are now using Linux!!! I never thought Ide see the day.
  • Are They In? Or Out? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by soloport ( 312487 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:21PM (#9448440) Homepage
    From the post, it's hard to tell...

    With this decision the 13,000 Desktops and Servers of the city administration will be migrated to Linux.

    and then

    CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux

    So, which is it? Can someone who knows the political landscape explain? Much appreciated.
  • by iserlohn ( 49556 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:22PM (#9448448) Homepage
    Not this time. If you followed the events carefully, they are paying more for Linux than they are for Microsoft (Due to the cost of the migration and all the customizations needed). The situation was so dire that MS sent Steve over there to talk, but they insisted on going on with Linux, IIRC.
  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:26PM (#9448465) Homepage
    That's funny because, for Republicans in the US, the 'conservative' label is also just a historical anachronism.
  • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:51PM (#9448600) Homepage Journal
    I have been moving a few people to Linux. I can tell you my experience is that the "cream-puffs" as you call them have very little trouble. They can get in and do what they need to. I call these people absolute beginners.

    The only people who have any real trouble are the intermediate Windows users. These people have more trouble because they have learned all the Windowisms and have to learn a different way of doing things.

    You see, Linux is one of the easiest OSs I have ever seen for a *complete beginner* to learn how to be productive on. Much easier than Windows. But for many people it is just a bit harder they are used to Windows, and the culture shock is what gets them.

    Personally, I think that Munich's plan is great. It means that they are moving applications one at a time to give people a chance to learn things a little at a time.
  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:55PM (#9448627)
    OK, but as long as they use the word socialist, we can push people's buttons over here with that. The ones who knee jerk on the word socialist will assume they are "radical marxists", or even worse, "liberals". Heck, we've even got the word "union" in there too, how pinko can you get?
    Tell some other people the party is on the right, and we can mention in passing another right wing German bunch that used the word socialist in their name too.
    With the right spin, this is a gold mine of good publicity for Linux. Can I use that quote about the abhorrent positions? What's the biggest thing the CSU supports that most Politically Active Christians over here will find abhorent? Forced Bussing of Christian baby seals to live with Agnostic Baby Orcas? Manditory 100% taxation on all profits from the sale of propane and propane accessories? We don't need the things many over here would find "reasonable" mind you, if they've supported the US in Iraq or something leave that out.
  • by sasha328 ( 203458 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:12PM (#9448714) Homepage
    I agree that Teminals are much better suited to some tasks than stand-alone PCs.
    The company where I work has a lot of call centres. At the moment, many of their application use terminal clients running on Macs/PCs to access databases on Unix servers. The rest of their applications run over a Citrix server. These are much better served using thin clients.
    It is never clear why this never kicked off at all.
    Maybe other people can shed some light on this.
  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:18PM (#9448741)
    "CSU, which has just won the European elections, said they won't support Linux since its Feierabendprogrammierer ('leisure-time coders') would destroy Munich's IT-landscape (Microsoft Germany and other big companies are located in and around Munich) and they also fear that the personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice and other migrated systems."

    Sounds a little too much like "direct from Redmond" FUD doesn't it? Let's hope these Microsoft shills don't have the power to sabotage the whole thing. We can expect Microsoft to try to buy politicians in Germany just like they have in the US. At any rate I would suggest that the government of Munich be prepared for Microsoft's interference.

  • by provolt ( 54870 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:35PM (#9448838)
    And Office 97 is about as good as Office ever got.

    Spoken like a person who has never used Word for anything except writing a college paper. I prefer Open Office to MS Office, and I think that there are plent of problems for MS Office. But saying Office 97 is better than the more recent versions is delusional at best.
  • by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:55PM (#9448960)
    Come on, guys, if we are to bring on the Linux desktop, we need to dispell the myth that it [Linux] is hard to use.

    Not entirely myth.

    You are entirely correct in that much of what normal users need and want to do is in fact quite easy with Linux, often easier than with Microsoft.

    The thing is that the optimum level of use with Linux is substantially higher than that of Microsoft, like comparing vi with pico. Linux is harder in that it's worthwhile learning to do stuff that isn't worthwhile learning with Microsoft.

    With Microsoft Word I tell my users to just slop something in. It will come out looking halfway presentable. Do not, ever, care much about how it looks. If you care about what it looks like you are fighting something bigger than you are and it will have its own way.
    With Linux and Open/Star Office I would expect better, meaning that there's stuff that's worth learning.

  • by psyco484 ( 555249 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @12:10AM (#9449051)
    Just to touch on some of your comments. I'll preface this by saying I've been paid to move small offices over from Windows to Linux in the past (at the workstation level), so take my views and opinions as you will.

    Microsoft Office -> Open Office is fine, and the training for OpenOffice is comparable to training someone on a new revision of Microsoft Office, obviously there are other features, lacking features, differently named features, etc. from the two, but these can typically be covered through books or online training.

    Internet Explorer -> Konqueror is something I don't recommend to clients for web at all. It's slower and has more problems than Mozilla FireFox, even if it's more familiar and has more features. The extra features aren't worth it IMHO. No one should need to be trained how to use a web browser, but if they do need training the cost of training for IE vs any other browser should be no different.

    Outlook -> Nothing Comparable just shows you aren't familiar with the issue (and a lot of people aren't). In my experience, the average user uses Outlook for more than e-mail, and this is a point a lot of pro-Linux people don't realize. This is where something like Ximian Evolution comes in. It is by far the best Outlook replacement that is currently out there, on any platform. I suppose if you disagree in saying it's ugly, I agree but that'd be a weird reason to not use a piece of software. It definitely gets the job done, while lacking most flaws that Outlook has. Training users how to use Evolution takes no longer than training users to use Outlook, and chances are if they know how to use Outlook, using Evolution won't be difficult at all.

    Windows Explorer -> ? well, I usually like to set people up with Ximian Desktop. The interface is very close to most Windows desktops, and it integrates well with Evolution. It's not the prettiest desktop out there, but it is efficient and intuitive. If you go with a KDE Desktop, that works too, use Konqueror for a file manager and most people can pick it up quickly. I pointed out that it's somewhat unstable, which is true and the main reason I try to avoid this, but the problems are fewer when not using it for web. Training costs are small, after showing most users where the apps are located and how to launch them, they can figure it out based on what they know from Windows.

    Productivity Tools -> ? this largely depends on what the users need to do. Most firms use some kind of custom software, and if this isn't able to be run remotely, or isn't compatible with Linux, that really is the deciding factor. If you're not familiar with the topic, you'd probably be suprised by the number of small businesses that use *nix based applications. So training is the same regardless of platform in this case (at least it is most of the time).

    Switching to Linux really isn't as scary as a lot of people make it out to be, but it's also not nearly as simple as others claim it to be. Every firm's scenario is different and offers unique challenges. I applaud Munich's decision and hope their transition goes smoothly, they seem to have it pretty well planned out.

  • In my experience it's the users who think they kow it all about Windows that'll cause the problems. They're the ones who stand around the company helpdesk all day talking about the latest articles in IT magazines, annoying those who are actually trying to do some work. They're the ones who have all their little tweaks set up, and the ones who cause all the problems helpdesks lose their reputations trying to fix.

    They're also the ones who know thatthey know more than the company IT department, and any big change like this is automatically, in their opinion wrong. Why move to Linux? I know better. I saw an article...

    Having a locked down system like Linux can offer is probably the best thing for everyone, if it only keeps these types out.

    def exclude (-(tag:"rant")(slashdot readers)}!!
  • by sohojim ( 676510 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @12:53AM (#9449205) Homepage
    Actually, I do have a clue. I help large organizations move their apps from custom client/server toward the browser: open standards, any platform. Virtually any client-server app, especially with a database back-end, can be made web-accessible.

    * platform-independent. don't need a big fat desktop box... or thousands of them.

    * maintain ONE copy of the app, not 100 or 1000 or 10,000.

    * even mainframe "green screens" can be "web-faced" and thus accessible from the browser -- and not just via an embedded Java terminal emulator.

    The move toward the browser is a big reason Microsoft will face an uphill battle convincing corporate buyers to shell out for Longhorn and required hardware.

  • by qute ( 78334 ) <qute,slashdot&qute,dk> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @02:23AM (#9449526) Homepage
    Did anyone notice that first they are going to make the users run some of the open source apps on their windows?

    Then the change won't be so huge, when they switch from Windows to Linux. All of their apps will still be right there. The browser and mail-client being the most important.

    Some people get angry that good open source apps are being ported to windows, but really: It's the best(only?) way to do it.
    It's must easier to switch if you can take all your base^H^H^H^H apps with you.
  • by j-pimp ( 177072 ) <zippy1981@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @02:40AM (#9449608) Homepage Journal
    These folks make Bush look semi liberal!

    Hrm, increased spending, expanding social security, compassionate conservatism. While The man is a moral conservative, he's got quite the libreal spending streak.

    Yes in the grand scheme of things he's quite conservative. However, you want to talk true blue conservative, use an example like McCain or Regan.
  • by Alexis de Torquemada ( 785848 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @09:40AM (#9451754)
    Currently not. But that is likely to change at the next national election. The CDU/CSI is likely to win in two years

    You mean they're likely to win a lot of seats. Still they will hardly be able to form a government on their own, forcing them to form a coalition with a smaller parliamentary fraction. If the percentages are sufficient, they will team up with the liberals (FDP). They could form a "great coalition" with the SPD, but this is unlikely if the SPD continues to draw the wrath of the populace. A third combination could be CDU/CSU + the Greens. However, it would already be hard to reconcile the CDU with the Greens. The CSU is so strongly opposed to them that they likely will not want to participate in such a coalition.

    Just consider that Michael Glos from the CSU has called the Greens a bunch of ticks [], which happens to be the same word that German neonazis use for anti-fascists (punks).

    and I doubt very much that the CDU has any more sense when it comes to OSS.

    The CSU is extremely hostile to OSS and Linux in particular, and chumming up with Microsoft in a disgusting way. However, this hostility is not shared by the CDU, which doesn't currently bother about the "OS wars". Still, when in doubt, they will value industry (aka big corporation) interests higher than OSS interests any time, since in conservative school of thought, when a corporation makes huge profits, it's good for the economy (what else?). But then, Schröder's "Neue Mitte" (New Center - of the political spectrum) is no better.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito