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Munich's Move To Linux Exceeds Target 235

jrepin writes "In May 2003, Munich's city council resolved to migrate municipal workstations from Windows to Linux and open source. Munich's LiMux project has announced that it has exceeded its annual target for migrating the city's PCs to its LiMux client. To date in 2011, the project has migrated 9,000 systems; it had originally planned to migrate 8,500 of the 12,000-15,000 PC workstations used by city officials in Munich."
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Munich's Move To Linux Exceeds Target

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  • steve balmer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    in 2003 steve balmer travelled to munich to convince the city council to keep running windows

    • Re:steve balmer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:08AM (#38414750) Homepage

      in 2003 steve balmer travelled to munich to convince the city council to keep running windows

      And if the CEO of RedHat didn't travel to Munich to convince the city to convert to RedHat, he's an idiot.

    • by deniable ( 76198 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:09AM (#38414756)
      Well done, Steve. Should we send him a gift basket?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:09AM (#38414764)

      Prior to 2003 they were perfectly happy with using windows.
      After Balmer's trip.. Wholly shit we have to switch to ANYTHING ELSE ASAP.
      Photo from said trip

      • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:21AM (#38414810) Homepage Journal
        I was expecting the parent to be goatse, but no, it's actually Ballmer, which is probably more offending to the eye than goatse.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:27AM (#38414834)

          It's still Gotse, but a different angle

        • Re:steve balmer (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday December 18, 2011 @10:34AM (#38416076) Journal

          Well anyone who has seen Steve Ballmer hooting like a madman while leaving sweat pools across the stage would know that Ballmer is waaaay more offensive than Goatse. Frankly i think he makes the Pepsi guy that ran Apple look like a fricking genius.You know its bad when Gates actually had to come out and say "I'm not coming back to MSFT, quit with the rumors already' because so many are unhappy with Ballmer they were hoping for a Jobs style saving of the company.

          As for TFA its nice to see that some that try switching aren't doing it for the WRONG reasons, because they always seem to lead to failure. if you want to switch to Linux because its open? Because it lets YOU decide how long support will last? Because it allows you to look at and modify the code to suit YOUR needs? Congratulations you have switched for the RIGHT reasons and will most likely succeed. Where you see Linux fail time and time again is at these companies where they only care about "free as in beer" and they quickly find out that if all you want Linux for is to save money you are gonna lose and lose big.

          Lets face it folks Linux isn't gonna save you a dime, not in the short or medium term anyway. You are gonna need more expensive Linux admins instead of dirt cheap MCSEs, you are gonna have to hire developers to code FOSS versions of any and all niche programs you have, you are gonna have to pay people to get your files out of proprietary formats and into FOSS ones, its not gonna be cheap friends. That is why the ones that ONLY care about price are doomed to fail, as when they don't see their budgets magically drop by half and in fact see costs initially rise they are gonna bail.

          But if you do it for the right reasons listed above you will stick with it and end up probably better off than you were before since you won't be tied into any products by proprietary vendors like Adobe or MSFT and buy hiring internal coders and admins will be able to DIY instead of going out and buying solutions that will have to be re-bought when the support date ends.

          So its nice to see someone looking like they are gonna have a happy outcome by doing it for the right reasons after all the stories we have seen of Linux being used for the wrong reasons and failing. I bet if you looked at their budget they probably haven't saved squat yet and possibly have even had the price go up as they have paid for all of the above that I listed, but they now have more control and can pay to have it customized any way they desire.

      • Well, he did learn from this experience so when it was Finlands turn he just sent a puppet.

      • by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @09:30AM (#38415740) Homepage Journal

        He's looks all happy because Bobba Fett brought him Han Solo.

    • by suprem1ty ( 1854894 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:12AM (#38414778)
      I heard several Munich city officials were later admitted to hospital with chair-related injuries
      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        In other news, mr. Ballmer will be included in next intercontinental ballistic missile agreement?

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      And they probably would have stayed with windows if he did not start throwing chairs all over the council chambers.

  • by sugarmotor ( 621907 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:08AM (#38414746) Homepage

    The article says, "Last year, Florian Schießl, a LiMux project director, stated that he and his team had been naïve and had underestimated the extent of minor problems."

    "naïve" links to another article on the same site,, from March 2010,

      * LiMux project management, "We were naïve", []

    This one states: On his blog, the IT expert admits that "We were naïve," and confesses to a "miscalculation".

    This links to

      * []

    but just says "It works". The Internet Archive records only cover up to Feb 2010 (*/

    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:35AM (#38414866) Homepage

      Yes, I saw that too. I was a little amazed that despite their need to change their approach they stayed with it. This is Microsoft's favorite opportunity to step in and "heal the pain" with discounts and assistance in putting things back as they were.

      I would like to be able to see more about this and how the transition went and most importantly, the lessons learned in all of this.

    • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:15AM (#38414992)

      He says that 1,000 staff had been maintaining 15,000 Windows computers. Fifteen computers per tech? Not impressive, by an order of magnitude.

      • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @07:29AM (#38415258)

        That sounds like a shockingly inefficient network, I doubt it has anything to do with Windows, and more to do with ingrained poor practices and typical bureaucratic inefficiency.

        Switching to anything would have been an automatic improvement simply because it's an opportunity to cleanse the existing system with fire.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Clearly you don't measure the implications of switching from one architecture to another in any organization. There are a lot (I meal a LOT) of specialiazed applications (from accountancy to library management to any professional branch) that just can't magically go or be replaced, and although I don't work in Munich, I guess there's a lot of Wine running there... In fact, speaking of the software tools everyone in the offices uses (and I mean, non-tech staff), and aside OpenOffice, I don't really see what

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @07:59AM (#38415374)

        The amount of computers I can personally maintain could be as high as thousands or as low as one. All depends on what your requirements are.

        For example suppose my job is to do nothing but maintain the systems in working order. I don't help users with problems at all, I just make sure the computers and software works properly. I'm allowed total control, all systems are one make and model and are under warranty at all times, they are replaced when they fall out. They all run a single, unified, set of software, none of it custom. Users have no admin access, all data is stored on a highly reliable, supported, central server.

        Well hell in that situation, I can maintain a virtually unlimited number of systems myself. Only real limit is in terms of how often hardware fails and I have to diagnose it and call in warranty support (who will do the actual repairs). Highly reliable central equipment that is supported by the company combined with management software like Ghost mean that I'll do things once and replicate it everywhere.

        Now on the other end of the scale, suppose I am expected to provide extremely hands on support. Each and every computer is custom built to the user's wishes, both hardware and software. They get it setup however they want. They also have full and complete admin access. Plus, I am expected to handle any questions or training they have. In that case, I'm not going to be able to handle many systems. 15 might well be too many. I'm going to have to spend a lot of time per system helping people, fixing their fuckups, and so on. I'll hit my limit at a low number of systems.

        So it is all in what you want. The more service you want, the more staff you need. We go through that with the Dean at work all the time. He wants us to make faculty happy, which means lots of handholding and support for special research projects, but he doesn't want to spend a lot and hire a lot of staff. We have to keep explaining that you can't have it both ways.

        Now they may well have had some inefficiency as well, but part of it can just be a very extensive amount of support. If your support team has a lot of jobs, they need a lot of people.

        • You are, of course, correct. However, in most organizations, your first model would work for most office staff and production workers but not for some, albeit, limited R&D staff and developers. For the latter, I think both greater control and greater accountability are required. I am one of those .1% in my organization (I do instrument automation and image processing/analysis.) I have a good relationship with our IT staff. If I break something, I fix it. If hardware crashes, they help (they have the par
          • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

            We're talking about the government here.

          • In some companies, programming and that kind of thing is IT as well. They need a custom app that does X, so they have an in house programming division that does that kind of thing, and they are called "IT" as well.

            I'm not saying any one model is right, just saying these are ways that you can have lots of IT. A company can well decide it wants tons of computer support and development, and thus have a really large IT staff. It is all in what kind of service you want.

    • FTA:

      After the difficulties with the first wave of migrations, in 2007 the LiMux administrative team agreed on a new strategy. This involved implementing pilot projects in all departments to convert at least ten percent of existing PCs to the basic LiMux client in order to assess the degree of heterogeneity of the existing organic IT landscape.

      Oh come on... A pilot program is standard practice before _any_ sort of migration. What kind of IT moron would just walk into the department and say 'we're ready!' before wiping every machine and expecting everything to just work? It doesn't happen that way.

      The only way to make a smooth migration is to take it slowly. And the most important step is in the beginning when you gather a working knowledge of what you're dealing with and what it's going to take to migrate it. You plan ahead, and everything th

  • by astropirate ( 1470387 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:08AM (#38414752)
    Anyone have any information on what LiMux looks like? What DE does it come what? Screenshots would be nice... I googled around but couldn't find any information on it.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:23AM (#38414816)

    I'm more interested in if the users are satisfied. Or works faster? Or works slower? Or users rate the overall experience as positive? Negative?

    A sheer number of workstations migrated is about as useful as a McDonald's "X Billions of Billions Served!" number. Don't tell me how many you served . . . where they eaten . . . ? . . . and how did they taste . . . ?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 18, 2011 @07:04AM (#38415184)

      As a Munich user, I can tell you that:

      The Finance Databases are always available (they previously had significant down-time).

      Log-in takes seconds (not the tens of minutes that previously happened with the Windows systems) - the accumulated savings in work time are huge for log-in alone!

      Applications load and run faster - again saving workers significant time.

      E-mail always works (the Windows mail servers were frequently unavailable).

      Security is enhanced, and there are no panicked messages sent around about this week's virus!

      It's just MUCH better and lets us all get our work done more easily. The savings in time, user frustration and in software licences is massive. The staff requirements to maintain the system are fewer, better able people. We've just demonstrated our system to a numer of other cities, and many more are going to adopt it...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I love Linux and use it everyday at work, but what you describe sounds like you had a horribly misconfigured Windows environment replaced by a nicely configured Linux environment. My guess is that if someone had torn the old Windows patchwork down and rebuilt it nicely you'd get the same benefits you mentioned.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @12:02PM (#38416786) Homepage

        I call bullshit. Why would switching desktops to Linux have anything to do with whether databases and mail servers are available? I think some troll is laughing at how his completely imaginary ramblings are now sitting at +5, Informative because it said exactly what the people here wants to hear. I was almost expecting the post to end with "Oh, and users get a free pony..."

  • I don't see why they roll their own distro. This means they have to maintain all sorts of stuff themselves, while there are already so many viable alternatives. If they used, say Ubuntu, support would probably be much better.
    • by TeXMaster ( 593524 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @05:30AM (#38414850)
      If they used, say Ubuntu, they would have to retrain the personnel every time GNOME or Ubuntu folks decide it's a good idea to rethink the whole UI design and human-machine interaction mechanisms. Regardless of whether the new design is or is not better than the old one, it still needs retraining. Retraining = cost. So no, I think that sticking with their own flavor was an excellent idea.
      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        Then you pick a dist and disable or redirect the sources so it stays still until you decide to change. Ubuntu also has a long term support (LTS) version so you could coast off that, picking up the patches for a few years before deciding whether to continuing to support the dist by yourself or upgrading something more recent. Red Hat is probably a safer bet if you want long term support though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Limux is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with KDE 3.5 on top. They do maintain a personalised version of OpenOffice and are keeping Thunderbird and Firefox up to date. source in german ( [])

      • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:13AM (#38414988)
        As opposed to retraining when Windows completely changes?
        • by FaxeTheCat ( 1394763 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:51AM (#38415132)
          We find that a large part of the employees at our company has the new version at home long before they are migrated at work, so due to enterprises being slow adopters of new versions, the problem sort of solves itself.
    • They didn't. It's Debian sarge/KDE based. []

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      As far as I know, they use a Debian derivate. However, most of their installed applications which have to come wit the distribution are municipal specific. So when they would use Ubuntu or Debian alone they would have to install their software by hand on every machine. It is much wiser to use a package system which is already available and make your own distribution.

      According to Wikipedia [] they used Debian and are now using Ubuntu 8.04 and will use 10.10 in their 4th vers

  • by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 ) <deliverance AT level4 DOT org> on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:17AM (#38415006) Journal
    As much as it is about German efficiency.

    The real amazing thing is that they beat the communists.

    Linux uber alles!
    • I'm amazed that they beat the financial crisis. We all know Windows costs a lot for licences and today's governments are very cash-strapped. So like Portugal that recently announced they would not pay for any more Windows upgrades [], I'm surprised more countries aren't looking closely at Munich to see if they can reduce their deficits slightly by going this route too.

    • by skine ( 1524819 )

      Reminds me of a clip from the British TV show QI.

      Basically one panelist recalls visiting a village in Russia.

      All of the buildings are ugly, built at odd angles, and obviously in a state of deterioration. That is, all buildings except for the opera house at the center of town.

      The opera house that was build by German POWs from WWII.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:32AM (#38415040) Homepage

    At every turn I am faced with more Microsoft lock-in. Most recently has been an inventory tracking database system. They advertised a "web interface" option but were unable to provide a demonstration of it. After the company bought the product anyway, it was revealed that their "web" interface was actually Silverlight. I realize that Microsoft just released an update to Silverlight, but isn't it already slated for extinction? And when I asked the vendor if they have any HTML 5 intentions, they had no answer at all. So here I am facing yet another application which requires Microsoft Windows, MSIE 8 and a proprietary control set which cannot easily exist in any other way. We already have Documentum which is supposed to be able to use Firefox and the like but thanks to Mozilla's insistence on their INSANE version escalation practices, every update is an X.0 update meaning Documentum thinks it can't support it.

    Frustration all around. Thank you Microsoft for shoving your crap through developers and vendors. Thank you vendors for buying into their crap only to find yourselves having to re-write your software AGAIN as Microsoft drops support for the platforms you built your apps on. Thank you Firefox for making the task of trying to migrate to your client all the more difficult. Thanks go around pretty evenly.

    • by FaxeTheCat ( 1394763 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @06:47AM (#38415104)
      So the fact that they were not able to provide a demonstration did not ring a few bells? LOUDLY?

      I guess the company got what they deserved, then.
      • So the fact that they were not able to provide a demonstration did not ring a few bells? LOUDLY?

        I smell some "political" decision here.
        Probably the guy who pushed for this solution is friend with the company that sold the application.

    • by jimicus ( 737525 )

      We already have Documentum which is supposed to be able to use Firefox and the like but thanks to Mozilla's insistence on their INSANE version escalation practices, every update is an X.0 update meaning Documentum thinks it can't support it.

      Would it be considered acceptable to install a reverse proxy that rewrites the User-Agent?

      • Two seconds of Googling found this: []

        Depending on the number of users, either this add-on or a reverse proxy might be easier.

        • Oh I tested and used that, but it is complicated to say the least when it comes to deployment of such things. It is a whole other topic... "How do you run an IT shop when you don't have control of your own AD?" Deploying things like that would be trivial with a few scripts at login time.

          The add-on does work. It's a deployment issue primarily.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If they can't be bothered to check the "Web Interface" by qualified IT personnel (who would have found out about the Silverlight thing), then the situation you describe appears to be primarily the fault of your employer.
      Unfortunately you are not alone with this, I have seen lots of instances of companies buying $hitty software after having been nicely talked to by a seasoned salesman. "Leadership" personnel is quite often extremely sloppy when it comes to software purchasing decisions and they certainly don

      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        The problem is, that IT is not seen as a mission critical element of the companies success. It is just a tool, like a coffee machine. As long as it works somehow, everything is fine. Management has to learn that data and information processing is important, yet crucial for company success.

    • by deniable ( 76198 )

      I've seen all of that. We're stuck on Firefox 3.6 or IE8 because Oracle can't give us an answer about supported browsers. Given that they're already on the way out, they're not big on support. We don't know what's going to replace them but it won't be fun. At least we've dumped IE6.

      My biggest bit of fun lately has been developers that think the right-click is OK in a browser interface. Management love their iPads and need to talk to their software.

      • Oracle just need to give us a place where we can add more "acceptable browsers" to the list and be done with it and let the local admins be responsible for that aspect of the deployment.

    • Good practices for websites and applications are to not check the version of the browser you're using, or even its name. The only thing that could be relevant is the engine used under the hood (which version doesn't keep jumping, even with Chrome or Firefox). And even then, you shouldn't need that at all.

  • why Munich matters (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Sunday December 18, 2011 @10:47AM (#38416200) Homepage

    Just info for younger people on /.

    In terms of large agencies that tried moving to Linux there were 3 main groups of companies

    1) Companies that never had developed a Windows culture. Generally they were Unix shops (Sun, Sco primarily) and they were able to move to Linux easily.

    2) Companies that were highly motivated tech companies: IBM, Oracle, Sun that all had a Windows culture. They had embarrassing failures in moving to Windows.

    3) Companies that were not particularly technological and wanted to save money. The bag was mixed here but in general the costs got out of control and they threw in the towel.

    Munich represents the one place where despite going way over time and budget they have kept plowing away. Demonstrating what it is actually going to take to move a large enterprise with a Windows culture over to Linux.

    • Munich represents the one place where despite going way over time and budget they have kept plowing away. Demonstrating what it is actually going to take to move a large enterprise with a Windows culture over to Linux.

      I don't know if their experience is going to be that accurate of a measure of what it takes going forward. Certainly it would set an upper bound on the cost, but building the first prototype is always going to be more expensive than the ones made in mass production. It costs more to create a map than to follow it. Munich had to create LiMux. The next municipality to transition will be able to download it, and will have the advantage of all of the solutions Munich forged in the crucible of production use in

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford