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The Man Behind Munich's Migration of 15,000 PCs From Windows To Linux 264

An anonymous reader writes "It's one of the biggest migrations in the history of Linux, and it made Steve Ballmer very angry: Munich, in southwest Germany, has completed its transition of 15,000 PCs from Windows to Linux. It has saved money, fueled the local economy, and improved security. Linux Voice talked to the man behind the migration: 'One of the biggest aims of LiMux was to make the city more independent. Germany’s major center-left political party is the SPD, and its local Munich politicians backed the idea of the city council switching to Linux. They wanted to promote small and medium-sized companies in the area, giving them funding to improve the city’s IT infrastructure, instead of sending the money overseas to a large American corporation. The SPD argued that moving to Linux would foster the local IT market, as the city would pay localcompanies to do the work.' (Linux Voice is making the PDF article free [CC-BY-SA] so that everyone can send it to their local councilors and encourage them to investigate Linux)."
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The Man Behind Munich's Migration of 15,000 PCs From Windows To Linux

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  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @09:57AM (#46958799) Homepage Journal

    As the study progressed, two main options emerged as choices for the council: remaining with a purely Microsoft solution, which would involve upgrading existing Windows NT and 2000 systems to XP; and moving to a purely Linux and open source alternative. “If you lay more emphasis on the monetary side, the pure Microsoft alternative would have won, or if you lay the emphasis on the strategic side, the open source alternative was better.

    This was not a decision based on cost, it was based on functionality - being able to invest in their platform and implement exactly what they wanted was worth the additional expense, in large part because they committed to investing the money that would have gone towards US license fees into the local economy.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:00AM (#46958821)
    Any large-scale deployment takes significant man-hours to achieve, but can be made easier through the use of imaging and common platforms. If I standardize on only a handful of models of computers then I can load-up the OS and build everything that I need for that OS on each model, then simply duplicate the drive over all of the others of that model, change the few things that need to be changed (name, network credentials, possibly some security hashes) and I'm done.

    This is arguably even easier in Linux than in Windows because there are no particular licensing issues with just copying a Linux installation or with how many Linux installations are deployed. One's backend servers are now for updating and package management rather than for licensing.

    And with Microsoft deciding to change their UI every few years now, coupled with competing UIs from Apple and Google, it's much easier to change people to a diffrent platform when they have to learn a new UI anyway. Had Microsoft kept variants of the Windows 95 UI going past Windows 7 then it would be harder, but with the Metro debacle it's a lot easier to make that change, and since most users won't go deeper than the UI anyway it's not so bad.

    The hardest part is training the support staff if they've been Windows-centric their whole careers. Somehow just reiterating that everything-is-a-file isn't enough, and many professionals struggle to understand UNIX-style paths.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:11AM (#46958923)

    You conveniently left out this part of the article:

    the calculations were based on a five-year period, so they mostly covered migration costs (staff, technical support, retraining users etc.) rather than operational costs (buying new hardware, licence fees and so forth).

    In the short term - they would have saved. However over the 10+ years since initial migration, they've saved and estimated 10 million Euros:

    Today, over a decade down the line, has LiMux been a good idea in terms of finances? “Yes, it has, depending on the calculation. We did a calculation and we made it publicly available on our information system for the city council. We have the exact same parameters for staying with Windows as with the migration to the Linux platform. Based on those parameters, Linux has saved us €10m.”

      Here is an english article [] discussing that publicly released report. For the actual german report. see here []

  • Re:Cheaper beer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Racemaniac ( 1099281 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:13AM (#46958931)

    And you took that out of context. That was on the initial 5 year plan, where moving to linux was a big migration, while moving to windows XP from windows 2000 would have had far less impact.
    So of course in the first years such a massive migration and education of your users costs more. But now 10+ years later they estimate they saved money (and that was also mentioned in the part where they mentioned that linux was more expensive. For the 5 year plan microsoft was cheaper, but strategically they were pretty sure linux would be cheaper after that).

  • Cost RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:43AM (#46959219) Journal
    1. Initial costs of staying with Microsoft's software were lower.
    2. Customizable security was one of the pros of switching to Linux.
    3. Initial costs were projected over 5 years.
    4. 10 years have now past and the city made an assesment of cost. Conclusion was 10 mllion euros saved.
    5. HP made there own analysis and concluded that the Linux conversion had cost the city 60 million Euros more. However, when contacted for their methodology and numbers for the analysis, they declined to provide the information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 09, 2014 @11:04AM (#46959421)

    ??? no scalable tools???

    Where do you think Microsoft got theirs?

    LDAP, Kerberos, DNS...

    I've worked with UNIX systems for 40 years now. And with thousands of machines is trivially doable once there is an organization standardization to do so.

  • Well, what drive is it on?

    There's no worring about C: or D: or E: in Linux. It's all one filesystem.

    Why is my thumb drive copied to the hard disk when I put it in?

    What makes you think it is?

    Why does Loinox use the wrong slashes?

    Some might say that DOS/Windows is using the wrong ones because Unix-style paths' predate the use of "\" by Windows.

  • Re:Cheaper beer (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @11:45AM (#46959855)

    Yep, higher cost ...

    No, lower cost. The higher cost was only short term. In the long term they saved money. Windows is cheaper in the short run because people already know how to use it, and more importantly, already know how to use MS-Office. So you save on training costs. But that is less true today. Where I live, the schools have all switched to Google Docs, so the kids will enter the workforce with little experience with MS-Office, but plenty of experience with tools that can run on any OS with a browser. So in the future, the break even time for switching will be shorter.

  • Geography 101 (Score:5, Informative)

    by yacc143 ( 975862 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @11:53AM (#46959931) Homepage

    Munich is in the southeast of Germany.

  • Re:Cheaper beer (Score:4, Informative)

    by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:09PM (#46960095)

    It's the intention and effect that outsourcing to other countries usually has. Namely:

    Intention -- searching for those who will work for the least, in countries that have more relaxed environmental regulations and to avoid taxes
    Effect -- increased localized unemployment, a "race to the bottom" on wages, damage to the environment and government budget crises

    If you're outsourcing things because it makes sense -- i.e. not every country can produce their own efficiently -- then that's not a problem. Doing it for the other reasons is what causes vast problems.

    Oh and for extra bonus craptasticness -- it's unsustainable in the long run.

  • Re:Not only that... (Score:4, Informative)

    by NapalmV ( 1934294 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:41PM (#46960447)
    Screwed because MS abandoned it without offering any sensible upgrade path. Try to migrate an XP machine to Windows 8 and let us know how it went.
  • Re:Not only that... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mikechant ( 729173 ) on Friday May 09, 2014 @12:49PM (#46960509)

    "Screwed" because MS only supported their OS for 13 years?
    But also sold it on some new machines as recently as 4 years ago...

    Hell, which Linux company is going to maintain a version of their OS (for free) for 3 years?

    Err...several, for free, for considerably more than 3 years.

    Common examples:
    Ubuntu LTS: Now 5 years (increased from 3 years at V12.04)
    CentOS: Pretty much follows Red Hat. e.g CentOS V6 maintained for 9 years (2011-2020).
    Given that XP was atypical with 13 years support and Win7 gets 11 years (2009-2020), CentOS is very much in the same ballpark.

    But wait: CentOS 6 will get 9 years of *full* support (including new hardware support every 6 months and new features mainly every 2 years). Win7 only gets 6 years full support and 5 years extended (security updates only).
    I'd say that's a draw between CentOS 6 and Windows 7.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde