September 25, 2006 11:07 AM PDT

Munich fires up Linux at last

Munich has started to migrate to Linux on the desktop--a year later than planned.

The local government in the German city has transferred 100 staff members in the Lord Mayor's department to a Debian configuration, and it intends to migrate 80 percent of the city's PCs by mid-2009.

It has not been an easy transition for the government, which first announced its intention to move to Linux in 2003 and which had scheduled the first launch to occur in 2005.

But the project, dubbed LiMux, hit numerous delays after a dispute over software patents, extended contractual negotiations and a 12-month extension to the project's pilot phase.

"The tests are over. We have fixed the bugs and solved some of the problems," Florian Schiessl, deputy chief of the city's Linux project, told CNET News.com sister site ZDNet UK on Monday. "Everything we wanted done for the first release is working at the moment."

Schiessl said it would be impossible to migrate all city workers to open source, but that 80 percent would move across by between late-2008 and mid-2009.

"I don't think that we can (achieve 100 percent migration) because of interdependencies," Schiessl said. "There are business applications which run on Windows and hardware interfaces that need Windows operating systems."

Schiessl plans to migrate another 200 systems by the end of the year.

The migration will happen in either one or two stages, with some of the 14,000 PCs running OpenOffice on Windows as an interim stage. The decision over the use of the interim stage will be taken at a departmental level, Schiessl said.

Microsoft had fought hard to retain the government's business, with CEO Steve Ballmer interrupting a skiing holiday at one point to pay a personal visit to the city's mayor. The software giant also tried to tempt the government with a range of deals and discounts.

Munich was first tempted to open source after an evaluation by IBM and Linux distributor Suse, which is now owned by Novell. Suse eventually lost out in the tender process.

The costs of the project appear to be rising. Total internal and external costs are now expected to be about $44.6 million (35 million euros), up from $38.3 million quoted by the government three years ago.

Schiessl refused to make a comparison: "We do not have a goal to compare total cost of ownership. Microsoft stopped supporting NT 4.0, so we must migrate."

Other local governments across Europe are attempting to make a similar transition to open source.

The city government of Mannheim is using Linux on desktops and servers.

In the U.K., the Birmingham City Council is testing open-source desktops, while the Bristol Council is using StarOffice.

Executives at the local authority in Bergen, Norway, have recently delayed their Linux desktop plans for two years.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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50 comments

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Why so much?
Total internal and external costs are now expected to be about $44.6 million...

I thought it was open source.
Posted by thomaskray (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Any project of this size
is going to cost a whole lot to do and be underestimated at the start. You'd think they would learn...

What really bothers me is the
>>"We do not have a goal to compare total cost of ownership. Microsoft stopped supporting NT 4.0, so we must migrate."

What would have been the cost of upgrading instead of migrating? And how much will it cost to maintain? At the current pace, they are on track to becoming the poster-child for an MS Get The Facts campaign.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
What is included...
Support, service, hardware? Yes $40M is a little excessive if it was just to install Linux on 14000 boxes (sounds like a MS number ;-) ) but if there is support, training (regardless of NT4.0 to XP or Linux), hardware etc. included, then I am not so surprised. 14000 PC's with monitors + printers must run around $15M
Posted by zoe000 (2 comments )
Link Flag
How to Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face
This is a joke. I can't wait until I hear the news about how what an unmitigated disaster it was to attempt to reinvent the wheel with such a lousy solution. Mark my words, it's going to happen. Head will roll, and I hope it's the dopes who proposed such a "solution".
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not so
They were forced to move off Windows NT 4.0 onto another platform. The cost of switching to Windows XP/2003/etc. would have brought much of the same headaches as switching to any Unix based operating system.

What they're doing is spending money on re-training, education, document conversion etc. instead of wasting that money on software licenses. It was a smart move.
Posted by 60AmpRelay (17 comments )
Link Flag
Then, why is Microsoft so scared?
[quote] I can't wait until I hear the news about how what an unmitigated disaster&[/quote] Then, why is Microsoft so scared?

If Microsoft were as confident as you that they would fail, Steve Ballmer would not have tried to talk them out of it. They are afraid of Munich becoming a successful prototype for other cities.

The open source software can easily handle all of the day-to-day office tasks, and the city government can easily enforce the change. It sounds like they are managing this project well. They are taking it slow, and theyve already started at the top with the Lord Mayers department. When all newly-purchased PCs come with Linux & Open Office, soon everyone will want to replace their old Windows PC with a shiny new Linux machine& The Windows users will feel left-behind.

[quote]&it was to attempt to reinvent the wheel[/quote] Its called competition. Just like Microsoft went into competition with WordPerfect, and Dell went into competition with IBM. (Its a special kind of competition, since its open source.)
Posted by DougDbug (62 comments )
Link Flag
Then, why is Microsoft so scared?
[quote] I can't wait until I hear the news about how what an unmitigated disaster&[/quote]
Then, why is Microsoft so scared?

If Microsoft were as confident as you that they would fail, Steve Ballmer would not have tried to talk them out of it. They are afraid of Munich becoming a successful prototype for other cities.

The open source software can easily handle all of the day-to-day office tasks, and the city government can easily enforce the change. It sounds like they are managing this project well. They are taking it slow, and theyve already started at the top with the Lord Mayers department. When all newly-purchased PCs come with Linux & Open Office, soon everyone will want to replace their old Windows PC with a shiny new Linux machine& The Windows users will feel left-behind.

[quote]&it was to attempt to reinvent the wheel[/quote]
Its called competition. Just like Microsoft went into competition with WordPerfect, and Dell went into competition with IBM. (Its a special kind of competition, since its open source.)
Posted by DougDbug (62 comments )
Link Flag
They Bought Their Freedom
By making this "conversion", the government of Munich has taken their first steps towards freeing themselves of being locked into a proprietary hardware and software architecture. And I'll bet that over time, the 20% of the applications that can't be moved at the current time will eventually be replaced or die of attrition. The question is, how many hardware architectures does Windows run on? How many hardware architectures does Linux run on? Now, let's talk about licensing servers and workstations and software activation, etc. Then there's security.... Freedom is sounding pretty good right about now. Time to joint the revolt!
Posted by Steveo252 (5 comments )
Link Flag
LOL!
[i]"can't wait until I hear the news about how what an unmitigated disaster it was to attempt to reinvent the wheel with such a lousy solution."[/i]

Keep waiting - though Eternity is an awful long time, y'know ;)
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Linux techs expect higher pay
and Linux OS vendors do not provide free support, so people in developed countries will soon realize that $45-50 that most people pay for OEM windows is really a bargain.

In the third world it might be slightly cheaper to run Linux on account of the cheap labor pools.
Posted by v_noronha (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...because you need fewer of them ;)
Also it's because any fool who thinks like a MSFT PR person enough can get an 'Em-See-Ess-Eee', and instantly pretend they're an admin (which makes the market rather cheaper for the unfortunate creatures who claim one as their chief qualification).

Linux techs and admins OTOH actually have to know what they are doing.
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Cut the Cord and Spite the Monopoly!
Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. All the fear mongering in the world will not change the inevitable, it is just a matter of time.
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AT ANY COST!!
<<Cut the Cord and Spite the Monopoly!>>

Sure... At ANY cost. Just don't tell the voting, tax-paying public. Keep all that information a secret so they'll never know how much they had to pay just to take a random stab at a foreign company thousands of miles away.

Sounds a bit like a movie...
[Foreign governments secretly tap public resources to further their agenda and wage a corporate battle against corporations thousands of miles away in another country. Starring: George Cloony as the foreign President, Mel Gibson as the crazy IT Director, Sean Penn as the irate anti-American corporate Lobbyist, and Rosie O'Donnell as the willing intern in a blue dress.]
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Munich as posterchild,,,really, it is
As you may remember, Munich was the leading example of the public sector's push for OSS preference projects. We're seeing now just how far from reality the laundered marketing really was/is. Migrations are tough work. They're made more so when you're pushing religion instead of results. Munich is a posterchild...really, it is. For what not to focus upon. Make your IT projects work. Who cares what goes into them. But unseating a "monopolist", well, that's a waste of taxpayer dollars, as we're finding out in Munich, Bergen, Brazil, Venezuela, and Massachusetts.
Posted by mwendy (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...in more ways than one ;)
[i]"Migrations are tough work. They're made more so when you're pushing religion instead of results."[/i]

ROTFLMAO!

Munich made their decision based on the same reason any large organization does - money. Even MSFT realized this when they slashed their bid by an obscene amount in a failed last-minute bid to keep from losing it to Linux.

Your employer lost. Deal with it.
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Debian Next in the EU Competition Office Gunsights
After all they got 100 PC's in Munich. Couldn't they just have easily used 100 half-arsed distros that are available in Europe? MONOPOLY!!!!
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Relax; costs *will* be reported, eventually
This is a government body and I'm sure Germany has some variation on the American "Freedom Of Information Act" (FOIA). A demand for documents detailing the expense will be forthcoming at some point, hopefully after the whole thing is finsihed.

Then we can look at the comparison between Munich and another city (with approximately the same size IT establishment) that was also on NT4 and stayed Windows through whenever the conversion is actually *done* and compare IT costs over the whole time.

It will be good to *know* and I can wait...
Posted by fmcgowan (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Half the picture
The other half is the freedom they bought. No more propreitary games. No more virus and spyware issues, ect.

Whether or not there is immediate savings, and there likely will be, the savings over time will be enormous.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
Hate from a sorry old man
Why don´t you just go on and log off permanently, Mr. Too-Old-for-IT? You don´t like Europe, fine, but don´t bother the rest of us who do. For your information it seems IBM found SuSE Linux to be quite good. And that nice European Linus actually created Linux... So just like most [white] Americans everything originated in Europe, hehe. You don´t talk bad about your ancestors do you?
Posted by andrewholden (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We should let the facts speak for themselves
And the facts are not in yet. I hope Cnet keeps up on this story and lets us know how it turns out. Here's some of the questions I would like answered when they are all available.

How much was the initial migration cost? This includes OS software cost, installation cost, training employees, etc...

How much is it going to cost anually to maintain this system? How reliable is it? How flexible is it? Has worker productivity been affected?

What is the total cost of ownership (TCO)?

Perhaps Cnet will compare that to TCO of other operating systems in a similar environment. I'm not making any claims, I truely want to know the answer... which isn't going to be available for awhile.

As for those who want to post their claims to my remarks... YOU DON'T KNOW. I'll wait, rather than listen to linux and MS fanboys, before the facts are available.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree completely, but...
I couldn't agree more. The people of Munich deserve no less... its a shame that their government is refusing to release TCO estimates or figures. CNet can't do it for them. The people of Munich should demand to know how much this change is costing them.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
It is all about avoiding the lock-in with proprietary software
It seems to me that many forget the walue of geting rid of the lock-in situation with proprietary software.
Moving towards open standards and open software is a no brainer. It will be worth it in the long run.
Posted by lgmbackman (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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