by Edward Qualtrough

Munich could ditch Linux and go back to Microsoft

Aug 20, 20142 mins
GovernmentIT LeadershipMobile Apps

Bavarian capital Munich could be ditching its LiMux open source Linux distribution and go back to Microsoft because the city’s employees are “suffering”, according to deputy mayor Josef Schmid.

For years the public sector poster child for the open source movement, the German city’s migration from Windows NT to Linux dates back to 2003. Former Lord Mayor Christian Ude has said he wanted to “free Munich from dependence on Microsoft” and stop paying expensive licensing fees to companies in the US. It was described in 2004 by SUSE Linux chief Richard Seibt as the industry’s equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall in world politics.

CIO UKreported in December 2013 that Munich’s deputy mayor Christine Strobl – replaced by Schmid in March – had announced that the switch to open source software had been completed successfully with around 15,000 workspaces migrated over to LiMux and that the Open Document Format had also been taken up as standard.

However, while Strobl said that the vast majority of users and administrators had been familiar with the operating system for a long time, the Süddeutsche Zeitung has reported that end-user dissatisfaction has prompted a reconsideration.

Schmid told the paper that there have been repeated complaints from users, that employees are suffering, and applications are lagging. The deputy mayor said that the city will appoint an independent group of experts and if they recommend a move back to Microsoft, it’s something that cannot be ruled out.

“No matter what department I’m in I hear employees suffer,” Schmid said. “We have to change.”

As of November 2013, the city council said that more than €11.7 million had been saved because of the switch, although cost cycles savings were not the only goal of the operation. Other drivers included being less dependent on manufacturers, product cycles and proprietary Oses, the council said.

But Schmid, who has described the adoption of free and open source technology as a political decision from the start, has suggested the move has been costly for Munich.

“We have the impression that Linux is very expensive because a lot has to be programmed by ourselves,” he said.

As recently as February, shortly before Schmid replaced open source advocate Strobl, Munich announced it was continuing its open source switch with a decision to use Kolab Enterprise groupware for its city-wide IT infrastructure, a migration that was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2014.