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Munich Finally Starts to Embrace Linux 154

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the finally-taking-the-next-step dept.
sankyuu writes "After years of rumor and vacillation over fear of patents, the city of Munich has decided to trickle in its first 100 linux terminals. The floodgates are scheduled to fling open by 2008, when 80% of government PCs should be running Linux."
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Munich Finally Starts to Embrace Linux

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  • Meaning the 80% of government boxes running Linux will be supplied immediately by a floodgate that's scheduled to open on that year itself?

    Amazing.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @03:54AM (#16196699) Journal

    The current projected costs are 35 Million Euros (up from 30 Million) to convert 14,000 computers.

    2,500 Euros per computer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I wonder what it would cost to upgrade to Windows Vista, and the next Windows after that.
      • by TeknoHog (164938) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:35AM (#16196857) Homepage Journal
        Even if the costs are same, it's better for Europeans for the money to stay in local economy, than to be flushed away to Redmond. But I'm probably just forgetting all the jobs that will be created by Vista ;)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Timesprout (579035)
          You obviously missed the part where they are paying this money to IBM, so your point was?

          As far as I can see, its not only not cost efective, its not even going to be complete. The project lead himself admits they can only migrate around 80%, theres also a quick gloss over the 12 month pilot extension because of unspecified 'problems'.

          So slipping deadlines, increasing costs, less than complete and beset by problems. looks like a typical software project to me and not the poster child for migration som
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vidarh (309115)
            You obviously missed the part where they are paying this money to IBM, so your point was?

            But most/all of the cost is consulting, of which a significant percentage will go to salaries to people locally.

            • But most/all of the cost is consulting ...

              Ditto for a Vista upgrade.
              • by mspohr (589790)
                Are the Vista and MS Office (and SQL server and MS IIS, etc.) licenses free?
              • All that "IP" contained in MS products has to be paid for.

                When you stop paying for that you pay for local people's skills, not for marketing scams in order to milk the same code for all what is worth it selling it in who know how many unnecessarily diferentiated versions.
          • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:42AM (#16197363)
            You obviously missed the part where they are paying this money to IBM, so your point was?

            The point is that the government and the state institutions are the motor behind the adoptions in the private sector and personal use. By adopting open source solutions, Munich is incentivating the creation and growth of a local market for training, supplying and managing open source solutions. And having in mind that quite a few open source is produced in Germany (KDE, for example) then it is obvious that the people of Germany have a lot to win with that migration.

            One other aspect to have in mind is that the money which Munich is paying isn't just for installing new software. Munich is paying the price for not being dependent on a certain platforms (windows) and certain software. It's like a drug addict paying for detox treatment. There are quite a few places that certain software was adopted and subsequently their business was built around it. Now, those solutions will have to be rethought and redone, which costs time and money to accomplish. Nevertheless, it does indeed pay off and pays off well.

            On a side note, isn't it funny how the exact same FUD directed towards Ernie Ball's migration to Free/Open Source software is being used against Munich? And once again the FUDers will realize that the migration process, although it isn't always smooth, not only is perfectly possible but also ver positive for the organizations which adopt it.

    • by headkase (533448) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:00AM (#16196727)
      They're taking a big one-time hit although. Once they've rewritten/replaced all their software and migrated their data the cost to add new units will be significantly lower.
      • Costs: €0.00 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:43AM (#16196881)
        They're taking a big one-time hit although. Once they've rewritten/replaced all their software and migrated their data the cost to add new units will be significantly lower.

        I agree with you and I don't understand why so many people assume that a migration from a Windows infrastructure to an OSS one will cost €0.00? If Munich is going ahead and doing this in the first place they might want to make some fundamental changes to their IT infrastructure since they will be ripping the guts out it anyway. Take for example the proposition of replacing dumb Windows PCs that just stand around all day giving users access to a single application (Why pay a Windows XP license for every one of those PCs?) with Linux based thin clients. In this case they might be factoring the replacement of some quantities of computer equipment and infrastructure changes into that figure of €30 million. Then of course there are the costs of testing the whole system, the costs of writing custom software to aid in the migration of entire data bases, websites and other applications previously hosted on Windows 2003+MSSQL+IIS to open source platforms, porting custom made GUI applications/clients to Linux or replacing them with new webapps. I can see why the costs would go up but in the long run I agree with you that their costs should go down as a result of this measure if they handle the project properly which, admittedly, is asking a lot of a German bureaucracy. I would really like to see a financial breakdown and progress report of this project when they are done, this project is really interesting due to it's scale.
        • Take for example the proposition of replacing dumb Windows PCs that just stand around all day giving users access to a single application (Why pay a Windows XP license for every one of those PCs?)

          Because it's the only thing the application will run on? Unfortunatley it's not always possible to use an alternative.
          • Because it's the only thing the application will run on? Unfortunatley it's not always possible to use an alternative.

            While I appreciate that there are some cases where it is impossible to move from Windows this is hardly the case 80% of the time. My example was aimed at a case where migration to Linux would be possible. I walk into businesses every damn day that that have several NT4/Win2K/WinXP boxes standing around giving people access to either a web app or some GUI client which these days is quite ofte
          • Unfortunatley it's not always possible to use an alternative.

            Yes it is. You may need to write the alternative yourself, but if you're throwing 35m at a project a lot of things suddenly become possible.

        • They also stated somewhere that they're currently using NT4, which is no longer supported, so they *HAD* to migrate anyway...
          I wonder what the costs of upgrading to a current supported version of windows would have been?
          • I wonder what the costs of upgrading to a current supported version of windows would have been?

            Cheaper than usual, if they had accepted Ballmer's bribe, but still more expensive (TCO) than switching to Linux.

        • One must also consider that there is a lot of overhead in any project of this size. And overhead is expensive. Especially in Europe. They have to pay for all their overpriced bureaucrats, all of Brussells overpriced Eurocrats, all the standards documentation requirements, all the different languages, all the training costs, all the 'calm-the-public' costs.
          Plus all the subsidies like the opera, the East German social-integration costs, the legacy costs from their escapades of sixty years ago
          • Most of those socialist expenses come out in the wash anyways. They pay high taxes. We pay low taxes and then pay outrageous health care premiums, 401k contributions, college tuition, suffer more when unemployed, live with more violent crime because of higher poverty, etc. etc. etc. I do think our standard of living is a bit higher in the US, mainly because the population is less dense so there is more land to go around. But that difference is diminishing all the time, and the recent insane inflation in
        • Re:Costs: €0.00 (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 4of12 (97621)

          If Munich is going ahead and doing this in the first place they might want to make some fundamental changes to their IT infrastructure since they will be ripping the guts out it anyway.

          If restructuring a complete IT workflow system is at all as difficult as platform porting and restructuring a complicated computer program, then you need to resist the temptation of just "fixing things while we're in there anyway".

          If things don't work later, then it's too hard to track down the responsible fix.

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:59AM (#16197145) Journal
        They're taking a big one-time hit although.

        I wonder how many of the custom apps they're building on Linux will also be open source, and therefore available to the next government looking to switch. It could be that Munich is taking a _really_ big hit, but each organisation which follows the same path will find it progressively easier to switch.

        I've often thought that commercial software vendors are taking an immense risk in not porting to Linux, thereby allowing the whole FOSS application stack on the platform to be developed without commercial-grade competition.

        This sort of migration could start a cascade effect, where each successful adoption catalyses the next, and there are damn few commercial software houses prepared to take advantage of that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ireneo Funes (886273)
      That's upwards of $3k per computer, how in hell did it get to this ridiculous figure?
      Being an european myself and in-the-know about the ways of social-democracy I have some nice theories indeed, but being less than IT--related I'll spare the rest of you.
    • ...not to go back.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Spliffster (755587)
      I, for one, think a migration to windows Vista would not be much cheaper; licenses, new hardware, 3 praty and home grown application rewrites, and a lot of tests. however, the license costs for OS and many desktop apps will vanish in the future with the linux solution. also, it looks like they are going for linux terminals, so i guess a lot of maintenance work will be saved on the new clients as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Denial93 (773403)
      You forget that this will leave Munich with suppliers who are able to do mass Linux migrations to government specifications. This unique ability was hard fought for in administrative and legal nightmares over the past years, and is a major part of what the 35 million buy.

      Munich will be quick to offer practical migration services to other cities all over Germany. If even a few see the chance to save some money over the M$ option (many German cities, most importantly Berlin, are in big financial trouble), Mu
      • I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that managing PC-like hardware as thin clients (using either Linux or Windows) does not mean they qualify as "PCs". The thin client experience of having little-or-no control over the software and data on your desktop is not really a part of the PC movement, which championed user-installable software (and even sneakernet) over networked terminals and centrally-controlled software.

        People eventually brought PCs into the home because they felt like they had some
    • 2,500 Euros per computer

      The cost are so high because somewhere between 100-200 third party applications have to be rewritten since these applications are currently Windows-only applications. Most of this rewriting will be done with Java, so it's just a matter of time when the next rewrite will come.

      Only 80% of the computers will be switched to Linux because several of these third party applications can't be rewritten since it would be too expensive or no knowledge is around. There's some expectation that on
    • Specially if you deduct from this cost the scheduled expenditure during the normal life of a system.

      But no, the Windows apologists (I feel tempted to call them appeasers, since it is a nice little dirty word you can throw at your ideological oponents nowadays with marvelous results) never mention that there is a cost to be met there anyway, no matter which infrastructure one uses.

      But I guess many US citizens (at least half of them) o no longer understand these finer points of good governance (hint: in a dem
  • by freemywrld (821105) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:01AM (#16196729) Homepage
    They fail to mention how many government servers have been running linux behind-the-scenes for years. Changes are, at least a handful. I realize the excitement of this is in bringing Linux to the desktop, but people aren't always aware of its presence, even when quietly surrounded by it. Now I don't have any facts on Munich's server architecture, so I could very well be wrong.

    Snarkiness aside, I think this is a cool project. It'll be interesting to see who else follows Munich's lead, and what ol' Ballmer aims to do about it. Maybe he'll chuck a chair (doh.. there's that snarkiness again... time for me to creep back into my hidey hole).
    • by pimpimpim (811140) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:53AM (#16196921)
      I checked this news out yesterday, and read on the german project website that they already used linux on their servers since 1995. The idea to change came when it was apparent that windows NT would be stopped and new MS software would require them to start a contract forcing them to renew this contract constantly. Then, if I remember correctly, the major tested if his wife could manage to work on openoffice, which turned out pretty nicely.

      With the major and of course a majority in the city council backing this, they started a very gradual and careful way to change, with a halt since 2004 because they needed a risk analysis in the case that software patents would be installed EU-wide. The cost risk turned out to be pretty small, as for every patent there can be a workaround eventually, linux is based on code that is already known since the 60s, and some other reasons. In the mean time they made sure they had automated software install systems working, and other practical issues resolved. The big news now is that they will actually start with the first linux machines for office employees. First ones will be for office work that requires interchangeable software (word processor, etc), then more complicated office work will follow.

    • by ajs318 (655362)
      I think Ballmer is probably going to start killing stray dogs and cats around Redmond with Open Source Software to prove just how dangerous it is; and in the process, miss out on the patent for an invention which ultimately goes on to symbolise the United States of America around the world.

      See here if you don't get it [wikipedia.org].
  • 80% in 2 years? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rm999 (775449)
    The article keeps emphasizing how hard it has been so far (to move over 100 computers, and 200 by the end of the year).

    After reading all that, this seems like a lie:
    "Schiessl said it would be impossible to migrate all users to open source, but that 80 percent would move across by between late-2008 and mid-2009."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Most of those computers are probably used for almost exactly the same. The first 200 computers are probably representative for the 80%.
      So they use the first 100-200 to learn and to develop deployment procedures etc. When that works, they roll it out to all the similar computers.
      Just like in some smaller places, they use days to test something on one or two computers. When it works they spend an hour putting it on all 500 company desktops, most of the time just waiting for network transfers and rebooting.
      • And another reasons would be to get the users time to switch over to some of the news apps in a timely fashion (i.e. not just having them "airlifted" into a whole new set of apps and OS). That's why they also have an interrim stage where the users run OpenOffice on Windows. First the apps, then the OS... makes sense doesn't it?
  • by rainer_d (115765) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:06AM (#16196749) Homepage
    It should be noted that Mayor Christian Ude's PC is slated to be among the first batch of systems to run the Debian-based Linux-desktop Munich will be using.

    • It should be noted that Mayor Christian Ude's PC is slated to be among the first batch of systems to run the Debian-based Linux-desktop Munich will be using.


      Why Debian? Not that I'm implying that Debian is a bad distribution but isn't SuSE HQ practically in their back yard (Nürnberg) ?? Or has Novell uprooted SuSE development and moved the entire outfit to the USA ??
      • Re:Just curious (Score:5, Informative)

        by rainer_d (115765) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:32AM (#16196847) Homepage
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by el americano (799629)
          I don't see an answer there at all. (-1, Not informative)

          • Re:Just curious (Score:4, Informative)

            by rainer_d (115765) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:14AM (#16197003) Homepage
            sigh.

            that site has general information about the Linux-Project and a link to this site:
            http://www.ssrc.org/wiki/POSA/index.php?title=LiMu x%E2%80%94Free_Software_for_Munich [ssrc.org]

            • sigh.

              that site has general information about the Linux-Project and a link to this site:

              Firstly, thanks for a very German answer :D

              Secondly, while that is a nice a site and I say that because this project interests me and I did take a look at that Wiki, I was hoping for a more detailed business and financial oriented explanation than "They will be deploying not SuSE but Debian GNU/Linux, the freest of the Linux distributions." The word 'Debian' is mentioned only once on the pace you linked to.

              • by rainer_d (115765)
                AFAIK, they wanted to avoid swapping one vendor-lock with another.
                At the time, there was no OpenSuSE like now.

                cheers,
                Rainer
            • Especially one sentence on that page it quite interesting:
              Without the Ballmer visit, Hoegner concedes, it would have been more difficult to garner the complete support of the City Council
              Seems to have been a really bad marketing move by Ballmer. And I always thought the one thing Microsoft were really good in was marketing! :-)
              • by rainer_d (115765)
                The problem was that after these visits, people in the council suddenly realized just how much they had overpayed all the years.
                You, me and the rest of slashdot knew this for long - but at that moment, even the non-IT city-council members must have had one of these "WTF?"-moments.
                MSFT had fobbed them off with tiny rebates over the years and now they looked like idiots. Like those first-year purchasing agents that are so proud of getting double-digit rebates on "list-prices", only to realize afterwards that
      • They don't say, but since the support and maintenance contract was won by Softcon and Gonicus, they obviously don't want to pay Suse for doing nothing. Debian was their choice.

        Just one more reason to admire this rethink. You might expect that they would move from the big name vendor to the biggest name Linux vendor they could get, but in the end the name doesn't buy you anything. What matters is that you're supported.

  • additional info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andreas Schaefer (513034) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:08AM (#16196759) Homepage
    the standard configuration will be Debian GNU/Linux 3.1, KDE 3.5 and OpenOffice 2.
    however, the main reason for the delays and the slow roll-out are that a lot of custom applications had to be ported and for some existing client/server apps interfaces had to be created from scratch.

    cheers from Munich,
    Andreas
  • They Tried (Score:5, Funny)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:21AM (#16196811) Homepage Journal
    They tried. They gave them every chance to come up with a better operating system. They even delayed the switch to Linux by many years to give them a chance. Even now, they're giving them until 2008 to get at least some share of the cake.

    But Microsoft just couldn't get Longhorn ready in time.
  • by boule75 (649166) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:26AM (#16196821) Homepage
    ... some more (French, sorry) 400,000 PCs are to swith to Open Office in 2007 in the oublic sector, folowing a successfull move in the Gendarmerie (rural police, 90,000 PCs). - A summary here [europa.eu] or in the official French annouce [adele.gouv.fr].

    Some Open Source headways in Europe, indeed, can clearly be seen in EU site [europa.eu].

    Quite heartening indeed! Maybe the big conservative companies will finaly notice this trend. I am sure Microsoft did.

  • The cost of switching would apply both in both directions of an OS migration. What Linux has in it's favour is that it's support for Microsoft closed formats (e.g. via Openoffice) is far better than the reverse. Once documents are in open formats it's hard to make a case to back out.

    I do wonder whether we'll start to see Microsoft supporting these Open Standards as a way to ease the migration path back - supported of course by heavy subsidies on licensing.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @04:55AM (#16196929)
    Munich Finally Starts to Embrace Linux

    The sentence should read, "Munich Finally Starts Implementing Linux."

    The embrace happened a few years ago. It's (Linux) implementation is what has just happened. By the way...does anyone know whether it's KDE or GNOME at the forefront here?

    • From my understanding (reading other posts in the thread) it's KDE 3.5 on Debian. Why they didn't go with Ubuntu+Gnome, I don't know.
      • by Chaffar (670874) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:35AM (#16197303)
        From my understanding (reading other posts in the thread) it's KDE 3.5 on Debian. Why they didn't go with Ubuntu+Gnome, I don't know.
        Because KDE is a (mostly)German project, whereas GNOME is distinctly American.
        According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:
        German non-profit organization (KDE e.V.) owns the trademark on "KDE", and KDE conferences often take place in Germany.
        • by segedunum (883035) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:06AM (#16199605)
          Because KDE is a (mostly)German project, whereas GNOME is distinctly American.
          It's perceived as being a German project, but with the number of people who are not Germans involved and on KDE eV it isn't any longer.

          Besides, I'm uncomfortable with that as an explanation. I'd like to see a comparison of what they need from a desktop environment, what worked in one and didn't work in the other, what users needs and what admins need, and make a reasoned comparison on that.
          • "Besides, I'm uncomfortable with that as an explanation."
            Too bad. It probably played a big part in picking KDE over Gnome.
            My guess it probably went something like this.

            German guy: We need to move to Linux.
            Expert: What desktop do you want to use?
            German Guy: Umm... We want to use Linux.
            Expert: No you have to pick which user interface you want for the desktop.
            German Guy: What are my choices.
            Expert: Well you have a lot of options but KDE and Gnome are the two most popular.
            German Guy: Okay what is the difference
  • Octoberfest (Score:5, Funny)

    by hey (83763) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:22AM (#16197025) Journal
    Probably won't be doing much migrating next month.
    • I will migrate beer out of the keg into my belly. How's that for migrating?!
  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:32AM (#16197067)
    Munix?
  • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:19AM (#16197245) Journal
    I hope the Germans have a better missile defense system than we do. Intercontinental Ballmer Missiles (ICBM) incoming!
    • Intercontinental Ballmer Missiles (ICBM) incoming!

      I didn't know that he could throw that far or that Aerons were viable WMDs.

  • There are a lot of Microsoft sales and marketing employees in Munich (well over 1000). If all those non-technical goverment employees turn out to be happy with their new unfamiliar Linux desktops, then it will truly be a revolution, and might cause many very good sales people to desert Microsoft and setup competition.

    On the otherhand, if they mostly don't like the experience then it will get rapidly and publicly tossed out by the next goverment, and will likely set Desktop Linux back 10 years in Europe.

    Fran

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