Chris J Powell

The World's Biggest Open Source Experiment…OVER???

Parts of the web are buzzing with the rumour that the Munich, Germany transition to Linux may be classed as over and a transition back to Microsoft (Office and Windows) may be coming.  Having read the ZDNet article on the topic I can’t help but feel a little sad about the IT Pros that busted their collective butts to make the city of 1.5 Million an open source dream.  Having spent over a decade mucking about with Linux I can feel the pain of the Systems Administrators, Help Desk Pros and all other IT Professionals in the city that will now have to spend countless hours doing the bidding of bean counters who think that it is a good idea to scrap the all the hard work they have put into the project.


Back in 2003, it was determined that it would be best for the city to move away from the dependence of a single vendor for their IT Infrastructure needs (namely the Redmond, Washington based Microsoft).  The process of migrating the 15,000 Workstations to an Ubuntu based LiMux and LibreOffice was for years considered the rallying call for all open source proponents on what could be done, if there was the will to make it happen.

So what is prompting this about face?

It seems that politics are definitely at play and it is all about grabbing some power, but that is not the real story.

Every report that I read (at least from supporters of the switch) show that even with the training and transition…the savings exceeded €10,000,00 ($13,300,000 USD).  Now I know for a fact that every city that I have ever lived in would love to find a savings of that amount that really does not cost any loss in overall productivity…or did it?

You see the second Mayor of Munich is saying that many employees have “suffered” during the transition but I was not able to locate any support for that statement…so is this a massive Open Source Conspiracy and Cover Up?

Back in 2003, the biggest transition to Open Source was passed by the elected government based on a projected savings of just €5,000,000 so if the fact is…the overall savings was double the initial amount…why would you change?  In 2003 it was a switch from Windows NT to Linux instead of XP…now the transition would be to at least Windows 7 and upgrading the PCs whose life was extended exponentially by the transition to Linux…the expense is likely to be considerable.

In early 2013, Microsoft went so far as to commission HP to do a study on the “experiment” and while the City of Munich stands by its own numbers…the HP report eludes to the Microsoft Solution some how being more than 70% less expensive than the Linux version…but in looking at the numbers…there is not an Apples to Apples Comparison of the costs so I am not sure how these numbers were derived at…but that is the power of statistics…anyone can make anything move to the Left or the Right…just by displaying the right “facts”.

In looking at the City of Ottawa IT Budget for 2013, I notice something very interesting…the annual spending for a city of 850,000 was $57,000,000 per year…so I did some digging and while I could find some references to the budget…I don’t read German so I quickly became lost and even with the aid of online translators…could not adequately identify what was going on with the IT Budget for Munich but if we take the HP report to heart…the €61,000,000 spent…would be an overall IT Budget and not just directly related to the migration or support of Linux in the City you see, having seen my fair share of Licensing calls with customers trying to save a little Micro$oft, I know that the numbers included in the HP report were 1 year costs…not a 10 year comparison!

Additionally, I wonder if the fact that Microsoft Germany is moving its headquarters to Munich has anything to do with this proposed switch???

Makes you wonder!!



Leave a comment