The city of Munich made headlines in 2003 when it announced its intent to switch 14,000 government PCs from Windows to Linux. While the project suffered delays and setbacks, the migration to LiMux (its custom Ubuntu-based distribution) and LibreOffice was completed in late 2013. But now, Windows could be making a comeback. ZDNet reports that the city government’s administrative and personnel committee has recommended an IT shake-up and the development of a new Windows 10-based infrastructure for deployment by 2020.
The use of LiMux was called into question not long after its rollout. Complaints about compatibility, combined with the 2014 election of a Microsoft-favoring mayor, Dieter Reiter, first put the open source deployment in jeopardy. Reiter commissioned a report from consultants—including Microsoft partner Accenture—on IT policy. That report recommended giving staff a choice between Windows/Office and LiMux/LibreOffice. Should Windows and Office prove popular, the report said that the continued financial viability of supporting Linux should be investigated.
In the years since the switch, compatibility complaints haven’t gone away. The human resources department, in particular, said that its use of systems from Oracle and SAP creates a need for Windows. Further, the department says that it suffers issues with displaying some PDFs correctly.
Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, ascribes the problems not to the use of open source software but rather to bad management and organization. According to the report, much of the user dissatisfaction stems from using old software versions, with organizational problems leading to slow upgrades.
Longer term, the committee has also recommended that the city should move to applications that are independent of the client operating system, either using the Web or remote desktops and virtualization.
The committee’s proposal to allow staff to choose their operating system in the interim, switch to Windows 10 in 2020, and move to client-independent applications long-term will be voted on this Wednesday.