Munich Linux 'a reality'

The City of Munich has insisted it is on track with its massive Linux migration, in the face of claims in the German Senate that the project seemed to have failed before it ever got off the ground.

Under the LiMux project, which commenced in 2004, Munich is migrating 14,000 desktops from Windows to a custom Linux distribution running mostly open-source software.

However, two weeks ago a senior government IT official told the Senate that the migration had ground to a halt, citing an inside source.

Peter Hofmann, director of the LiMux project, begs to differ. The project's prototype client operating system was presented to the public at the end of May, and the city is now in the middle of testing application software with 100 users, Hofmann told Heise, a German IT news organisation, last week.

"Open Source software at the workplace is a reality in Munich," Hofmann said.

Munich Mayor Christian Ude and deputy Christine Strobl are among those taking part in the trials. Meanwhile, most city administration users are using open source programs for web, email and graphics editing, although Windows is still the underlying platform, Hofmann said.

He said the administration is looking to migrate users to platform-neutral systems, such as web services, where possible, in order to ease the transition to the LiMux platform. Systems such as licence plate registration have already been ported to web-based applications.

The city administration said the LiMux platform will begin trials in the autumn, with a gradual rollout planned over the next two years.

In 2004 the administration temporarily suspended LiMux because of fears that then-pending patent legislation could expose open source users to new legal liabilities.

Hofmann also admitted that once the process had recommenced, there were further delays, because of difficulties in evaluating the various bids for developing and maintaining the platform. But since then everything has gone smoothly, he said.

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