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Munich embraces the penguin

Troubled LiMux project will go ahead

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The city council of Munich yesterday decided to go ahead with its planned migration from proprietary to open source applications. Although financial and technical problems have dogged Project LiMux, Munich's Rathaus (City Hall) will now migrate 16,000 desktop PCs to the Linux operating system.

The conservative, Bavaria-only Christian Social Union (CSU) voted against the project, fearing that "leisure-time coders" would destroy Munich's IT-landscape, and that its personnel would have problems with learning how to use OpenOffice and other migrated systems.

Last year, Munich opted to go with Linux instead of Microsoft software. This was seen as a significant setback for Microsoft and a clear sign of Linux' increasing viability. None other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid a personal visit to Munich city mayor Christian Ude to drum up support for the company's operating system. Ballmer offered big discounts on Microsoft products.

Since then, the Munich project has had to address several problems. Smaller software vendors in particular said they were unable to migrate applications to Linux, simply because they lack open source knowledge. The huge cost of the project - roughly $35.7m - has also been deeply criticized. Munich City Council, however, believes the project will stimulate IT development in the region.

Munich workers will still have to use Windows NT for the rest of 2004, but with Mozilla as the preferred browser. A full migration to Linux and OpenOffice is not expected until 2005 or 2006.

This week the Norwegian town of Bergen - Norway's second largest city and gateway to the Fjords - also decided to migrate to open source software. It will replace Unix and Windows servers with Suse Linux Enterprise Server 8. Over 50,000 civil servants will use the software. ®

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