News about German City of Munich having some difficulties with Linux is a bit old. I admit I postponed that reading for later. Today I have finally read several articles about the problem.
From what is known, City of Munich made a decision to transit their Software from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office to Linux – Free Operating System licensed under GPL license in 2004. The whole history can be read in a document titled LiMux the IT evolution. It’s a fascinating reading. Even Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates visited Munich to prevent transition. They failed.
Theoretically, City of Munich would have solved two problems:
Cost of licences (even though unit price decreases with the amount of licences company uses, in the end cost could be huge)
Open document format and Open standards
The source of a rumor that a City of Munich would migrate back to Microsoft environment can be read on sueddeutsche website. The root problem of Munich Linux migration is: Too many complaints from users. Complaints are coming from all departments. A Second major complaint comes from citizens who couldn’t read the documents created by the open source office.
In the end, what I learned from various websites is following. Linux Migration was not started because of money, instead it was started because of ideology and political motivation. Users are complaining. They had huge problems with connecting mobile devices to their mail server. Lot’s of frustration because of missing a good PIM client. They had to spend a lot of money on custom programming.
Best comments from various sites:
For decades, I have been emphasizing that the people aggressively recommending Linux to common users and spreading conspiracy theories about the alleged reasons why Windows hadn’t died yet were loud ideologically motivated anti-market terrorists who didn’t hesitate to make most of the people suffer.
A building without windows looks rather sad. Well, let me admit: this is not a picture from Munich, it is a big fridge in Minsk. I guess that these days, the building is being used to produce high-quality Belorussian food by attaching new stickers to high-quality Western European food.
In the U.S., I mostly had to work with the Linux stuff for a decade, too. I learned it well enough but I remain as uncomfortable with it as I was before I became a Linux user, if not more so.
It seems that my words have been vindicated by officials from a city that has something to say about the problem, namely the first major city in the world that has decided to dump Windows and replace it by Linux a decade ago: Bavaria’s Munich.
The leadership of the city hall has noticed that the Linux solution is very expensive because it requires lots of custom programming. It’s estimated that 80% of the people who are forced to work with Linux simply suffer. To say the least, a big portion of the 14,000 employees of the city hall has complained. The employees say that the system doesn’t integrate contact, calendar, and e-mail software and requires special extra servers to connect mobile devices. And they have only failed to say that Linux also sucks when it comes to media players and games because they want to (preposterously) pretend that they would never use such software in the office hours.
There are still lots of deputies who have actually supported that experiment so I don’t know whether the reversal will work out. But Bavarian cities have shown their ability to learn from their mistakes. The 1938 Munich Treaty signed by Adolf Hitler and 3 of his pals was viewed as a mistake 7 years later. And the 1935 Nuremberg Laws have even been superseded by the 1945 Nuremberg Trials. So let’s see whether they will learn something from the Munich Linux experiment, too.
German news sites report on growing consternation within Munich city council regarding the switch to open source, with one city official claiming the ten-year Linux migration — said to have saved millions of Euros in licensing and maintenance costs — has been an expensive failure that has resulted in employees ‘suffering’.
The concerns have prompted the city’s new coalition government to set up an independent study tasked with re-evaluating the case for open source in the city’s systems.
And they are not ruling out a 180-degree pivot back to Microsoft software.
Back in 2004, Munich, Germany decided that they were going to switch to Linux (specifically, LiMux) as their primary operating system and drop Microsoft’s Windows operating system. At the time, the decision was said to be cheaper, more reliable and politically correct for the city and this would be the on the same scale as the Berlin Wall falling for politics but for IT.
But ten years later, and we must say that running for ten years is quite the achievement, the city is realizing that the move has not materialized in the way that they had envisioned a decade ago. A city official said that no matter what organization he talked to within the city, they all explained that their productivity was suffering because of the Linux system that they were using.
Last comment comes from a MVP blogger Aidan Finn, he knows Microsoft stuff really well, he knows how easy it is to manage Windows desktops and he knows how easy it is to use Windows Office. He is also awesome MS Server admin.
How I laughed back in 2003 when I read that Munich was “dumping” Windows to migrate all servers, desktops and productivity software to Linux and open source. At the time I was deploying an XP and Windows Server 2003 network in a German group, headquartered in Munich. I saw up close, how dumb some local IT people could be (hello Marco of HVB and Hypo Real Estate IT! – another case of “I told you so” muppetry).
You see, the Munich city government decided to dump all Microsoft software. Everyone, other than penguin huggers, told them that they were nuts. If you value productivity and collaboration, you go with Microsoft. Even a college student, educated with an open mind instead of brainwashed by a “son of Linus”, can tell you that off-the-shelf software that you pay for is cheaper to buy and own than free software that you have to customise and maintain.
And that’s the lesson that Munich has learned in the last 10 years.
Firstly it took from 2003 until 2013 for Munich to complete the migration. Sounds mad, right? The whole story is mired in secrecy, political rhetoric, and bullshit marketing. What we do know is that employees are complaining that they cannot get work done. They can’t figure out Linux workstations. Their productivity software is inferior to Office. And what they produce is incompatible with their customers/suppliers/partners.
Oh well! I guess Munich can find some open source scheiße to use over the next 10 years to migrate back to Microsoft. Or maybe they can hire a giant consulting firm that will cost too much.
Is Linux really dragged by the lack of good commercial applications or is decision behind a selection of applications causing this revolt? I know from personal experiences that LibreOffice can be a pain to use, has usability problems and even bugs that drag from the era of OpenOffice.org version 1. Why is there no alternatives? Why don’t developers do usability study? Will they ever change UI?
Did the city of Munich provide documents in multiple formats rather than ODF only? Maybe decision like that could pass frustration to their citizens as well as their users.
What about PIM? On a Windows, there is a solid Outlook alternative called eMClient, what about Linux? Was decision to go with KDE affecting end user perception?
It would be interesting to know what French police thinks about Linux. They too have migrated and so far it seems migration was a success. More will be known in the future. Interesting stuff nevertheless.