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Munich agrees to Linux migration plan

Munich agrees to Linux migration plan

Local government officials in Munich approved Wednesday a plan for rolling out the Linux operating system and other open source applications in more than 14,000 city administration computers.

"The Munich city council reached a decision to go ahead with a plan that had been developed over the past year by the city's own IT department, in cooperation with other external experts," said city administration spokesman Bernd Plank on Thursday.

The council chose not to publish details of the migration plan, which calls for replacing Microsoft's Windows operating system with Linux, Plank said.

The Munich city government will begin issuing tenders for technology and consulting services in July, with the core migration work to begin in October, the spokesman said.

SuSE Linux, a unit of Novell, and IBM worked closely with city government officials on their Linux decision, reached last year, and hope to supply and maintain the open source software, and possibly hardware.

The city aims to complete the migration project by the end of 2008, according to officials.

Christine Strobl, an IT expert with the Social Democratic Party and a member of the City of Munich IT Commission, warned of challenges that lie ahead. While agreeing to the benefits of migrating to open source software, Strobl said in a statement that the integration of Linux and other office applications into the many different public administration-specific applications will not be an easy task. Many of the applications, she said, have been developed by small companies that have little or no experience with Linux and Web-based services.

Despite some expected difficulties, Strobl said Linux migration is a "number one priority" for the city, pointing to a pilot project under way with SAP. In software used by the city's accounting department, the German business application vendor is making necessary changes to support the open source OpenOffice suite of desktop applications, which will replace Microsoft's Office software.

To ease the Linux migration process, the city has already agreed to consolidate its more than 1,300 software functions, replacing many of them with standardized Web applications, Strobl said.

No one is saying exactly how much the migration project will cost. Charts available in German on the Munich city government's Web site (www.muenchen.de/linux) list Euro 30 million (AUD$52 million), but city spokesman Plank declined to confirm the exact figure.

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