München liebe Linux: In a remarkable turn for the city of Munich, the newly elected politicians decided that their administration should use open source software instead of "closed" products such as Microsoft Office.
"Where this is technologically and economically possible, the city will provide open source and open source licensed software," said a new coalition agreement between the two newly elected parties (the Greens and the Social Democrats).
The agreement was finalized last Sunday and will be in force until 2026.
We will abide by the principle of "public money, public code". "This means that, as long as there is no confidential or personal data, the source code and software used by the city will also be public," the agreement states.
The decision is hailed as a victory by proponents of free software, who see it as a better choice in terms of financial, political and administrative transparency.
However, the decision of the new administration of Germany's third largest and richest cities is just the latest reversal in a story that began more than 15 years ago in 2003. It was then motivated by Microsoft and its plan to end support for Windows NT 4.0.
The city had outdated workstations with Microsoft Windows anyway, and finally decided to give up proprietary software in late 2006.
At the time, the change was seen as a very ambitious, and innovative project for open source software in Europe. It included open source software, but also the development of a unique operating system based on Linux code. It was called "LiMux", from Linux and Munich.
By 2013, 80% of desktops were using LiMux. In fact, the board continued to operate both systems - Microsoft - LiMux, for several years to address compatibility issues.
But the result of a change in city government in 2017 was a controversial decision to abandon LiMux distribution and return to Microsoft by 2020. At the time, critics of the decision blamed the mayor and deputy mayor. They even touched on the suspicious decision of Microsoft to move its headquarters in Munich.
The change to Microsoft's operating system and software, or to other closed source software companies such as Oracle and SAP, then cost about 86,1 million euros.
Of course all the decision to return to open source software is a statement of political intent. But if the CDU remains in power, it could eventually become the official position of the entire German government.
One ministry (the Federal Ministry of the Interior) has already followed a similar line, commissioning consulting firm PwC to look at how Germany could achieve more digital dominance and become less dependent on vendors like Microsoft.
One of the recommendations of the study that released him August 2019 (PDF) was investing in open source software.
It is worth noting that the political leader of this ministry is Horst Seehofer, a member of the same political party, the conservative Christian Social Union, as is the former deputy mayor of Munich, who is considered one of the protagonists of the LiMux program.
- With information from ZDNet