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Munich May Ditch Linux Desktops For Windows

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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A proposal set for a vote this week would see council workers shifting to a Windows client with ‘industry-standard’ applications

Munich city council members are preparing to vote on a landmark proposal that would see the city ditch its decade-old LiMux programme, which currently sees most of the city government’s more than 15,000 computers running Linux and the LibreOffice productivity suite.

Council members tabled a recommendation last week that calls for the city to immediately draw up plans for a uniform Windows-based client to be rolled out across the city government by the end of 2020.

Linux

End of an era

If adopted, the plan means the end of Munich’s Linux experiment, launched in 2003 and seen at the time as a challenge to Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop.

The implementation was finally completed in 2013, with around 15,000 systems now running a customised version of Ubuntu Linux, while roughly another 5,000 continuing to run Windows and Microsoft Office.

In the meantime, a shift in power from a Green-Social Democratic Party (SPD) coalition to one dominated by the SPD and the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), along with the arrival in 2014 of the Microsoft-friendly SPD lord mayor Dieter Reiter, meant a loss of political support for LiMux, resulting in the current proposal to scrap the programme entirely.

More generally, desktop Linux no longer appears as revolutionary as it did in 2003, in a world where desktop PC sales are in long-term decline.

Rather than fending off desktop competition, Microsoft now has its hands full adapting to a world ruled by mobile devices – most of which run Google’s Linux-based Android – and cloud applications powered by Linux-dominated data centres.

Application independence

Munich’s city council made note of that shift, saying the city’s long-term goal is to shift to applications that can run independently of the desktop operating system being used through the use of web applications, virtualisation and remote desktop services.

In the meantime, the plan prioritises compatibility with products such as SAP’s software, as well as calling for the use of “industry standard” applications such as PDF readers, email clients and productivity software.

While the shift is being carried out users should be given the choice of running Linux or Windows, according to the plan.

Opposition parties the Greens and the Pirate Party said they continue to oppose the use of Windows as supporting Microsoft’s “quasi-monopoly”, while city officials noted that the plan only affects desktop systems, not the Linux servers implemented as part of LiMux.

The proposal is due for a vote this week.

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