The City of Munich has chosen to migrate its 14,000 desktops to a free Linux distribution, rather than a commercial version of the open source operating system.
The City's administration said on Thursday that it will use the Debian distribution, which will be customised to meet the needs of the city administration. It has awarded a contract to two German consultancies, Gonicus and Softcon, to help with the migration.
Munich's migration from Microsoft Windows NT to Linux on the desktop was given final approval in June last year, after a year-long pilot project run by SuSE Linux and IBM. The contract for the project was put out to tender in the summer and the City said it considered several alternatives before choosing Debian, which it said offered the best solution in terms of technical competence and price.
Peter Hofmann, the project leader of the Linux migration, codenamed LiMux, said that he had received a large number of high-quality responses to the tender, which he believes shows that a commercial switch to Linux on the desktop is not an unusual decision.
Hofmann said work is starting on the Linux prototype now, so the city can start migrating PCs to the open source operating system from the end of the year.
The City of Munich is not the only government organisation to chose Debian. The German Foreign Office and the Office for IT Security, as well as the City of Vienna, have also opted for the free Linux distribution.
Munich's migration has attracted a lot of interest from the start, with Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer reportedly interrupting a ski holiday in Switzerland to pay a personal visit to Munich's mayor to dissuade him from migrating.
Hofmann told ZDNet UK in an earlier interview that the project team has been swamped with calls from the international media since going public about the migration, and from other organisations that are considering moving to open source.