Open source wins the day once again in Munich

The City of Munich, famous for dropping Windows for a Linux OS, has chosen open-source software to handle mail and calendar for its staff.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

The authority running the German city of Munich, famous for ditching Windows in favour of a home-grown Linux OS, has chosen an open-source software suite to handle email and calendar for its staff.

The City of Munich has chosen to use the Kolab Enterprise groupware software to manage mail, calendar, task, and contact lists.

The decision comes soon after the council completed a nine year project to migrate more than 14,800 of its PCs from Windows to Limux, a custom build of Ubuntu — a choice the project lead described as not being about saving money, but about freedom from lock-in.

Limux project lead Peter Hofmann signalled at the time that the city of Munich would do its best not to let itself become too dependent on a single technology vendor again.

"We saw from the start that if you're only relying on one contributor to supply your operating system, your office system and your infrastructure, you're stuck with it," he said.

The switch to Kolab is part of the council's MigMak project and is planned to be complete by the end of 2014, according to tender documents. The migration will be managed by Kolab partner ESG.

The council's Limux and remaining Windows PCs — which it has kept for compatibility reasons — will run Kolab Enterprise 13's desktop and web client.

Kolab Enterprise 13 was released in December for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with support for other platforms to be added later.

The groupware suite from Kolab Systems AG in Switzerland, was originally developed for the German Federal Office for Information Security.

Even though Munich's decision to leave Windows wasn't financially motivated, Munich said the move to open source software saved it more than €10m.

HP produced a report on behalf of Microsoft that claimed the shift to Limux and OpenOffice would cost Munich three times more than official figures – although Munich pointed out the report was based on a number of flawed assumptions, such as significantly overestimating the number of staff working on the project.

However, Limux project lead Hofmann admitted shifting away from Windows had been a difficult process, as the council wrestled with reconfiguring an infrastructure littered with proprietary formats and protocols to play nicely with LiMux and free software.

The City of Munich was unable to comment at this time.

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