User acceptance 'key' in desktop Linux migrations

The German city of Mannheim is encouraging its employees to install and Linux at home, and is even offering free support to home users

Mannheim's IT department is offering incentives to employees to get them more interested in open source software.

The Germany city plans to migrate its 3,500 desktops from Office 2003 to on Windows by 2009 and will start its migration to Linux afterwards.

Gerd Armbruster, the IT infrastructure manager at Mannheim, said in an interview published on ZDNet UK on Tuesday that one of the most important factors to guarantee a successful migration is user acceptance.

To attract users' interest in open source, the Mannheim IT department is providing every city employee with copies of and Linux for their home PC and will provide free support for home users. It is also arranging meetings with users where they can discuss their concerns about the migration.

Armbruster claimed that the lack of user engagement is one of the main problems that has caused the delay in Munich's migration to open source desktops. "Most of the problems in Munich are due to resistance from users — they don't want to change to Linux," he claimed.

But Peter Hofmann, the project leader of Munich's Linux migration, told ZDNet UK in September that the migration was delayed because it realised that an additional pilot was needed.

Hofmann also said that employees at the city administration have had a mixed response to the news that Munich is migrating to Linux. "Some [employees] are anxious that nothing will work [once we migrate] and others are enthusiastic," he said.

The full interview with Armbruster on Mannheim's Linux migration can be read here.