Open Source

It's not just Munich: Open source gains new ground in Germany

Another municipality in Germany makes the switch to open source from Microsoft software.

While Munich city council's decision to replace Microsoft software with open-source alternatives made headlines, it is one of a number of municipalities across Germany to make such a move.

Across Germany at the national and local level authorities are running Linux and open-source software. The German federal employment office has migrated 13,000 public workstations from Windows NT to OpenSuse, and a number of German ubran areas are using or in the process of switching to open-source software on the desktop, including Isernhagen, Leipzig, Schwäbisch Hall and Treuchtlingen.

The latest town to make the switch is Gummersbach, with a population of about 50,000 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which this summer completed its switch to Linux PCs from Windows XP.

The move has saved the town a five-figure sum, according to European Commission service Joinup, and authorities are expecting to spend less on software licensing and buying hardware. Additionally, the council says its Linux-based estate requires less maintenance, allowing it to scale back its IT department by one full time employee to three people.

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The Catholic Church of Saint Francis in Gummersbach

Town staff use 300 thin client PCs to access their desktop and applications hosted on a cluster of six SuSE Linux Terminal Servers. The desktop is based on the Mate environment and staff use LibreOffice office suite and the Open-Xchange email, messaging, calendaring and online collaboration tools.

The town also benefits from the almost decade of work Munich put into migrating to open-source software, with some departments using the Wollmux software Munich developed to manage forms and document templates.

Applications that can only run on Windows are run within virtual desktops and the town authority also keeps 25 PCs for running software used by its Civil Service desk and computer-aided design software.

The desktop PCs are centrally managed from the region's municipal datacentre in Sieburg.

Gummersbach started the move to Linux in 2007, in anticipation of Microsoft ending official support for Windows XP in April this year.

While Gummerbach is one of a number of German authorities to have moved to open-source software, elsewhere in the country earlier decisions to abandon Microsoft have been reversed.

Earlier this year the German foreign office announced it was dropping its policy of only using open-source software and switching back to Windows and Microsoft Office.

The German city of Freiburg also abandoned plans to move to OpenOffice, claiming it would have cost up to €250 per seat to resolve interoperability issues.

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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