Open Enterprise has been charting the continuing rise of open source software for many years. In numerous areas, its dominance is evident, but there’s one – local government – where its success has been more limited. The most famous example of a city moving to open source is Munich, but even that has been a huge struggle to complete:
More than ten years ago the city of Munich took a decision that was bound to put its IT administrators in the spotlight. At that time it was clear that Microsoft would soon stop supporting Windows NT 4.0, the operating system that ran most of the more than 10,000 desktop machines in the Bavarian capital. The IT specialists and politicians in Munich had to decide: a migration was inevitable, but to where?
In May 2003 the city council decided to migrate to Linux, beginning with a one-year concept phase. As experience over recent years has shown, the decision in favour of LiMux (Linux in Munich) marked a turning point not only for IT systems in the city of Munich, but also for administrations all over the world. And the lessons learned should become a blueprint for other big migrations in the public sector.
Vienna isn’t that far from Munich, so maybe the former did learn from that latter. In any case, Vienna now uses free software for much of its back office computing:
Open source is now well-established in the city’s main IT operations, according to the presentation [.pdf] which [Vienna’s ICT-Strategist] Weidinger delivered at a Major Cities of Europe conference in Dublin on 17 January. The city has 454 Linux servers (from a total of 2,000 servers), 270 Apache instances, uses Postgres to manage 380 databases and MySQL to manage another 90. Open source is used for file and printing services, for e-government services and for external and internal web-sites.
There’s also been good progress on the desktop:
Weidinger’s presentation includes a list of open source solutions used on the city’s workstations. Web browser Firefox is installed on 17,500 of the in total 56,800 workstations. VLC is installed on 13,603 PCs, PDFCreator on 14,852, 7-Zip on 14,575 and Freemind on 1,662. The city also supports the use of Apache OpenOffice: the office suite is now installed on 3,000 PCs. However, Weidinger notes, it is being used actively on only 600 workstations.
It’s clear that Vienna still has some work to do before it reaches the level of Munich, but at least it’s well on its way. It’s shameful that we don’t have anything comparable happening here in the UK. Does no one here want to take the open source path to Munich or Vienna?