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Munich reverses course, may ditch Linux for Microsoft

Munich, long a poster child for institutional Linux adoption, is close to performing a major about-face and returning to Microsoft products

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The German city of Munich, long one of the open-source community's poster children for the institutional adoption of Linux, is close to performing a major about-face and returning to Microsoft products.

Munich's deputy mayor, Josef Schmid, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that user complaints had prompted a reconsideration of the city's end-user software, which has been progressively converted from Microsoft to a custom Linux distribution -- "LiMux" -- in a process that dates back to 2003.

The newspaper reports that about 80% of all Munich city workers use LiMux at the office, and that, according to Schmid, many of those workers are "suffering." The deputy mayor said that the government will convene an expert panel to consider whether to move back to Microsoft products. The report also notes that Microsoft is planning to move its German HQ from nearby Unterschleissheim to Munich as of 2016.

Schmid was the unsuccessful opponent of now-mayor Dieter Reiter in Munich's municipal elections of late March. Reiter, however, had to form a coalition government, bringing Schmid in as deputy mayor. Reiter has also criticized the city's open-source initiatives since his election, saying that the technology sometimes lags behind that of Microsoft, and that compatibility issues can cause issues.

For his part, Schmid characterized the adoption of open-source technology as a political decision from the start, telling the German newspaper that the move seemed to be intended more as a gesture to Microsoft than anything else.

The news comes just eight months after Munich's city council essentially declared victory, saying that the LiMux transition was complete and boasting of more than $15.6 million saved since the project began. Nearly 15,000 users were converted to the city's customized Linux-based operating system.

As recently as February, Munich's attitude toward the open-source project was "full speed ahead," when it announced that it would switch to groupware provided by Swiss developer Kolab Systems.


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