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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2017-03-01">
<title>What happened in Munich</title>
<h1>What happened in Munich</h1>
On 15 February 2017, the city council of Munich, Germany convened
to discuss the future of their LiMux project. In its public
session, the plenary voted to have the city administration develop
a strategy to unify client-side IT architecture, building atop a
yet-to-be-developed "Windows-Basis-Client". A translation of the
complete decision is included further down.
The opposing parties were overruled, but the decision was amended
such that the strategy document must specify which
LiMux-applications will no longer be needed, the extent in which
prior investments must be written off, and a rough calculation of
the overall costs of the desired unification.
Since this decision was reached, the majority of media have
reported that a final call was made to halt LiMux and switch back
to Microsoft software. This is, however, not an accurate
representation of the outcome of the city council meeting. We
studied the available documentation and our impression is that the
last word has not been spoken.
We succeeded thus far in forcing the mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) to
postpone the final decision, and this was possible through the
unwavering pressure created by joint efforts between The Document
Foundation, KDE, OSBA, and the FSFE together with all the
individuals who wrote to city council members and took the issue
to the media.
Although the mandate is highly suggestive in that it suggests that
the existing vendor-neutral approach is to be replaced with a
proprietary solution, it leaves the door open; Or are you aware of
a commonly-used software standard that ensures maximal
compatibility in all directions?
The new mandate buys us some time. And we will keep going.
<h2>Background information </h2>
What lead to this public hearing on 15 February? In 2014, Dieter
Reiter was elected new mayor of Munich. He had referred to himself
as "Microsoft fan" even before he took office. He prides himself
with having played a major part in the decision to move the
Microsoft Germany headquarters to downtown Munich. He started to
question the LiMux strategy as soon as his term started, and asked
Accenture, a Microsoft partner in the same building as Microsoft,
to analyse Munich's IT infrastructure. The report can be found
<a href="">here</a> (German). It's
noteworthy that in their report, the analysts identify primarily
organisational issues at the root of the problems troubling LiMux
uptake, rather than technical challenges.
The coalition of SPD and CSU filed a surprise motion with minimal
lead time before the city council, with the goal to put LiMux to
rest once and for all.
<h2>Our reaction</h2>
Given the importance of this matter, an ad-hoc coalition of The
Document Foundation, KDE, OSBA, and the FSFE
collected <a href="">questions
about this motion</a> (German), as well as the processes that
lead up to it. We reached out to all members of the city council
prior to the public hearing. Additionally, we sent a <a href="">call for
action</a> (German) to all our supporters in Germany and Austria, asking
them to get in contact with politicians on this issue. The
reaction was phenomenal. During the public hearing, politicians
quoted some of our question, and said that they had never received
as much input from the public before.
Thank you everyone who made this happen!
We also generated quite a bit of press coverage this way, not only
in Germany, but also in other parts of the world. An incomplete
list of press coverage can be found
<a href="">here</a>. Please
share with us any additional material you might know about.
LiMux suffered from organisational problems, including lack of
clear structures and responsibilities, which the Accenture report
also makes clear. These are independent from the software used on
client machines, and switching operating systems will not solve
LiMux as such is still one of the best examples of how to create a
vendor-neutral administration based on Free Software. The project
was started 13 years ago when the city had to replace their no
longer supported Windows NT4 workstations. Since then, they
migrated 15.000 workplaces to vendor-neutral Free Software
solutions, and Open-Standard-based file formats, supported by
local IT companies. Overall this initiative displays not only a
successful move to more independence, but also serves as role
model of how to strengthen the local IT industry. By solving the
organisational problems only, Munich could continue to successfully
foster not only an independent administration but also a strong and
healthy IT landscape.
<h2>Our goal</h2>
We understand that LiMux has not solved all problems, but we
maintain that the root of the problems are of organisational
nature, and thus must not be confounded with the technical
Public infrastructure must stay independent of singular commercial
interests, that are known to stifle innovation. Free Software
provides the unique opportunity to invest into common assets and
benefit from everyone else's contributions, while staying in
control of what gets deployed, and when. Local service providers
operating in healthy competition boost the local economy and
ensure best use of tax payers' money.
We also note that the trend moves away from client-side operation
to more centralised infrastructures, which
operating-system-independent use across multiple devices and
users' browsers of choice. It may turn out best for LiMux to
adjust its focus, while the vendor-neutral strategy must prevail.
<h2>The modified motion, as passed on 15 February</h2>
The following conclusion was reached (overruling the opposition by
Die Grünen - rosa liste, BAYERNPARTEI Stadtratsfraktion,
Freiheitsrechte, Transparenz und Bürgerbeteiligung, ÖDP, DIE
The motion filed before the plenum by SPD and CSU shall have its
section 6b (new) extended, as shown between the *** markers:
"The administration shall without delay propose a strategy how to
unify the city's client-side IT architecture by 2020-12-31,
building on a yet-to-be-developed 'Windows-Basis-Client'. Baseline
functionality (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation
software, PDF reading, e-mail client and Web browser) needs to be
provided by commonly-used, standard products, which must guarantee
maximal compatibility with existing internal and external
processes, as well as other software infrastructure (such as SAP).
The strategy must be clear on which applications on LiMux-Basis
will no longer be needed. The city council is to be informed on
the extent that this requires write-offs of prior
investments. Furthermore, a rough budget to illustrate the costs
associated with the unification is to be presented. The city
council will then make a final decision.
Throughout the transition, the various departments are free to
deploy the new, unified solution building on the
'Windows-Basis-Client', or continue using their existing,
multi-tier (Window/LiMux) solution, depending on technical status.
Strategic goal must remain that administrative tools shall be
usable independently of the client-side operating system (e.g. web
apps, virtualisation, remote desktop services)."
The original decision is only available in German and can be found
<a href="">here</a>,
the <a href="">original
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="limux">LiMux</tag>
<tag key="policy">policy</tag>
<tag key="limux">München</tag>
<tag key="public-administration">ÖffentlicheVerwaltung</tag>
<author id="schiessle"/>