[sf-lug] fascinating story: How Munich rejected Steve Ballmer and kicked Microsoft out of the city

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Nov 22 16:25:32 PST 2013

A truly excellent article about migration of a major site from
Microsoft-centric computing to open source.

Quoting author Nick Heath:

> "We planned a slow migration, carrying out the migration and the
> development of our LiMux client in parallel." Peter Hoffman
> Munich chose to standardise processes for capturing each department's
> infrastructure and requirements and for testing and release management, at
> the cost of adding several years to the project's completion date.

This is important.  It speaks to them being serious about requirement
analysis.  And also, avoiding the trap of promoting open source
primarily on the basis of 'it's cheaper' was vital.

> Large chunks of the software used by the council were built using Microsoft
> technologies. For example, a sizeable proportion of Microsoft Office macros
> were written in Microsoft's programming language Visual Basic, while other
> departments were tied to Internet Explorer by a dependence on ActiveX.

These are two of the three most pervasive problem areas.

> One of the main complaints from Munich staff using LiMux and
> OpenOffice is about incompatibilities with Microsoft Office.
> Documents, spreadsheets and other files display some fonts, pictures
> and layouts differently in OpenOffice than in Microsoft Office, and
> changes to some documents are not properly logged.

And that's the third.  With something as ideosyncratic as the MS-Office
applications, font and layout metrics are just not going to be quite the
same in third-party compatible software such as LibreOffice and

> 170 specialised apps tailored to different roles performed by the
> council.

And there are always these -- underlining why requirements analysis is so
important.  (Sometimes, it might best to punt and say 'Fine, you can
keep running your antique version of Quicken in a virtual NT4 session
under LiMux.'

They're lucky to have not attempted to decouple from Microsoft
infrastructure before they could be tied more strongly into 
Active Directory (with or without Exchange Server).  That makes divorce
more problematic.

> "The only downside is there's no-one to blame when things do go wrong, but
> what's the advantage of that?" Hofmann said.

http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/lexicon.html#someone-to-sue   ;->

(I've been following this story for some years.)

More information about the sf-lug mailing list