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  • Germany : 25,000 PC to move from Windows to Linux

    Home » Forums » AskWoody support » Non-Windows operating systems » Linux – all distros » Germany : 25,000 PC to move from Windows to Linux

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    #2403267

    ..and to open source LibreOffice from Microsoft Office.

    German state planning to switch 25,000 PCs to LibreOffice

    https://www.heise.de/news/Schleswig-Holsteins-Digitalminister-Albrecht-ueber-den-Wechsel-zu-Open-Source-6221361.html (English translated)

    For several years now, the federal government and some states have been promoting the development of open source software in order to reduce the administration’s reliance on US corporations such as Microsoft. So far, however, only one federal state has decided to completely get rid of proprietary software: “A complete replacement is the long-term goal,” says the coalition agreement signed in 2017 by the black-green-yellow state government of Schleswig-Holstein. This point was enforced by the Greens.

    In the meantime, the responsible digital minister Jan Philipp Albrecht (Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen) has specified the plans . By the end of 2026, he wants to replace Microsoft Office with Libre Office and later Windows with Linux – on the computers of all 25,000 civil servants and employees in the state, including teachers. In an interview with c’t Albrecht explains what he hopes for from the switch, which problems he still has to solve and what his state wants to do differently than the city of Munich, where the similarly ambitious Linux open source project failed ….

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    • #2403278

      I wish them well but note that the German city of Munich tried this in 2004… and reverted back to Windows/Office in 2017.

      See this LiMux article for the history.

      The reason I remember it so well is because the local authority I used to work for tried similar at the same time, i.e. move from MS Office to first StarOffice then OpenOffice. At the time I was on the IT implementation team rolling StarOffice out.

      That project – costing over 1 million GBP – flopped as well after projected savings were found to have been badly miscalculated after document conversion, training and support costs (including specialist support for people with additional needs) were factored in.

      (I note that in May 2020 newly elected politicians in Munich apparently took a U-turn to implement a plan to go back to the original plan of migrating to LiMux. I can’t find any news of how successful this has been.)

      • #2403337

        In the Wikipedia article linked by Rick Corbett, it transpires that the 2017 change of heart at the Munich Rathaus (Town Hall) about replacing Windows with LiMux (a distro with an ISO certification and based on Ubuntu) and subsequent back-to-Windows decision was likely: (a) political; (b) in part due to problems with the Linux equivalent of Office that was adopted along with LiMux.

        I think that the inescapable problem with totally replacing Windows with Linux has been and still is the inability to run software equivalent to and fully compatible with Office (not for nothing Word was considered the “Killer” application: it made Microsoft into MS and still is “killing”, in more ways than one)

        Unlike in the case of Apple, where MS makes and maintains a “for-Mac’s” version of Office, it has not made one for Linux and the probability of ever making one for it, I would guess is not great:

        Apple is one organization for MS to make a deal with, while Linux is developed by many independent organizations. Even if these are narrowed down to those distros likely to be adopted by people who also need to use Office (e.g., the distros for the Amiga computer are not in that group), that still be quite a few organizations for MS to deal with. Maybe MS would agree to provide a “for Linux” version of office to one or two distros? Anyone has seen some indication this is going to happen?

        Otherwise, and unless most organizations, public and private, switch over to using LibreOffice or OpenOffice, for their office paperwork and preparing presentations, I think this obstacle shall remain impassable for many organizations and also for many individual users.

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    • #2403332

      It’s hard to be a drop of milk in a sea of crude oil.

      Milk = Linux,   Crude oil = MS

      If it ain't broke, it soon will be, so be prepared.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2403421

      (b) in part due to problems with the Linux equivalent of Office that was adopted along with LiMux.

      Rumour had it at the time that, just like my own local authority employer’s experience, it wasn’t the Linux OS but the almost sheer impossibility of sharing ‘compatible’ documents and spreadsheets with other local authorities and central government that was the final straw for Munich.

      In both organisations, the use of MS Office quickly crept back in under the guise of ‘permitted exceptions’. As a result, both organisations’ IT departments ended up supporting both MS Office and an open source product that, in a relatively short time, morphed from StarOffice initially (plagued by stability issues and lack of documentation) to OpenOffice (plagued by lack of developer support) to the LibreOffice fork in 2011 (which was where most OpenOffice developers decamped to).

      What I think finally killed it at the organisation I worked for was that we (IT) found that open source support from developers was consistently slow to respond to issues and often very difficult to get hold of (as there were so few of them compared to the numbers of employees asking for help with issues).

      This proved to be unsustainable in the end as we as an organisation struggled to meet central government deadlines for submitting data, where the penalties for late filing were catastrophic both financially and reputationally. (The local authority I worked for was – and still is – a ‘core’ authority, i.e. one of several other ‘core’ authorities by which all local government in the UK is measured and compared against.)

      Our internal accountants and data collation/statistician sections finally revolted and refused to use anything but MS Office, screaming to IT bosses that they didn’t have the proper tools to do their jobs. Several of our local politicians screamed at IT bosses because of the looming or missed central government data deadlines. This was all kept hush-hush initially but soon became widely-known outside of IT… and it was if floodgates had been opened. It soon hit the local press (leaked by a councillor, we think) and the Mayor and cabinet had little option but to publicly announce a return to MS Office council-wide.

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    • #2403495

      What I think finally killed it at the organisation I worked for was that we (IT) found that open source support from developers was consistently slow to respond to issues and often very difficult to get hold of (as there were so few of them compared to the numbers of employees asking for help with issues).

      You mean contrary to Microsoft’s Office developers support which was instant and helpful ?

      • #2403541

        You mean contrary to Microsoft’s Office developers support which was instant and helpful ?

        ROFL. OK, I understand… but, within the realm of *paid* support (which I was writing about), I don’t have any critical/adverse anecdotes of lower-level MS support. We always communicated with Tier 2 (designated) and upwards.

        I have no experience of MS Office developers at all (apart from a couple of perhaps ill-judged comments at the time) but, despite all my own pops at Microsoft <the organisation>, my experience of Windows-level Microsofties has always been really, really positive. IMO they kinda rock big time (at the time?).

        I worked for a local authority in the UK’s South-West. MS’s campus is and remains in the UK’s South-East. I know that England is tiny by comparison to many countries but… the ‘Microsofties’ ‘OS upgrade to Windows 7‘ implementation team used to travel to-and-fro by minibus down the UK’s M4 motorway *every* single day from Reading to get to our IT HQ by 9.00 am (apparently it was cheaper than local hotel accommodation?)… a round-trip distance of 174 vehicle-congested miles – about 3 hours travel time – every single day for a month… and were late only a couple of times (due to traffic congestion and accidents).

        Without exception they were surprisingly open, honest, helpful (and utterly exhausted…)… with just a smidgeon of ‘Stepford Wives’ about what they could or would discuss.

        They were awesome.

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    • #2403562

      Thanks for sharing this, I am aware, that Munich went to Linux in the past.

      For larger organisations, and especially central government, the step is incredibly painfull and time consuming. But still I like the idea, that someone is trying to escape the monopoly we are experiencing. There are so much dependencies on MSFT/Windows SW, that its inhuman task to migrate form Win to Lin. Maybe iOS could do better? 😉

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