Limux - the city of Munich's transition to an open source desktop


  1. The information and views set out in this presentation are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.
  2. Free software and open source software are synonymous.

About this talk

  1. Munich's open source desktop;
  2. Success factors;
  3. Threats;
  4. European context;
  5. From Munich to the Netherlands;
  6. But first: About OSOR.

About OSOR

Open Source Observatory & Repository



Munich's open source desktop

17,018 Ubuntu Linux and Libreoffice desktops.

The city of Munich

  • 1.5 million residents;
  • 3rd largest city in Germany;
  • 12th in Europe;
  • ± 33,000 employees;
  • ± 1,000 IT staff members;
  • ± 24,000 PC workstations;
  • ± 50 operating locations;
  • 22 independant IT departments & heterogeneous infrastructure.

Limux Timeline

  • 2001 first plans and discussions
  • 2003 project started (NT4 = EOL)
  • 2004 city council decision
  • 2005 tender published
  • 2006 first PCs migrated
  • 2008 consulting firm replaced
  • 2008 TüV Germany certifies LiMux desktop client
  • 2008 & 2009: pilot phase, office migration
  • 2010 Open Office and WollMux rollout finished
  • 2011 half of planned PCs switched
  • 2013 goal reached: 15,000 Linux-based PCs
  • October/November 2013: Final acceptance. 14,800 PCs running Ubuntu Linux & LibreOffice
  • Today: 17,018 Ubuntu Linux & LibreOffice PCs

Limux Timeline contd.

  • 2012: all IT employees were moved into an owner-operated municipal enterprise (it@M);
  • 2015: most staff and services were centrallized and moved to new building.

Munich's open source desktop

  • Current release is based on Kubuntu 12.04 and KDE 4.12;
  • Future release will be based on Ubuntu LTS 18.04 and KDE5;
  • Firefox;
  • Thunderbird;
  • LibreOffice 4.1 (+ 300+ patches);
  • WollMux.

Code contributions

Munich has contributed hundreds of bugfixes to open source projects, most through its external service providers.

One of the city's developers has contributed 96 patches to LibreOffice, all of which are included in the most recent version, 5.

Munich is backporting 300+ patches to its version of LibreOffice, 4.2.

Code contributions contd.

  • Wollmux document templates and form manager;
  • Gossa² LDAP management tool;
  • FAI Fully Automated Installation;
  • DAK tools to manage a repository of software packages;
  • Project Mikmak & Kolab.

Motivation? Competition

Europe has few politicians like Christian Ude that can take credit for making a stand on using free and open source. At a conference in June 2013, the mayor recounted his main motivation to push for free and open source. The ubiquitous proprietary desktop vendor had rudely demanded the city updates its operating system as the then-used version was no longer being supported.

Christian Ude, then-Mayor of Munich:

"No other sector suffers from this kind of 
vendor lock-in. Not even an industry
specialised in the construction of tunnels."

Motivation? Competition contd.

Money was never the main argument in persuading the politicians of Munich to agree to open source.

On the contrary, when they were presented with the idea in 2003 the mayors and councillors were much more appreciative of the fact that the timing of any future upgrades would be under their control.

LiMux - the IT evolution - An open source success story like never before

Succes factors

Political support

Christian Ude (mayor of Munich) meets Bill Gates.

Gates: “Mr. Ude, why are you doing this?”.
Ude: “To gain freedom.”

Gates: “Freedom from what?”
Ude: “Freedom from you, mr. Gates.”

Succes factors cont.d

Political support contd.

Munich's it department first completed a centralisation of 22 it departments. After the city standardised applications and it management, involving all 33,000 employees, working in 51 locations across the city.

In case of conflicts, meetings where convened in the office of the mayor.

Jutta Kreys, Munich's IT architect:

"You can imagine how helpful that is."

Succes factors cont.d


From the 2012 report

Windows Windows & OpenOffice LiMux
34 M 30 M 23M

  • project timescale increased 80%, from 5 to 9 year;
  • costs rose by only 44%, from EUR M 12 to alsmost 19:
  • lower application costs;
  • higher # of free software solutions;
  • lower staff costs - vacancies not filled;
  • higher costs for external consultants;

See also "Munich’s return to proprietary desktop would cost millions".

Succes factors cont.d

Change management

  • Be transparant in information management;
  • Communication:
    • newsletters;
    • flyers;
    • meetings.
  • Conferences & workshops;
  • Show that it is like using a smartphone;
  • Emphasise the role model;
  • Reward the best Limux-photograph;
  • Coffee mugs.

Succes factors cont.d


This document and template manager helps city staff members with their every-day office productivity tasks. Functionalities include:

  • easy access to templates;
  • generating personalised documents;
  • helps filling in forms;
  • generating letterheads;
  • checking plausability of forms;
  • inserts computed data;
  • special printing options;

Just ask Freiburg.


New political leadership

Munich's open IT a topic in race for new mayor

Munich councillors want to return to proprietary software

Munich’s return to proprietary desktop would cost millions

New leadership challenges Munich's open source strategy

'Munich city council shields Limux against Mayor'

Threats cont.d

Germany has 12,000 municipalities. Just seven of those are visibly using open source:

Threats cont.d

The trouble with interoperability; competing document formats

  • The vast majority of Germany's public administrations relies on proprietary formats;
  • National guideline recommending ODF is ignored;

Munich's IT staffers regularly contact other public administrations, to solve interoperability problems caused by these proprietary document formats;

Peter Hofmann, Limux project leader:

"We try to get them to work with the ODF, 
but it is not accepted everywhere."

Threats cont.d

Blame everything on Linux

European context

Innovate & modernise

To deliver innovative government solutions, Europe's public administrations turn to free and open source software.

Innovation is the main motive, costs savings come next.


The OSOR news items show that the freedom, flexibility and scalability enabled by open source software make it an obvious choice for public ventures.


It makes business sense to use open source software. All the big IT companies are doing it. But public administrations especially ought to share their software.

Public administrations that invest in open source create future benefits and generate a virtuous loop between the public and private sector.

Pay it forward

Public administration software is financed by taxpayers, and making it public is the best way to share the solutions with citizens and companies.

Publicly sharing code and improvements to existing code, lets public administrations pay their IT investments forward.

They get technological self-reliance into the bargain.

Swiss, German, and French public administrations have pooled budgets to make new software solutions possible and publicly available.

It's public administration

Source code is information.

And just like other public administrative documents, it should be

publicly accessible.

Public administrations increasingly use free and open source

French Gendarmerie: "Open source desktop lowers TCO by 40%"

“Using an open source desktop lowers the total cost
of ownership by 40% in savings on proprietary
software licences and by reducing
costs on IT management.”

The number of politicians that appreciate open source is rising

New MEPs urge building links to open source communities

Julia Reda @senficon & Max Andersson @maxandersson, 
members of the European Parliament, want to build
links with well-known free software communities.

Public administrations use open source

for everything, everywhere

  • content management
  • document management
  • database applications
  • egovernment services
  • citizen participation
  • geoinformation systems
  • open data
  • software development

and across all sectors

open source is everywhere

in the EU institutions

European Commission to update its open source policy

EU: EUR 1 million for security audit of open source

European Parliament releases amendment software as open source

Two hundred ways to switch an EC directorate to open source

Open source software assists european citizens to petition the EU

in ministries

How 17 French ministries joined forces to support free software

German Interior Ministry seeks open source expertise

French ministries prove free software is viable

Linux clusters in German Finance Ministry data centre

French Interior Ministry: open source 5 to 10 times cheaper

in regional governments

Andalusia provides messaging services 4 euro user year

Emilia-Romagna completes switch to Openoffice

Italy's Puglia region passes law on use of open source and open data

Italy's Lazio region adopts law on open source and open data

Athens region considers switch to open source

in capitals, big cities, towns and tiny villages


Open source office at Veneto healthcare

Luxembourg open source health records system gains foothold

More and more Linux in Riga children hospital

Liège hospitals use open source imaging tool

600-bed UK hospital uses open source patient records system


Open source advancing at Dutch defence ministry

Polish defence ministry moving to open source email and groupware

NATO makes ODF one of its mandatory standards

Ministry of defense to switch to Pardus GNU/Linux

Russian government to invest in open source desktop


Slovakia school open source campaign to continue

Valencia Linux school distro saves EUR 36 million

Umbrian schools teach Venice how to switch to open source

Swiss school invests open source savings in education

Epoptes - PC lab management tool - in over 500 Greek schools

Malcolm Moore, network manager at UK's Westcliff High School for Girls academy:

“This school specialises in science and engineering
and if our students are to go on to do great things,
like start the next Google, or 
collapse the universe at CERN...
they will certainly need to know linux.”

most visible open source implementations

1. French Gendarmerie

72,000 Ubuntu Linux & Libreoffice desktops

Major Stéphane Dumond Gendarmerie, France:

“The direct benefits of saving on licences are the 
tip of the iceberg.

An industrialised open source desktop is a powerful lever for IT governance.”

most visible open source implementations cont.d

2. Government of Spain's Extremadura autonomous region

42,000 Ubuntu Linux desktops (target)

  • 10,000 pcs in healthcare organisations use Lingobex Salud;
  • 22,000 pcs in government offices will use Lingobex;
  • 93,000 school pcs and laptops run Linex;
  • a EUR 38 Mil procurement request for proprietary brands is/was under fire.

Top 2 open desktops

1st place: France

ODF is France's government standard for editable documents. About 500,000 workstations on desktops across ministries create/edit/handling ODF documents daily.

Top 2 open desktops cont.d

2nd place: Italy

Public administrations using ODF and LibreOffice:

  • Province of Bolzano: 6,000 PCs;
  • Provice of Trento: 4,000 PCs;
  • Perugia: 1,200 PCs;
  • Cremona: 500 PCs;
  • Province of Macerata: 500 PCs;
  • Emilia Romagna Region: 3,500 PCs;
  • City of Bologna: 3,000 PCs;
  • City of Piacenza: 600 PCs;
  • City of Reggio Emilia: 500 PCs;
  • Galliera Hospital (Genoa): 2,500 PCs (10 yrs);
  • Italian military to switch to LibreOffice and ODF: 150,000 PCs.

From Munich to the Netherlands

  • Politicians need to support open source & open standards
  • NLLGG, FSFE, NLUUG and other advocates need to support politicians
  • If not? Ede will #fail.

Sources & further reading


Courtesy to the Herculean Emacs Org-mode

and the stirring Reveal.js

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