The Munich novel and open source adds a new chapter

The Munich novel
So far in the XNUMXst century, the German city of Munich has been first a victory and after a defeat for the defenders of the open sourceIn 2003, the city decided to migrate from WindowsNT to open source solutions. As part of these actions, he became a member of The Document Foundation and developed his own Linux distribution (LiMux) But, in 2017 he returned to the arms of Microsoft.

The decision to abandon open source had to do with the election as mayor of a gentleman named Dieter Reiter who, before dedicating himself to politics, was the one who convinced Microsoft to settle in Munich. One of the neighbors of Microsoft's building was the consulting firm Accenture. Guess which consultancy Reiter chose to determine whether or not using open source was a good idea? Accenture and Microsoft were partners for years.

The Munich novel. Scenes from the next chapters

Where technologically and financially feasible, the City will emphasize open standards and free software with open source license.
We will adhere to the principle of 'public money, public code'. That means that as long as there is no sensitive or personal data involved, the source code of the city's software will also be made public.

The above paragraphs are part of the agreement of the new governing coalition that will be in power until 2026. This new coalition is made up of environmentalists and social democrats.

Although from the open source community they celebrated the decision, from the Free Software Foundation Europe (nothing to do with Stallman's) they were more cautious in their analysis. Who spoke was Alex Sander, public policy manager for the EU

We are very happy that you are taking up the points of the 'Public money, public code' campaign that we started two and a half years ago. But it is also important to note that this is only a statement in a coalition agreement that outlines future plans.

Any such step-by-step transition can be expected to take years. But it is also possible that Munich is able to move faster than most because they are not starting from scratch. It can be assumed that some LiMux programs are still in use and that some of the staff are familiar with their use.

As is often the case in these cases, opinion is divided. The impartial point of view brought by Basanta Thapa, expert in digital government at the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems in Berlin:

The criteria for making these types of decisions are never purely technical and it is not necessarily a bad thing.
In technical terms, neither system is necessarily better than the other when it comes to everyday use.

Thapa points out which are the criteria that must be taken into account:

Generally, there are two main sticking points: user acceptance, which involves training people on new systems, and the interface between open and closed software. That can be anything from getting a LibreOffice document read in another program, to software that municipalities have written especially for, say, school records, tender contracts, or garbage collection.

The expert recommends taking into account the costs of breaking current contracts and the potential long-term savings from the switch.

Keep in mind that 2020 is not 2003. The political context is different and at the level of countries and the European Union, the concept of digital sovereignty is beginning to be given more importance.

Several smaller German cities and municipalities, for example Leonberg in the state of Baden-Württemberg and Treuchtlingen in Bavaria have already migrated their equipment to open source. Even from the central government they are beginning to be interested in the subject.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior commissioned consulting firm PwC to investigate how Germany could achieve more digital sovereignty and be less dependent on vendors like Microsoft.

One of the recommendations of the August 2019 study was to invest in more open source software as this option could lead to permanent independence from major vendors.

For now they are only good intentions. Don't miss the next chapters to see how this exciting story ends.


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