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05 January 2010, 10:27

Munich administration switches to OpenDocument Format

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The LiMux Project Logo The LiMux project, which oversees Linux migration in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, has reached another milestone. According to a 2009 development review that the deputy project leader Florian Schießl has posted on his blog, open source OpenDocument Format (ODF) is now the main document exchange standard, with PDF being used for non-editable files. According to Schießl, the city administration's standard desktops now consist of the free office suite, Mozilla's Firefox browser, the Thunderbird email client and several other open source applications, such as the GIMP image editor.

Schießl says the transition required enormous background effort which involved eliminating many IT dependencies created by individual vendors over the years. More than 20,000 templates had to be consolidated and converted into new templates, macros or web applications. Most templates and text blocks are now managed via the WollMux program, which was released in 2008. Schießl said that the developers also had to adapt a number of corporate applications such as SAP for use with ODF.

According to the review, another achievement in 2009 was the establishment of Linux client pilot areas as a step towards the final aim of migrating all twelve of the city administration's departments to Linux. Schießl says this was the last fundamental step required to enable general client migration in the coming years. Although only 2,500 of around 14,000 workstations have been converted to the custom-built basic LiMux client, the hardest part was to get them all up and running, which required going over inconsistent IT infrastructures that had developed over the years and training the IT staff for the technical switch. As Robert Pogson observes in his blog, six and a half years after the decision was made to switch to free software, the Munich Linux pioneers have completed about 80 per cent of the project's total workload.

According to Schießl, "the final big step, the general client migration,' will begin in the coming months. A target plan developed in 2008 stipulates that the switch is to be completed by 2012 at the latest. In general, Munich adopted a "soft migration" approach and ineffective emulation of problematic processes and the creation of identical conversions of text blocks and macros was avoided.

(Stefan Krempl)

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