Berlin: IT centralisation thw…

Berlin: IT centralisation thwarts open source

Published on: 04/02/2014

Berlin will not switch to open source operating systems for its workstations, the German Linux Magazine reports. The administration of the German city state again dismissed a request by the opposition party Bündnis 90/Greens to replace outdated proprietary desktop systems by open source. Such a switch clashes with the city's efforts to centralise the IT infrastructure.

Berlin is set to standardise its IT infrastructure, bringing all of the city's servers and all 74,698 workstations under management of ITDZ, the central IT services department. The department at the moment administers 21 per cent of all servers and only 14 per cent of all PC workstations in use by the city state. "A fundamental change to a specific technical solution contradicts the objective to centralise all services", a spokesperson for the city state's Department for the Interior and Sport told Linux Magazine.

The department is refuting claims made last week by Bündnis 90/Greens that the city is failing to properly manage its desktop workstations. The decentralised IT services in Berlin State together manage some 74,698 workstations. Senate and district administrations are themselves responsible for upgrades of hardware and software. The Berlin administration is planning to phase-out an outdated proprietary desktop system, planning to replace it with a later version of the same proprietary operating system.


The Bündnis 90/Greens say the city has failed to plan for the upgrade, and is now exposing itself to viruses and malware, since the proprietary vendor is no longer supporting the decade-old operating system.

The politicians want Berlin to move to free and open source software. Linux Magazine last Friday quotes Olaf Reimann, a policy advisor for the Greens in Berlin. "If the state had acted in March 2013, when we again pleaded for a switch to open source, it would have avoided the current dangerous situation." So far, the opposition's repeated pleas for a free software strategy have gone unheeded.

Schools and taxes

However, the Department for the Interior and Sport points out that Berlin already has an open source-strategy, for both desktops and servers. In the Berlin tax department, 8100 workstations have OpenOffice installed, and the same open source suite of office productivity tools is installed in 4650 workstations used in schools. "About 40 per cent of servers managed by the ITDZ is running an open source operating system, compared to just 20 per cent in the remaining departments."


More information:

Press Release by Gruene Fraktion Berling (in German)
Linux Magazine news item (in German)
Linux Magazine news item (in German)
T-Online news item (in German)
Heise news item (in German)