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City of Munich refutes rumours spread about costs of using open source

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The German city of Munich refutes the claims over high costs of the city's switch to an IT system mostly based on open source. The IT department takes apart the numbers published by Focus earlier this week. The German weekly questions the city's move to open source, citing the author of an unpublished report commissioned by the maker of the ubiquitous proprietary office software and operating system.

The response from the IT department was published in the city's newsletter on Tuesday. Karl-Heinz Schneider, head of the municipal IT service, starts by saying that  the licensing costs that would be incurred for using their products had not been taken into account. Schneider: "By doing so, they fail to consider the lion's share of savings, of nearly seven million euro."

The IT department also rejects the purported claim that it would not have needed to upgrade to newer versions of the proprietary operating system. Schneider: "A big trigger for our decision to put the operating system to the test, was the announcement by the vendor to drop support for the operating system in use at the time. Migrating to a new operating system was inevitable."

Incorrect and wrong
Incorrect, writes the IT department, is also the allegation that the city is comparing the cost of a recent version of the proprietary firm's operating system with that of a ten year-old version of Linux. Schneider: "Of course we have gradually optimised (Linux) over time. The current version is far away from the original version and can stand a comparison with (the proprietary system)."

Wrong, moreover, is the rendition that one in every four desktop PCs in the city's offices are still running the proprietary system, because of applications being locked to the proprietary operating system. "It is true that not all business applications can be switched to run on Linux. Evidently, they turned 'not all' into 'none'. All web-based business applications can be used on (a Linux PC) without conversion costs, and most of the applications that depend on (the proprietary system) can also be run from the Linux client, using standard technique."

The city of Munich reported in November that it has already saved over 11 million euro by switching from proprietary to free and open source software.

More information:
Munich's newsletter (pdf, in German)
Translation by Jan Wildeboer
H-online news item
Heise news item(in German)
Linux Magazine(in Spanish)
IDG news item