The migration of around 300 business applications from Windows to Linux is one of the biggest challenges facing the city of Munich, which has embarked on one of Europe's largest open-source projects in the public sector.
"We knew from the start that migrating our many city administration-specific applications would not be easy," said Florian Schiessl, a manager in the city's Linux-migration project, called LiMux. "And it isn't, frankly."
Schiessl declined to say how many applications have been migrated to date. He said that only one-third of the city's suppliers say they "have a migration path, and that another one-third claim they will find a migration path but that suppliers of the remaining one-third have remained mum on the topic so far.
The migration process for vendors requires both time and, especially, money, Schiessl said.
"If some suppliers are unable to migrate their application to Linux or simply don't want to, then we are prepared to tender for a new supplier when the existing contract expires," he said. "Our goal is to have 80 percent of our applications migrated to Linux by 2008."
Munich plans to extend its extensive pilot phase for the client software into the first quarter of 2006, according to Schiessl.
In April, the city selected two local German software companies to equip all 14,000 computers in its public administration with Linux and other open-source office applications.
Softcon and Gonicus, which submitted a joint bid, were selected to install open-source software provided through the Debian GNU/Linux project. The two companies will also provide a range of applications designed specifically for the city administration.
Munich is talking with other cities, such as Vienna, that have launched similar Linux migration projects. "Many view us as an ice breaker and are keen to learn how we're tackling certain issues, even if their own administrations will require tailored solutions to meet specific needs," Scheissl said.