Once upon a time, the German city of Munich had a visionary tech idea: switch the city’s public administration from the costly, slow, inefficient, and security-issues riddled Windows – to its perfect antidote: Linux.
Nowadays, when the entire backend of the internet is running on free and open software, deploying Linux anywhere doesn’t seem like a big deal. It makes perfect sense – even as Microsoft itself is moving its ostensibly only truly profitable business, the cloud, onto Linux, at the same time adopting and incorporating Linux/Unix tools to lure in developers or keep them locked in on Windows as a platform that is, otherwise, becoming sadly irrelevant.
But there are still battles to be fought and more importantly, huge amounts of legacy money to be lost on the “front end” of the game of computer usage, especially in various public administrations/organizations all around the world.
And there, Microsoft is still fighting hard and dirty. Specifically, to keep its tentacles firmly wrapped around Munich as a test and a showcase of sorts – resulting in a multi-year to-and-fro saga that saw the city drop “the cancer of Windows” – to then seemingly go back – to then, the last we heard, backtrack again towards free and open source.
However, the Munich farce has not been in vain, it seems. Other places in Europe’s leading economy, Germany, have taken note, and now some of them are reportedly moving, even though very reluctantly, forward with implementing free and open source solutions to replace what’s often too costly, not to mention too obsolete Windows.
The city of Hamburg is one of them – and for all of us fixated for years on the curious case of Munich, there’s been more activity elsewhere, like in the Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia (German states), and big cities like Bremen and Dortmund.
But in tech terms, the Germans still seem to be largely “partying like it’s 1999” – so the Hamburg talk is now about first carefully easing themselves into the modern era by using an open-source, cloud-based office system – something called Phoenix – in the local parliament, before actually attempting the full switch.