Berlin won't migrate to open source, looks to open standards instead

A proposal to switch to open source was denied by the state's coalition

The German city-state of Berlin won't migrate to open source software. Instead, its parliament decided in principle to choose workplace IT based on open standards.

Berlin's Green party had proposed to have 25 percent of its standardized IT workplaces running open source software by 2018, according to the proposal that was voted down by the state parliament on Monday.

It is the second time the opposition Greens had proposed switching Berlin's 68,000 workstations to open source software, and the second time they failed, said Thomas Birk, the party's spokesman for government modernization, on Wednesday. The earlier effort was in 2007.

Switching to open source can work, said Birk. By switching over 80 percent of its 15,500 desktops from Windows to its own Linux distribution, LiMux, and OpenOffice.org software, the city of Munich said it had saved over €11 million (US$14.6 million) by November last year.

"Munich's example proves it is not witchcraft," to switch to open source, said Birk.

Not every migration works though. The city of Freiburg announced in November it would dump OpenOffice and go back to Microsoft because of functionality problems due to a failed migration.

While Birk maintained that with good preparation it can be done, the state's governing coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) decided not to accept the proposal.

Instead, the SPD and CDU introduced a plan to come up with guidelines for a standardized IT workstation for the state of Berlin that "in principle" is based on open standards, according to the proposal that was adopted on Monday. Those guidelines should "ensure a smooth exchange of documents between different platforms at any time," the parties wrote.

The coalition also wants to explore whether the use of a government cloud could reduce licensing costs, according to the document.

Berlin wants to reduce costs and the variety of different IT systems currently used by the government and solve the problem of "island solutions," according to the document. The standardized IT workstation should therefore not only include the same hardware, but also have an identical set of basic applications such as office communication programs, the coalition wrote.

While the proposed IT workstation should ensure the use of open standards and open source software, it was not specified in what way that should be done, due to procurement law that prevents buyers from specifying particular products in advance.

A motion from the Greens to change the IT workstation proposal to make the use of open standards mandatory was also denied, said Birk.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags open sourceGovernment use of ITsoftwaregovernmentOpenOffice.org

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?