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LiMux (logo).svg
Developer LiMux Project
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Combination of open source and closed source
Initial release 2006 (2006)
Latest release 5.0 / 2014-11
Available in German
Package manager dpkg
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Default user interface KDE SC 4.12
License Various free software licenses, plus proprietary
Official website Project Site

LiMux – The IT evolution is a project by the city of Munich (third-largest city in Germany) to migrate their software systems from closed-source, proprietary Microsoft products to free and open-source software. The project was successfully completed in late 2013, which involved migrating 15,000 personal computers and laptops of public employees to free and open-source software. LiMux is also the name of the Linux distribution (an Ubuntu derivative) used for the project as the operating system including LibreOffice (and WollMux) as the primary productivity software.[1] The project initially had used OpenOffice, but has since switched to LibreOffice.[2] The city reports in addition to gaining freedom in software decisions and increased security, it has also saved €11.7 million (US$16 million).[3]

The addition of "IT Evolution" stands in contrast to "revolution" as a sharp transition was not planned but a slow yet continuous one.

LiMux is the first Linux desktop distribution certified for industry use (ISO 9241) by the TÜV IT, Technical Service, Germany.[4] It was first based on Debian, and later changed to Ubuntu, the most popular Debian derivative. Version 3 available from December 2010 is based on Ubuntu 8.10, version 4 available from August 2011 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS,[5] although using KDE Desktop 3.5[6] and version 4.1 available from August 2012 is also based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. The future version of LiMux will be based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.[citation needed]

Similar projects were started with varying success by parts of the Chinese government (Kylin), the Gendarmerie (GendBuntu), Amsterdam (Open.Amsterdam),[7][8] Zaragoza, Spain (AZLinux), Vienna (abandoned Wienux),[9] and Solothurn, Switzerland (abandoned).[10]


In the winter of 2003, Steve Ballmer then-CEO of Microsoft, took a break from a skiing holiday, to talk with the Munich Mayor Christian Ude, to illustrate the alleged disadvantages of the impending migration from Microsoft's products – his remarks, however, were rejected.

A study done, found ultimately a tie between the two alternatives. The majority of the Munich City Council then decided to use the LiMux solution. The decision didn't say that henceforth only open-source software should be used, but only that it was preferred. As much more important point of the decision was the provision that future, to be developed or to be tendered publicly specialized procedures, should be web-based. This should prevent a too strong coupling of the operating system, office suite and specialist software.

Since August 2006, there is also an animal mascot for LiMux in Munich Hellabrunn, the king penguin GoniMux.

On 16 May 2007, the TÜV confirmed by a comprehensive certification process, the usability of the LiMux-based client as a user interface for interactive computer systems according to the ISO standard 9241-110.

Objectives and implementation[edit]

The reason for the migration was the end of support for Windows NT 4 by Microsoft in late 2003; thus a replacement of it was necessary. The migration project in Munich is ongoing and not an overnight switch to free software on every desktop. The main goal is to achieve more independence from software distributors, concerning client/server and native client software. The decision in 2003 had two components, on the one hand to get free software running on most of the desktops, and on the other hand to buy and develop web-based and platform independent (e.g. Java-based) business applications. A core goal of the project is to reduce reliance of Microsoft-based software stacks and fund local developers to write replacement software.[11]

In October 2013, the city of Munich had migrated over 15,000 desktop PCs (of about 18,000 desktops) from Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000, and Microsoft Office to the Linux operating system and

The migration was interrupted in the summer of 2004, because the city would investigate the legal implications of software patents. In late 2006, the actual migration of desktops began.

In May 2009, 1800 workstations were converted to Linux, 12,000 took advantage of Open Office.

The AG usability of the project group interviewed the users regularly to achieve a good fit to the needs of employees. The plan is to make the software as simple as possible to use.

The conversion will be monitored carefully. A successful migration might cause other cities and communities to transform their IT infrastructure from Windows to Linux.

Switching to[edit]

The transition to, partly in advance under the Microsoft operating system, is aided by a specially developed (free software) tool - WollMux. This application written in the Java language communicates with using the UNO interface. WollMux replaces some applications in Munich used together with Microsoft Office. Its main functions are:

  • Letterhead system: Fill letterhead templates automatically complying with citywide appearance, hall function
  • Form system: Support the agent for preparing documents based on templates that require certain inputs, template selection, automatic printing of different copies, automatic calculation of values from the inputs and inserting at appropriate points
  • Text blocks: Supporting the clerk when creating documents with text modules
  • Aids for conducting proper dispositions: Automatically create and print different versions of a document with corresponding conducting proper dispositions
  • Merge: Merge own module because the merge of in many areas covering the needs of the city of Munich inadequate

WollMux is free software publicly available since the end of May 2008.


  • 28 May 2003 (2003-05-28): The city council of Munich votes to go ahead with planning.[12][13]
  • 16 June 2004 – The city council votes 50-29 in favor of migrating and to start an open competitive bidding within months.[14][15]
  • 5 August 2004 – The project is temporarily halted, due to legal uncertainties concerning software patents.[16][17]
  • 28 April 2005 – Debian is selected as a platform.[18]
  • 6 September 2005 – It is decided that the project needs an additional one-year pilot test, and migration slips one year.[19]
  • 22 September 2006 – The "soft" [migration begins, one year behind original schedule.[20]
  • November 2008 – 1200 out of 14,000 have migrated to the LiMux environment (9%; March 2008: 1000=7%), in addition 12000 workstations use 2 installed on Windows (March 2008: 6000) and more 100% use Mozilla Firefox 1.5 and Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5 (March 2008: 90%). 18,000 of 21,000 macros, templates and forms are changed into Linux-enabled.[21][need quotation to verify]
  • 29 May 2008 – The related WollMux-software, developed in-house to support personalised templates and forms in office textprocessing, is declared Open Source[22]
  • 31 December 2009 – The first step, the complete switch to enabling the Open Document Format as standard format is done[23]
  • June 2010 – "More than 3000" are LiMux-workplaces by now. Further 2000 shall migrate in 2010.[24]
  • In February 2011 – More than 5000 workplaces were based on LiMux.
  • In June 2011 –More than 6500 workplaces were based on LiMux.
  • 17 December 2011 – "9000" PCs are LiMux-workplaces now. With this they are 500 workplaces ahead of their goal for 2011.[25][26]
  • 28 March 2012 – In response to a request from the CSU the City reported that it has already saved about 4 million euros in licensing costs as well as reduced the number of support calls[27]
  • March 2012: The number of monthly complaints dropped from 70 to a maximum of 46 due to the LiMux migration[28]
  • July 2012 – About 10,500 LiMux PC-workstations[29]
  • 23 November 2012 – Report shows that the savings brought in using LiMux environment are over 10 million euros[30]
  • January 2013 – About 13,000 LiMux PC-workstations[31]
  • October 2013 – Over 15,000 LiMux PC-workstations (of about 18,000 workstations)
  • December 2013 – Munich open-source switch "completed successfully"[32]
  • August 2014 – Munich deputy mayor, Josef Schmid, and mayor, Dieter Reiter, considering going back to Windows due to productivity problems. Munich city council spokesman Stefan Hauf explained that the majority of issues stem from compatibility issues in OpenOffice, something a switch to LibreOffice could solve.[33] In addition, the city council and Karl-Heinz Schneider, head of municipal IT services, said that most things are fine, they saved €10 million (more than US$13 million), and there is no serious reason to come back. He added that the number of complaints and malfunctions would not exceed the usual number for an administration of this size.[34] Microsoft wants to move German headquarters to Munich in 2016, helped by Reiter who describes himself as a "Microsoft fan".[35][36][37][38]
  • October 2014 – In response to inquiries by the Green Party, mayor Dieter Reiter revealed that a transition back to Microsoft Windows would cost millions of euros.[39]
  • August/September 2015 – Jan-Marek Glogowski of LiMux presents about the project status during the "Debian Success Stories" track of the Debian conference[40] and at the LibreOffice conference.[41]
  • February 2017 - Politicians discuss proposals to replace the Linux-based OS used across the council with a Windows 10-based client.[42]
  • October 2017 - Once seen as a stalwart supporter of open source, the city council last week said that running a Linux-based operating system on its PCs would not be cost efficient in the long run.[43]
  • November 2017 - The city council decided that LiMux will be replaced by a Windows based infrastructure by the end of 2020. The costs for the migration are estimated to be around 90 million Euro. [44]


The LiMux Client 4.1, from August 2012 is based on LiMux Client 4.0 that was based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and KDE desktop 3.5. It includes, Mozilla Thunderbird and Mozilla Firefox and other free software products. In the future, LibreOffice will be used instead of OpenOffice.

Because of the end of support for Windows XP, there was some pressure on those responsible in Munich, for offering Linux for the people. As of June 2014, however, there is no public release of the LiMux client, on the grounds that it was specifically tailored for the city infrastructure. Instead Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was distributed as "Linux for Munich" in September 2013.

Version 5.0 of the LiMux Client was released in November 2014 and is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and uses KDE SC 4.12 as Desktop. The default office suite is LibreOffice 4.1 which comes with more than 300 patches most of them also included in newer LibreOffice versions. Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird are included in their ESR versions and come with KDE integration patches.

Estimated costs to develop LiMux have been tallied at 19 million Euros, while overall cost savings from Microsoft Licenses has been calculated to be approx. 10 million Euros.[43]

Current Status[edit]

On November 13, 2017 The Register reported that Munich is planning to revert back to Windows by 2020 with all systems being replaced by Windows 10 counterparts.[45] Reasons cited were adoption and users being unhappy with the lack of software available for Linux. A report commissioned by Munich and undertaken by Accenture found the most important issues were organizational. Although no final decision has been made, there is discussion about keeping the LibreOffice suite rather than going back to Microsoft Office.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Switching to Linux saves Munich over €11 million". IT World. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Libre Office für München". Münchner IT-Blog. 2012-10-15. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  3. ^ "Linux: City of Munich ditches Microsoft moves to Linux and open source". GiraffeDog IT support services. 2013-12-23. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  4. ^ "TÜV zertifiziert Münchens LiMUX-Client". 2007-05-16. Retrieved 2010-11-16. (in German)
  5. ^ "LiMux Desktop Retrospective" (PDF). 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  6. ^ "München bringt neues Release 4.0 des LiMux Clients heraus". 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  7. ^ "Open software Amsterdam" (in Dutch). 2009-09-10. Archived from the original Check |url= value (help) on 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  8. ^ van Adrighem, Vincent (2011-03-10). "Open Amsterdam Project". Retrieved 2011-10-18. When the project FINALLY completed (it was not all tech... there was a lot of politics as well) it was shelved because of other priorities. 
  9. ^ Mobily, Tony (2008-06-09). "Vienna failed to migrate to GNU/Linux: why?". Free Software Magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-17. ,
  10. ^ "Swiss Canton of Solothurn abandons Linux". 2010-09-20. Archived from the original on 2011-10-27. Retrieved 2011-10-17. As reported in the printed edition of Solothurner Zeitung next year the Swiss Canton of Solothurn will abort its Linux migration project and equip all its desktop computers with Windows 7. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Munich breaks with Windows for Linux". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  13. ^ "Munich to Use Linux". Center for Digital Government. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-16. Until spring 2004, a detailed concept of implementation and migration will be developed. Based on the results of this evaluation, the city council will decide how the migration to Linux will take place. 
  14. ^ "Limux – the IT-Evolution". IDABC. Archived from the original on 16 December 2007. 
  15. ^ Encz, Philipp; Bass, Dina. "Microsoft Loses Munich Contract for 14,000 PCs to Linux Program". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Munich halts biggest-ever Linux migration". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  17. ^ "Patent fears halt Munich Linux migration". The Register. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  18. ^ "Debian wins Munich Linux deal". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  19. ^ "Munich's Linux migration slips to 2006". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  20. ^ "Munich fires up Linux at last". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  21. ^ Florian Schießl; deputy project manager (2008-04-22). "Zwei Jahre freie Software in München" (PDF). (in German)
  22. ^ "Munich's WollMux will be free software". 2008-05-29. 
  23. ^ Florian Schießl; Communications manager free software; open standards (2009-12-30). "LiMux review 2009". 
  24. ^ "Projekt LiMux: Die IT-Evolution geht weiter". 2010-06-30. 
  25. ^ Kirsten Böge (2011-12-17). "München hat den 9.000. PC-Arbeitsplatz auf den LiMux Client migriert". 
  26. ^ Reed, Michael (2012-01-02). "Munich Linux Migration Project LiMux Reports Success". Linux Journal. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  27. ^ Jörg Thoma (2012-03-28). "München spart mit Limux Geld und hat weniger Störungen". 
  28. ^ Loek Essers (2012-04-02). "Munich mayor says switch to Linux is much cheaper and has reduced complaints". The maximum number of complaints was 70 per month before the beginning of the switch to LiMux. After the number of LiMux workplaces increased from 1,500 to 9,500, the maximum number of complaints per month dropped to 46. This leaves Ude to conclude that the decline in complaints was due to the migration to LiMux. 
  29. ^ Jutta Kreyss, IT Architect, LiMux (Munich, Germany) (2012-06-10). "LiMux - the IT-Evolution, Status of Migration" (PDF). 
  30. ^ Anika Kehrer (2012-11-23). "Linux brings over €10 million savings for Munich". Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. 
  31. ^ Presse- und Informationsamt der Landeshauptstadt München (2013-01-22). "Rathaus Umschau - HP-Studie untersucht im Auftrag von Microsoft LiMux-Umstellung" (PDF). 
  32. ^ Loek Essers (2013-12-13). "Munich open-source switch 'completed successfully'". 
  33. ^ Joey-Elijah Sneddon (2014-08-22). "". Hauf also confirms that council staff have, and do, complain about LiMux, but that the majority of issues stem from compatibility issues in OpenOffice, something a potential switch to LibreOffice could solve.  External link in |title= (help)
  34. ^ LiMux: Linux in München unter politischem Beschuss, Heise online, 2014-07-15
  35. ^ Nick Heath (2014-08-19). "Ditching Linux for Windows? The truth isn't that simple, says Munich". Suggestions the council has decided to back away from Linux are wrong, according to council spokesman Stefan Hauf. 
  36. ^ Silviu Stahie (2014-08-19). "Munich Switching to Windows from Linux Is Proof That Microsoft Is Still an Evil Company". He said that people were unhappy with Linux, but he didn't actually provide any kind of proof to this matter. 
  37. ^ Simon Sharwood (2014-08-19). "Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!". 
  38. ^ Peter Bright (2014-08-18). "Linux-on-the-desktop pioneer Munich now considering a switch back to Windows". 
  39. ^ Nick Heath (2014-10-15). "Munich sheds light on the cost of dropping Linux and returning to Windows". The mayor of Munich has revealed the cost of reversing its move to Linux from Windows will run into millions of euros in hardware alone. 
  40. ^ "Debian Success Stories". 
  41. ^ "LibreOffice conference 2015, schedule, Sept. 24th. Thursday". 
  42. ^ Heath, Nick (February 10, 2017). "Linux pioneer Munich poised to ditch open source and return to Windows". Tech Republic. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via 
  43. ^ a b "Ditching Windows for Linux led to 'major difficulties' says open-source champion Munich". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2017-10-10. 
  44. ^ "Linux pioneer confirms switch to Windows 10". 
  45. ^ "Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020". The Register. 2017-11-13. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 

External links[edit]