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A German State Is Saying Goodbye Windows, Hello Linux

The state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany has already produced plans to make the state government almost 100% open source by the end of 2026.

Schleswig-Holstein open source meeting
Meeting in Schleswig-Holstein about the transition to Linux and open source software, attended by The Document Foundation and others. SOURCE: The Document Foundation

Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state in Germany, has plans to move almost entirely open source. By the time the dust settles, the regional government will have all but dropped Windows, Microsoft Office, Zoom and other proprietary software for Linux, LibreOffice, OnlyOffice, and Jitzi.

FOSS Force first learned of the plans from a post by Mike Saunders, a marketing assistant for the The Document Foundation, the organization behind the open source office suite LibreOffice.

“By the end of 2026, Microsoft Office is to be replaced by LibreOffice on all 25,000 computers used by civil servants and employees (including teachers), and the Windows operating system is to be replaced by GNU/Linux,” he said.

Saunders said that Lothar Becker, chairperson of TDF’s board, and fellow board member Thorsten Behrens, have already met with state officials involved with the transition.

“The focus was on cloud solutions, integration with LibreOffice and other systems, and video conferencing tools,” he said.

This seems to be a done deal, as the steps for the transition from proprietary to open have already been codified by the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament, and explained in plain language in an interview with Jan Philipp Albrecht, the state’s digital minister, that was published in c’t, a German language computer magazine (Google Translate version here).

In the interview, Albrecht said that part of the transition to open source is already in the works, and pointed out that 90% of state administration conferencing is conducted using the open source video conferencing platform Jitsi.

“We have been testing LibreOffice in our IT department for two years, and our experience is clear: it works,” he said. “This also applies, for example, when editing Microsoft Word documents with comments. The interface between LibreOffice and our software for e-files has also been running stable for six months [although] we first had to have the manufacturer of the e-file software develop it.”

He added that there are still some barriers to overcome before the large-scale, statewide rollout commences.

According to Albrecht, Schleswig-Holstein won’t have the same experience as Munich, which famously began migrating entirely to its own Linux distribution, LiMux, despite an intensive lobbying effort against the migration from Microsoft, only to do an about-face in 2017, when the city announced it intended to drop Linux in favor of Windows.

“The main problem there was that the employees weren’t taken along enough,” he said. “We do better. We are planning long transition phases with parallel use, and we’re introducing open source step-by-step when the departments are ready. With this, we also create the reason for further introduction, because people can see that it works.”

No Linux distribution has been chosen yet to use as a standard, although Albrecht said they’re currently looking at five distributions that suit their purposes.

6 Comments

  1. Marcelo Marcelo November 20, 2021

    Good luck with that. Germans will learn the high cost ouf free software.

  2. Christophe Christophe November 20, 2021

    Munich was first to use open source, and they changed their mind after a short period of time.
    So I wish a good luck.

  3. Chris Chris November 21, 2021

    Everything that is run here is opensource, my computers,routers,internet of things that I own.
    The problem is the hardware manufacturers need to stop making their stuff proprietary.
    It would be easier, the world maybe might be a friendlier place.
    Even TVs, just an example, they should not be that disposable, very viable medium. CELL PHONES NEED TO JOiN THE BANDWAGON,
    It’s funny,canada is not into Linux,most people don’t know what I’m talking about.
    One of the things most important of all, is that Linus is sending a message to us all,this is a better way to live.

  4. Poujol Mathias Rost Poujol Mathias Rost November 21, 2021

    That is a huge news.

  5. underground underground November 21, 2021

    They are totally right. One have to install OpenSource/FreeSoftware/GnuLinux/BSDs philosophy in the mind of people before installing the operating system and its applications/packages/programs in their machines. Firstly, they need to be exorcised from the proprietary way of those predatory capitalistic predatory Companies – especially Apple and Micro$oft – and set free from their evilness. Then, people will see by themselves that there are better ways of doing their tasks…

  6. Jocko Jocko November 22, 2021

    The changed back because of political resistance from those heavily inverted in Windows.

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