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Case Study: Munich City Council

Irenie White

LiMux.jpg In the "Case Study" category we present recent customer projects. This case study focuses on one of our most prolific public sector projects to date, the administration of the Bavarian Capital, the City of Munich. credativ GmbH have been providing support for the LiMux-Project of Munich's city council since 2008, during which time some 15,000 workstations have been migrated to Linux. After years of planning and a long start phase, the migration recently made real headway. At the end of November 2012, the goal of the project was finally realized, with more than 12,000 migrated LiMux desktops in operation. The LiMux project has has been hailed as a "Success Story" of mass migration in the public sector, with financial savings of switching from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office amounting to more than 10 million euros. Each Linux desktop is installed, configured and administrated by the council's so-called distribution server. The two main components are the LDAP-based configuration and administration management solution, GOsa², and the Installation Management tool FAI (Fully Automatic Installation). These backend components have been the main focus of credativ's work for the City of Munich to date. Part of this work has involved planning and developing new features to facilitate daily administrative tasks. Another focus was to improve the scalability in mass installations, whereby the mass rollout of migration was made possible. In the course of this, credativ were able to eliminate many bugs, both small and complex, and standardise the user interface. LiMux project lead, Peter Hoffman said,

"We have been completely satisfied throughout our collaboration with credativ GmbH in recent years. As a local, open-source oriented, medium-sized service company, credativ GmbH embodies our commitment to advancing the LiMux Project independently of the manufacturer and with open standards".

The main reason for the required work is the nature of the use of GOsa² by the LiMux project: GOsa² is basically a web application that enables the management of users and associated services such as email or file-sharing. The city of Munich did not use GOsa² to create users or change user data (a different program is used to do this), but for configuring users and administrating workstations. Additionaly GOsa² is used extensively by the city of Munich to manage a large number of clients and users. GOsa_Screenshot_de.png

 

Main menu of GOsa² Most of the functionality has been developed specifically for the migration requirements of the City of Munich, it is used rarely, if ever, elsewhere. The main areas where GOsa² is deployed at the City of Munich are: 1. Configuring users' (or groups of users') desktop settings, such as: desktop shortcuts, start menu entries, login / logoff scripts, shares, printers, etc. These settings are queried in LDAP when a user logs in to a workstation and are configured by a corresponding script. 2. Configuring workstations (or groups of workstations) and distribution servers, such as LDAP / NTP server, system-wide shared services and printers. Various services can also be configured for (distribution) servers, such as some LDAP, NTP, or logging servers, as well as software repositories. 3. Configuration of FAI classes for software distribution. FAI is usually managed through text files; changing the different installation profiles and their partitioning schemes, package lists and configuration scripts is simple when the data is stored in LDAP with the GOsa² Web application. 4. Remote maintenance of workstations and distribution servers is possible with the GOsa-SI client / server system, through which systems can be restarted, reinstalled, or switched on and off. This client / server communication enables messages to be sent to logged-in users and allows monitoring of the progress of a system installation. credativ implemented the extensive changes detailed here over the last few years. By mid-2011, the established code-base of the LiMux project was based on version 2.6 of GOsa² and was publicly available in the 2.6-lhm-branch in the Subversion repository of GOsa². credativ have added over 250 Change Sets to this branch since 2008. In Autumn 2011 it was decided to move the LiMux Project to the latest version of Gosa², 2.7. To achieve this, changes which were still necessary but not yet integrated into the main development branch were ported to the 2.7 code-base by the end of 2011. This resulted in about 90 changesets. In GOsa² 2.7, software distribution with FAI and system administration with GOsa-SI had been gradually replaced through new projects, which meant some of the functions used by the City of Munich no longer worked properly. Since the beginning of 2012, these broken functions have been fixed or reimplemented, along with a number of new problems found during extensive testing of GOsa² 2.7. A series of new features have also been implemented. This has led to a further 200 changesets and 4000 new lines of code (while eliminating 1000 lines of code) in the space of around 4 months. This work was made available in the summer of 2012 in a public git repository and sent back upstream to the Open Source Community. Concerning the paid work, Michael Dusel, Director of the LiMux Project's workstation development, said:

"The years of successful collaboration with credativ GmbH employees have been an absolute pleasure. Particularly during the migration from GOsa² 2.6 to 2.7, we were able to access their prompt and professional support. This meant that newfound problems were quickly resolved by the developers at credativ during the test phase in GOsa² 2.7 and significant new functionality was implemented to our satisfaction."

In addition to the work on GOsa², credativ GmbH has also provided extra support for the City of Munich. Various problems with the workstations have been successfully diagnosed; Debian specialists at credativ GmbH have, for example, supported the packaging and backporting of various packages (such as Firefox and its addons). In summary, it can be said that the LiMux project is well on its way and we at credativ are proud of our part in it. We hope that the success of this project at the City of Munich will encourage other councils or public sector organisations to consider similar migrations, and we would be glad to offer our expertise and support. If you would like to know more please email limux@credativ.com.

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