Next year, the Munich city council plans to distribute two thousand copies of Lubuntu to local residents who still own computers running Windows XP.
The goal is to reduce the amount of electronic waste its citizens generate when upgrading their computer systems.
Lubuntu is an extremely lightweight Linux distribution. Its system requirements are roughly on par with those of Windows XP. The council believes that providing an alternative upgrade path could persuade some to hang on to older usable computers instead of disposing of them and purchasing a new Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or presumably OS X) computer.
Why bother? There are still around 20 million Windows XP systems in Germany, many of which are no doubt being used in Munich. Beyond reducing the amount of electronic waste, security may well be a factor.
The German government has shown before that it’s keen on making its citizens aware of the risks of running outdated software. You may have read an article or two over the past couple of years about German citizens being urged to ditch older versions of Internet Explorer for a more modern, more secure browser.
Munich is also no stranger to Linux. Back in 2003, the city began a migration to Debian-based LiMux, citing autonomy and cost-savings as core concerns.
With the Munich city council in agreement that the Lubuntu giveaway is a go, all that’s left to do is to get funding for the project in order. It’s estimated that the 2,000 discs will cost around €4,000 to produce. Hopefully the discs will get re-distributed amongst XP-using friends rather than winding up in the trash like so many AOL CDs. That wouldn’t look so good for a project that’s aiming to reduce e-waste.