The world's largest Linux migration is speeding ahead, with the German national railway announcing today it has successfully moved all its 55,000 Lotus Notes users onto the open-source operating system.

Describing the moment as the first important milestone in its company wide move to Linux, Deutsche Bahn said it expected the move to provide it with continuous cost savings, greater flexibility and integration benefits as it gradually moved the rest of its business over.

The company has already shifted its vital train timetabling system from HP Non-Stop to Linux. Next, it will move various SAP systems, including sales support, from Unix to Linux. And by the end of the year all remaining critical systems such as databases, application servers, web servers, mail servers and network infrastructure will be running on Linux, the company said.

The vast project - which dwarfs even the frequently quoted migration of Munich Council to Linux - was agreed upon last year, with half of its 300 or so servers moved by November 2004. The announcement today demonstrates that the company is now determined to go full speed ahead with the adoption of open-source software - giving it a big credibility boost.

"Our mission is to develop and deliver an efficient and economical IT service for German railways. Linux is a key element in our strategy and the smooth process of migrating our mainframe-based Lotus Notes system is a clear sign that this major project will be successful”, said Detlef Exner, director of production at Deutsche Bahn's IT service provider, DB Systems.

The roll-out is also being overseen by IBM - whose hardware most of Deutsche Bahn's systems run on. European VP for IBM's technology group, Steve Menadue, had this to say: "IBM congratulates Deutsche Bahn on their visionary decision to move all critical systems to Linux. This strategic choice is further proof that Linux has matured as a strategic enterprise platform offering a variety of advantages like cost savings, shorter development time and high level of security. IBM continues to deliver strong support for Linux across all of IBM’s technology platforms as still more companies look for simple, safe and cost-effective enterprise computing."

Quite what Microsoft will make of that is anyone's guess.