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CERN's Microsoft
Alternatives Project

CERN's Microsoft Alternatives Project

MALT is an open-source initiative started by CERN in 2019 to replace all of CERN's dependencies on Microsoft with open-source alternatives. MALT is intended to give CERN affordability, security, reliability, and control over its core internal processes not possible with Microsoft products and services.

Over the years CERN has developed cutting-edge open-source software to support its research activities. As a publicly-funded entity it returns the products of that funding to the public commons in the form of scientific knowledge and the open-source software that it develops in pursuit of that knowledge. According to CERN's long term systems planners, discontinuing the use of Microsoft products and services and replacing them all with open-source alternatives was a move that was justified on many levels: cost, avoiding vendor lock-in, keeping data out of proprietary formats, security risks, poor product quality, and ethics to name a few.

About CERN

CERN is home of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and highest-energy particle collider and the largest machine in the world. Located in Geneva, Switzerland 15 minutes from Digital Air, CERN has long been a pioneer in the development of open-source software. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN. The original purpose of the World Wide Web software was to create an automated information-sharing system between scientists in universities and research institutes around the world. In 1993 CERN released the World Wide Web software into the public domain and subsequently under an open-source license in order to maximize its distribution. Today Tim Berners-Lee continues to lead the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is responsible for, among other web standards, WebXR. He is also the director of Solid.

Image Source: CERN


KiCad is one of many highly successful open-source projects / products supported by CERN.

KiCad is:

  • Free
  • Open Source
  • Has 3D PCB and Parts Visualization Built-In
  • Runs Natively on Linux, Mac, and Windows
Image Source: CERN

KiCad is a great example of an open-source project that exceeds the capabilities of comparable commercial software. Like Linux itself, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and Blender, KiCad has become an industry standard.


Image Source: CERN

MALT is possible as a result of today's high quality core productivity-related open-source software across the spectrum: including organizational, supercomputing, cloud services, communication, and technical design software. MALT demonstrates that open-source software can support a massively complex and highly technical supercomputing enterprise such as CERN. In its sweeping replacement of all Microsoft products and services MALT also provides an example to others that they can stop supporting the US military-industrial complex by discontinuing their own use of Microsoft products and services, and in the process save money and take back control of their personal data, businesses, universities, municipalities, and governments.


MALT Video Presentation (CERN, October 2019)

MALT Deck (CERN, October 2019)