The administration of the Swiss canton Solothurn is migrating 2000 desktops to Open Source. The switch should be completed at the end of the year, reports Kurt Bader, responsible for IT at the canton in the northwest of Switzerland.
Bader presented on the migration project on the "Open Source Meets Business" conference that took place last month in Nürnberg. The biggest Open Source project in Switzerland is going "without issues, the changeover is a resounding success and a step forward", Bader is quoted in a news item on the Linux Kommunale website.
According to the article, the Solothurn canton's Open Source desktop cut 70 percent in licence costs.
The canton started thinking about a new desktop IT infrastructure in 2006. According to Bader 21 companies offered assistance, proposing several combinations of Open Source operating systems and applications. The administration in September 2006 decided to use the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, OpenOffice, Firefox and the KDE collection of desktop applications.
Staff workers can access some applications that only run on Microsoft Windows, which are hosted on a central server. In the third phase of the migration project, these Windows-only applications will be replaced by software that is able to run on more than one operating system, explained Bader.
According to Bader the canton's users have high expectations. "Each and every change is felt as a negative." However, a single day of training is enough to get started on the new desktop, he says.
He finds that the Open Source project is intensely scrutinised. "Everybody thinks they know about IT."
According to the Linux Kommunale article, the Solothurn canton first began using Open Source in 2001 by installing a GNU/Linux server. Its stability and the potential savings helped to convince the canton's administration to validate the IT strategy for the next four to eight years.
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