The Spanish city of Zaragoza has started a GNU/Linux desktop pilot. Some 18 city council workers use a completely Open Source desktop, based on Suse GNU/Linux. The city has also completed the installation of OpenOffice on all 2500 desktop PCs in the city council's offices.
The first GNU/Linux desktop pilot includes eight people working in the department for Citizens Relations and ten in the Mayor's Office.
According to Ricardo Cavero, head of the city's IT department, the first feedback from these users shows that the Open Source desktop is easy to use. "Linux just sounds geeky, but the users get used to it very soon." Cavero says the pilot will help speed-up the city council's migration to an Open Source desktop, planned to be almost complete in 2010.
According to Cavero, about five hundred city council workers regularly use OpenOffice. He estimates 40 percent of the public administrators will have been trained in OpenOffice by May. "The training is on schedule and we are busy converting Microsoft Office documents to the Open Document Format and installing OpenOffice."
Once the user is familiar with OpenOffice, the IT department will begin installing Suse GNU/Linux, Cavero explains. "The problem is not the use of Linux, as this is quite similar in look and feel. User's have to get to know the new Office application."
According to Cavero, one of the main issues in Zaragoza is the extensive use of Microsoft Access, for developing relational databases. The city linked many business critical applications to Access databases, discovered Cavero. "From an IT policy perspective, the uncontrolled use of MS Access is not good. We will have to migrate these applications to a different database system, whether or not we move to a GNU/Linux desktop."
The city of Zaragoza started on its path toward an Open Source desktop in 2007. The council decided to migrate away from Microsoft Windows and to use Novell's Suse Linux instead.
Zaragoza is Spain's fifth largest city with 660,000 inhabitants.
The City Council reasons that moving to Open Source will improve security and stability, and help to reduce costs. Cavero estimates moving to Open Source will save some 500,000 euro in licence costs. The entire migration project is expected to save 15 percent of the council's IT budget.
© European Communities 2008
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