Public services preparing to increase their use of free and open source software, especially on PC workstations, should take a cue from the municipality of Eyüpsultan in Turkey. In 2015, Eyüpsultan began a two-year switch to open source desktops. It succeeded because the IT administrators made sure the desktops looked very similar. “The reaction we got on the first day was amazing, it makes me smile even now,” says Hüseyin Güç, leader of the GNU/Pardus Linux Team.
Eyüpsultan, an Istanbul city district, uses Pardus Linux, a distribution of open source software solutions tailored for use in Turkey’s public services. Pardus makes it easy to fine-tune and tailor new installations. In Eyüpsultan, this means that new PCs can be up and running, ready for use, in 15 minutes.
The municipality is a showcase of a mature implementation of open source, Mr Güç told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. One big advantage is the ability to operate maintenance and support at industrial scale. The municipality manages hundreds of workstations from one office (regulations prevent it from giving the exact number). It combines Lider/Ahenk and Zabbix for automatic management of software updates, corporate-user policies, role-based software requirements, and remote monitoring, detection, and troubleshooting of issues.
In 2015, the migration began by making all users familiar with Linux - the operating system - and LibreOffice - a suite of office productivity tools. “Doing this before migration helps smooth the transition,” says Mr Güç. In fact, in 2016 only those users who passed the test at the end of the training were migrated to Linux and LibreOffice; the others were given additional training, and retested.
The city still offers training on these and other open source solutions. “Regular training is a second main reason for the success of our switch,” Mr Güç says. “We care a great deal about training, and we always check to see if our courses lead to good results.”
The municipality of Eyüpsultan considers the use of open source part of its civic responsibility, says Mr Güç: “Using open source helps to improve information security, and lets us work with local companies that specialise in open-source IT services.”