Development of Linex, the Linux-distribution made by the government of the Spanish autonomous region of Extremadura, is to be taken over by Cenatic, Spain's resource centre on open source. The upcoming version of Linex will be based once again on an existing Linux-distribution, says Manuel Velardo, director of Cenatic, said last week Friday. "This could be Debian, but we have not decided that."
At its inception in 2001, the government of Extremadura based Linex on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. Over time the Linex developers added their own software solutions and for some applications, built their own packages based on newer software versions. Velardo: "One of our first tasks is to find out the compatibilities and differences between Linex and Debian."
The resource centre wants to make sure that Linex distribution stays compatible with whichever base Linux distribution it decides on. Cenatic procured the services of the Spanish open source IT firm Emergya.
Apart from getting some funds from the Extremadura government, a few more public organisations are providing assistance with the development, Velardo says, including Fundación ONCE, which focusses on helping people with disabilities. "There are also many local free software enthusiasts who have told us they want to help out. We aim to make Linex a real community-based distribution."
Linex is now used daily on some 70,000 PCs in schools in Extremadura. Another 15,000 PCs running Linex are in use by health services and a few more are in use by some of the region's public authorities. Earlier this year the government of Extremadura announced it will move all of its 40,000 desktops to Linex. "We're testing it on the thin clients that is used by many of the public administrations in the region", says Velardo.
To organise the future development and maintenance of Linex, Cenatic and the regional administration last summer started a joint initiative with the Ministry of Industry's Red.es. This organisation aims to increase the use of IT in public administrations, as well as by companies and citizens.
In a statement published last week, Cenatic argues that this kind of open software development, involving multiple stakeholders, makes the most efficient use of public resources. "We must return to the source. The benefits of openness and of the reuse of software, energises a community of developers that encompasses all stakeholders in Linex, be they companies, users, developers individually or the administration."