The city of Zaragoza this summer successfully migrated the first of its Linux-based PCs to AZLinux12, a Linux distribution tailored on top of Ubuntu Linux, replacing AZLinux2 which was based on SUSE Linux. "We really prefer to use software that comes with long-term support", explains Eduardo Romero, the IT specialist leading the desktop migration project for the city administration.
The city currently has 800 of its 3200 PCs running Linux. Of these 800, 80 are running AZLinux12. The other 720 will follow over the coming months. "After that, we will gradually start migrating the other PCs, still running a decade-old proprietary operating system."
Zaragoza is using free and open source solutions where it can, says Romero. The city began in 2005 by installing web browser Firefox, email client Thunderbird and multimedia player VLC on all PCs. In 2007 it added the OpenOffice suite of office productivity tools. This is now installed on all of the city's 3200 PCs. The city's workers use Gimp for manipulating images, Inkscape for creating graphics, Pdfsam for editing PDF, Brasero for creating CDs, Kdenlive for editing video and Evince for displaying PDFs. Romero: "If there is free software alternative is available, we will use it."
Able to exchange
The city's staff uses mainly OpenOffice, but recently they also started using LibreOffice, in combination with AZLinux12. Romero points out that since both suites use the Open Document Format, there are no interoperability problems between the two. Such problems do arise when communicating with organisations that do not support open formats, he says. "We have to remind these organisations that there is a very clear law prescribing the use of open formats."
"When we began using OpenOffice we were one of the few", says Romero. "Now, there are many public administrations and companies that switched and we've helped quite a few to take their first steps."
The city's IT department itself uses many more open source solutions, including for authentication (PAM_LDAP), for managing digital certificates (FNMT) and for automatically transforming the proprietary desktops to AZLinux (Win2Linux). "We only did not like the solutions available for managing systems, so there we're developing our own, Migasfree, written in the Python programming language and using the Apache web server."
In Zaragoza, Migasfree is now the default tool for distributing software applications across all departments and offices. The software allows them to manage all the computer hardware and stores their configurations. The city is making the solution available as open source, on Github.
Free and flexible
Because free software is inherently flexible, there is always a technical solution, says Romero. "For example, we adapted PAM_LDAP authentication to our directory service and to our work with other public administrations, so now it can use smart card authentication. We also have a set of scripts, allowing an completely automatic migration from the proprietary system to AZLinux12."
Presentation by Eduardo Romero (on Slideshare)
Comments on Royal Decree 4/2010 (in Spanish)
Royal Decree 4/2010 on the National eGovernment Interoperability Framework, Legislation Database (in Spanish)
Migasfree (on Github)
Joinup news item