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Spain's Extremadura starts switch of 40,000 government PCs to open source

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The government of Spain's autonomous region of Extremadura has begun the switch to open source of it desktop PCs. The government expects the majority of its 40,000 PCs to be migrated this year, the region's CIO Theodomir Cayetano announced on 18 April. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save 30 million euro per year.

It is one of the world's largest governmental projects to switch to an open source desktop operating system. It is Europe's second largest governmental desktop migration, after the French Gendarmerie, which is migrating some 90,000 desktops. Europe's third largest project is the German city of Munich, which has to date switched 13,000 PCs.

Extremadura in 2012 completed the inventory of all the software applications and computers used by its civil servants. It also tailored a Linux distribution, Sysgobex, to meet the majority of requirements of government tasks. It has already migrated to open source some 150 PCs at several ministries, including those for Development, Culture and Employment.

Challenge
At the press conference, CIO Cayetano announced that the government's Linux desktop includes an open source corporate email system and office productivity suite. Sysgobex can also be used for accessing the government's medical record system and can be used in combination with the health card to manage prescriptions. The desktops are to be centrally managed, foregoing the need for IT administrators to perform local updates and configurations.

The government of Extremadura in October published its strategic plan on the migration to open source. "Its purpose is simply to bring the public administration [closer] to citizens through the development of e-government." Switching to the Sysgobex Linux desktops should also help to "streamline internal processes, optimize the technical resources, reduce costs and improve efficiency."

The migration project is titled 'Challenge'. Some of its details were unveiled in March last year by Cenatic, the Spanish government's open source resource centre. The centre describes Challenge as a strategic project to promote and disseminate open source to all spheres of society. "It involves positioning Spain as a reference country for free and open source software technology."

Linex
The Extremadura region is well-known for it's use of free and open source software. Under the previous government, 70,000 desktop computers in use in the secondary schools and 15,000 PCs used in health care, were fitted with a local GNU/Linux distribution, Linex.

More information:
Announcement by the government of Extremadura (in Spanish)
Tic Beat news item (in Spanish)
Nosbi news item (in Spanish)
Announcement by Cenatic (in Spanish)
Proyecto Sysgobex (in Spanish)