Autonomous IT sector

Turkey encourages public services to use open source

22/11/2018

The government of Turkey is renewing its drive to get public services to switch to open source software solutions. This summer, the government urged the public sector to contribute more to the national economy, and using open source is one of the mandated measures. The use of open source by the Istanbul districts of Pendik and Eyüpsultan show that switching is feasible.

According to press reports, the government sent a letter to municipalities in August, requesting them to switch to ‘domestic and national’ information and communication technology, including open source.

In September, at the LibreOffice conference in Tirana (Albania), Muhammet Kara provided an update on the use of open source in Turkey’s public sector. Mr Kara, a software engineer working for Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council (Tübitak), is involved in the development of LibreOffice, the office productivity suite, and Pardus, a Debian-based GNU/Linux distribution tailored to the country’s public sector.

Mr Kara says open source is commonly used by Turkish ministries and municipalities, in hospitals and universities, and by the military services. He estimates that in Turkey between 75,000 and 100,000 public sector workers now use LibreOffice. For these users, the Open Document Format (ODF, LibreOffice’s native file format) is the default file format for editable electronic documents (although not the only one). At the moment, another 26 government institutions are currently implementing LibreOffice.

A slide from the presentation by Muhammet Kara at the LibreOffice conference in Tiran. listing some of the problems in switching to LibreOffice
A slide from the presentation by Muhammet Kara at the LibreOffice conference in Tirana (Albania)

 

Showing the way

According to Mr Kara, the Istanbul city districts of Pendik and Eyüpsultan are showing their peers that using open source is entirely possible. Pendik uses 500 Pardus workstations, and also uses Pardus to run its servers. “The strategy is to reduce Pendik’s dependence on foreign companies,” one of the city’s IT managers wrote last month in an extensive blog post on the IT transformation.

The Pendik district, which began its switch to open source in 2015, estimates this helps save almost TRY 4 million (about EUR 660,000) per year on proprietary software licences.

Similarly, the Eyüpsultan district now has 350 Pardus PC workstations and another 600 PCs with LibreOffice. Mr Kara says that this saves the district close to TRY 2 million per year.

Already one other municipality is following Istanbul: the city of Kahramanmaraş is migrating all of its PC workstations – around 2,000 – to Pardus, Mr Kara says. Tübitak is assisting the city with the implementation. According to press reports, Kahramanmaraş has earmarked TRY 2 million for the migration.

Action plan

Encouraging public services to use open source software is part of Turkey’s 2015–2018 Information Society Strategy and Action Plan. It is also included in the 2016–2019 National e-Government Strategy and Action Plan.

More information:

Open source in Turkey’s national ICT strategies (source: Department of Software and Data Engineering at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey)
Open source conversion project in the Istanbul district of Pendik (in Turkish)
Pardus migration plan, by the Eyüpsultan district of Istanbul (in Turkish)

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