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CH: Solothurn hints it will not scrap open source desktop

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The Swiss canton of Solothurn on Monday suggested it will not scrap its open source plans. However, it wants to be able to also use proprietary desktop and email solutions. "The IT strategy, based on open systems and the Linux operating system, is possible and advisable, as it takes up current IT development trends."

A spokesperson for the Solothurn canton administration could on Monday not be reached for comments. However, documents sent by the canton's press department in reply to emailed questions, suggest that the canton is not abandoning its open source desktop. The canton wants to use both Linux and Microsoft on the desktop. It also wants to move to a Microsoft email system.

In a document from the canton's human resources department, dated 14 September, the canton explains it will mix both open source and proprietary systems. It continues to use OpenOffice, but for some departments will also offer Microsoft's proprietary alternative. It also explains that there is a delay in the upgrade to the most recent version of OpenOffice, because of problems with handling Microsoft's proprietary documents formats.

The Swiss open source advocacy group CH/Open on Monday morning called on the public administration of the to continue its move to an open source desktop. CH/Open fears the canton is preparing a switch to a proprietary vendor's solutions without a proper public procurement procedure. The group calls on the canton to ensure that in an eventual tender, the computer operating systems are described "using functional requirements and without giving product and company names."

Last week, a local newspaper in Solothurn reported that the canton will stop its move to a Linux desktop. According to Swiss and German IT media reports, the canton is facing difficulties in getting some of its applications to run on the open source platform. CH/Open says the council has nearly completed the project, with 1300 of the about 2000 PCs already migrated. "The project is only months from completion."

 

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In a statement published today, CH/Open points to the conclusions by an external consultants' evaluation of the canton's open source strategy, that was discussed on 10 August in Solothurn's council. "The expert recommends the canton to continue to focus on open systems and Linux, yet to improve the way of migration."

Matthias Stürmer, spokesperson for the advocacy, noted last Friday that, according to the minutes of that meeting, the administration would not change its strategy. "This week's announcement seems imprudent and premature. We hope the council will reconsider."

Ch/Open last year awarded the canton an award, for being the first of the country's public administrations that made a 'consistent shift to Linux'.

 

More information:

Documents sent by the canton (in German, pdf)

Statement by CH/Open

Answers by the Solothurn council on questions on the Linux strategy (in German, pdf)

Kanton Solothurn