The city administration of Helsinki is to begin a small-scale open source desktop pilot, following a resolution by the city council.
The proposal to consider a complete open source desktop came from Johanna Sumuvuori, a Green council member. She began last spring by asking the city to increase its use of open source applications, getting the support of most of the other 84 city council members.
Sumuvuori in October decided to take a further step. "I was not content with the feedback given by the Helsinki city executives, so I decided to take it to a vote in the council."
Her resolution, that tells the city to start a pilot, got the support of sixty council members. "We want the city to get some experience with open source and to find out if we can use it, for instance, to save money. The city is wasting more money every year on proprietary software licenses."
In the resolution, the council members refer to other public administrations in Finland that are using open source. According to the council members, the ministry of Defence has been using Linux and other open source software for years to develop some of its critical applications. They also point to the Finnish judicial system that has switched to using open source office applications. "Many schools have already switched and in the city of Lappeenranta they estimate this will help to save some 70 percent on the schools' IT budget."
No details yet
"The move to free and open source operating systems could save the city considerable amounts of money. Migrating to open source office programs could be done even quicker. The city should examine its annual proprietary licence cost, and find out the potential of switching to open source."
The details on the open source pilot will take some time to emerge. According to Markku Raitio, director from the IT division at the city's Economic and Planning Centre, the project is in its early planning stages. "We have made some initial preparations, and will first consult the city's decision makers."
The City's IT department manages some 20,000 desktop PCs, used by some 38,000 city employees. The IT department in the summer of 2009 began migrating from one version of a proprietary operating system to the latest version of the same vendor.
Helsinki council decision (in pdf, see page 5)