The Greens in the German parliament want the government to shore up support for open source. The politicians are working with the Free Software Foundation Europe, to figure out the most convincing arguments and how to increase pressure on the federal government.
"We will continue to submit proposals, bills and other parliamentary initiatives on the issue in parliament," says German MP Konstantin von Notz. "We will continue to raise awareness on the many benefits of free and open source source."
MP Von Notz added he would pressure the federal government to finally adopt a coherent strategy to reinforce and support free software. The government should turn to this type of software, he says, following the revelations by former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden of mass surveillance by spy agencies in the US and other countries. "We will continue to lead by example, by using free and open source in the Bundestag, and by making publicly available the source code of our own tools."
The Greens are also calling for a close inspection of the answers provided in March by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Greens had asked the ministry in February to detail its use of open source and to justify its use of proprietary desktops.
In the previous decade, Germany’s Foreign Ministry was one of the exemplary public administrations using open source software. However, in 2010 the ministry announced it would scale back it use of open source on its desktop PCs and laptops.
The Greens doubted the costs and the efficiency of this change back, and wanted details on the IT security measures.
According to the response by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry is not renouncing open source. It did, however, end the use of Linux desktops, of which there are fewer than 1000 left.
In 2008 about half the embassies and consulates were using Linux desktops; in 2014 the vast majority of the ministry’s more than 12,000 PCs is running the usual proprietary desktop and office solution. Linux and other open source tools are still used for the ministry’s application servers, proxy servers and other servers. About 50 per cent of all the servers at the Foreign Ministry are running Linux.
The ministry has spent about EUR 2.1 million to keep its Linux servers up-to-date, and it also provides a break-down of the licence costs for the proprietary systems (desktop and servers). The ministry also explains that the user is at the heart of the IT strategy, and that open source is used wherever that is technologically and economically useful.