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Polish Defence Ministry moving to open source email and groupware

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Poland's Defence Ministry will move to an email and groupware solution based on free and open source, according to the specification in the tender documents, published last November. The document calls for software that can handle between 15,000 and 50,000 users. The ministry wants to "eliminate licensing fees", it explains in the request for tender.

One of the procurement documents contains a list of 38 questions and answers. Here, the ministry requests that it should be a solid email server system, that includes directory services (LDAP) and has the possibility to filter spam. The mail server should also run on an open source operating system and the entire system should be monitored by security applications such as Nagios or Munin.

In question and answer 30, the ministry foresees that there will be a transfer of copyright to the organisation. It also wants all parts of the software written for this project to be made available as open source. The Defence Ministry requests that all changes made to the open source software code during this project will be contributed back to the upstream developers under a compatible licence.

The deadline for submitting proposals was changed several times, the documents show. Final proposals had to be received by the ministry at the end of December.

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Poland's Free and Open Source Software Foundation is pleased with the request. Michał Woźniak, chairman of the advocacy group, comments: "Free and open source software has been ready for prime-time for years. It is a good sign that public administrations are also starting to notice".

Woźniak says that the Ministry of National Defence's use of this type of software solutions should help to dispel any lingering doubts about its quality. "In any case, this request is a nice change compared to the almost hostile approach to open source by many other public administrations, uncovered by our ongoing IT Procurement Monitoring Project."

More information:
Procurement document (scan, pdf, in Polish)