How Europe is moving to open source software for government agencies

We are talking about the initiatives of Munich, Barcelona, ​​as well as CERN.


Photo – Tim Mossholder – Unsplash

Munich again

Public institutions in Munich transition to open source has begun more than 15 years ago. It is believed that the impetus for this was the end of support for one of the most popular network OS… At that time, the city had two options: upgrade everything or migrate to Linux.

A group of activists convinced the city’s mayor Christian Ude that the second option save 20 million euros and has an advantage in terms of information security.

As a result, Munich began developing its own distribution kit – LiMux

LiMux is a ready-to-use desktop environment with open source office software. The Open Document Format (ODF) has become the standard for city office work.

But the move to open source didn’t go as smoothly as planned. By 2013, 80% of computers in administration should be work with LiMux. But in practice, government agencies used proprietary and open source solutions at the same time – due to compatibility issues. Despite the difficulties, by this time on the open distribution translated more than 15 thousand workstations. Also, 18 thousand LibreOffice document templates were created. The future of the project looked bright.

Everything changed in 2014. Christian Ude did not participate in the elections for the post of the head of the city, and Dieter Reiter took his place. In some German media he was called “A fan of proprietary software.” It is not surprising that in 2017 the authorities decided to refuse from LiMux and completely return to the products of a well-known vendor. On the other hand, the cost of return migration per three years appreciated 50 million euros. President of the Free Software Foundation Europe notedthat the Munich decision would paralyze the city administration and that civil servants would suffer.

Creeping coup

In 2020, with the change of political parties in power, the picture changed again. The Social Democrats and the Green Party have signed a new agreement aimed at developing open source initiatives. Where possible, the city administration will use free software.

All custom software developed for the city will also be transferred to open source. Representatives of the Free Software Foundation Europe have been promoting this approach since 2017. Then they deployed the Public Money, Public Code campaign. Its goal is to ensure that software developed with taxpayer funds is released under open source licenses.

The Social Democrats and the Green Party will remain in power until 2026. It can be expected that until this moment in Munich will definitely adhere to the course towards open projects.

And not only there

Munich is not the only city in Europe migrating to open source. Up to 70% of Barcelona’s IT budget goes away to support local developers and develop open source projects. Many of them are being implemented not only throughout Spain, but also around the world – for example, the platform Sentilo Platform for the analysis of data from counters and weather sensors are used in the city of Tarras, as well as in Dubai and Japan.


Photo – Eddi aguirre – Unsplash

In 2019 on open source decided to go at CERN. Lab representatives say the new project will reduce dependence on third-party vendors and give more control over the data being processed. The organization is already introducing open mail services and VoIP systems.

Switch to free software recommend and in the European Parliament. From May of this year, IT solutions developed for government organizations must be open and released under open source licenses (if possible). According to parliament representatives, such an approach will increase information security and make data processing more transparent.

Overall topic open source software and import substitution of office suites is of interest to Habré, so we will continue to follow the development of events.


More material in the corporate blog:

Most supercomputers run Linux – discussing the situation
The whole history of Linux. Part I: how it all began
Participation in open source projects can be beneficial for companies – why and what it gives
Benchmarks for Linux Servers


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