June 17, 2004 3:31 PM PDT

Linux ensnares another European city

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Bergen, Norway, has opted to replace Windows and Unix machines with Linux on servers for its schools and city databases and could later put the open-source operating system on desktop machines.

The city chose Linux because it costs less, improves reliability and doesn't lock the government into purchasing one company's products, city Chief Technology Officer Ole-Bjorn Tuftedal said in an interview.

"We want great freedom from being tied to one vendor, to make the competition work better," Tuftedal said. "And it simplifies running things, if you don't need to support too many different operating systems."

Servers--networked machines to handle tasks such as e-mail delivery, Web site hosting and bank account transactions--are an established market for Linux. A forecast from market researcher IDC released Wednesday projected that of the $60.8 billion to be spent on servers in 2008, $9.7 billion will go to Linux servers and $22.7 billion to Windows servers.

Bergen has two components to its Linux switch, both employing SuSE Linux from Novell, Tuftedal said. In one, the city is replacing 100 Windows servers spread among its schools with 20 IBM blade servers in two centrally located BladeCenter chassis. In the other, Bergen is replacing between 20 and 30 Unix servers from several manufacturers with six Hewlett-Packard dual-processor Itanium servers.

Bergen, the home city of composer Edvard Grieg, opted for Novell's SuSE Linux over Red Hat for technological reasons, Tuftedal said. "We consider SuSE being ahead of Red Hat technically," with earlier 64-bit versions, better support for multiple languages and a focus on the KDE graphical interface.

Bergen's move comes on the heels of other governmental adoption of Linux, including Munich, Germany; Austin, Texas; and Korea. Paris is evaluating Linux, while Massachusetts adopted a policy of preference for open-source software, later modified to emphasize products of "best value."

"Governments are interested in Linux and open source, because they prefer open standards over de facto standards. Also, governments prefer open file formats and transparency," Stacey Quandt of Quandt Analytics said.

In the United States, though, things have moved slower. "While open source is used by the Department of Defense, the U.S. Census Bureau and regional governments such as Jefferson county in Colorado, the significant entrenchment of Microsoft and the desire to boost U.S. companies can be an impediment to open-source adoption," Quandt said.

But Linux is making inroads in North America, too. Chicago's Business and Information Services Department ran a pilot project with Red Hat's Linux and Oracle's database software on Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers; now the city is moving its vehicle registration system from mainframes to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

There are voices of caution, though. The Initiative for Software Choice, a lobbying and advocacy group, strongly opposes cases in which governments mandate use of or preference for open-source software. "We applaud any market-based response," spokesman Michael Wendy said of Bergen's decision. "We feel better when they made the decision with all the available choices. It certainly beats having a law that removes two-thirds of the landscape off the bat and shortens choices, as a preference law would do."

The Initiative for Software Choice, part of the larger Computing Technology Industry Association, has active participation from members such as Microsoft, Intel, EDS and the German Software Association, Wendy said.

Servers now...more to come?
Tuftedal said he didn't consider Windows for the database servers chiefly because of issues of security, reliability and ease of management.

"I really find Windows not to be very suitable for that kind of core task, where you really need it to be dead stable and secure," he said. "We can reboot our terminal servers every night, but you'd rather not do that with (database) servers."

And for servers, the costs of software licenses and support is about half for Linux than for Windows, he added.

For now, Bergen decided to keep Windows 2000 for the PCs used by its 32,000 students, chiefly because teachers use a separate network of Windows machines, and the city didn't want to have to force teachers to deal with two types of computers, he said.

But that could change.

"We did last year do a Linux desktop test, which was successful, and the pupils liked it very much. We also found it more stable and less prone to be hacked by the pupils," Tuftedal said. Another test is planned next year to look at alternatives that won't complicate teachers' daily work, he said.

Cost is one reason for switching to Linux on desktop machines, also called clients. "Changing the clients could probably pay for itself by the end of the first year," he said.


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Bulgaria also goes Free and Open Source in the city of Kardjali:
Bulgaria to Enhance e-Governance Initiatives by Launching Free and Open Source Software Project

Sofia, 9 June, 2004 ­The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Internet Society of Bulgaria (ISOC-Bulgaria) have launched a project to help municipal governments in Southeastern Europe use the Internet to better respond to citizens needs. This is the first e-government project in the region to use Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) applications to enhance government transparency and peoples access to municipal services. Initially launched in Bulgaria, the project will soon expand to include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.

Under this project, which will last 18 months in its first phase, several Balkan cities will benefit from the creation of e-municipalities. In the city of Kurdjali, which serves as a pilot, the local Mayor Hasan Azis has requested the support of UNDP and ISOCBulgaria to help enhance citizens access to services and information resources and reduce the cost of the access tools that are required to be part of the global networked economy. The pilot will be replicated in Southeastern European countries.

We see the implementation of this project as a continuation of the work we do in Kurdjali with the non-governmental sector  the municipality has developed a fund to the city budget for co-financing of common projects, says Mr. Azis, Mayor of Kurdjali. In the last 6 months we have managed to upgrade our existing computer network and have changed fully about 40% of old computers with new ones. They will fit precisely with the project, and we hope to see results relatively fast.

Kurdjali is one of the 28 regional cities in Bulgaria. Located in the south of the country, and close to the border with Turkey and Greece, it has around 69,000 citizens, a mixture of Bulgarian and ethnic Turks. Its economic and social situation has been in recess since the changes towards market economy in 1989. But recent activities show the city is poised to develop as a leading IT center in the southeastern part of Bulgaria.

Bulgarian municipalities are going through many rapid changes, as they become increasingly responsive to citizen's needs. To do this they need to use Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to both improve services as well as to foster citizen participation, says Neil Buhne, Resident Representative of UNDP Bulgaria. I believe that this project will develop a model to use free and open source software (FOSS) that could be replicated in similar Bulgarian municipalities and give them a greater choice for the future, added Mr. Buhne.

By starting this program, UNDP hopes to show local and national governments that the involvement of citizens in the Information Society is critical for strengthening democratic governance. By widening choice, enhancing competition and increasing the affordability of ICT access tools, larger social inclusion and citizen participation can be secured,  said Raul Zambrano, ICT for Development Policy Advisor, UNDP New York.

The UNDP project also aims at building local public-private-partnerships (PPP), where local communities and the private sector join efforts to support software development and capacity building.

We are extremely proud that Bulgaria has been chosen as the project pilot center, and we are certain that FOSS will be well accepted at all levels of the government in the region. This project wouldn't have been possible without the support by Mr. Yunal Tasim, Member of Parliament from Kurdjali, says Veni Markovski, Chairman of ISOC-Bulgaria.

Until now, the Bulgarian government has used FOSS for servers ­ for large mail and database programs ­ but not for desktop applications. The project will now change this. Using openly published source codes, FOSS will bring new opportunities to complement the use of commercial desktop applications. Since open source solutions are available for free or at little cost, local governments will be able to minimize the cost of buying and maintaining software.

The project is part of a larger UNDP Global Programme focused on developing national capacities by establishing a series of regional centers using FOSS.


UNDP (www.undp.org) is one of the pioneers in supporting ICT for Development (ICTD) initiatives and programmes since 1992. It has developed global, regional and national ICTD programmes at work such as the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SNDP, www.sdnp.undp.org), the Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP, www.apdip.net) and others. UNDP is a trusted and neutral partner to developing countries, facilitating dialogue across sectors and development actors. Capacity development is one if UNDP key goals and areas of support. Around the world, UNDP helped set up of over 40 national Internet and email nodes running on FOSS, and supported the FOSS training of over 500 technical and networking specialists, as well as the creation of national LUGs (Linux Users Groups) in over 15 countries. Partnerships with private sector to distribute FOSS packages and basic training have been particularly noteworthy.

ISOCBulgaria (www.isoc.bg) has been promoting the free and open development of the Internet in Bulgaria since 1995. Among its main achievements are the availability of Internet access without licensing or registration fees; the establishment of an all-nation event promoting Internet usage, called the Internet Fiesta (2000, 2001), as well as a number of initiatives using FOSS in the governmental and non-governmental sectors. ISOC-Bulgaria supported the creation of the draft Law on using FOSS in the state administration.

more at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sdnp.undp.org/it4dev/" target="_newWindow">http://www.sdnp.undp.org/it4dev/</a>
Posted by (5 comments )
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Spin that Headline!
Do you think you could put a little more nasty spin on that headline? You use the word "ensnares" like there's some kind of diabolical intention behind migrating to Linux.
How about "Another European City Liberated from the Microsoft Empire?" :-)
Or the more balanced "Another European City Chooses Linux"
Spin makes your news untrustworthy.
Posted by nealda (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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