Extremadura Government mandates use of Free software
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This one is fantastic news, read the lwn.net story, or check out the new Linex.org site. The distro they will be using is a debian based one, called gnuLinEx.

That's the same one they've been developing and testing in their education system for several years, and judging from the site [spanish only] it's a very solid distro, uses some components from redhat [installer], some from ubuntu, but built on a solid debian base, which is the only way to go if you are serious about freeing yourself from the trap of proprietary/non public systems.

I'm going to check this one out for sure, it looks like a definite winner for the end user, and any state smart enough, or honest/ethical enough to try to free themselves and their users from a lifetime addiction to expensive, proprietary software and data formats.

This will of course also directly help launch true debian based desktops, and help fight the potential forking issues distros like ubuntu are creating.

Notice that Extremadura is not 'thinking about' doing this, they are not 'doing a study', they are not trying to play off vendors to negotiate a lower price, like most governments and businesses do when they claim to be 'studying the viability of moving to open source'.

No, these guys get it, they are looking to permanently free themselves from the trap of non free software/operating systems and non open document standards. This is how it looks when any group or organization stops playing games and takes its role seriously. My hats off to the people of Extremadura for being smart enough to elect public officials who are actually able to put the interest of the people ahead of the interest of some software company.

And they aren't looking to do it some vague time in the future, they are doing it now, with no talk, no listening to corrupt MS sales types trying to force that junk down their throats.

As usual with the Spanish, there is no nonsense with the press release, no games, just the facts. This is slightly edited from the version linked to above:

:: Quote ::
All the computers of the Junta of Extremadura (goverment state of Spain) will be running free software within a year. This project makes the Regional Government the first Public Administration to adopt standards upheld by international organizations, that favour "technological innovation and the reduction of user dependency"

... it was agreed that all the computers of the Junta of Extremadura would have to be adapted to free software office tools and gnuLinEx (the local flavour of Debian GNU/Linux) within one year.

Thus, as from now on, all workers of the public administration must use open document formats (ISO/IEC DIS 26300) for their office applications for information and creating administrative processes, as well as PDF/A (Portable Document Format ISO 19005-1:2005) for Exchange Documents, when guaranteed unalterable visualization is required.

.. Extremadura "is the first Public Administration to adopt these standards" and that all the international organizations related to ITCs agree that this is the most important step towards "technological innovation, the reduction of user, company and public administration dependency on proprietary, non-compatible applications, and the increment of interoperability between systems and applications on a global scale."

The councillor explained that a version gnuLinEx, adapted for the public administration, will be established as the obligatory operating system in workplaces of the civil servants of the Junta and that the OS will be gradually introduced to all administrative organizations of the Junta de Extremadura.

The deadline for the plan "is one year counting from the date the agreement is approved", Vázquez de Miguel said, and he added that at the end of the period, all the computer work carried out by the civil servants of the Junta must be done so on the GnuLinEx operating system and that all additional software must be open source or be distributed under a free license.

According to Millan, there are a number of advantages of switching to free software and even more when used by the Public Administration, ith important consequences.

Amongst others, the councillor pointed out the long life of documents, which will guarantee the conservation of all the administrative documents for longer periods of time. It will also improve the relationship with the general public due to the fact that, by conforming to standards and free software, the public is not obliged to acquire proprietary software. According to de Millan, free software also improves security, autonomy and rationalises public spending.

In this respect, the councillor pointed out that adopting free software will allow the administration to "not be so exposed to the tensions of enforced migrations", allow the administration to be have a say in the choice of the applications and reduce the economic costs of support.
For Vázquez de Miguel, to make a headway in the integration of the Information Society in modern day Public Administration and in the global society, it is fundamental "guarantee the control and administration of aspects so important as technological independence, interoperability between computer platforms, homogeneous information systems, computer security for information systems, real technological innovation and conformance to open and free standards. [my emphasis]"

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