27 February 2004 Rome has become the latest European city council to consider migrating to open source software. The Municipality of Rome is to trial Linux-based email, address book and file sharing systems on its 9,500 PCs.
The decision to consider a move away from Microsoft comes as part of plans for a new council portal, which is due to go live in May. It follows similar pilot projects in Paris and Munich.
“The council issued a tender for the portal in which it asked bidders to use the most efficient and economic software and the companies proposed Linux,” said a council spokesperson. “This portal will serve us for the next few years and it seemed like a good opportunity to change for the better.”
But savings from any move to open source will only be made in the medium term. “In the short term, what we save on licences will be spent on training staff to use the new software,” Mariella Gramaglia, Rome’s communications councillor, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
But the council insisted it would not “turn its back on Bill Gates… We do a lot of things with Microsoft and will continue to do so,” said the spokesperson.
Linux is already in widespread use on servers in the Italian public sector, with a recent survey finding that 42% of larger cities make use of open source software, compared to 46% running Microsoft.