9 October 2003 Central and local government bodies in the UK are to carry out pilot projects using Linux, the open source operating system.
Nine pilot schemes, designed to compare the cost of running Linux servers and desktops with a similar Windows environment, will be rolled out in a number of Whitehall offices and local authorities. These include the Deputy Prime Minister’s office, the office of the e-Envoy, Newham Borough Council in Greater London and Powys Borough Council in Wales.
The projects will be administered by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) — the treasury department responsible for establishing best practices in public sector procurement — and the e-Envoy, Andrew Pinder.
“The trials will operate in a controlled environment and will enable us to identify when and how best to use the technology to the benefit of departments and the taxpayer alike,” said Peter Gershon, chief executive of the OGC.
IBM, a key Linux advocate that is conducting the trials, hopes that their success will lead to the wider adoption of the Linux platform for servers and PCs. But executives stressed that it was not pushing a Linux-only strategy. Rather, IBM wanted central and local government bodies simply to consider Linux as an alternative to Unix and Windows.
“There are a lot of benefits to using open-source software, including increased reliability on Intel systems, the security advantages that come from avoiding a mono-Microsoft culture and the better price-performance offered by using Linux on Intel commodity hardware,” said Adam Jollans, IBM’s Linux strategy manager.
Jollans pointed out that the German government initiated similar trials more than two years ago and eventually went on to begin deploying Linux. Other governments have also been studying the potential benefits of using Linux.
Last week, Massachusetts — the only US state still suing Microsoft for alleged antitrust violations — became the first US state to say it was looking at migrating its infrastructure to more open standards, including Linux.
Yesterday, as the OGC was making its announcement, the Russian Ministry of Communications and Computerisation said it planned to open a Linux Competency Centre to promote the adoption of the open-source platform in Russia.
And in May 2003, Munich City Council said it was planning to migrate its 14,000 desktop and notebook computers from Windows to Linux.