Starting today, Linux users will be able to take advantage of the government's AUSkey authentication software after months of waiting.
After initially airing plans for Linux support in July, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is now offering preliminary support to open-source users on specific platforms.
"The AUSkey registration, download and installation process has been successfully tested with Ubuntu 10.04 and Firefox 3.6 and may also work with other versions," the ATO said in a release this morning.
The new support will allow open-source users to communicate with the government's Standard Business Reporting (SBR) platform.
The SBR enables businesses and reporting professionals to lodge government forms such as tax returns and business activity statements (BAS) electronically across multiple government departments. Businesses are able to lodge this information using the AUSkey — a single secure sign-on for the SBR program. Previously, AUSkey only had compatibility and support available for Windows and Mac users.
The ATO is telling open-source users, however, that being able to register for an AUSkey does not guarantee functionality across all government online services.
"If you are a Linux user, having an AUSkey may not automatically guarantee Linux-based access to the government online services that accept AUSkey," the agency added.
Open-source users can find which agencies accept AUSkey via the ATO website.
John Ferlito, head of Linux Australia and key developer on the open-source SBR link, is continuing to work with the ATO to develop an application programming interface (API) library for full open-source integration with the business reporting platform.
Ferlito said that the project had already yielded the foundations of open-source functionality and the community would now step in to tackle integration with other distributions such as Fedora.
"It's one of those things that they've done all the little bits and now the community will sort out the rest of the issues," he said.
Thanks to the new open-source support, proprietary software developers will be able to integrate the features into financial and accounting software specifically for Linux users.