Korean government to make major Linux move?

As further testament to the growing popularity of open-source software among regional governments, South Korea's education ministry could soon switch to the Linux operating system.

As further testament to the growing popularity of open-source software among regional governments, South Korea's education ministry could soon switch to the Linux operating system.

The project, which would rank as one of the largest Linux implementations in the country, aims to link up all elementary, middle, high schools and relevant government departments through a common system known as NEIS (National Education Information System).

Last Friday, business consulting and IT services provider BearingPoint submitted a final proposal to Korea's Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MOE) for the NEIS project.

In its report, the firm recommended that Linux be used for 2,000 out of 2,700 servers in NEIS. Each of these Linux-based servers will cater to a particular high school or so-called special-purpose school. The remaining 700 servers will be based on Unix. Unlike its Linux counterpart, each Unix server will be shared by a group of 15 elementary and middle schools, BearingPoint said.

The company had also submitted an alternative Unix-only proposal but sources close to the project said the Korean government is inclined towards the Linux-Unix combination.

“It is under evaluation. But I can say that open-source is likely to be adopted for NEIS,” an MOE officer said. The ministry plans to announce its decision in mid-September.

According to Jung Yong-Kyun, BearingPoint's consulting manager for NEIS, Linux was chosen as the OS for the majority of the NEIS servers because it can handle the traffic from these dedicated servers at a lower cost.

"Unix performed slightly better than Linux at the group server tests. So we decided to suggest Unix for those parts," Jung explained.

In Asia, the Korean government is a major supporter of the open-source movement so MOE's possible move to Linux would not come as a surprise.

Last September, Korean authorities announced plans to replace a large number of proprietary computer systems in the public sector with open-source alternatives by 2007. The government said it will also promote open-source options for future projects.

Beyond domestic efforts, Korea has also joined hands with Japan and China to jointly develop an alternative operating system to Microsoft's Windows software.

ZDNet Korea's Sejin Kim reported from Seoul. Winston Chai of CNETAsia contributed to this article.

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