NZ govt trials Linux desktops in Feb

NZ govt trials Linux desktops in Feb

Summary: Three New Zealand government agencies will begin a pilot next month to replace their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software.


Three New Zealand government agencies will begin a pilot next month to replace their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Horizons Regional Council and NZ Post will all begin trialling the use of Linux desktops in February. NZ Post's open source plans were outed by Computerworld in August last year.

Don Christie, president of the New Zealand Open Source Society (NZOSS), revealed the pilot plans of the other agencies during a presentation yesterday at 2010 in Wellington.

While many government agencies utilise open source software in server implementations, roll-outs of desktop software are rarer, despite a 2003 policy encouraging the use of open source.

"The problem with New Zealand's 2003 policy is that it doesn't recognise the fact that there's a monopoly that's incumbent, that has behaved in an anti-competitive manner and that effectively drives all other options," Christie said.

A project called Public Sector Remix started by NZOSS in August 2009, following the end of a long-standing contract between Microsoft and the NZ Government, aims to change the situation. The project is developing a reference desktop which could be used in any government department, supplemented as needed with additional packages.

"It turned out that defining what should go on a standard government desktop was pretty simple," Christie said. The standard system includes Ubuntu as the OS, Firefox for browsing, OpenOffice as an office suite, and the Alfresco CMS. The more complicated element was ensuring that back-end systems could be connected to as needed.

Fourteen agencies were involved in the process of developing the reference implementation, but only three agencies are currently planning a pilot roll-out, Christie said.

"You've got to move from lip service to actual implementation. What we've done is produced a very good policy out of this project which, if they so choose, agencies can adopt."

Topics: Open Source, Linux, New Zealand

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  • Fantastic news

    It's great to see that goverments all over the globe, are taking important decisions (see the migrations in germany and Holland). Changing from Windows to Linux is not always easy but it is a very good way to go forward. Now we need the schools to move away from Windows.
    With a good standard and ubuntu this can't go wrong.
  • Wish we were as smart

    I wish the Australian government were this forward thinking. We switched our business over a 3 years back. Of course there were some initial teething problems but now our IT budget is at least 1/2 of what it was . We just don't have the issues we once had. It's a totally different experience to have reliable computing environments.
  • Windows to Linux...

    Changing is more a mental thing than truly hard. Once the desktop has been set-up & is running; with most desktop boxes & even notebooks now it's a breeze; the problem of the mental block becomes an issue. The truth is that we spend a lot of time getting used to one system but changing to another is a scary predicament. Many users have over the last 2 years jumped ship to Apple which I personally think to be more difficult than the change to Linux but I'm glad they did.

    Go on, you know you want to, so just load in Linux on your old box.
  • Nearly 2 Billion Dollars...

    We waste almost 2 billion dollars on M$ software each year. This money goes directly to Microsoft as a cash payment. This is a company that equivocates to the mafia. Don't kid yourself if you think I'm exaggerating. They've purposely destroyed many other companies by reverse-engineering software & stealing it but we foster them.

    They have deliberately attempted to destoy open source software (OSS) by passing out propaganda that defames those who've developed Linux & OSS. This company is doing everything it can do to defame Google & why, because Google is better at function than they are. This company has stifled development in the industry by use of non-developed patents. They have billions of dollars invested in patents to stop others from developing something they thought of yet have never created.

    Why do we support this organisation when the software that is OSS & Linux is cleaner & consistently being made better? I personally don't use Windows unless I'm doing something at work & have to use their computer. I take one of my own & I have 3 & my daughters both one each which run Linux.

    The Gov't is supporting a criminal organisation in M$ & they should show the world the right way & keep all of the money here in OZ.
  • The trouble with Linux

    The trouble with Linux is there is no one to pay the bribes, kickbacks, backhanders, baksheesh, payola ... that the government procurement officials here almost always expect and often openly solicit for.