Linux wins approval from the taxman

New Zealand’s Inland Revenue may move 7,000 desktops from Microsoft to open source

Linux is proving increasingly popular with governments across the world, with New Zealand's Inland Revenue becoming the latest government department to test the open source operating system.

The Inland Revenue is trialling the software on some of its 7,000 desktops, according to reports, as part of a review of the department's IT strategy that should be completed in 2006. It has made no commitment to roll out Linux, but is set to make a decision before the end of the year.

The department has signed a contract with Novell that outlines the terms and conditions if it were to buy its SuSE Linux software. The Revenue could migrate all its Microsoft desktops to the open source operating system or settle for a mixed environment.

The New Zealand Inland Revenue is following in the footsteps of government agencies around the world, including in Germany and South Korea, which are rolling out open source software. Government agencies and schools in Peru are also being encouraged to consider open source software. Under government legislation signed last week by Alejando Toledo, President of Peru, public institutions will now have to choose between proprietary and open source software.

Microsoft's decision to withdraw support for Windows NT in 2004 is thought to have prompted many organisations to look at other options such as Linux.

The German city of Mannheim is replacing its Windows NT servers with 110 Linux servers. The city council hopes to follow this by installing 3,700 desktops onto the open source operating system. The city of Munich has voted to convert 14,000 desktops from Microsoft Windows to Linux but the project has been delayed until 2006.

The South Korean postal service is currently migrating around 4, 700 desktop computers from Microsoft Windows to Linux.