South Korea eyes Linux as Windows 7 end of support nears

South Korea's government wants to reduce its reliance on a single operating system.

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Rather than pay hefty fees to Microsoft once Windows 7 becomes unsupported, the South Korean government is looking to roll out more Linux systems. 

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As reported by the Korea Herald, the nation's Interior Ministry last week announced plans for a potentially major Linux deployment as part of a plan to cut tech costs and reduce its reliance on a single operating system. 

It's not known what mix of Windows 7 and Windows 10 the Korean government currently uses, however the plan to adopt Linux more widely comes as organizations around the world prepare for the end of Windows 7 support on January 14, 2020. 

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After that date, Microsoft will stop releasing security patches to the general public, while enterprise customers will need to pay extra for Extended Support Updates (ESUs). 

As ZDNet detailed recently, the price of Windows ESUs will rise over time, starting at $50 per device for Windows 7 Pro between January 2020 and January 2021. The per device price rises to $100 the following year, and $200 per device the year after. Prices are lower for Microsoft 365 customers, however prices still rise over time.     

South Korea's Interior Ministry expects to spend 780 billion won ($655 million) on new PCs as part of the Linux roll out. The report doesn't specify which Linux distribution it may choose, nor when a roll out would commence.  

The Linux deployment will proceed if "no security issues arise" during a test run of Linux on PCs. 

"Before the government-wide adoption, the ministry said it would test if the system could be run on private networked devices without security risks and if compatibility could be achieved with existing websites and software which have been built to run on Windows," the report notes.

Windows to Linux migrations in government haven't always turned out so well. The German city of Munich in 2003 switched from Windows to a Linux-based desktop but next year will begin rolling out Windows 10 to about 29,000 PCs.  

In contrast the City Barcelona of Barcelona last year announced a plan to purge proprietary software and replace it with open source, starting with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, and eventually switching Windows for Linux on the desktop.