In a victory for the free software movement, the Spanish autonomous region of Extremadura has started to switch more than 40,000 government PCs to open source.
All the computers will be migrated this year. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save €30 million per year.
It is Europe's second largest governmental desktop migration, after the French Gendarmerie, which is migrating some 90,000 desktops. Europe's third largest project is the German city of Munich, which has to date switched 13,000 PCs.
Most of the software will be based around a Linux distribution, Sysgobex, which has been tinkered with to meet the majority of requirements of government tasks.
At a press conference, Extremadura's CIO Theodomir Cayetano announced that the government's Linux desktop includes an open source corporate email system and office productivity suite.
The system will link the government's medical record system and can be used in combination with the health card to manage prescriptions. The desktops will be centrally managed and won't need IT administrators to perform local updates and configurations.
The system has been tested in a roll out of 150 Linux-based computers in pilot programs in departments of the Ministry of Development, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Energy, Cayetano said.
The Extremadura region has been a poster child for the open source movement. Under the previous government, 70,000 desktop computers were in use in the secondary schools and 15,000 PCs used in health care, and were fitted with a local GNU/Linux distribution, Linex.
Cayetano noted that since the implementation of incident management using CAUGobex software, the system was able to handle more than 18,000 requests for service or incidents related to the operation and maintenance of computer equipment for public employees.