THE SPANISH CITY OF BARCELONA plans to replace its Microsoft software with open source alternatives including Linux, Libre Office and Open Xchange.
Barcelona plans to invest 70 per cent of its annual software budget in open source this year, according to El Pais, with the aim of completing the transformation by spring 2019.
Microsoft's Outlook and Exchange Server email software is to be replaced by Open-Xchange, Microsoft Office will be ditched in favour of Libre Office, and Mozilla's Firefox will be made the default browser across systems.
The city council has been piloting the use of Ubuntu Linux desktops for some time and it is likely that this distribution will be chosen as the operating system of choice.
With this move, Barcelona becomes the first city to join an initiative by Free Software Foundation Europe dubbed 'Public code, public money' which calls on public bodies to invest tax revenues in free reusable systems that are open to local businesses rather than proprietary licensed software.
Through the initiative, Barcelona aims to reduce its spend on software licensing and its dependence on the proprietary suppliers that have held contracts with the city authorities for years or in some cases decades.
As part of its move away from Microsoft and, presumably, other proprietary software, the Barcelona authorities will be procuring more services from local SMEs as well as hiring 65 new developers.
One project planned is the development of an online digital market platform to allow small businesses to take part in public tenders.
Barcelona has developed "ethical standards" to prioritise the hiring of "local companies that work with open source and agile methodologies", said Francesca Bria, commissioner for technology and digital innovation at the council.
According to Bria, the open source software written in Barcelona will be made available to other Spanish municipalities and public bodies further afield giving them the opportunity to save money on software licences and to take advantage of cutting-edge advances. As an example, an IoT platform called Sentilo developed by Barcelona is now also being used and developed the city of Terrassa, Spain as well as in Dubai and Japan.
However, a similar initiative in the German city of Munich recently saw a reversal as the authorities there announced they would be reverting to Windows and Office after a change in the political balance of power and reportedly a large reduction in licensing costs offered by Microsoft. µ
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