Extremadura Regional Government of Spain switches to Debian and ODF all the computers

Roberto Santos, from Hispalinux, asked me to post this:

All the computers of the Junta of Extremadura (goverment state of Spain) will be running free software within a year. This project makes the Regional Government the first Public Administration to adopt standards upheld by international organizations, that favour “technological innovation and the reduction of user dependency

The councillor for Infrastructures and Technological Development, Luis Millán de Vázquez de Miguel, met the press this Friday to inform about the agreements reached in the last board meeting of the Government held last June 25. In said meeting, it was agreed that all the computers of the Junta of Extremadura would have to be adapted to free software office tools and gnuLinEx (the local flavour of Debian GNU/Linux) within one year.

Thus, as from now on, all workers of the public administration must use open document formats (ISO/IEC DIS 26300) for their office applications for information and creating administrative processes, as well as PDF/A (Portable Document Format ISO 19005-1:2005) for Exchange Documents, when guaranteed unalterable visualization is required.

Vázquez de Miguel has underlined the fact that the Junta de Extremadura “is the first Public Administration to adopt these standards” and that all the international organizations related to ITCs agree that this is the most important step towards “technological innovation, the reduction of user, company and public administration dependency on proprietary, non-compatible applications, and the increment of interoperability between systems and applications on a global scale.”

The councillor explained that a version gnuLinEx, adapted for the public administration, will be established as the obligatory operating system in workplaces of the civil servants of the Junta and that the OS will be gradually introduced to all administrative organizations of the Junta de Extremadura.

The deadline for the plan “is one year counting from the date the agreement is approved”, Vázquez de Miguel said, and he added that at the end of the period, all the computer work carried out by the civil servants of the Junta must be done so on the GnuLinEx operating system and that all additional software must be open source or be distributed under a free license.

“This is an important initiative that the Junta de Extremadura has been working on for a long time, accumulating experience and analysing the impact on our organisation so as to guarantee its success”, the councillor declared. He underlined the fact that the agreement will have “a profound impact”.

According to Millan, there are a number of advantages of switching to free software and even more when used by the Public Administration, with important consequences.

Amongst others, the councillor pointed out the long life of documents, which will guarantee the conservation of all the administrative documents for longer periods of time. It will also improve the relationship with the general public due to the fact that, by conforming to standards and free software, the public is not obliged to acquire proprietary software. According to de Millan, free
software also improves security, autonomy and rationalises public spending.

In this respect, the councillor pointed out that adopting free software will allow the administration to “not be so exposed to the tensions of enforced migrations”, allow the administration to be have a say in the choice of the applications and reduce the economic costs of support.

There is also a plan of migration support that is being prepared at the General Direction of Telecommunications and Networks, which addresses issues for system administrators and computer managers of each Council, that offers a wide range of information and allows to develop communication tasks amongst employees and adaptation training processes.

The Junta has also received collaboration offers, for example from El Corte Inglés through their Expert Center (including a cooperation agreement signed by the Junta de Extremadura and the computing division of El Corte Inglés), Intel, and other large companies, such as Bull España S.A. “with which we have especially interesting agreements” due to the large body of practical knowledge this project is going to generate and its application to other administration and organisations.

For the future, Vázquez de Miguel has announced that at the end of August the project will be presented un New York at the United Nations. A month later, it will also be presented in “The City of Knowledge” of Panama and in other related countries.

The Council of Infrastructure and Technological Development carries out, within its area of competence, The Global Project for the Society of Information and Knowledge of Extremadura, the aim of which is to guarantee the universal access of the citizens of Extremadura to new technologies and communications so as to improve their quality of life.

According to the councillor for Infrastructures and Technological Development, Luis Millán Vázquez de Miguel, the year 2002 signified a change in development of the project when gnuLinEx was created and used as general-purpose operating system for public education in the Autonomous Region of Extremadura. “A software that has evolved the technical aspects and the implementation of computer standards, backed up by European institutions and international standardization organisations”, remarks Vázquez de Miguel.

The councillor highlights the fact that the situation of free software in the region has had “strong influences” in international press, which have been following what has been happening in the region, covering matters related to the application of the information society.

He also points out that, in the area of the public administration, “we in the middle of the development what we call the Modernization, Simplification and Quality Plan for the Administration of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura (2004-2007)”. For this plan, Extremadura relies on the Regional Intranet, “the foundation of the interdepartamental communications of the Junta de Extremadura”.

For Vázquez de Miguel, to make a headway in the integration of the Information Society in modern day Public Administration and in the global society, it is fundamental “guarantee the control and administration of aspects so important as technological independence, interoperability between computer platforms, homogeneous information systems, computer security for information systems, real technological innovation and conformance to open and free standards.”

One Response to “Extremadura Regional Government of Spain switches to Debian and ODF all the computers”

  1. Travis Reitter says:

    Great news!

    On a side note: in the title of this post, could you change the word “drop” to “switch”? I just glanced at the title first, and thought Extremadura was “dropping” (“giving up on”) Linux.