The Norwegian city of Bergen has postponed its evaluation of Linux on the desktop for the time being, but that does not mean it has changed its focus on using Linux and other open-source technologies to consolidate IT resources, said Lars Tveit, Bergens director of competition and development.
“The city of Bergen has chosen to postpone its evaluation of Linux on the desktop. This is not a decision against Linux, but simply a reprioritization of resources in relation to the activities that need to be done,” Tveit said in a statement released to eWEEK on Sept. 5.
Tveit pointed to the citys project of consolidating the servers on its administration and education networks to Linux as evidence of its ongoing commitment to freedom of choice and competition in its IT environment.
In June 2004, the city of Bergen said it planned to move 100 schools and 32,000 users away from its proprietary Unix and Microsoft Windows applications platform to Linux. Bergen decided on a two-phase implementation of Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.
The implementation first targeted the citys 20 Oracle database servers running on HP-UX, which powered its core health and welfare services applications, replacing them with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 running on 64-bit Itanium-based HP Integrity servers from Hewlett-Packard.
The second phase of the implementation involved the migration and consolidation of the current Microsoft Windows application servers that power Bergens educational network to Enterprise Server 8 on IBM eServer BladeCenters, as well as the consolidation of its more than 100 Microsoft Windows application servers to 20 IBM eServer BladeCenters running SUSE Linux.
“The most important issue for the city of Bergen is to provide [the] best possible public services to our citizens through cost-effective municipal operation. In addition to the IT-based benefits from migration to Linux, we attain a business model that doesnt tie us to a single vendors solution architecture,” Janicke Foss, CIO of Bergen, said in a statement at that time.
“By migrating to Linux, the city of Bergen has a business model that is open and democratic, and we believe that will ensure a greater degree of freedom of choice, more efficient operation and major cost savings that will benefit the citizens,” Foss said.
Tveit told eWEEK that the city had successfully consolidated the servers on its administration and education networks to Linux. “These projects are completed and the system is now in production. The city of Bergen will continue to look actively at ways of consolidating its IT resources using Linux and open-source solutions, where appropriate,” he said.
The citys focus remains the same: providing its employees and the inhabitants of Bergen with the “best possible tools at the best possible price. Open standards and technologies are important to create competition and provide a large range of services” for the city, he said.
The city focused on freedom of choice and competition when it decided to use Linux on its servers two years ago, and those ideas remain “a top priority” for the city, Tveit said.
Kevan Barney, senior public relations manager for Novell, told eWEEK on Sept. 5 that the Linux desktop was not part of its work with Bergen, announced in 2004, but acknowledged that Novell officials have previously said the city was considering evaluating the Linux desktop.
“That evaluation has now been postponed, but they are not ruling out Linux on the desktop by any means. They are, at this point, just focusing on more pressing priorities and have decided to hold off on the Linux desktop evaluation for the time being,” he said.
Microsoft, which views Linux as real competition, has seen some of its high-profile customers move to Linux, many of them governmental agencies and departments.
The Israeli government has said it would encourage the development of lower-priced alternatives to Microsoft software in an effort to help expand computer use by the public, while the governments of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, South Africa and Russia have also all been reported to have explored open-source alternatives to Microsoft.
Federal agencies in Germany, France and China are also already using or considering open-source desktops, applications and productivity suites.
But Microsoft has fought back and has actively lobbied governments around the world to shun open-source applications and Linux.
In January 2003 the software maker, based in Redmond, Wash., announced a new global initiative to provide governmental agencies with access to Windows source code under its Government Security Program, designed to “address the unique security requirements of governments and international organizations throughout the world.”
Microsoft is also carrying on the “Get the Facts” campaign, which aims to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system rather than Linux, its open-source competitor.
But Microsoft has also become more pragmatic about the Linux threat of late, launching a new Web site earlier in 2006 called Port 25 that is designed to give a birds-eye view of the companys internal open-source software laboratory and elicit feedback and ideas about how it can work better with the open-source community.
Microsoft has also been increasingly reaching out to the open-source community to try to find ways to overcome the incompatibilities between software distributed under the GNU General Public License and its own commercial software.