Adoption of free and open-source software by public institutions

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“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable -- one that would give us in-house control. So if we needed to patch, adjust, or adapt, we could.”

Official statement of the United Space Alliance, which manages the computer systems for the International Space Station (ISS), regarding Linux usage on the ISS[1][2]

The use of free software instead of proprietary software can give institutions better control over information technology. A growing number of public institutions have started a transition to free-software solutions. This grants independence and can also address the often-argued need for public access to publicly funded developments. This is the only way that public services can ensure that citizen data is handled in a trustworthy manner since non-free software doesn't allow total control (or even knowledge) over the employed functions of the needed programs.




The Government of Assam state made open source a part of its IT policy.[3][4]


The Government of Kerala, India, announced its official support for free/open-source software in its State IT Policy of 2001.[5] This was formulated after the first-ever free-software conference in India, "Freedom First!", held in July 2001 in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, where Richard Stallman inaugurated the Free Software Foundation of India.[6] Kerala's Government's support for Free Software in 2001 is perhaps the earliest instance of a Government supporting the use of Free Software.

Under the IT@School project the government of Kerala has adopted free and open sourced software for the schools.[7]


In January 2010, the Government of Jordan announced that it has formed a partnership with Ingres Corporation, a leading open-source database-management company based in the United States that is now known as Actian Corporation, to promote the use of open-source software starting with university systems in Jordan.[8]


Malaysia launched the "Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Program", saving millions on proprietary-software licences till 2008.[9][10]



In 2005 Vienna migrated from Microsoft Office 2000 to and from Microsoft Windows 2000 to Linux .[11][12]


National Gendarmerie[edit]

The National Gendarmerie announced in March 2009 that it will totally switch to Ubuntu by 2015.[13][needs update] The Gendarmerie has adopted,[14] Firefox and Thunderbird. In 2018, a state-operated Matrix network has been deployed.[15]

National Assembly[edit]

The National Assembly of France has had plans to migrate to Linux, and Firefox.[16][17]


Germany's armed forces commenced using Matrix for internal communications in 2020, creating their own application based upon Element.[18]


The German City of Munich in 2003 announced its intention to switch from Microsoft Windows NT-based operating systems to an open-source implementation of SuSE Linux,[19][20][21] In June 2004 after a pilot project run by SuSE Linux and IBM there was a final approval for the migration.[22] On 14 April 2005 the city decided to migrate to Debian from a commercial Linux distribution.[23] An adoption rate of 20% was achieved by 2010.[24]

Schwäbisch Hall[edit]

Schwäbisch Hall migrated its 400 workstations to Linux in late 2002.[25] The factors were cost, better security, escape from the treadmill of vendor-driven upgrades.


The Portuguese Vieira do Minho Municipality began switching to free and open-source software in 2000. [26]


IOSSPL is a free and open source software used for public libraries in Romania.[27]


The City of Barcelona started to migrate its computer systems away from the Windows platform in 2017. The City's strategy was first to replace all user applications with open-source alternatives, until the underlying Windows operating system is the only proprietary software remaining. In a final step, the operating system replaced with Linux. [28]

North America[edit]


In 2017, the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, opened up most of its new internal software development efforts to reduce its own software costs, and increase collaboration with other municipalities looking to solve similar problems.[29]

United States[edit]

In September 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced its formal adoption of the OpenDocument standard for all Commonwealth entities.[20]

In February 2009, the United States White House moved its website to Linux servers using Drupal for content management.[30]

In August 2016, the United States government announced a new federal source-code policy. This policy mandates that at least 20% of custom source code developed by or for any agency of the federal government must be released as open-source software (OSS).[31] In addition, the policy requires that all source code be shared between agencies. The public release is under a three-year pilot program and agencies are obliged to collect data on this pilot to gauge its performance. The overall policy aims to reduce duplication, avoid vendor 'lock-in', and stimulate collaborative development. A new website provides "an online collection of tools, best practices, and schemas to help agencies implement this policy", the policy announcement stated. It also provides the "primary discoverability portal for custom-developed software intended both for Government-wide reuse and for release as OSS".[31] As yet unspecified OSS licenses will be added to the code.[32] The US Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, co-author of the policy, blogged "This is, after all, the People's code. Explore it. Learn from it. Improve it. Use it to propel America's next breakthrough in innovation."[33]

South America[edit]


The government of Argentina launched the program Conectar Igualdad (Connect Equality), through ANSES and the Ministry of Education (Argentina) launched during the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, that gave kids on public schools free laptops to use for educative purposes. By default, it came with Huayra GNU/Linux, a free and open-source Linux operating system developed by the Argentinian technology ministry, based on Debian, using the MATE Desktop.


The government of Brazil migrated from Microsoft Windows to Linux.[34][35] In 2006, the Brazilian government also encouraged the distribution of cheap computers running Linux throughout its poorer communities by subsidizing their purchase with tax breaks.[20]


In April 2008, Ecuador passed a similar law, Decree 1014, designed to migrate the public sector to Libre Software.[36]


In 2005, the Government of Peru voted to adopt open source across all its bodies.[37] The 2002 response to Microsoft's critique is available online. In the preamble to the bill, the Peruvian government stressed that the choice was made to ensure that key pillars of democracy were safeguarded: "The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the basic guarantees of a state of law."[38]


In 2004, a law in Venezuela (Decree 3390) went into effect, mandating a two-year transition to open source in all public agencies. As of June 2009 this ambitious transition is still under way.[39][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gunter, Joel (May 10, 2013). "International Space Station to boldly go with Linux over Windows". The Telegraph.
  2. ^ Bridgewater, Adrian (May 13, 2013). "International Space Station adopts Debian Linux, drops Windows & Red Hat into airlock". Computer Weekly.
  3. ^ "Assam government IT Policy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  4. ^ Open Source India News
  5. ^ ""Role of Open or Free Software", Section 15, page 20, of the State IT Policy (2001) of the Government of Kerala, copy available at the UN Public Administration Network (UNPAN) site" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  6. ^ "Press release from GNU Project, July 2001".
  7. ^ "Kerala opted for foss". Archived from the original on 2010-05-30. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  8. ^ "Jordan Information Ministry signs deal on open source - Government - News & Features". Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2011-10-27. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  10. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  11. ^ Vienna to softly embrace Linux – ZDNet UK
  12. ^ "Open Source Software am Arbeitsplatz im Magistrat Wien". Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  13. ^ "Ars Technica – French police: we saved millions of euros by adopting Ubuntu". 2009.
  14. ^ La gendarmerie nationale passe à OpenOffice – Actualités –
  15. ^
  16. ^ Assemblée nationale : communiqué de presse
  17. ^ Linux s'installe dans les PC des députés – Actualités –
  18. ^
  19. ^ Munich deal boosts desktop Linux – ZDNet UK
  20. ^ a b c Casson, Tony; Ryan, Patrick S. (1 May 2006). "Open Standards, Open Source Adoption in the Public Sector, and Their Relationship to Microsoft's Market Dominance". In Bolin, Sherrie (ed.). Standards Edge: Unifier or Divider?. Sheridan Books. p. 87. SSRN 1656616.
  21. ^ "Declaration of Independence: The LiMux Project in Munich". Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  22. ^ Munich decides to stick with Linux – ZDNet UK
  23. ^ Munich picks its Linux distro – ZDNet UK
  24. ^ "Official LiMux page". Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  25. ^ German city reveals Linux migration tactics – ZDNet UK
  26. ^ "Vieira do Minho - citizens and administrators profit from open source". European Commission. 2013-05-31. Archived from the original on 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  27. ^ "IOSSPL". Archived from the original on 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  28. ^ "El Ayuntamiento de Barcelona rompe con el 'software' de Microsoft". El Pais. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2023-11-13.
  29. ^ Algoma University "Advocating for Collaboration in Code"
  30. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Obama Invites Open Source into the White House" Archived 2016-01-10 at the Wayback Machine in PCWorld, 29 October 2009.
  31. ^ a b Scott, Tony; Rung, Anne E (8 August 2016). Federal Source Code Policy: Achieving Efficiency, Transparency, and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software — Memorandum for the Heads of Departments and Agencies — M-16-21 (PDF). Washington DC, USA: Office of Budget and Management, Executive Office of the President. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2016-09-14. Also available as HTML at:
  32. ^ New, William (22 August 2016). "New US Government Source Code Policy Could Provide Model For Europe". Intellectual Property Watch. Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  33. ^ Scott, Tony (8 August 2016). "The People's Code". Washington DC, USA. Retrieved 2016-09-14 – via National Archives.
  34. ^ NPR: Brazil Makes Move to Open Source Software
  35. ^ BBC NEWS | Business | Brazil adopts open-source software
  36. ^ (in Spanish), Decree 1014
  37. ^ Clarke, Gavin (29 September 2005). "". The Register. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  38. ^ National Advisory Council on Innovation Open Software Working Group (July 2004). "Free/Libre & Open Source Software and Open Standards in South Africa" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  39. ^ (in Spanish) Venezuela Open Source Archived February 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ Chavez, Hugo F. (December 2004). "Publicado en la Gaceta oficial No 38.095 de fecha 28/ 12/ 2004". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.

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