30 July 2006

Going the Extremadura Mile

Many in the world of free software are aware that the Spanish region of Extremadura has been installing GNU/Linux in its schools. It has even created its own distribution called GNU/Linex. This project began many years ago - the roots go back to 1998 - and most people probably assumed it had all fizzled out.

Far from it. For the Extramadura government has now announced that it would be going even further:

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.

That is open source, and OpenDocument too.

But what's most interesting about this announcement is that it shows how mighty oaks can grow from small acorns: once organisations have tried free software and discovered how good it is, it becomes much easier to move on to larger-scale implementations. This, in its turn, shows that every open source project, now matter how small, is important.

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