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Spanish Region Goes Entirely Open Source 219

greengrass writes to tell us TechWorld is reporting that the Spanish region of Extremadura has decided to go completely open source with their day-to-day operations. While the region has long been a supporter of open source software, within a year it will be a requirement that all officials use the ODF and PDF formats for all documents. From the article: "Extremadura, Spain's poorest region, made headlines following a 2002 decision to migrate about 70,000 desktops and 400 servers in its schools to a locally tailored version of Debian called gnuLinEx. The government has estimated that the total cost of this project was about 190,000 euros (£130,000), 18 million euros lower than if the schools had purchased Microsoft software. "
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Spanish Region Goes Entirely Open Source

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  • A Goal! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cloricus ( 691063 )
    This is what Opensource should be using its power to do. Good work every one!
    • Re:A Goal! (Score:3, Funny)

      by grcumb ( 781340 )

      Please, if you're going to use football (sorry, 'soccer') metaphors, at least do it right. It should be:


      • Re:A Goal! (Score:4, Funny)

        by cloricus ( 691063 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @03:58AM (#15830153)
        Sorry, I'm from Australia...You know, the place that had a slight chance in the last world cup until Itally decided to use our game for diving practice? So it's more like:

        "YOU TOOK A BLOODY DIVE!" ...Funnily enough this is probably what Microsofts price per seat offer will do in the country in question.
        • ... if you are actually not defending your area (bunch of sissies) hopping to go to extra time. A famous Mexican soccer comentator used to say "The football is very lazy, it always choses to rest in the net that is closest to it"...

          But now that you guys know that, you can apply this knowledge next time there is a WC in Germany.
    • Re:A Goal! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @03:36AM (#15830089) Homepage
      This is what Opensource should be using its power to do. Good work every one!

      Yes. A few detailed points:

      1. When you have tens of thousands of desktops, the money saved by not paying Microsoft is so great, that you can even afford to pay people to code a few specific things you need (regional customization, etc.). This is the beauty of the open source stack - you get 99% of the code FOR FREE; salaries for a few good programmers to code the last 1% is cheaper than 70,000 MS licenses. Now, I don't know if the region of Extremadura pay the salaries of the LinEx people; but my point is that even if they did, it would be a huge savings.

      2. That last 1% of code may be GPL (in case it's integrated into the system and not completely standalone, or, even if it is standalone, a government or nonprofit might free the source code anyhow). So others will also be able to benefit from it.

      Back to the article itself, this latest news is very good, and may be another sign of slowly-building momentum for the Open Source movement.
      • Re:A Goal! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Deusy ( 455433 ) <charlie.vexi@org> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @07:54AM (#15830756) Homepage
        I'm almost as pro open source as they come, and this kind of news makes me smile.

        However I really am sceptical of the cost comparisons. They do not seem to take into account distribution or installation or any of the other many factors that come into servicing an entire region with software.

        I also suspect it does not take into account any discounts you may be able to get from Microsoft for such large scale installations.

        Yes, there may be a large difference in licensing. But to say that you are getting a 99% discount is a fallacy. The cost of software is not just in the procurement.

        As a community we should be encouraging responsible reporting so we don't fall into the same obfuscational traps that corporations like Microsoft revel in. It would be nice to be able to have faith in pro Free Software articles rather than approach them with the same sceptism that stigmatises any pro corporate publishing.

        There's no substitute for hard facts and honesty and I feel the open source movement is becoming as marketing savvy as the commercial competition. It may win a bit in the short term but in the long term may undermine the cost-benefits that people perceive.
        • Presumably the cost of deployment, distribution and installation are the same for open source as with closed--provided that you are doing a complete upgrade of everything or a fresh install. In these cases it makes sense to switch.

          It is when you are already using software and are not planning to do a massive system overhaul that these issues become important.

          Frankly, the licensing may not be the only cost, but it is certainly one of the biggest when you are talking about an entire system.
          • Re:A Goal! (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gutnor ( 872759 )
            I worked for a company where server were serviced for something like 1000 EUR/month per server. There was not much difference between a Windows Server and a Linux Server ( when you factor the fact that Windows server were smaller box and Linux server were generally more entreprise grade ) except that with the Windows Server you had an initial cost for the OS. After a year, the cost of the initial license wasn't really a point.

            You still can be a little sceptical when you look at the numbers: Total project in
  • by olego ( 899338 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:50AM (#15829828) Homepage
    I read that as "Spanish Religion Goes Entirely Open Source", and spent the next few seconds wondering about the implication of this transition.
    • Re:Is it just me? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by the_womble ( 580291 )
      Most religions are already open source - apart from the Scientology that is.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Most religions are already open source - apart from the Scientology that is.

        And look at their forking problems! Proof positive that proprietary religions don't have the same forking problems and open source religions.
      • Dear pope,
        Someone on /. told me your now open source so please could you open up the valuts of the vatican so that I can run scientific test on all the relics and books you hold their.


        • All the documents you need to be a Christian are freely available.

          Just like the source code you need to compile a OSS software.

          The Vatican vaults are largely already open even to the public []. More are open to scholars.

          You should also not pay too much attention to conspiracy theories: most museums and major libraries have stuff that is not readily accessible or on display so it is hardly surprising the Vatican does too.

          The Vatican also has a bit of a problem with things like pornography with historica

    • by Torstein Haldorsen ( 905795 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:11AM (#15829887) Homepage
      I misread it the same way, and I am in the process of actually founding an "Open Source Religion". A coherent organized worldview that is dynamic, module-based and upgradable. In contrast with the thousands of years old, monolithic, static and all-to-often fundamentalist doctrines that monopolize the religious market today. I say it's about time they get some competition.
      • by PaulBu ( 473180 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:19AM (#15829908) Homepage
        "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" ;-)

        Paul B.
      • It already exists. []

        Warning, the website contains annoyances, turn off your sound before visiting.

        Their holy book is already at version 0.2. You can join if you want and submit patches.

        And it's very modular, you can remove mysticism from it if you wishes.

      • I misread it the same way, and I am in the process of actually founding an "Open Source Religion". A coherent organized worldview that is dynamic, module-based and upgradable. In contrast with the thousands of years old, monolithic, static and all-to-often fundamentalist doctrines that monopolize the religious market today. I say it's about time they get some competition.

        I have heard there are these things called 'science' and 'philosophy', both of which have coherent organized worldviews which are modul
      • A coherent organized worldview that is dynamic, module-based and upgradable.

        Welcome to Hinduism. Those pesky Indians already did this years ago.
      • HAHaha very funny. Oh wait... you're not joking, are you?
      • So people are out there sending in their patches to the holy scriptures ... then someone goes and forks the project.

        So you have ScriptureFree86 and competing with each other, and each of the religous distributions has to decide which branch to take up.

        Meanwhile, the evil is preaching that you should give them 10% of everything you earn, if you want to be blest. And they insist that you use their DRM'd Scripture reader that won't allow you to look at alternative versions.

      • Unitarian Universalism?
    • OpenInquisition
    • Nobody (Score:3, Funny)

      by Life700MB ( 930032 )

      Nobody expects the now Open Source based Spanish Inquisition!

      Superb hosting [] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • gnuLinEx (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:56AM (#15829841) Homepage Journal
    Is this just a localised Linux distro, or does it have other specific properties? Small footprint, extra security, that sort of stuff? TFA weren't too clear about that, and the gnuLinEx website was a bit... Spanish.
    • Re:gnuLinEx (Score:5, Informative)

      by atomicstrawberry ( 955148 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:05AM (#15829875)
      Based off here [] it looks like it's basically Debian Sarge with a set of useful applications - I assume the ones that have different names eg Zurbarán (Gimp 2.2) are localised builds.
      • The latest LinEx (6/06) has an up-to-date Linux kernel, and likewise GNOME (2.6.16, 2.14.1 respectively), which is useful (Debian Sarge has much older versions).

        Looks like some nice work on the part of the Spanish Linux people. Also, they deserve congratulations on their success detailed in the article.
    • Re:gnuLinEx (Score:5, Informative)

      by 4e617474 ( 945414 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:08AM (#15829881)
      From what I could find, it's mostly a localized Debian with a few tweaks for ease-of-use and some educational apps and such. Review [] linked by distrowatch. []
    • Re:gnuLinEx (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The main advantages of the distro seem to be the creation of system to install programs via the browser (after root authentication). They have also developed a program to update free distributions with non-free amenities Windows users typically take for granted: namely Java, Flash, the ability to read commercial DVDs and Real and DivX codec support. The installation seems to be based on Redhat's installation system (anaconda) and it has the ability to resize existing NTFS partitions. They've also got a cent
    • Re:gnuLinEx (Score:5, Informative)

      by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @07:23AM (#15830637) Journal
      Well, I can read spanish, and after reading the What's new [] information I found two or three quite interesting things. I will try to summarize them here:

      • Primer arranque (First boot): Allows graphics booting using gfxboot, something quite nice for "normal" users, as I remember my flatmate got scared at the Ubuntu screen boot, with the list of the [OK] and [FAILED] services status (background here []).
      • Instalación (Installing): Just a graphical installer with graphical partition resizing, I saw this already when installing Ubuntu and Mandriva.
      • Más comodidad (More confortability [is that a word?]): Just the old root/user password option with automatic login.
      • Un Escritorio más vivo (more alive desktop),Mantente a la última (stay at the edge), El nuevo Actualizar LinEx (New LinEx Update): Some desktop backgrounds, system update and package installer. Nothing too fancy IMHO.
      • Aptéalo con APTZILLA ("Aptate it" with APTZILLA) : This is something which I believe is worth to mention, I have never seen something simillar in any other distribution. It seems to be a Firefox extension that enables to install software from an internet page. It would be very interesting to try it because from what it seems it would be a way to achieve the "click+download+click^x+install" behaviour in Windows for the end user (my father for example wont be able to install Repast framework [] in Ubuntu because it is not in the repositores, whereas to install it on Windows he just have to download the installer and run it).
      • El Panel de Control de gnuLinEx: A control panel similar to what a lot of other distributions have. HOWEVER I find quite relevant that they embed the WINE emulator (which btw E.), I imagine they try to make as easy as possible to enable Windows applications to run in Linux. That is the other property worth to note, as I have not seen any distribution that gives so much importance to it (well, besides the commecial distros like xandros, lindows [ya ya I like to call it Lindows], etc).
      • El wiki personal (The Personal Wiki [see, spanish is not that hard]): That is the other interesting application, which a wiki like note taker (the application seems to be Tomboy [].

      Well, all the other properties I did not listed are the ones that I have seen in other distributions.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:16AM (#15829903) Homepage Journal

    Good. Now if only my local government would listen to me and stop wasting millions of dollars on MS licenses. (Their "compatibility" issue boils down to being compatible with the printer -- they always print out their stuff on letterhead and mail it through the post!)

    • It's not just those government offices. It's also all those suck-up, KISS-ASS computer companies that have the VAPID, disGUSTING gall to slap on their hardware the stickers that say:

      "(kiss-ass-hardware company) recommends microsoft windows XP home edition..."

      "(kiss-ass-hardware company) recommends microsoft windows XP professional edition..."

      "(kiss-ass-hardware company) recommends microsoft windows 2000 edition..." ...

      As IF the consumer (nevermind the wiser PROsumer...) has a frackin' choice. These snivelly
      • Doesn't that work in Linux? I know from my own experince running KDE that when X crashes (I'm running the binary nvidia driver, sorry, but it only happens once every few weeks), when I log back in to KDE there's everything just the way I left it. Surely bringing down the system entirely wouldn't be more disruptive than that.
        • I could be mistaken, but I don't think so.

          Plus, when I ever have to Ctrl+Alt+Del my KDE session (more than once a month) it DOES restore, but to the last KNOWN GOOD session. Any work saved is fine, most icons recently added to the desktop are fine, but any work open does NOT get intercepted and saved. At least not like WP and LWP do when windoze 98 crapped/craps out on me.

          (On that note, WordPro and 1-2-3 in Lotus SmartSuite in win98 inside of Win4Lin STILL starts up 5x faster than Ooo.2 or lower. I have onl
      • Open Source Devs... I think Linux needs something to deal with my 2nd comment, for those systems where the admin needs to bring down a multi-user machine... (presume the kids/family/housemate users left home and left drafts open but their session locked/screen-saved...) for maintenance or hardware change. It would be a "nice to have to be nice and behave" feature...

        Done, but you're not going to like what I charged you. ;)

        On most of the Linux distros I've used, xscreensaver will accept either the user's

    • Try this instead. [] Once you can lower a cost, then change it to imcreasing their revenue. Than all that is left, is to overcome the money factor. If the gov. is attached to gates front pocket (or there abouts), then it is difficult to get their backing. But not all are that way.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:27AM (#15829927) Journal
    What exactly do schools look for in "Computer curriculum"? Most I know only look for a browser, a HTML editor and some presentation s/w on the clients side. The servr side is mostly some Courseware s/w - Moodle or Drupal; LDAP; Centralised File System etc.

    There has been no incentive for schools to upgrade from Windows 98, indeed many schools near me have about 80% of their systems running Win98, and the students are quite happy with what they're getting. There's absolutely no incentive to upgrade to WinXP (although a RAM upgrade might allow XP to run).

    Schools in fact have every reason to ask Microsoft WHAT EXACTLY they get in return for Big $$ they need to shell out in MS upgrades. If they switch (the servers are already on Linux) the clients also to Linux, schools will have absolutely zero incentive to upgrade to Vista.
    • While I tend to agree with you, schools face a tremendous market pressure to go with the latest technology "fad". My old high-school put desktops in the back of every classroom. Since there's only 8 per classroom, no one ever uses them. Next, they wanted to get laptops for every student (despite the fact they would get lost, stolen, etc). This kind of stuff is constant.

      How many soccer-moms see the Microsoft commercials on TV (which claim that Windows "inspires" children), and vote at school-board meet
    • I don't know what is meant by computer curriculum but I have been very impressed by extremadura using Squeak in their schools. There's a video about it on google groups.
  • by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:31AM (#15829939)
    Hasta la vista, Microsoft.
  • Simple math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:40AM (#15829953)
    The government has estimated that the total cost of this project was about 190,000 euros, 18 million euros lower than if the schools had purchased Microsoft software.

    Good argument for GNU, Linux and open source in general with your boss: cuts your software costs by 98.9%. Finally someone puts an official number on this.

  • Credit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by indrax ( 939495 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @02:59AM (#15830002) Homepage Journal
    I think 'Extremadura' would be an awesome name for a release of a major distro.
  • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @03:01AM (#15830003)
    Slowly, but steadily, Linux is gaining ground.

    With every year, MS Windows loses another advantage or another killer-feature and the playground - while far from fair - gets a little bit more leveled.

    I still remember the mid-late 90s, when you still had to recompile the kernel for sound (now it's autodetected), when there was no office suite (StarOffice came IIRC somewhen around 1998), when there was no KDE.

    Of course, in many areas (especially gaming) Windows is de-facto without competition, but these areas become smaller with each year.

    For the pioneers like Extremadura and Munich, a lot of political will and forsightness was needed.

    For those governments that come later this political will won't be needed (or let's say not nearly as much will be needed) as the migration will be easier, cheaper and faster than in Extremadura or Munich - because of the experience made there, because some programs will already be ported, because the software was developed further.

    In the next years, the biggest chance for OpenSource are the OpenDocument formats. While the old .doc format will remain "the standard" for quite some time, I think OpenDocument has good chances beating Microsoft's new XML format and becoming the standard in maybe 10 years. (Mainly because MS XML doesn't offer the advantage of the old .doc format (= being established) and has no advantage versus OpenDocument)

    If that happens, MS Office loses it's dominating grip, Microsoft loses a lot of revenue and the ability to fund expensive pet-projects like XBox - and Windows loses another advantage...

    • That's because it's been a sitting target.

      Vista is coming out soon, which will shift the goal-posts.

      MS presented it to us at my company - little there to tempt us, but lots of flashy effects to wow consumers. And you know that new computers will come with it installed as a given.

      The new Office though- that's quite interesting...
      • That's because it's been a sitting target.

        Yes, because what most people do with computers today (essentially word-processing, email and websurfing) is a solved problem and except for bugfixes there is little demand for anything "new". Actually, quite contrarily most people don't want anything new.

        That's the main reason why the transition to Linux takes so long. The advantages have to overcome the resistance of anything new or different.

        MS presented it to us at my company - little there to tempt us, bu

      • The new Office though- that's quite interesting...

        What, and you think that will actually help Microsoft? The biggest reason most people have for not switching to OpenOffice is "but I'd have to re-learn the interface!"

        The new version of MS Office will be great for OpenOffice, because if people are going to have to learn a new interface anyway, they might as well learn a free one!

        • I'm thinking the same thing. A lot of people will not want the new interface and will rather use OpenOffice (which is pretty similar to the current MS Office interface) or keep their old version as long as possible than upgrade.
    • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `'> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:33AM (#15830522)

      Open Source is based around Economics of Plenty, rather than Economics of Scarcity. IR1 promised to usher in the Age of Plenty. IR2 actually created a product which is truly plentiful, having zero cost of replication.

      In Economics of Scarcity, some portion of the value of things depends on how hard they are to get hold of. In Economics of Plenty, things are not at all hard to get hold of. Because we've been living in an age of scarcity for so long, we've tended to neglect that portion of value that does not depend on scarcity, and in fact some have sought to manipulate values by creating artificial scarcity: in the most egregious cases, overproducing goods in order to bring down the unit costs through economies of scale {itself taking advantage of Plenty}, then destroying much of the production in order to increase its market value. |Example: it costs little more to make six Widgets than to make three; but if there are four potential customers, then you'll get more money for each one if they are arguing over only three Widgets than if there are enough Widgets to go around.

      One of the "counter-intuitive" {though note, there is nothing intuitive about Economics of Scarcity, being purely learned behaviour} things about Economics of Plenty is that the value of goods actually goes up when demand increases. {Side note: we are seeing this same phenomenon with recyclable materials in household waste, which are currently Plentiful. As recycling rates improve, recyclables will begin to obey Scarcity laws again.}

      Another -- and this is what really rankles with anyone coming from a background of the Economics of Scarcity -- is that dividends are paid to investors in proportion to the total amount invested, rather than the individual's investment. The Sum Total of Open Source gets better everytime anyone improves an Open Source project; anyone who joins the Movement benefits from all the improvements that have come before, and the later you join, the more benefit you gain.

      Now, many people have been brought up to resent the idea that someone else might benefit from their hard work. In the Age of Scarcity, that might have made some sense, since the only way you could get richer was by someone else getting poorer. But in the Age of Plenty it does not matter: one person's gains need not be balanced by another person's losses. Everyone can gain together.

      It takes someone with real vision, and who does not mind making a large initial investment knowing that others will eventually benefit from it as much as they did, to see that.
  • Seriously, I wonder how long it will be before a direct mental connection between Open Source and socialism develops in the minds of Americans. It'd be an easy weapon to deploy against Linux.
  • by STDOUBT ( 913577 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:16AM (#15830209) []

    Here you can find the "home-user" version.
    And here (PDF Warning!!), zine_DVD.pdf []
    you can read an English language article describing this special
    home version called JuegaLinex (Play LinEx).

    It gives an option at install-time to d/l nvidia or ati 3D drivers.
    I put this on a 800mHz mini-itx box for my niece and nephew--
    They loved it!
    (You can easily localize this version to English)
    Many educational apps and a ridiculous number of games!
    I recommend to try it on any small people you may know.

    • OK, I still don't quite get the "PDF Warning" BS...

      It's an OPEN format, and wonderfully supoported under Linux, as U*ix is not dependent on the horrid Acrobat reader etc from Adobe.

      PDFs display almost instantly, print perfectly, generated by OpenOffice etc etc...

      Is it just because I ONLY use Linux at home I don't hate PDFs?
  • gnuLinEx is spanish for GNU Linux.
    • So how the heck do you pronounce "gnuLinEx" in Spanish? :-) that looks like a string of characters that's going to be hard for some people to remember surely.. probably I am being trite but I think one of the smartest things those nice browser people did was call their browser "Firefox", not some uberclever mashup of acronyms, just a friendly name. Surely there's some friendly localised name that could be used, will the school teachers and govt officials in this part of Spain really give a damn if their OS
  • Far Hard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:44AM (#15830278) Homepage Journal
    Extremadura is the region of Spain from which most of Spain's global conquerors launched [], starting a half-millennium ago. While that "pioneer" legacy does make it natural to lead in the brave new world of OSS, it's worth considering that its primary legacy from its past colonial leadership is extreme poverty.
    • It's not just adura, it's Extremadura! And it doesn't get much more extreme than running Linux.
    • ... primary legacy from its past colonial leadership is extreme poverty.

      Yeah, war is not a good thing to base your economy on.

      Old bones aside, it's good for anyone to avoid the M$ tax. $20,000,000 is money every school district has better uses for than software from a company that's as likely to sue them as give them anything useful.

  • 99% Off! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobpopo ( 990639 )
    The government has estimated that the total cost of this project was about 190,000 euros (£130,000), 18 million euros lower than if the schools had purchased Microsoft software.
    Just to make it really clear: 190,000/18,000,000 = 0.01 So this price is 1% of the original price. A 99% saving. You don't see that kind of deal often!
  • Am I the only one who kind of wonders about these cost estimates? First, to update 70,000 machines for 190,000 Euros means 3 Euros/machine. Does this include labor? Second, $18,000,000 divided by 70,000 is $257 per machine. Those are some expensive office licenses they have there (I presume those 70,000 machines already have Windows so they shouldn't have to re-buy those licenses). Isn't there some sort of middle ground that would be just as cheap, like using Open Office on Windows - this would sidestep all

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351