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The open source Linux operating system continues to gain ground in governmental agencies around the world, winning another two converts this week.

The Norwegian city Bergen on Tuesday said it plans to move 100 schools and 32,000 users away from its proprietary Unix and Microsoft Windows applications platform to Linux by the end of this year.

And the German city Munich on Wednesday also voted resoundingly in favor of its plan to switch to Linux from Microsoft Windows following a closed-door city council meeting.

Bergen decided on a two-phased implementation of Novell Inc.’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, which will impact some 50,000 users of the city’s administrative and educational networks.

The implementation will initially see the current 20 Oracle database servers running on HP-UX, which power the City’s core health and welfare services applications, being replaced with Enterprise Server 8 running on 64-bit Itanium-based Hewlett-Packard Co. HP Integrity servers.

The second phase of the implementation will involve the migration and consolidation of the current Microsoft Windows application servers that power Bergen’s educational network to Enterprise Server 8 on IBM eServer BladeCenters.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 is due out this summer. Click here to read more.

Bergen will also be able to consolidate its more than 100 Microsoft Windows application servers to 20 IBM eServer BladeCenters running SUSE LINUX.

The implementation is expected to be completed by year’s end and officials hope to be able to channel the resultant cost savings into building core public services for the public, Janicke Foss, the CIO of Bergen, said in a statement.

“The most important issue for the City of Bergen is to provide 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 doesn’t tie us to a single vendor’s solution architecture.

“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.

Richard Seibt, the president of Novell for the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, expected more public and private sector Linux deployments to follow. “The City of Bergen needed to do more with less and the advantages of Linux such as lower costs and greater reliability are clear and will certainly continue to drive Linux adoption among enterprise and public sector organizations, he said.

Michel Teyssedre, the vice president for IBM’s business development in EMEA, said that with 32,000 students and 4,000 teachers accessing Bergen’s educational network, the city’s current server environment was not scaling with growing demand.

Rudi Schmickl, HP’s vice president of enterprise storage and servers for EMEA, added that Bergen’s current database servers ran several critical applications, so it was essential that the new solution offered maximum uptime while being cost effective.

Meanwhile, Munich moved forward with its Linux plans on Wednesday. The city last May decided to develop a detailed conceptual implementation and migration plan for the move, which has been under wraps until now. This week’s vote approved that move and started the process of putting the matter out for bids and receiving tenders, a source close to the decision told eWEEK.

Last May, the Munich city council said it was looking to migrate its 14,000 desktop and notebook computers away from Windows products to Linux. The city currently runs Microsoft Office, Windows 3.1, 95, 98 and NT as well as the Internet Explorer browser. The council also planned to move to the free OpenOffice desktop productivity suite.

Walter Raizner, the country general manager for IBM Germany, said at the time that the German public sector is embracing open standards-based software such as Linux.

“Worldwide, more than 75 IBM government customers—including agencies in France, Spain, UK, Australia, Mexico, the United States and Japan—have now embraced open computing and Linux to save costs, consolidate workloads, increase efficiency and enact e-government transformation, Raizner said then.

Hans-Juergen Croissant, a spokesman for Microsoft in Germany, said last year that “with respect to the Munich administration, we will continue to work closely with them to explore additional programs and offerings that best meet the needs of Munich’s citizens and businesses.”

Next Page: Linux applications making gains in U.S. and elsewhere

In addition, Linux continues to gain footholds in U.S. governmental organizations. eWEEK reported this week that the latest stateside governmental win for Linux is the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), in Washington, which provides administrative support, program management and policy development services to the federal courts.

The agency is migrating applications from Solaris to Linux using HP’s ProLiant servers that are running Red Hat Inc.’s Enterprise Linux Advanced Server and HP’s StorageWorks tape libraries.

Microsoft Corp. has also been losing many high-profile customers to Linux, many of them government’s and governmental agencies and departments. Last year the Israeli government said it would encourage the development of lower-priced alternatives to Microsoft software in an effort to help expand computer use by the public.

The governments of Britain, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, South Africa and Russia are also all exploring open-source alternatives to Microsoft, while federal agencies in Germany, France and China are all already using or considering open-source desktops, applications and productivity suites.

But Microsoft has been fighting back and actively been lobbying governments around the world to shun open-source applications and Linux. To that end, Microsoft last January 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.”

In addition, this January Microsoft also launched a new advertising campaign, referred to as “Get the Facts,” which aims to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system versus Linux, its open-source competitor.

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