UK – Department for Work and Pensions to test open source desktop

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will start a small-scale pilot with open source software on up to one thousand desktop PCs, sometime within the next twelve months, a spokesperson for DWP confirmed today.

The spokesperson could not give any more details on the kind of open source it is considering.

The department operates around 150,000 PCs.

The pilot was reported by IT news site Computer Weekly on 1 December. It quoted Mike Truran, customer delivery director at the department, who announced the open source test while speaking at a conference. Truran explained that the DWP had not yet moved to open source on the desktop because the department relied heavily on proprietary database and spreadsheet applications. “If the pilot works we will take it forward.”

According to the Computer Weekly, Truran believes that if the DWP can work with open source applications, other UK government departments will find it hard to ignore it. The site quotes Truran: “There will always be exceptions, but it will be very difficult for other departments not to comply.”

The pilot at the DWP will be one of the bigger open source desktop implementations in the UK to date. Other examples of UK public administrations that use this type of software on a large scale include Transport for London, Red Hat Linux for the public transport payment system. A second example would be the police, using Linux for part of its databases. A third example is the city council of Bristol. It uses for instance OpenOffice on all of its 55,000 desktop PCs and is considering moving to an open source email server system.

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