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NZ Regional council adopts open source

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Horizons Regional Council will take open-source software for a spin on its desktop computers early this year under a push to bring free software to public sector PCs.

New Zealand Open Source Society president Don Christie says NZ Post and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will also trial the software as part of the Public Sector Remix project.

Fourteen government agencies have signed up for the project, and as of Wednesday 32 firms had responded to a survey seeking to identify the number and capability of New Zealand companies providing and supporting open-source software.

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New approach sought Horizons Regional Council "would be remiss not to investigate alternatives" to Microsoft on the desktop, as it has a responsibility to the ratepayers that fund it to spend their money wisely, says William Gordon, IT team leader at the council.

Horizons, covering a large area of the mid-North Island, has agreed to participate in the Public Sector Remix project, devised by the NZ Open Source Society.

“We’ll be trialling the Ubuntu-based desktop devised for the Remix project, initially on six to eight PCs,” Gordon says.

The council expects to start the trial within the next two months. There is no firm plan for project duration, but it will probably last between four and six weeks, he says. Horizons wants to have a month-end included in the test, to test the open source systems’ ability to handle regular peaks in workload.

The main driver for Horizons to consider open source was the failure of the government’s G2009 negotiations for bulk purchase of Microsoft software last year.

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