Migrate the City's proprietary computer systems (Microsoft Windows, Office, etc.) to a Free (Libre) Software platform

Bristol City Council should review the current software arrangements across its computer hardware systems and consider employing a Free-only software policy. Free (Libre) Software is software that is written in the public interest and is available not only free of charge, but also with licenses that freely permit the modification and redistribution of the software.

Systems such as GNU/Linux, LibreOffice and Mozilla Firefox (along with hundreds of thousands of others) offer a considerably cheaper Total Cost of Ownership compared to proprietary solutions from firms such as Microsoft, Apple and Oracle.

The scale of the conversion could range from the simple adoptation of Open Document formats for internal and external documents (rather than the vendor lock-in prone Microsoft Office formats) and the replacement of Internet Explorer with Mozilla Firefox, to the complete adoption of Free Software by deploying GNU/Linux across their network to replace Microsoft Windows

Why the contribution is important

The first things to be cut in a shrinking budget should be the unnecessary, and where better to start than by removing expensive software that barely competes with the Free (Libre) solutions that already exist.

The cost of using proprietary software goes beyond the ticket price of the license. The lost productivity due to inferior design, the retraining when Microsoft introduces child-like user interfaces, the cost of vendor lock-in when all your documents only work with one (expensive) system, the security implications and the general poorer experience must run into the millions of pounds.

By adopting Free (Libre) software, and contributing back to the communcity of free software developers in the Bristol and West, BCC will be able to encourage the growth and development of its IT economy, build links with Free Software Businesses and become a national centre for computer science.

by user827475 on November 25, 2013 at 07:05PM

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  • Posted by user718520 November 26, 2013 at 11:31

    The council has already tried open source software for a number of years.

    Following a rigorous evaluation of a mixture of both Open Source and Proprietary systems, the council made a decision to replace our previous software - StarOffice and GroupWise.

    Our new software includes Microsoft Office and Libre Office. The software chosen allow us to successfully integrate with our many other systems (this was a problem with Star Office), as well as making it easier to communicate and collaborate with other organisations.

    Additionally, should partners and other areas of government adopt Open Source technology, we will still be in a very good position to continue working with them.

    The reasons for our current range of software include:

    Having one set of standard applications in the form of Microsoft Office 2010 will ensure consistency within the organisation.

    New systems are often incompatible with StarOffice.

    Updating our desktop and technology is essential to enable current and future benefits from other transformation projects and programmes (e.g Bristol Workplace) throughout the council.

    The updates streamline our ICT infrastructure and substantially reduce running costs.

    Having nearly completed the roll out of our new suite of software, you'll understand this is not something we will be imminently revisiting.
  • Posted by user251846 December 04, 2013 at 09:47

    Libre Office OK for home use, but no good for large organisations/businesses. As the Moderator says, we used Star Office for years in The Council - it was OK for internasl use, but many outsiders struggled to open our documents!
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