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Birmingham Revisited

It appears my recent post on Birmingham’s Linux pilot did not tell the full story.

Techworld (UK) writes Birmingham City Council claims open-source success.

With Birmingham’s trial period over and with lessons learnt and understanding gained, the Council now expects to make cost savings over time, and contrary to press reports which claimed Birmingham had scrapped the Linux initiative, it will in fact “significantly increase” its use of open-source software, Evans said. The trial also had other positive results, he claimed, such as demonstrating the ease with which Firefox and can be substituted for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.”

Excellent news! And, later in the article, OpenOffice and Firefox’ potential are explored further:

OpenOffice, for one, met little or no resistance with most users, many of whom said they didn’t notice they’d been using a different application. (Power users did face some problems.) The public had no trouble using Firefox on public terminals and some said they preferred the open-source desktop to Windows. “It appears that OpenOffice provides a satisfactory equivalent to Microsoft products for those using basic or intermediate functionality,” iMpower found.”

This seems to justify the strategy of porting open source programs to Windows, to acclimate users to FOSS before they migrate fully to Linux. Smaller steps make the path easier to travel.

One of the major reasons Birmingham ran into trouble with its pilot is that the UK has some catching up to do with regard to open source:

The UK has less than average usage of open source compared with other EU countries, according to a report by the University of Maastricht, with 32.1 percent of all UK local government users on open source compared to the 78.7 percent European average.”

But, it’s clear they are moving in the right direction, if slowly.

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