Barcelona to ditch Microsoft in favour of open source Linux software

The city council aims to complete the transformation by spring 2019 - report

Catalan capital Barcelona is planning to ditch proprietary software products from Microsoft in favour of free, open source alternatives such as Open-Xchange email.

That’s according to a report by Spain's national paper El Pais, which reports that Barcelona plans to invest 70% of its annual software budget in open source this year.

The city's council aims to complete the transformation by spring 2019, and will replace Microsoft Office with Libre Office, while Mozilla's Firefox will become the default browser. At a later stage, Barcelona's council will make Ubuntu Linux its operating system of choice.

It has been piloting the move for a while now as part of the European campaign Public Money, Public Code, an initiative led by the Free Software Foundation Europe that asks public bodies to invest tax revenues in reusable systems that are open to local businesses and that don't use proprietary licensed software.

This will see Barcelona reducing the amount of money it spends on software licensing and its dependence on the proprietary suppliers that have held contracts with the city authorities for decades.

The city’s administration has already begun the process of commissioning IT projects with local SMBs, and hiring software developers - it wants to hire up to 65 computer scientists over the next year.

Commissioner for technology and digital innovation on the city’s council, Francesca Bria, said taxpayers' money should be invested in open source code that can be reused by the public. She added that one planned project will see the development of an online digital market platform, which will let small businesses take part in public tenders.

Barcelona has developed "ethical standards" to prioritise the hiring of "local companies that work with open source and agile methodologies”, Bria said.

It’s expected that the open source software written in Barcelona will be made available to other Spanish cities if successful.

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