Mexico City switches to Linux
|In domains||Electronics and Information Technology, Good Governance|
In 2001, newly-elected Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador decided to replace the city’s costly Windows computer operating system with open source system Linux and to reinvest the money saved in the fight against poverty. Obrador did the same a few years later with the city school system’s 140,000 computers. As of this year, all of Mexico City’s computer systems run on open source.
Persuading a municipal administration reluctant to embrace change to adopt an open source operating system familiar only to a select few was not an easy task, especially when the rest of the world uses Windows; however, the mayor’s gamble has paid off. The fact that the software is free was one of the factors that convinced Obrador to go ahead with the change; another was the open source status of the operating system, which allows it to be adapted to Mexico City’s specific needs, particularly since the IT engineers responsible for installing the new system can always turn to the open source community for free advice. The open source community is all about sharing.
No details are currently available.
As one would expect, it has been difficult to move from a system known the world over to one that relatively few are familiar with. Mexico City’s IT service has thus had to divide its time between carrying out its technical work and instructing other departments on how to use Linux. The fact that the city’s schools have already been equipped with the software has helped to counter criticism.
More than 10 years after free software was first introduced, all of Mexico City’s various government agencies now use open source.
An additional benefit of switching to Linux is that computers last for a longer time than they do with Windows; since Microsoft’s software and operating systems occupy increasing amounts of space and use more and more RAM, computing components become obsolete more quickly. For businesses concerned about the financial and environmental costs of their IT systems, this is a substantial drawback to using Windows.
Linux is used in Europe by the governments of numerous countries (France, Italy, Switzerland and Holland) and major cities (such as Munich and Vienna).
The government of Québec is currently studying the possibility of adopting open source software, thus following the example of the US Treasury and Defense Departments.
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