Top Secret: Open Source Study 2 in Vienna

Apr 20, 2009

Along with Munich, Vienna is regarded as a forerunner in the field of open source projects in the German-speaking region of Europe. Now it seems, the Capital of Austria is having second thoughts.

Vienna's Wienux Project, just like its neighbors in Munich, was supposed to implement the change from Windows to free software in the city's municipal councils. However, unlike Munich, the change-over in Vienna is a purely voluntary affair, and to date only 1000 of the 32000 administrative PCs actually run on free software. Last year, 700 PCs in Vienna's kindergartens were programmed with Windows Vista because the administration had ordered a language-learning software that can only run on Vista.

That Wienux was initiated at all is partly thanks to the "Study Open Source Software" (STOSS) from 2004. The study (PDF in German language), which analyzed the use and cost of open source software in Viennese city councils, welcomed the implementation of free software and recommended, because of the rapid growth in Linux, a further study in 2006, before deciding the next step.

Now, with the STOSS 2 supposedly completed, the results are being kept secret, despite written confirmation from city councilor Schicker in June 2009 in a letter to Green Party member Marie Ringler, that the results of the study would be made public.

Reasons for the secrecy are, according to press-speaker Martin Schipany, " extremely sensitive details" that "can't be allowed to fall into the hands of the competition." Austria's main public broadcaster ORF has reported that with "competition" Schipany doesn't mean other cities like Munich or Paris, he's referring to rival software.

So for now it remains a mystery exactly what Vienna's councilors are hiding from the public. The fact that open source software is perfectly suitable for use in the city's administration, or the opposite?

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