Shortly after switching all of its 13,000 public internet information workstations from Windows NT to Linux, the Federal Employment Office (BA) issued an interim report. According to an announcement by Klaus Vitt, CIO for the BA, the switch to open source software will, “allow the BA to react with flexibility to new technological developments. In the future, a broad range of software will be available to the BA that it can use to access various internet media, and to ensure optimal internet communication for its clients.”
The BA is using the OpenSuse 10.1 Remastered distribution and the latest version of the Firefox web browser. The software was installed on the server as a repository and the clients can access it via PXE Boot. The BA told heise online that the switch, concluded at the end of last year, lasted some nine months including planning and did not involve any external service providers – it carried no additional costs.
The BA explained that the migration was necessary because, “The previous combination of Windows NT and Internet Explorer could no longer keep pace with technological developments in how current media content is displayed and was not up to the demands of modern hardware.” In making the switch, the decision for Linux was based on cost and security considerations. On the one hand, implementing Linux carried no licencing costs, on the other hand migrating the clients enabled standardised automation and maintenance procedures, since the BA servers also run Linux. Another plus are the flexible configuration possibilities with Linux.
Because the self-service information workstations are freely accessible, the security requirements are especially high. In that respect, it is an added benefit that only a small number of viruses affect Linux systems. All unnecessary software was removed from computers at the internet centres. In addition, the BA has implemented its own security solutions on the systems.