If you’re up for a visit to the beautiful Italian region of Umbria, better make sure your laptop is running some open source software — chances are you’ll feel more at home there.
This small area in the middle of the Boot, known for its centuries-old monasteries and for being the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi, is in fact quickly becoming a mecca of free software.
Thanks to a project called LibreUmbria, the biggest local government bodies are migrating to LibreOffice in what’s thought to be the most carefully-designed transition away from proprietary software ever undertaken. Though not as big as other international migration initiatives, the Umbrian project has been praised for its attention it pays to every aspect of the transition, not just the technical ones.
And if money is the primary motive, cultural and ethical reasons also play a prominent role. “Right now, along with Munich, I’d call LibreUmbria the most advanced experience of migration in the world,” said Italo Vignoli, who sits on the board of directors of the Document Foundation, the body that supports the development of LibreOffice. “It refined the models of previous projects and put them together in a process that is easily reproducible, with all the documentation available for sharing under Creative Commons.”
St Francis was all for giving things away and held frugality in high regard — as do his fellow countrymen of LibreUmbria, whose primary goal is to bring savings to the government bodies involved.
The cost of the migration is calculated to be around €56,000 per thousand workstations while the price of the same number of Microsoft Office licences would amount to €284,490. “That’s what we would have to have paid had we decided to upgrade our licences which, for budget reasons, were stuck on the 2010 version of Office: so it’s roughly a saving of €228,000,” said Sonia Montegiove, who works in the IT department of the province of Perugia and is one of the coordinators of the project