I have been writing for years about the benefits of FLOSS including GNU/Linux and thin clients in education. Government usage is not that much different so this combination should be useful in government as well. Apparently Extremadura thinks so:
“CIO Cayetano reaffirmed Extremadura’s support for open souce. Examples include the migration of the desktop PCs to a thin client infrastructure using Linux, and an overhaul of the region’s website, using an open source content management system.
In January, CIO Cayetano announced the start of a large-scale project to replace the current proprietary desktop software with an open source desktop. With 40,000 desktops, that would make it Europe’s second largest open source desktop example, between the French Gendarmerie (90,000 desktops) and the German city of Munich (14,000 desktops).”
Just do the maths. Asking the user’s PC to do less and the servers to do more is as natural as consolidation of servers only much more powerful in reducing costs. Thin clients suitable for desktop publishing, for instance, cost as little as $50 for the box whereas a notebook will cost at least $300. Considering you can have a better keyboard, monitor and mouse with the thin client for ~$150, there’s a savings of $100 per seat which can be used to buy an absolutely wonderful server or buy a totally adequate server for $30 or so and invest the rest in something you really need. Then there’s the operating costs. Less electricity, less fiddling, and no malware makes the IT just about free of cost in comparison.
Yes, Extremadura was ahead of the curve when they adopted GNU/Linux but they are a bit behind the times adopting the thin clients. Better late than never but then their GNU/Linux solution has probably reached the lifetime of its hardware. It’s time for change and still further reduced cost and complexity.