Regional Government of Andalusia –
Development of the Knowledge and
Information Society using Free Software
GNOME Success Story
Country or Region: Andalusia (Spain)
Regional Government of Andalusia
(Junta de Andalucía) manages public services for 8 millions of citizens.
In the last century, Andalusia has been playing a passive role in the innovation and new technologies field. Regional Government wants to encourage a leader position in the new Information and Knowledge Society.
The use of Free Software and, in particular, the creation of a GNU/Linux distribution.
Andalusia is an autonomous community of Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest, in terms of land area, of the seventeen Spanish autonomous communities. The Regional Government of Andalusia (Junta de Andalucía) is a large institution that provides public services to more than 8 millions of citizens.
One of its strategic lines of action since 2002 (strategic plan i@landalus 2002-2004) is to commit the inclusion of Andalusia in the Information and Knowledge Society. This plan was reinforced legally in the Decree 73/2003 of Measures to Encourage the Knowledge Society in Andalusia which defines the use of Free Software as a mean to achieve this ambitious goal.
One of the instruments created under the umbrella of this Decree was the GNU/Linux distribution Guadalinex released for the first time in 2004. Guadalinex is a GNOME-based distribution and it has been massively deployed in public schools, libraries, telecenters and elderly centers all over Andalusia.
Andalusia has a great opportunity to position itself in the new Knowledge and Information Society by assuming, as the most developed countries around us are doing, Innovation as a key factor of progress.
The Information Society is a new social paradigm founded on the possibility and capacity of its citizens, companies and governments to obtain and share information in the same moment in which it is generated, wherever it comes from and with the mediation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The Regional Government was aware of the risk of the inequalities that exist between those that have access to the information and those that do not. Economic, socio-cultural and territorial determinants continue being one of the main obstacles to the advance of the New Technologies and Internet in Andalusia.
Consequently, the development of the Information Society inevitably brings with it the fundamental requisite of the introduction of telecommunications and computer infrastructures which guarantee universal access to ICTs and their benefits.
The Decree 73/2003 of Measures to Encourage the Knowledge Society in Andalusia established the legal background for the main lines of action. The use of Free Software was one of these measures.
Guadalinex is the GNU/Linux distribution based on GNOME created by the Junta de Andalucía. Its birth in 2004 is linked to another Regional distribution: LinEx (Linux from Extremadura), which pioneered the use of Free Software in schools in the world. Andalusia and Extremadura signed a agreement of Collaboration for the development of Free Software solutions.
As LinEx, the first versions of Guadalinex were derivatives from Debian, but since version 3, in 2006, Guadalinex is based on Ubuntu.
The decision of using GNOME on Guadalinex was partly because it was chosen on LinEx, but there other important reason behind of that decision: GNOME has a leading technology in a11y and it has a periodical cadence for new releases, which is very important for scheduling new versions of Guadalinex.
Another reason for choosing GNOME was that at that time, in 2003, there were a positive environment for the creation of local Free Software companies, at least partly motivated because the celebration in 2002 of the GNOME Conference GUADEC in Seville.
The election of GNOME is evaluated again in every new Guadalinex version, but the result keeps the same since the first version. This one and other technical issues are discussed on the Guadalinex developer summit, which is open to the public under the umbrella of the Junta de Andalucía. These summits follow a scheme similar to the Ubuntu Developers Summits, where it is habitual that Guadalinex developers also attend to collaborate with Ubuntu sharing Guadalinex contributions.
Guadalinex is a distribution developed with common people in mind. With Guadalinex users can do all the typical tasks, but also it is guaranteed you can use it to access to all the public digital services like making a medical appointment, ask for a job to the public employment services, etc.
The Junta de Andalucia has the very ambitious “Plan And@red” since 2003 for incorporating computers into the classrooms. The “ICT centers” are schools with a computer and telecomunication infraestructure. There are 1,495 of this ICT centers all over Andalusia.
The Education Deparment of the Junta of Andalucía has a special tailored edition of Guadalinex called Guadalinex EDU.
Guadalinex EDU is running in more than 400,000 computers of the Andalusian ICT Schools network. Guadalinex EDU takes advantage of the network infrastructure and servers from the center to offer:
This massive infrastructure is controlled remotely by the Advanced Management Center (CGA, Centro de Gestión Avanzada).
In the course 2009-10, the Education Department of the Junta de Andalucía has started a new program called “ICT School 2.0” with collaboration of the Spanish Education Ministry, for delivering 10” netbooks to students. In 2010 it has been delivered 173.500 netbooks to students with Guadalinex EDU and 17000 laptops to teachers. This new plan extents the use of the computer as pedagogical tool from the schools to their homes, sharing with their families the process of education of their children.
The project Guadalinfo is a new concept of social iniciative for supporting innovation, training and employment, which goes beyond its initial conception focused on digital alphabetization in rural and marginalized areas.
Today, Guadalinfo is a bigger project led by the Junta de Andalucia in collaboration with the Provincial Councils of Andalusia and whose management has been delegated to the public Consortium "Fernando de los Ríos". The . Guadalinfo Project is co-financed with European Development Funds (ERDF).
There are about 600,000 Andalusian citizens belonging to this network and 764 Guadalinfo centers and CAPIs (Public Internet Access Centers):
Guadalinfo is defined as an open space with high digital and local value that fosters economic, social and sustainable development and whose main pillars are in innovation, talent, the value of human capital, technological culture, integration into the knowledge society and connection and openness to the
new global society. The strong presence in the municipalities of the Guadalinfo network turns Guadalinfo centers into a key tool for the identification, detection and activation of new innovation processes.
The system of choice of Guadalinfo centers is an taylored version of Guadalinex known as Guadalinex Guadalinfo edition.
The a11y capabilities of GNOME are very valuable for the Guadalinfo project because the Guadalinfo centers belong the network of centers for people with disabilties. Furthermore, Guadalinfo has contributed to improve even more the a11y support of GNOME as one of the actions of their program “Guadalinfo Accesible” with contracts for improving some a11y features of ORCA, Evince and other GNOME components.
Guadalinex in Public Libraries and Elderly Centers
The Junta de Andalucía collaborated with Red.es, a Spanish Government entity, to provide access to Internet to the Public Municipal Libraries of Andalusia.This program was co-financed with European Development Funds (ERDF). The deployment was been done by the Culture Department of the Junta de Andalucia using Guadalinex Bibliotecas. The Internet conection allow users to access to the Catalog of the Andalusian Library Network.
Guadalinex has been used as well for desktop computers in computer classrooms in Public Elderly Centers managed by the Social Afairs Department of the Junta de Andalucía.