Geezam! Barcelona Declaring Independence from Proprietary software

Just when I thought that the Catalonia referendum would have been the only surprise happening in Spain, the city of Barcelona is on a path to full technological independence. The mission has been dubbed the “full technological sovereignty” of Barcelona. According to, they will be performing a full migration from proprietary to open source software by spring 2019.


What this migration entails?

Their first step will be to target key application such as Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server. Those will be replaced with Open-Xchange servers. Microsoft Office suite maybe replaced with the more powerful tool, LibreOffice and Internet Explorer will be kicked to the curve by Firefox.

Operating system level migration will be done at a later date and Ubuntu is said to be the OS of choice. Currently they are doing a pilot project where 1,000 Ubuntu machines are being tested in their live environment.

Resource and Talent acquisition is a major component and they are taking proactive measures in order to achieve their goals. First they’ll hire 65 developers to build local portals and for knowledge transfer and staff training. The end goal is to have about 300 ICT staff members for product development and system support.


Show me the money!

It is clear that cost of maintaining proprietary software and its ripple effect on tax payers and the local economy are the main factors behind this full-scale migration. They have budgeted a total of €72m of which majority will be used in building custom software. Also their new ICT procurement policy, which encourages open source innovation, provides clear indication that an “ICT referendum” is on its way.


Munich tried and faltered.

This is not the first time a city has made an attempt to use open source software in their daily operations. The city of Munich made an attempt to do just that in 2004. Despite their short-lived success and the cost saving benefits, there were a sequence of unfortunate incidents/events which lead to their retraction – more details here. Based on my perspective such change was as a result of mishaps on both sides of the coin (political & technical)

However, Barcelona seem to be taking a different route and I applaud them for the following:

  • Unlike Munich, who created custom Linux OS, they are using existing system which works then build custom software as needed.
  • Their policies and procurement strategy is laying the necessary foundation for open source to strive.
  • They are investing in qualified and competent staff to maintain their systems.
  • Migration seems structured and pilot projects pave the way forward.




I’ve been blogging/bragging about the power and potential of open source and I strongly believe we should become a “technological-sovereign” nation – like Cuba. To say the least, let us do it for the cost saving opportunities which awaits us. Let us create a more sustainable model which has the potential of changing how we do business. In all fairness I do hope our tech. leaders are watching the current strategy taken by Barcelona in their quest.

Finally, the government is on the cusp of drafting a new data protection bill, let us use this opportunity to reignite conversation around open source and the many benefits.


Good luck Barca!


[ref: image source.]
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Hi there, I'm a Software Engineer, Administrator & advocate for Jamaica Cultural Alliance, and a local farmer. Always questioning the status quo in search of better alternatives. Motto: "Love your life perfect your life, beautify all things in your life - Tecumseh" Favourite slangs: "At least am alive" & "Bless up"