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German universities embrace Linux

German state signs contract with Novell for the supply of Linux server and desktop products to schools serving 560,000 students.

A German state has signed a major contract with Novell for the supply of Linux server and desktop products to 33 universities.

North Rhine-Westphalia has selected Novell for the supply of its IT infrastructure. Novell already supports 300,000 students in the states of Bavaria and Thuringia; the new deal will add another 560,000 students and thousands of employees. It's not clear how many of the students actually will use the desktop Linux software.

The larger North Rhine-Westphalia contract will see the region's universities using Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, along with Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Novell Open Enterprise Server, Novell Identity Manager and Novell ZENworks.

Forty percent of all German students now use Linux systems, according to Novell. The company said the universities chose its Linux offerings to deliver cost savings and flexibility, while avoiding vendor lock-in.

The deals are among the largest Linux migrations taking place in the European public sector.

The city of Amsterdam, along with nine other cities in the Netherlands, has embarked on a major Linux-adoption trial. Amsterdam wants to reduce the amount of Microsoft software it uses by implementing free, open-source software.

The city's current contract with Microsoft is set to expire in 2008, although the city says it doesn't intend to stop using the company's products, but rather just reduce its reliance on them. The cities of Eindhoven, Groningen and The Hague are among the other Dutch cities using government money to conduct Linux trials.

The city governments of Vienna and Munich are also developing their Linux platforms. However, the Birmingham City Council axed its Linux rollout last year because it found that its Microsoft-based platform was cheaper.

Antony Savvas of ZDNet UK reported from London.