Real world GNU/Linux stories from Istanbul

Real world GNU/Linux stories from Istanbul


The first in a new series of articles on 'Open Source in the real world' from guests and partners. The series kicks off with an excellent account of a Public Sector migration by the Eyüpsultan district of Istanbul (once Constantinople), Turkey's largest city and magnificent economic, cultural and historic hub. Written by our guest Hüseyin GÜÇ, a great Open Source Advocate and one the driving forces behind this historic migration. Here is the account, written in Hüseyin's own words:

About Eyüpsultan

Eyüpsultan is a district located on the European side of Istanbul. The area of ​​Eyüpsultan district is 242 km². Eyüpsultan district, which has 21 neighborhoods and 7 villages, has a population of 383,909 according to 2018 data.

How the Project Started

The new administration, who took office with the municipal elections held in 2014, realized that the software licenses have a large amount in the financial analysis reports. The management asked for a study to be carried out on how to follow a path in this regard. In this context, as Eyüpsultan IT department, we developed a plan that would prefer to use PArdus GNU / Linux distribution instead of Microsoft Windows operating system. We have determined our preference for the transition to free software as "the desire to be independent from any company and the savings to be gained from heavy license fees". The prepared plan was presented to the municipal administration and it was widely accepted.

Who was involved in the project

The mayor and vice-mayor have followed the work closely from the very beginning. All researches, interviews and reports regarding the migration plan were prepared by the IT department. In addition, a consultant firm was contracted to help manage the process.

What arguments have been submitted to management

The municipality's software and hardware list was prepared with a meticulous work carried out for 3 months. Reports were prepared. As a result of the analysis obtained, the following items were presented to the management:

  • Reducing technological addiction
  • Savings from operating system software license fee
  • Savings from office software license fee
  • Savings from antivirus software license fee
  • Usability of old hardware
  • Increasing performance
  • Working with a secure operating system

How was management persuaded

Although the main motivation was to reduce costs, the main reason for migration was to be independent. With the savings to be made from the license fees that have to be paid every year, the municipal services would be increased and diversified. In addition, the Municipality administration would have the opportunity to use the equipment in their hands for many years without having to pay for the hardware infrastructure due to the increasing technical needs of the operating systems. Knowing that they can get rid of the inconvenience caused by getting into a technological addiction by using a certain product, thanks to free software, made the municipal administration very happy. In addition to these, the project to be built would set an example for other municipalities. When all these factors combined, the municipal administration agreed to replace the licensed operating system and software with free and open source software and the project was approved.

Which Linux distribution was chosen

Pardus Gnu / Linux operating system developed by Ulakbim, which is within Tübitak, was preferred as the operating system. Pardus Gnu / Linux is a Debian Gnu / Linux operating system based distribution. Turkey 'is designed to be used in accordance with the practices and habits of users. LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Gimp, VLC are used as default applications in the Pardus Gnu / linux operating system that comes loaded with Xfce as a desktop environment. In addition, with the customizations we made as Eyüpsultan IT Directorate, a windows theme and corporate applications are embedded into the operating system.

How did the migration begin

The municipal administration approved the project in 2015. Eyüpsultan Municipality started using Free / Open Source applications with LibreOffice software in January 2015. Previously, basic training on LibreOffice software was provided to the personnel of the institution. Later, all office software on the computers in use was replaced with LibreOffice software. Thus, users were directed to Free / Open Source systems slowly and without collecting backlash. Pardus Gnu / Linux operating system was started to be installed on the computers of the users who passed the exam with the Pardus Gnu / linux user trainings given afterwards.

How the migration plan was prepared

The task of managing the project within the municipality was given to the IT department. Then a project plan was prepared with the consultant firm.


Performing a successful migration, analyzing the environment is the most important part of the project plan. The results to be obtained here will affect every step of the project and will help shape the project. The analysis study is simply the inventory list of the software and hardware used by the institution, and even the services it receives. But since software and hardware inventories in most institutions may be incomplete or inaccurate, it would be wise to start the analysis work from scratch.

Analysis Topics:

  • Software Inventory
  • Hardware Inventory

Analysis Results:

  • Software Compatibility Inventory
  • Hardware Compatibility Inventory
  • Units and Needs
  • Service and Service Inventory


While preparing the transformation plan, it is important to accurately indicate the way the organization works, the software, tools and technologies that will increase the success of the project. Choosing the most useful technology among the existing technologies now can save time in this process. In addition, the knowledge skill level of the team that will organize and support the transformation should be determined, and if necessary, supplementary human resources should be provided.

Training plan

Education is an important item in Pardus transformation. Forcing people to use a system they never use overnight without training will cause the service to be disrupted, and the project will fail by causing an increase in resistance to change. Therefore, the training item should be emphasized and repeated at certain times in accordance with the project goals. Pardus training consists of 2 parts:

Training of IT Personnel: The subject of this training is to install and manage the Pardus operating system. In addition, understanding what the errors are and finding solutions are included in this training. This training should be supported with detailed and lived examples from daily life.

End User Training: This is an entry level Pardus operating system training. Pardus operating system and Libreoffice application that comes with this system are performed interactively in the laboratory environment. It would also make sense to provide advanced training to people who use MS Excel extensively.

ISO Preparation

Dry-specific ISO mold provides speed and convenience. It performs the setup without interacting with the settings you specify from the beginning, thus saving you time. Whether or not to make such a savings is entirely up to you. Considering the situation of my friends in the project, I chose to produce such a pattern in order to minimize the margin of error. As a result, my friends were pleased and I spent more time in other places.


It should be ensured that the installation and usage tests of the produced media in a laboratory environment that will constitute the live system should be carried out and the problems encountered should be solved and the loading mold should be revised if necessary.

Testing with a sample of the hardware in live systems as much as possible will minimize the problems that may be encountered in the field.


Personnel groups should be established for all chains to be migrated. These groups should include people from all units affected by this migration. In the new platform, the reflection of the inadequacy of support personnel on the provision of informatics services due to their lack of education should be minimized.

During the migration, positive and negative reactions from all users should be evaluated and recorded.


The trainings deemed necessary for all systems must be obtained beforehand. The importance of transition to open source systems should be explained to all users throughout the organization and interest, curiosity and admiration should be aroused for new systems. Necessary documents should be collected or users should have access to documents so that all personnel can train themselves.

What problems have been encountered

  • Formal and Font Differences in MS Office and Libre Office Transitions

Problems remaining after the transition are minimal. The biggest problem usually arises in the editing of documents in .doc format from other public institutions.

  • Proper operation of scanners

Adjusting scanners suitable for the documents used or installing the appropriate scanner software

  • Barcode Printers

These printers require more specific settings

What changes have been made to the servers

  • Email server migration (Zimbra)
  • Database server migration (Postgresql)
  • Network monitoring server migration (Zabbix)
  • Central Management server setup (Leader / Harmony)

Cooperation with other municipalities

The Pardus operating system migration carried out by Eyüpsultan Municipality has set an example and encouraged other municipalities. In addition, all the experience gained was shared with other municipalities.


Eyüpsultan Municipality's transition to free software is an extremely strategic decision. Instead of spending the money on software licenses, it preferred to use it for the people of the district. The lessons that can be learned from the free software migration of Eyüpsultan Municipality are:

  • Finding clearly defined goals with a very careful, detailed analysis and planning under such a radical decision.
  • Continuous and continuous support of the management throughout the project. Because there is no other way to overcome the resistance created by technological changes on users.

As a result of this brave decision, many of the Istanbul district municipalities started working to switch or switch to the Pardus Gnu / Linux operating system. Not only in Istanbul, many institutions in many cities of the country started to be more interested in and ask questions about the Pardus operating system and free software. We also consider it as a social responsibility project. I would like to state that I am proud to be a part of such a project.

Hüseyin GÜÇ

Pardus Project Leader