Is The German State In Love With OSS?
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Monday, 15 January 2024

Yet another Open Source Software initiative taken by the German state, this time launching openDesk, "the sovereign workplace".

This is the next step in the federal government's love affair with open source. Previously we had examined another one in "The German Government's Sovereign Tech Fund For OSS", a case where the government aims to strengthen the important role Open Source Software plays in modern society.

The project allocated funds not just on the security aspect of OSS, but adopted a more general outlook, like in maintenance, documentation, usability, reliability or bug fixes. As such since October 2022 it has allocated funds to projects like curl, Drupal, Fortran, the Python Package Index, OpenPGP. js/GopenPGP , OpenSSH, etc.

The new one, openDesk, aims to become an alternative in the field of workplace software for the German Public Administration, under the ultimate motive of achieving digital sovereignty. Using openDesks, employees, IT administrators and public transport operators will have an effective open source based alternative in the workplace environment, therefore allowing the state to cut costs by not being held hostage in paying absurd amounts of fees to big corp software packages.

The applications the Desk will be comprised of, range in variety:

  • Productivity : Word processing, spreadsheets, presentation creation
  • Collaboration : Collaborative editing of shared files, knowledge management, visualization tool, project management
  • Communication : conducting video and audio conferences, using email and short message services, and organizing appointments using electronic calendars
  • Comprehensive : connection of selected specialist processes (e. g. e-file)

Practicaly, these categories are utilized through the following software included at the time of writing :

  • Collabra
  • OpenProject
  • XWiki
  • CryptPad
  • Drawi. io
  • Nordeck
  • OX
  • jitsi
  • NextCloud

That list is not written in stone though as the components can be individualized, adding or removing to match each sector's requirements.

At this point it is important to note that the German government has kicked off another more in depth cooperation with Nextcloud in hosting LLMs that could run on the Administration's data lakes to satisfy a variety of needs.

Technically, the cloud-based openDesk consists of containerized open source software components which comply with the guidelines and specifications of the German Administration Cloud Strategy (DVS) that are rolled out in a Kubernetes cluster. The applications are accessible via a central portal and a uniform component navigation and are located in a common single sign-on network.

The project is of course open source and hosted on the German Administration's Gitlab repo OpenCode, with the latest release being 23. 12. So not being confined to the German government but generously offered to the world, anyone can fork the project and install it on his own premises. And that's the magic of Open Source!


More Information

OpenDesk main (German)

openDesk Release 23.12


Related Articles

The German Government's Sovereign Tech Fund For OSS


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 January 2024 )