British open source advocates will be boosted by the news that German support vendor Credativ is expanding its open source centre (OSSC) to support all distributions of Linux in the UK.

The specialist consultancy has carved out a market for itself in open-source hotspot Germany, but the company claims that this is the first time that such a broad range of services have been offered to UK customers under one roof.

Supported distributions include Debian, SUSE, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Xandros, Gnome and KDE, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Kolab Groupware, eGroupware, Asterisk, Apache, Samba, Nagios and Xen, with consultancy on installs that mix open and ‘proprietary’ - read Microsoft - environments. The company focused on servers, but would service desktop installs as well.

However, UK managing director Chris Halls admitted that Credativ had a job on its hands to break into key organisations in the UK, a resistance he put down to a degree of software conservatism. “We’re [the UK] not as advanced on Linux adoption. Adoption is taking a lot longer,” he said.

The enthusiasm for open source in places such as Germany could be attributed to a greater determination to counter the domination of US software houses, he said. Linux was still a bit-part player despite having made inroads into the server room, but this was starting to change.

“We believe that our comprehensive support service is crucial to encouraging more organisations to join the growing movement towards adopting free software in business. By offering a support package equivalent to those available to proprietary software users, we believe that more organisations will feel secure in the knowledge that their free software implementations are supported to the highest level,” said Halls.

Credativ opened its OSSC in the UK three years ago, but customers can now tap into its co-located German and UK team of 36 open source engineers on a 24x7 basis, seven days per week. Support is through direct contact with engineers, rather than call-centre style services.

One of Credativ’s biggest customers in Germany is T-Mobile, which confounds the view that open source has made most of its inroads in public sector organisations.

A basic package costs £135 per month, for two hours of support across all installed systems.