After the gendarmes and the Ministry of Culture, it's the French MPs' turn to switch to open source. From June 2007, PCs in French députés' offices will be equipped with a Linux operating system and open source productivity software.
The project, backed by MPs Richard Cazenav and Bernard Carayon of the UMP party, will see 1,154 French parliamentary workstations running on an open source OS, with OpenOffice.org, Firefox and an open source email client.
A spokesperson for the parliament's administration said a decision as to the choice of OS and email client hasn't yet been taken. Currently, some of the parliament's servers have been running Linux, with Apache web servers and the Mambo content management system.
The project was the subject of a study by Atos Origin, whose conclusions convinced the French parliament, the Assemblée Nationale. "The study showed that open source software will from now on offer functionality adapted to the needs of MPs, and will allow us to make substantial savings despite the associated migration and training costs," the parliament said.
Open source supporters have welcomed the decision. Benoît Sibaud, president of the Association for the research into and promotion of open source computing, said the decision to migrate to open source will allow the Assemblée Nationale to have greater control over its IT, without depending on any one vendor, and to realize a better use of public money.
This will be the first case of a French public institution switching its PCs onto a Linux operating system. Previous open source initiatives concerned servers, as was the case with the Minstry of Agriculture, or OpenOffice and Firefox, which were brought into use by France's gendarmerie.
Christophe Guillemin of ZDNet France reported from Paris.