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Paris eyes open-source switch

Following Munich's decision to switch to Linux desktops, the French capital is studying a similar move
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Written by Christophe Guillemin and  Matthew Broersma on
Systems integrator Unilog is to carry out a feasibility study on the installation of open-source software systems for the city of Paris, the company has said. On the strength of an earlier Unilog study, Munich agreed to migrate thousands of desktops from Windows to the open-source operating system Linux.

The three-month study will review the 17,000 PCs used by the French capital's administration, including 400 servers and 600 applications, and was awarded to Unilog as a direct result of the Munich study, Unilog said. In May of last year Munich decided to equip 14,000 workstations with SuSE Linux-based systems, a move seen as a significant win for the open-source camp. Linux is highly popular on servers, but does not yet challenge Microsoft's dominance of the desktop.

"Unilog has proven that its recommendations took into account the technological, economic, qualitative and strategic priorities of the customer," Unilog said. "As an independent company, Unilog can guarantee a completely neutral evaluation."

Other government bodies of varying sizes, in Europe and elsewhere, have begun examining or implementing open-source solutions as a way of finding an alternative to Microsoft's monopoly. Schwäbisch Hall was the first German city to abandon Windows in favour of open source. It was soon followed by Munich, and on Tuesday the German Federal Finance Office signed up with Linux -- a deal thought to be one the largest Linux-based mainframe deployments in Europe.

This week, the director of France's Agency for the Development of the Electronic Administration, Jacques Sauret, said the French government is considering installing open-source software on between 5 and 15 percent of desktop computers.

Paris has already adopted an open-source approach for Lutece, a Web-publishing tool used since the end of 2002 by Paris' district councils for creating and administering their Internet and intranet sites, and distributed under a BSD-type licence.

Earlier this month Unilog and the trade councils of the Nord / Pas-de-Calais region of France launched an open-source-based collaborative Web project called SW@M, ultimately to be used by 33,000 small businesses in the area.

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