Paris turns 175,000 kids onto open-source key plan

Aim is to give students easy access to "portable office" software suite designed to operate in Windows environment.
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To help make kids aware of alternatives to proprietary software, the Ile-de-France, the political district of greater Paris, will be giving 175,000 school children and apprentices a USB key loaded with open-source software.

The keys, which will contain a "portable office" suite of software and other tools, will be given to 130,000 secondary-school pupils and 45,000 first-year apprentices at training centers at the start of the 2007 school year.

The portable office will include the office software suite, an Internet browser, an e-mail client, an instant-messaging client, and audio and video player software, according to the Ile-de-France regional council. The open-source software will work in the Windows environment.

The project will "represent for students a tool of freedom and mobility between their school, cybercafes and their home or friends' PCs," the council said. The operation will cost US$3.38 million.

The president of the regional council, Jean-Paul Huchon, is a self-confessed "partisan of the rebalancing of the supply of proprietary and open-source software" who previously welcomed the launch of the Firefox 2 browser and led the support for a creation of a competitiveness hub based on open source.

Staff writers of ZDNet France reported from Paris.

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