Tamil Nadu gets dual-boot Win-Linux desktops

Indian state provides Windows XP Starter Edition for those who want it, but will continue to encourage Linux use.

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu has finalized a tender for 40,000 Lenovo desktops which can be installed with both Novell's Suse Linux and Microsoft's Windows XP Starter Edition.

According to C. Umashankar, managing director of Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot), the desktops will be deployed across schools and government departments in the state. Elcot is Tamil Nadu's state-owned IT supplier.

Umashankar said the desktops will be installed with either Suse Linux or dual-boot Windows XP Starter Edition/Suse Linux configurations, depending on the needs of the organization.

For instance, schools will be provided with Suse Linux desktops, while government employees who still require Windows in their work will get dual-boot machines, he told ZDNet Asia.

Dual-boot machines will cost 22,000 rupees (US$497) each, though this was not the initial price point quoted by the vendors, Umakshankar said, adding that Chennai-based IT company Origin Infosys will supply the Lenovo desktops.

He said that Elcot was originally quoted 21,800 rupees (US$492) for each Lenovo system, whether the preloaded OS was Suse Linux or Windows XP Starter Edition. After some negotiation, Elcot secured the final price of 22,000 rupees (US$497) for dual-boot systems, Umashankar said.

Suse Linux is a full-fledged OS with no restrictions on how the platform is used, while Microsoft's Windows XP Starter Edition does not allow users to run more than three software applications at one time.

According to Umashankar, users will be "encouraged" to use Suse Linux as far as possible.

Earlier this year, Tamil Nadu announced plans for all government agencies across the state to switch from Microsoft Windows desktop to Linux and the OpenOffice productivity suite. The move is expected to slash the local government's IT cost by 15 to 25 percent.