Starting in June 2007, 1,154 desks will feature Linux-based PCs. During the latest IT update for parliamentary assistants, the National Assembly decided to, allowing the 577 parliament members to switch to nonproprietary software for the first time.
In addition to using the Ubuntu software, the parliament members and their assistants will use, , Mozilla messaging client and other applications.
Parliament members Richard Cazenave and Bernard Carayon, of the Union for a Popular Movement party, have defended the project, noting that there are certain advantages of open-source software such as the reduced cost of public IT equipment and the added value to French and European users.
Before making its decision, the assembly hired Atos Origin to undertake a study into the matter, which concluded that "open-source solutions now offer functionality adapted to the needs of MPs and will allow the realization of substantial economies, despite certain installation and training costs." The budget for switching from Windows to Linux is expected to be approximately $105,000.
The French lower house is already using open-source software elsewhere in its IT systems, including the Apache Web server and the Mambo content management system. The parliament members' move to open source is the first involving the switch of an operating system; previous initiatives have been more focused on servers, OpenOffice and Firefox.
Christophe Guillemin of ZDNet France reported from Paris.