March 12, 2007 9:06 AM PDT

French parliament picks Ubuntu for Linux switch

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When members of the French parliament and their assistants return from their summer break, they will conduct business on PCs running Ubuntu.

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 switch from Windows to Linux, allowing the 577 parliament members to switch to nonproprietary software for the first time.

The project was won by IT services company Linagora, an open-source specialist, and Unilog. Mandriva was mentioned in several documents under consideration but was eventually dropped.

In addition to using the Ubuntu software, the parliament members and their assistants will use Firefox,, Mozilla messaging client Thunderbird 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.

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I applaud their move, but...
$105,000 budgeted for the migration? That seems pretty optimistic. What's included in the scope of this migration?

- Deploy the new OS and application software?
- Training?
- Document conversion?
- Archived email migration?
- Other?
Posted by fcekuahd (244 comments )
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Agreed. If they use OpenOffice though document conversion isn't a problem because AFAIK it does open both the 97-2003 Office Format (.doc, ,xls, .ppt) and soon (if not already) the 2007 XML format (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx)

$105k seems very shy still.
Posted by timber2005 (720 comments )
Link Flag
A distro too far?
I'm a newcomer to Linux, using Ubuntu booting with WinXP on my laptop, and while I'm glad for somebody to take the plunge against the Windows franchise my impression is that Ubuntu is a stand-alone home-user distro whose softwares are too simple to be suitable for a large enterprise. There will also be no question of using most important proprietary softwares on the market, or even the best free ones. If they were a technology company they could invest in improving the packages and enhance the value of Ubuntu for all users, but I doubt the French deputies are very handy at writing programs (or choosing them, for that matter)...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ubuntu is versatile
Really, with a government, you need time-management, and office technologies. They get both of those, and ubuntu can be expanded in any ways needed. Most proprietary software has a linux-compatible replacement, mostly open-source, as well.
Posted by ben::zen (127 comments )
Link Flag
Is linux ready for the the desktop?
I am in the same exact spot as Razzl (laptop dual booting XP Pro and Ubuntu Dapper) and I am really enjoying my plunge into deeper Linux waters...

However, having yet to get used to all the odd new ways of doing things, the lack of consistency between applications (take Drag'n'Drop, for instance) and some hairy problems that took me days of reading FAQs and HowTos and a 20 year old DOS proficiency to solve, I am left wondering if even a friendly distro like Ubuntu is ready for the prime time.

Just remember that in Linux, even mild customizing requires using the CLI -- how will computer illiterate users be able cope with that?

Don't get me wrong, I really think this this is a move in the right direction and I do applaud the french. I just have a lot of questions...
Posted by MichaGato (25 comments )
Link Flag
Ubuntu is a stand-alone home-user distro
I think Ubuntu is hugely over rated. They would have been better off going with Mandriva with the KDE desktop.
Posted by tracy_anne (6 comments )
Link Flag
Newcomer impression?
". . . my impression is that Ubuntu is a stand-alone home-user distro whose softwares are too simple to be suitable for a large enterprise."

Your impression is wrong.

That's why they hired Linagora and Unilog to configure their systems for them.
Posted by sreynard (54 comments )
Link Flag
I tend to disagree with Razzi, as a user of Ubuntu (8.04), the last word I would use to describe the OS would be simple. For corporate and personal use, Linux offers much better functionality and, importantly, integration than XP or Vista. For desktop and server, Linux offers a more usable, secure and stable platform
The reason Ubuntu is sometimes seen as simple is because of the user interface. If Microsoft spent as much effort on functions for the advanced user as they do on making their OS look appealing then there would be a huge advance in productivity. However, I have seen some customised linux distributions that look far better than Vista
Posted by Johncolescarr (2 comments )
Link Flag
Good move
Windows is loosing relevance by the day.
The biggest threat to Windows isn't Linux however, it is Web services.

My business doesn't need Microsoft software. I prefer to use Google docs & spreadsheets and most what I do is online anyway including web publishing.

From time to time I back up the files, emails, etc to one of my computers, just incase there is a disaster of some kind and Google looses my data.

Working online is a much more efficient way than storing all the original files your own PC or server. I can access my stuff from any computer, even my cellphone, and the OS is of no concern.
I can use Linux, MAC, Windoze, or whatever because all I really need is a browser. So upgrading to Vista is a complete waste of time and I couldn't care less that the Windows can tile in 3D.

Now I know that this would not be suitable for all, but I believe one day it will.

Online services/software is only going to get better and when you think about the wireless age and not having to administer complex systems, it's really all about freedom and accessing your data anywhere and anytime. Even Adobe is thinking about hosting and online version of Photoshop, albeit a stripped down version.

One day our kids will laugh when you tell them how much money office software cost and how it came in boxes and you installed it to a 45 record (I mean hard drive). Their world will be online 24 hours a day and no wires or hard drives to boot. In fact most people will be using their cellphones and docking stations with big screens and keyboards.

Before you start giving me the security aspect, I would like to remind you that Google and whoever else I use to store my stuff does a better job than I can at protecting my files.

Then you might argue about the privacy aspect. But I have nothing to hide so I am not worried about storing all my stuff online. In fact keeping my files on computer with an Internet connection is worse than storing the data and using profeesional services as far as privacy goes.

So Linux makes complete sense to me. It has a good browser and other software in case you need it.

Converting documents is irrelevant too. Google docs can be exported in any MS or ODS formats among others.

The true platform is the Web. However we decide to access that platform is up to us, but Windows is but one way and a rather expensive way at that.

I applaud the French parliament's decision to switch to Linux. Why pay all that money for Windows when you don't need to.

The paradim is changing and some will be quicker to make the change than others. That is the way it has always been.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
the fox is in his henhouse
friend, your problem will not be Google losing your data--your problem will be getting them to do it. You've handed over all of your privacy and security to a corporate behemoth. Google holds onto all data it handles from its search engine, whether the searchers want it to or not.

Very few people are going to trust Google or anybody else to hold onto all their business or personal data securely and privately. Web services may grow bigger than they are today, but they won't displace the home computer the way you think they will.
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong, better off with Microsoft Office, literally
Google is not obligated to backup data, and if a disaster does occur, it will almost certainly not refund your money if it does lose data.
Posted by giuliocesare (49 comments )
Link Flag
The U.S. is losing its tech lead
One of many stories on how other countries are leading the way moving to modern platforms, while the US just can't break its pathetic addiction to legacy Microsoft products and incompatible and unreliable technologies.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mr Gates, there seems to be a small leak.....
in the monopoly reservoir, but not big enough to worry about, yet.
Posted by m.o.t.u. (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For the corporate user, the most important features of an OS are security, stability, functionality, integration with existing systems and ease and security of administration. Ubuntu runs much faster on the same hardware spec compared to windows XP or Vista.

The only downside to linux is that most hardware and specialist software is designed and supported for windows. This is only because of the current market share. This is changing. I predict that the computing industry will look very different in 20 years time.
Posted by Johncolescarr (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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