Au Revoir: French Parliament Drops Microsoft

In June 2007, the French Parliament will switch from the comfortable confines of Windows and Microsoft Office to PCs running Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and the office productivity suite. The French Parliament says the move will save money in the long run, although the transition could be relatively rocky. It's also trying to reduce its reliance on a single vendor.

The move will affect both the upper chamber, or Senate, and lower chamber, or National Assembly, of the French Parliament, and will include both desktop PCs and servers. This switch marks the first time that a major French government bureau will move desktops to Linux-based systems, although numerous French agencies are already using Linux and the open-source Apache Web Server on their servers. The French Parliament currently maintains more than 1100 desktop PCs.

One sticking point: The Parliament has yet to pick a Linux distribution. The distribution it picks will greatly affect the success of the migration. Some high-profile Linux migrations have fared better than others: After years of delays, the city of Munich, Germany, said it will complete 80 percent of its Linux migration in 2008. Meanwhile, Birmingham, England, cancelled a planned migration to Linux because of a lack of internal expertise with the new system. The city had converted just 200 of 1500 desktops to Linux before giving up.

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