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Le Matin: Plus besoin de Bill Gates!

Nov 19, 2004, 17:30 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Frederic Julliard)

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A software revolution is starting in Geneva: by 2009, the entire cantonal administration there will give up proprietary programs, such as those sold by prirvate firms like Microsoft, and replace them with free and open software, such as Linux.

"We want to guarantee our software independence," explains Jean-Marie Leclerc, general manager of the State Center of Information Technologies. "This is not directed against Microsoft; it is simply a question of not depending more on only one company. Also, one cannot imagine an open administration without adopting open systems!"

Programs such as Linux can indeed be modified freely by the user, contrary to its Windows competitor, for example, which Microsoft keeps under strict control.

And free software has another sizable advantage: it's free! The State will save millions on software licences.

"One cannot quantify the savings yet, because it will be necessary to finance the migration from one system to another, and train users," Leclerc stipulated. "But the financial criterion is obviously important."

Geneva's move is being made in spite of very being equipped with the latest Microsoft operating system, Windows XP. Additional purchases will be necessary to ensure the transition towards free software, which will be set up at the latest in 2009.

"But we will start as soon as we can: as soon as a service is ready to roll towards the new system, we will do it," ensured Leclerc.

Geneva is not alone in its interest in free software: many government administrations have started to Linux adoptions. Here in Switzerland, the Geneva's neighboring canton of Vaud is also planning to move towards free software.

"It is good news," said a delighted Anne Possoz, scientific collaborator with FPSL and advocate of the free software. "I have never understood how a public administration can agree to be dependent on a company of another country. If Microsoft decides one day to give up such or such product, the customer can do nothing! Whereas with free software, all we have to do is hire some software engineers to continue to use the program."

Original Story (in French)

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