French Ministry Boots Windows NT For Linux


In another European win for Linux against Microsoft Corp., a French ministry is replacing 1,500 Windows NT computers with Linux systems, the supplier of the open-source operating system said Friday.

The Ministry of Equipment and Transport has swapped more than 100 NT computers for machines running Mandrakelinux Corporate server software, and plans to replace the rest on a monthly basis until the project is completed, Mandrakesoft said. Computer maker Dell Inc. is providing the hardware for the migration, which started in November 2003.

The Paris-based ministry, which maintains airports, roads, seaports and other infrastructure, has 100,000 agents throughout the country. The agency's information technology infrastructure includes 60,000 workstations and 2,000 Windows NT servers.

The current project migrates 1,500 office and infrastructure servers, Mandrakesoft said. The Paris-based company is also providing training and support for the systems. Financial details were not disclosed.

Europe has become a battleground between Microsoft and Linux distributors, as several governments have opted to replace Microsoft products with open-source software to reduce licensing fees. The city of Munich, for example, has begun an open-source rollout, and governments in the United Kingdom and the city of Paris are considering Linux. Also, earlier this week, Dell unveiled its first line of desktops equipped with Linux for the European market.

The number of organizations replacing Windows NT servers is expected to increase significantly, since Microsoft is no longer committed to issuing critical security fixes for the aged operating system. The software maker isn't ending patch development, but is only providing it to corporate customers that sign a custom-support agreement.

In response to Microsoft's plans, high-tech researcher Gartner Inc. last week recommended that organizations migrate off of NT, with priority assigned to people whose jobs carry a higher risk of legal or financial losses.