The Dutch lower house has begun a small-scale Open Source desktop trial.
A handful of Members of Parliament at the Dutch Tweede Kamer (lower house), some of their assistants and several staff workers have in the last few weeks been given a USB key preloaded with Open Source applications such as OpenOffice, Firefox and PDF reader Sumatra. The key also includes encryption software, so it can be used at all PCs in the lower house and at other locations, explains one of the participants, Socialist MP Arda Gerkens.
The Open Source pilot is to last until sometime this fall, she said. The IT department is considering the use of some of these applications when renewing all desktops in the lower house later this year. Gerkens is one of the members of parliament involved in the internal IT policies of the lower house. She is also an advocate of Open Source software and Open Standards. Via email, Gerkens explained that the IT department decided on the pilot in part because the parliament has been calling on public administrations to increase the use of Open Source. "A second argument in favour of Open Source are the national IT policies." Late last year, the ministry of Economic Affairs published policies meant to increase the use of Open Standards and Open Source software. For example, all national Dutch government institutions should be able to handle the ISO-approved Open Document Format since April this year.
All desktops at the Dutch lower house (150 MPs) are currently running Microsoft Windows XP and use Microsoft Office. Gerkens said there are no plans to migrate to a complete Open Source desktop. "However, we already are using GNU/Linux for some of the servers in our back office."
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