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CIO European Parliament: free software users are important avant-garde

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The European Parliament's Free Software User Group is 'very important', says Giancarlo Vilella, head of the IT unit, the Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support. He called Epfsug the avant-garde, showing DG ITEC the future direction. "We want to understand the needs of the most-advanced users."

He warned that not everything the avant-garde asks for can be implemented immediately. He explained that the EP has ten thousand users, with a great variety of needs and approaches. "We manage a system for all of them."

Vilella held an impromptu talk at the end of an Epfsug meeting, taking place this week Wednesday afternoon. He told the attendees that DG ITEC is very oriented toward using open source. "Sixty per cent of what we do, is done on open source." He acknowledged that the first thing users see is a proprietary email system and operating system, which gives them the idea the whole system is proprietary. "This is not true, three hundred other applications are on open source."

At the Epfsug meeting, Dimitrios Symeonidis, one of the group's members and a staffer in the European Parliament, presented how to configure Linux on the desktop in the EP. Tweaks are needed to configure the keyboard and he also gave details on how to get the EP's Java applications running. Benefits of running Linux in the EP include much shorter boot times, getting rid of IT vendor lock-in, increased security and easier, gradual upgrades, Symeonidis says. "But the EP users are not currently allowed to do this, so don't try this in the office."

The meeting was hosted by Nils Torvalds, Finnish member of the European Parliament and father of Linus Torvalds, the original developer and now project coordinator of the Linux kernel. Opening the meeting, Nils Torvalds said that Epfsug's work helps strengthening democracy in the European Parliament. "And if you help it here, you're probably also helping it in Greece, Finland, the United Kingdom and elsewhere."

More information:
Video's of the Epfsug presentations