At the start of the next school year, the French authorities will give 175,000 USB sticks with open-source software to high-school students in Paris.
The sticks will give the students, aged 15 and 16, the freedom to access their e-mail, browser bookmarks and other documents on computers at school, home, a friend's house or in an Internet café -- but at a much lower cost than providing notebook computers for all, a spokesman for the Greater Paris Regional Council said Friday.
It's a way to reduce the digital divide, said spokesman Jean-Baptiste Roger.
The sticks will probably contain the Firefox 2 Web browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, an office productivity suite such as OpenOffice.org 2, an audio and video player, and software for instant messaging, he said.
The exact mix of software will be defined by the company that wins the contract to supply the sticks, but will be open source, he said.