French town of Fontaine to complete transition in 2018
The values of free and open source software closely match those of municipal public service, says Nicolas Vivant the CIO of the French town of Fontaine, a suburb of Grenoble. Virtues include working with the community, in the public interest, openness and fair pricing, according to the IT director. “The economic benefits are a positive side effect,” he says.
Fontaine first decided to switch to free software in 2001, the result of a political decision that has been supported by successive administrations, says the IT director. An interview with Fontaine’s IT director was published in January by Europe Ecology – The Greens (Europe Écologie – Les Verts), one of France’s political parties. In April, a summary appeared on the website of Adullact, a platform for civil servants working on free software.
By 2009, most server-based operations had been moved to free software, including email, file and directory services. In 2008, the town began replacing desktop applications, switching to the Mozilla Firefox web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird for email and OpenOffice for office productivity - the latter now replaced by LibreOffice. The proprietary tools are being gradually phased out.
The final phase, switching to an open source PC operating system (Ubuntu Linux), started in 2014. A first pilot involved 20 staff members, including senior management and elected officials. Last year, staff members could volunteer to have their workstation switched. These days, new workstations will have Linux installed by default, unless the staff member refuses. The IT department estimates that by the end of 2018, 70% of all workstations will be running Linux.
“From a purely financial point of view, buying PCs without an operating system allows us to make substantial savings of around 30%”, the IT director reports.
“Linux workstations generate fewer calls to the help-desk. And installing system images takes five minutes, another financial gain, as it takes 45 minutes to install the proprietary system.”
The town (about 22,000 inhabitants) is migrating most of its IT infrastructure to free and open source alternatives. The administration employs 600 people, and the IT department is responsible for PC workstations, software, network, telephony and video surveillance. Of the total of 600 PC workstations, 250 are in elementary schools and kindergartens.
The original interview with Mr Vivant is published under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.