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Ministries in France detail use and plans for free software

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The past weeks, nine more ministries and ministerial departments have detailed their use of free software. The reports show how there are examples for nearly everything, including systems used in production, for development and testing. The software is used to run servers and is found on many desktop PCs, for secure laptops and even in satellites. Ministries also donate code to open source projects and help fixing bugs.

So far, 15 of the 37 ministries and ministerial departments have responded to a question by a member of France's parliament, Isabelle Attard (Europe Ecology - The Greens). In May, she asked all ministries about their implementation of the government's free software guideline, known as the 'Circulaire Ayrault'.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education responded that it is redefining its policy on free software, based on this circulaire. The policy will be made part of its IT roadmap. The ministry wrote that even before, free software tools were used throughout the departments, public institutions and schools.

The education ministry points to, for example, the over 23000 servers based on Ubuntu Linux that since 2001 are used in schools across the country and used for network and system security, as file servers, backup servers, for VPN and for serving applications to thin clients. The ministry itself has been using Linux "for over a decade": its service departments host over 4000 Red Hat Linux servers, and "the OpenOffice and LibreOffice office suite are widely used by teachers as a tool to work and share with students".

Added value

The Ministry of Economy and Finance reported jointly with several other departments, writing to the Parliament that the goal of the circulaire is not to increase the use of free software, but to make public administrations systematically consider free software as alternatives. The ministries and departments say that they have been using open source for over a decade, with Linux now used for most servers and email based entirely on open source.

Also, they add, already many workstations use this type of solutions: "By 2003, all workstations of the General Directorate of Customs and Excise migrated to a free office suite."

Lowering costs

Last month, the Ministry for Towns replied that it is working with other ministries on the implementation of free software solutions used for its servers, for email, geographic information systems, websites and desktop systems. The ministry elaborated on the methodological and practical difficulties in the valuation of software. For example, the cost of proprietary software licenses sometimes includes development, maintenance and integration. Moreover, the IT accounting tools used at the Ministry were never intended to distinguish between free and proprietary software.

The ministry does expect that because of its policy on free software, there will be steady decline in expenditure on software.

 

More information:

Answers by the Ministry of Productive Recovery (in French)
Answers by the Department for SMEs, innovation and the digital economy, part of the Ministry of Productive Recovery (in French)
Answers by the Ministry for towns (in French)
Answers by the Ministry of Agriculture (in French)
Answers by the Ministry of Education (in French)
Answers by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (in French)
Answers by the Department for Decentralisation, part of the Ministry of State Reform, Decentralization and Public (in French)
Answers by the Department for Social and Solidarity Economy and Consumption, part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (in French)
Answers by the Budget Department, Ministry of Economy and Finance (in French)
Vous Nous Ils news item (in French)
PC Inpact news item (in French)
Joinup news item
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