The government of the Ile-de-France region teamed up with The Document Foundation to provide a 'Software as a service' (SaaS) version of LibreOffice - the Foundation's free office suite - to a wide range of upper secondary education actors, it was announced at the LibreOffice Conference held in Paris on 12-15 October 2011.
According to the regional government, it is foreseen that from the beginning of school year 2012 approximately 1 million users (over 600 000 upper secondary school pupils, their parents, teachers and administrative staff) will have the opportunity to use this SaaS version named 'LooL' (Libre Office On Line). This derived version of OpenOffice is currently under testing. It combines all the functions of the free software suite with an HTML 5 interface that is compatible with almost all modern terminals.
The region will host LooL within its dedicated cloud environment (named Marguerite) with a specific plug-in developed by a free software provider, and users will be able to store their documents in their own spaces within this cloud. Access to LooL will be through 'Lilie', the open source Digital Work Environment (Environnement Numérique de Travail - ENT, in French) of the region's secondary schools.
Unlike a typical SaaS office suite, the functionality of LooL is that of the regular OpenOffice suite - the base code is the same. All improvements brought to the desktop can therefore be transposed gradually to the SaaS version.
From the technical point of view, the LibreOffice suite is written mainly in C++ with a few Java modules. It can thus be installed on any computer for which it has been compiled: Windows, Linux, etc. The user interface of LibreOffice is based on GTK that allows remote display management with an optimisation of network traffic in HTML 5. LooL uses this recent GTK functionality that allows remote code execution from thin clients through any HTML 5-compatible browser.
Moreover, from now on, LibreOffice in standard mode will also be available with other free software such as Firefox, on the USB keys provided to the students by the Regional council for upper secondary school pupils.
The government of Ile-de-France is one of the main public sector supporters of The Document Foundation, along with the Government of Brazil.