France's Ministry of the Interior says its use of Thunderbird, a free software email client, running on its 200 000 PCs since 2008, is five times cheaper than the use of the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. The ministry recently started using the combination of GLPI and OCS, free software tools for managing computer assets, software licences and configuration files. "This is 10 times less expensive than the previous proprietary tool."
Last week Tuesday, the ministry responded to questions by France's parliamentarian Isabelle Attard (Europe Ecology - The Greens). In May, she asked all of France's ministries about their implementation of the government's free software guideline, the 'Circulaire Ayrault'.
Similar to the earlier replies submitted by other ministries, the Interior Ministry explains that it is tricky to determine the cost and the value of free software use. Referring to its use of email client Thunderbird, calendaring plugin OBM and GLPI/OCS it says: "However, for some of our major operations, great savings have emerged."
The ministry reports that it is using free and open source operating systems for its servers and IT management. It is also using the Postgresql relational database management system for its databases, and on desktops, it uses suites of office productivity tools, all "leading to substantial savings."
Other areas in which this type of solution is used include its public and internal websites, e-learning solutions and document management. It also refers to the National Gendarmerie, saying it "has for several years an active policy that now allows 90% of its IT application to be free of lock-in."
The Ministry of the Interior writes that it is one of the biggest users of a free software support contract awarded in 2012 on behalf of all of France's ministries.
The Ministry says that it has voluntary started switching to using free software "some years ago". "This is one of the first ministries to encourage the use of free software for modernising its information systems."
The past few months, 26 out of France's 37 ministries have replied to MP Attard.