French politicians to get free software on desktops

Linux and other free apps for deputies

Deputies elected to the French National Assembly in the next legislative session will find open source software on the desktop PCs provided for their use.

The use of free software will result in substantial cost savings, despite the cost of migration and training, according to the assembly.

Free and open source software now offers all the functions the deputies need, according to a study conducted at the request of the president of the assembly, Jean-Louis Debré.

The software on the deputies’ computers will include the Linux operating system, the Open Office productivity suite, the Firefox web browser and an open source email application.

A number of deputies had asked the president of the assembly to consider the use of open source software, according to a statement from the assembly.

The move is a concrete response to the desire of deputies to see open source software used more widely in the public sector in France, it says.

One deputy in favour of the move is Bernard Carayon, who was commissioned by the French prime minister earlier this year to report on how European businesses could play a greater role in developing global industrial standards, to reduce Europe’s economic dependance on other regions.

In his report, On Equal Terms, Carayon advises that the French government should study how best to use and secure open source software — and recommends that the government should mandate the use of the Open Document Format (ODF) for the storage and exchange of government documents. ODF is the format used by the Open Office.org productivity suite, and also has the support of Sun, IBM and others.

ICT staff at the National Assembly have almost six months to prepare the switch — elections for the next legislative session will be held on June 10 and 17.

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