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Prime Minister to French Government: Favor FOSS Wherever Possible 112

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the this-is-what-happens-when-socialism dept.
concertina226 writes with interesting news from France. From the article: "French government agencies could become more active participants in Free Software projects, under an action plan sent by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in a letter to ministers (PDF, and in French of course), while software giants Microsoft and Oracle might lose out as the government pushes Free Software such as LibreOffice or PostgreSQL in some areas. ... He also wants them to reinvest between 5 percent and 10 percent of the money they save through not paying for proprietary software licenses, spending it instead on contributing to the development of the free software. The administration already submits patches and bug fixes for the applications it uses, but Ayrault wants to go beyond that, contributing to or paying for the addition of new functionality to the software."
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Prime Minister to French Government: Favor FOSS Wherever Possible

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  • Now could you please repeal that 3-strikes law? It makes you a bunch corporate lapdog douche bags.

    Thanks. Love your fries.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Amusingly we (French people) think that what you call French Fries comes from Belgium :)

      • by jbrandv (96371) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:33AM (#41463945)

        Come on! Everyone knows the first French fries were made in grease... ;-)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As someone living in the Netherlands, close to the border with Belgium, I can safely say that French and Belgium fries are very different.

        French fries are generally long and thin and not too fat while Belgium fries are generally bigger and rougher and baked for longer so a bit fatter. I personally prefer the latter.

        Fast food chains tend to take the french fry to extremes, making it very dry and adding an additional flavor similar to cardboard.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Besides, Belgian fries are fried twice (at least once in beef tallow; Maybe they use vegetable oil for the other time).

          • by Schmorgluck (1293264) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @12:38PM (#41465437)

            All fries should be fried twice, at different temperatures. The first time is to caramelize the outside, the second is to cook the inside to the point it becomes a puree. Belgian cooks are just more strict on this than French cooks are.

            As for beef tallow, yeah, it's seemingly a staple of the Belgian method.

    • by aaribaud (585182) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:27AM (#41463859)

      Now could you please repeal that 3-strikes law? It makes you a bunch corporate lapdog douche bags.

      Actually, this law, or more precisely the HADOPI which the law has created, has come under criticism from the government for its costly inefficiency: so far, HADOPI managed only to bring a single case to court, and it was an textbook example of a non-voluntarily infringer who was found guilty mostly because he tried to prove his innocence and despite his obvious intent to comply with the law (details upon request) -- and was fined a gigantic EUR 150 (plus court fees I guess).

      Besides, HADOPI did nothing regarding fostering legal music and video offers, which was the second half of its mission.

      Analysts (usual caveats apply) here tend to think HADOPI as it stands will not survive.

      Thanks. Love your fries.

      Want some frogs with that? :)

    • by Pro-feet (2668975)
      Aye on the repeal request.

      But I'm a Belgian, living in France. If you love fries in France, then you have never been to Belgium.

      Now get off my lawn.
  • by johnjones (14274) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:25AM (#41463837) Homepage Journal

    helping the french economy by cutting costs and if they employ some french nationals to actually do the work that might help the french employment...

    whatever next

    regards

    John Jones

    • by slashdyke (873156)
      I wish my Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments see what is happening and learn from it. I doubt it, but it sure would be great if...
    • The most famous French example of FOSS is Mandriva, which has free forks of Mageia and PCLinuxOS, but the French government could nationalize Mandriva, which has been struggling to survive, and then use that as the basis of all its FOSS. They can write/port all software to that platform, and make it as major a deal as Munich and Extremadura - both dealt w/ in /. pages in the past.
  • Liberté, égalité, fraternité A motto for FOSS.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Too bad Slashdot is stuck in 1995 and still doesn't support UTF-8.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Pas si sûr. Ça dépend...

    • Along with "Stop assuming it's all ASCII!"
    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      Liberté, égalité, fraternité

      Did you mean; "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"?

      What was the point you were trying to make?

      I was able to type this in MS Office 2007, LibreOffice and OpenOffice . I then cut and pasted this into Slashdot.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I haven't bothered to check recently, but I don't think Slashdot respects the character encoding sent by the web browser, so different browsers (or different configurations of them) give bad results.

        (That I hardly ever see this on any other site suggests it's /. that's got the problem.)

  • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:36AM (#41463977)
    I had numerous arguments with Belgian politicians (yeah I know, why bother sometimes) about the same thing. But here they rather open new Microsoft "innovation" centers (especially here in Flanders) and blow their own horn how "advanced" we are because of their exceptional thinking. It aggravates me sometimes because it isn't true at all and it only gets worse with the rise of Flemish nationalism. The government here clashes sometimes also with FOSS developers, look at the whole itextpdf tax debacle.

    From a society point of view Open Source software within the government (or government services) makes a lot of sense. It gives more (local) companies a change to compete and every euro that goes to improvement of OSS software also benefits companies and the general public as they can freely download the software (with the improvements) for their own use.

    Another thing is also that OSS is also a lot more "leaner" maybe even "greener". In a lot of government agencies I see bulky beefy PC's just to be able to run properiate (mostly Microsoft) stuff. Think about the savings (in hardware and electricity) you can have if you convert those thousands of workplaces to cheaper less demanding systems just because you use an OS that uses less resources or is more efficient. And seeing how efficient Linux sometimes works on ARM hardware, it has a lot of potential. And it not that they do heavy calculations on most of those machines or they have high demands regarding multimedia or games... .

    Personally I rather have my tax money to go the companies that uses or develops OSS solutions, then some big multinational shareholders.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:47AM (#41464125) Journal

      From a society point of view Open Source software within the government (or government services) makes a lot of sense.

      Which is why this will never happen in the US.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The trick is to promote open source everywhere and trigger more institutional migration debates than Microsoft can clamp down with their 30 Mio $ special lobby cashbox. Get open source into party programs and all. By the way, the Greens are looking for ideas [greens-efa.eu].

    • Unfortunately, ARM doesn't quite compete at larger scales, depending on the load... A large Multi-CPU XEON or Opteron server combined with virtualization is often a better choice than a small cluster of ARM systems. It's cool, don't get me wrong. I think where an ARM cluster can excel is as front-loaded web servers, and even simple data stores, Where IO is the bottleneck, ARM can really give a lot of bang for the buck. Node.js and MongoDB come to mind, unfortunately neither are in a position where they a
  • Je l'approuve! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PerlPunk (548551)

    I work in a U.S. fed agency, and I use a Linux distro, but most of the rest of my colleagues use Microsoft Windows.

    Some observations about Windows vs. Linux:

    1) You still need to have above average skills to get your work done on Linux, even if you are using a relatively user-friendly distro like Ubuntu. Most people, by definition, are not above average.
    2) Some proprietary software is and always will be much better than anything comparable in the open-source world:
    a) As compared with MS Office (Word, Excel

    • Re:Je l'approuve! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aaribaud (585182) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:50AM (#41464163)

      Re: Open Office (actually Libre Office, but let's not be too picky): maybe to its full power it is a piece of crap compared to the full power of MS Office. However, my wife, who cannot be said to be a FOSS zealot in any way, uses Libre Office (and Ubuntu) daily on her home computer and so far has never complained about any shortcomings of LO. And the reason is, she does not use it to its full power, nor does she use MS Office to its full power, and when you compare the suites for daily mundane use, they perform just as well.

      Re: Subversion: ever heard of Git? Again, maybe it doesn't fit everyone's bill. But for my OSS-related hobbies as well as my day job, Git has not exhibited any shortcoming so far -- quite the opposite in fact.

      • Re:Je l'approuve! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PerlPunk (548551) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:09AM (#41464441) Homepage Journal

        I have heard of Git, and I know people who have recommended it instead of Subversion. I myself also use subversion for my own personal projects, because it's free and for the reason you mention: I don't use its full power on my own stuff. However, there are little conveniences in proprietary software that you appreciate, even when not using its full power.

        For example, when creating a QA test plan, I take screen shots from the application I'm working with and directly paste them into table cells to show exactly what the system response should look like. When I do this in MS Word (2007), it resizes the image to the size of the cell. When I try this with OpenOffice Writer, the screen goes dark, and then it doesn't do paste the image. That might just be my bad luck or I don't have the latest, greatest patch that takes care of the problem. But I appreciate the relative lack of bugs in MS Word as compared with OO Writer.

        Another thing I like about MS Word is the ability to move paragraphs or table cells up and down using shift + arrow keys. Maybe that's a "power user" feature, and I'm sure it could be implemented in OO Writer. But a point about proprietary software is that you have people spending the best part of their waking hours developing and perfecting these products whereas most open source initiatives are volunteer efforts. More time goes to the proprietary projects, so more attention to detail can be given to them.

        Let's just say that both open source and proprietary software occupy their own important niches.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          learn to use LO:
          Paragraphs and heading levels

          Ctrl + Alt + Up Arrow or Ctrl + Up Arrow : Moves the active paragraph or selected paragraphs up one paragraph

          http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/332

          Maybe you can read the doc before telling that LO is a piece of crap or miss your essential function (and if it definitely don't do it, ask them to add it, I'm pretty sure if it's a minor feature and you paid a dev the price of MSO to add it, you will have it done really fast) ?

        • Re:Je l'approuve! (Score:4, Informative)

          by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:40AM (#41464803) Journal

          I have heard of Git, and I know people who have recommended it instead of Subversion. I myself also use subversion for my own personal projects, because it's free and for the reason you mention: I don't use its full power on my own stuff. However, there are little conveniences in proprietary software that you appreciate, even when not using its full power.

          Like what in version control systems. You made the claim that closed ones were better (well better than SVN). You keep insinuating as such, but make no real claims.

          Another thing I like about MS Word is the ability to move paragraphs or table cells up and down using shift + arrow keys. Maybe that's a "power user" feature, and I'm sure it could be implemented in OO Writer.

          LMGTFY. Answer: ctrl+shift+up moves paragraphs. And "not sure it could be implemented"? That's a really weird thing to say.

          • I will say that I find TFS's integration to Windows to not compare to that of say SVN + TortoiseSVN. On the flip side, conflict resolution tools with TFS are quite a bit nicer than the out of the box tool with tortoise, or even WinMerge. (I do use WinMerge for directory compares, as it works quite well for that). What's funny is that when working on OSX, or in Linux is when I really miss the niceties of WinMerge. Now with reference to Git, I've yet to see a shell integration tool that is easy enough t
            • I mean Tortoise on OSX/Linix... Wish there was something that was as nice... I've tried a few plugins in the past for Nautilus etc, and on OSX, just not nearly as smooth of an integration.
        • Personally, using Ubuntu 12.04, Gnome 3.something, and LibreOffice 3.5.4.2, I can copy from a screenshot directly into a LibreOffice table cell. I can also go to the file system and copy an image (ctrl-c) and paste (ctrl-v) that same image into a table cell.
          It just works for me.

          As for shift and the arrow keys, for me, it has the much more useful function of selecting text. And it works in every application that I use (well, GUI applications with text areas anyway).

          Also, I suspect you don't understand how ma

      • by macbeth66 (204889)

        Re: Open Office (actually Libre Office, but let's not be too picky): maybe to its full power it is a piece of crap compared to the full power of MS Office.

        Really? A piece of crap? If I ignore the 'prettiness' of MS Office and concentrate on what 90% of my co-workers need, LO wins hands down.

        With one big, glaring exception; an Outlook-like replacement.

        LO needs something that has a fully integrated email client, a pre-built contact list ( internal listing ) and a scheduler. Yes, I know there are other open source answers to these things, but I am talking abut it being an integrated component of LO.

        Okay, LO's version of PowerPoint needs a little help. Okay.

        • There are a number of email client-server options that compare well to Exchange + Outlook. I don't think it really needs to be integrated in to the software package, and probably better that it isn't. A lot of the time, I simply un-check Outlook from the installs (especially at home). The biggest advantage of MS Office over LO has got to be the existing system of macros in place, from data automation with Word or Excel for example. Not that it can't be done with LO, but there's a lot of existing code, e
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        For daily mundane use, if both are perfectly adequate then the price difference makes libreoffice the obvious choice.
        Why pay extra for something which brings no benefits to you?

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      As to Subversion - even a significant number of open-source communities consider it to be vastly substandard.

      I think Linus' opinion on SVN was that its main design goal (a better CVS) was fundamentally flawed and guaranteed to create a crap product. SVN's crappiness was one of the main motivators for creating git. (The other being that the only non-crappy solution at the time was proprietary).

      There's a reason most of the major projects have moved to git. For example, Google's code review system for Andro

      • by tibit (1762298)

        SVN is a centralized system. Its design philosophy is simply different from what you need for distributed development of any sort. That's all there's to it.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Version control systems are designed in a certain way and you will use whatever fits your situation the best. That said, there's a multitude of open source offerings. For centralized VC, Subversion fits the bill. For distributed, Mercurial or Git are the two major choices.

      What is it exactly about Subversion that makes it so much worse than another presumably centralized VCS? You can't compare it to a distributed system because it isn't one -- remember that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Never thought I'd see a positive comment for Merent PVCS Dimensions, let alone see it compared positively against subversion. We're right now migrating away from PVCS to Subversion in our corporate environment. Most developers plead or even try to bribe us with candy to get their project to the front of the migration queue. PVCS is stable as an upside down piramid, eats source code on a daily base, can't be upgraded even by its own vendor,randomly looses permissions as you grant them to other people, st

    • "1) You still need to have above average skills to get your work done on Linux"

      Above average or just different? I've been using Linux for so long that I almost can't have nothing done in Windows. I'd say it is Windows what requires above average skills, not Linux, it's only I can admit that maybe what needs is *different* knowledge, not less or more. But then, the more people using Linux, the less different it becomes.

      "2) Some proprietary software is and always will be much better than anything comparabl

  • French economy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Liquid Len (739188) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:40AM (#41464041)
    At the moment, the French economy is not doing well, to say the least: austerity has become the rule in the EU and so far, no signs of recovery have been observed (I for one don't think austerity is the right answer, but let's stay on-topic). As a FOSS enthusiast (and, incidentally, as a French...), I'm glad to see this kind of effort finally happening. But I also suspect our government sees this as a cheap way to cut licence costs and won't invest sufficiently in the migration. I think it makes sense from a economic standpoint in the middle/long term, but there is a transition period which I'm not sure they'll be willing (or able) to handle with sufficient resources.
  • Why such a low reinvestment? Is that for external developers only? I would total up support costs, etc compare to licence fees and then reinvest 80% of the "savings", especially if it was 70% internal reinvestment (paid staff) and 10% external developers. Save yourself some money, but if you want to future effeciency and capabilities invest as much as you can.

    • by aaribaud (585182)
      re: reinvestment, I have not seen indications or amounts in the letter. However, considering the economy in France, I suspect part of the move is to save money in order for the agencies to compensate whatever budget cut they might be hit with. That some of the saving be reinvested is rather positive in this light.
    • by godrik (1287354)

      (disclaimer: I am french, but I did not follow the story in details since I no longer live in france.)

      There might be a significant cost in retraining some people. Also provided the amount of windows/office licenses owned by the government, 10% might already be a significant amount of money send to open source developers.

      Economically that makes a lot of sense. You cut some money that was going to microsoft (so to an other country) and you redirect part of the money to local developers.

  • Why would a letter from the prime minister of France to other French ministers, not be in French? is the editor trying to be sarcastic? the grammar is so horrible (e.g. there is a common missing in front of "of course") that I can't tell if this is a dig on Franco-phones?
    • by PerlPunk (548551)
      I think you are reading too much into the original posting. But we can thank Jacques Derrida and poststructuralism (deconstruction) for giving us a rationale to entertain alternative readings like this even if the author did not intend any such thing.
    • by Alioth (221270)

      What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual
      What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual
      What do you call a person who only speaks one language? American!

      This is why.

      • As a brit who the education system utterly failed in it's attempts to teach french I resent that comment ;)

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:09AM (#41464433) Homepage

    With some products like PostgreSQL, they can go to the enterprise fork vendor and put in the contract that government-made features will be submitted back. Therefore they can get the best of both worlds. If EnterpriseDB truly screwed them over, hopefully all of their patches would be good enough to make it into PostgreSQL proper. That's a compelling carrot/stick that Microsoft and Oracle don't have.

  • Overheard (Score:4, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:11AM (#41464463)
    Ballmer and Ellison exhorting "zut alors!"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I work in a publicly owned water utility. I wish we could participate with others in the industry in expanding upon the public domain EPA-NET, and build an open source hydraulic modeling program. Instead we are trained to use an expensive proprietary product (which is based on EPA-NET, how's that for socializing costs and privatizing profits?). But I have to post this anonymously because I think powerful people would have a shit fit if anyone suggested that the tool we're using now was not the best choice.

  • Très Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:47AM (#41464879) Homepage Journal

    This is so awesome. Imagine if all governments did this. Since they all use the same applications (like LibreOffice) there will be tons of development $$$ per application!!

    "He also wants them to reinvest between 5 percent and 10 percent of the money they save through not paying for proprietary software licenses, spending it instead on contributing to the development of the free software."

    • Until 2010, the NHS had an "Enterprise Wide Agreement" [cloud2.co.uk] or bulk licensing deal with Microsoft, which covered Office.

      A back-of-the-napkin calculation would indicate that the costs of this would run to the order of £100M or thereabouts each year. I think the Document Foundation would wet themselves with glee if you chipped in £5M worth of development effort, each year, to LibreOffice. And I think you'd have a lot of influence over which features got developed.

      You could even lowball it for a few yea

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I work for a non-departmental public body ("quango"). In 2010, my team were asked what database we wanted to use for an upcoming project. We said we were fine with continuing with MySQL for the moment, were considering moving to Postgresql, but realised this would have a cost (hiring someone who knew Postgres, or training the existing admin).

        The government department told us were were getting Oracle. We said we couldn't use Oracle, as we have to use an open source system to allow collaboration with certa

  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth.5-cent@us> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @12:53PM (#41465613) Homepage

    In case you'd missed it, socialists now are the government in France. So it's true, socialists support F/OSS.

    We can't have that here in the US! Quick, run out and buy Windows, and install it over all versions of Linux! And Macs, too, since they now use the same hardware!

          mark "more profits for M$!" (Note the separated http and //. w/ no colon).

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