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Open source tour of Europe: FranceMatthew Aslett, June 18, 2008 @ 4:40 am ET
To coincide with EURO 2008, I’m embarking on a virtual European tour, taking a quick look at open source policies and deployment projects in the 16 nations that are competing in the tournament.
One of the potential favourites for EURO 2008 was always going to be eliminated from the group stages given France, Italy and The Netherlands were all drawn in Group C and it was France that made an early exit following a 2-0 defeat to the Italians last night.
France must also be considered one of the favourites to be crowned EURO 2008 Open Source champion given the number of open source-related policies, projects and vendors. It would almost be easier to list the departments of the French government that have not adopted open source.
As long ago as 1999 the French parliament considered a proposal to enforce the use of open source software in public administrations. The Lafitte, Trégouet and Cabanel project, as it became known, was not adopted, however. A similar bill proposed in 2000 by French Congressmen Le Déaut, Paul and Cohen was also rejected. (Details of both bills can be found here.)
In 2001 the French Agency for Information and Communication Technologies in the Administration announced that it was promoting the use of open standards and open-source software in e-government applications, however. The following year it published a guide designed to help public sector entities choosing and using free and open source software.
In 2002 the Commissariat Général du Plan, a report analyzing the French software industry was published and recommended that public agencies promote the development of free software platforms and open standards.
More recently, in April 2007 the Ministry of Defense announced that it would prefer open source software for both acquired and internally-developed software projects.
Meanwhile the Practical Guide to the use of Open Source software by public authorities was published in late 2007, while in May this year the Ministry of Education agreed a four-year 60% discount with Mandriva for the adoption of Linux by all teachers and staff (estimated at 1.5 million employees) at France’s 250 schools and universities.
Somewhat extraordinarily given the amount of deployment projects listed below, it was recommended in January that France should increase its use of open source software and consider tax benefits to stimulate open source development. The recommendations were made by an economic commission set up by France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy.
There are almost too many to mention, and the following is just a taster. The Ministry of Equipment and Transport migrated 1,500 Windows NT Servers to what was then Mandrakelinux in 2004. Meanwhile the Ministry of Defense contracted five suppliers to create a secure Linux variant, the Family Allowance Agency migrated to Red Hat and JOnAS, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs adopted an open source web application deployment and development platform.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries migrated 500 Windows NT servers to Mandriva in 2005, followed by a further 400 servers starting in 2007. The Tax Ministry (PDF) adopted the JBoss Application Server as part of its COPERNIC project to overhaul of the IT system that underpins the French tax system.
In 2006 the Directorate General for the Modernisation of the State approved the adoption of OpenOffice for 400,000 central administration desktops as part of a move to support the Open Document Format.
The Ministry of Education migrated 2,500 servers across its 30 local education authorities to Red Hat Enterprise Linux last year, while the Culture and Communication Ministry migrated from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org.
This year the gendarmerie announced plans to migrate up to 70,00 workstations to Ubuntu running Firefox and OpenOffice.org, while Ubuntu was also chosen for adoption by French MPs as part of the migration of the National Assembly from Windows to Linux.
Open source has also been adopted by local authorities including Arles, Grand Nancy, Lille, Val d’Oise, Marseille, Brest, Grenoble, Lyon, Rennes, and Marseille again. A case study of the Arles project can be found here.
Adoption of open source is also strong in the private sector. Examples include the adoption of MySQL by retailers Franprix and Leader Price to manage the data in their supply chain and product distribution platforms.
Another comes from Agence France-Presse, which has adopted Nuxeo’s open source content management system, as have SNCF, La Poste, and Gaz de France, among others. Meanwhile Airbus created its own open source development tools for building mission critical systems based on Eclipse, and Peugeot Citroen moved to SUSE Linux for up to up to 20,000 desktops. EMI Music France is using eZ Publish.
France has a host of open source vendors, of which the most famous is probably Linux vendor Mandriva. Former Mandriva founder Gaël Duval is having another crack at the open source desktop with Ulteo, while other French open source vendors include content management vendor Nuxeo, data integration firm Talend, and services firm Linagora. Also worth a mention is the OW2 Consortium, a non-profit open source middleware consortium formed by the merger of ObjectWeb and Orientware. Although its headquarters is actually in Belgium, its roots and its administration home is in Paris.
And another thing:
France even has its own family free software license. CeCILL was released in July 2004 and is designed to be compatible with both the GNU GPL and French law. It has been approved by the Free Sofware Foundation. CeCILL was followed by CeCILL-B, which is a BSD-style license, and CeCILL-C, which is more comparable wit the LGPL.
As always we welcome your input. If you have examples of open source adoption in France that we’ve overlooked, please leave a comment below. For more stops on the European tour, see this post.
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