The French National Assembly will move to open source software, cutting IT costs in the process, after a study ordered by the president of the assembly found it could provide all the tasks need by the Assembly's deputies.
The software on the deputies' desks will include Linux - although what version has yet to be decided, Open Office, the Firefox browser and an open-source email application.
The move is a concrete response to the desire of numerous deputies to see open source software used more widely in the public sector in France. One deputy in favour of the move is Bernard Carayon, commissioned by the Prime Minister earlier this year to report on how European businesses could play a greater role in developing global industrial standards, in order to reduce Europe's economic dependance on other regions.
In his report, On Equal Terms,Carayon advised that the French government should study how best to use and secure open source software - and recommended 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 Open Office, and also has the support of Sun Microsystems, IBM and other software developers.
France is following a growing trend. Earlier this year, the Belgian government announced an ODF trial and last year, the state of Massachusetts announced plans to migrate to ODF.
IT staff at the National Assembly have almost six months to prepare the switch to open source: elections for the next legislative session will be held on 10 and 17 June: the new deputies will be the first users of the new software.
Original reporting by IDG New Service.