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French Parliament To Go Open Source 231

dhoyte writes, " reports that next June the French parliament will be switching from Microsoft to open source products such as Linux for desktops and servers and OpenOffice for day-to-day documents. They see it as a cost-cutting measure." The French have not settled on a Linux distribution yet. The article quotes an analyst voicing a note of caution: "'The evidence on the cost savings attributable to a switch to Linux has been mixed,' according to Chris Swenson, director of software industry analysis at research group NPD. 'There has been some evidence that companies have to spend a good deal on training and support after you deploy...'"
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French Parliament To Go Open Source

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  • Re:mandriva (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:22PM (#17028236)
    Keep the money in their economy. I'd rather have my government paying citizens who will buy goods from other citizens.
  • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:30PM (#17028320) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that money spent on education tends to pay off all around especially when that education teaches people how to do things without being locked to a certain vendor. Education passes from one person to another whereas buying commercial software locks you to that vendor and is not allowed to pass from person to person. Even if the costs are identical the opensource solution empowers the user more than a commercial solution.

    My experience though is that if the tasks you need to do can be done using opensource you will save quite a bit of money. If there are rough spots you need fixed you can spend a little bit of money to hire, or sponsor, an existing developer of that project to make things work the way you need. For what you could spend to buy a few licenses of your average commercial app you could have the opensource equivilant customized to your needs. That is power over your own fate. How much is that worth over years or decades?
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:31PM (#17028330) Homepage Journal

    As Stallman explained at WSIS [], if we argue based on cost, they can offer that too, but if we argue based on freedom, they're not even in the running.

  • translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:36PM (#17028368) Homepage Journal

    The French have not settled on a Linux distribution yet.

    Translation: We want to see what Microsoft's counteroffer will be; if it's too low, we'll state we're picking Ubuntu, and if Microsoft still hasn't given a huge keep-me deal, we'll say we probably want Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:47PM (#17028446)
    I think it's more than just a measure for saving costs. They don't want to depend on one large company that doesn't mind to blackmail others. What if Microsoft suddenly threatens to drop its products in Europe? Both Europe and Microsoft will lose, but the difference is that Microsoft is in control while it should have been the government (representing the people).

    Being less dependent while saving costs can only be a good thing. Let's hope that they prove it's possible so others will make the step as well.
  • Re:Retraining. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:49PM (#17028462)
    I'm sick of hearing about retraining as being a reason not to change to Linux. The facts are that you're going to have to retrain everyone when you're forced to upgrade anyways. The big difference being that your Linux rollout will cost less, and provide future savings in the form of not having to upgrade and retrain for the next big change in an MS Office menu.
    I'm with you. I know this is going to upset some people, but I don't care. If you really need training to move from Internet Explorer to Firefox, or MS Word to OpenOffice Writer, I think I'd rather replace you than train you. You weren't smart enough to use 95% of the features of the old app, and if you can't pick up the 5% you need in a few days, you were probably going to be lost at the next Office upgrade anyway. Look! File / New! It's still there! Select words! Change font! Print! Center, Justify! My mom made the jump in less than a day, your users can too!
  • by eosp ( 885380 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:50PM (#17028466) Homepage
    Most of the things that are different are not used by the average person anyway. A French Parliament member would likely stay in their home directory, not use the command prompt, etc.
  • by bedonnant ( 958404 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:54PM (#17028498)
    that very well may be, but i think it is also a political move of independance. Being French myself, I find it quite surprising that the software used at the center of democracy, where all of the economical, political and social decisions are made, still relies on a foreign company, microsoft. this is especially true since the UE has started giving microsoft fines; on one hand we punish microsoft, and on the other we ask them to please allow us to not cripple our democracy. this move to opensource is very good news.
  • by bedonnant ( 958404 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:03PM (#17028566)
    How much preexisting knowledge and skills will cross-over to a Linux installation? Or will that be a "from scratch" issue?

    you have to remember that its the French Parliement. Parliement, not any kind of technical branch of the government. The people affected by this move will only surf the web, write reports and emails.

    I dont think that a massive training will be needed to switch from IE to Firefox, etc. Nor will it be from scratch. From a strictly user view, for the computer illiterate, the only changes they will notice will be maybe fonts, or colors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:10PM (#17028616)
    Slashdot has ads?
  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:35PM (#17028818)
    If posting as an AC implies BS, what should we make of you?
  • by charlieman ( 972526 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:55PM (#17028950)
    I think governments just say that so M$ lowers their price...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:58PM (#17028982)
    "Oh my god am I tired of this argument... some people seem to have very little grasp over "long term" and "short term" savings."

    You do realise they ARE talking about the long term. licensing costs are such a tiny fraction of the cost of any IT department that they have almost no effect over the overall TCO. It all comes down to administration, deployment, maintenance and monitoring costs. linux is not a deploy and forget solution, those costs like an MS environment are very real and VERY expensive. Why do linux zealots always think it is so clear cut to saving money when it is far from it. linux saves them a couple of percent in licensing, but those savings can easily be lost in managing the environment.
  • by thelinuxjunkie ( 452581 ) <> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:46AM (#17029254) Homepage
    Isn't it obvious, anytime a large corporation or entity states they are switching to Linux/FOSS and states a main reason of saving money, is merely screaming from the top of their lungs, 'Hey Microsoft, give us some free software or we're gonna switch!'

    No one ever really switches. Microsoft gives them tons of free software everytime. French Parliament doesn't want to pay the money to upgrade everyone to Vista, so instead they are playing a tactical rouillette game, in which they will win because regardless of who it is and how weak they are, Microsoft doesn't want a single hi-profile entity to actually switch to Linux and will willingly 'give' them the free software, not that it actually costs Microsoft anything, but they can then write it off as well as a charitable donation... blah blah blah.
  • Cluebat time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@beau . o rg> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:46AM (#17029258)
    > Getting someone to use OOo doesn't make it one bit easier to switch from Win32 to Linux on the desktop.

    Oh hell yes it does, especially in an organization. If all of an organization's data is in Office format that organization will probably stay on Windows. Crossover Office ain't going to cut it (Office license + CX Office license and forget getting a sweet deal on the Office licensing) and neither will OO.o's import filters. First time a document doesn't work 100% in the initial testing a MS fanboy (MCSE type afraid of learning) will raise holy hell.

    Get everyone off of Office and IE first and swapping out the underlying OS is a lot easier. Remember, people don't run an OS they run applications.
  • Re:RE-training? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:47AM (#17029264)
  • Re:mandriva (Score:1, Insightful)

    by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:25AM (#17029484) Journal
    There's certainly those kinds of relationships in the USA. Ever follow college sports?
    (Yes, I know it's not on the same par, but still.)
    What's the good word? TO HELL WITH GEORGIA!
  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:00AM (#17029680)
    How much preexisting knowledge and skills will cross-over to a Linux installation? Or will that be a "from scratch" issue?

    For 98% of people, 98% of their skills. As 98% of office workers just click to open a document, type, and click on a button to format, click on a button to print or email. The support techs are the ones who will have to actually learn anything new; and as they're already using Linux servers, that won't be a stretch for them.

    The 2% who have VBA mactros and such will need more hand-holding. But it's certain that an upgrade to Vista would cause a lot of grief for them too.

    Yes, I made up the figures. But it's based on my personal observation of what real people in offices do all day.

  • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:52AM (#17029956)
    A strict subset cares about freedom, and they're probably already running Linux.

    Or they're the kind of people used to looking at the bigger picture and beyond the next quarterly results, such as, say, governments?
  • Re:translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:11AM (#17030476) Homepage
    I see you don't know the French. Youu see, it is not true that they hate Americans. They just like making decisions by themselves. With Mandriva being largely French, you can be sure they just won't see the need to buy foreign.
  • by heroofhyr ( 777687 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:49AM (#17030700)
    There are a few situations I can see where everyday workstation users might have a bit of trouble without any training. One would be, as you touched upon, mounting devices, CDs, floppies, USB sticks, etc., to get files that aren't on the primary hard drive or to save something. OK, maybe a French depute doesn't need to understand all of the mechanics and optional arguments of dd or mkisofs, but eventually someone will want to take work home with them on a disk/CD, load something off a pen drive, or burn a graphical presentation to a DVD. Having to tell them as part of the IT department, "Oh, that's too complicated for you. Yeah, I know even someone as stupid as you could figure it out in Windows, but it's a bit trickier now--there's more to remember. I'll come by and do it for you later" is simply not going to be tolerated very long. The problem only gets harder when one considers that the older you get, the more resistant one becomes to new information and ideas. And parliaments aren't exactly full of people in their prime.

    Another problem that could arise is if the XServer crashes and the user, who maybe hasn't used DOS in 10+ years, is suddenly met with this command prompt and a lot of text about XFontErrors and core dumps. Their first thought probably won't be, "Woops, I guess I'd better restart the XServer and e-mail this core dump and a list of things I was doing at the time to the appropriate people. How mildly inconvenient," but rather, "Oh, shit, oh shit oh shit, I just destroyed the computer. I'm going to be fired!" and that's when, thinking back to their days in Windows when they needed to fix a crashed program, hit the power button to reboot the computer...without unmounting any of the filesystems or properly shutting down.

    I'm too young to have read tech magazines in the late 80s/early 90s (other than those often funny often unfunny Fifth Wave strips in the Xxxx for Dummies books). Was there all this bullshit back then too about how people shouldn't switch from MS-DOS/Mac/etc. to Windows for Workgroups because of the "high cost of training people?"
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:47AM (#17030984) Journal
    THere's no such thing as "standard point of sale hardware". They *all* have different protocols. Commercial POS software tends to only support a tiny fraction of the hardware on the market, so generally when buying a POS system - you'll look at the software that does what you want THEN select hardware that works with it.

    The nearest thing there is to a standard for the hardware is at the signalling level - it's generally all still RS-232, or if it's USB, it's USB set up as an RS-232 USB device (or if you're unlucky, USB set up as a HID generating keyboard input). The protocols used by the hardware are pretty simple though - for example, most barcode scanners just spit out the data in ASCII and that's that. Cash drawers are often not directly connected to the computer, but connected to the receipt printer - and you tell the printer to pop the draw open.
  • Re:mandriva (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:43AM (#17031244)
    Or, y'know, they'll talk about it a lot, make a lot of noise, Microsoft will rush out half-a-dozen new "studies" that "prove" OSS is more expensive in the long run, Microsoft will offer them preferential licensing deals and the French government will change their mind at the last minute, just like every other widely-trumpeted high-profile government switch to Linux recently.

    Seriously - is anyone else bored of these "OMFG, Government X is switching to Linux!!!1!!one!" stories, inevitably followed by "Government X backs down and licenses Windows/Office" headlines a month later?

    To Whom It May Concern: Either announce a switch to Linux, go through with it and provide a flagship test-case for Linux in government, or STFU and stop wasting our time with vacuous attempts to scare better licensing terms out of Microsoft. It's getting boring.
  • Re:Retraining. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:30AM (#17033058)
    I'm sorry, but you're so wrong. At least about Office (IE generally shouldn't require retraining). When I tried moving to OpenOffice, I needed to completely relearn all the shortcuts and menu options. You see, there's more to Office than just typing text and changing the font - if there wasn't, you'd just be better of using WordPad. Obviously, if that's all it is, then you can use any old text editor.

    However, using styles, writing equations, table of contents, section breaks etc, tend to complicate the migration process. Furthermore, back when I was using OOo 2.0, it still had issues with the equation editor not rendering properly half the time. And I tried using 1.x (don't remember the exact one) at work to edit a spreadsheet, and it kept corrupting the spreadsheet until I finally had to redo it from scratch.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that OOo is trying to compete with Office. However, Office is really the flagship MS product in terms of quality, stability, and usability and OOo right now doesn't come close.

    BTW, if a company is going to switch to Linux, I'd recommend WINE so as to be able to retain Office.