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Prime Minister to French Government: Favor FOSS Wherever Possible

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the this-is-what-happens-when-socialism dept.

GNU is Not Unix 112

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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FOSS Visual Studio (-1, Offtopic)

Jkala (2739767) | about 2 years ago | (#41463655)

Professionals know that there really is no comparison for Visual Studio. So I challenge you, slashdotters, to find an IDE as full of features while still being easy to use. FOSS alternative! What is good Visual Studio replacement?

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463683)

vi

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463865)

Emacs

Fixed that for you :p

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464133)

iMac

Fixed that for you. :p

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41465035)

a text edditor should not be able to play chess it should edit text

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41466935)

nano ... I just want basic editing either way... If I need more, I'll fire up sublimetext 2 or an actual IDE.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463719)

Microsoft has refused to implement essential features from C99 that exist in nearly every other C compiler. Don't try to claim that Visual Studio is advanced software.

Example: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/zb1574zs(v=VS.100).aspx [microsoft.com]

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464785)

That's because Visual Studio isn't a C compiler it's a C++ compiler

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465095)

Visual Studio has the weakest support for C++ of the whole mainstream scene. They have a *single*, albeit very bright, guy working on STL, and probably not many more people working on the language.

That's because what?

My guess would be that that's because Visual Studio is not a C++ compiler either. Microsoft is trying to do the same thing to C++ they failed to do with Java. Look at the scorn their C++ users gave them after the most recent release when it turned out that whenever they talked about C++ (MS bragged quite a bit before the release) they meant another language, that "managed" thing.

Compare Visual Studio's support for C++: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh567368.aspx with GCC's: http://gcc.gnu.org/projects/cxx0x.html and Clang's: http://clang.llvm.org/cxx_status.html

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465391)

That's mainly due to their release cycle and anyone actually informed about the current situation knows this. With VS2012, they are changing the update cycle so that smaller updates to parts of VS can be done without waiting a long time for a service pack or a new release.

C++1x support is going to be implemented incrementally that way.

You can't even compare C to this because Microsoft doesn't promote VS at all for C development, it's more of an afterthought.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#41464843)

Visual Studio isn't a compiler.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465409)

It isn't a Studio either.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#41463737)

Two things:

1) "Wherever Possible" means that they know FOSS doesn't have a solution to every little problem. However, if it comes down to word processors, databases, web browsers, etc then there are numerous FOSS alternatives.

2) Visual Studio is great for MS languages like VB.NET but I find it lacking for C++ or PHP, which I use different IDEs for. It's like saying a full-size pickup truck is the absolute best vehicle out there. Sure, it's great for a lot of tasks but I wouldn't want to use it for long distance commutes, cross-country travel, navigating narrow city streets...

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (4, Informative)

LourensV (856614) | about 2 years ago | (#41464767)

Two things:

1) "Wherever Possible" means that they know FOSS doesn't have a solution to every little problem. However, if it comes down to word processors, databases, web browsers, etc then there are numerous FOSS alternatives.

The Netherlands' government has been operating on a "comply or explain" principle for years. All government agencies are required to use open source software and free standards, or else explain why they don't. All the government agencies I've seen in the past couple of years (municipalities, provinces, and a couple other government and semi-government organisations) use Microsoft software everywhere, with the exception of the databases, for which they use Oracle. Spatial planning is done with the proprietary ESRI stack. The only open source is usually the CMS they use for the web site, either an existing one or a home grown one which they open sourced themselves, and they have an ODF plugin installed in Word so that they can fulfil their legal requirement to be able to communicate using the ODF standard. Of course, everyone uses doc and docx.

I think the main reason is that they simply don't employ any real IT staff, just a few technicians who know how to swap out a machine and which phone number to call the supplier on when something breaks. It's difficult to find people who, given a bunch of open source software, can actually fix things themselves, and those people are expensive. Getting external support for FOSS is also not easy unless it's for something extremely mainstream. The FOSS GIS stack is getting quite capable for example, but I think there are only a handful of companies world wide who offer support for the thing, and they're all pretty small and on the other side of the world from here. So ESRI and Oracle Spatial it is.

So, which the initiative is great, and all sovereign governments should be using Free software on general principle, I'm afraid that this is not going to change much in France.

as someone contracting for Ministry of Finance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41469887)

... I can attest this policy is nothing new. Except for really huge stuff (accounting: done using the world's ugliest SAP implementation; tax returns, etc), pretty much anything small to quite large is done using a mixture of PHP or Java (more Spring/Tomcat than WebLo, if you see the nuance) sitting on Postgres.

A transition from MS Office 2003 to LibreOffice is ongoing; some administrations within MEF (Min. of Finance) have already switched for some time: Customs for instance (DGDDI). For the record, one of the major OpenOffice.org 3.0 launch parties was held within the premises of the Ile-de-France regional government.

In order to cope, MinFin and many other ministries have set-up significant software support contracts, which go, depending on the locations, from turnkey service to only level-three bugfix ability. Some companies do thrive on this business.

So yeah, Ayrault's not actually innovating, but he's mostly widening the policy to the whole national government. Good.

(Ministry of Work, by contrast, is a Microsoft stronghold, save for a few botched pure LAMP tools, which they regurlarly reimplement in SharePoint. Sometime's that's even the right thing to do...)

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470689)

The bit of the British government I work for is similar. Officially, everything should be open source where possible. In practise, we still have MS Office, Windows etc, and some expensive databases.

However, we are fortunate that the head of IT is an open source fan (and so am I), so lots of "unseen" stuff is running on free software. We were audited last year, as the next-level-up in government was concerned that our "value for money" score for IT was an order of magnitude better than theirs, which was embarrassing for them -- especially as the government had announced they would reduce IT spending.

It turned out everything was cheaper because we use local companies for what we don't do in-house, rather than the money-sucking multinationals like Accenture etc. I haven't heard anything more for a while, I suspect the next-level-up is wishing they never asked, and trying to forget about it. A nice meal from the Accenture CEO will probably help with that.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

jyx (454866) | about 2 years ago | (#41470723)

I think the main reason is that they simply don't employ any real IT staff, just a few technicians who know how to swap out a machine and which phone number to call the supplier on when something breaks. It's difficult to find people who, given a bunch of open source software, can actually fix things themselves, and those people are expensive. Getting external support for FOSS is also not easy unless it's for something extremely mainstream. The FOSS GIS stack is getting quite capable for example, but I think there are only a handful of companies world wide who offer support for the thing, and they're all pretty small and on the other side of the world from here. So ESRI and Oracle Spatial it is.

this...

You didn't mention the really annoying thing about that phone number to call is often attached to large 6+ figure support contracts.

And that to get the system in place to have a reason to use that phone number required a team on expensive consultants which disappear after just barely implementing the requested feature set.

That fact is, for the cost of this 'off the shelf' enterprise package, you could employ a small team of dedicated technical types whose sole job it is to make it work AND have the bonus of a dedicated team of people who know what the fuck they are doing and don't need to pick up that phone in the first place.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470981)

This may be true but it is a matter of critical mass and investment in alternatives.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463747)

QtCreator

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463953)

nano

FOSS should go its own way (0, Flamebait)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41464247)

Too much of FOSS is based on emulating existing desktop software. It's not doing a great job, and I don't know why. Libre Office is a joke compared to Microsoft Office, once you get out of the "writing letters to Grandma and recipes" phase. In the same way, there is no substitute for Visual Studio, a competitive Photoshop replacement or Open Source video games that compare with the commercial variants. These are task-oriented software products which lead users to anticipate a fully articulated tool.

Where FOSS shines is in areas of technical interest that are not driven by the needs of the consumer, but by other technology, and consistent with prior technology. The many FOSS programming languages, web servers, databases, etc. show why this is the case. These are more infrastructure-related projects which are not going to be driven by consumer demand, and are granular and don't require one great idea but building on other ideas. The tool is formed from stringing these "tool-lets" together.

Instead of trying to essentially rip off successful software packages, FOSS should recognize that the free enterprise model, in which individuals are rewarded for exceptional contributions and given "parental" rights to direct the development of their ideas, is better for specific task software packages especially on the desktop. FOSS should also recognize that the academic/collaborative model works better for infrastructure-oriented software, and go in that direction instead.

Re:FOSS should go its own way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464545)

In what ways is MS Word better than LibreOffice? are those specific things important to me? in what ways is LibreOffice better than MS Word? are those specific things important to me?
No mater how much "better" one may be than the other if you are not using the extra features they are not in any way important. The one that decided me was the long document advice from my university, don't use MS word for long documents if you can avoid it, the other features are worthless for my long document if it can not be made reliable.

Also, when you are late to the game and have limited resources due to a limited customer base catching up is hard. There is no need for special reasons or to think that FOSS or open source are in anyway inferior in the desktop market, customer number comparisons are as much a cause as an effect.

Re:FOSS should go its own way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464667)

Whatever the difference, put government money into development and boooom.

Catching up isn't hard, but markets are often winner-takes-it-all. That means even moderate competition prevents license extortion.

France, the Grand nation does not like to be a licensing slave to US software companies. And it has strong pressure groups for software freedom such as APRIL.

Re:FOSS should go its own way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464623)

Look, it is all a matter of public investment. Put 30 Mio Euro per anno into Libreoffice, and it drives down Microsoft Office license fees for the public sector and stimulates innovation. Furthermore French politicians are still pissed how Sarkozy intervened at AFNOR on behalf of Bill Gates. Now socialists are in office who dispise Sarkozy.

Re:FOSS should go its own way (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41464923)

In the same way, there is no substitute for Visual Studio,

Please, make up your mind. First you complain OSS should go its own way, then you complain there's not direct clone of a poor, yet inexplicable popular IDE. There are plenty of substitutes for VisualStudio, many of which work much better. GCC is a better compiler with better optimizations, better C99 support, better C++11 support better list of supported targets and much more frequent updates. Vim is a vastly superior editor with better support for a vwey wide range of languages, better editing capabilities, better use of screenspace and many other more advanced features. And, well, jabbing a fork in your eye is better than the visual studio build system. Or use make.

The combination of whatever compiler, whatever editor, whatever shell and whatever build tool is very much superior and very much the unix way, but...

Instead of trying to essentially rip off successful software packages, ...what you actually want is a ripoff of visual studio.

Re:FOSS should go its own way (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467081)

What Visual Studio offers, well and above other packages is a better out of the box experience. You can create a web application project (from a built in template) and run it as a "hello world" in under a minute (after install) with no prior experience with the tool. With Eclipse getting a project going is like pulling teeth. With Ruby/Python environments, there are a lot of boilerplate choices to make and command-line tools you have to learn or look up the syntax for. With VS you get integrated tools for developing against an MS-SQL database, as well as source code control integration and project planning integration. These time savings are huge.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great electric screw drill, lots of bits, screw heads and attachments. You can even mount it to use as a router. On the flip side, sometimes you just need to put a nail in the wall to hang a picture up. Lately, my favorite hammer has been Node.js ... again, everyone has their own choice of tools for the job.

Just because you've taken the time to learn how to put your compiler, editor and build system together does not mean there isn't value in an out of the box system that offers that and more. Not to mention in the .Net space the sheer volume of out of the box libraries, utilities, modules and tools in place to get a job done. Not everyone is building a sky scraper... some people are building lots of RVs and dog houses.

I can do that in KDevelop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41468513)

I can "create a C application project (from a built in template) and run it as a "hello world" in under a minute (after install) with no prior experience with the tool" with kdevelop.

I can do the same with PHP, nedit and three commands.

And where is the integrates tools for developing against an ACTUAL SQL database?

Re:I can do that in KDevelop. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41469395)

Wow, that wasn't flamebait at all... There are plugins for working against SQLite, and iirc mySQL, not sure about PostgreSQL/EnterpriseDB though. MS-SQL is a pretty capable SQL database, I tend to avoid use of the more proprietary aspects of any database though.

Insert marketing waffle ... (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about 2 years ago | (#41467287)

"Too much of FOSS is based on emulating existing desktop software"

And that's why Microsoft is licensing Android [itproportal.com] to Googles OEMs.

"Where FOSS shines is in areas of technical interest that are not driven by the needs of the consumer"

Ubuntu 12.04 vs. Windows 8: [zdnet.com]

Xbmc + adalight + cinema experience [youtube.com]

Duke Nukem 3D - Gameplay (Linux) [youtube.com]

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464599)

Visual Studio is nice, but is not as productive as Eclipse, IMO.

Yes, I am a professional with 20+ years in the field in C++, Java and .Net. Yes, I've use Visual Studio and Eclipse extensively. Yes, I still like to use VI because there's nothing else like it out there.

So please, drop statements that 'Professionals know,' because you don't seem to know.

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (2)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | about 2 years ago | (#41465379)

Have you ever considered using Eclim [eclim.org] ? It's Eclipse with Vim as the interface (or Vim with Eclipse tools if you prefer).

Re:FOSS Visual Studio (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467129)

Create a web project in Eclipse... getting a hello world web-app running with integrated debugging. Now, imagine doing that with little/no experience. It's absolutely painful... Do the same in VS... There's no comparison.

I've never been more productive in Eclipse than VS... That includes related developments such as Flex/Flash Builder... It's cumbersome, and there's a ton of crap to get the simplest of projects running, let alone deployed. I'd rather use a straight text editor with Ruby, Python, Perl or Node.js than touch Eclipse if I don't have to.

One sterp forwards... (0)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 2 years ago | (#41463687)

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

Thanks. Love your fries.

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463787)

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

Re:One sterp forwards... (4, Funny)

jbrandv (96371) | about 2 years ago | (#41463945)

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

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464329)

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.

Re:One sterp forwards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464853)

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.

If you slice potato too thin, it dries too much in the fryer. "Cardboard" is how dry potato tastes. I too prefer it crispy on the outside, cooked on the inside. However, then you have to wait for them to cool down a bit or you'll burn yourself. "Cardboard" fries are cool enough to be eaten in seconds - they don't call them fast food for nothing!

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464941)

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

Re:One sterp forwards... (3, Informative)

Schmorgluck (1293264) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Other way round, dude. OTHER WAY ROUND! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41468591)

A slower fry to cook it to a slight gold tint first, then take them out (and, best of all, if you're doing several loads, put them in a caserole dish in a prewarmed oven while doing the next lot), heat the fat more and put them back in for the second fry to crisp it up.

If you crisp it first, you end up slowing down the rate at which you can cook the potatoe, ruining fat cut chips.

By putting them in the oven to sit while you do the next load, the hot chip warms and starts cooking more fully without the fat soaking in as much and you can more easily end up with a fluffy cooked potatoe inside a crispy outer shell of fried potatoe.

Fat can get hotter than oil, hence makes crispier chips.

HOWEVER

Maybe unless you use dripping, the first few fries of chips in lard will taste pretty tasteless. After a few fries, the lard has picked up some of the starch and now contains some flavour and makes the chips taste far better than oil.

Re:One sterp forwards... (5, Informative)

aaribaud (585182) | about 2 years ago | (#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? :)

Re:One sterp forwards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463963)

AFAIK, the current french executive has already committed to repealing the 3-strikes rule. And they also did other interesting things: increased the minimum wage by 2%, decreased to 60 years the retirement age for factory workers, announced the hiring of 60K new public employees, and cut politicians' salaries.

Mr Hollande is simply great, he's proving that socialism can work.

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41465819)

Decreasing the politicians salaries could help but where's the rest of the money going to come from for the other goodies?

Savings from using FOSS?

It comes from the salaries being spent. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41468637)

Those workers will spend their money on stuff.

This stuff bought then accrues VAT and, when given to the workers of the store, that is taxed. Those workers will buy stuff which accrues VAT and that goes to paying people's salaries, which are taxed.

Really, for a group of idiots harping on about how "the job creators" will make everything better "because of trickle-down economics" seem to feel that the government money somehow doesn't trickle down.

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467181)

Unfortunately the fallout for government action, or inaction usually takes 5-20 years to actually know how the effects play out. Socialism's success can not be "proven" with a few politically popular moves. Ireland went through similar actions for a number of decades before the fallout became too bad to keep up with.

Re:One sterp forwards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41463995)

The 3-strike was voted under the preceding administration. The recently elected President promised to repel the law (among other things), but that was before the election, ad although it has become clear that the law is inefficient, the government seems to have no idea how to proceed to reverse the situation (what to do with the agency created to apply the 3-strike law, what legislation to substitute the current one). Also that's not their top priority. But you never know, he still might want to abide by his promise.

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 2 years ago | (#41464077)

what to do with the agency created to apply the 3-strike law

Dynamite the building, behead the managing staff, gas the employees, deport their families. Simple enough.

Re:One sterp forwards... (1)

Pro-feet (2668975) | about 2 years ago | (#41465199)

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.

oh my some sense... from the french (4, Funny)

johnjones (14274) | about 2 years ago | (#41463837)

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

Re:oh my some sense... from the french (1)

slashdyke (873156) | about 2 years ago | (#41463885)

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...

Nationalize Mandriva (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#41467105)

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.

A motto for FOSS (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 2 years ago | (#41463955)

Liberté, égalité, fraternité A motto for FOSS.

Re:A motto for FOSS (2)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 2 years ago | (#41464275)

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

Re:A motto for FOSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464635)

What's UTF-8? ASCII ought to be enough for everybody.

Re:A motto for FOSS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464897)

Pas si sûr. Ça dépend...

Re:A motto for FOSS (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41464301)

Along with "Stop assuming it's all ASCII!"

Re:A motto for FOSS (0)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 2 years ago | (#41465289)

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.

Re:A motto for FOSS (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 2 years ago | (#41470791)

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.)

This is what I have been saying for years... (5, Informative)

SilenceBE (1439827) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is what I have been saying for years... (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41464125)

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.

Re:This is what I have been saying for years... (2)

gQuigs (913879) | about 2 years ago | (#41465453)

> Which is why this will never happen in the US.

SELinux (developed by the NSA)
GRASS GIS (developed by the US Army Core of Engineers) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GRASS_GIS#History [wikipedia.org]
VistA (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture developed by the VA) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VistA [wikipedia.org]
You can even try out the DOD's flavor of Linux - http://www.spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm [dod.mil]

We can of course do even better.. and we should.

Re:This is what I have been saying for years... (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467305)

I wouldn't say that, there's been quite a few Millitary applications of FOSS used in-house. Unfortunately a lot of these in-house systems are displaced by corporate contracts and rolled into MS based solutions, also much of it doesn't ever see the light of day.

Re:This is what I have been saying for years... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464729)

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] .

Re:This is what I have been saying for years... (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467265)

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 are well supported on the platform. Another issue, is systems such as Raspberry Pi (imho the most widely available ARM platform, for building a cluster at a decent cost), don't have enough RAM to handle certain types of load well.

Je l'approuve! (2, Interesting)

PerlPunk (548551) | about 2 years ago | (#41464039)

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, etc.), OpenOffice is a piece of crap.
b) Ditto for Subversion. As compared with proprietary source control like Harvest or Merant PVCS, Subversion is also a piece of crap.

That said, a government putting some of its spending power behind some key open source projects could produce some quality open-source software to shore up some of these shortcomings.

Also, open source software provides unprecedented opportunity for others to innovate with the software itself in ways you cannot do with proprietary software.

So, I fully approve of and support France's direction in supporting open source software in their government administration.

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

aaribaud (585182) | about 2 years ago | (#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! (3, Interesting)

PerlPunk (548551) | about 2 years ago | (#41464441)

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.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464719)

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! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41470531)

PerlPunk said he was using OpenOffice, not LibreOffice. There is no need to be rude, especially when you're making bad assumptions. (And using proper grammar and refraining from putting words in someone else's mouth doesn't hurt either.)

Edit: captcha word: "impolite"

Re:Je l'approuve! (3, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41464803)

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.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467361)

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 to use and doesn't suck... with Git, you're pretty much tied to having a console window open to work against.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41469409)

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.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 2 years ago | (#41466699)

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 many FLOSS and non-FLOSS applications are developed. You don't hear about bugs in proprietary software, not because people are perfecting them, but because the company doesn't let the world know if it can help it. FLOSS software is generally developed in an open fashion. Moreover, a lot of FLOSS software has a lot of people being paid to work on it. OOo was had people from Sun, and then (sorta) Oracle paid to work on it. LibreOffice incorporates a lot of bug fixes and patches from Novell and RedHat (among others). A lot of FLOSS applications do get commercial support and development.

And I use Bazaar (bzr) for my VC needs. It also just works.

Re:Je l'approuve! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41468727)

Ah! You need to try LibreOffice; it is far superior to OpenOffice, and solves both these issues.

Regarding the screenshot-into-tables, I just took a screenshot of my dual-monitor computer and pasted it into a cell; it worked beautifully, with the scaled-down screenshot appearing instantly.

Regarding the "move paragraph up or down", that ability is defaulted to "Ctrl-Alt-Up" and "Ctrl-Alt-Down". Ctrl-Shift plus arrow keys works with cursor movement and highlighting by default, which is far more intuitive to me, but you can change the shortcut if desired by going to Tools>Options>Customize, and selecting the Keyboard tab - the functions you want are "Move Down" and "Move Up", in the Edit category.

I did have one quick hiccup on my own computer - my Intel graphics driver had actually taken over those key combinations, making Ctrl-Alt-Down flip one of my monitor's screen upside down! I turned this off by going to Options and Support in Intel's graphics control panel, and then everything worked properly.

And now that reread your post, I see you also want to move table cells up and down the same way. And on testing, no, LibreOffice does not do that, as far as I can tell. This would be a sensible thing to suggest to the LibreOffice developers as a feature request. That said, might it make more sense for LibreOffice to instead keep the "move paragraphs" functionality with that key combination inside tables, so if tables are used with multiple paragraphs in them, it's still possible to move the paragraphs? Maybe implement "move table cells" as a different key combination, and all's good there.

Re:Je l'approuve! (2)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 2 years ago | (#41464693)

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. A lot of help.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 2 years ago | (#41467437)

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, examples and already in-use systems. I don't think LO wins hands down, given that a number of times I've seen MS Office Word documents that simply look too wrong in LO.

The biggest hindrance to LO is the debt in place of existing documents... I tend to install LO for any friends/family that ask about office, since far more often than not it meets their needs... In business, with more advanced usage of Excel or Word, it's a very hard sell.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#41469785)

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?

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#41465105)

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 Android (gerrit) is highly integrated with git. Github has rapidly become one of the most well established source code hosting sites in the world.

Re:Je l'approuve! (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41465915)

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.

Re:Je l'approuve! (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#41465889)

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:Je l'approuve! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465969)

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, straight DB read access is more user friendly than the gui, any question asked about it on stackoverflow earns you a tumbleweed badge, it goes on and on. I still have to support that evil thing for the next few years, after drawing the corporate short straw. About the only good thing about it: It is very easy to create reports for management, when they want top know the reason why half of development time is spent in the versioning tool.

The short version: Anyone reading this and choosing version management software: pick Subversion. or pick that ugly microsoft thing. or pick a source folder. or just print your sources and retype them if that's what it takes. But not PVCS.

French economy (4, Interesting)

Liquid Len (739188) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Only 5-10% reinvestment? (1)

Squiggle (8721) | about 2 years ago | (#41464167)

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.

Re:Only 5-10% reinvestment? (2)

aaribaud (585182) | about 2 years ago | (#41464287)

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.

Re:Only 5-10% reinvestment? (1)

godrik (1287354) | about 2 years ago | (#41464959)

(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.

"in French, of course" comment????? (0)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#41464381)

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?

Re:"in French, of course" comment????? (2)

PerlPunk (548551) | about 2 years ago | (#41464647)

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.

Re:"in French, of course" comment????? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 2 years ago | (#41464841)

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.

Even worse for Oracle and Microsoft (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about 2 years ago | (#41464433)

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 (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41464463)

Ballmer and Ellison exhorting "zut alors!"

Water/Sewer Utilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41464643)

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.

Re:Water/Sewer Utilities (1)

koxkoxkox (879667) | about 2 years ago | (#41465281)

Let me guess, WaterGems and co ?

Re:Water/Sewer Utilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41466877)

Good Guess. But H2OMap actually.

Très Cool! (3, Insightful)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#41464879)

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."

Re:Très Cool! (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 2 years ago | (#41465357)

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 years to pay for the inevitable training and support issues you'd have initially.

Bad PDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465093)

The PDF is made from scans of printed text.

Re:Bad PDF (1)

gregarican (694358) | about 2 years ago | (#41465223)

Or maybe they authored the original using LibreOffice??? *ducks*

Re:Bad PDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41465967)

That's the level of computer literacy you find in french governement administration...
Ms monoculture, Excel and macros for everything, communication largely based on PDF exchanged by email.
And IT management is staffed by people whose skills hasn't evolved since the late 1990s.

I guess it also works that way in a lot of other countries.

Socialists support F/OSS (2)

whitroth (9367) | about 2 years ago | (#41465613)

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).

Exactly what should be happening!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41468683)

Exactly what should be happening!!!

I'm a big free software advocate. My job entails working with 100% free software and NOT just “open source” (for the most part- there is a slight discrepancy depending on what you mean when you say this as some of the distributions include non-free components-for which we don't support). The one thing that my company has been trying to do is contribute back a significant percentage of our profits to the free software movement and projects we rely on. We're not just doing this for ethical reasons. There is an economic incentive to it. There are technical and ethical benefits to avoiding non-free software. Eliminating non-free software dependencies makes the hardware easier to support (or even possible). We're the #1 company in the free software arena for GNU/Linux hardware and sticking to the FSF definition of free has really paid off.

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