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French Senator Proposes Requiring Open Source

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the best-national-government-idea-in-a-long-time dept.

GNU is Not Unix 234

We've had a lot of submissions lately about a proposal within the French Government to require use of Open Source software wherever possible, as well making the government more electronically accessible. Thus far however, either we've had material in French, or unsubstantiated - but thanks to one of our French-speaking readers who has translated the Senator's comments (above link) into English, you can click below to read the Senator's comments. This has to be one of the best ideas a national government has had in a long time - my hat (beret?) is off to the French.Update: 10/28 11:10 by H :Thanks to Julien Roussea who's sent over a translation of the legal proposal to require Open Source. As well, read his open letter regarding the issue.

Translation of comments by French Senator Pierre Laffitte to postings on the French Senat e-forum to his proposed law for making government services electronically accessible and mandating the use of open source software (I hope I did better than BabelFish).

Message from Senator Pierre Laffitte - email: Sent : 28 Oct 1999 09:37:59

Subject: Comments on the state of the forum on 27 Oct 1999

The success of the forum opened by the Senat shows the interest in the proposed law. More than 400 messages are awaiting me when I get back from Stockholm & Tunis in six days.

Some of them are very potent and enthusiastic; in particular, I'm thinking of those from Jeff Thompson and Xavier Giannapoulos on the 26th October. Of course we wish that the European Countries and others will follow. I add that the approach matches the strategies of a number of global information technology Companies. It's by way of services adapted to the customers rather than by selling proprietary software that money should be made. IBM and SUN are of this opinion and MICROSOFT seems to me ready to follow this path.

I thank you in the name of my colleagues and myself for the many positive responses.

I note that few of the comments touch on the use of electronic messaging in government departments. At the moment the legal control services of regional government oppose their use between local groups, which explains Article 1.

Few comments concerning the billions of savings that would result from public services and companies using email for calls for offers (Article 2). Nobody has brought up the very strong incentive for modernisation that this example by public services would provoke.

Most of the messages focus on open source, hence these remarks above. (Articles (4 & 5)

The objective of this forum is to collect suggestions, these will all be analyzed and weighed, in particular by the sponsor in charge of proposing the law. It will be no doubt examined as extension of the the proposed law presented by Ms. E GUIGOU giving legal status to digital signatures.

As is customary in the Senat, this will be completed by auditions and everything will be examined with a sense of responsibility, rigorousness and analysis of the various consequences. This conforms the tradition of the role to the Senat at the heart of the French Parliament.

Sénateur Pierre LAFFITTE

cancel ×


Link to another (English) article... (1)

Gino (32932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581700)

I've submitted this article [] a few day's ago when it first appeared in The Register [] on 24/10.

The article has some interesting comments - my personal favourite is the possible impact this may have on companies dealing with the government. They might be forced to make more use of Open Source S/W and systems if they want to have their bids considered by the government. the pricking of my thumbs,

What are the proposals? (2)

JordanH (75307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581701)

Perhaps some French speaking geeks could get the text of the proposed law and translate that for us.

From the translated message from the Senator, it's not at all clear as to what the Articles actually state.

I'd be very much in favor of a law that required all software used by the Government to be provided as Open Source, wherever possible (whatever that means).

This is not really that different from the current law in the US, if I understand it correctly, that any software written for the US Government (as a deliverable) has no copyright and is thus in the public domain. It would simply be moving from public domain to an Open Source license requirement. The two are very close, but an Open Source requirement would imply that the original source code must be supplied. A deliverable to the US Government could be executables that are in the public domain (could legally be reverse engineered).

There was a discussion [] of these issues over on Technocrat [] awhile back, with Bruce Perens making the interesting suggestion that someone should look into getting software created by/for the US Government released with Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While it appears the software created by/for the US Government has no copyright (Public Domain), the US Government is not under any obligation to make releases, except possibly under FOIA requests, which is what Bruce suggested someone should look into.

It appears that some people here seem to think that the French law will require that all Software be Open Source. I'd probably be opposed to such a mandate. This would unnecessarily displace workers suddenly who develop and release non-Open Source software. If Open Source is to succeed, I feel that it's better that it wins in the marketplace, not by mandate.

The Government is a customer in the marketplace, and if it's determined that the Government (and thus the people) benefit from the advantages of Open Source, well, that's just a customer making a minimum requirement for purchased goods. Nothing wrong with that.

Re:Yes let's make fun of all non WHITE AMERICAN pe (1)

GnomeAttic (97126) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581722)

One wonders why you picked my post to reply to when I am arguing against making fun of France, and there are posts that blatently make fun of it. One also wonders where you learned to spell "people".

You're not funny. (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581723)

And you are wrong.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581724)

blah blah blah blah blah Linux blah blah open source blah blah BLAH.

Re:Socialism at its worst (1)

razzmataz (69616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581725)

Uh, they aren't making it law that everyone in the country has to use open source software, just making it a procurment guideline for government purchases of software products.

Not the right way (1)

matomira (2943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581726)

I'm the first to complain about how ignorant Euro governments, organizations, companies and the public are in general when it comes to Microsoft software (besides being plain /wrong/ in the case of public institutions to MANDATE the use of proprietary American file formats), but this is NOT the way it should be done.

1. Requiring access to source code is OK. It doesn't need to be Open Source. That's what source code escrow is for.
2. Proprietary software is OK, when
a. The company providing it does not hold a [virtual] monopoly (eg: not only Microsoft would be out, but Mathematica, too). In this case, if the alternatives are not good enough, the state should provide a substantial amount of funding to help develop free alternatives (eg: REDUCE, Mockma, whatever).
b. There is no dominant player, and the commercial alternative provides relevant benefits, and is not attemptting an `embrace an extend' (a.k.a. vendor lock-in) strategy [Extensions not denounced by a sizable proportion of the community as improperly designed should be OK].
3. If a non-European player is not dominant as a whole, but only in relationship with its commercial competitors, and these include European companies, that dominant player is disqualified.
[Note that this does not mean that an European vendor is finally chosen].
4.`loss leaders' associated with conglomerates are disqualified.

US Government (4)

ajs (35943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581727)

I could see an Open Source initiative for the US government, but we have some oddities that would require special casing. Here's my thought:
  1. A general policy (executive order, sense of congress?) which states that the use of Open Source software is acceptable in any situation where the resulting software is not to be constrained by national security. BSD and MIT/X style software would still be fine in those situations, but GPL would be right out, unless the FSF was willing to make a general exception in writing for government projects thus constrained. The key, here, is that right now, most government contractors "feel" (and sometimes are told) that the government will not accept projects based on Open Source.
  2. Require that for every contract bid over X number of dollars, an Executive Office of Open Source be asked to review the Open Source world for existing solutions. This is sort of like requiring that there be an Open Source bid, but without there having to be a company to bid it. This office could be VERY small, and need not be a beaurecratic albetros around the bidding process' neck. OTOH, has that ever stopped the executive branch?
  3. Perhaps an ARPA-style grant could go out to research all non-classified government source code and determine what pieces would best be cleaned up and contributed back into the general Open Source pool (note, this would be as public domain software, as that is what ALL US government-owned software is by default, unless classified).


Shouldn't be suprising... (2)

teraflop user (58792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581728)

France is one of the most fiercly nationalistic (mainly in a good way) countries in Europe, and frequently takes action against dilution of French culture by overseas influences. The expurgation of the language being a notable example.

Open source offers a way to replace one `culturally imperialistic' product with one which can be modified and repackaged in France, and sold to profit French firms.

After Korea, my money was on France to be next. After that though, I'm at a loss. Maybe India.

Re:consumers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581729)

no this is saying developers have no rights. if i were a painter i would own my paintings, but since i'm a developer i can't own what i develope!?

As a developer, you are free to (try to) sell your program as a closed source program. No one can remove your the right to (try to) do this.

On the other hand, as a consumer, I'm free to choose not to buy your program. I'm free to choose an open source program instead of your closed source one. This is not as saying developers have no rights.

Re:The communism argument (1)

Dalavon (34753) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581730)

Do not delude your self thinkning that Democracy == Freedom. When the US was a republic we were much more free. Governement screws up almost anything they stick there smelly mitts in. Frankly nothing is going to turn me off faster then some big fat bloated government geting invoved and start saying "all software must be open source". Boy we will have problems then. The socialists are evrywhere and they want to force you into thier way of thinking. I am having trouble seeing your democracy does not seem like democracy...everyone is not voting for something and make that the standard...which would be horrible, no thanks no democratic software for me. I did not even like the idea when studying democratic software engineering teams.

Wow. This from the french! (1)

SirStanley (95545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581738)

HOLY COW!!!! I would have never expected this from the french. My first guess would have been that they would have surrendored to the borg known as Microsoft with little resistance if any. Ive been to france and a I really liked it.. I like it more now

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581743)

I think that this is a great idea..., and that only good can come from this.

Re:yes! (0)

SirStanley (95545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581744)

No wine.. No Beer. Get the man a martini. Shaken Not Stirred with 2 olives. No wine cause you ever see the Foreign Exchange Simpsons where Bart went to france? they Put ANTIFREEZE IN IT DAMMIT. And no Beer cause the only people that can make good beer other than the Nice Guys in Pottsville,PA at the Yeungling Brewery is those Spiffy dudes in Bitburg Germany BITTEN EIN BIT! Bitburger is the best beer on earth. And French like germans about as much as they like americans. So Give em martinis!

Re:Wow. This from the french! (1)

turbohavoc (79880) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581749)

I would have excpected Finland to force people to use Linux, the US to force people to use windows, and France to force people using BeOS, but this is so confusing... ;)

Ok, own up! (3)

QuMa (19440) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581752)

I knew it. Someone replaced the french with really reasonable, nice people. Ok, who did it? C'mon, own up....

Re:Great! (1)

light0 (106508) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581754)

If this goes through, maybe it will encourage other countries to think about the feasibility of adopting a similar set of guidlines.

developers rights (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581756)

we must not let this open source thing get over our heads. Developers must have the power to choose what to do with their software, requiring open-source sounds like communism in disguise to me.

French comments (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581758)

All code comments must be written in French, though. Otherwise they will be outlawed.

Re:Wow. This from the french! (1)

skelly (38870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581759)

C'est une suprix? Mais non! Les Francias sont la premier amis de GPL.

It would be like them to support anything that is not essentially Amierican only, can be ported into French easily, and can be modified by anyone qualified to make a contribution. They are merely trying to save money, recruit outside help, and try to reestablish themselves as a technological giant.
There would be choice because inviduals do not have to use Linux. People can run their computer on anything they want, just as long as it can communiacte with other computers or get the job done. Besides that Windows NT fiascoe with the Blue Screen of Death on US navy Ship proved that a more relaible program is needed for essential computer or networking services.
We all know the French are resolutely independent and nationalistically prideful (just like Americans), so this is a big egalitarian step towards gloabalism for them.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581761)

blah blah blah blah Linux blah blah open source blah blah blah.

Re:Socialism at its worst (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581762)

Where did you get this out of the original post, or do you have another source? One of my prior questions was to what extent are they proposing need for condescension. :) A great deal of the Senator's speech looks like typical political babble to my eyes.

Ah, I see you do not understand the French! (4)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581763)

The French are great at coming up with ideas that at some level seem quite logical, yet at the end, when it is all well and done the result is chaos.

The key phrase in the proposal is:

The objective of this forum is to collect suggestions, these will all be analyzed and weighed, in particular by the sponsor in charge of proposing the law.

This indicates that the idea is doomed from the start. Firstly all that is being proposed is collection and analysis of suggestions. Looks fine to an American, no? Let me tell you, with the French this could take centuries. The French have a tendency to analyze the shit out of everything before taking a move. Time in France is a very relative concept, and coupled with a fear of being wrong leads to analysis paralysis as a way of life.

Not only is this trap obvious here, but the speaker is proposing that somebody else actually do the work! Well, I can tell you from my experience with the French that this is bloody unlikely! French organizations embody the very essence of siloing. Unless there is some damned good reason for this other fellow to do the work, it just is not going to happen, a) just because this other fellow suggested it, and b) NIH c) my boss didn't like it. d) even if my boss did like it he didn't think of it e) we are on strike this week f) it's August so everyone in in the Alps.

If you ever plan to visit France it is very important to understand System D; that is how to weasel and worm out of French Bureaucrats the basic paperwork you need to live. And the French Buraucracy has been in place essentially unchanged since the time of Napolean! The very word Buraucracy was invented by the French to describe their system of goverment. It literaly mean tyranny of the desks!!!!

As far as I can tell such a speach may in fact be a clever ploy by Microsoft to prevent Open Source from ever gaining a foothold in France!

Of course the good news is that the Germans will take a look at the French and do exactly the opposite. My guess is by the end of next year all of Germany will be run on Open Source, and Microsoft will be more entrenched in France than ever!!!

Time for another war? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581764)

Well, in the UK the media have just started teaching us to hate the French again (We've been at war for much of the millenium). Ostensibly over contaminated French meat, but in reality I think its just pent up frustration with French farmers raking in huge subsidies from our taxes and blockading channel ports whenever anyone complains.

Bother. Why can't they decide if they're good guys or bad guys.


Sale: French rifles, never used, only dropped once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581765)

If Microsoft was a German company, the French wouldn't stand a chance.

Re:You're not funny. (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581766)

I was not trying to be funny. Many software written for linux are not always translated into French whereas most commercial software (especially from M$) are. Even visual basic is translated into French! The French adminstration will simply not work with English menus, error messages and man pages.

Re:Ok, own up! (1)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581787)

This was a secret operation of the US government in collaboration with friendly aliens.
They removed all the french and put them on some distance planet. then they put aliens that were genetically altered to look like humans in their place.
because the aliens are much more evolved they have allready found out the benefits of open source software a couple of centuries ago.
the starters of open source on earth have all been abducted by these aliens in childhood and the open source idea's have been hardwired into their brains.
there are also rumors they are about to replace some people from irak, iran and russia.


Re:What are the proposals? (2)

JordanH (75307) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581788)

Heh, maybe I should keep up with Technocrat [] . They had this story [] on Monday which references this article [] from The Register [] that answers my questions.

There's some interesting discussion over on Technocrat on this story.

It seems like an appropriate thread to insert (1)

anatoli (74215) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581789)

a plug. Gere it goes.

I feel sorry for my own country (which is called Israel for the time being). Such a proposal would never make it here.

Why? Because no single Open Source(TM) project worth mentioning has adequate support for freakin' Hebrew, much less for Arabic.

Most of Israeli geeks can live with English-only software; our government cannot. So it MUST use non-free software.

(Moderation suggestion: -1; offtopic.)

Re:Great! (1)

deefer (82630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581790)

Of course we wish that the European Countries and others will follow.
Yeah, like the French have such a good record for compliance of EU regulations... Beef included.
I'm not going to a Pierre Victoire restaurant until either the EU or the British govt gets off their gravy trained arses & sorts out the beef. And gives free roast potatoes with that.
Strikes me that when the UK had the BSE scare, the EU couldn't wait to nail us. Now the French have a similar issue, and what are the politicians doing ? Nothing, as usual. Except labelling us "Little Englanders" because our farmers rightly demand justice & regulation be applied uniformly.

Some Really good threads are opening at (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581791)

... and they read as if someone had babelfished the topics over here. ;-)

"Ok for open source, but the state must finance development effort"
"closed source is not the problem: closed document formats are"
"GPL fights the black-box problem, it has proven its value and, capacity to evolve. It is a political and citizen's imperative to support it."
"A proposal for Open Source Licensing giving original authors royalties for the usage of open source code."
"Open standards and doc formats are more important than open source"


Re:developers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581792)

If they had forced people to license the software they write under an open source license, it would be oppressive.

HOWEVER, this is not what they suggested. They suggested that the French government should excersize their right as a consumer of software to require that in order to get an order from them, the software must be open source.

It's in the right of the software companies to refuse, but then the government would simply not buy from them. The software companies don't have an inalienable right to get the taxpayers money without giving the government and the taxpayers what they ask for.

Re:Beer (1)

twinpot (40956) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581793)

Dunno about that, but the Kiwi (NZ) stuff is good ;-).

Re:The communism argument (1)

Dalavon (34753) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581811)

Meant what I said and said what I meant.

Re:Does NO one realize how bad this is?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581812)

It is still the programmers CHOICE to refuse to open source their software. It is however also in the CONSUMERS CHOICE (in this case the French government) to refuse to use software that doesn't use a license they like. The programmer doesn't have any right of dictating that I should use their software.

Forced freedom? (1)

Vox (32161) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581813)

I've seen some of the comments about goverments (particularly the US gvmnt) "forcing" open source licenses...I don't think that that's the way.

What the goverments SHOULD force (in a legal way) is for companies that produce software to adhere to open STANDARDS. For those that don't understand the not the same thing to say "you have to GPL your OS" than "You can license your OS any way you want, but if you use TCP/IP in your OS, you HAVE to use the standard protocol, can't borg it up with weird propietary crap"

That way, freedom is still there, but STANDARDS become that...standards.

For example, SMB is now (un)fortunately a de-facto standard, but it is fully controlled by MS...whenever the Samba team has it down right, MS rolls out a new piece of cruft and breaks it up, and Samba has to start doing some reverse eng to catch up. If things where right, the SMB standard would be controlled by a standrad's body who'd say "sure, encrypting passwords is good....this is how it will be done".

The attitude of this french senator is, almost, the right one...make it a law to follow standards of inter-operativelity(sp?), with the freedom of doing whatever you want with everything else in your product.

Just the opinion of somebody who thinks freedom is not only being allowed to do as you please, but being protected from those that try to lock you out of being free.


Re:No, it ain't communism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581814)

Demanding Open Source is a consumer's right.

I'm afraid not. Consumers, by definition, use software. They could care less about the source code. Demanding Open Source is a boon to a certain sector of the developers. And it represents a shift in the software economy, away from one where consumers pay for a product that includes a certain amount of support built-in (manuals, etc.), to one where the user has to hunker down and spend two hours a day on Usenet to know that the OS is secure, and deal with badly written HOWTO files and third party (it's all third party with Open Source!) books for documentation.

Ultimately the end result is lots and lots of incompatability, where the consumer again pays.

Don't point to Microsoft as the only alternative to Open Source. You can try to bury the truth by doing so, but it makes you look like a charlatan. There are countless other businesses offering closed-source solutions, and lots of it is pretty darn good stuff.

But we know you like playing with your straw man.

Strange choice of translations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581815)

It seems strange to me that this particular text would be the one to be translated and sent to slashdot. The information provided is purely incidental. This text is not at the heart of the whole thing, but rather at the fringe. Why post it? I hope slashdot will follow up with a prominent link to The Register's article, submitted by a couple people already: All this speculation is getting old. To quote The Register, "French senators Pierre Laffitte and René Trégouët are proposing that national and local government and administrative systems should only use open source software." Note that the PEOPLE will be free to use proprietary software. The uninformative translated text seems to have put people in a panic regarding privacy rights of software engineers.

Re:Wow. This from the french! (2)

Greg W. (15623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581816)

It seems to me that freedom would imply choices... "Requiring" something does not imply freedome.

There is much wisdom in this, but a distinction has to be made between the public and private sectors.

Requiring citizens to "choose" free software would, as you state, be an abhorrent abuse of power. However, requiring the government to use free software (or at least to give it proper consideration) is not the same thing.

The government has -- and should have -- restrictions upon it which are greater than the restrictions on citizens and corporations. It is only lately (since World Wars I and II and the Great Depression) that the US Government has had so much power, and caused so much harm to its own people.

It's time to reverse this trend.

Re:Shouldn't be suprising... (2)

Sylvain (80355) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581817)

NO !

This is not why we want open source softwares in our administration. We want it for the same reasons you would. We don't want our government to pay commercial progs when they are not needed, when they don't do better then OS ones.

We want gov to use standard formats to communicate, i don't want to use msword to read official documents.

There is no difference between the way a gov use computers, and the way a big company use it. So no, it's not a nationalistic choice.

Re:Microsoft ready to go open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581818)

Read the sentence more carefully. What he is saying is that software companies, including Microsoft, are increasingly putting their emphasis on services, rather than products. And if what you earn your money on is services, releasing the source to the products that let people use your services isn't a problem.

Microsoft is also going the services route, with their massive online services. They still depend on their software, but they've realized there's lots of money to be made in the services area too.

And if the entire French government market were closed to them if they won't provide source, then it might start to become interesting for them to release source to at least some products (I doubt that would include Windows and Office, though :-)

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581819)

Wow, talk about short sightedness. If this proposal goes through, they'll have to live with third rate hacked up solutions instead of professionally engineered software. The drop in productivity among french office workers forced to use Linux and KOffice will be unparalleled in the history of manned computing.

What ever happened to the concept of using the best tool for the job?

Re:Ok, own up! (1)

el_nino (4271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581820)

Are we talking about such nice French freedoms like freedom of speech, ie freedom as long as you 1: speak in French, 2: don't critize the governemnt?

%japh = (
'name' => 'Niklas Nordebo', 'mail' => '',
'work' => '', 'phone' => '+46-708-444705'

A little summary of the discussion forum (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581821)

Here is a little summary of the reaction posted in the forum:
- general reaction: great, good idea

- many people think that open software is good but that what is important is "standard format" ie using HTML/XML instead of .doc for exchanging document for example.

* for me, both is important and I do hope that KOffice and AbiWord will use the same file format in the future. I think that it is more important than the Gnome/KDE (in)compatibility.

- a minor nitpicking of the article 3 of the proposal: it would ban every copyrighted software, so even the GPL would be banned also.

* I think that it is only an error in the way the proposal is worded: Senators are seldom computer experts.

- some minor opposition: some are fearing that open software could mean job loss.
* I find it quite amusing because the job threatened here are mostly on Microsoft' side, but anyway this is a weak conterargument (see the bazaar thingy).

As a French, what do I think about this proposal ?
Well, I'm enthousiastly(sp?) for.
It could boost free software, helping to improve it, the governement has enough money to spend on fixing the "rusty" parts of free software AND it would still be cheaper than buying closed source software.

BTW, in France we don't have the problem which keeps showing in English: does free means free as free speech or free as free beer, because we use two different word for it.
Free as free speech is "libre" and free as free beer is "gratuit".

So why not talking about libre software or libertad software if we use the spanish word (after all spanish is the most spoken language, I think) ?

Re:Terrible Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581822)

Nobody is suggesting to outlaw closed source software. READ THE DAMN THING AGAIN. It is a suggestion to require the French government to only use open source solutions. It says NOTHING about requirements on private individuals or companies, except that, if they want to win a French government contract for computer systems, they will have to deliver open source software.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581823)

blah blah blah blah Linux blah blah open source blah blah blah!

Re:No, it ain't communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581824)

You assume that the consumer have no interest in source code. But the very proposed law we're discussing suggest otherwise. There's a very real issue with safety, and economy.

If it causes cheaper solutions (read: less of your tax money used), is that bad?

What happens if a closed source software company goes under, or stop supporting a product? And don't pretend it doesn't happen... And it costs people a fortune. ESPECIALLY in government and other areas where computer equipment hardly is updated every year....

With open source, anyone can contract with the government to do the maintenance they need to continue using the software.

Your assumption may hold for individual users, but not for large organizations. There's a very real economic and practical advantage for choosing open source.

Why can't US gov't currently use Open Source? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581825)

A general policy (executive order, sense of congress?) which states that the use of Open Source software is acceptable in any situation where the resulting software is not to be constrained by national security. BSD and MIT/X style software would still be fine in those situations, but GPL would be right out, unless the FSF was willing to make a general exception in writing for government projects thus constrained. The key, here, is that right now, most government contractors "feel" (and sometimes are told) that the government will not accept projects based on Open Source.

I don't do government work, so pardon my ignorance, but how is Open Source incompatable with the existing policies? Does the government actually have policies in place that state that it's not allowed to maintain the software that it uses?(!)

This doesn't make sense to me. All jokes of government-not-making-sense aside, I suspect I've missed some important point.


Re:developers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581826)

That's a ridiculous analogy.

The correct one would be: As a painter that wants to sell your painting to the French government (or anyone else), you would have to give up the ownership to the painting. Why would the buyer pay you if you were to keep ownership?

In the same way, the French government would, under this law, use their right as a consumer not to buy from you if you don't want to give them what they want, which in this case would be granting them, and anyone else, access to the source.

You don't have any right to have the French government buy your software. If you don't want to release it, then fine - sell to someone else.

Re:French comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581827)

Salut, le principal interêt d'avoir les commentaires en Français, comme tu le dis, est que tu ne pourras pas les comprendre.. Est ce que je me trompe ? Un des avantages du logiciel libre, c'est de pouvoir contrôler que des organismes nationaux américains (NSA, Echelon, CIA) ne puissent pas utiliser les failles délibérément laissées dans les systèmes Microsoft pour s'infiltrer dans nos systèmes informatiques, et ainsi contrer l'espionnage militaire et commercial. You seem to know much about french culture and behaviour... I hope it will not take to long for you to understand this !

Linux in schools (1)

Cactus_03 (106740) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581828)

Unfortunately, I didn't keep the article. But the French decided to use Linux in the public gradeschools some months ago. There is a real concern here that they are behind. I see this as another step to define their role in the Internet age.

Re:Link to another (English) article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581829)

The article you're refering to says NOTHING about forcing anyone to use open source. What they are saying is that if the law passes, it will be easier for companies to use open source software to communicate electronically with the government. I believe all governments should insist on open protocols and file formats.

Re:Ok, own up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581830)

I guess Germany invaded again while no one was looking.

MAJOR breakthrough (2)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581841)

I'm not surprised such a breakthrough event would happen in Europe. Although nothing is set in stone just yet, I think we can expect it to work out in one form or another.

Why in Europe and not in the US? Because most of the large software companies (IBM and Microsoft, to name only two) are in America. The US, were it to suggest Open Source alternatives should be considered for Governmental use, would only be shooting down its own IT economy.

The French, however, are slightly behind on IT and catching up at a frightening pace. You also have to understand that in a European eye, Open Source is something more European than American; remember how Linux is much more important in Europe than America.

So, in Europe, I think Linux has stood the test. It's only natural that the payoffs we've been rambling about for so long are starting to come into the Government's eye. Yes, it's exactly right: Open Source initiatives will spare money for the Government, and everyone is a winner about that.

I'm also tempted to say the French being such fervent believers in democracy (as opposed to capitalism), it's only natural they would jump the Open Source bandwagon first.

Expect the rest of Europe to follow suit. And as European Governments pick up the OS trend, more developpers will get into it. And the products of the Open Source movement will just get better and better.

Until... Until even the US have to recognise those loony Europeans are on to something.

This is a major breakthrough, people, don't underestimate it. This may be the public breakthrough the Open Source movement has been waiting for. Vive la République! Vive la France!

"Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

Re:French comments (1)

AndyMan! (31066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581842)

I think you're confusing France with Quebec.



Re:Ok, own up! (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581843)

I am finding the French immenently more sensable than Americans. Just the other day the American ambassador to France was on the Jim Lehrer News Hour and described how much of a foil France was to America. Where Americans mutinied over money, under a popular pretense of freedom, it was really the French that heeded the call of freedom and struck down their oppressors (albeit pretty bloodily). France, according to the ambassador, is much more concerned with freedoms, with personal rights, with the concept that a government exists not to enable people to become economically wealthy, but socially and culturally wealthy. The French see the gross gaps in income between classes in the US as unforgiveable, as they must have ages ago during the revolution.

Man, if ever I could get my tongue around the French language, I might consider moving there.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581844)

First of all, they allow a grace period.

And second, the money French government spends on Windows licenses would be more than enough to finance the further development of open source solutions to get well beyond what Windows can offer, even for the novice user.

Do you really think noone would spend money on developing solutions to compete for that market?

Sun maybe? They've already hinted at releasing the Star Office source. And surely they'd do it if they could get a few billion franc in French government contracts by doing it.

Re:Wow. This from the french! (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581845)

It seems to me that freedom would imply choices... "Requiring" something does not imply freedome.
Well, the government should be able to decide what kind of software it would use itself. It already does, by requiring it to conform to various standards. I hope you do not consider that anti-freedom.

It should not, of course, demand that the public only use software that conform to specific standards, or are distributed under an open source license.

Re:Ah, I see you do not understand the French! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581846)


Well, I don't think you shold take a closer look at us..

Microft have been down there for years [decades], but the university/research has been using unix for long. French industries are more and more using linux. Hey, we maybe eat frogs, but we can love penguins too!

Well that's it.

Un clavier azerty en vaut deux!

Re:A little summary of the discussion forum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581847)

So why not talking about libre software or libertad software if we use the spanish word (after all spanish is the most spoken language, I think) ?

Because it just sounds so dumb ... Just like "cederom" (CD-ROM) or "partagiciel" (Shareware), or the funniest one "butineur" (Browser).

Everyone in France use the english words, so it's totally useless.

Re:Shouldn't be suprising... (2)

deefer (82630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581848)

"France is one of the most fiercely nationalistic (mainly in a good way) countries in Europe"
Yeah, explain that to the Algerian immigrants living in terror that the extreme right wing opposition party in France doesn't increase their second place in French Parliament next election.
Bearing in mind their radio stations are forbidden by law to play more than about 10% total non-French music, how exactly do you see them adopting to Open Source? I mean, you download Le Widgette from some French government mirror. You have a problem. Would you rather see:
void * ObtenezBudgetInternationalSeMonte (char * RetourValeur)
// Ce procédé recueille tous les budgets internationaux et se monte à eux par pays
void * GetInternationalBudgetTotals (char * ReturnValue)
//This procedure gathers all international budgets and totals them by country

So now you'll be adding a trip to babelfish as part of your debugging. And even if there is a manual, good luck with babelfish. If you don't believe babelfish can make mistakes, type in "I love my growler", translate from English to French, copy the text & translate it back :).
Now if the French government relaxes the language legislation for Open Source projects, then we're really onto a winner...

frequently takes action against dilution of French culture by overseas influences...
Yeah, by testing nukes in the Pacific...

Re:MAJOR breakthrough (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581849)

I don't think an American company would hold much hope trying to sue the French Government in their own country. France isn't America, you can't just lawyer your way through everything.

Socialism means you can tell companies to shut up.

"Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

Re:It seems like an appropriate thread to insert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581850)

Actually, I'd say that would be a good argument for using open source software: If only 50% of the money they currently spends on licenses for proprietary software was spent on developers that would deliver open source solutions, and develop Hebrew and Arabic support for them, they'd get damn far.

Instead of paying for the whole product, they'd be paying to get the additional features they'd need, and at the same time increasing the availability of software supporting Hebrew and Arabic immensely.

Re:Perhaps Linus could talk to the Finnish govmt? (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581852)

I don't think he has that kind of influence. Now if Nokia somehow could be converted to a strong open source advocate, that would possibly sway the government.

Great idea, especially for schools.. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581853)

Myself I think it's a great idea to have government agencies not buy software that is closed source. As ESR points out not having the source takes power out of your hands and gives it to the owner of the source. Maybe it's just me but the idea of having M$ using the government as a puppet scares me. I think passing laws that would phase out use of closed source products for use by government within say 10 years would be a good idea. They could begin to switch over to OSS and where they don't have the needed products as OSS they could fund the coding. I'd also imagine this would be a strong reason for developers of the programs currently used by government to consider making their products opensource. 10 years should be plenty of time to allow agencies and developers to adjust to the situation so nobody is especially stressed out by the situation. Schools especially should make this jump. By using OSS students get hands on experience with the code itself and can add to the code base. Need an OSS clone of Exchange Server? Well it's next weeks homework for all the grad students to work on together. Sounds good to me. I'm sure some interesting stuff would come out of high-schools too. We all know how smart teenagers are and hey they have the time to spare. Elementary I don't know, probably some teachers would begin cranking out some software that was more suitable for their students age groups. :) I'm just not seeing a down side as a tax payer. The government runs better, people become better educated, and I get lots of kewl OSS software added.

Obvious France jokes (1)

GnomeAttic (97126) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581861)

Lets put all the joking about France surrendering to open source or testing nuclear weapons on it aside because this is a good thing. Believe me, I'll be the first to admit that making fun of the French is funny, but in this situation, they're the good guys. We should at least have respect for their good choice and reserve making fun of them for other threads.

Re:Wow. This from the french! (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581862)

Now only if the USA would live up to its "freedoms" and insist on freely available software and standards.

Re:developers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581863)

Developers can still choose their platforms. This is not communism, this is freeing people.

Perhaps Linus could talk to the Finnish govmt? (1)

cabalamat (75345) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581864)

Perhaps Linus could persuade the Finnish government to do the same thing?

Open-source requirement (2)

chandler (98984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581865)

I was one of the multitude of people that submitted this, anyway, I think it's a good idea for here, too:
  • Governments are usually required to take from the least bidder - in this case, free and open source.
  • If a company that writes a proprietary product goes out of business, the government has to choose a new solution. With open source, they can continue to develop it themselves.
  • The government can choose and write the features they need instead of buying a more expensive package to get a few neccessary features in it.
  • The government can fix bugs themselves instead of waiting for a company to fix it (if it ever gets fixed).

We already use a large amount of open-source here in the US for research, so why not require it? I think it would be benificial to all. The government has no reason to pay for what it can get for free.
It's also a good way to encourage open-sourcing of products - "Look, even the government won't use proprietary software!". This is in the government (and the people)'s best interest. Good for the French. Now, let's start calling OUR senators...

Re:Great! (1)

Full-Tilt (60833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581867)

Now all we (british) have to do is get them to eat our beef :)

Re:Wow. This from the french! (3)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581871)

It seems to me that freedom would imply choices... "Requiring" something does not imply freedome. You have a right to vote, but you don't have soldiers at your door rounding you up to the voting booths. In the free speach vain, you also have the right to shut up (something that I'm sure most /.ers don't know ).

If free software is a better development model, than one would expect it to compete on its own merits, not expecting government requirements. We complain about Microsoft only providers (of which I am currently one of them, any talented Linux administrators in the Boston area looking for work? ), but this seems just as bad.

On the otherhand, if the French government wants the ability to examine and repair code, then requiring vendors to supply it seems reasonable, and forces Microsoft and other proprietary vendors to yield their secrets or the market. Either way, this is an interesting position for a government official to take. What comes of it will be interesting to watch.

Money these days comes from ad revenue and e-commerce (actually selling REAL stuff, Oh My God!), not proprietary software. With the exception of OSes, Databases, and Office Suites, there is no money anywhere, and it looks like Sun is making Office Suites a non-revenue application... we'll see how long before Linux brings OS prices down... Databases, I expect them to be the last to fall...


The communism argument (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581873)

Communism? No, its Democracy at its finest! Freely distributable software lets you make your own changes and make a difference if you wish. No central control of one Big Dinasour Company.

I hear this communism thing as well as "security issues" from ignorant folks who just only know the Redmond Way. They are at work and at parties. Them and their warez. They only think they are free.

Re:developers rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581874)

no this is saying developers have no rights. if i were a painter i would own my paintings, but since i'm a developer i can't own what i develope!? is the french governemt going to adopt gpl (not likely) or write something new (much more likely)?

Translation of proposed French law 495 (1)

ai731 (36146) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581879)

Right, here's my attempt at a quick translation:

Article 1:
Communication between state offices and local offices should be by email/internet. The translation of hard-copy documents to electronic formats should be done where appropriate.

Article 2:
In order to assure that business has fast access to information, request for proposals will be issued electronically. Replies will similarly be accepted electronically. During a transition period, electronic communication can be backed up by hard copy documentation.

Article 3:
The state and regional offices, notwithstanding Article 4, will use "free software" [lit. 'logicels libres'] for which the source code is available.

Article 4:
Certain specific software [presumably "non-free"] can be bought and used with special authorisation.

Article 5:
In order to facilitate rapid implimentation of this law, an information service will be set up for the state and regional offices and the affected businesses.

Certainly not a perfect translation - French beurocrateze isn't my specialty (Quebecois street French is), but it gives you a rough idea.



Microsoft is not ready for software-as-a-service! (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581880)

It sounds like Senator Pierre Laffitte might be confusing the free software service model with software renting (that whole business of application service providers).

Providing services to customers is one thing. Providing source code and letting someone else provide the services is quite another. ;)

Re:Microsoft ready to go open source? (2)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581881)

If he thinks Microsoft is going open source, maybe his definition of "open source" is different than ours.

Microsoft have said that they are trying to move their business model towards 'software as a service', which is what ESR, Red Hat and others have been pushing for a while now. Of course, they will still try to retain the monopoly advantages of proprietary software, to stop others from eating their lunch.

Translation of the bill itself (2)

David A. Madore (30444) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581882)

The text of the bill itself is available here [] . I will attempt to translate it, but my ignorance of legal jargon (English, and, to some extent, French also) will probably show: this is hardly better than Babelfish.

Keep in mind that this is not really a bill. It is only a suggestion of a bill, made by a small parliamentary group (the RDSE group, which isn't even a political party as far as I know). Also note that the Senate [] is the less powerful of the two house of parliament in France, and normally the more conservative one (curiously enough, the Senate's web site runs on Apache, whereas that of the other house of the French Parliament, the Assemblée Nationale [] , runs on Netscape Entreprise).

As Senator Laffite points out, this draft is concomitant with another bill [] proposed by French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou which would make digital signatures legally binding, and both bills might be merged into one.

Anyway, here's my translation:

Article 1 Communication between state and local administrations, as well as between the local administrations shall be performed by electronic means. The conditions of the switch from the current means (circulars, letters, summons, etc.) and generalized electronic mail shall be specified by a decree.

Article 2 So as to insure a good transparency and a more rapid access to information for business, public calls to bids and their ancillary documents will use electronic communication.

Responses will likewise be sent by electronic means.

During a transitional period, a paper communication may be added to the electronic communication. A decree shall specify the duration of this transitional period and the cost of the paper communication made on demand.

Article 3 The state and local administration and the administrative services, except as stated under article 4, may only use software that is free of rights and whose source code is available.

A decree shall specify the means of transition from the current situation.

Article 4 Certain specific software programs may be used and obtained by administrations and services mentioned in article 3 after authorization by a competent service. A decree shall specify the geographical location of this service and the conditions for obtaining this authorization.

Article 5 So as to hasten the application of this bill, a service of electronic information shall be created in each prefecture for public services and local administrations, and consular assemblies for the companies involved.

Re:Does NO one realize how bad this is?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581883)

Maybe, YOU should read the article. They aren't forceing developers to do anything.

Re:MAJOR breakthrough (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581884)

Maybe, let's just hope they don't roll over when faced by Microsoft's legal and marketing longbowmen...

I can just see it in Redmond right now...

"Once more into the courtroom my friends! Or wall it up with our overpaid dead!"
Your Working Boy,

The first step (2)

Eccles (932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581885)

I think the first step a government should take is to require that government documents be saved and transmitted in a fully-documented data format. Open source the data formats before worrying about the code.

Closed data formats put control over the government data in the hands of a private company, which is never a good thing.

Government Stewardship (2)

timothy (36799) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581888)

I've been thinking about this topic for a while.

Because there is a great deal of Free / free software in the world, every time a tax-funded agency / department / division / administration settles on a proprietary format or computer system, they are building in future costs as well as paying a premium for the software in the first place. And they use tax dollars to pay for both.

Now don't get me wrong -- if they choose a free / Free software combination it doesn't remove the threat of future costs by any means. If an agency which has used MS Word and Outlook for 5 years switches to (say) Linux, AbiWord and open-source mail clients all of a sudden, there are training/re-training costs, there are incompletely amortized investments in current software, there are costs in wide-scale software upgrades, blah blah blah. If the closest Free / free stuff doesn't do *all* of the things it needs to independently, there may be additional proprietary software needed, even if it become a garnish instead of the main course.

However, an honest cost analysis would show that with closed products those things have to happen every few years (at least) anyhow, as the Outside World moves to the next (slightly file-incompatitble) version of Word, or Outlook, or ...

With free / Free software, generally built on low-level standards and thus inviting interoperability so long as the Outside World will exchangte documents that meet these low-level standards, the potential cost is much lower, particularly when it comes to applications which may have to mutate to best meet the needs of a given organization.

(By "low-level standards" that I mean things like html and rtf ... not just ASCII text, but also not Word 2007. There's probably a better description than "low-level" ... )

Another aspect of government stewardship of money when it comes to spending on any software is that the government, unlike a business, does not have a practical incentive (except in the case of National Security, natch) to keep the code it uses proprietary, and has every incentive morally to be able to upgrade it cheaply. Unfortunately, government bodies in general have little practical reason to spend their IT budget wisely; they're not in the business of competition except in a wildly indirect way.

Finally (I know I keep saying it, but it's hard to avoid in this discussion!), since they're using tax dollars, they have an obligation to maximize the value of the money spent, because it belongs theoretically to the People it was taken from and is to be used for their benefit. When it comes to buying carpet for the government's buildings, that's hard to do one way or the other -- you benefit only if you walk on it. But with software, that's another matter. Anytime the government pays a million dollars to Microsoft for a turn-key solution instead of paying for an open-source project to do the same thing (Say, paying a team of programmers who write code, or combine existing and available source, to reach the same functionality), we all lose, except the favored company.



p.s. Anyone who thinks government agencies buying MS (or any other vendor) exclusively is "captitalism" should look into the meaning of Mercantilism!)

Making money on open source == no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581890)

If this goes through, it means no one will make money off government software any more, or whatever agencies enforce this policy. Get this through your head- you can't make money off open source!! That is, you can't make real money. Sure, you can offer support, and maybe sell some of that, but you won't have a monopoly on your product any more, and thus lose your major leverage to make money for the work that you've done. Once something is open sourced, it becomes impossible to copy protect it (it is hard enough with closed source) and you have nothing but the charity of your customers to rely on. Where are the big Open source software companies that haven't made their money on hype- such as redhat?

Seems like Bill Gates has found /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581891)

"blah blah blah blah blah Linux blah blah open source blah blah. "

ooops! What was that? Was it Bill Gates that has finally found the way to post his yadda-yadda-philosophy onto /.?

Williaaam!!! You've been a very naughty boy! X'D

another anon coward that forgot his passwd. /etc

Re:Wow. This from the french! (1)

stuffle (91705) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581899)

Now only if the USA would live up to its "freedoms" and insist on freely available software and standards.

Huh? Are you implying government imposed standards? That, it seems to me, would remove freedoms, not add to them.

Furthermore, the way we have things right now in the US (WRT software licensing) is about as free as you can get. We are all free to use whatever licensing we choose on whatever software we produce ourselves (assuming we are not deriving it from some other work, then we must whatever restrictions are placed on it by that author). What could be more free than that?

Are you suggesting that the US government should force companies and individuals to use open source licenses? If so, I would suggest that you have a fairly warped idea of what freedom is...

Does NO one realize how bad this is?! (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581900)

Open source is about giving the programmer a CHOICE. Requiring open source is just as bad as requiring closed source. Go back and read those GNU Manifestos again, folks. This is NOT a Good Thing(tm).


Anyone else get confused by this .. (1)

EtherSnoot (19146) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581901)

When I first started reading this article, I thought that the French government was going to make it illegal to write closed source code. Only after hitting some of the posts did I understand that their government is thinking of using open source whereever possible.

The latter is a great idea, in general. While the former would have pretty terrible consequences.

Maybe I got confused cause I just woke up :)


Not really surprising, though... (5)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581902)

Recall, a few months back, that the French Government had a big hoopla about Linux in particular and Open Source in general; a lot of cash-strapped (but not smart-strapped) regional entities (local governments, universities, schools, gov. departments) have been putting-up internet presence, and it is natural that they'd do that with Linux. But that's not the point.

Don't forget that, 20 years ago, the French spearheaded the personnal connectivity revolution with their Minitel terminals, which they supplied for free (as in beer). The ostensible reason was to substitute phone directories, but it sprouted-up a vast array of services, such as the famous "pink messaging", decades before

In fact, the Minitel can be termed as the precursor of the widespread personnal "internet" that we are witnessing today, despite all it's flaws.

But there is a deeper hidden reason, too. 30 years ago, France was one of the world leaders of software developpment (before it got eclipsed by the U.S.); perhaps they feel that Open Source, by spurring independent software developpment, will enable them to regain that status; let's not forget that the french culture puts an enormous emphasis on intellectual achievement, rather than accumulating wealth, like the anglo-saxons are so fond of (the movie "Ridicule" is a good example: one's standing in the king's court is dictated only by one's ability to generate witty answers on-the-fly. Even though the king has been dead for two centuries, the tradition endures). And computer programming is an extreme form of intellectual achievement, which (can) have practical applications as a side benefit...
-- ----------------------------------------------
Vive le logiciel... Libre!!!

Beer (0)

twinpot (40956) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581903)

You should travel through Begium, my son. An absolute heaven if you like beer OR chocolate. The only issue I have with the Belgians, is that they can't seem to make 5% alcohol beer - they go all crazy and make 7%, 8%, 9% and more beer, which means you can't try too many before you fall over ;-)

Free, or not to be free, that is the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581904)

Is requiring something loosing freedom? I can tell you about not being free with using NT at work. None of my business and I should quit if I don't like it? I do care about what operating system is used at my place of employment as I am 100% vested. Every time NT crashes, it costs downtime and dumsters full of scrap on production lines up to 5 digits. Its a waste created by shoddy software and each crash can cost me money in my quarterly statements. Administrator's or user's fault? There must be a lot of stupid NT users or NT must be really difficult to use.

What is really not so free about non free software is that it is often "leased" and components expire at times. Forget to renew a certain networking protocol? There's a few BSOD's that will punish for neglecting to pay your "taxes." And for what? Junk!

Re:French comments (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581905)

The parent post has been strangely moderated to "funny". I don't think this is funny. It is probably true! There are laws in France making it compulsary for (almost) everything to be written in French, especially in the administration. I wonder if the fact of having so few HowTo's written in French might be a real headache for the French government.

No, it ain't communism (3)

derk (56582) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581906)

"requiring open-source sounds like communism in disguise to me"

That's the usual anti-Open Source nonsense again.
Demanding Open Source is a consumer's right. This is not a demand to 'not make profit', it is a demand to open up the source. Folks can still make money on support, on bundled documentation, etc etc.
Guess what? Governments pay far more for support contracts than they ever do for software pur sec, anyway!
And if you don't want to sell under these conditions, well hey... There's other consumers around.

Wow, this is different (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581927)

As is customary in the Senat, this will be completed by auditions and everything will be examined with a sense of responsibility, rigorousness and analysis of the various consequences. This conforms the tradition of the role to the Senat at the heart of the French Parliament.

This sure is different than here in the good ol' US where this sentence would read:

As is customary in the Senate, this will be completed by auction and everything will be examined with an eye toward campaign contributions and rigorous analysis of the likelihood of landing a cushy consultancy job after my political stint. This confirms the tradition of the role of the Senate as a receivership of graft and corruption.

Terrible Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581928)

Any time any government infringes on people's rights to do whatever the heck they want, this is a VERY bad thing. Even if the outocme is considered "good", you cannot assume to be high enough on the universal totem pole to force your opinions on others through the government. You don't have to buy non-Open Source software, but for god sakes, don't forbid the creation of it.

Microsoft ready to go open source? (1)

Bitscape (7378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581929)

It's by way of services adapted to the customers rather than by selling proprietary software that money should be made.IBM and SUN are of this opinion and MICROSOFT seems to me ready to follow this path.

Did I miss something? If he thinks Microsoft is going open source, maybe his definition of "open source" is different than ours.

Re:Great! (1)

redhog (15207) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581930)

Can't you eat your beef yourselves? Or not at all? /Vegeterian

Re:developers rights (1)

stuffle (91705) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581931)

Developers must have the power to choose what to do with their software

I agree. It was not clear to me from the text whether or not the proposal is attempting to force people to license their software using some kind of open source license whenever possible, or whether the proposal is just saying the French government will give preference to open source software in their own systems.

The former, I disagree with whole heartedly. The decision on how software should be licensed, and what is done with that software belongs with those who developed it. If they want to make it "free" or "open", so be it. If they want to make it "proprietary" and "closed", more power to them (just don't expect me to rush out and buy it...).

OTOH, a government giving prefernce to open software in their own systems and requiring the systems that they (the government) develop to be open source whenever possible sounds like a very good idea.

I would just like to see more information on this proposal before I determine if it is a good idea or not.

Re:developers rights (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1581932)

Goverments (and large entities of any kind) have procurement guidelines. Obviously, if your product cannot meet the requirements you can't sell it to them. This is not a restriction of vendor freedom so long as the requirements are reasonable.

So, the question seems to me to be whether Open Source is a reasonable procurement requirement. I think it makes a lot of sense for governments to use open source, especially if the vendors of the non-free software are in a foreign country that at some point may become hostile, or which may be engaged in industrial or political espionage.

The flip side is whether specifying closed-source software is reasonable. It seems to me that you have three options with closed source. Either you grant one vendor an effective monopoly in certain areas of procurement, or you accept a potentially unmanageable mish-mash of software, or you insist that systems you acquire only use least common denominator protocols and interfaces (e.g. TCP/IP and Posix, but not DCOM or Win32). In the last case, it's hard to see why you would prefer a closed source solution.

Socialism at its worst (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 14 years ago | (#1581933)

...a proposal within the French Government to require use of Open Source software wherever possible... "Requiring" anyone to use Open Source is as bad as "requiring" anyone to use Microsoft products IMO. The freedom to let people choose which platform, software, etc. fits a particular application is the way to go, not simply assume that people are too stupid to use Open Source when it's warranted and use other software when it's warranted. To what extent are they proposing "requiring" aka "forcing" Open Source software anyway? Government agencies only, the whole country, companies? I couldn't quite get that out of the posted speech. As far as the French government attempting to reach out electronically, I think that's a Good Thing, but just don't make technical decisions for a whole country, the government is lousy at doing so. Just because a lot of us are proponents of Open Source, doesn't mean we, or others, should be required to use it. Be careful what you ask for...
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