The transition of communities to free software, slow but inevitable?

Bulls, ferias and free software… On the computers of the town of Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône), no trace of Microsoft Word, Acrobat Reader or Google Chrome. Here everything is stamped “open”, open, in a word, free, for software with publicly accessible source code, continuously updated by communities of developers, often volunteers.

OpenCourrier, openRecensement, openCadastre… E-mail management, text editors, shared agenda, management of cemeteries: since the vote of a 2005 deliberation calling for “acquire independence from the commercial software sector”, more than thirty software (all named on openMairie) have been created internally by the developers of the IT department of the city of Arles. Some, like openElec – used for managing electoral rolls – have been adopted by thousands of municipalities and translated into English and Spanish. A real success in the small “librist” world.

However, in the Camargue, this tradition is about to end. In June 2020, a new majority, led by Patrick de Carolis, mayor of the town (DVD), is elected. At the beginning of 2022, in the context of the reorganization of services, the Director General of Services announces her decision to transfer all of the information equipment to Microsoft’s Office software suite from the 2e semester 2022, as reported by the magazine L’Arlesienne. Asked about the motivations behind this reversal, the municipality of Arles had not returned to The world at the time of publication.

Read also: Free software widely used on the Internet sabotaged by its creator

“The Free Won”

The announcement of the Arles decision chilled the most ardent supporters of free software in the administrations. “It’s only an unfortunate mishap, a whim that will pass them. You know, the curve of progress is never linear”, smiles, however, philosopher, François Raynaud, former head of the IT department of the city of Arles, about to retire. And to add, a bit triumphantly: “Free has won: almost all servers around the world run on Linux [un système d’exploitation « libre », alternatif à Windows], and the majority of smartphones on Android, a Linux-based operating system. »

Quietly, several communities have supported this movement in favor of free software. As early as 2001, the City of Paris paved the way with Lutèce, a java Web portal tool developed by the information systems and technologies department, adopted almost everywhere since, in particular by the technical teams of the cities of Lyon and Marseille or by those of Météo-France. At different scales, cities such as Arles, but also Angoulême, Montreuil-sous-Bois, Grenoble or Montpellier have gradually made a transition from their computer park to free solutions.

You have 67.55% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment