What free software is the state advising in 2021?

No more updated lists of state-recommended free software once a year. Now, updates are done on the fly. Several programs are appearing in 2021.

7-Zip, Audacity, Apache, Chromium, Debian, Drupal, Discourse, FileZilla, Gimp or even Firefox. These free software are some of the programs recommended within the administration, for those and those who do not want to resort to proprietary solutions. And this year again, new software is appearing in the SILL list (interministerial base of free software).

For 2021, we can thus find new references such as Dash (framework of web applications based on Flask [Python], React and Plotly.js), Tuleap (application cycle manager), Lazarus IDE (program IDE in FreePascal), MurExpo (educational software to create an exhibition wall) or uPortal (portal for higher education and secondary).

penguin animal
Librists discovering the 2021 edition of SILL. Allegory (the mascot of Linux, a free OS, is a penguin). // Source: Albert Herbigneaux

The SILL is a guide intended for public services to support them in the choice of free software, according to their needs. The selection work is intended to be collaborative, taking into account the feedback from the officials who use it in their mission. The contributions are varied: we find Pôle Emploi, the Ministry of Culture, IGN, CEA and universities.

Updates to the SILL as it goes

Supervised by the interministerial digital directorate (DINUM, ex DINSIC: interministerial digital and information and communication system directorate), which works with state IT specialists, the SILL has been updated once a year for years ( we mentioned the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 editions). But for 2021, there has been no specific announcement.

This is not so surprising: in May 2021, DINUM indicated a change in the way the SILL is managed. ” It is now continuously updated by the working groups and published by Etalab in a web version. »On a dedicated website. In other words, Internet users have every interest in visiting the SILL site from time to time to see what has been added or, possibly, removed.

Previously, DINUM shared the SILL in a PDF document, in the form of a large table. Although readable, its handling was hardly user-friendly. The PDF document still exists (it is also thanks to it in particular that we can identify the new entries for 2021), with in particular the “Status” column which specifies whether it is recommended, at the stage of observation or at the end of the recommendation.

SILL 2020
The interface of the SILL website.

Gaps exist in the parts inventory software. The official site lists 213 as of August 24, 2021, while the PDF accounts for 227. On the Comptoir du Libre, the list tops out at 198 entries. Note that in the document, ten free software are indicated at the end of the recommendation, which gives, by subtraction, 217, ie a number consistent with the site.

Ten years of free software trajectory

It was following the Ayrault circular, published in 2012 and setting out guidelines and advice on the use of free software, that the SILL was born. At the time, the observation was made that free software offered ” many positive experiences “, relies on ” a long practice of its use “And participates in” skills development », In addition to these other advantages (lower cost, flexibility of use, leverage to discuss with publishers, including owners).

Four years later, this trajectory gave rise to an article in the law for a digital republic. It is requested from the services that they ” encourage the use of free software and open formats when developing, purchasing or using all or part of these information systems », Develops article 16, without leading to a systematic exclusion of proprietary software.

The State’s approach favors global efficiency, apart from any dogmatism, to allow it to choose between the different solutions, free, publishers or mixed. », Noted in this regard the DINUM. In short, the fact of opening the source code and making it evolve in a collaborative way does not constitute the alpha and the omega of the State’s software policy, even if it constitutes an important factor in the equation.

In 2018, the comment from the Court of Auditors underlined that the use of this software “ extends the scope of mutualizations beyond the sole sphere of the State “. They are used to ” ensure the actions performed by the software, protect against undesirable functions and possibly modify it according to the identified uses “, and ” amplify the digital modernization of the State “.

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