Deputies elected to the French National Assembly in the next legislative session will find open-source software on their desktop PCs.

The use of free software will result in substantial cost savings, despite the cost of migration and training, the Assembly said.

Free and open-source software now offers all the functions the deputies need, according to a study conducted at the request of the president of the assembly, Jean-Louis Debré.

The software on the deputies' computers will include the Linux operating system, the OpenOffice productivity suite, the Firefox web browser and an open-source email application.

A number of deputies had asked the president of the Assembly to consider the use of open-source software, the statement said.

One deputy in favour of the move is Bernard Carayon, commissioned by the Prime Minister earlier this year to report on how European businesses could play a greater role in developing global industrial standards, in order to reduce Europe's economic dependance on other regions.

In his report, On Equal Terms, Carayon advised that the French government should study how best to use and secure open-source software - and recommended that the government should mandate the use of the ODF (Open Document Format) for the storage and exchange of government documents. ODF is the format used by the Open productivity suite, and also has the support of Sun, IBM and other software developers.

IT staff at the National Assembly have almost six months to prepare the switch to open source: Elections for the next legislative session will be held on June 10 and 17.