Announcing the deal last Friday, the Linux distributor said that the French Ministry of Equipment was replacing 1,500 office and infrastructure Microsoft Windows NT servers with Mandrakelinux corporate servers.
The move appears to be part of a general move towards Linux by the French government, which is wrestling with a large budget deficit. A recent report quoted a French civil servant suggesting that one million state PCs could be shifted from Windows to an open-source platform.
"We are not starting a war against Microsoft or against American companies in the software sector," Renaud Dutreil told Reuters, adding that Microsoft "must return to being one supplier to the state among others".
Many governments across the world are giving serious consideration to deploying Linux. While some are primarily interested in the possibility of saving money on licence fees, others have said they are interested in avoiding being tied into proprietary solutions offered by single companies.
ZDNet UK's Graeme Weardon reported from London.