French police switch from Windows to Linux

There are many arguments for or against switching from Windows to Linux. Many times these arguments are based more in fanaticism than fact.

In a recent report the French national police force Gendarmerie Nationale has provided some great facts supporting the
switch from Windows to Linux.

In 2002 the Gendarmerie Nationale adopted a strictly open-standards IT policy in
order to improve inter-organisation communications.

Until 2004 a
large part of the IT budget was spent on software licences — between 12000 and
15000 licenses each year. In 2004 an
accountant in the Gendarmerie Nationale tried OpenOffice and after finding it a surprisingly competent replacement for its paid counterpart started pushing for it to be adopted
within the organization instead of Microsoft Office.

After a while the police force
completely switched over to OpenOffice for all their office needs
along with adopting Thunderbird for email and Firefox for browsing.
The switch was easy and required little to no training since the open source apps had a similar interface to the paid ones.

In 2007 they
decided to go one step further and switch to an open operating

“Moving from Microsoft XP to Vista would not have brought us many
advantages and Microsoft said it would require training of users.
Moving from XP to Ubuntu however proved very easy. The two biggest
differences are the icons and the games. Games are not our priority.”

Currently Gendarmerie has
about 5000 PCs running Ubuntu with another 15000 planned to be
switched over this year. By 2015 they hope to have the entire
organization with all 90000 computers running Ubuntu and open-source

linux tux euros saves money

This year their IT
budget will be cut by 70% but they will be just as capable as in previous years.  Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Guimard of Gendarmerie estimates that the organization “Since 2004 has saved 50 million euro on licences for standard office applications hardware and maintenance.”

Importantly the Gendarmerie’s reduced IT budget contradicts Microsoft’s arguments that the ‘total cost of ownership’ of Windows is less than Linux because Windows supposedly needs much less support and integration work than Linux does. The lower actual dollars being spent on IT in the French national police disproves Microsoft’s argument — in this organisation at least.

If they want to keep their share of the PC
market Microsoft better
make sure they offer an easy transition to Windows 7 along with some
benefits of transitioning. Otherwise we will likely be hearing about more and more
organizations and businesses switching over to Linux this year and