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French Police Ditching Windows for Linux 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the viva-la-revolucion dept.
esocid writes "In another European blow to Microsoft the French paramilitary police force said Wednesday it is ditching Microsoft for the free Linux operating system, becoming one of the biggest administrations in the world to make the break. The gendarmerie began severing its ties with Microsoft in 2005 when it moved to open source office applications like word processing. It switched to open source Internet browsers in 2006."
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French Police Ditching Windows for Linux

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  • by osgeek (239988) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:34PM (#22241688) Homepage Journal
    French police surrender to Linux

    Yes, yes, it's more of a cliche than a joke.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      That's just getting stupid.

      They only surrendered to the Germans for one real reason: their artwork and architecture. I really cant fault them for that, considering the pictures I've seen in the aftermath of England.

      I also keep in mind that they also made our current word: sabotage... that words origin comes from Nazi occupation of France, when the peoples would jam up factories and machines to help Germany.

      For what situation France got stuck in, I really cant blame them.
      • Re:Better headline (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:16PM (#22241974)

        They only surrendered to the Germans for one real reason: their artwork and architecture.


        They surrendered to the Germans because 1940s France was a bitterly divided nation with an ineffective government, and some political factions favored surrender over working with their political enemies (the Communists were strong in France at the time and operated as a fifth column, because of Stalin's alliance with Germany at the time--ironically, they would become some of the most effective of the Resistance later when Hitler invaded Russia), and also because of a strong strain of isolationism at the time--many Frenchmen in 1940 were actually convinced it was all Britain's fault, an opinion that was reinforced when the British bombed the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir to prevent it from falling into German hands. The catastrophic military loss they suffered--the result of poor training, poor organization, poor leadership, and most of all, horrid communications (the French supreme HQ's picture of events was routinely several days behind what the front lines were seeing)--may have been the proximate cause, but the kind of disaster France suffered in 1940 takes a political and moral collapse as well as a military one. Read Shirer's "Fall of the Third Republic" sometime, fascinating read.

        I also keep in mind that they also made our current word: sabotage... that words origin comes from Nazi occupation of France, when the peoples would jam up factories and machines to help Germany.


        Um, no, it doesn't. While the Resistance in France certainly practiced sabotage, they didn't invent the word. The word comes from the French railway strike of 1910, in which the workers destroyed the wooden shoes that held the rails in place. The shoes in French were called "sabots", hence "sabotage".
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "flung their wooden shoes [...] called "sabots" into the machines to stop them, hence the word "sabotage"."
          There, fixed that for you, after all, what kind of self-respecting geek would I be if I couldn't correct your Star Trek quote?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Chris Mattern (191822)
            Like a lot of "good story" etymologies, this one gets repeated a lot because it's such a good story, but isn't supported by the evidence. There are no known contemporary sources reporting the flinging of wooden shoes into machinery, nor is the word "sabotage" used in this way before 1910, whereas the supposed shoe-throwing would've happened in the mid-nineteenth century.
        • Re:Better headline (Score:4, Interesting)

          by 00_NOP (559413) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:47AM (#22245058) Homepage
          What the parent said. Worth also repeating that the British were as beaten as the French except they had the channel to protect them, a government that said it was prepared to die choking on its own blood than to surrender and the RAF and Royal Navy to seal the deal. The French could have retreated to Algeria, then part of metropolitan France, but their homeland would still have been occupied.

          The contrast with France and Italy is interesting: there were a lot of anti-Republicans in France in 1940 and they backed the armistice. They were then left utterly discredited (though obviously haven't gone away - see Le Pen), but the battle that was started on 14 July 1789 was settled forever on 20 August 1944. For Italy, though, because so many fascists got away with it (especially as some of them could say they were behind the capitualtion), the country has been described as being engaged in a low intensity civil war ever since.
        • They surrendered to the Germans because 1940s France was a bitterly divided nation with an ineffective government

          What about the years of indecisive (although terribly deadly) warfare of the WWI? France never dislodged the German invaders, until Germany collapsed because of its own Communists...

          And before that there was a Franco-Prussian war, which France lost spectacularly... And elsewhere — since Napoleon (the first and only) France was either just a dwarf or a giant on clay feet either losing wa

      • Re:Better headline (Score:4, Informative)

        by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @11:17PM (#22242384)
        Actually ''sabotage' has no connection to the Germans. It suspected to have originated in a railway strike in 1910, were a part of the rails called a "Sabot" was removed to render the rails inoperable. An alternate (according rto Wikipedia unlikely) origin is that of throwing wooden shoes (also Sabot) into mecanizes looms to kill them. Again no connection to the Germans.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ericferris (1087061)

          That's also what I learned. In the early 1800s, the French tapestry manufactures started to purchase the newfangled Jacquard mechanical looms [suspenders.com] that got their patterns from punched cards. The silk worker corporations didn't like it one bit. Fearing for their employment, they started a Luddite campaign against the devious machines, discreetly throwing wooden shoes (French "sabot") into the delicate mechanism while the foreman wasn't looking. Hence the word.

          Of course, as is often the case, the machines actuall

          • by dintech (998802)
            I'm at work so I'll resist visiting suspenders.com until I get home. :)
          • by mikael (484)
            But now, you have one technician supervising 15 completely automated looms, while upstairs, the pattern designer creates the patterns using Photoshop and some custom plugins. The largest patterns can range from 1000 threads to 10,000 threads across.
      • [The French] only surrendered to the Germans for one real reason: their artwork and architecture. I really cant fault them for that, considering the pictures I've seen in the aftermath of England.

        French military leaders surrendered to Germany because France lost to Germany in 1940. In addition, a lot of French supported the Nazis, eugenics, and anti-semitism. And the French were responsible for numerous crimes against humanity during the Vichy government.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vichy_France [wikipedia.org]
      • by plague3106 (71849)
        Really? Did any reason of the surrender have to do with all the Nazi supports in France? Did sabotage also come from those same supporters outing Jews and dissidents?

        I can blame them; there was a significant portion that actively supported the Nazis.
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      The french are just being pro-active; in the rest of the world, BSOD ditches YOU!

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      French police surrender to Linux

      More like they farted in Microsoft's general direction.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig@hogger.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:38PM (#22241720) Homepage Journal
    Tous vos bureaux sont nous appartiennent!
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:39PM (#22241728)

    "In 2004 we had to buy 13,000 licences for office suites for our PCs," he said, "but in the three years since then we've only had to buy a total of 27 licences."
    That's great, but maybe you could appreciate what you have gotten for free and give maybe 10% of what you were paying before back to those open source projects?
    • you have gotten for free

      I've never read such a request around here... and this is not the first big entity to do this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah I fell for it, it's Slashdot. But the French didnt switch to pay money... They switched to SAVE money. The faster Linux geeks figure out that a very large percentage of you will never see thin red cent for the work they put in the faster Linux will evolve. Linux is used by people because they either love it or two they got something for free. It's developed by big business because it's a free pool of talent that is more then willing to work for free, and it's used by big business because some othe
    • by filbranden (1168407) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:27PM (#22242058)

      That's great, but maybe you could appreciate what you have gotten for free and give maybe 10% of what you were paying before back to those open source projects?

      Or better yet, contribute code. With 10% of what you were paying for licenses, you can hire or pay developers to improve open source projects, you may even choose the features that you need. You contribute them so that others with the same needs may use them as well.

      Open source economics is based on the fact that code is worth more than money. Code you may share as much as you want. Money you may only split.

      • Bug reports and feature requests will be submitted chances are, not to mention the IT guys will probably change the code and audit it, so code will be improved.
      • by Sloppy (14984)

        With 10% of what you were paying for licenses, you can hire or pay developers to improve open source projects, you may even choose the features that you need.

        The FS implies that's their intent:

        There are three reasons behind the move, Geraud said at the Solution Linux 2008 conference here. The first is to diversify suppliers and reduce the force's reliance on one company, the second is to give the gendarmerie mastery of the operating system and the third is cost, he said.

        (emphasis mine)

        I smell users that

    • by ag0ny (59629)
      That's great, but maybe you could appreciate what you have gotten for free and give maybe 10% of what you were paying before back to those open source projects?

      They already are giving back, indirectly. In exchange for the huge licensing savings, the French citizens are getting either:

      - Better police service because (licensing budget is now spent on other things needed by the police department)

      or:

      - Reduced taxes because the police department stays the same, but now they need less money

      My opinion is that sinc
      • by plague3106 (71849)
        Wow, you are exteremly naive. The French people's taxes won't go down. They'll use the money to buy computer hardware, more guns, hire more officers, etc. But none of it will go back to the French people.

        Personally, given what our governments are up to, I think LESS police is a better solution than more. More police = more corruption.
      • by Ash Vince (602485)
        There is something far more important that the French get out of this arrangement: Trust.

        The problem with buying a closed source American Operating System is that you can never be truly sure that it is not full of backdoors built in by the NSA. Now some of you might consider this to be very paranoid but being paranoid can be quite important when it comes to national security, especially given the current US administrations attitudes to eavesdropping its own citizens and keenness for disrespecting other nati
    • No money need change hands, but presumably the IT department wanted the ability to modify the code, if they sent anything useful they do back upstream it would be even better. Further still, from what I can gather the French government likes investing tax dollars into simply hiring large numbers of French people; there are plenty of French people hacking on open source, how 'bought they hire a few of those already involved to work on the products the Gendarmes (and hopefully others in the future) use that a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PHPfanboy (841183)
      They are, you just need to know how to take the donations :-) No point begging for it, that won't get through a Purchasing department.

      France is a hotbed of open source activity. Loads of top companies are well LAMPed and this provides a good market for developers and university grads. On top of this, there are plenty of university courses with open source projects associated, like the very excellent VLC multimedia player (and server).

      There are system integrator companies like Linagora who provide full

    • by nguy (1207026)
      That's great, but maybe you could appreciate what you have gotten for free and give maybe 10% of what you were paying before back to those open source projects?

      The French and EU government support some open source projects through research grants. Of course, more would be better.

      Also, maybe they are buying support contracts, or buying machines from companies that support open source software.

      I think it's good for institutions to donate, but open source wouldn't succeed if it had to depend on it
    • by bitflip (49188)
      The exposure of a real life, very public rollout is worth that 10%, easily.
    • by k33l0r (808028)
      Trust me, they contribute to the OSS community simply by using the software. It's not like some French admin just downloaded the disc images off SourceForge. They are paying for support from somewhere. And wider use is always good. And if one of they key arguments for using OSS is that it is cheaper, is it a good idea to lessen this benefit by demanding money from new users?

  • The Police Agency if anything like in America are always on the border of huge funds or cutbacks. Linux being a systems which during the slow periods can be updated and kept modern without major overhaul and during huge cash flow years, Money can be invested in hardware and custom programming. With Windows and even Macs, during the down years you may face dangerously out of date systems and on good years a majority of the money will go to Software License just to keep the same old in quality of service.
    • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig@hogger.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:34PM (#22242096) Homepage Journal

      The Police Agency if anything like in America are always on the border of huge funds or cutbacks.
      Er, no. It is the french Gendarmerie, and they are part of the armed forces.

      Yup, in France, the roads are patrolled by soldiers. And no one fucks with them, as well as by being soldiers, they don't fuck with anyone either, quite unlike the pityful police farces too often seen in the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AvitarX (172628)
        It's true.

        Even in the nice areas there are stations that have people armed with assault rifles outside keeping watch.

        For the record, it didn't make me feel safe.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jalet (36114)
        > And no one fucks with them,

        Just like with Slashdotters, unfortunately ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by basiles (626992)
        More precisely, the Police Nationale is in charge of cities, and the Gendarmerie Nationale is in charge of rural zones (at least in principle) See french wikipedia: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gendarmerie_nationale_(France) [wikipedia.org] And the Gendarmerie has also specialized units. More to the point, the Gendarmerie did pay several contractors (and also internal IT) to do the migration. AFAIK, the military status of the personel did help: they had to obey (and didn't complain that much).
      • How is that not effected by political and whimical Governemet budgeting? In a democratic country like France the people who are in charge got there because they are the most popular or at least says the right things that people want to hear. The same in the US and all other democratic countries. You very rairly ever get someone who is really fit to rule. I am not saying other methods are better, becasue other forms the person who wants to rule the most wins, or the person born in the right family rules. Ne
  • The french use SECAM for TV's, why not computers.

    SECAM = Something Essentially Contrary to the American Method. ;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SECAM#Why_SECAM_in_France.3F [wikipedia.org]

    • by sxpert (139117)
      yeah, and we all know NTSC stands for Never The Same Color, as the (crappy ass) technology is known to be prone to color phase encoding variations turning the color signal into shit
    • SECAM = Something Essentially Contrary to the American Method. ;)
      That's interesting. I was always taught that SECAM = System Engineered by a Committee of AMphibians *Ba-Da-Tish*

      Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week...
  • Crap (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:11PM (#22241932) Homepage Journal
    Now we'll have to rename Linux to FreedomOS.
  • Just in the last year or so, most of what you could previously only do in windows is now possible in OSX or Linux. It seems the only thing missing still is the existence of a good Netmeeting alternative/compatible in linux. Sure Ekiga does sound okay, but since it doesn't do desktop sharing I find myself keeping a windows virtual machine just for the purpose of netmeetings. While i know there are commercial alternatives that work in linux well enough using java, free is a much better price. Here's hopin
    • by markdavis (642305)
      There is a LOT more missing than just some "Netmeeting" thing.

      As far as I am concerned, the most majorly missing thing are medium and large business applications. Especially the foundation ones, such as payroll, GL, AR, AP, HR, etc. For every one application you can find for Linux, there are several thousand for MS-Windows only (and those include *ix backends with MS-Windows-only frontends or IE-only frontends). When you start looking at industry-specific applications, it is extremely worse.

      This is no fa
      • by Yfrwlf (998822)
        Actually I think there are Linux programs available for most all the things you mentioned, but you're right that they are few in comparison. That's why more software companies, teams, and individuals need to port code, or write Linux apps from scratch. :)

        More standards and support systems would really help though, especially a universal method to install any Linux app on any Linux distro that supports the standard/system/filetype, I think just that would go a long way in helping things. Everyone should b
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      It seems the only thing missing still is the existence of a good Netmeeting alternative/compatible in linux.

      • Who uses Netmeeting anyway?
      • What's wrong with Skype (which replicates the majority of functionality except desktop sharing)?

      but since it doesn't do desktop sharing I find myself keeping a windows virtual machine just for the purpose of netmeetings.

      What's wrong with the easy to use VNC desktop sharing applications?

      While i know there are commercial alternatives that work in linux well enough using j

  • /got nuthin

    In all seriousness, this move seems like a wise one, especially when they enumerate the cost savings in licenses, etc. I will in fact print this out and bring it in to my MS-fanboi boss tomorrow, hoping to continue to build my case for migrating. Why is it that the Europeans embrace Linux so readily, while here in git'er'dun land it's so often viewed like the plague?

    (ob. gentoo joke) Plus, they'll be more effective in their jobs if they're not sitting around, waiting for their packages to compi
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      It is the language support. MS language support is a lacking, unless you happen to speak some flavour of English...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rprins (1083641)
        Utter nonsense. If language support was lacking Windows would never have been embraced at all. Microsoft publishes all it's programs in every European language imaginable. And if not, French would be the first they'd support, they're not stupid when it comes to marketing.

        Anyway, maybe they're switching because it just makes sense financially?
        A more interesting question is, what is keeping the US government from switching? Are they more deeply locked-in or are they more willing to throw some money toward
        • by Darfeld (1147131)
          I doubt US government can be significantly more willing to throw money towards friends than a certain Nicola S.

          But Mr N isn't a friend with any MS guy that I know. (And Balmer didn't give him a Xbox for Christmas, so it's maybe why french government is switching so fast...)
          • by rprins (1083641)
            Well, yes that's certainly true, Sarkozy seems to be quite the nepotist.
            If there were any French OS's, Linux wouldn't have made it.
  • The pic that came with the story on Yahoo was of some hot French police (two women and a guy).

    I'm guessing that many Microsofties (Mee-crow-soft in French) would love to be searched by one of them.
  • "Ah'm French! How else do zyou ecksplain my use of Linux, and 'zis out-hragious accent?!"
  • I guess Les Flics are going to become Les Flix...

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