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French Police To Switch 72,000 Desktop PCs To Linux 183

jones_supa writes "France's National Gendarmerie — the national law enforcement agency — is now running 37,000 desktop PCs with a custom distribution of Linux, and by summer of 2014, the agency plans to switch over all 72,000 of its desktop machines. The agency claims that the TCO of open source software is about 40 percent less than proprietary software from Microsoft, referring to their article published by EU's Interoperability Solutions for Public Administrations. Initially Gendarmerie has moved to Windows versions of cross-platform OSS applications such as OpenOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird. Now they are completing the process by changing the OS. This is one of the largest known government deployments of Linux on the desktop."
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French Police To Switch 72,000 Desktop PCs To Linux

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  • For the french too!
  • by sxpert ( 139117 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @02:35PM (#45027925)
    technically, the Gendarmerie are the military police force, that is mostly managing the countryside.
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      So these people are Barney Fife.

    • Yes, Gendarmerie is this: []

  • Proud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechNeilogy ( 2948399 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @02:40PM (#45027993)
    There are days when you wake up proud to have French ancestry.
  • by schwep ( 173358 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @02:48PM (#45028091)

    So not only do they get lower TCO, they also get 100% less built in spyware (literally) by the NSA.

    It's truely a win-win!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      So not only do they get lower TCO, they also get 100% less built in spyware (literally) by the NSA.

      It's truely a win-win!

      There are thousands of separate groups of people working codes that go into open source distributions. Most openly accept patches from anyone...

      So yea "Mission accomplished" Linux must 100% less big brother...

      I know I know... "but...but . we have source!"...

      And a lengthy historical record of innocent vulnerabilities caused by **innocent** human mistakes only being found years after the fact to prove how much having the source is worth.

      • The fact that open source projects accept code from others don't mean that anyone can enter code into a project. New code is checked by a maintainer before being added to the project to make sure its dont suck like closed source code often does.

        Most of the old bugs are not in open sourced projekt. Most of the open source projects find that security problems is in new code.

        The smart people like me are slow to change to new code unless they have to because of security reasons. Doing that
        other have time to fin

      • by Idou ( 572394 )
        Having the source is not perfect, but it is infinitely better than not having the source when it comes to security.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The NSA/CIA would still fully understand the databases, OS, OS file system, networks and hardware links within France via Tailored Access Programs, templates (ready-to-go backdoor), ~ Genie. []
  • Gendarmerie more or less does the policing outside in the countryside, the national police (Police national) does it in city. Also IIRC they also do control of road law. Originally they were a military police.
    • by boule75 ( 649166 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:18PM (#45028541) Homepage
      The situation is a bit peculiar : - both the Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie report to the Ministère de l'Interieur. But Gendarmes retain a military status while Policiers are civilians: some differences in duties and in pay, but a strong difference on rights: les gendarmes are not allowed to go on strike or to publicly profess political preferences (as all soldiers here) while les policiers can do both. - both forces have elite counter-terrorism teams, altough the most renowed one belongs to the Gendarmerie (GIGN). And both forces are requested to work together if need be, and regularly train together. As for the police : Windows on the desktop, 80% Linux in the datacenters, with some AIX and windows.
  • All about the apps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dega704 ( 1454673 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:03PM (#45028321)
    Moving to said open source applications beforehand was a smart move. Large-scale deployments like this can fail spectacularly, mostly due to the shock of having all of their applications change, rather than the actual OS. When the end users are already using Firefox, Open Office, etc., I have found that the transition goes much more smoothly with very little resistance.
    • by Dadoo ( 899435 )

      When the end users are already using Firefox, Open Office, etc., I have found that the transition goes much more smoothly with very little resistance.

      Sadly, even that part is difficult, sometimes. We tried that at my place of employment, and everyone complained bitterly. As far as I can tell, no one likes to change, once they learn something; we actually have some people who are still using WordPerfect, and insist they can't do their jobs without it.

    • Look at how long it took the city of Munich to unify and migrate all of its various software solutions. Migrating the OS itself was barely the tip of the iceberg.

  • I suppose it was around the release of the 2.0 kernel that every year was heralded as the year of Linux on the desktop. Of course it was never really practical and eventually became something of a joke. But as the years have rolled on, Linux and the software that runs on it has steadily advanced. For various reasons, I think it's finally ready and I believe this is a demonstration of that. One thing that always held Linux back was the need to work with complex configuration files and work voodoo magic in a
    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:15PM (#45028507) Journal

      Pert of the problem is that the typical requirement for an office suite is described as "Work like Microsoft Office". Of course any competing office suite is going to be less good when compared to Microsoft Office using this criterion.

      I know someone who is always talking up Windows. He knows that Windows has problems but assumes that Linux has these same problems (which it frequently does not), while highlighting issues with Linux. Put another way, he is blinded to problems in Windows while he exaggerates problems in Linux. I think that this is typical behaviour that has slowed down adoption of Linux.

      • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
        I agree about the mindset hurting adoption. It's a side effect of the decade and half we spent trying to get end users to use it when it wasn't ready. I will say that Kingsoft Office for Linux has absolute and total perfect MS Office compatibility across everything in the suite and even has the ribbon interface, but it is both closed source and from China - I don't trust it. My best suggestion regarding your friend is to issue a challenge. Wait for Ubuntu GNOME to come out of beta in a couple of weeks and t
        • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:42PM (#45028865) Homepage

          Why Gnome? KDE is perfectly stable, have more features, looks great and functions in the same way then Windows 7.
          In my opinions KDE is much more user friendly and have more features then Gnome, and have a round-up experience (the KDE applications are integrate very well). I run for 2 years now Fedora with KDE and it's extremely well experience.

          • Why GNOME? Polish.

            I completely agree that KDE is in many ways the superior, friendlier interface, *especially* if you're a power user. But pretty much all the major corporate distros are using GNOME as the default, meaning that GNOME itself is getting a lot more attention from organizations that can fund things like quality assurance and actual user interface testing (as opposed to only the design aesthetics of the people creating it and "bug" reports by that tiny fraction of people using it that are actu

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        That's one of the biggest problems... windows may be extremely buggy, but its ubiquity has resulted in people becoming used to its bugs and working around them... linux may be less buggy, but those bugs it does have are unexpected and take the users by surprise.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      That should be 'le desktop'. Use proper French or you'll run afoul of L'Academie Francaise.

    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      Systems "just work" and installing software is no more difficult than looking for what you need in an "app store" just like on a phone.

      In what kind of enterprise system does any kind of "app store" make any sense at all. The "personal computer"
      Also if you have a need for per anything licenced software you'd tend to also need a suitable licence tracking system. An obvious advantage here of OSS is that it effectivly comes with a site/enterprise licence.
    • Finding a linux desktop that "just works" has been a easy as booting off a knoppix CD for the last decade. There's plenty of other examples.
  • Cue lobbyists ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:15PM (#45028493) Homepage

    And Microsoft will now unleash the flying monkeys to try to refute any claims about lower TCO.

    I'm sure there will be studies trotted out, and all sorts of attempts to discredit this.

    There's no way in hell they'll take this lying down, or without trying to get the government to intervene on their behalf -- perhaps as a trade issue and claim they're being unfairly excluded.

    • Re:Cue lobbyists ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:27PM (#45028685)

      And Microsoft will now unleash the flying monkeys to try to refute any claims about lower TCO.

      I'm sure there will be studies trotted out, and all sorts of attempts to discredit this.

      they tried that with the "Get The Facts" campaign and it backfired so badly that they took down the page.

      There's no way in hell they'll take this lying down, or without trying to get the government to intervene on their behalf -- perhaps as a trade issue and claim they're being unfairly excluded.

      nah, in the EU, it's not so easy to manipulate governments and really this is small beans to get worked up about. far smaller than say, having the london stock exchange switch to linux.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The US will have a few options:
      Offer more French police and military ongoing US based 'free' training where they are activity reeducated with MS tools. The staff return to France emotionally imprinted with the advanced tools, methods and a list of new US software and hardware.
      Given rank, seniority, charm, security clearances and a global political context the US hopes it can generational reshape Frances buying efforts.
      Costly to US tax payers but long term alters the mind set of senior French staff.
  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:24PM (#45028639)
    That's definitely unamerican behaviour!
    • That's definitely unamerican behaviour!

      Yeah, now you guys will have to rename Linux to Patriotix or Freedomnix or... ummm... something like that.

  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @06:03PM (#45030463) Homepage
    In one prior place of employment we had Ubuntu on all the desktops and Firefox and Thunderbird. The mail accounts were all IMAP only so you could essentially blow away a machine and re-install an image on it.
  • and now the French go Penguin.

    Am I living a dream?

    If I am I do not want to wake up.

    Is that .... is that the YEAR of the LINUX desktop I see over the horizon?!!!! ;-)


    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      Mandrake was an excellent France-based distrubution many years ago. But the users ran to Ubuntu when the distro were sued over the "Mandrake" name and changed it to the unsexy "Mandriva". Ubuntu had naked people in their marketing at the time.

  • France has two police forces. Police Nationale, and Gendarmerie Nationale. The former is civilian and mostly operate in cities, while the latter is military and mostly operate in rural area.

    Both can do investigation for justice, which is where it is convenient. If for some reason an investigation is stuck, it is always possible to replace Police Nationale investigators by Gendarmerie Nationale, or the other way around.

  • by robot5x ( 1035276 ) <> on Friday October 04, 2013 @04:29AM (#45033595)

    I'd really like to know some detail on how a migration like this works.

    I work for a large healthcare organisation and - being a linux fan myself - often wondered about how it could work. Even if there were support from senior managers, there are some really practical issues to overcome...

    • What about windows-based third party software? We have heaps of proprietary software for different clinical applications that will only run on windows...
    • What about IT staff? We have a huge team of people with windows admin skills. Moving to linux - do they get retrained, or sacked and then we have to hire a possibly smaller team of linux admins. Do any/enough even exist in a small south pacific island nation like NZ to make this feasible??

    I'd love to see some real gritty detail about exaclty how a project like this is done, and the challenges that were overcome. I know the article talks about a staged approach which makes sense, but I don't see any mention of what happened to their helpdesk teams. Grateful for any pointers.

    • I do this sort of thing as a matter of course, normally in much smaller environments. Healthcare organizations are problematic: they often have proprietary software wedged into their workflow in fascinating ways, such as laboratory data reporting tools and legacy accounting applications. Whether to maintain a minimal Windows architecture, or any other displaced architecture, for access to this old data is an important technical and buisiness decision. It has become easy to virtualize and isolate such hosts,

      • hey thanks a lot, that's really helpful.

        this whole issue came up again recently when our regional health boards decided to budget for a windows 7 upgrade. The amount of money involved is truly mind-boggling, and a vocal minority of senior docs asked about using this as an opportunity for migration to a linux environment instead. It was rejected without any investigation! There are some nuances in our set up which makes the staffing issue much harder, but still... in a 'competitive' environment where we have

    • Also work for a large healthcare organisation, and have thought the same thing.

      I think the key will be webapps - almost all - even radiology - seems to be moving to webapps. Some still need IE6 though!


Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp