French police move from Windows to Ubuntu Linux

French police move from Windows to Ubuntu Linux

Summary: The big reason the French Gendarmerie made the Linux move? It saved them 40 percent in total cost of ownership over Windows.


There are many reasons to switch to a Linux desktop from Windows. Better security; not having to worry over possible built-in privacy leaks; and, last but never least, Linux is cheaper... a lot cheaper.


That's the big reason why the Gendarmerie, which with the Police Nationale, serves France as a national police force, has been slowly, but surely moving to a customized version of Ubuntu Linux, from Windows XP.

In an European Union report for government administrators, Major Stéphane Dumond of the French Home Office is reported to have said at the Evento Linux conference that, "Using an open-source desktop lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) by 40 percent in savings on proprietary software licenses and by reducing costs on IT management. Using Ubuntu Linux massively reduces the number of local technical interventions."

In 2010, Jean-Pascal Chateau, the Commandant of La Gendarmerie Nationale, said of the project: “We weren’t experiencing technical problems, but financial ones. For the same amount of work, yielding the same results, we realized that Windows would cost us €2 million more than Ubuntu every year.

Today, the Gendarmerie has deployed 37,000 Ubuntu Linux desktops. By summer of 2014, all 72,000 PCs are expected to be switched to Ubuntu. According to Dumond, this may be Europe's and possibly the world's largest example of a government agency using open source software on desktops.

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Drumond may well be correct. Munich Germany, in a well-known move, also switched to Linux for its desktops, but it only has 14,000 desktops. Companies, such as Google and Oracle, probably use even more Linux desktops internally, but they're not revealing their exact number of desktops.

Besides the great TCO, the Genarmerie also appreciates the costs saving from being independent from commercial software vendors. "This is priceless," said Drumond. The desktop migration allowed the Gendarmerie to restructure the IT organization, saving time, human resources and money.

Using Linux on desktops allows the police force to control costs when deploying new technologies. "It is a risk, but a controlled risk, counterbalanced by the lower service costs," said Drumond.

In his presentation, Drumond also pointed out that the "Direct benefits (license costs) are only the tip of the iceberg (PDF Link). The force is also saving money with Linux's easier management and a " Huge decrease of local technical interventions on Ubuntu's desktops."

Moving to Ubuntu from XP wasn't easy, Drumond admitted, but the ongoing cost-savings made the transition more than worthwhile.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Government, Linux, Ubuntu

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  • Good job.

    TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP is ONLY cost metric PUBLIC (or publicly funded) institutions should be allowed to use.

    (And it should include cost of switching to open standards after end of life for given solution, and cost of preserving/archiving any required data for as long as such data would be needed)

    Shame that in Poland TOC is foreign word to public administration.
    • Microsoft Windows = Risk

      There are future unknowns about Windows and where it will go.

      With PC usage plummeting, one must ponder where the money will come from to develop future versions of Windows. It's hard to imagine the big releases will continue. Linux has a different model that is more likely to continue into the future.

      Windows 8 was an example of Microsoft taking its operating system in a direction that the enterprise market didn't want. Putting a phone interface (Metro) on a desktop PC operating system was not something corporations wanted. There are costs that must be borne by corporations when interface changes are forced upon you.

      With Linux, you get more choices and control over which way it goes. All the above factors impact on the total cost of ownership. The deeper you investigate the future risks and costs, the more you see that it makes sense to move to Ubuntu Linux rather than following Microsoft's enforced path.
      • True

        Windows is terrible expensive, insecure and unstable operation system. Even without any license fees it would have been much expensive to French Policy than Ubuntu. Besides with its proprietary software it makes bug fixing much more complicated and slow than open source software of Ubuntu ecosystem.
    • Re TCO

      TOC should be a foreign word, as it is the common abbreviation for Table Of Contents, not Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

      Do you really think that TCO is the ONLY factor to consider when national security and the privacy of confidential information is involved? Surely the fostering of local developer talent and the independence from foreign providers for essential functions needs to be kept in mind. Ubuntu and other Linux-based operating systems, and other open source too, are generally superior there too. That said, you are quite right that TCO should be a central concern, given the demand on limited resources.
      Ralph Pichie
  • You are a day late to report

    and short of words as usual. May be its time for you to reboot.
    Ram U
    • Also sounds like a complete crock. They must have been comparing it to XP

      Not W7/W8. And the security is also a fallacy, as is the privacy leak hogwash, although Linux did have one intentionally built in. No doubt they'll be too embarrassed to admit down the road that the tco story never materialized and windows actually has better management and lower service costs, just like Munich was when their mythical tco projections evaporated. Too bad the French police dept is owned by the socialists and can't even control their own neighborhoods. Better gear up for another month of car burning while the Genarmerie stand back and watch French culture disappear.
      Johnny Vegas
      • 50% switched already, with a 40% reduction in cost...

        Sounds like a success. With 100% switched, they should have an 80% reduction in cost.

        Microsoft software is just too expensive to use.

        As for French culture - it will no longer be under attack by Microsoft. They can use their own local companies for support. They won't be dependent on spending their money overseas.

        So there is a triple indirect benefit to their culture.
        • Jesse Pollard?

          With this claptrap, sounds more like Vicky Pollard - yeahbut-nobut-yeahbut
        • I think the main reason is NSA not the cost

          Linux is available in sources, Ubuntu is just collecting available sources and makes a custom build. So I think it is much easier to verify their work by comparing source files from different builds instead of looking for security issues integrated into Windows.
        • Some studies in Scandinavia have showed...

          ... cost about 60% less than adopting Windows ecosystem. An American study made some years ago mentioned that only 10% of projects moving from Windows to open source/Linux system were not economically success mostly because project were not done well. Huge majority - over 80% gave average 50% to even 80% savings.
      • car burning...

        better than a mass shooting at a school...or schools.
        • Like in Toulouse?

          Like the one at the Jewish school in Toulouse last year?
      • Microsoft's problem is themselves

        Without question, Microsoft took computing from the scientific/sci-fi realm to mainstream reality. The problem is, they acted like they would remain in that dominant position with no contenders (which for the most part they haven't had).

        The problem now is, no one wants what they sell (on the desktop OS side). Is it really because of the post-PC world as some like to call it, or is it because the surge in tablet use hit at the same time MS changed Windows so drastically?

        Another consideration that the French Police may have taken into account is cost of training in conjunction with the TCO.

        Microsoft by extension has kept food on my table and a roof over my head from 1996 to 2008, after which I became an EMC storage guy. I just came out of Windows 8 training. If the learning curve for someone who has been a Microsoft guy and been using MS products for nearly 20 years is high, why not learn Ubuntu? In other words, if the end users are going to have a high learning curve for the new Windows, why not take that same curve with a competing product and save money?

        Microsoft has been spreading FUD about Linux since its arrival. Android, Ubuntu and even MacOS is making the case for Linux. And this from a long-time MS user.
        • You had challenges adjusting to Windows 8?

          Seriously? You must not be much of a computer guy if the learning curve of Windows 8 was high for you. I'm no champion of Windows 8 but anyone with basic computer skills should not require a lot of training.
          • You miss the point

            It's not that it's "hard". It's much different than other OS's. Windows 8 is as different as Ubuntu in that respect.

            Therefore, if I have to learn MS's new way, why not learn something else that might even save me money?

            But you do make an excellent point. Your arrogance is shared at Microsoft which is why the public is recoiling at Windows 8. Attack the user, not the fact the user has to unlearn what they've already learned.

            And for the record, in the time I was a MS flunkie, I was an Exchange Admin, SQL Admin and Sr. Systems Engineer for a managed services company with Fortune 500 clients, and can program in Visual Basic, Perl and Java.

            How's that for lacking basic computer skills?
          • No, I didn't miss the point.

            You said:

            "If the learning curve for someone who has been a Microsoft guy and been using MS products for nearly 20 years is high..."

            I am the first to admit Windows 8 has changed the way the user interfaces with Windows. But someone who has been professionally managing Exchange, SQL Server, and is a Sr. Systems Engineer should not require a high learning curve to use it. Windows 8's interface is different but it's not complicated. If you required a high learning curve that says more about your skill (or lack of) than anything about Windows 8.
          • @ye, you did indeed miss the point

            It's not how hard the learning curve is, it's why there is one in the first place. Win8's learning curve shouldn't exist in the first place. What benefit does it bring? Why does Microsoft insist on changing interfaces instead of improving functionality? How good would WinXP be today if Microsoft had simply kept improving it instead of shoving Vista, the Ribbon, Win7, and Win8 down our throats?
          • @Vesicant: No, I did not.

            "you did indeed miss the point"

          • This is shocking

            "And for the record, in the time I was a MS flunkie, I was an Exchange Admin, SQL Admin and Sr. Systems Engineer for a managed services company with Fortune 500 clients, and can program in Visual Basic, Perl and Java.

            How's that for lacking basic computer skills?"

            Given all that history it is really shocking. It just shows that with enough determination even people without basic computer skills can be Exchange Admins and System Engineers.

            Now seriously, how do you use windows 8 that it is difficult? The only difference is the lack of start menu button and the different. Do not run metro apps and you would be fine.
          • Admin Developer Skills

            Most admins I know who claim programming skills on their resume are just fluffing. It's hard enough for 100% developer types to truly know a half-a-dozen languages and claim it on their resume.