The French National Gendarmerie will run 37,000 desktop computers with a custom version of Linux. The first stage of the plan is already online and within the next 8 months the agency is going to move all 72,000 of its desktop computers to open source.
The experts see this move as another huge roll-out in a government department which is touted as proof that Windows is dead. Of course, the roll-out is similar to Linux break-throughs in Germany which were never repeated elsewhere.
The French Police explained that the total cost of ownership of Linux and open source apps is almost twice less than proprietary software from Microsoft. Considering the fact that a switch could hack some people off, the police first moved to cross-platform open source apps like OpenOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird, which allowed employees to keep using Windows while they got used to the new apps. Only after this they were moved onto a Linux OS.
However, it seems that it has taken an incredibly long time to get this far, because the migration started 9 years ago, when the French police faced providing all its users with access to its internal network. Moving from Office to OpenOffice was supposed to save cash. After this, the agency rolled out Firefox and Thunderbird back in 2006. Finally, in 2008, the gendarmerie switched the first batch of 5,000 users to a Linux OS based on Ubuntu.
In the meantime, other governments, including Brazil, have resolved to use more open source software. Moreover, China and India even have their own government-sponsored Linux distributions. Nevertheless, some government plans to move to Linux are hardly committed. For example, the United Kingdom is committed to use open source software “wherever possible”, but major part of its IT budget is spent on proprietary software from such companies as Microsoft and Oracle.