French National Police Dump Windows for Linux

Dennis Faas's picture

By gradually migrating to a complete open source desktop and web applications, Gendarmerie Nationale, the French national police force with 105,000 employees, has saved millions of euros. The move cuts Microsoft out of the equation, helping the French national police force slash its IT costs by 70 percent.

Most of the money saved was on proprietary software licenses, beginning in 2004. Previously, the acquired Gendarmerie Nationale acquired 12,000 to 15,000 licenses annually.

Gendarmerie National's decision to adopt a strictly open-standards IT policy began in 2002 with the intention of improving interoperability between other police forces and custom agencies. (Source:

Estimated Savings of 50 Million Euro on Licenses

Since 2007, Gendarmerie Nationale purchased only 200 licenses. New PCs come loaded with Ubuntu. Since 2004, the Gendarmerie has saved an estimated 50 million euro on licenses for standard office applications, hardware and maintenance. (Source:

Because one of the Gendarmerie's accountants was irked at being forced into buying new software licenses by Microsoft, the decision was made to move to open source in 2004. The accountant tried OpenOffice. When they found that OpenOffice worked just as well as Microsoft Office and was available for free, the decision was made to install it on 90,000 desktops.

Switch from XP to Ubuntu Seamless

In 2007, the Gendarmerie decided to shift desktop operating systems from Windows XP to Ubuntu instead of Windows Vista because Vista did not provide them any advantages and because Microsoft said it would require the training of users. Migrating from Windows XP to Ubuntu proved to be very easy.

Open Source Also Reduced Maintenance Costs

Open source has also helped the Gendarmerie reduce maintenance costs, since it's easier for them to keep GNU/Linux desktops up to date. Installing new versions of anti-virus applications on desktops in the Gendarmerie's outposts used to take a year. Now it's done within two weeks without requiring travel. (Source:

The Gendarmerie Nationale success, as noted by APC Magazine, contradicts Microsoft's arguments that the 'total cost of ownership' of Windows is less than Linux. (Source:

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