back to article French police plan Windows-free jails, offices

The French gendarmerie has blown a big framboise at Microsoft by ditching Windows XP in favour of Ubuntu. The paramilitary police force is to switch 70,000 desktops over to the Linux OS, two years after switching its browsers to Firefox, and three years after dumping MS Office for OpenOffice. Deputy director of the force’s IT …


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  1. A J Stiles

    Language Concerns

    Surely, given that the French like to keep things in their own language, that should be "Renard de Feu" and "" ?

    J'irai chercher mon manteau .....

  2. elder norm

    The decline of Microsoft

    Its starting already. The slow and steady decline of Microsoft. While I think Bill Gates is a very smart man, he got stuck in the early computer age and never grew.

    Why should companies and governments that have hundreds of thousands of computers and large IT staffs pay the big bucks for over hyped OS systems. Linux has matured to the point that only gradual and occasional changes are needed..... and there is always Mac OSX.

    After the Vista debacle and Microsoft steadfastly refusing to admit that it made a mistake, I just do not see companies waiting 3-4 more years for the next Microsoft thing.


  3. Anonymous Coward


    How long before mickeysoft 'incentivise's them into sticking with their proprietory crapware?

    How big will those incentives be?

    Can I get a slice?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Pedant on the loose

    Doesn't look like there are all that many gendarmes on the street if they are 100,000 strong and have 70,000 desktop PCs.


  5. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    Where's Ballmer?

    I expect to see Steve Ballmer crash landing in France at some point in the near future to try to persuade the french bobbies to continue using Windows.

    I wonder if he'll 'persuade' them with a bit of chair throwing?

    Paris - obviously!

  6. Graham Dresch

    Well don the French Police

    With any luck this will become a Europe - wide policy decision. i look forward to the headline: EU Declared a Windows - Free Zone, huge fines for non compliance

  7. xjy
    Dead Vulture

    Tide coming in

    After playing on the wide open "beach" it thought was its own for ever, Micro$aft will soon get drownded if it doesn't head back for the real shore very quickly. Doesn't take many respectable establishment bodies taking a step like this before all the rest follow suit. A parliament here, a police force there, and Glub Glub Glub... Bill G has a fantastic sense of timing!

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Wont it get really dark?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    I predict

    Bill will be paying a visit to Sarko soon.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité !

    Items prohibited in the M$ EULA on a per core, per VM, per client basis.

    Vive La France !

  11. Tawakalna
    Gates Horns

    Vive La France!

    liberté, egalité, et sans Microsoft!

    au revoir, Monsieur Bill.

  12. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Give me a real OS then

    If MS has a real problem here, then maybe they should give me a real OS for business/public sector (and specifically, for me, school) use, i.e. one that provides a half-useful login dialog, especially for little kiddies (and teachers) who can't remember "cat" as a password, let alone type in ludicrous extensions to their usernames in order to get domain/local logins.

    One that has some sort of alternative logon software available that doesn't cost the earth ON TOP of the Vista upgrades, Vista licenses etc. for a few hundred stations. One that doesn't take five times as long to Ghost because of the enormous (and completely useless) installation size. And one that integrates NICELY into a network for a change. Until then, you'll be selling XP Pro or nothing to any school I've ever worked at, and by all accounts it's pretty similar problems that stop larger deployments of Vista in the public sector.

    If I were a gambling man, I'd lay money that XP will earn yet-another reprieve when the time comes and still nobody wants to use Vista.

  13. Nick Fisher
    Gates Horns

    C'est merde pour le MS

    Nice one - there's no real need to run any MS software these days anyway.

    (although I suspect that the decision was taken for financial reasons rather than technological ones, sadly)

  14. nicholas king

    problems with it in school

    this can only be a step in the right direction, all too often in schools etc. people are taught "how to make a access database" and not "how does a database work". The former approach limiting a user to use a single piece of software more often than not Microsoft based the latter allowing for general use of a technology....and inevitably more flexibility!

  15. Matt Bucknall

    Woop woop!

    That's the sound of da police! Woop woop! Installing da Lineeex.

  16. Martin Owens

    They can fight

    But Microsoft vs the world was never going to go any other way.

  17. Cameron Colley

    This proves Linux is almost there!

    This should come as a nice hint to the "Linux is too hard" brigade that Linux is actually no harder than Windows to use -- and that it's days of being "for geeks only" are numbered.

    With any luck schools will follow -- as a poster above points out, too many people are being taught to use Windows and not to use computers.

  18. Geoff Mackenzie

    Re: Pedant on the loose

    There are only 70 guys on the computers, but they use an average of 1,000 each...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Cameron Colley

    Entirely agree, if even the gendarmes can use it it means that you don't even need to know how to read!

  20. adnim


    is for gaming only, for the time being.

    If it wasn't for CueBase and the latest games(I am still a big kid at heart) I wouldn't have an m$ OS in the house.

    I hope other nations follow the French example, good of them to resist the backhanders, sorry incentives, that I am sure were offered. Now if we only had persons of honesty and integrity in the UK government.... I can dream can't I?

    Goodbye Bill, I would like to say it has been nice knowing you and your software, but that would be a lie.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And with all that money...

    ... get them to learn how to type with more than two fingers.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Better Ubuntu...

    than Vista!

  23. Roger Kynaston
    Jobs Horns

    Will the local plod be leaving the plodding S/W?

    Can't quite see it happening here though somehow. Put ubuntu on my mother in laws machine and then found that the broadband modem was usb only. Bit of a pain but there you go.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    I'd rather use OSX, then Windows, then Linux, in that order.

    The problem largely with the Linux community is its a self reinforcing echo-chamber who spend 50% of their time babbling about how amazing it is and the other 50% talking about how much they hate MS.

    It's impossible to have an actual critical conversation about Linux - try and find one. Anyone that dares say anything bad about it is hunted down gestapo style and silenced under a barrage of flames (and then admin'd).

    Linux appears to be the only system that enforces Blasphemy laws - it's ridiculous.

    Simply put if it really was that damn good it'd be everywhere by now and MS would have been ditched on a massive scale. All the statistics I have seen across the board see it holding steady at 0.3% for the last 2 years. The only reason most Linux fans think its taking over is that the only people they really listen to are other Linux fans.

    Most people moving to are doing so for cost reasons, not quality reasons. Until the Linux community manages some honesty rather than zealotry and this 'ethical software' crusade then it's never going to get any better.

    Apple can sell an overpriced BSD knockoff and compete with MS, yet Linux cannot despite being free?

    And lets face it, the UI sucks and it looks like crap. Still.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Without wanting to be too much of a pessimist, this isn't (yet) a victory for Linux, until they have completed a relatively painless transfer and stayed with Linux in the long term without major problems. (That's not to say it isn't a big achievement for Ubuntu.)

    I wonder what they are doing with their bespoke apps? Have they all been re-written? If so, I strongly suspect that the stated savings are bollocks, if they are run on Windows based VMs/Terminal Servers this isn't so much of a Linux victory.

    Ah well, it'll be interesting to watch, if we see anything else about it...

  26. Mr B

    The remarkable fact.

    More than M$ vs Linusk it the fact that they managed to get the gendarmes acquainted with a "humanist philosophy", a ubuntu constable, lol, that's a bit of an oxymoron.

  27. Lars Silver badge

    More about it here

    I also like this comment as I think it is very true.

    "He also added that "the Linux interface is ahead of other operating systems currently on the market for professional use.""

    I find it very odd that countries in Europe are still so prepared to be sellsmen for Microsoft.

    No lock in, only open standards, a no brainer, but still so hard to make a change.

    Spain, Germany anf France seem to get it faster.

    However, lets not forget that the USA is far ahead in this respect.

  28. Scott Broukell
    Gates Horns

    Ca, c'est la defenestration

    zoot alors, vite, donne moi le Gutsy Garlic CD Rom Jacques!

  29. Tim

    Does it say more about...

    Is this move more about Ubuntu being a capable trouble free operating system, or Vista being a pain in the arse?

    Linux is a bit of a joke, but Vista is a one liner with the punchline being the price.

    (I run Ubuntu and Vista on my two computers, and neither are "operating" systems...I don't want locks to be congratulated on boot up "Windows has recovered from a serious error", I pressed restart. or to have to trawl help sites to get a second monitor running on Ubuntu - I want a file browser, stability and hardware to work when I plug it in.)

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Windows in jails

    Not having windows in jails would surely be a big security improvement?

  31. heystoopid


    Ah that means full support for Windows 2K is about to end shortly !

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Linux drivers, stability, ease of use...

    Don't worry, when the Chinese decide that they don't want Windows on their systems for "security" reasons, I am sure we will get a state-sponsered version of Linux that will be far superior to distro we've seen so far. Of course the Chinese don't give a damn about intellectual property, so they won't give a damn about the GPL. They will probably charge for their distro, and thus will have the profit motive to make Linux actually work, since they are more capitalistic than the west nowadays.

  34. JohnG

    They're going to use Ubumtoo in jails with no windows?

    Manteau, porte...

  35. Paul Murray
    Black Helicopters

    Already there

    As far as I know, the Chinese already have their own linux distro. Google "chinese government linux".

  36. Freddie

    Problems with linux

    I run Linux on both of my computers as the main operating system. I really like it and it serves my purposes well. Yes, there are problems with Linux. The two biggest for me (when I migrated) were the ridiculous amount of duplication of programs (want a music player? Choose from about a bazilion with no simple way of rating them before hand. Using internet searches for reviews helps but it certainly put me off) and the lack of device drivers. The latter is a bit of a catch 22; no effort will be made to develop drivers until Linux is mainstream, and Linux is less likely to be mainstream until it has a full repertoire of drivers. Some software functions like hobby programs, but I've found that not to be the norm.

    I have to say I don't understand complaining about the ui. The desktops look and function as well or better than mac or windows, you can even get the silly translucent effects and shrinking windows if you want.

    As for the zealotry, there are some people out there like that but may I politely suggest that if you want a balanced conversation you approach the subject less aggressively?

  37. Ishkandar

    Windowless police establishments

    Didn't the French already have a good one - Chateau D'if - if I remember rightly ??

    Oops, sorry, you mean THAT kind of "Windowless" !!

    @Bert Ragnarok - the 100,000 are the plods. That shouldn't include the support, and some say far better looking, staff that will (wo)man the PCs !! That also does not include the Robocops^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H CRS riot police !!

    /Mine has Kevlar woven into it !!

  38. Mark
    IT Angle

    Re: Echo chamber (and a discourse on irony)

    "The problem largely with the Linux community is its a self reinforcing echo-chamber who spend 50% of their time babbling about how amazing it is and the other 50% talking about how much they hate MS."

    "And lets face it, the UI sucks and it looks like crap. Still."

    And there we have irony.

    A) Slating people for stating hate, then stating hate

    B) Stating that "Linux people" make irrational statements based on feeling, then making a statement based on feeling alone

  39. Mark
    Thumb Down


    And we can ALL come up with scenrios where this is worse for closed source applications.

    So what was the application? Because if you tell us and the application really is buggy, the support terrible and the code bad, we will avoid it and we will enter a free market where we are informed consumers.

    Or if we're supposed to tar all OSS proects with the same brush, we ought to slate ALL software because of the aforementioned universality of bad products.

    Ug bang sticks.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taking sides ...

    While I use Linux daily and do support for it, while my company is completely MS-free, I find that many open source 'projects' are complete crap or very close to it. Not just user interface, quality problems, but *sometimes* just plain ignorance of a problem make an interesting project into a gathering of MAS (mutual admiration society) kids.

    The same problems remain in Windows-based 'solutions'. The 'products' are sometimes even worse than many of those seen on Linux platforms. And most the crap-writers of these expect you to PAY for it!

    Then there are the excellent (free) ones like Apache, PostgreSQL, Inkscape, HandyShopper (for Palm) ... just to name a few.

    Linux certainly hosts most open projects. Because it is the infrastructure and its philosophy that support this kind of activity. OTOH MS wants *your money* (they do not care about your well being, security or freedom) and the bunch gathered there also wants *your money*. Mac crowd is different in a sense that it expects simple AND nice looking products over other things. All of them are fiercely territorial and would fight until death for their rights. ;-)

    From a usability standpoint any of those three is good enough to get the job done. On certain part of UI one leads, then lags behind. Compiz on Linux is well ahead of Aero and it runs on machines Vista would not even boot. Audio on Linux either sucks or rocks, while on Windows works as advertised (in a Chinese-Engrish :-). OS X runs only on it's own hardware and still has occasional problems and glitches.

    The main difference is price and security.

    So what are French really doing?

    - From price standpoint this is very clear: not paying Microsoft means more money to transfer apps to the other (new) ecosystem.

    - From security view: they can control and adjust the operating system (if they wish to) to their own needs and are not left to the (big and bad) foreign company.

    - From political standpoint they are just giving 'merde' to everyone else and keeping control and power to themselves. And that's what French are well known for. :-)

    - From IT perspective: you will not be forced to re-learn everything on next-gen MS OS, but can enjoy from being standards-compliant.

    While having something for free is not always the best option, but having choice certainly is. And not being vendor-locked-in is certainly one of the best choices available.

    Then what about French prisons without windows? Who will be held responsible if someone gets cold? And what about not being locked-in?



  41. Mother Hubbard

    Just in time!

    "Geraud cited familiar reasons for the switch: diversifying suppliers, reducing costs and gaining control of the software."

    Right, just in time to (big) house Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates after the findings of the next round of the European Commission investigation. I mean, the last thing you'd want is to have them locked up someplace where the local guvna can be bought with "cheap licenses" *cough**cough*, so the French seem an obvious choice. And the second last thing you'd want is to find that your lock-up gear was nobbled by vendor or external government backdoors - if the boys were able to do a runner then it would appear that even the EU couldn't put a ball-n-chain to Microsoft.

    (And who doesn't want to hear French chicks saying "ooh-bu'n-too le'nukz" between cigarette puffs?)

  42. Luke Wells
    Paris Hilton

    silly comments


    There have been some silly comments made about things like "Linux is a bit of a joke"

    A joke? How do you work that out?

    Linux is the work of thousands of the worlds best programmers over several years. It is the most up to date, and yet also the most stable operating system ever.

    Unfortunately I don't use Linux at home or on the desktops at work (due to being tied in to proprietary rubbish software) but we certainly use it on servers where scalability and reliability are concerns.

    If there was no linux, then the internet would be 10 years behind where it is now, the majority of the worlds internet servers use a variety or linux or unix.

    As for poor driver support, I have not come across any hardware that does not work with linux, or indeed any recent "quality brand name" hardware that isn't supplied with linux drivers on CD.

    I do wish that linux would become mainstream enough for desktop use, before we get forced onto Vista, but thats unlikely, though I suspect the forced Vista "upgrade" will create several hundred thousand linux users.

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  44. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: Echo chamber (and a discourse on irony)

    "And lets face it, the UI sucks and it looks like crap. Still."

    And there we have irony.

    A) Slating people for stating hate, then stating hate

    B) Stating that "Linux people" make irrational statements based on feeling, then making a statement based on feeling alone


    As a graphic designer I think I can say with some authority it looks like crap. KDE 4 - the latest and greatest - looks like crap. The interface is amateur, the buttons are either oversized or too small, there is not enough padding on elements and it just generally looks cluttered. It's buggy as hell as well.

    Gnome otoh is a carbon copy of the Windows UI only it's split onto two bars instead of one. "Lets copy the Windows UI but waste loads of screen space" - great idea. I know it's a ripoff as well because the quicklaunch contains Firefox (IE), Show Desktop (Although they moved it somewhere else) and Evolution (Outlook Express).

    I've always thought it was dumb to put an icon for a mail client that few people use (webmail anyone?) and it's spectacularly stupid to do so on a Live CD. It's only because the designers were blindly copying MS rather than thinking for themselves. The chance of them adding a POP mail client without them copying the idea from MS is practically nil, because it's simply a bad idea.

    Its a symptom of FOSS though - MS gets flack for 'stealing ideas', yet Linux is a clean room implementation of UNIX and entirely unoriginal. It's stuck in the 70's and if anyone dares say anything about it the Linux fanboys are all over it (like the one above) dishing out the ad hominems.

    As they say in AA meetings the first step to dealing with your 'problem' is admitting it's there. Until the community stops going berserk every time you point out a flaw that can't be handled by bugzilla* then nothing is ever going to get fixed as you are flaming the people that can actually help. As a developer who would you rather listen to - 20 people who think your software is perfect, or 1 person that doesn't like it? It's like the emperors new clothes!

    * Bugzilla only handles bugs. UI problems, misplaced features, ugly graphics and general poor HCI awareness cannot be effectively handled by bugzilla, yet there is pretty much zero feedback methods apart from it.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Re: silly comments

    "If there was no linux, then the internet would be 10 years behind where it is now, the majority of the worlds internet servers use a variety or linux or unix."

    Bollocks. Linux is just a copy of Unix. If Linux didn't exist people would simply be running Apache on BSD. Apache != Linux. Virtually all FOSS works on most other platforms. The only reasons to use Linux is either if (a) Your a cheapskate (b) Your on some sad anti MS moral crusade* or (c) Your a geek and enjoy spending more time fiddling with your OS rather than using it**.

    * Most people don't even buy free range eggs***. Trying to promote Linux on 'freedom' won't work.

    ** Of course your now going to claim that it isn't true, and possibly allege that I am paid by MS. Finding out _why_ people don't use Linux never seems to be a concern - only flaming them.

    *** I buy free range.

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  47. Anonymous Coward

    Re "a bit of a joke"

    "However, there are a lot of people who have not bothered to try the latest distos."

    Hang on, hang on, hang on, I've been told for years that my negative view of Linux is incorrect, and that it is 'ready for the desktop'. Are you saying that somehow that isn't true? How come you're saying that people need to "try the latest distos" as if somehow if they tried an older distro a couple of years ago it would (and you admit) disappoint them. If it was so great back then as I was assured why are you apologising for Linux from a few years ago.

    I bet in a few years time I will see the exact same thing trotted out again 'It sucked back then, but _now_ it's amazing'.

    "The progress on the desktop, both KDE and Gnome"

    KDE 4 is buggy and nobody seems to be advising its usage. Wait for 4.1 they say while at the same time attacking Vista because the first pre-SP versions sucks. You can't have it both ways.

    And Gnome is still the same old Windows knockoff - I've yet to see any signifcant improvement to usability in three years and I gotta say, there is certainly room for it!

    Sure loads of bugs have been fixed but that does nothing for Usability.

  48. Lars Silver badge

    Re: re: "a bit of a joke"

    First of all, what Linux distro do you use, and have you used any before.

    I drive a Ford Mondeo 97, I am quite convinced that the 2008 Mondeo is better, apart from beeing bigger. That does not make my old Mondeo worthless, however.

    The Linux desktop has had a lot of catching up with Windows and Apple.

    Years ago, when I started to use Opera and later Firefox too, they had some cathing up too.

    Today I feel that the cathing up is done and moving past the competition is what has started with Linux on the Desktop.

    What I use is Mandriva and Sabayon, and I have not used Windows for years at home. KDE4 I do not use yet.

    I do not think I can alter your negative view of Desktop Linux.

    You might succeed better yourself.

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  50. Sensi
    Thumb Up

    The french National Assembly use Kubuntu

    BTW the French National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) have already dump Windows XP for Kubuntu (KDE over Ubuntu) since a year now.

  51. stizzleswick

    Re: Re: Re: Echo chamber (and a discourse on irony)

    "As a graphic designer I think I can say with some authority it looks like crap. KDE 4 - the latest and greatest - looks like crap."

    Then build your own fripping desktop theme and use it. It's easy. Been there. Done that. All your points can be addressed simply by either installing a different icon set and theme or building your own. Which is as simple as making a few PNG graphics and twiddling the desktop settings a little until everything is to your liking.

    Good luck on the same issue with Windows (the UI of which, btw, has been looking like crap since v. 1.0 and has taken a turn for the worse with XP and Vista, IMHO).

    Hat, tuxedo, cab...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Also started change

    Sorry just no more money for the ever braking M$ pc. Eeepc have people exited and we change to Suse, stress down things just work no more pain. bye bye

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