Since the beginning of the project in 2001, there have been many developments towards the present migration of the operating system. The migration process therefore has to be considered within the context of earlier developments. The careful planning of the Gendarmerie's every step in the migration to open source software was an essential ingredient for success in this project. To recall once more, these developments were as follows:
From 2002 to 2004 the Gendarmerie created a more centralized architecture by putting all applications on the Intranet, which also allowed for greater modularity
In 2005 the decision to replace Microsoft Office with Open Office was made
Not much later, Mozilla's web browser Firefox and email client Thunderbird were introduced
After the announcement of Windows Vista in late 2006, the decision was made to migrate to Ubuntu.
Compared to other projects, the IT team found that a "soft migration" towards an Open Source environment is much more beneficial than a "hard migration" (everything at once).
There is a lively exchange between the headquarters and the DÃ©partments, which enables them to react to problems rather effectively. A conference was held in Paris in early October 2008 where not only officials were invited to discuss the IT infrastructure, but also local officers had the chance to express their opinions. These hands-on experiences provided very important feedback, as this went beyond official assessments of the project.Â
Migration costs are always higher than staying with the status quo. Nonetheless it is important to look at the costs in the long run, andÂ compare those to alternatives. Here, a migration to Windows Vista would by far have exceeded the costs of the Ubtuntu migration, as not only hardware updates would have been necessary, but future software updates involving costly licenses would further add to the bill. Since GNU/Linux has relatively low hardware requirements, can run even on older machines without problems, and can be obtained free of charge, the costs of such a solution can be lower. Moreover, the GNU/Linux command line interface has remained fairly stable for the last 10 years, letting administrators continue to use the knowledge they have acquired in the past..