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French Military Police Switches to Firefox 407

Oslo_the_CKC writes to tell us that French Magazine Linux Pratique recently published an interview with General Brachet of the Gendarmie Nationale. In the interview he discusses why they have moved over 100,000 personnel over to Firefox and Thunderbird (70,000 and 45,000 respectively). This follows on last year's switch to so it seems like the French Military Police are enjoying the success of open source.
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French Military Police Switches to Firefox

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  • Giant orange lizard seen marching under the Arch de Triumph
    • Joke older than dirt and even less funny than Ellen Degeneres spawns multiple instances in french-related slashdot article.

      Film at 11.

    • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:24PM (#14396078)
      Fire ze fox!

      But I am le tired.

      Okay, take a nap, and then fire ze fox!


      Voltaire once said that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor roman, nor an empire. Could we say that Firefox was neither Firebird, nor Phoenix, nor....


      Let them eat cookies.


      It was the best of browsers, it was the worst of browsers, it was the age of compliance, it was the age of popups, it was the era of ACID success, it was the era of ACID 2 failure, it was the summer of CSS, it was the winter of <blink>....


      At least they didn't contract Apple to create the iFel Tower -- it would be made of white plastic, be the smallest thing in the city, and charge 99 francs admission to everyone.
  • Damn (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Well, now we know who the loser in the browser war will be.
  • by Pavan_Gupta ( 624567 ) <`pg8p' `at' `'> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:18PM (#14395451)
    Honestly, the reason why firefox is the preffered choice is not only because of it's security, robustness, and general workability, but also because it's so damn customizable. Honestly, I can do anything I want on any operating system, if I have my handy dandy firefox.

    Anyway, check out this kickass firefox extension that allows users anywhere to chat with other users viewing the same website as them. (It'd be cool to see a few people!) =)

    Try the QuickChat [] extension out .. it's pretty sweet.
    • Seems like your server is hosed, so I'll comment here...

      A few people have already mentioned a few of the obvious things like tab integration and chat window-resizing (even make it undockable somehow), but I could see this really taking off if it catches on.

      - Install a protocol handler that will launch the extension automatically (and even pass parameters, such as usernames -- /. could embed the username in something like quickchat://<nickname>).
      - Website-hosted IRC server (rather tha
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Another foreign government branch switches to an open source solution. Wow. How about "American corporation XYZ switches N hundred thousand employees to Firefox". That would be news!
    • Its sad that the OS community is heralding the the switch by a branch of the French Government. France has consistently legislated against foreign competition either through tariffs or labor laws. I don't want to start an off-topic flame war here so I won't list a bunch of examples but France is extremely protectionist and is not a friend of open competition which OpenSource cries for.

      Is it a blow against Microsoft? Yes. Is the French government the ideal ally of OS? No, but I guess my enemy's enemy is
      • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        France is extremely protectionist

        You mean like the 80% tax on steel imports ?... Uh.. no, this was the US, sorry.
    • Another foreign government branch switches to an open source solution. Wow. How about "American corporation XYZ switches N hundred thousand employees to Firefox". That would be news!

      Actually, that would be foreign news ;-)

  • The whole article (Score:5, Informative)

    by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:23PM (#14395485)
    In an interview published by French Magazine Linux Pratique (issue #33), Général Brachet, in charge of IT for Gendarmerie Nationale explains why the French Military Police force (more than 100,000 personnel) has chosen to deploy Firefox and Thunderbird to respectively 70,000 and 45,000 seats. Here are a few excerpts:

            Linux Pratique: What are the most important features of Firefox 1.5?

            Général Brachet: These features are independent of the version number. The most important things about Firefox are its compliance with W3C standards and its availability on several platforms (Microsoft, Linux and Mac). When the Gendarmerie will deliver application on-line to homeland security organisations and, in the future, to citizens, it will not request the users to use any particular platform or piece of software from specific vendors. Using Firefox or any other Web-standards-compliant browser will be requested, independently of the platform (...)


    Linux Pratique : How many seats are going to be deployed, and how long will it take?


    Général Brachet : Starting January 1st, 2006, Firefox will be the browser of choice for the Gendarmerie. (...) This migration will impact every PC connected to the Intranet and the Internet, totalling 70,000 seats, before the end of the year 2006. Most of the Web services will be W3C-compliant by then. (...)

            Linux Pratique : (last year), now Firefox, when will you swich to Linux?

            Général Brachet : Thunderbird will be deployed as the only mail client on 45,000 seat in 2006. The idea is to provide every unit with a workstation and have it used daily. Every Gendarme will have four tools at his disposal: a bureautique suite, for writing documents and doing procedural work, a browser to access the Information Systems, a mail client to communicate and an antivirus. Our first goal is to migrate all the upper layers of the workstation to Open Source Software to be independent of the Operating System.(...)

    It's a great pleasure to see this important project being finally revealed to the general public, and to see Gendarmerie Nationale understand the importance of Open Source Software and Web standards. It uses them, and even gives back some code the the community, while telling the world about it. If I had a wish for 2006, it would be to see large users do the same, and tell publicly that they use Open Source projects. For them, it would be a way to give back to these projects something they really need: visibility.

    • I like the way they have a specialized "bureautique suite", for generating red tape!
      • I like the way they have a specialized "bureautique suite", for generating red tape!

        As mentioned elsewhere, they switched to OpenOffice a while back. Bureau can be translated as Office but that term has been used in France for at least two decades to mean a software office suite.

  • 100,000 personnel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bushidocoder ( 550265 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:24PM (#14395488) Homepage
    Am I the only one who is amazed that the French Military Police Force has 100,000 personnel working for it? The United States has approximately 840,000 police total, including military police, state police, county police, and federal law enforcement agencies. France's population is only 60.5 million compared to the US' 296 million. Is the military police force in France used for more than just policing members of the French military?
    • by ^Case^ ( 135042 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:31PM (#14395563)
      I'm not french, so take this with a grain of salt but: The Gendarmerie in France is used for a whole lot more than policing the military. When you go skiing in France and end up being a bit too noisy in your hotel it's the gendarmerie that shows up, politely asking you to tone it down - being 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide and wearing skimasks in the hotel of course - at least, that's how I remember them ;-)
      • The Gendarmerie Nationale is not "Military Police" in the sense "Police that deals with drunken grunts". It's a corp of the French Army, that helps Police forces. French Army has another branch to act as Military Police, which is simply called "Police Militaire".

        As a French myself, I couldn't tell the differences beetween the regular Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie. They both give you fines for speeding, control your alcohol level, or look for fugitives. I think the difference is maybe the Gendarmerie

    • Re:100,000 personnel (Score:3, Informative)

      by etresoft ( 698962 )
      It is not the same thing. It is more like our National Guard than our police.
    • Re:100,000 personnel (Score:5, Informative)

      by program21 ( 469995 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:35PM (#14395599) Homepage Journal
      From Wikipedia []:
      The total number of military personnel is approximately 300,000. However, 100,000 of these are in the Gendarmerie, and thus a vast majority of these 100,000 are used in everyday law enforcement operation inside France and are not fit for external operations.
    • Re:100,000 personnel (Score:4, Informative)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:36PM (#14395613)
      It's the Gendarmerie Nationale. What you would call "The Feds," not what you would call the MPs.


    • Re:100,000 personnel (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shky ( 703024 ) <> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:37PM (#14395615) Homepage Journal
      According to Wikipedia [] they do more than police the military. "The policing of countryside areas and of small towns, usually populations under 10000, outside of the jurisdiction of the French National Police."..."Crowd control and other security activities." etc. So, according to Wikipedia at least, they do a lot more.
    • The French Gendarmerie also acts as a sort of National Guard, although it is involved in some softer policing duties than its US equivalent. (The National Guard)

      From Wikipedia:

      Its missions include:

      The policing of countryside areas and of small towns, usually populations under 10000, outside of the jurisdiction of the French National Police.
      Criminal investigations under judiciary supervision.
      Crowd control and other security activities.
      The security of airports and military installations, as well as all

    • Re:100,000 personnel (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zeuqsav ( 884673 )
      As I recall, the Gendarmerie Nationale, or "National Police" are more like a combination of the FBI, ATF, DEA etc etc and the state police forces. I think towns also have their own local police forces. I don't think it's specifically a military police force, but then again in these euro-police states, it's hard to tell.

      The french used to have to a year or two of national service, which could be done either in the armed forces or in the Gendarmerie Nationale. I had a friend who was a physics major who
      • Throw into that list Highway Patrol and police detectives - France is weird that way. It's administrated through the armed forced, but operates under civilian control for all its duties. As other people pointed out, Wikipedia is your friend in this confusion.
    • Am I the only one who is amazed that the French Military Police Force has 100,000 personnel working for it?

      I believe it is being phased out now, but compulsary military service does cause a bit of bloat in French military/public service. People who are not actually suited to being in the army (ie, most of them) would wind up working in foreign arms of the public service or (shudder) French engineering firms where they would serve as free labour, because they are funded by the government.

    • "Military Police" is a very bad translation for Gendarmerie. The Gendarmerie is pretty much just a regular police force. Police in France is almost exclusively a national-level organization, unlike for example in the US where it is locally organized (city, county, state). Police is divided in two categories : the National Police, made of civil servants under the interior ministry, and the Gendarmerie, which is a branch of the military. Both do essentially the same job, wear similar uniforms, and are ass
  • by sucker_muts ( 776572 ) <> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:24PM (#14395493) Homepage Journal
    Article slashdotted:

    Mirrordot link! []
  • Who wants several thousand copies of MSIE? Only been dropped once! ...

    This just isn't funny if it isn't guns, is it?
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:29PM (#14395540)
    (and don't get me wrong - I enjoy bashing the French) . . .

    This would seem to be a pretty bold move - think about it. They're using software which wasn't blessed by the winPope at Redmond. Were it any other commercial organization, there would be an acknowledgement that somebody within the organization had to be pretty gutsy to press for a non-Microsoft solution to anything.

    Unless the organization were, say, IBM or Sun or HP, for example. ;^D

    • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:37PM (#14396191)
      50% insightful, 30% overrated, 20% flamebait.

      I'm guessing that 30% of the moderators work for Microsoft and 20% of them are French.

    • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:37PM (#14396193) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, I like a good Gallic gouging too, but I recently read The Glorious Cause [], as well.
      The US has a lot to thank the French for, in the way of underwriting the Revolution (for all their motives were questionable). There were more French at Yorktown than Colonials, and the French fleet was key at Virginia Capes (though later kindling in the West Indies).
      Would that more Yanks had clue #1 about history.
      • You mean there was French guys in history? Like Napoleon and stuff? Wow! ;^D

        That said, I have always been somewhat in awe of two groups - the Allied warriors who fought and won WWII, and the French Free Resistance who daily disregarded personal safety to oppose evil. Granted they were fighting for their own homeland which must have been a marvellous motivating factor, but still . . .

        Summary: not all of the French surrendered, just their government.

        • French resistance, while not terribly effective, was also present in the Franco-Prussian War. See Showalter [], who was a bit of a scholarly overload, but most of the damage has healed. ;)
          Of the kingdoms rising from the ashes of the Roman Empire, only that of the Franks had a name surviving to modern times.
  • French Gendarmerie (Score:3, Informative)

    by Edzor ( 744072 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:30PM (#14395549) Journal
    Just to clear things up the blog is talking about the French Gendarmerie, the french national police force.
    It does not mean the actual French Military Police as we would think of it; the police force of the miltary.

    the french army only has 136,000~ soldiers!
  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:35PM (#14395594)
    This slashdot story [] says, the French Department of Culture have told Free Software authors: "You will be required to change your licenses." And "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should a bill proposal passes in the Parliament.
    • This slashdot story says, the French Department of Culture have told Free Software authors: "You will be required to change your licenses." And "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should a bill proposal passes in the Parliament.

      Large organizations tend to not be very coherent. Branches of government seem to live completely in their own little world. Every so often they run into each other, and the results c
    • by SeeSchloss ( 886510 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:47PM (#14396265) Homepage
      Read slashdot more often and read the comments please. Comments in this previous story say that this isn't the department of Culture who said it, but the SACEM (the French equivalent to the RIAA). And another, more recent story (I don't care about looking for it) says that this bill proposal has been heavily amended and turned into a legalisation of P2P and reverse-engineering for open source software among others.

  • Woah, I hope they all use my "Spread Firefox" referrer button!

    Superb hosting [] 2400MB Storage, 120GB bandwidth, ssh, $7.95
  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:37PM (#14395618)
    I think all countries should be working on their own information exchange platforms.
    How do you think Dept. of Homeland Security would feel if all of their computers were running on a closed OS manufactured by China?

    It's like outsorcing your whole communication infrastructure to a different country.
    Foreign countres would do well to consider switching all of their government computation to open source OSs, or developing their own. Firefox and OO are a good start though.
  • by Ruff_ilb ( 769396 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:38PM (#14395624) Homepage
    Vive la france!
  • In a related news, U.S. stocks climbed today as shares of office furniture manufacturers like Chairs Inc. (CHR) rose and investors were optimistic that sells are going to increase in the area around Seatle. Based on the latest available data, CHR ended up 39.54 points, or 4.31 percent, at 1,880.95.

    • Actually the devaluing of application developers would lead to an excess in the supply of (used) chairs, which would cause the sales of new chairs to plumet and prices to fall. That would likely lead to a reduction in the value of the CHR stocks.

      Funny though. ;)

  • OEM dealer 1: As in every browser of this size, there is a flaw.

    Sultan: A flaw?

    Gem dealer 2: The slightest flaw, your excellency.

    Gem dealer 1: If you look deep into the browser source code, you will perceive the tiniest discoloration. The fix resembles an animal.

    Sultan: An animal?

    Gem dealer 1: A little fox.

    Sultan: Yes! A fox. Come here, Monkey Ballmer. A gift to your father from his grateful people. Some day it will be yours. The most fabulous browser in all the world. Come close...
  • The thing I find interesting is that their MPs are a separate organization from their normal military.

    Oh and good on them for the switch.
  • by PhysicsPhil ( 880677 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:50PM (#14395753)
    ...Our first goal is to migrate all the upper layers of the workstation to Open Source Software to be independent of the Operating System.(...)

    To me, this was the single most interesting line in the entire article. Telling everyone that they must migrate to another operating system in one big step is bound to meet resistance and hassles. Instead they get people familiar with their day-to-day software tools, so that migrating to Linux/OSX/whatever later is largely irrelevant. If people's word processor and email system are still the same, they won't much care what OS is running.

    With this strategy Windows loses its special status and becomes just a commodity, providing only storage and network access. It also becomes replacable on a whim (or close to it).
  • by rduke15 ( 721841 ) < minus berry> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:59PM (#14395826)
    I had a hell of a time upgrading 15 users from 1.0.3 to 1.5.

    I just didn't find a way to do it reliably and automatically, preserving the few installed extensions and plugins (Flash, QuickTime+ Real Alternative).

    In the end, I had to physically go to each computer and check everything, making sure I also checked everybody's roaming profile.

    I love Firefox for myself (it's my main browser since it was called Phoenix), but next time I deploy it in a company, it will need to have clear instructions on how to do that without a physical install/configuration/plugins and extensions install/etc.

    I don't mind having to write a few Perl scripts to do it, if I can get clear instructions.

    If the French military deployed it to 100000 people, maybe they have documented how they did it? Or maybe they just don't know about the upgrade hell yet?

    After all, initial install was easy using FFdeploy. It's the upgrades that are a problem
  • Well, actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radiotyler ( 819474 ) <tyler@dappergee[ ]om ['k.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:00PM (#14395828) Homepage
    A lot of U.S. Soldiers use Firefox exclusively. Thanks to websites like portableapps [] I can get Thunderbird and Firefox installed on my flash so I don't have to go through the bother of dealing with out backwards and semi-retarted IA department to get it installed on the machine I use. After showing it off to most of the people I work with and letting them see all of the great plug-ins and extensions that you can add on, plus custom skinning the browser, these guys were sold.

    As to the Army as a whole accpting it, your guess is as good as mine. I only showed the more tech-savvy guys Firefox, some of the dudes around here didn't exactly sign their contract as much as put a bite mark on the dotted line, if you catch my drift. I really don't think that they're the ones that are targeted by Firefox - and that very well could be part of the problem. Most IT/IA soldiers that are outside the Linux / Open Source world see things like Firefox as a waltzing bear. Right or wrong, that's a perception that is going to have to be overcome before this is accepted as a standard, or even as a useable piece of software by those outside "the know".
  • French? Military? Success? I'm going to have to stop skimming the articles...
  • FireFox (Score:2, Funny)

    by certel ( 849946 )
    Definitely a good win again for FireFox. Microsoft better be focusing on launching something respectful with IE 7. (Did I say Microsoft and respectful in the same sentence? Damn!)
  • The Gendarmerie Nationale isn't military in the UK/US sense. They are the people who investigate murders and give out speeding tickets on national highways. In other words, it's the police force, it just happens to be set up a bit like an army. (By memory, it's responsible to the interior minister, to counterbalance the power of the defence minister in the case of a coup, but I could be imagining that bit..)

    As mascots for bleeding edge Open Source adoption go, we could do better. The best Hollywood portray

  • French math (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:45PM (#14396248)
    100,000 personnel over to Firefox and Thunderbird (70,000 and 45,000 respectively)

    You can't just add them that way! The 70K that use Firefox likely account for almost all of the 45k that use Tbird, it's very unlikely that anywhere near 100k personnel are involved if there are only 70k Firefox users.

    Good numbers still for one organization, but an awful flawed statement to have found it's way into a Slashdot front page. How did this get past our meticulous editors?

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein