I read about the French Gendarmerie nationale beginning the switch from Microsoft to open source software some time ago. The first step was moving from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice starting back in 2004. They moved 35,000 (yes, thousand) users over to OpenOffice. They are in the process of upping this number to 72,000.
Their next step, driven by the end-of-support of Windows XP, is to move 72,000 users to a customized version of Ubuntu Linux called GendBuntu – they are up to 35,000 according to this great article on ZDNet.
While I am no fan of Ubuntu – I hate the, ironic it would seem, lock-in to the Unity GUI – and use Linux Mint with the Cinnamon GUI – I am agnostic between the Red Hat Linux (actually CentOS) distribution and the Ubuntu distribution. Although, I admit, I do have to remember which distro I’m using from time-to-time.
This isn’t the first governmental organization to move away from Microsoft. The City of Munich move to a custom Linux distro – MiLux – starting back in 2004.