U.K. police force considers Linux for desktops

A U.K. police advisory body, the Police Information Technology Organization (PITO), has launched a three-month study to consider the possibility of using the Linux operating system on all police force desktops, the PITO said Wednesday.

"We are looking at the cost, stability, security and compatibility with other systems that are currently being used on the various forces. There is no commitment towards Linux just yet, but we liked it enough to look into the possibility of using it on what we estimate to be 60,000 desktops throughout the police forces in England and Wales," said PITO spokeswoman Isabell Davies.

The PITO is a government agency that is charged with providing IT, communication systems and services to the U.K. police as well as other U.K. criminal justice organizations. The PITO has contracted Netproject -- an association of user organizations including Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group PLC, Nationwide Building Society, National Grid and government departments -- to carry out the Linux usability tests as part of a larger study called Project Valiant, Davies said.

"Valiant is examining the requirements for the next generation of police computing, and Linux is just one of 13 strands to the project. Valiant is looking at everything from the recruitment and retention of IS staffing to desktop software," Davies said.

U.K. police forces are currently using either Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT or Window 2000 on their desktops, and the study is looking at the possibility of using Microsoft software as well, Davies said. "One of the reasons we are looking at Linux is because it is an open standard which is something we were interested in. At this stage of the study, we are trying to establish whether Linux is mature or stable enough to potentially meet police service needs. We are expecting the study results by the end of March," she said.

The U.K. police force isn't the only government agency thinking about making the switch from Microsoft to alternative forms of desktop software. Both the Society of Information Technology Management (SOCITM), the group representing local government IT workers, and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which is representing the government on a national level, have been in negotiations with Microsoft over new software licensing terms. Last November, OGC revealed that it was in talks with Microsoft over a single contract to supply its Office and Windows software to the country's 497,600 public servants. The OGC said that under its new licensing program, Microsoft was looking to raise fees on government contracts by between 50 percent to 200 percent and that the government had not ruled out the idea of ending its contract with Microsoft to find cheaper software elsewhere if a deal could not be reached.

Netproject believes that PCs configured with Linux can be made highly secure with user identification technology such as smart cards and biometrics, project manager Eddie Bleasdale said in a statement. The software can also be updated over the network, he said.

With the development of other software tools that enable Microsoft Windows applications to be ported, Linux is currently ready for deployment on the desktop, according to Bleasdale.

There are number of applications that have been developed for PITO that run under Microsoft Windows, and Netproject will examine the strategies and software tools that would enable these programs to be ported to Linux, Bleasdale said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Laura Rohde

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?