South Korea switching their 3.3 million PCs to Linux

The reasoning behind the switch is two-fold.  South Korea was looking to reduce its reliance on Microsoft and Windows and cut down on software licensing costs.  

South Korean government has announced that it will switch the computers used in its central, local, and public institutions to Linux-based operating systems starting this year-end.

The announcement comes just one month after the end of “free” support for Microsoft Windows 7, the most prevalent operating system used by the South Korean government.

The reasoning behind the switch is two-fold.  South Korea was looking to reduce its reliance on Microsoft and Windows and cut down on software licensing costs.

“We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system.”

…said Choi Jang-hyuk, South Korea’s head of Ministry of Strategy and Finance,

Although most Linux distros are free, South Korean officials estimate that migrating their current fleet of approximately 3.3 million PCs from Windows 7 to Linux will cost about 780 billion won (approximately $655 million).  The price tag will cover the implementation, transition, and purchase of new PCs.

The ministry first plans to test the waters with a pilot test to explore and expose any potential compatibility and security issues.

Since many of South Korea’s government websites, network devices, and software are designed for compatibility with Windows-based operating systems, this is a wise move by the government.

Should the South Korean’s pilot Linux prove successful, with no major issues encountered, expect a broader roll-out to follow?  If successful, South Korea’s foray into the Linux world could incite and seduce other governments to follow suit.

South Korean officials have not yet indicated what Linux distro(s) they plan to switch to or if they plan to create their own like their communist cousins to the north, North Korea who use the Red Star OS.  However, the Ministry of National Defense and National Police Agency is using the Ubuntu-based Harmonica OS 3.0.

At the same time, the Korean Postal Service is migrating to TMaxOS, a Korean-based OS that uses its Chromium-based web browser, ToGate, and has its unique desktop interface.  Both the South Korean Defense and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security are also entering the Linux fray.  Each of these departments is now using the Debian-based GooRoom Cloud OS.  However, GooRoom Cloud is much like Chrome OS than it is with traditional Linux desktops because it’s cloud-based.

The South Korean government also plans to implement a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) that uses a virtual PC environment that runs on a cloud by the second half of 2020.  The South Korean ministry expects a 72% savings in cost with the DaaS move.  Security standards and DaaS models are currently in development, and pilot tests are scheduled to start in October of this year.


As a Linux-enthusiast, the news from South Korea is exciting.  I, and many FOSS Linux readers, have long advised Linux as a better OS when compared to Microsoft Windows.  Serious consideration by a government as a viable alternative to Windows validates the trust and faith we have in Linux.  Let’s hope they are successful.

FOSS Linux will stay abreast of any new or significant developments and relay to our readers.

Travis Rose
Hi, I'm M Travis Rose, a contributor to FOSS Linux. I have over thirty years of experience in the IT arena, at least fifteen of which has been working with Linux. I enjoy converting existing Windows users to the wonderful world of Linux. I guess you could call me a Linux-evangelist. Long live Linux!


  1. Shall we start the betting pool on the date when Korea will be completely switching back to Windows and MS Office? How many governments in the last 10 years “has switched to Linux” only to backstep to Windows in just a few years? Whats amazing about this article is that yet another government will waste all types of time and money, all in the name of “saving money” and then spend it again switching back? Don’t these people ever do their research? So my bet is Fall 2023 – place your bets now.

    • Can you provide a list of those governments? Is BOSS used by the government of India not valid? Cuba, China, North Korea? Indonesia, anyone? The list goes on. See more on Wikipedia. It’s both possible and doable. The key is not to stop and switch back should you hit a glitch.

      Thanks for reading,


      • Here is one that I remembered.
        https: //

        • In the original post, it was asked, “How many governments in the last 10 years “has switched to Linux” only to backstep to Windows in just a few years?”. Yet you provide only a single city government example. Just one. I provided you a Wikipedia entry where multiple government entities on both the national and local levels have made the switch.

        • That was absolutely political. Microsoft even moved their offices from outside of Munich to inside of Munich. Money can play a big role, and M$ has plenty of it.

    • I bet you never used Linux. Most government offices don’t need anything flashy. They don’t need to install games or a software that’s not available on Linux. They need a browser and Office suite and Linux is best choice for it. It would save a lot of tax payers money.

      • Libre Office is not a drop in replacement for MS Office. I’m sorry to break it to you. Many office environments are heavily dependent on MS Office and find transitions difficult or impossible. It also matters just how much of their back office support structure has strictly Windows only software that would be difficult to replace (read very expensive) and I doubt their populace is any less tax and spending adverse than the West.
        I’d go so far as to say in the current targeted threat environment that switching to a Linux based OS isn’t going to make them more secure than Windows either. The security game has changed and Linux is no refuge from data breaches and ransomware like it and MacOS were from merely nuisance Windows viruses of the previous decades.

        • I’m quite certain that the South Korean government understands and has taken the fact that LibreOffice is not a drop-in replacement. The transition will be difficult, but not impossible. I would imagine that a country with the 11th highest GDP per capita has considered this prior to making their decision. I’d further wager that they’re aware that Linux is also vulnerable to cyber-threats and data breaches. But to be honest, much less so than are Windows environments, due to not only the level of threats, but also due to the inherent security Linux provides.

  2. Up to 2014, some regions in Spain used custom linux distros Madrid, Castilla La Mancha, Extremadura, etc.) to reduce expenses in licenses. Andalucia used Guadalinex, a project that still goes on after been tossed by the change of government in 2014. Still it s widely used in its EDU flav in schools and unis. http ://
    As a side note, Andalucia´s government had to pay 12 M eu. in fines to MS for using unlicensed windows in some of their machines in 2012… so they tossed Linux and went back to MS… no words.
    https ://

    • I sure hope you’re wrong. It would be awesome for a government or a large corporation really get behind Linux and the FOSS community and prove the naysayers wrong. But, I see what you’re saying and fully understand your cynicism. Only time will tell.

      Thanks for weighing in.


  3. The problem with all this “go linux rah rah” comments is the failure to understand that at the large corporate/government level, the cost of the software licenses are a drop in the bucket. Support cost, training, interoperability are all WAY more expensive to manage and maintain. Companies/Governments don’t operate in a vacuum, they INTER operate with other entities. It’s very expensive if all the entities aren’t on the same platform and app’s.

    • I’m not sure “Go Linux Rah Rah” comments is quite an accurate description. While I’m certainly a Linux enthusiast, I realize the the support, training, and interoperability costs in such a migration are there, I disagree that they are “WAY more expensive to manage and maintain.” I say that with over thirty years experience as a Systems Administrator in both Windows, Linux, and hybrid environments with the US Navy (at various commands), the US Postal Service, several Fortune 500 companies, a number of MSPs, a major University, and various other corporations. I have worked on and provided technical leadership with such migrations such as switching all web services from Windows and IIS to Linux and LAMP, as well as others.

      Switching is not simple, nor is it cost-free. It is, however, well worth it, and ending your company’s reliance on Microsoft and proprietary software is well worth it. The savings/freedom from software licences costs is but icing on the cake.

      Thanks for reading and offering your opinion, however. I just respectfully disagree.



  4. TmaxOS Sucks. It doesn’t use x11 nor xwayland, which makes us nearly impossible to use other DEs such as GNOME or KDE. It doesn’t have much of common linux softwares in their default repos. And it is NOT STABLE which is really surprising. I hope Korean goverment to use normal debian, ubuntu, Mint or etc.

    • I apologize, but I’ve not tested TmaxOS so I can’t intelligently opine. However, if what you say is true, I agree that the South Korean government should like at other, more stable versions.

  5. Am new in Linux but windows has the best software support unlike linux, The problem with linux is reliality and stability which windows outmatch them since Window is a single OS maintained by many devs Linux many distros few devs, if all open source devs concentrate on one distro it will be the most stable.


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