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Open source tour of Europe: RussiaMatthew Aslett, June 11, 2008 @ 8:22 am ET
To coincide with EURO 2008, I’m embarking on a virtual European tour, taking a quick look at open source policies and deployment projects in the 16 nations that are competing in the tournament.
Given that open source software is essentially a communist plot to undermine America and the global software industry (joke) you’d expect Russia to be one of the most proactive adopters of open source software. Recent reports from Matt Asay and Egor Grebnev confirm that Russia is warming up to open source.
According to Grebnev, the Russian Ministry on Information Technology and Communications recently published a roadmap for the government adoption of free software, and while it is not a binding policy, its aim is “to strengthen the local software development industry and increase involvement of Russian programmers in development of software for government and municipal needs.”
In September 2007 it was announced that Russia was planning to roll out a domestically-developed Linux distribution across every school in the country by 2009, starting in three pilot regions, Tomsk, Perm and Republic of Tatarstan.
The project has the backing of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who has previously called on the country to develop its own open source operating system and applications by 2010. Some $2.5m has been allocated for the trial, with $27m for the full project. As Egor Grebnev reports, much of the groundwork for these projects has been done through individual and community projects.
In May details of a second significant open source project emerged as Cnews reported that the Russian Postal Service had started testing a Linux desktop in Pushkin, a suburb of Saint Petersburg, with the intention of migrating 125,000 PCs to open source software.
May also saw reports that Moscow’s regional government would start migrating hundreds of desktops to Mandriva’s Linux distribution and OpenOffice.org as a means of cutting costs an improving security.
As Egor Grebnev indicates, recent interest from the Russian government has helped boost commercial interest in open source among Russian IT vendors. The tender for the schools trials was won by Armada. As Grebnev notes that it did so by uniting local Linux vendors including ALT Linux and Linux Ink. The commercial open source ecosystem in Russia is still in its infancy, but as Grebdev notes it is catching up fast: “Even though it is now unclear what the Russian FOSS will be, I think that some two years will be sufficient for it to take a definite shape.”
And another thing:
It is somewhat ironic that Russian open source software vendors have Microsoft to thank in part for the country’s first major open source roll-out. The company’s bungled attempt to crack down on software piracy by prosecuting school principal Alexander Ponosov. As Russia Profile reports, the result was public outrage and a decision by the government to reduce piracy by encouraging the use of open source software, which also has the benefit of boosting national businesses.
As always we welcome your input. If you have examples of open source adoption in Russia that we’ve overlooked, please leave a comment below. For more stops on the European tour, see this post.
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