Russian Government Will Transition to Linux by 2015
Computerworld's Grant Gross is reporting today that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has set plans in motion to migrate government IT infrastructure away from Microsoft products and toward Linux-based operating systems. According to translated governmental documents, the process will begin mid-2011 and is expected to be complete by 2015.
"The transition to open-source, or free, software will begin... with the Ministry of Communications examining what base software packages are needed for government agencies, according to the documents. During the same quarter, the ministry and other agencies will develop proposals for user support centers and for mechanisms to support software developers," writes Gross. Pilot government agencies could begin using open source software as early as 2012.
The move doesn't come as a complete surprise to those who monitor international public policy, however. Russia has been investigating the practicality of open source software for a few years now. In 2008, Roberto Galoppini, open source software consultant to companies and public administration, took a detailed look at document published by the Russian Ministry on Information Technology and Communications that outlined preliminary considerations surrounding a transition to open source software within the Russian government.
Worth noting are the legal and licensing obstacles Russia needed to overcome in order to use open source software. Chief among them:
* The ‘written form’ of the copyright agreement required by the Russian Civil Code (there is a special exception for software, but the status of Free Software documentation remains unclear)
* Applicability of foreign law and court jurisdiction in international lawsuits
* Individual applicability of FOSS licenses
* Copyright management in government software-related contracts (both the state as a customer and the executor of a state contract must have sufficient rights)
This isn't Russia's first foray into the placement of open source software in government-run agencies. In 2008, the administration required all schools to use free software on its computers or fund the use of commercial software independently.