Open source software gets a chance in Russia

August 26, 2007, Thu 5:03 PM  Business    Integration

CNews found out a pilot open source software project was to be launched in the educational institutions in Tomsk Region and Tatarstan. According to the Ministry of Communication plans, in case of its successful implementation up to the 2009 year end an alternative software package is to be installed in all the Russian schools. The main domestic Linux distributors have got interested in the pilot project.

CNews has already written, Dmitri Medvedev, the first Vice- Premier approved of the Ministry of Communication initiative to develop the domestic software package for educational institutions, based on the open source license. Up to the 2007 end a pilot project on the open source software usage is to be implemented in some subjects of the RF. CNews found out some details. The Ministry Press Service told Tomsk Region and Tatarstan wished to participate in the given project.

The open source software in to be installed together with the proprietor software, - the Ministry of Communication explains. The open source software consists of a number of programs, aimed at schools educational necessities and functionally synonymous to the common basic software package, i.e. PC Linux operating system, office supplements package, development means, graphic editing program, archiver, and antivirus software. In 2008 an open source software package is to be developed on the basis of the results got under the pilot exploitation.

All the Russian schools might switch to the open source software in 2009
All the Russian schools might switch to the open source software in 2009

According to the Ministry of Communication representatives, in case of the pilot project successful implementation, the open source software is to be installed in all the Russian schools by the end of 2009. That might enable educational institutions switch to the open source software, after the software license expires, - the Ministry representatives believe.

The project is known to be financed from the budget, which is to be allocated for the three year software legalization program at schools. It should be noted, the budget is worth of 3 milliard rubles ($ 117,715,195). The Ministry says the exact amount of financing is not known. If decided to allot the finance, the software producers tender terms and date are to be announced in August.

Meanwhile, ASP Linux and ALT Linux, the leading Russian companies, producing Linux distributives, got interested in participating in the pilot project. Moreover, Alexey Smirnov, ALT Linux Director General is sure all the Russian firms, producing Linux distributives might get interested in the tender. St. Petersburg Linux-Ink and Linux-Center are actively promoting Mandriva Linux in the Russian market. I think it might be applied to school deliveries, - he suggests. We are sure to take part in the tender. Firstly, we have created the open resource software package repository and development infrastructure, enabling to produce different purpose distributives. That is the base, we use in ALT Linux distributives production, and which allows us provide qualified product support. Secondly, we have expertise in producing and supporting desktop distributives, including the ALT Linux Junior school distributive. ALT Linux has already started the new version development, not waiting for a centralized permission. We know that the product is in demand and it will be purchased if not on the federal then on the regional level, - Mr. Smirnov told CNews.

In its turn, ASP Linux confirmed its willingness to take part in the project to CNews. We will participate in the tender, - Andrey Garkanov, the Companys representative told CNews. By Autumn we are to finish the 12-th version of one of the most popular ASP Linux distributives development for schools. However, the main task is not to supply and finish off the corresponding distributive, but to educate the teachers operate the programs, Mr. Garkanov believes. I think, the main finance volume is to be directed to the educational infrastructure development and users support, - he notes.

Alexay Smirnov suggests school supp ort is to be included into the existing educational infrastructure. When implementing at schools both local companies with expertise in Linux, and educational institutions, including Teachers Training Institutes and Teachers Extension Course Institutes, are to be engaged. A distributive producer is to provide the products support and renewal, the second level support, and to organize the methodic material preparation, - Mr. Smirnov concludes.

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