February 19, 2008, Tue 9:04 PM Integration
Victor Alksnis, former deputy, and Alexander Ponosov, former school principal, announce to establish a public organization to promulgate free software in Russia. According to the founders of the Free Technology Center, the given software is based on the world Linux-community principles, i.e. there will be no fixed membership and it will gain no profit to its developers. Mr. Alksnis and Mr. Ponosov believe that the free software will consolidate the domestic IT-community, although to succeed support from the government or a philanthropist is necessary.
On February 19th 2008 a public organization was established to promulgate and promote the free software in Russia. The organization has been established by the former deputy Victor Alksnis and former school principal Alexander Ponosov, which are public figures but a little bit odious, which is a plus when promoting the alternative OS.
The name of the mentioned above organization is Regional Public organization to support free software and hardware development ‘Free Technology Center’, i.e. RPO FTC. Victor Alksnins is the chairman, while Alexander Ponosov is his deputy.
The Center does not plan to make profit, which is also forbidden by the status of the organization, its founders say. The Center will resemble the world Linux-community by it structure. ‘There will be no fixed membership in the organization, party-membership cards or meetings. We are not a party, we do not intend to hold meetings of participate in elections’, - Victor Alksnis says. – ‘Our task is to explain, help and provide legal assistance’. Initially the Center will have no office, but its site will be launched soon.
The Center’s founders are going to meet the challenges using their own finance as the Center has meanwhile no sponsors and no one is likely to appear in the near future. The Center’s chairman and his deputy say that they have received many proposals on cooperation from interested institutions, but decided to remain independent ‘both from the state and vendors of commercial open source software’. To confirm their independence the founders says that they have different distributives at home: Alexander Ponosov is using Scientific, while Victor Ponosov ALT Linux. However, despite their independence they are friends with the software vendors.
The way to the free software is unique to each user. Victor Alksnis started using the given software thinking of Information Security of Russia, while Alexander Ponosov turned to the open source software because of problems with the law enforcement bodies over counterfeit Windows installed on school computers. The Center’s founders are fascinated by the philosophy of the open source software and believe that using it one can protect the Russian government from Windows undeclared possibilities and avoid charges of piracy.
The Center’s founders hope that due to their assistance the free OS will provide to the development of the Russian engineering. ‘Windows teaches to move your mouse, while Linux teaches to think’, - Victor Alksnis says. ‘Linux provides schools with engineering thinking’, - Alexander Ponosov confirms. The chairman and his deputy hope that with free OS promotion at schools, the Russian programming school too much spoken about in the 80s of the previous century and practically non-existent at present might revive in several years.
However, these are only the plans. In the near future the Center plans to get registered and support the pilot introduction of Linux at schools in three Russian regions: Tatarstan, Perm Region and Tomsk Region. After that all Russian schools are expected to transfer to Linux. ‘The free OS will hardly survive in Russian without the governmental support as people are too used to Windows’, - Victor Alksnis says.
Victor Alksnis continues that the Russian software would only benefit from sponsorship. Knowing about the popularity of the Ubuntu distributive to surge after the contribution made by the South African multimillionaire Mark Shuttleworth, the Russian business might also follow his steps. Oleg Deripaska, for example, is among those to whom Victor Alksnis intends to write letters requesting to support the Russian Linux.
Now it is quite the time to develop alternative distributives. ‘Hardly anyone will start transferring the population from Windows to Linux, but as fighting against piracy is becoming more intense, people will have very soon to choose between the licensed and expensive Microsoft and free OS', - Alexander Ponosov says.
Analysts point out to the tendency mentioned above: ‘After fighting against piracy has been launched, organizations start paying more attention to OS. Open Office is more often installed on computers instead of MS Office, but Linux installation is a more radical approach’, - Igor Korolev from CNews Analytics believes. – ‘The role of the public organization might be rather positive, but active fighting against piracy is more efficient’.
Linux-community consists of many developers, a great number of testers and several designers. There have been no promoters among its members meanwhile. ‘That is the minus’, - Victor Alksnis says. – ‘If the Linux-community had paid more attention to promotion, then Microsoft might not be so popular at present’.