4 Jul 2012

Russia Dumps Linux for Windows

There are many speculations in the Internet about the implementation of Linux-based operating systems and free open source software in general on national level. Which countries and projects are usually named? RedHat in Pentagon? Mandriva school project in Brazil? Government projects in Russia and China? They are at the top of the list, aren’t they?

I, as Russian by passport and by nature, laugh at these declarations from the people who have never been in Russia.

Yes, there are some movements in Russia about implementation of FOSS. To be precise, they were. RIP! Let me explain.

Russian government declared the necessity of so-called "National Software Platform" (NSP) few years ago. The realisation of the project went to the Ministry of Telecommunications, at some point headed by Mr.Leonid Reiman. I wrote about this person and his impact on Linux community in my other article. The Government even announced a tender between the teams of developers for the Operating System prototype.

Few years have gone away. Finally, in February 2012, the winner of the tender was announced.

The winner of the tender was the company PingWin Software, owned by… Leonid Reiman. What was the distribution they offered? It was… face-lifted Mandriva! Yes, you read it right. The prototype of Russian National Software Platform, due to be used in Russian state-owned organisations and in schools, was French! At the same time, Russian teams like ALT Linux or RBK-Soft (currently Armada), were left outside. Is it just a coincidence that the investment fund NGI, which manages the money of Mr.Reinman, partially owns Mandriva too?

That was actually only half of the trouble. The fate of Russian Government, including the Ministry of Defence, could be given to foreign (French) developers. But, at least, that could be an open-source product based on open source principles.

Things actually got worse since February 2012. Many changes happened in Russian politics since that time. The most famous of them was a castling between the President and Prime Minister. Ex-president Medvedev is now a Prime Minister, and ex-President ex-Prime Minister Putin is now a President again.

Mr.Medvedev made significant changes in the Cabinet. One of the most notable was the appointment of 29-year old Nikolay Nikiforov as a new Minister of Telecommunications.

Less than a month after the appointment of the new Minister, the curator of the National Software Platform Ilya Massukh resigned. This is how he explained his resignation: Mr.Nikiforov thinks that National Software Platform is futile and has no future. Instead, Mr.Nikiforov suggests getting proper discounts for… Microsoft software! As first steps in this process, Mr.Nikiforov has already taken part in talks with Microsoft representatives during the Saint-Petersburg Economic Forum in early June.

Mr.Nikiforov himself refused to comment the situation, except for the phrase in his Twitter feed: "We must understand how we spent and will spend taxpayers’ money for the NSP project".

But is this is just a smoke without a fire? I am afraid, not.

Why does Mr.Nikiforov like Microsoft so much? The possible reason is that this is not his first acquaintance with this company. He has his photo published on the Microsoft site in one of the press-releases. Nikolay Nikiforov helped to translate Microsoft Windows 7 and Office 2010 to Tatar language while being regional Minister of Telecommunications in the Russian region of Tatarstan. Old roots are growing bigger, obviously.

So, the idea of Russian National Software Platform was made a joke by Russian ministers. First, they turned from Russian developers to French ones. And finally, the whole idea of using of open-source software is likely to be dumped. Rest in peace, "National Software Platform"!

Will anyone now be brave enough to list Russia among the "countries who dropped Windows"?

To read more: Ilya Massukh about the NSP in his own blog.

34 comments:

  1. And people still wonder how I can be an anarchist.

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    1. Russian anarchist P.Kropotkin said: "Anarchy is not a chaos, but mother of order". I can't disagree.

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. In 2013 Putin said: Let there be FOSS, and there was Linux, and Linux was good.

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    1. Let's wait for 2013 then.
      I am afraid, Putin has different priorities, though.

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  3. This looks like the typical footsie games that take place between business corporations and government officials all the time.

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  4. Russia is motherland of corruption, suppression of free speech, independent press and liberal thinking. Any serious political opposition to Putin's regime is end-up in jail or forced to live the country. Most of the wealth comes from Gas and Oil, kickbacks for government contracts can be as high as 100%. If you work for Government (most of people do), the more your spend the more you get back in your Swiss bank account :). Linux does not work that way.

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    1. Ever been to Italy, Greece, Spain?
      You want corruption? Mafia runs NY industries like construction,etc and in Canada as well.
      The US system of govt allows for politicians to be legally bribed by lobbyists, its engrained in the system.
      Goldman Sach has most policians in its pockets and tentacles that go far and wide... thats crime of the highest level...
      Feel free to go to Mexico and tell me about corruption there...
      the list is endless.

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  5. Debian forevaaa!!

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  6. Hilarious.

    Russia are worried about the US encircling them with missiles and then they let Windows on to Government computers?
    Does Russia not realise that the NSA have backdoors in all versions of Windows?
    You might as well CC the US Government in on every exchange of data in Russia.

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    1. I couldn't agree more with this guy. Only a fool choosing an OS that is controlled by the ex "enemy" as its National platform.

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    2. First of all, you should distinguish the terms "worried" and "worried publicly from the TV screen".
      Secondly, I see in your post an implication, that Russian official gorvernment can be worried about anything other than or can realize something other than their personal illegal incomes.
      That seems an uncautious assumption.

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  7. Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

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  8. @Anonymous: Russia is not a motherland, but one of the most corrupted countries. Otherwise, you're right, it is far too non-democratic to adopt FOSS principles easily.

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  9. @Anonymous: NY construction industry mafia does not put up a slogan of "National Software Platform." Same for Italy-Greece-Spain-Mexico.

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  10. A big shit game between corporations and assholes (polititicans, industrialists, etc.). Poor FOSS :( When will world grow up? hmm..Damn!

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  11. Ten years ago I was a big FOSS advocate. But it seemed that FOSS was getting nowhere. I gave up. I'm glad I went with the leader, Microsoft. It has been a good decision.

    I decided today to check back in and see how FOSS is doing ten years later. I see nothing has changed.

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  12. Wait till they get a taste of Windows 8 - that is mostly geared towards the tablet.

    Where does that leave the desktops and laptops ??????

    OUT IN THE COLD !!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Where does that leave the desktops and laptops ??????

      At *NIX OSes...probably with Android and Mac OS X as exceptions.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for an informative nutshell summary of the situation.

    I am left with only one large question. What are Mr. Nikiforov's technical or other qualifications for evaluating the relative merits of Windows and Linux-- if any? (translating doesn't count).

    Bernard Swiss

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    Replies
    1. He graduated from the Economy (Business?) Faculty of Kazan State University. He is in IT since 2001. The information is from Wikipedia.

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  14. Debian Stable is the solution; but corruption is the real problem.

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    1. Don't forget, you have back-ports; already compiled, for Deb Stable.

      Is scales best.

      Easy security updates yield the best security.

      Apt.

      The look, and desktop manger is nearly unlimited.

      I recommend Gnome 2, simply set for one task bar, put at the bottom. I like the "Apps - Places - System" button menus.

      When you start doing all manner, of everything, Deb stable wins. It is the least evil of any other OS.

      New users should start with Mint, but doing what Mint does, is not a issue for Deb Stable. It's a few apps installed. A few tweaks, and it is better. Mint is tweaked more, and that is good for those who only know Windows. Otherwise, people would never get it. That's choosing "Mate", before logging in, with Mint.

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    2. It does not matter what is in the core, Mandriva, Slackware, Debian or RedHat. As long as it is FOSS, it can be legally forked and adjusted for the need of Russian organizations by Russian developers.

      This is not the case for MS products.

      Delete
  15. "Will anyone now be brave enough to list Russia among the countries?"

    I think, that's enough.
    OpenRaspil and FreeOtkat are the only national platforms so far.

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  16. While I can't refute your dark predictions, I can only hope for the success of of what appears to me to be a productive group of *Russian* developers at ROSA. After all, didn't ALT Linux begin as Mandrake? ;)

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    1. ALT Linux began from group of developers who worked together with Mandrake and SuSE, but they were never part of either of them officially.

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  17. Well, again, I don't want to get overly involved with semantics but "officially" isn't always such a relevant descriptor of the untidy synthesis of a largely volunteer community and the possessors of the "means of production" ;) According to Wikipedia, anyway, "ALT Linux Team arose from the merger of IPLabs Linux Team and Linux community of the Institute of Logic, Cognitive Science and Development of Personality.[9] The latter cooperated with Mandrake Linux and SUSE teams to improve localization (specifically Cyrillic), producing a Linux-Mandrake Russian Edition (RE). <------This

    At some point, Mandrake and Mandrake RE became in fact different distributions and thus the decision was made to create a separate project. The name ALT was coined, which is a recursive acronym meaning "ALT Linux Team"."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALT_Linux

    So, rather than parse the meaning of "is", I'll try to clarify that beginning with what is largely the product of "French developers" does not so much make any difference.

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  18. Interesting article.

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  19. Get rid of that minister.... he's useless. Russia needs its own IT infrastructure, IT vendors... Because if for whatever reason US will ban sales of hardware or software to Russia, it is finished! We all know that Russia and US clash in many spheres, mainly geopolitical ones and Americans have already proven they will not hesitate to ban technology sales to 'enemies'. T-Platforms was a example... Russian National Software Platform needs to go ahead no matter what... The transition will be painful, hard and lengthy but it needs to be done for the sake of safe future.

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