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Putin Orders Russian Move To GNU/Linux 500

Posted by Soulskill
from the putin-on-his-tux dept.
Glyn Moody writes "Vladimir Putin has signed an order calling for Russian federal authorities to move to GNU/Linux, and for the creation of 'a single repository of free software used in the federal bodies of executive power.' There have been a number of Russian projects to roll out free software, notably in the educational sector, but none so far has really taken off. With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?"
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Putin Orders Russian Move To GNU/Linux

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  • I knew it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:06PM (#34679796) Homepage Journal

    Linux really IS communist!

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:07PM (#34679808) Journal

    With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?

    I am pretty sure that Putin don't care about the freedom part of free software

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:14PM (#34679896)

      With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?

      I am pretty sure that Putin don't care about the freedom part of free software

      Why is that? Putin is acting on behalf of the government who are primarily users, not developers of software they hope to sell. The 'freedom" part is freedom for him, and brings real benefits to him and his, like the ability to gain free code contributions from others around the world and the ability to comparison shop when looking at vendors for support and the like. Any code generated by the government will likely cost less in the long run if they contribute it back rather than maintaining a fork.

      So really, while we may not see a pile of code contributions as a result of this, more adoption means more motivation to support it for hardware vendors and more motivation for application developers and tool creators to target it. And really, lack of momentum and market share is one of the biggest problems for OSS, a chicken and egg scenario.

      • by gtall (79522) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:32PM (#34680076)

        For Putin, there are likely two draws to FOSS: 1. using it means money likely isn't being shipped to Western software companies leaving more for in-country software development, and 2. his mafia geeks in the FSB, the genetic spawn of the KGB, can check for any sneaky backdoors.

        • by icebike (68054)

          I don't imagine the money is that much of a problem. Wholesale pirating may have been slowed down a bit by Microsoft in later versions of Windows 7, but I doubt it would affect the Russian Government. Organizations that big can get site licenses for dirt cheap.

          It might have something to do with not wanting to be dependent on US closed source technology. Or free of suspected back doors.

          In reality the question is now why Russia has ordered this, it is why is the US dragging its feet?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            In reality the question is now why Russia has ordered this, it is why is the US dragging its feet?

            I hope for your sake that's a rhetorical question, because the answer is obvious: the USA has a blatantly corrupt government, which is beholden to large corporations including Microsoft. It's a wonder the IRS doesn't require you to buy some expensive Windows-only software to file your taxes, and actually uses standard PDF forms.

            • by niftydude (1745144) on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @04:42AM (#34684092)

              It's a wonder the IRS doesn't require you to buy some expensive Windows-only software to file your taxes, and actually uses standard PDF forms.

              Yeah - lucky you. This year in Australia, the ATO has been in the progress of migrating it's tax submission system which used a java client that ran on windows, mac and linux, to a new tax submission system which now runs on windows only.
              If I want to submit my taxes online in OZ, for the first time in 10 years I'II now have to buy a windows license.

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                It's the same way here, if you want to file taxes online, but worse: you have to purchase a product from a private company like TurboTax to do it for you, and of course, TurboTax is only available on Windows (maybe Mac, I haven't checked).

                The fillable PDF forms are only for sending in your taxes by the mail, which is what I do. 1) I refuse to pay money to file my taxes, especially to a private company, 2) I also refuse to pay money to make the IRS's job easier for them (paper forms are harder to process),

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:33PM (#34680092)

        This.

        If Russia starts using Linux and demanding that app vendors make programs compatible for the OS, or else they will pay or find application vendors that will, this will get the mainstream guys to start treating Linux as a top tier platform and not something to hide in the server room racks.

        The result? A win/win/win situation. Linux can become an alternative to Windows. Application makers have a gigantic market (Russia, then possibly China, then perhaps Europe, anywhere there is distrust of closed operating systems.) Users have an OS choice that has proven itself in the "big boy" arenas that can run their applications without having to buy new hardware.

      • I don't see the adoption of something by a dictator as a great endorsement. And I am certain that the code in theirs own repository will contain some kind of monitoring system of some sort that will report back to today's KGB

        • I don't see the adoption of something by a dictator as a great endorsement.

          I don't care about celebrity or anti-celebrity endorsements. I care about real world effects upon the stagnant and broken desktop OS market. Charles Manson wore Levis jeans, that's not a reason for me to avoid them.

          And I am certain that the code in theirs own repository will contain some kind of monitoring system of some sort that will report back to today's KGB

          It's called the FSB now, and they may well insert backdoors in code they contribute or in a fork. Of course, we can always audit the code (and our security agencies will for any we use) and you can compile your own Linux distro and be largely compatible with their systems. This is nice because it

          • by tftp (111690) on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @03:22AM (#34683724) Homepage

            It's called the FSB now, and they may well insert backdoors in code

            Even KGB in worst times (70's-80's) wasn't that paranoid. There was no wholesale spying on people. In East Germany Erich Honecker did that; but in USSR KGB knew their foe, and the foe knew that. Everyone else lived their lives and didn't care about KGB. If you did something untoward KGB would actually summon you "for a talk" first, and only if you persist then harsher measures would be used.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:05PM (#34680394) Homepage Journal

          I don't see the adoption of something by a dictator as a great endorsement.

          Endorsement? Who cares about endorsement? What matters is results.

          If the Russian government moves to F/OSS, that will be good for F/OSS, just like IBM making F/OSS an integral part of its business plan has been. It doesn't mean they're good guys. They don't have to be. Dictatorial governments and giant corporations alike are pretty much always evil. Sometimes they do good as a side effect. When that happens, we should take advantage of it. "No permanent allies, only permanent interests."

          Leave the worrying about "endorsements" to people buying overpriced athletic shoes.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Lets cut through the jokes and freedom. One word Stuxnet. That spelt the ends of windows upon any foreign secure system, after that attaxk you would have to be a bloody idiot to continue down that path.

        Think about corporate for profit influence upon that country, if an overseas corporation proves to be excessively competitive and is crippling the profits of a local corporations, why not cripple that foreign corporations computer infrastructure. Face it stupidity like that is only a matter of time.

        With

    • by fishexe (168879)

      With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?

      I am pretty sure that Putin don't care about the freedom part of free software

      For him, it's free beer that counts.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?

        I am pretty sure that Putin don't care about the freedom part of free software

        For him, it's free beer that counts.

        I think beer is something Putin drinks when he wants to sober up after a vodka bender.

        • by kenrblan (1388237) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:37PM (#34680126)
          I think you have Putin confused with Boris Yeltsin. In regard to the move to GNU/Linux, I suspect Putin has seen the number of exploits and malware written for Windows and is aware that much of it originates in Russia.
          • by fishexe (168879)

            I think you have Putin confused with Boris Yeltsin. In regard to the move to GNU/Linux, I suspect Putin has seen the number of exploits and malware written for Windows and is aware that much of it originates in Russia.

            So why would he want to cripple one of his country's most productive industries?

      • by aBaldrich (1692238) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:31PM (#34680070)
        I think it its "free from American companies" that counts.
      • And Putin has a lot to gain through a homogenous network. Having one standard operating system that can almost be the swiss army knife of computing saves lots of money. Maintaining heterogenous networks with say, Windows, Mac, and Linux is a much larger headache. By standardizing everything on free, open source, and interoperable technologies, the savings are not small.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:30PM (#34680044) Homepage Journal

      Pretty sure Stuxnet has got his attention. I assure you that the Free part is relevant, because the Open thing is part of the Free thing, and that means peer-reviewed software. Sure, you could still do something like Stuxnet in a Linux environment, but hopefully people are thinking about all kinds of security and not just precisely the same type of breach that is in the news.

      If Putin asked me (heh heh) how he could enhance the security of computing in Russia, I'd certainly suggest Linux, maybe even GNU/Linux.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Stuxnet had nothing to do with windows. It attacked motor controller chips made by Seimans.

        Still your point is valid, the primary motive would seem to be to avoid dependency on untrustworthy software for which you can't even see the code.

      • Pretty sure Stuxnet has got his attention. I assure you that the Free part is relevant, because the Open thing is part of the Free thing, and that means peer-reviewed software.

        There's nothing to stop Russia from creating their own version of Linux that's just as closed as Windows. Want to trying suing them in a Russian court for violating the GPL? Let me know how that works out for you.

        If Putin asked me (heh heh) how he could enhance the security of computing in Russia, I'd certainly suggest Linux, maybe even GNU/Linux.

        How much malware originates in Russia? Quite a bit. If Windows goes away and is replaced by Russian Linux the Russian hackers will simply change to a new target.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          How much malware originates in Russia? Quite a bit. If Windows goes away and is replaced by Russian Linux the Russian hackers will simply change to a new target.

          Great, I've been hoping for a useful selinux GUI, and this is just the thing to spur that.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah I really don't see Putin as much of a "giver" or into sharing. As for TFA this is more likely a big Fuck You! to MSFT for giving oppressed non-profits free licenses [slashdot.org] in Russia. Before they did that one of the favorite ways to crack the whip on opposition in Russia was to say "Raid on Pirate software" and just take all their stuff. Now that MSFT took that trick away this is Putin's way of slapping them for not playing ball.

      So the GNU guys can scream about "Evil M$!" all they want but giving away those

  • At last! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gregthebunny (1502041) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:08PM (#34679816) Journal
    2011 WILL be the year of the [Russian] Linux desktop!
    • I smell a "In Soviet Russia" joke coming ....

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        I smell a "In Soviet Russia" joke coming ....

        In post-Soviet Russia, they know the USSR no longer exists! (And they use GNU/Linux!)

  • It's always "the breakthrough free software has been waiting for"... free software has been growing over the years, but these sorts of things never seem to make the big global impact that the news reports they will. (Not saying this is a bad thing, though!)

    • It's always "the breakthrough free software has been waiting for"... free software has been growing over the years, but these sorts of things never seem to make the big global impact that the news reports they will. (Not saying this is a bad thing, though!)

      The summary doesn't seem to suggest any impending "global" impact. The sentence you took that fragment from is clearly only talking about Russian free software programs. Nobody is suggesting that free software is inevitably going to take over the world over night, but with local victories such as this, the long-term viability of free software is definitely assured.

  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:11PM (#34679856) Journal
    In America, you put in Linux.

    In Soviet Russia, Putin Linux you.

  • This is probably politically motivated. Getting away from American-based Microsoft.

    Next to come: using Linux will be considered anti-American.

    • by Voulnet (1630793)
      I honestly expect something of the sort in some stupid US media.
    • Amazing... they see they are pumping huge amounts of money into America, so they take steps to curtail that.

      Now... about that america oil usage... if only we would take steps to stop our dependency on foreign oil... at a minimum, we've spent about three trillion dollars that we spent on the military could have gone into solar plants, superconducting wiring, and investments into low energy technologies, hell even insulation for federal buildings.

      I expect with this move that gnu/linux will gain more credibili

      • by gtall (79522)

        Errr...try comparing Russian oil exports to the U.S. against the imports of software. There's no comparison, the U.S. is pumping way more money into Russia in that comparison, not sure about the rest of trade.

    • Quick note: it's free software, not necessarily Linux. The actual 18-page document which constitutes Putin's order doesn't mention GNU, Linux or any specific piece of software. According to the plan, in 2011 they'll form a "package" of free software that they need and in 2012 the government will be running a repository with it, so presumably it's next year for decisions on which software specifically it's going to be. Of course, Linux is very likely.

      As for motivation, one of the big things in Russia now is

      • Quick note: it's free software, not necessarily Linux

        In fact, it's a cracked version of Windows 2000 that Putin found on a torrent site.

  • Forget the commie jokes here, it no longer applies. Russia is now a republic with real elections (usually more than one person on the ballot). While their government may be as corrupt as any is South America, the country is no longer a Marxist dictatorship.

    Anyway, who would have thunk that the Linux world domination would start in the land of the Czars?

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      " While their government may be as corrupt as any in South America, the country is no longer a Marxist dictatorship."
      Why do I find so little comfort in that statement?

    • Care to lay odds on Putin losing an election, ever?

      Modern Russia is not so much post-Soviet as pre-Soviet; it's always been an autocracy and probably always will be. Or rather, it's long periods of autocracy punctuated by moments of sheer chaos. At least they've got a pretty good autocrat these days.

    • by gtall (79522)

      It never was a Marxist dictatorship. It was always a government kleptocracy. Now it is less so, but Putin is moving them back to the level of government kleptocracy he's comfortable with. You can take the man out of the KGB, you cannot take the KGB out of the man.

  • by Sanat (702) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:17PM (#34679924)

    I am a true blue American and served my country during war time and ... yet... I find myself aligned more with Putin and his actions than with ANY political leader presently serving here in the USA. Perhaps, it is all publicity carefully crafted to make Putin look like something he is not, yet he seems to make so many choices that would parallel choices I would make if I were to be in his place.

    What do other see that perhaps I am missing?

    • Re:American (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cidolfas (1358603) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:28PM (#34680024)
      The murder/arrest/expulsion of journalists and news sources who disagree with you? That's a big one for me.
    • Re:American (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:37PM (#34680120) Journal
      I would recommend either reading up on Putin's quietly enthusiastic suppression of opposition, close ties with a circle of crony-capitalist plutocrats who did very well in the post-soviet privatization, and vaguely sinister cult of personality.

      If you have already done that and still like him; I urgently suggest checking yourself for signs of closet authoritarian nationalism...
    • Re:American (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:37PM (#34680130) Homepage Journal

      Like you, I'm an American vet, and what we fought for is still worth preserving, however tattered it may be.

      Look, Putin is a very, very smart guy, and he's made a lot of decisions that have been good for Russia. But the problem is that the system under which he makes those decisions -- Tsarism in all but name -- depends on having the decisions made by someone smart who has his country's best interests in mind. Putin's not immortal, and if he's followed by someone with similarly autocratic powers, there's no way to know what he'll be like. All it takes is one bad absolute ruler to wreck any amount of progress made.

      In the US, we can in fact limit the power of our leaders -- of course it doesn't work perfectly, and the current corporatocracy it seems like our "choices" at the ballot box don't matter a hell of a lot, but we do have a legal and non-violent mechanism by which we can replace our entire government in a period of no more than six years. Russia doesn't, not really; its electoral system is as firmly under government control as it ever was in the Soviet days. Which, as a lot of my older relatives can tell you, is pretty much the way things have always been in Russia, no matter the title of the guy in charge. Tsar, General Secretary, President, Prime Minister ... nothing really changes.

      Corruption, gridlock, and general incompetence may be the practical result of our system most of the time, but historically, autocracy is a hell of a lot worse.

  • GNU? (Score:5, Funny)

    by slapout (93640) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:21PM (#34679960)

    Did Putin really say "GNU/Linux" or just Linux?

    • Re:GNU? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ralphdaugherty (225648) <ralph@ee.net> on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:44PM (#34680194) Homepage

      Did Putin really say "GNU/Linux" or just Linux?

      Putin's order didn't even say Linux. Says free software. Free as in speech. They already use free as in beer.

  • With the backing of Putin, could this be the breakthrough free software has been waiting for?

    If its not, someone will be going to the salt mines!

  • And in other news, hundreds of top programmers in Russia have been summarily convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement, and have been sentenced to 20 years hard labor in the Siberian software mines.

  • In light of the Stuxnet virus and Iranian centrifuge sabotage , I'm surprised that the Russians didn't drop Microsoft sooner.
  • I wonder which distro he uses personally? Or what Medvenev uses, since he's more geeky than Putin. Maybe Medvenev has already changed his iPhone 4G gifted by Steve Jobs with an Android based phone.
  • Diden't MS sue even have people go to jail for useing linux and not paying for windows in Russia?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:48PM (#34680244) Homepage

    ...free software has been waiting for?"

    No. Free Software has not been waiting for anything.

  • Probably Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 27, 2010 @08:08PM (#34681020) Homepage Journal
    He's probably just playing hardball with Microsoft for a discount. You may notice that every time some country announces that it's moving to Linux, they inevitably announce, 3 months later, that they changed their mind and are sticking with Microsoft. Turns out if you're a country and you want a huge discount on Microsoft products, you just announce you're moving to Linux.
    • He's probably just playing hardball with Microsoft for a discount. You may notice that every time some country announces that it's moving to Linux, they inevitably announce, 3 months later, that they changed their mind and are sticking with Microsoft.

      Are you sure it isn't the other way around? A large entity transitioning to Linux is very bad news for Microsoft. Right now Windows has several advantages over Linux. We all know what they are: Windows runs legacy Win32 software better than Linux with WINE, MS Office is the de facto standard document format, etc. Insert whatever reasons you have for why Windows is on more PCs than Linux.

      The problem for Microsoft is that if a large entity with a lot of resources makes a serious push for Linux everywhere, tho

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