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Government Software Linux News

Russia To Develop a National Operating System 374

Elektroschock writes "According to Russian media, the Russian Government is going to develop a National Operating System (Google translation; Russian original) to lower its dependencies on foreign software technology licensing. The Russian plan will base its efforts on Linux and expects a worldwide impact. Microsoft is also involved in the roundtable process that led to the recommendation. The Chinese government successfully lowered its Microsoft licensing costs through an early investment in a national Linux distribution. I wonder if other large markets, such as the European Union, will also develop their own Linux distributions or join in the Russian initiative."
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Russia To Develop a National Operating System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:48PM (#26576067)
    System operates YOU!
    • by Unnngh! ( 731758 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:38PM (#26580289)
      Buried in the Russian OS:

      The EU upgrade...

      The Chinese upgrade...
      //NO WAI!
  • I never thought Russia to be that big into licensing and copyrights.

    • I wonder if it will have built in software cracking tools.
    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:55PM (#26576273) Homepage Journal
      It apparently matters to someone, since China apparently got the price lowered as well. I have to wonder if it was worth all of the international hooplah to reduce the price of the single copy of Windows they bought.
    • I never thought Russia to be that big into licensing and copyrights.

      There is the official Russian stance for the international community, and the understood stance of some people who live there (and what they think of copyright and licensing).

      Careful not to confuse the two. This statement on developing a national operating system came from the government, which knows it needs to at least outwardly appear to play by the rules of the rest of the international community. Conversely this likely won't mean squat to the spammers who are offering you dirt-cheap "windows downl

      • I find the Russian attitude toward copyright to be mostly refreshing. They do want to give incentives for people to make a little money from creative works, but there isn't the perpetual and infinite lifetime to creative works that seems to be prevalent in western Europe and has infected legal circles within the USA.

        The way that Russians treat copyrighted material of others is pretty much how they want to have their own content treated. At least they are consistent in this manner. It certainly doesn't compare to the blatant copyright infringements that happen in China.

    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:00PM (#26576397) Homepage

      It matters at least on the surface. The "big deal" is being a member of the WTO. You can't be a player in the WTO if you are branded as a thief. The other kids won't want to play with you!

      But, just as Ernie Ball, moving away from Microsoft is a good plan and illustrates perfectly now they are not as necessary as people think. But invariably, people are lured into taking the "easy" path... not changing and settling for a lower price and incentive to stay. "Lower price" is not the only incentive, of course... but officially, lower price is the incentive.

      • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:28PM (#26576905) Journal

        ....You can't be a player in the WTO if you are branded as a thief. The other kids won't want to play with you!

        I think this statement sums up the WTO fantastically well. It's a club for schoolkids, pretending to be important. They are all thieves, but you don't want ALL of the rest of them calling you a thief. As long as it's only one or two of them, you're ok.

        Johnny trades me marbles at a good deal because I have a good supply of bubble gum that he likes. Sure, I trade it to other kids too, but I need the marbles so Johnny and I trade on the side. I think the playground is a great analogy for the WTO.

        • No no no. This is a great ploy to keep the costs of operating systems low, and to standardize. It's a jab at Microsoft, but also to others with high costs (read Solaris, IBM's long list, HP's long list, etc.).

          And if it works, and puts pressure on other OS makers to do better, so much the better.

          Will we want to code in RussOS? Why not-- if there's a good reason to.

    • Copyright etc. is a form of planned economy: "Ppl won't create the *correct number of books/movies/etc. unless the government 'incentivizes' the production thereof by enforcing the creators' exclusive rights to copy/modify/etc." *where "correct" is determined by said government...
      • Copyright etc. is a form of planned economy:

        "Ppl won't create the *correct number of books/movies/etc. unless the government 'incentivizes' the production thereof by enforcing the creators' exclusive rights to copy/modify/etc."

        *where "correct" is determined by said government...

        I don't understand where you get this idea. Copyright at its most fundamental level is a legal enforcement of proper attribution. Don't claim to be somebody who you are not, and certainly don't assert that you wrote something or made something when you had absolutely nothing to do with it in the first place.

        Are there abuses of copyright? Absolutely! Many of the major media distributors (RIAA members, MPAA members, ASCAP members, and members of other similar groups) assert and claim rights they simply don't have, or in a few cases are able to get political mussel to get laws changed in their favor that don't make sense. Just look at DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and see how the recording industry ruined a perfectly find and indeed useful technology through boneheaded legislation.

        Protecting the actual artists, composers, writers, producers and filmmakers through copyright for a limited time is for me something very useful, and something that I personally depend upon for my very livelihood. The problem comes when limited time == forever, and the rights of those who have purchased or received a creative work are trampled to death and declared non-existent. Among those include the right to use the work of art as you please, to be able to enjoy and share that work with others, and to review and express your opinion about that work of art.

        Copyright law sets limits about what these right might be, and establishes a way to provide incentives that date back to the 18th Century and earlier. Unfortunately, many of those drafting copyright legislation today are not familiar with nor understand the problems that happened in the 18th Century that led to current copyright laws in the first place.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Znork ( 31774 )

          I don't understand where you get this idea.

          From the actual effects and the specific implementation of copyright law that we have? The GP's assertion isn't that far from reality.

          Copyright at its most fundamental level is a legal enforcement of proper attribution... and certainly don't assert that you wrote something or made something

          You don't need to go further than to ghost writers or works for hire to ascertain that proper attribution is at best a secondary consideration, if any consideration at all. It's

  • by rpjs ( 126615 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:50PM (#26576119)

    ...installed by the FSB or whatever it is the KGB is calling itself these days, honest tovarishch.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:50PM (#26576123) Journal
    Isn't their National Operating System called Communism?
  • Russia to make national distribution... Red Flag beat you to that game..

  • by VincenzoRomano ( 881055 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:51PM (#26576163) Homepage Journal
    EU politiacians don't understand (or don't want to) the importance, the strategy and the economics of an EU-wide open-source policy!
    Private interests are more important by far!
    • EU politiacians don't understand (or don't want to) the importance, the strategy and the economics of an EU-wide open-source policy!
      Private interests are more important by far!

      Other than Microsoft, what private interests are there to discuss?
      /It isn't like the companies that write MS only software can't learn how to program for Linux.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Maybe pure politicians don't, but somebody at least at the EU is trying to do something about it, look, they have released their own Free/Open Source Software Licence (sic): http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/en/document/7774 [europa.eu]
      Anyway, I think they could have just used gpl or whatever other copyleft license, but i guess at least they are indeed promoting an EU-wide open-source policy ;)
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:53PM (#26576203) Journal
    In Soviet Russia, National Operating System develops YOU!
  • But will they (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:53PM (#26576207)

    adhere to the GPL and return their changes back to the community?

  • by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:57PM (#26576295)

    If it detects you making unfavorable comments about Putin it send your address off to a mailing center where they send you a free "gift" package of Polonium-laced tea (Earl Gray, of course, to increase the chance of computer geeks drinking it).

  • by hendrix2k ( 1099161 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @12:57PM (#26576321)
    ... who will there be to pirate it?
  • Very interesting. A lot of FOSS uses the GPL as a tool to prevent closed-source, copyright-dependent companies from freeriding on the FOSS and contributing nothing. Of course, the GPL can't really be enforced against a state actor.

    So, what to do about a state that takes GPL software, modifies it, redistributes it, maybe even charges for it?

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:01PM (#26576407)

    Nasa and the military are cooperating with Microsoft on the next generation of ICBM. With Chair-based warheads.

  • by ds_job ( 896062 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:02PM (#26576421)
    ... but spend money on developing an operating system. Can they not just save all the hassle and choose Red Hat / Ubuntu / Debian / SlackWare / Mandriva / anything else at http://distrowatch.com [distrowatch.com]?

    Seems like reinventing the wheel here.

    • by anothy ( 83176 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:09PM (#26577741) Homepage
      doesn't anyone realize that reinventing the wheel is sometimes a good thing? Goodyear does it all the time, makes millions on the results, and for good reason: they're solving different problems. if you need to get to the corner store and back, sure, what they've been producing for decades will do you, but if you're driving an Formula1, or IndyCar, or military HMMV, you have different constraints and want different results.

      sure, they could take some existing distro and package good cyrillic fonts and some customized skins and admin utilities. but what would that do for their local software industry? how would that make them significant to the rest of the world?
  • It's about time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#26576427)
    Why any country would voluntarily base their national security on imported, closed-source, non-free software is beyond my reasoning. If a country wants to control its infrastructure, it must use free software. Same goes for us computers users, too, of course, but the stakes are much higher for a sovereign nation.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#26576443) Homepage Journal

    Looks like President Medvedev of Russia [cnews.ru] and President Obama of the United States [gunaxin.com] have something in common.

    • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:23PM (#26576803) Journal

      Seriously, not being dependent on foreign companies for critical national technological infrastructure is in the strategic national interests of every nation on earth. If you are a foreign nation, how do you know that the OS you are getting from $OS_Vendor doesn't have 'wiretaps', back-doors, remote kill switches, or other secrets in the software which $OS_Vendor, or the nation to which $OS_Vendor is based out of, can use to cripple you? Another problem is, that $OS_Vendor could simply stop providing you with necessary patches to update known problems and vulnerabilities in the OS.

      One possible solution would be, if you are using a closed-source vendor, to require that vendor to provide the government with buildable source code, which could be reviewed by your own Computer Scientists, then built by your government, and distributed throughout the nation. This also allows your developers to provide your nation with patches and support if you are cut off from support from $OS_Vendor. That is not true Open-Source, but that is still, effectively, a "National Operating System". Open Source is one step better though, because you have, potentially, a lot larger base of people that are reviewing the code. That whole Eric Raymond thing to the effect that with sufficiently many eyes, all bugs are shallow.

      Just saying that some foreign leader that is not well liked has something in common with another leader is sort of mis-leading, because there will often be many things in common between good leaders and bad leaders - what's important often isn't the similarities, but the differences.

  • Not just yet (Score:5, Informative)

    by qWen71n ( 1176393 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:08PM (#26576533)
    What the article actually says, is that some members of Russian parliament are just _proposing_ to develop a national OS. M$ representatives, on the other hand, say that it is not a national OS which Russia need, but to make use the technologies which are already exist. so, don't get excited just yet - there are many things they talk about in Russia.
  • "Yes, comrades, we're developing our own operating system!"

    "Isn't it just Linux with a few custom utilities in Cyrillic?"

    "Yes, but it will be different, it will be a National Operating System!"

    "Except that it the overwhelming majority of the code is written by people all over the world."

    "Here, comrade, have a polonium cookie."

  • cccp (Score:5, Funny)

    by canuck08 ( 1421409 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:11PM (#26576599)

    Will it be written in C..C..C Plus?

  • This is a national linux distribution. The net result is that Microsoft loses more customers, that's significant, but it's not like Russia is coming up with something from scratch. If they run with Open Office on this distro, that will also be significant. The whole idea of trying to divorce themselves from dependence upon western software is also interesting.

  • I hope that the software will be as reliable as the Soyuz [russianspaceweb.com] craft.

  • In your country opperating system reports on crash, in Soviet Russia crash reports on you.
  • If they know anything, they should know their queue structures... bool empty() - Returns True if empty, False if Full, and for 50,000 rubles you can insure that it always returns True!

    int size() - When value exceeds 5 digits, FSB Process appears and imprisons all additional data to shorten queue length.

    In Russian stack structures, they will not follow LIFO. Instead it will be Last In achieves resource starvation, First In gets out first. Reverse Polish Notation will hereby be called Forward Russian Nota
  • I think this ia great move to sure up the Russian economy. The govt can now commodize the Mafia spam/bot nets and sell cycles off to the highest bigger for scams and dubious online pharmacies.

  • by Akral ( 975984 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:35PM (#26577021) Homepage
    The article says that this is an idea, raised by some random people and it is only being organized and will be later offered to president Medvedev as a proposition. Calling it a fact, as the summary did, is so yellow press it hurts.
  • Oh I wonder if they are using this to reduce the pricing of MS licenses or if they really thought about it? If they really thought about it, they could just translate every out of english into russian and recompile everything. That the US uses MS Windows is the biggest reason for Russia to chose to use anything else. Preferably they want a domestic Russian company being MS or IBM. They don't want to clone windows or linux. They want their own Russian developed thing.

    I'd be mixed. I think that's something th

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Friday January 23, 2009 @01:51PM (#26577371) Homepage Journal

    I can totally see why Russia would want to have this happen... at least their own distro for use internally within the Russian government.

    • Developers - By directly sponsoring a complete distro, they have their own developers who are both actively engaged within the greater Linux community, know the kernel cold (there certainly are Russian programmers who can be and are even now developing software currently in the kernel), and have their loyalties to the Russian society even if not directly to the Russian government. This means Russia has the developer base to keep up with the rest of the world in a critical area.
    • Security - If there is anybody paranoid about security, I don't know who is worse than the Russian government. The only way to have a genuinely secure operating system is to review each and every line of code that goes into that OS by somebody both with the skills necessary to properly evaluate the software, and the loyalty to the organization necessary to fix things that seem out of place. See also the above point, which is even more critical here.
    • Meeting local needs - by having a group that is embedded within the Russian culture that certainly is not a part of the Silicon Valley culture, they have a much better grasp of what is needed for their own local society. While working with Cyrillic characters isn't that much different from Latin characters, this is but one situation where local support is desperately needed. Interfacing with older Soviet systems is certainly an issue as well... I can only imagine some of the compatibility issues that would have to be worked out there.
    • National pride - There is also a little bit of national pride on the line here as well. Having something "made in Russia" is powerfully attractive for a number of reasons... at the very least to show that your country is able to keep up with the best and the brightest on the planet. Of all the reasons I've listed, this really is the least significant, but the one most head-smacking obvious and ultimately the one that would best sell to a legislative body that has to pay for any significant expenses to get this project going. I certainly doubt that Russian citizens are going to be upset with a modest expense being directed in this fashion through their tax dollars.

    A top to bottom review of the Linux kernel from another group of developers with a completely different interests, backgrounds, and motivations than other major contributors to Linux would also be a very good thing for the development of Linux as a whole. I wish Russia the best on getting this accomplished, and I hope that their success is huge.

    It isn't like the American government doesn't do this too. The NSA (National Security Agency... aka the USA cyber spys) has their own distro for most of the reasons I've listed above, and has nearly continuous recruitment going on at college campuses for CS graduates. The Red Flag distro (Chinese) is another national distro that has been done for more than just pressuring Microsoft into lowering the price of Windows.

    Frankly, I see Microsoft's involvement here as a red herring and something to ignore for this discussion.

  • All of their submarine sonar systems will belt out the Soviet national anthem.

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) * on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:07PM (#26577691) Homepage Journal
    The Russian plan will base its efforts on Linux

    This is disappointing given that Russian strength is in mathematics due to the same phenomenon that drove their launch vehicles to exceptional performance:

    A lag in micro electronics development.

    Basically, Russians had to be more intelligent with their algorithms than the West due to their inferior hardware. This puts them in a position to be superior software architects who should not be taking their lead from the West -- not even from Finland as much as I respect Linux.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @02:14PM (#26577817)
    ...command line executes you!
  • Planned Features (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Neeperando ( 1270890 ) on Friday January 23, 2009 @04:48PM (#26580475)
    Let's just hope that RusOS operates a little better than Russia itself. Otherwise:

    -The menus will contain every feature ever planned for RusOS, but none of the ones that are actually implemented.
    -During times of heavy load, the scheduler will block all processes from using the CPU, to prevent deadlock.
    -Users of RusOS will frequently and loudly proclaim how horrible it is, and will angrily chastise you if you agree with them.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken