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Putin Orders Russian Move To GNU/Linux 500

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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  • 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

  • Re:I knew it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishexe ( 168879 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:12PM (#34679874) Homepage

    Linux really IS communist!

    But this would indicate Linux is post-communist kleptocratic...

  • 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.

  • Re:I knew it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:19PM (#34679944) Homepage

    You've been spending way too much time in a French cave [].

    The Russians left Communism behind around 1991 and have managed to leap past the United States to Mafioso Capitalism. Though the U.S. is trying hard to catch up.

  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:28PM (#34680020) Journal

    Actually, it's probably just the opposite. After the BSD backdoor story [] and after the Wikileaks cables [], maybe Russia is concerned about using Microsoft Windows. Of course, Microsoft would *never* work with the NSA/FBI/CIA/Control/Chaos on back-doors that undermine the security of Russia... I can't imaging why they would want their own operating system...

  • by aBaldrich ( 1692238 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:31PM (#34680070)
    I think it its "free from American companies" that counts.
  • 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.

  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:43PM (#34680174)

    Why is that a problem?
    Seems like complying with the GPL.

  • 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 Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:34PM (#34680702)

    And more importantly, who cares? The Russian government isn't going to produce Linux-based appliances and sell them to us, refusing to release the source code. They're a government, not a commercial manufacturer, so any OSS software they use is going to be used internally only, not distributed anywhere. They're perfectly within their rights to make any changes they want and not release them; the GPL only says they have to provide the changes downstream, to people they distribute to. Again, as a government, they're unlikely to be distributing software to anyone but government employees.

    Of course, if they're smart, they'll contribute some changes so that they don't have to waste effort maintaining a separate codebase and merging it every time the upstream codebase changes. If not, no one here is going to notice.

  • Re:I knew it! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:37PM (#34680728)

    1991? I think you got the numbers mixed up. Try 1919.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:37PM (#34680730)

    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 Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:45PM (#34680814)

    Want to trying suing them in a Russian court for violating the GPL? Let me know how that works out for you.

    And how exactly do you think Russia is going to violate the GPL? Have you even read the GPL? You can only violate it by giving someone a binary, and refusing to also provide access to the source for that binary. This is a government, not a manufacturer. They don't distribute software to anyone; they're only an end-user. End users cannot, by definition, violate the GPL.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:55PM (#34680908)

    Check for sneaky backdoors? No, I rather think they mean to add them.

    As we've seen in the open BSD case, its not so easy to spot a backdoor, even if its open source.

  • 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.
  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Monday December 27, 2010 @09:04PM (#34681466)

    I don't think that aristotle-dude was saying that it was a problem.

    This whole thread is based on racism anyway. As soon as I read the summary I knew that people would be joking about Linux being communist while other people would be suspecting the Russians of not playing fair (either not giving back to the community or poisoning the source with backdoors). It didn't take long for these suggestions to occur.

    My position is that it would be utterly stupid for the Russian government to NOT submit their changes back to world. Any changes they make would surely make the software work better for the Russian language and requirements. Why would they want to have to make their alterations again each time a new version of applications/OS is released? Why wouldn't they want their improvements to benefit the general population of Russia?

    Just because they want to standardize on their own repositry doesn't mean that they will hide it all away, just that they want the entire government to use consistent, vetted versions of software.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @10:36PM (#34682140)

    Various US politicians HAVE called for the execution of Assange.

    And yes, he is a journalist. He receives information, and publishes it in a forum where anyone can read it. What, do you think people should have to get a special permit from the government to be considered a "journalist"? Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Anyone with a website can be a journalist if they're publishing information. The only difference between now and 50-100 years ago is that the cost of starting your own journalism publication has gone from an extremely high cost (the cost of a printing press) to about $3/month for a low-cost web host.

    Manning was never a journalist, he was an informer. Traitor, maybe, but then again so is anyone in North Korea who doesn't think Kim Jong Il is a glorious leader, so I take that term with a grain of salt. Informers are how journalists get information that makes governments uncomfortable.

  • by hotfireball ( 948064 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @10:37PM (#34682150)
    Guys, stop saying bullsh*t, for the sake of Universe... Use Google Translation and read Putin's order CAREFULLY, if you can not speak Russian! :( He orders to contribute and keep it all opened. If you missing that from the document, then problem is your personal, but stop spreading FUD, especially when entire country is serious ditching M$ away. Currently M$ is a god in Russia, does whatever they like and that's what government hates the most. Especially, if they never built their binaries of the OS from their audited code by themselves. How you can be so sure there are no backdoors planted to the Windows and how you can be so sure that the source code version that was offered for government review matches actual binaries deployed?

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner