Russian Government Mandates Shift from Microsoft to Linux by 2015

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has signed an order mandating the Russian government and related agencies to move to using Linux and open-source software by 2015.

The Russian government will transition its computer infrastructure from Microsoft Windows to the Linux open-source operating by 2015, according to an order signed by the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

According to a Dec. 27 article in the Russian-language CNews, translated with Google Translate, the shift to Linux is set to begin in the second quarter of 2012. The 17-page order, called a "transition plan of the federal authorities and federal budgetary institutions on the use of free software," outlines what government agencies have to do between 2011 and 2015 to comply.

The order affects a wide range of agencies and other bodies directly controlled by the federal government. It is up to the individual agency to determine appropriate data formats that are supported by free software by the third quarter of 2011, according to the paper.

The transition order provides a timetable for the "complete transition of the federal government and state employees" to free software, the deputy head of the Ministry of Communications Ilya Massuh told CNews.

Open-source software pilot programs are scheduled to begin in second quarter of 2012, and the general rollout to government and fiscal institutions should be completed by the third quarter of 2014, according to the order.

Open-source software has been gaining a lot of traction with governments around the world for a number of years, such as when agencies in the United Kingdom and Japan decided to include the Linux desktop on their lists of approved software. In the United States, a recent IDC report found that various federal government agencies were increasingly using open-source software stacks in the data center. The White House made waves when it announced that the White House Website was developed using open-source content management system Drupal.

The state of Massachusetts revamped its systems to require that by 2007 all documents use open-formats such as PDF or OpenDocument instead of proprietary ones, such Microsoft Office document formats. The state also increased the use of Linux as well as free and open-source software among state employees.

The Russian order also lays the groundwork for a national repository for open-source applications similar to Apple's App Store, which must be created by the second quarter of 2012. This is not a repository for Linux distribution, but for applications that can be used on free operating systems, said Massuh. The creator of the repository will be selected "by a government decree" or competitively, according to CNews.

The movement to shift to open-source software in Russia dates back to 2007 when the Ministry of Communications first started developing the concept, and there have been other plans in the education sector, said CNews. However, the Communications Minister, Leonid Reiman, resigned shortly after the initial plan was published, and it has been languishing for the lack of political support.

Putin's support of the plan is akin to President Obama saying the federal government will shift entirely to Linux.

In 2003, the Ministry of Communications and Computerization announced a partnership with IBM to open a Linux Competency Center to promote the adoption of the open-source operating system in Russia. The Center was intended to "create a Linux ecosystem" with IT solutions based on Linux and open standards, according to a statement by the ministry.