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Russia to replace proprietary software with open source

Author: Adrian Offerman

The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications has announced a plan to replace proprietary software with open source and locally produced software. The plan is one of the measures aimed at promoting sustainable economic development and social stability announced earlier this year.

The plan consists of three parts, each containing key activities and stages for their implementation. The first section states a preference for Russian products when procuring software for government needs. Public agencies will specifically look for local solutions providing business applications, antivirus software, information security software and internet servers now deployed in business environments. The current draft decree will be submitted for consideration to the Government of the Russian Federation next month.

Open source development

The second part of the plan calls for support for the joint development of software for which no Russian solution is available, i.e. client and mobile operating systems, server operating systems, database management systems, cloud and virtualisation software, and office productivity software. The Russian Linux distribution Alt Linux and the Windows-compatible operating system ReactOS have already been selected.

The Ministry, local IT companies and inter-branch organisations are working on a draft decree to set up an autonomous non-commercial agency that will be responsible for the joint development of software for which the Russian Federation is currently highly dependent on foreign countries. The agency will provide a development roadmap for the next ten years.

To accomplish their goals, the Russian Federation aims to cooperate and share development costs with the other BRICS countries. According to the Ministry, Brazil, India, China and South-Africa have already expressed their support for this "demonopolisation" initiative. The relevant ministers of the five countries will meet and discuss their plans on July 9-10 in Ufa, the capital city of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan.

Industry-specific software

The third part of the Russian plan calls for financial support for local, Russian developers creating industry-specific software for the production sector, fuel and energy industry, construction, health care, and the financial and transport sectors. These 'smart investments' will be financed by Rosinfokominvest, the state fund for telecommunications and IT projects. The corresponding decree was submitted to the Federal Government earlier this month.

Federal government agencies

In December 2010, Russia's then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed the federal government agencies to switch to open source software by 2015. His 'plan for the transition of federal executive bodies and agencies to free software' included the creation of a federal support centre and an open source software repository.