Russian Schools To Use Free Software

Oct 30, 2008

After much advance notice and successful pilot projects it is now official: From 2009, Russia will provide its high and primary schools with Linux software. Around 1500 schools will be converted this year.

Back in 2007 a report on cnews.ru. broadcast Russia's proposals to get free software into "all" its schools. At the international IT fair, InfoKom 2008, an official announcement by the Russian Minister for Communication Igor Schegolev confirmed the move (Russian press release).

According to Schegolev, up to 1500 schools will be using the free software package PSPO by the end of 2008. Developed by the Russian distributor ALT Linux, the package consists of four Linux variations, (Lite, Junior, Master, Terminal) and a Linux version called NauLinux, which is based on the Scientific Linux 5.1 Cyrillic Edition (SL51CE). Each of the versions is available as a free download on the project website. Alt School 4.0 Lite comes with an XCFE desktop and runs on less than 265 Mbyte. The other variations use KDE. NauLinux can be found in the temp. file on the FTP server.

62.000 schools should be provided with either of the two versions in 2009, says Ilya Mashkin, Marketing Manager at ALT Linux. Mashkin hopes that most schools will choose one of the packages. From 2010, schools will be able to decide which system they use. After the two year introduction period, the state's SPO package will remain free of cost but proprietary software will have to be self-funded by the schools themselves.

ALT Linux evolved from a Russian version of Mandriva. The company has 150 developers.

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