According to CNews, a Russian counterpart to CNet, the Russian government is actively pursuing the development of a "Russian OS" to be available to every school in the country. While government-sponsored, the Russian operating system will be based on Linux and will be open source. The initiative will be accompanied by significant infrastructural changes supporting information technology in education.
According to CNews analyst Sergey Shalmanov,
the historically existing model to use software in education in Russia is sure to fail. It has already lost some of its advantages because of widely spread illegal practically free Miscrosoft software. The existing practice to install Windows software on school computers is not profitable both economically, because of discounts for client license, and strategically as it initially ties a young user to the platform and products of one company, although very popular and convenient in operation
While the "let's stop using pirated Microsoft software and make our own" approach is probably not a bad idea, one has to wonder why the government is investing significant sums of money in new development and infrastructure is already in place for creating localizations in both Edubuntu and OpenSUSE (whose EduCD project will bring a considerable amount of educational software to SUSE Linux). Russian localizations are already in the works for both (see the Edubuntu localization teams).
I don't suppose I have any readers in Russia (or Europe with close ties to Russia)? On the off chance that I do, talk back below and let us know what you think of this project. Non-Russian readers, how do you feel about government sponsorship of open source educational software?