December 28, 2010, 11:30 AM — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [cq] has ordered government agencies there to open-source software by 2015, according to translated documents.
Putin's order, signed this month, follows news reports from October saying the Russian government was planning to drop Microsoft products in favor of a national open-source operating system based on Linux.
The transition to open-source, or free, software will begin in the second quarter of 2011, with the Ministry of Communications examining what base software packages are needed for government agencies, according to the documents. During the same quarter, the ministry and other agencies will develop proposals for user support centers and for mechanisms to support software developers, the documents said.
Russian agencies will also begin an inventory of their IT assets during the second quarter of 2011, the documents said. Pilot agencies will begin using a basic package open-source software in the second quarter of 2012, according to the transition schedule.
The Russian government also plans to build a national repository for open-source software.
Putin's support for open-source software could be "critical," wrote open-source-focused author Glyn Moody in the Open blog. Other attempts to move parts of the Russian government to open-source software have largely failed because of a lack of political support, he wrote.
"But if Putin says: 'make it so,' I suspect that a lot of people will jump pretty fast to make sure that it *is* so," he wrote. "And once that happens, other plans to roll out free software might well suddenly look rather more attractive."
The Business Software Alliance, a trade group representing large U.S. software vendors, estimated that 67 percent of software used in Russia in 2009 was pirated.