foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


Linux in all Russian schools by 2009

, posted: 24-Sep-2007 10:11

There is an interesting article here, which states that by 2009 a derivative of Linux - with the strange name of Russian OS - is going to be installed in all schools in Russia. This article is also currently being discussed on Slashdot. The article states two main reasons for the decision of the Russian authorities to do this:
  1. More independence from foreign, commercial software.
  2. Avoiding tying young users to the products and platform of one company.
I don't want to comment on the current political leadership in Russia, and on what appears to be a desire there to stress greater independence again. Also, mandating things like this from high up is not necessarily in the spirit of openness and choice. And why reinvent the wheel, when there are ready-made Linux distributions for educational purposes already? Edubuntu, for example. Some commentators have pointed out that this might be more about regaining control over the students' desktops. But whatever other reasons Russia might have to pursue this goal, and whatever shortcomings there are in this particular approach, I cannot argue with those two points I listed above.

The article points out that copies of Windows are readily available there, pretty much for free, but that the additional reasons (2) are too important to continue to install Windows on schools' computers. I fully agree. Considering that Linux comes with a number of compilers and interpreters for various languages freely installed, as well as several high-quality and diverse development tools, you can do any kind of Computer Science education without having to pay for tools, and without having to teach the children the ways of just a single vendor. Also, working on Linux gives the students a much greater chance to explore the system and learn more about its inner workings. It's all available and open, including all the sources.

In my experience, Russia has always had good Maths and Science education in their schools. A lot of excellent Computer Scientists, developers and hackers are from there. This move will just further improve their standing and education, I have no doubt about that.

Since I recently had just blogged about my impression that New Zealand universities are too keen to support vendors, I thought that this was a very timely article. I believe that by not at least actively promoting alternatives to a single vendor ecosystem in New Zealand's educational institutes, we are doing a disservice to our children and students and will hurt our long-term competitiveness.


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Comment by David Legg, on 24-Sep-2007 21:03

The idea that Linux is a good tool for teaching computer science seems sounds to me. Certainly, if you use Windows, you either learn nothing, or you learn how to do things badly (except possibly MMIs, which are often good in Windows.)


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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