The Russian government have now confirmed that they are planning on developing a national software system that will be based solely on the Linux operating system. The reasoning behind this move seems to be to try and improve security, lower costs and lessen the country's dependency on Microsoft.
They will not just be making use of any Linux distribution, but instead they are planning to use the $4.9 million investment to create their own operating system based on Linux and will use it across all government departments. In October 2007, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced a scheme to replace Microsoft with Linux in universities to help them save money. Although that scheme was due to fully start this year, the government is still allowing universities to choose which operating systems to use.
Russian deputy Ilia Ponomarev confirmed the move to AFP by stating that "We will become independent of Windows.” In theory, if Russia went ahead with this move, they could easily recoup their costs quite quickly by ending their Windows licenses.
Russia would not be the first country/government to make suggestions for dropping Windows and replacing it with Linux. In June this year, the UK government highlighted the possibility of switching to Linux as part of their cost cutting exercise to reduce the country's debt, though nothing has so far come of it. The UK also signed a deal way back in 2003 to take a look at Sun's open source systems in regard to making use of them in the future. This also had no outcome.