The Russian government aims to convert all school computers to Linux by 2009. The change is an effort to cut cost from licensing fees. Apparently, since Russian became a member of the WTO it felt compelled to abide by the law and stop using illegal copies of Microsoft software.
The change is being done gradually. Initially three regions will switch to Linux, while other regions will have the options of installing it as a second operating system. During the switch there will be an increase in expenses due to training for teachers and other school personnel who will need to learn how to use Linux before they can teach students how to use it, but afterwards schools will likely save millions.
In the long-run, officials believe that students who are trained to use Linux will have no problem adapting to other systems. Linux products are often very similar to their Microsoft counterparts. A number of Russian universities have also made the switch.
Russia is not the only government taking a serious look at Linux. Brazil is also embracing Linux. President Da Silva has been encouraging the usage of Linux for a couple of years now, and all government computers are gradually making the switch. Bitway Computadores, EnebledPeople, and Imtech, three Brazilian companies are currently working to provide the federal government with Linux-powered desktops.
I think slowly but surely many more around the world will also embrace open source software.
You can read more about the Russian initiative in an article by the BBC.
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