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Linux and Windows in Russian schools

There are a series of articles in the Russian IT media covering the case against a principal of a public school in a small village somewhere in the middle of Russia. He is accused of using an unlicensed (some say "pirated", but I don't, for the same reasons as RMS) copies of Microsoft Windows on school's computers, and the penalty could be as high as five years in prison.

The case is highly controversial. First, the vast majority of Windows installation are unlicensed in Russia, so why start from a poor village school and not some large corporation? Second, it's not even Microsoft who started the case--I guess they would not do that, since having Windows in school is all to their benefit, and the case reflects badly on their reputation. Third, it's not the principal of school who should be guilty, but rather the organization which supplied the PCs. Finally, this is not a private school, but a public one, financed by government. So, it all looks like farce--but who needs that farce?

The government. Russia is striving to join WTO, so the government needs to show that they are actively dealing with those issues. Thus, hotheads from The Office of Public Prosecutor are looking for scapegoats and whipping boys.

This was an intro; what I really wanted to write about is Linux in schools. While using Linux in schools could definitely solve the issues such as the one outlined above, there are a few obstacles--one of the most obvious being the lack of teachers familiar with Linux.

There are enthusiasts who are desperately trying to change the situation. I just noticed this blog entry (in Russian) from an advanced Linux user, where he offers free help to every teacher (or their boss) who'd like to start teaching Linux, and gives a few links to other such projects, such as "The winter Linux school for teachers" (in Russian) organized by ALTLinux together with a few other institutions. A few other projects do exist. Hopefully, such projects, together with the "antipiracy" campaign will lead to more Linux and open source in Russian schools.

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