Tatarstan to switch to Russian operating system

Laptops for schools are the first fruit. The republic’s Ministry of Education and Science will buy 1,100 laptops without Windows OS

A new lot of 1,134 laptops purchased for Tatarstan teachers will have the preinstalled Russian operating system based on Astra Linux. The republic’s Ministry of Digitalisation says it is the first supply of equipment with Russian software in educational institutions. As Realnoe Vremya learnt, Tatarstan authorities will soon switch to Russian software.

Laptops with Аstra Linux will be purchased for Tatarstan schools

Tatarstan schools will be one of the first in the republic to start switching to Russian software. The Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science signed two new state contracts to supply 1,134 laptops with the preinstalled Russian operating system Astra Linux instead of Windows by American Microsoft like it was before.

It is the first purchase of school laptops with Linux in the republic. “All laptops purchased for Tatarstan schools will have the Russian software. It will be Astra Linux,” First Vice Minister of the Tatarstan Ministry of Digitalisation Ilya Nachvin told Realnoe Vremya.

Previous school laptops were mainly equipped with Windows 7 PRO. The projects Computer for school and Computer for Teacher have been implemented in Tatarstan since 2010 — it was planned to renew all computers in the republic’s educational institutions and provide teachers with laptops. Then Minister of Communications of the republic Nikolay Nikiforov was the ideologist of the “rearmament” of the school. Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov backed his initiative. 450 million rubles were allocated to impement the programmes. However, seven years ago, it was decided to upgrade the laptops purchased for 40,000 Tatarstan schools purchased in 2010-2011. The first lot of 555 laptops for 27,000 rubles each was bought for 15 million rubles — first of all teachers of new schools received the equipment.

Local IT companies got the tenders: ABAK and ICL-KPO VS. According to ABAK’s Director of the Department of Auxiliary Equipment Vyacheslav Sergeyev, in 2011, the company supplied 3,000 personal computers. “The Ministry wanted very cheap computers within a limited time. It was a Chinese platform that was assembled completely here,” he claimed. According to Sergeyev, there were two configurations in total, but in general the computers were identical for all the schools.”

ICL Techno from Kazan won two tenders for 116 million rubles this time. This is the first lot of school laptops with Russian software in the republic that will replace the existing 36,000 Windows-based laptops.

The press service of the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science confirmed the information about the transition to Russian software for Realnoe Vremya. The ministry says the laptops are purchased within the federal project Digital Educational Environment of Education national project.

“Two public contracts (to deliver laptops and multifunctional printers) were signed in 2022. The delivery term is until 30 June 2022 exclusively,” the press service of the ministry said.

The money is allocated in the federal project Digital Educational Environment of Education national project, it is designed to stimulate the transition of educational organisations to Russian software. The course for import substitution in the education system was set before the sanctions pressure and exit of Western companies from Russia. The federal authorities held talks with key suppliers of Russian software on preferential terms of public contracts for educational institutions as early as a year ago.

Winner of import substitution bid

“As for the operating system of laptops, we say that according to the public contract, the laptops are installed an operating system with the graphic user interface whose information is added to the unified registry of Russian software for computers and databases,” said the press service of the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science.

The tender documentation doesn’t say what Russian operating system should be installed in laptops. Nowadays the registry includes 12,916 Russian software products.

The Tatarstan Ministry of Digitalisation was more specific, it created the task of reference before the purchase. Requirements for import substitution were created during the preparation for the tender.

“We have been buying only Russian software since last year. Today we continue the work in this area. For instance, Windows OS. It has a Russian analogue. Three biggest Russian operating systems Linux, Аstra Linux and RED OS. They already operate officially. Or, for instance, Microsoft Office, Excel, Word — we have Russian editors MyOffice Text and R7-Office. I am calling the most popular ones,” said Ilya Nachvin.

“Today due to the geopolitical situation, software and equipment is being replaced at an accelerated speed. ICL has been supplying equipment with Russian software for a long time, and the number of products with Russian OS will only grow. In this case, a refusal from foreign products will help our economy to increase demand for Russian commodities, including software and hardware,” ICL Techno told Realnoe Vremya.

Cabinet of Minister isn’t replacing computers yet

The course for import substitution in the IT infrastructure of the republic will go on. According to the first vice minister of digitalisation of Tatarstan, the Tatarstan government plans to switch Russian software too. Official spokeswoman of the Kremlin Liliya Galimova said there wasn’t an update yet:

“I am not yet ready say anything about this question. Every ministry itself determines what equipment is needed. Something can be replaced with analogues, but something obviously cannot be, therefore I don’t dare to speak for everybody. Our equipment hasn’t yet been replaced. As a rule, new equipment is purchased before New Year,” she told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, IT market players claim the new supplies of laptops and PCs don’t have the preinstalled Windows Microsoft OS and there is no choice.

American Microsoft corporation announced the suspension of sales of goods and services in Russia after the beginning of the special operation in Ukraine. But there are a lot of open questions in this official message. Players didn’t understand what the impossibility of buying new copies of software and Windows licence meant, and the corporation itself didn’t provide instructions for owners of subscriptions that have already been paid for, for instance, in Microsoft Office and purchased copies of Windows.

“To announce an exit and exit are a bit two different things. Now everybody has picked banners but started to act afterwards because this is seen in all the businesses. If Microsoft is leaving, it is predictable, there is no surprise,” parliamentarians in the State Duma said.

Director General of Astra GC Ilya Sivtsev’s response is positive.

“We are sure this act of Microsoft will stimulate other segments such as public corporations, the industry, SBM and others to start active import substitutions. We are ready to quickly and professionally take up the creation of joint projects,” he claimed.

Experts think our stereotypes and the unwillingness to learn something new impede the wide spread of PCs and laptops with Linus. Because these systems are not worse than Windos almost all the parameters.

Luiza Ignatyeva

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