View Full Version : Linux on Russian elections

March 5th, 2012, 09:58 AM
Just thought it worth sharing.

I remember the talks (a year or two ago probably) about how Linux is getting more and more popular in different countries. One of the countries frequently mentioned was Russia. There were announcements that Linux will be used in Russian schools and in the Russian government and eventually throughout the public sector.

Well, that never really happened. Some of the schools (a tiny minority) were indeed switched to Linux during the pilot programs; others just renewed their MS licenses. And I never heard of Linux in the Russian government again (if anything, I frequently see Macs in the news). But there has been an enormous presence of Linux during the Russian presidential elections yesterday.

The idea was to monitor the elections (how the ballots are put in the boxes and how they are afterwards counted) with web cameras to prevent any violations. <snip> But this is politics, and politics is not allowed here, so I won't go into that.

I'll just describe the technical part from the layman's viewpoint. Almost all polling stations were equipped with web cameras: two cameras per station. The cameras were connected to newly-bought computers (laptops mostly, I believe) and streamed their feed live on the Internet. Since there are about 90.000 polling stations, there were about 90.000 computers. The computers apparently had been bought without any OS and then had "a free operating system" installed on them.

The "free operating system" was, of course, some Linux distro. It wasn't specified which, but most likely it's the Russian ALT Linux.

So. Yesterday, during the election, anyone could visit a particular web site, choose any polling station out of the thousands that were equipped with the cameras and observe the elections live. Even for a regular guy like me, who is not really into politics, it was a sort of an exciting reality show (ever seen those web cameras streaming video from a bird nest? then you'll know what i mean), and I wasted about two hours switching between the cameras. They worked! :) And the whole show was powered by Linux. Pretty impressive, I say!

P.S.: As far as I am aware, here, in Russia, despite many talks about web cameras during these elections, the word Linux or FOSS was almost never uttered by the media. They are simply not interested.

P.P.S.: Where will the computers with Linux go after the elections? Don't know, but most likely will be donated to schools where the polling stations were.

P.P.P.S.: Despite all this, I would say that Linux is still less popular here than in the US. At least you have System 76, ZaReason, and several other companies that sell computers with Linux pre-installed; we don't.

March 5th, 2012, 01:11 PM
I think it's cool when we see more and more times where Linux is deployed and a little credit or mention is given. There is an American television show about young scientists called The Big Bang Theory and one of the characters uses Linux, specifically Ubuntu. There are quite a few examples of television shows and businesses or governments using or switching to Linux and it's a nice bit of acknowledgement sometimes.

March 5th, 2012, 01:58 PM
oh ubuntu you are my favorite linux-based operating system!

PS: Not to mention that Linux powers the majority of servers and mainframes(Well, according to wikipedia anyway).

BeRoot ReBoot
March 5th, 2012, 03:06 PM
I don't know if we should be happy about the "elections" being conducted with Linux. That's all I'll say lest this debate turn political.

March 5th, 2012, 03:25 PM
Hello azangru and all

Free software is often developed more quickly than commercial closed software. It is claimed that this is because of many eyes on the software finding and reporting bugs, and source code available to many eyes.

Looks like the webcam in the polling station idea is extending this to administration!

Good luck with it all and thanks for the ALT Linux link.

March 5th, 2012, 04:13 PM
I don't know if we should be happy about the "elections" being conducted with Linux.

Just to make it clear: the Penguin didn't have anything to do with counting the ballots, it was only the amazing video coverage that it provided. If there was any foul play (may I say at least that much without it being snipped away? :) ), it certainly had nothing to do with Linux.

Here is what the video coverage looked like (I took a snapshot yesterday):


The screenshot shows counting of the ballots: the members of the polling station committee are surrounded by observers. Two buttons (the grey and the blue one) in the bottom part of the video frame allow the viewer to switch between the cameras (one is overlooking the committee members, another the ballot box). There is even a volume slider, so that it was even possible to hear what they were saying. The words and numbers below identify the polling station and its address.

One of the observers, by the way (the guy in the green T-shirt, on the left) is a Russian sci-fi writer and popular blogger.

And you could choose any polling station you wanted! I, for one, was wowed :)

March 5th, 2012, 04:42 PM
Well, if Linux had been involved in ballot counting, would that have made it fowl play?

March 6th, 2012, 08:45 PM
so that's how they got that 140% :)