[ bigvlada @ 19.05.2015. 08:51 ] @
The code war: Russia plans to free itself from iOS and Android
Based on Finland’s Sailfish operating system, the plan is the latest way Russia is fighting for independence from US technology
The cold war may have ended in the 90s but Russia is still fighting to free itself from American influence over its technology sector, with the country’s minister for communications announcing plans to create a new mobile operating system to challenge iOS and Android across all the Brics nations.
Meanwhile, another Russian company is designing its own central processing units to take on Intel and AMD.
According to Russia’s RBC financial newspaper, the country’s ministry of communications instigated the project to replace Android and iOS, meeting with Finland’s Jolla to discuss the creation of a new mobile operating system based on Jolla’s open-source Sailfish operating system.
Minister of communications and mass media, Nikolai Nikiforo, told RBC that he wants to see the use of non-Russian mobile operating systems drop to just 50% by 2025. Android alone accounts for 81% of the country’s OS market share, according to analysts at Gartner, while iOS picks up another 15%.
Sailfish OS has just 0.5% of the market in Russia at present, below even Windows Mobile and Blackberry. But the open-source nature of the operating system, which lets any interested party use it as the basis of their own software, as well as the lack of ties to the US (unlike Android, which while also open-source is heavily controlled by Google), makes it a strong contender for a future Russian open system.
The company is formed around a core of former Nokia employees, who left after Nokia decided to abandon its fledgeling MeeGo operating system in favour of working exclusively with Microsoft on smartphones. The core components of MeeGo were open source and Jolla’s new employees built Sailfish around it.
In the long run, Nikiforov hopes to expand Sailfish into a fully international effort. Shortly after the meeting with Jolla, he tweeted that the operating system “creates a Finnish-Russian-Chinese company”, which could one day include “India, Brazil and South Africa”, involving all members of the Brics group of developing nations. To that extent, he hopes to involve IT companies from other Brics nations, he told RBC, encouraging their employees to give 20% of their time, paid for by the state, to work on pan-Brics initiatives like the new operating system.
In other areas, Russian companies have already begun to ship their homegrown alternatives to foreign technology products. MCST, a processor company set up in 1992 as a direct descendent of the Soviet-era state-run Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies, recently shipped the Elbrus–4C computer, the latest in a line of hardware dating back to the 1970s.
But unlike previous Elbrus models, the 4C includes a feature known as “x86 emulation”, allowing it to run software written for the hardware found in most Western computers which contain processors made by companies such as AMD and Intel. According to technology news site Ars Technica, the new chip “is probably a few years behind western chips, but it’s difficult to make a direct comparison”.
The Elbrus computers still work primarily using their own sui generis instruction set, but are capable of translating software written for the more common x86 hardware in real time. That means the computer can run software such as Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and the company is selling a complete computer that comes with a version of open-source operating system Linux, also called Elbrus.