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Red Flag Linux: Real, and Reviewed 397

Posted by timothy
from the love-the-uninstall-icon dept.
Over at NewsForge (NewsForge is part of OSDN, as is Slashdot), Roblimo has posted his impressions of the long-awaited, much-ridiculed Red Flag Linux (English version). It may not be a big seller outside of the Chinese-speaking world (despite the available English-language install), but it's not a hoax, and it's available as an ISO for download. Update from Roblimo: I did not write the NewsForge Red Flag review. Matt Michie deserves all credit for this excellent work.
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Red Flag Linux: Real, and Reviewed

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  • sob (Score:4, Funny)

    by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @11:49PM (#3049269) Homepage
    For reasons I couldn't determine, Red Flag was installing slower than Tux on a Sunday evening after gorging himself with fish.

    We need better jokes.
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:31AM (#3049435) Homepage Journal
      Wal-Mart offering PC without Windows installed. Story on Cnet/News.Com [com.com] They're testing the waters, because people said they wanted a choice. So go get one and install Red Flag, or whichever other flavor (or even BeOS) on one. I might be interested dependng on how good or bad people say these Microtel PCs are, for a cheap firewall or something.

      Disclaimer: I do not work at, nor own, Wal-Mart stock. I just find this fascinating.

  • by nurightshu (517038) <rightshu@cox.net> on Thursday February 21, 2002 @11:51PM (#3049272) Homepage Journal

    Unlike a Red Hat install, I was never prompted to create a user or set a root password. I had visions of having to crack my own installation to even login. I tentatively typed in root, and wondered if I could guess what a Chinese developer would set as a default password, when I was presented with a root prompt!

    That's right, they don't set a root password, and seem to expect users will be running as root right from the start. That's surely not the best way to introduce a newbie into best practices.

    ObDisclaimer: This is certainly not intended as flamebait, although it will probably be modded so.

    Given the mindset of a totalitarian government -- that is to say, all ideas and possessions are ultimately the property of the oligarchy (or in China's case the gerontocracy) -- doesn't it seem logical that a default install for an OS endorsed by the government to be open to the world by default?

    Seriously, if you want to be able to access any system in your nation, and you know the average user doesn't know thing one about security, this sort of tactic would be on page 1 of Information Control for Dummies.

    Or this could just be me being paranoid again.

    • just what every government would want, perfect security from their viewpoint.

      right

      • What's the old saying? "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide?"

        It's a familiar modus operandi (or is it operandus in this case?) for Communist governments. And frankly, I feel vaguely uneasy that the average person is going to associate free software with a nation that jails and tortures people for wanting to go to church, or for saying, "Mao bites his farts!" (With apologies to P.J. O'Rourke.)

        Am I the only one who thinks he hears a soft chuckle in Redmond? This isn't exactly the P.R. coup of the century, here.

        • Nope. Modus operandi is the correct singular form. (Modi operandorum would be the plural version) - it translates to mode of operation. The -i is the genetive/possessive/"of" form. Latin's not just taking pseudo-English words and tacking "-us" onto them.
        • The US government currently holds hundreds of people in jail on no charges at all. Basically, it's because they are Muslim men of a certain age from a certain neighborhood. I guess I fail to see the moral difference between this and China's dissidents.

          Sometimes I think that if the US had dissent movement which was as strong, developed and dangerous as the one in China, we would respond even more repressively than China does. Fortunately for our government, and unfortunately for our people, the US media has convinced its consumers that it's independent of the government, despite being nothing more than its mouthpiece. The Chinese media has not succeeded in the same regard, and most Chinese citizens know better than to trust it completely. They instead seek a balanced view by comparing local media with stuff from overseas (which the government can't prevent them from seeing, though it occationally tries). Americans, on the other hand, are easy. We don't even bother looking at non-US viewpoints in the foreign media, even though we can. For us, something is balanced when we have seen both the opinion of the reactionary Republicans (FOX news) and centrist Democrats (Washington Post). Still, the real range of reasonable political views is much broader than this. Both of these sources, as well as the rest in the US, are just bitches of the two barely-articulated wings of the same government. In this way, China is far more advanced and effectively less totalitarian than the US. Their citizens are exposed to far more political ideas than US citizens have ever seen.

        • It's a familiar modus operandi (or is it operandus in this case?) for Communist governments.

          ...and Freedom Loving Governments(TM) also. [yellowtimes.org]

          Give me a break.

        • or for saying, "Mao bites his farts!" (With apologies to P.J. O'Rourke.)

          Uh, once Mao died that was prettymuch the government line, His wife was even thrown in jail for her part of the Cultural Revolution.
    • That's right, they don't set a root password, and seem to expect users will be running as root right from the start.

      That sounds like Slackware 3.6 and earlier. Which I liked very very much, actually.

    • by martyb (196687)

      That's right, they don't set a root password, and seem to expect users will be running as root right from the start. That's surely not the best way to introduce a newbie into best practices.

      Two words: CODE RED!

    • Imagine a Chinese who doesn't really understand English with a prompt to enter and reenter his root password. To be fair, he should have installed it in Chinese and tried to guess what it was asking.
      The English install is recent and probably hasn't had the bugs worked out yet.
    • Having the user run as root all the time, without a password, is more user-friendly than the alternative. Running as non-root makes it difficult to make configuration changes, because the GUI tools generally just fail instead of prompting you for the root password when needed. If you use Linux as a desktop OS, then running as root with no password is just like running Windows 98, which is what I presume most Chinese computer users are familiar with.
    • Totalitarian OSes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kaiwen (123401) on Friday February 22, 2002 @03:31AM (#3050023) Journal
      Given the mindset of a totalitarian government ...

      While the Chinese government could readily be labeled authoritarian, it hardly qualifies as totalitarian.

      To begin with, like the United States, the Chinese government is a constitutional government -- something which is antithetical to a truly totalitarian regime. Like its American counterpart, the Chinese constitution proscribes and limits the powers and reach of the government. Conversely, a totalitarian government has no limits (hence the name 'totalitarian'). Americans may take issue with some of the particulars of socialist rule in China, but in fact the Chinese system has more in common with American- (or British-) style government than it does with truly totalitarian regimes, from a parliamentarian law-making body, to an independent justice system, to democratic elections (yes, the Chinese DO freely elect their local officials).

      The Chinese enjoy nearly every individual right the American does: freedom of speech, of worship, of belief, of assembly, to own property, privacy, to engage in business. Yes, China limits most of these rights, but neither are they unlimited in Western countries (as every American knows, for example, freedom of speech does not include the right to cry 'Fire!' in a crowded movie house, nor does freedom of the press include the right to slander). The difference is not that Americans possess individual rights and the Chinese don't, but merely that Americans object to some of the ways in which China limits and circumscribes those rights. (The converse is also true. For example, most of the world objects to the fact that America still puts people to death, something considered outside of America to be a violation of the most basic human liberty, the right to life.)

      Neither does the Chinese government seek to control all ideology, or every aspect of its citizens' lives, as a truly totalitarian state is wont to do. It is only those who make themselves an enemy of the state (admittedly, as measured by the state itself) who are the subject of "oppressive" measures. In fact, the vast majority of China's 1.3 billion people are left in peace to lead lives which are, on balance, quite free of government control or meddling. I have freely discussed democracy over tea in the tea houses of Shandong Province. I can attend church regularly. My in-laws have a thriving franchise business in Jiangsu Province which is, on the whole, subject to less governmental interference than it would be in, say, San Francisco. To list but three examples.

      I am not a Chinese citizen. As a resident of Taiwan I have no love for Beijing, nor any desire to live under the Chinese government's rule. But given the choice between living in China and, say, Iraq, a Talibanesque state, or even fascist Italy, I'd choose China in a heartbeat.

      Now, to keep this post on-topic, many people in this forum are confused about Red Flag Linux. Red Flag is NOT the Chinese government. The company which produces Red Flag Linux is a private entity, neither owned nor controlled by the government. The only associations Red Flag Linux has with the government in China is that A) it is partially funded by a venture capital firm which itself is partially funded by the government, and B) has been selected as the "official" operating system of the government -- a rather hollow honour at best, considering that the vast majority of the government still conducts its business on Windows-based machines.

      • > But given the choice between living in China and, say, Iraq, a Talibanesque state, or even fascist Italy, I'd choose China in a heartbeat.

        Interesting that you're mentioning Iraq, maybe have a look at it's foundation [uni-wuerzburg.de] .
        Even in non-totalitarian (not suggesting that the PRC is one) there is a discrepancy between the foundation and reality. In totalitarian state the difference may be just larger. Maybe you can find somewhere a copy of the foundation of Nazi-Germany. I'm quite sure, it didn't allow mass-murder.
        (Don't consider this as a comparison between the PRC and Nazi-Germany. I just wanted to take an extreme totalitarian state as an example)

        Of course, I can hardly argue against your first hand experience, but what about Falung Gong?
        Or the China Democratic Party founder Lu Xinhua, who was convicted of subversion [bbc.co.uk] for an article posted on the internet?
        Or several other dissidents [hrw.org]?
        Lastly, I'd like to remember at the incident at the Tiananmen. It maybe more than ten years ago, but the leaders are the same. Furthermore they stated (in 2001) that its decision back than was correct because it was a "counter-revolutionary turmoil" aimed at overthrowing the administration.
        Somehow, I don't find these facts beeing in accordance with PRC's Foundation [uni-wuerzburg.de].
        Probably, this doesn't affect normal life not so much, but the word "subversion" alone makes me shudder.

        But now back to the topic:
        >The only associations Red Flag Linux has with the government in China is that [...]

        C) Red Flag is under the control of the China Academy of Sciences, headed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of the president Jiang Zemin
        I don't consider that as an argument against Red Flag Linux, but others may take a different view.

        • what about Falung Gong?

          It was not my intention to claim there were no problems in the PRC. The Falung Gong certainly is one such case. This gist of my comments were that cases such as Falung Gong, Lu Xinhua or Tiananmen -- real and deplorable as they are -- are exceptional in the experience of the average Chinese. They certainly demonstrate that Beijing has tendencies that need to be overcome (though some might say the same thing about the current American president) and that the PRC has some ways to go in its human rights record. But the situation is hardly as draconian as some in the West are wont to believe, and it has improved dramatically, even since the Tiananmen incident.

          It maybe more than ten years ago, but the leaders are the same.

          For the time being, it is. But the current leadership will be stepping down in the next year to hand power over to a younger generation. What happens after that transition is still anybody's guess, but there are some signs that those who will be taking the reigns are more open and less authoritarian than the current leadership. If that is indeed the case, then the chances of another Tiananmen happening will be greatly reduced.

          Red Flag is under the control of the China Academy of Sciences, headed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of the president Jiang Zemin

          I am aware of this, actually, though "under the control of" may be a bit strong. It is, in fact (or at least my understanding is) a joint production between the CAS and a private company. And, currently, Jiang can hardly be considered a major governmental official, though I also have heard rumors that that may change after the coming power shift.

        • Of course, I can hardly argue against your first hand experience, but what about Falung Gong?
          Of course, I can hardly argue against your first hand experience, but what about Branch Davidian's of Waco [gospelcom.net] or Ruby Ridge [polyconomics.com]

          Or the China Democratic Party founder Lu Xinhua, who was convicted of subversion [bbc.co.uk] for an article posted on the internet?

          Or the U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer & McCarthy jailing Commies(TM) [utexas.edu]Even better is Bush / Aschcroft Terrorist campaign this is amusing [morons.org]. How about this jailed dissident? [yellowtimes.org]

          Lastly, I'd like to remember at the incident at the Tiananmen. It maybe more than ten years ago, but the leaders are the same.Lastly, I'd like to remember at the incident at Tulsa. It maybe more than 80 years ago, but the leaders are the same. [iit.edu]

          Furthermore they stated (in 2001) that its decision back than was correct because it was a "counter-revolutionary turmoil" aimed at overthrowing the administration.

          How about the CoIntelPro [derechos.net] program during the 60's? And the rest of the past [muskingum.edu] and present [fair.org] domestic and foreign PsyOps and BlackOps programs -- active campaigns to squelch "counter-revolutionary" ideas.

          Red Flag is under the control of the China Academy of Sciences, headed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of the president Jiang Zemin

          Does nepotism bother you? How about a Senator screwing [monitor.net] with the voting in his state to help elect his OWN BROTHER... did I mention that they were both Sons of a former President? Its almost like a father appoints his own children to office...

      • by gargle (97883)
        Chinese constitution proscribes and limits the powers and reach of the government. Conversely, a totalitarian government has no limits (hence the name 'totalitarian').

        The judicial system in China is dysfunctional. Without a functioning legal system, the government is effectively totalitarian, however many laws it has written on the books. See Prosecuting the Defence [feer.com]

        The Chinese enjoy nearly every individual right the American does: freedom of speech, of worship, of belief, of assembly

        Really? [feer.com]

        I have great hope in the progress and future of China. The Chinese government has chosen economic development over political development, which I believe is a sound strategy. But China's problems shouldn't be whitewashed.
        • by Kaiwen (123401)
          The judicial system in China is dysfunctional.

          The Chinese enjoy nearly every individual right the American does...

          Really? [feer.com]

          Thanks for the reply.

          Here's what I didn't say: I didn't say China was perfect, nor that it's system is perfectly executed, or that it doesn't impinge on its own citizens' rights from time to time (sometimes egregiously, such as the Tianenmen Square incident). If that's your point, I agree completely.

          I was merely arguing that nearly every right Americans enjoy in their constitution is also provided for by the Chinese constitution; that the Chinese constitution, like its American counterpart, circumscribes and limits the power of the government; and that, despite the occasional incursion of the government on its citizens' rights, the vast majority of the time the vast majority of Chinese citizens are no more hampered in their experience of their constitutional or human rights than are Americans.

          That being said, there is no single definition of what constitutes a "totalitarian" state. The totalitarian phenomenon has only been around for about a century -- the terminology for less than that -- and political philosophers are still hashing out exactly what totalitarianism is. So in a measure, whether China constitutes a totalitarian regime perhaps depends on your point of view.

          China's problems shouldn't be whitewashed.

          Agreed. But neither should they be exaggerated. China certainly has its problems. I was merely attempting to provide a context. And my experience has been that on any average day in China, any average citizen is free to believe what he wants, to say what he thinks, and to practice nearly any of the rights enjoyed by Westerners, without fear of government jackboots knocking down their doors. That, from my vantage, is what separate the Chinese state from totalitarian rule.

      • Its difficult for most North Americans (unfortunately I include my Canadian Countrymen) to see through simple Jingoist myopia and McCarthyism [webcorp.com] when talking about Socialism and Communism (and any Socialist/Communist States).

        Most dont see any difference between Fascism (Totalitarianism) and Socialism. McCarthyism did a fine job in making the two synonymous -- when in fact Communism (Socialism) is more compatible with a Democratic (and rep.democratic (like Canada)) state, and Capitalism is more in line with Totalitarianism.

        For everyone that cannot compile the concept of personal/individual Liberty and Freedom in a Socialist or Communist State please see Political Compass.org [politicalcompass.org] which illustrates the concept, they are in fact totally and completely separate.

        Capitalism leads to Plutocracy...dont agree? Plutocracy is the Totalitarian rule by the Moneyed Class. Have you heard about the concentration of wealth in America? How about Enron literally choosing the heads of Federal Commissions. [guardian.co.uk]

      • by autopr0n (534291)
        Iraq is not a talibanistic state, it actually has a secular government, well, a lot china during the Mao days, pretty evil, but not based on religion. Sadam isn't a fundamentalist Muslim.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2002 @11:58PM (#3049293)
    Since Red Flag Linux is becoming the official software standard for China,
    it is safe to say:
    ``1000 million Chinese can't be wrong ...''
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:12AM (#3049357)
    Upload this OS onto every warez site and file sharing network on the Internet. Put it on disks and sell it for $1 at flea markets. Let's see how they like their stuff copied!

    (oh wait...)

  • ISO (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ashcrow (469400) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:13AM (#3049368) Homepage
    It looks like the rf24.iso is unreachable via the link provided. I belive that http://ftp.cqu.edu.cn/linux/iso/rf24.iso is the same release.

  • I'm trying to think of why the kernel would be so old, that is 2.4.2. I mean, that's a year old! Plus, an ancient version of _Helix_Code_ GNOME (aka Ximian) is also installed. And while it's a little hard to tell, the KDE screenshot seems in my eyes to be running 2.0, although that's just a guess that would have to be double-checked.


    This tells me one of two things: one, the Red Flag people just took a base Red Hat distro (7.0? I run Debian, so I don't know when Red Hat first introduced kernel 2.4.2), s/Hat/Flag, and put it on the web. Two, they started with a Red Hat distro long ago, but took a long time to make whatever modifications they needed to and did not bother to update the kernel and programs. Both scenarios say volumes about the people who work on Red Flag. I mean, there are distros assembled by a handful of people that are more up-to-date than this! What are they doing, reading /. all day?


    I would be really interested if someone would do a security audit on this. Does Red Flag call home to Big Brother?


    :Peter

    • Heh, debian potato still comes with a 2.2 kernel. How's that for old? ;)

      Personally, though, I doubt the programmers spent much time (if any at all) on the English version. I would imagine that this distro would be a boon to the, oh, billion or so people in the world who speak Chinese. Translating all the manpages, etc, that's probably what took the time. I'd be more interested in a review of the Chinese version by a native Chinese speaker than a review of the English version of a Chinese OS.
    • Presumably they were dealing with language/GUI issues. Anyone who has dealt with Mandarin (simplified or complex) knows that interface issues can be hellish.

      Given that, it isn't surprising tho adapt an existing (reliable) distribution rather than build a completely new one. Given that the market for linux in China is NOT english-speaking computer nerds, another reason to build on top of an older version is to avoid the dependency issues that come with the most "cutting-edge" material.

    • Red Flag 1.something was essentially same as Red Hat 6.1 with some but not all the references to Red Hat changed to Red Flag. There was something that attempted to be a Simplified Chinese desktop.
      Red Flag 2.0 had 2.2.16 kernel and a decent Simplified Chinese desktop with enough departure from the stock Red Hat install that I wasn't sure what was going on (I don't read Chinese).
      The Simplified Chinese KDE desktop/language support in Red Hat 7.2 likely came from Red Flag.
      I'm sure somebody will do a security audit, but I wouldn't expect anything stranger than would be in Red Hat, Mandrake, or SuSE. I would expect them to be pushing the edge to smoothly handle double-byte characters on the desktop.
  • From the Red Flag Linux home page:
    ControLinux finds application in lottery machine's operating system. [redflag-linux.com]

    From Roblimo's review of Red Flag:
    Unlike a Red Hat install, I was never prompted to create a user or set a root password. I had visions of having to crack my own installation to even log in. I tentatively typed in root, and wondered if I could guess what a Chinese developer would set as a default password, when I was presented with a root prompt!
    That's right, they don't set a root password, and seem to expect users will be running as root right from the start.


    Hopefully they have better security measures in place on their "other" distributions!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:20AM (#3049393)
    Red Flag Linux is made by Chinese Communists. Open Source software is not communist. The intriguing thing about Red Flag Linux is that it has been packaged specifically to suit the IT needs of the People's Republic of China. I know a little Kanji (which is called Hanzi in Chinese, but I don't know that) because I watch anime, but I'm going to install the English language version, because it seems like the least appropriate but most expedient way to review a Chinese distribution of Linux.

    The installer is slow. Incidentally, I'm running it in a VMware window. I wish I knew why the installer is so slow! Now the installer has crashed! I bet I could bring my system back up without rebooting if I knew how.

    This looks like Red Hat! I'll poke around in the menus. This looks like Red Hat! I'll use it for another five minutes, and then finalize my opinion. This looks like Red Hat!
  • I don't know how good the software is, and I don't read much of Chinese, but the front page definitely is quite an artistic design! With all those horses and stuff, it is *so different* from western style!
  • by conner_bw (120497) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:23AM (#3049402) Homepage Journal
    Millions upon millions of communist thugs, all trained with basic kung fu (the equivalent of north americans forced to participate in mandatory gym class) will finally be able to enforce the GPL!!!

    With the peasant militia's pitchforks and tractors backed by the ruthless red army, we can get to work decompiling suspect enemy code and send our reports to the great china.

    Their leaders will take appropriate action against all GPL dissidents, helping to finally spread the long awaiting Global Stalmanism!

    We will bury you!

    • Haha @ "Global Stallmanism," and is Global Gatesism any better?

      Actually that quote from Khrushchev, "Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will bury you." Is considered inaccurate and is the fault of our translators. The real quote (considered by some) is, "Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will leave you in the dust!" Stating that the Soviet Union was advancing farther than us in technology. Which could be true because of the Soviet's more advanced rocket technology and the fact that they were the first in space.

      And IMHO China isn't Communist, it's State Capitalist (much like America was under FDR)
      • Actually that quote from Khrushchev, "Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will bury you." Is considered inaccurate and is the fault of our translators. The real quote (considered by some) is, "Whether you like it our not, history is on our side. We will leave you in the dust!"

        "Ya vam pokazhyu kuzkinu mat!" is a fairly common Russian idiom. It literally means, "I'll show you Kuzma's mother!" Like many idioms, its literal meaning is, well, kinda meaningless. But it's used pretty much the same way as the English phrase, "I'll dance on your grave," meaning I'll outlive or outlast you.

        Khrushchev's "My vam pokazhim kuzkinu mat!" can't be literally translated, but it can be idiomatically translated as "We will bury you." The translation was not faulty.

        The interpretation, however, has been pretty loose. Many have interpreted "We will bury you" as a threat of harm. In fact, it means, "We'll be around longer than you, and we'll attend your funeral."

        The oft-quoted "we will leave you in the dust" simply has no basis in fact.

        In other words, ya vam pokazhyu kuzkinu mat.
  • by dsb3 (129585) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:39AM (#3049454) Homepage Journal
    The internet ready microwave oven [redflag-linux.com] is well on it's way to going in my shopping cart.

    I also like the way the "NEW" icon on their homepage is a hyperlink to ... the NEW icon.
  • I have come up a few other players in this arena, competition is good. of course ;-)

    • Thizlinux [thizlinux.com]
    • Chinese 2000 [sniic.com], based on Chinese Language Extension, packaged with Hancom Office Suite
    • Chinee Language Extension [linux.org.tw] they patches Red Hat and Slackware! for a Chinese desktop, may be regarded as the "mother" of Chinese localization
    • Turbo linux [turbolinux.com], don't know what they're doing in Chinese Linux desktop recently

    btw, the one reviewed in the newsforge.com is 2.4 desktop. version 3.0 is coming (sorry, no more English and Traditional Chinese installation screens, only Simplified Chinese is available) and I've tried the beta CD, quite OK for normal use but some installation gliches.

    Also... a Chinese-enabled desktop is possible (just click "Chinese" during install..) by the normal Debian/Mandrake/RedHat CDs.

  • Red Flag Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Conspire (102879) on Friday February 22, 2002 @12:51AM (#3049494) Homepage
    When setting up our office in China last year, we decided to give Red Flag a try, as oppossed to using Mandrake (our new Sysadmin thought it might be easier for staff to learn). The idea appealed to us, because Mandrake requires a lot of tweaking to get Chinese input and display to work correctly. As all new employees had never used anything but Windows, we decided to install four distros on four different boxen and see which one they took to better:

    1. Turbo Linux (has good Chinese support out of the box)
    2. RedHat linux tweaked to support Chinese input, etc.
    3. Mandrake linux tweaked to support Chinese input, etc.
    4. RedFlag linux

    To cut matters short, all workstations are now running Mandrake 8.1. For applications we are using the latest Chinese build of OpenOffice. Staff seemed to like Mandrake best, and it seemed to be most stable on the desktop. We share printers, disks, scanners, cameras accross the network, and once configured we have a very stable and FREE OS on every single desktop.

    RedFlag was just a little too buggy (all gnome and kde config bugs, we did not play with it too long, as Mandrake was stable from install). We have not tried the latest version of Redflag, BUT, I have told our in house IT guys to keep looking at it.

    One of our IT guys has been to the RedFlag main development center. It is government funded, but penetration in the Chinese market is low, because one can pick up a pirated copy of Win98 just about on any other street corner for just over 1$. The government is hoping that RedFlag will be a suitable option once they really crack down on piracy, and MS starts to bleed the country for OS and productivity software license fees.

    The key for linux on the desktop in China is the same as the rest of the world--productivity applications. C'mon Open Office, we are all cheering for you!

    • When setting up our office in China last year, we decided to give Red Flag a try

      Well at least someone tried the Chinese version. Tell me -- how "Chinese" was it? Were all the man pages translated? what kinds of character support? icons?

      Not a troll, I just thought the review was a bit light on details -- they should have gotten an actual Chinese speaker to evaluate the distro.

      • Re:Red Flag Linux (Score:2, Informative)

        by Conspire (102879)
        Man pages are in English only, in fact, this is the biggest gripe of our local sys admins about Linux, is that they have to read all man documentation in English, not Chinese. I just tell them that they need to improve thier English :)

        The Chinese is mostly at the GUI level, however there are some terminal based Chinese applications and full support for Chinese locale in the terminal. I believe that there are Chinese man pages available, but translation quality, who knows?

        I love man pages, but to tell you the truth, all of our "users" at the workstations would never go near them. Documentation in Linux from a beginner's point of view is still not good enough. But, with a little training most people get "used" to the whatever window manager and desktop they are given, and will get quite comfortable with it over time.

  • Major Linux Innovations in Communist Asia

    PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA -- Following closely on the heels of the recent successes in the Chinese information industry, known to have invoked advanced commands such as:

    cd /
    find . | sed -e s/Hat/Flag/g


    the North Korean Ministry of Information and Technology has announced its own groundbreaking Linux distribution bearing the state's official endorsement - Plebian GNU/Linux.

    Also believed to be in the pipeline are other state sponsored distributions, including Yellow Snake, Handbrake, RuSE, and Blackware Linux.
    • I was thinking something like "ChuChe Linux" or "Pi Pim Tux" or "Dear Linux" (instead of the Dear Leader... Kim Jong Il reference... it's a homonym...)
  • Ok, as far as I can tell, this wasn't written by Roblimo, but by Matt Michie.

    Also, I noticed this sentence to be a bit odd - "...although one thing I immediately noted was that they included Xine, which plays DVDs, DivX, AVI, and other media..." I find it odd that the author didn't note that, probably more importantly, Xine is a great VCD player. My understanding is that the Chinese pirate market is based very heavily on VCD's - I suspect having an Xine icon on the desktop is indicative of the extent of the VCD influence.

    I would definitely like to hear what everyone's opinion on the NMAP results are, as I'm not knowledgable enough to know which are vulnerable and which aren't. More curiously, though, I wonder if the NMAP results were localized to the 192 network via some firewalling script, or if an external IP would have gotten the same results.

    I also want to note that nmap'ing was probably superfluous, in the circumstances - all that was really needed to crash the system is logging in as a passwordless root on telnet, which is an extraordinarily wide open hole.

    Then again, I imagine the english-only version would be expected to be run mostly outside of the People's Republic. Perhaps the localized version would indeed come with a root password. Hmm... Insidious plot? ;-)

    I think that this story should definitely be followed up by an analysis of the localized version. Too bad I'm a mono-lingual individual. (Shh, don't tell my University or they won't let me graduate! :)

    • First, the nmap results don't mean a damn thing. It shows that the system probably has more running than a secure install should, which is common even to my beloved Debian. The inability to characterize the OS TCP/IP stack just means that the reviewer is a moron. I've got three machines, one with a 2.2.17 kernel, two with different 2.4 (.13 and .4) kernels. The one running 2.4.4 was identified, the other two weren't. He's trying to suggest some insane conspiracy theory of a TCP/IP stack with back doors hacked into it based on complete non-evidence.

      Second, telnet doesn't allow you to log in directly as root. You have to log in as a non-root user first and then su (without password... sheeshe). Not that no-password root isn't insanely stupid, but presuming that it doesn't even create a normal user account, this is actually -more- secure, at least in terms of telnet exploitablity. Weird, huh?

      Third, having your "killer app" right on the desktop makes a lot of sense, no? It's like the Office2000 icon right in the quick-launch bar of win2k (ugh, have to use that pure shite at work for about 20 min of my day -- such is the pain of porting software to linux! Thank God and Red Hat for Cygwin).

      Fourth, you're absolutely right that there should have been a review of the localized version. The whole review was a farce, made worse by the reviewer being an idiot.

  • by ajs (35943)
    I've had one of these bad-boys in my grubby mits for over a year. A friend brought it back from Hong Kong.

    The funniest thing is Tux on the cover carrying the red flag. eerie....
  • I would have tested the Chinese version, because I would assume I could fine my way through a standard RedHat install without the real text. It would be interesting to see just how much of it still remain English.
  • Just emailed ESR... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sanity (1431) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:17AM (#3049747) Homepage Journal
    What follows is the relevant extract from my email...

    [...snip...]
    I was somewhat surprised to see in a recent NewsForge article (http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=02/02/21/ 2211255) that you expressed distaste for "Red Flag Linux", the version of linux sponsored by the Chinese government. They quote you as saying:

    "any 'identification' between the values of the open-source community and the repressive practices of Communism is nothing but a vicious and cynical fraud. [We] would not care to be associated with the totalitarian and murderous government of Communist China -- unrepentant perpetrators of numerous atrocities against its own people."
    While I can somewhat understand your view, it seems dangerous to drag left/right-wing politics into Open Source, surely the more people who adopt the Open Source philosophy the better, irrespective of how much you might disagree with their politics. For example, if the Chinese government were to express a desire to adopt the ideals of the Libertarian Party, would you make an argument like:
    "any 'identification' between the values of the Libertarian Party and the repressive practices of Communism is nothing but a vicious and cynical fraud. [We] would not care to be associated with the totalitarian and murderous government of Communist China -- unrepentant perpetrators of numerous atrocities against its own people."
    Clearly, such an attitude would be deeply flawed. Regardless of how much you dislike a group, surely their adoption of something with which you think is a good thing should be encouraged?

    If you disagree, I would be interested in your response...

    • by Pengo (28814)

      Hmm... sometimes I have a hard time taking the things that guy says as serious. He sits in my book as nothing higher than a politition running for office in the Stalmanism government. I feel at times his words are half empty.

  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Friday February 22, 2002 @02:27AM (#3049796) Homepage

    Anarchists and Communists, confused again. It has played over and over again.

    Whenever there is a revolution, there are usually two principle revolutionary sides, Anarchists and Communists.

    Both have similarities, and both have sharp differences. Generally, they both have socialist ends. But they differ on the nature of government: The Communists want strong central control. The Anarchists want deeply diffused democratic control.

    The Free Software / Open Source movement is a case example of working Anarchy. Free Software developers are generally anti-authoritarian, and believe that the people doing the work call the shots. It's generally socialist, in the sense of sharing (but not in the Marx dictatorship sense). Work is done by a series of agreements and shared interest. Many are motivated to get particular things done, or out of a sense of solidarity. There is no ruler that can tell you what to do. Decisions are generally based on a consensus, but there are a few Linus Torvalds, and consessions made for expediency. The work has no chain of command, rather, it works by confederation. For example, there is the overall Open Source/Free Software movement. (We can draw humerous/interesting comparisons with the CNT/FAIR, respectively; One is more practically based, the other more ideologically based.) Above the OS/FS organization (in a certain sense), there is the KDE project. Above that platform lives the KOffice project. Above that lives the KWord, KSpread, and Kivio projects. I imagine that within those projects, there are other projects. And there are documentation projects, and usability projects, and they interact between projects, and they all work together. This is an Anarchist society, with minimal rulers and ruled. It is almost unthinkable that a member of the KDE organizing team would command a member of the KSpread team to do some particular thing, and that thing be done because of "orders from above". This is not to say that people don't argue and strategise and haggle; They do. But overall, the whole thing works. The operating system is a little "poor", and has a sort of "poor man's operating system" feel to it, but this is more than made up in the fun of it.

    A communist vision of OS/FS would be state control. Flip the pyramid. OpenSource/FreeSoftware as command structure.

    When you hear people saying, "I don't understand, why doesn't the OpenSource community devote most of it's effort to XYZ", where XYZ is something like better graphics, or device support, or something that they see as critical (and could quite likely use a lot more work), they are assuming that the OpenSource/FreeSoftware world works according to a command structure, and that we are working on it because we feel like suplicating ourselves to some "great cause." The reality is that we are not supplicating ourselves to some "great cause". Rather, we are doing it because we want to. This is Libertarian (the 1890's version of the word, which was anarcho-socialist, rather than the modern, anarco-capitalist meaning of the word) beliefs incarnate and applied: By acting on our natural impulses, we can do good. Note that RMS and the GNU foundation has focused on the same. [gnu.org] When people assume that we are command structured (authoritarian), but also working for the good of our fellows (socialist), they assume that we are Communist (state socialism). Rather, we are socialist libertarians. Or at least, speaking for what I see of the OS/FS movement, it is based and functions within socialist libertarian parameters. (Much has been written about the anarcho-capitalist ideas that many geeks like.)

    This is not the first time that Anarchists have been confused with Communists. If you read the history of the Spanish Civil War, it's usually described as "The Facists vs. The Communists". But there was a third side, and a very powerful side at that. Several towns belonged to the Anarchists, and the Anarchists helped fight (but ultimately, defeated by the German & I believe Italy as well Fascists, commanded by Franco). The Anarchist revolution was very real, and quite extraordinary. But because the Anarchists were socialists, the war is usually just "simplified" into "The Facists vs. The Communists".

    Now you know, and... {:)}=

    • The difference between the two is compultion. That's the same as between any other "system" and Anarchy.

      Everyone already cooperates and compromises every day. You deal with the people you wish to deal with, in the ways you wish to deal with them, or you ignor them and go on your way.

      That is the essence of Anarchy!

      Communist, Socialist, Democrat, Republican, all depend on FORCE to achieve their ends. Each and ever one of them differs only in the ways they rationalize the use of force to achieve the ends which the people in power want. They are mearly different ends which all use the same means.

      To those who equate "Anarchy" and "Chaos", I would suggest a few of the articles and texts on the Ludwig von Mises institute web site [mises.org] until you can understand how they're fundimentally different. Human Action may be a little difficult, but do give it a try.

      Bob-

    • Wow, finally someone manages to explain on /. how Left != Authoritarian and doesn't get modded down.

      For those of you who are interested in the Spanish Civil War (or even if you're not) tehn read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. As well as an interesting first-person view of war, you get to see the differences between living in an anarchist and Communist society, and how the anarchists and socialists were eventually betrayed by the Communists.
    • "Anarcho-capitalism" is nonsensical. I've found that most people who find themselves drawn to that idea are thinking of a "libertarian free market" -- as opposed to, say, the strictly controlled "state communist" system where production/consumption is centrally planned -- but not exactly "capitalism."

      A truly capitalist system requires a concept, for instance, of "private property" and wage labour. A system which permits either eventually leads to inegalitarian and often brutal conditions. "Free markets" based around such a system quickly deteriorate. And in any event, anarchism rejects both of these heirarchies, explicitly.



      While anarchists are wont to disagree on much, there are the fundamentals... "people ought to control their labour," is one. This rules out capitalism on its face, because owners and managers necessarily control labour in a capitalist system. (I can't tell you how many times I've seen Slashdotters complain about management--yet very rarely do we have someone who'll stand up to say: "You know, management is really unnecessary. We can get these software projects done, without them, and with a greater sense of accomplishment and pride in our work.")

      (As an aside--this,m maybe tragically, was the point dear ol' Adam Smith was attempting to drill into our heads way back when he wrote The Wealth of Nations. Despite what's normally touted about his work, what Smith said was largely anti-capitalist.)

      In the end, anarchism comes down to a critique of power structures. It's the idea that people and institutions with power must always justify their use of it. If the use of power is unjustified -- if we could do as well, or better, without it... well, that power needs to be dismantled. It's democracy taken through to its logical end.

      bacchusrx.

  • This image [redflag-linux.com] from the Red Flag Linux English home page [redflag-linux.com] (just to the left of the word News) is the same colour layout as the Microsoft logo, rotated 90 degrees clockwise.

    Coincidence?
  • Black Cat Linux? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dapic (527891) on Friday February 22, 2002 @04:50AM (#3050162) Homepage
    netcraft shows [netcraft.com] that the site redflag-linux.com is running Black Cat Linux, which was a Russian distro based on Red Hat but now joined ASP Linux [asp-linux.com]. Hell the redflag site even runs something called "rus/PL29.4" which I assume is Russian module for Apache.

  • Brand new Linux distribution, and this has devolved into some kind of China bashing political rampage.

    What happened to the software?

    I heard it installs slow. Well, OK for a first release. China is signing about a million people a month on to the net, and this is a *big* win for Linux in my view.

    Why don't you guys see it that way?

    Who cares about the Chinese government anyway? I care about all the millions of Chinese who can now access Linux a little easier than before, now that they have a distribution targetted in their own language.

    This is great!
  • requires copyright notice. Matt Michie needs a clue on licenses.

    not all packages in a linus distro are based on GPL and XFree is one of this packages. It's based on XFree's own license, but in the arcticle Matt says about Red Flag's XFreee copyright notice: "it had an interesting copyright message, "(C) 2000 Red Flag Software and others." Certainly the GPL doesn't require an advertising clause".

    a litle research before writing such an arcticle would've been a Good Thing(tm).
  • . . . the phrase "hacked by Chinese" a whole new meaning!
  • What I want to see is a review of their Internet Ready Microwave Oven [redflag-linux.com] running Linux..

    Because, Uh, I'm really interested in embedded stuff, yea, that's it, embedded stuff...

  • Umm, all that we've seen so far is the review of what appears to be a hastily slapped together first impression of the english localization of Red Flag. Since the primary purpose of this distribution is to serve China, this seems pretty stupid. I want to read a review from someone who has spent a week or so with the Chinese installation. Anyone?

    BTW--I wish I could set up a filter to block all slashdot political ranting. You guys make me sick. Before posting more blather, think about which government is killing and torturing more innocent people, yours or China's. Hint: if you're US-American, the correct answer won't stoke your patriotism.

  • has anyone look at the source to see what back doors may have been included?
    Seeing its install is being reported as slow, is it trying to contact some agency in China?

  • Tux Marching into Tomorrow with the Great Flag of the People [redflag-linux.com] is just too cute to pass up. Make it a slashdot topic!
  • hey.
    for those of you looking for the iso this should be a fairly fast mirror. i will have no way of verifying it till sunday. so if someone can veryify it for me that would be nice. i'll put that in a readme in the same directory along with the md5sum.

    currently it's at 87 percent. it should be done in a couple hours. the final size is around 440 megs. look for the readme to know when it's done.
    mirror [pitt.edu]

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