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Japan Subsidizes Linux Development, Considers Switch 248

Posted by michael
from the know-which-way-the-wind-is-blowing dept.
TheAB writes "Japan is betting 50 million yen ($450k US) that the next-generation of high-tech products and computer networks will rely on open-source software. The money is to develop an 'operating system for consumer electronics goods'."
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Japan Subsidizes Linux Development, Considers Switch

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  • Defined "betting" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rocko Bonaparte (562051) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:55PM (#5254570) Homepage
    Japan plans to spend about 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) funding Asian software developers working on the open-source Linux

    This makes it sound like a certain win, but what is this about "betting?"

    Tokyo has already budgeted 50 million yen (US$416,000) for next fiscal year to study the possibility of switching government computers to an open-source operating system.

    So are they putting that upfront to see if it's worth it, with the $8.3 million conditional? It sounds exciting, but I don't want to hold my breath without clarification.
  • Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Archie Steel (539670) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:55PM (#5254571)
    According to the article that's 50 million yen for Tokyo alone...for the whole of Japan it's closer a billion yen (8.3 million$).

    In either case it's not that big of a sum, but any amount helps!
  • Math (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1984 (56406) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:56PM (#5254575)
    From the article:

    Japan plans to spend about 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million)... working on the open-source Linux operating system for consumer electronics goods...

    That might be a useful amount. Separately:

    Tokyo has already budgeted 50 million yen (US$416,000) for next fiscal year to study the possibility of switching government computers to an open-source operating system.

    So that's $8.3M for working on embedded Linux, and $416K for a study into looking at moving government computers to using Linux. "Government computers" is kind of a broad brush. Anyone know if that's servers, desktops, or really is just a general look?

    • Re:Math (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:05PM (#5254660)
      That doesn't mean "linux". Open Source Operating System != Linux, folks. IT could be one of the various BSD's or even something like Plan 9.

      Of course, I'm putting my money on "linux", too, but you can never just assume things...
      • unicode support is popular

        all of plan9 text is unicode, even the c source

        it is used in at least one Japanese university

      • RTFA:

        First paragraph: Japan plans to spend about 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) funding Asian software developers working on the open-source Linux operating system for consumer electronics goods

        ...

        Last paragraph: In December, Sony Corp (news - web sites). and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., both major Japanese electronics makers, said they will jointly develop a Linux-based system for digital consumer electronics.

        And no even single mentioning of BSD.

        My friend from Japan told me once, if they take OSS they prefer Linux and PostgreSQL, not BSD and not MySQL. Japan engineers do not work with dead software.

  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by loknor (583729) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:57PM (#5254583) Journal
    " Japan plans to spend about 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) funding Asian software developers working on the open-source Linux "

    Why do that when you can just pull a Castle and steal it.... :-)
    • by jc42 (318812)
      Heh; cute.

      But seriously, it can be difficult to actually steal Open Source software. It's possible, of course. What you have to do is make your own "derived work" version of the software, and sell that for profit without accompanying source code.

      This is something a corporation might well do, but how likely is any government agency to do such a thing? Anyone have numbers on how many governments are in the business of selling software for profit?

  • by palfreman (164768) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:57PM (#5254590) Homepage
    It is the Japaese government that is spending the money, not "Japan". This may seem off-topic, but a country is different from its government. The amount Japan spends on Linux would be all the money all Japanese people and companies spend on Linux and Linux related things, not what the government did there. Governments are just another organisation and for most countries the main source of their problems.
    • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:11PM (#5254698) Journal
      You've come square up against what I like to call "the one big person" theory of foreign states. Anything that is both very complex and very unfamiliar is treated as one big person: France is a big crybaby. Canada is a wimp. Israel is just one big Holocaust survivor. America is arrogant. On and on. Sure the sterotypes might sometimes contribute some pithy insight, but once they begin to suck up all debate nothing constructive ever gets said again. It is fundamentally impossible to sum up a complex system in this manner. It leads to all sorts of problems. Not that this mode of thinking will ever go away, mind you.

      Actually, I think the whole 'complex entity = person" idea is something very human, and applies to all sorts of things beyond foreign countries. Businesses, cultural groups, one's own government, all of them treated like this. Its the human mind's way of dealing I suppose. And to a degree, maybe it even makes sense. The individual human is one of the most complex systems on this planet. Therefore we try to model other complex systems with that model.
      • by firewrought (36952) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @02:20AM (#5257020)
        Its the human mind's way of dealing I suppose...

        And people do the same thing with the concept of "God"... even though the details vary drastically, most cultures have a mythology that posits a source of universal intention: something or someone that controls natural events (weather, harvest, childbirth, astronomical bodies, etc.) and interacts with individual human lives (by providing comfort, discipline, special powers, spirtual growth, second chances, forgiveness, condemation, tests and trials, equalizing opportunities, purpose and meaning, spouse and family, absolute morality, eternal security, etc.). The fact that these things are (or will be) explainable through the lenses of natural and cognitive science hasn't done much to convince people that there's no God mediating their reality. It's as if we have to attribute agency (in the AI sense of the term) to events that are personally significant. All these uncontrolled externals are wrapped up into "God".

        But, to reply to the parent post, there are more practical reasons for making the "complex entity"==>"person" simplification. When we say "France opposses war with Iraq", it's pretty accurate, because we get the impression that (1) the official government posture and (2) the general sentiment of the French population do not want to see a war. We have no way of characterizing it in a finer manner than that... we don't have a list of x million French who oppose war and the y million French who endorse it, so we use the label "France" to tag the relevant input (in this case, the relevant input is "political pressure", but if we were watching a news broadcast about organized protest against the rapid expansion of metropolitan Paris, than we might categorize the input as "environmentalist").

        I'm sure there are a thousand interesting AI and cogsci theories for explaining or expressing this... the human brain is truly incredible, but it make broad, obvious machine-like mistakes too.

  • by Edball (611096) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:58PM (#5254603)
    "Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official Shuichi Tashiro said the subsidies will be doled out next fiscal year, which begins April 1."

    Hmmmm....

    • As far as I am aware, the fiscal year is always 365 days long so it begins on different days every year.
    • "Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official Shuichi Tashiro said the subsidies will be doled out next fiscal year, which begins April 1."

      Many Japanese companies end their Fiscal year on March 31st, which means their First quarter begins April 1st. It's not at all uncommon in Japan, nor in the US. Macromedia is one US company I can think of off the top of my head. I think it's for tax purposes, but it's been a long time since I took business 101...

  • Oh boy! $450k! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by occamboy (583175) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:58PM (#5254605)
    At the risk of being obvious...

    Linux is a stupendous 'operating system for consumer electronics goods' -- as an engineer who's developed embedded systems, I think that Linux is great for this purpose. For example, Tivo, which is Linux-based, is the greatest consumer electronic item of all time.

    But $450k? Gee, what a commitment! That's like 2-3 full time people if you include overhead.
    • Re:Oh boy! $450k! (Score:3, Informative)

      It's only a fleshwound, er, study.
    • Re:Oh boy! $450k! (Score:5, Informative)

      by nsandver-work (91781) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:20PM (#5254755)
      It says right in the article (did you read it?) that "Japan plans to spend about 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) funding Asian software developers working on the open-source Linux operating system for consumer electronics goods, an official said Wednesday." That is a sizable commitment.

      The $450k figure in the article comes from this: " Tokyo has already budgeted 50 million yen (US$416,000) for next fiscal year to study the possibility of switching government computers to an open-source operating system." Note, that's the city of Tokyo, not the Japanese government.

      Read the article.
      • I believe the use of the word "Tokyo" is ambiguous.

        The capital city of a country is often used in media to refer to the goverment, e.g. Washington made a decision, blah blah, or Brussels voted for this or that, etc.

        I think more information is needed, but all I can find it the same AP announcement.

    • Basic rule when reading Slashdot: the story will be wrong, you need to follow the link to get the real story. The government is allocating 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) for Linux software developers. In addition, it is spending $450K to study the possibility of switching government computers to Linux. If the study finds that they could switch if problems X, Y, and Z can be solved, they can use the $8.3 million to solve those problems, and then get all that money back, and more, when they kick Microsoft out of a hundred thousand or so government machines.

    • Re:Oh boy! $450k! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vandan (151516)
      If they spend the money directly then it wouldn't be that much. But since they are funding others who are developing open-source software, the effect is much greater.

      I would expect that each group that worked on open-source developments would receive about 5-10% of their funding from the government. Or in other words, the funding is affecting development costing $4.5M.

      This reduction in costs of 5-10% will give developers a great incentive to switch from other systems to Linux.

      Now say that of the total spend, 50% comes from people who just migrated to Linux. So that is $2.2M that was being spent on other systems that is now being spent on Linux.

      This $5M isn't being spent by government pen-pushers. It is $5M funding research and development by companies that are trying to be as cost-effective as possible. You can do a lot of programming for that much money.
    • Even though you didn't read the article ... 450K could do wonders if you hire the right people. Imagine two Linus types just aching to make things happens.
    • "For example, Tivo, which is Linux-based, is the greatest consumer electronic item of all time."
      A-HEM.

      Thank you.

      -- Your Refrigerator

  • by pubjames (468013) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:58PM (#5254610)

    This kind of thing must be extremely worrying to Microsoft. All up all the developers working for governments around the world, and I bet there are about ten times as many as work for Microsoft. It's probably even more than that if you think about it.
  • by scrotch (605605) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:59PM (#5254611)
    Personally, I would love to be able to ssh into my refrigerator and poke around without having to get up and go all the way to the kitchen...

    And imagine how cool you'll be with sendmail running on your air conditioner.
  • by macshune (628296) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:59PM (#5254612) Journal
    When they *finally* get around to getting that Gundam [bitter.swee.to] operational, it will run Linux!!!!!
    • Ohmygosh! rotflmao!. That's the coolest thing I've seen in, like, a month!

      Yo, I had no idea that there was anybody building wacked out stuff like that... What's up with that control seat?! It looks like a fricking back-hoe operators seat! =)

      They totally need to get a copy of the code to MechWarrior and rewrite the device drivers! If anybody want's to work on a Gundam-mech port of Mechwarrior, count me in! (I'm totally serious... I'd open up a site on sourceforge, and recode the entire fricken game, if it meant getting to fly back and forth from the US to Japan to write Mech code!!!)

      LOL... Yo, mod the parent up!!! That's the coolest link on this thread! =)
    • Re:WOOHOO! GUNDAM! (Score:3, Informative)

      by VoidEngineer (633446)
      LOL... rotflmao! That's the coolest link I've seen in, like, a month!

      Yo, I had no idea that folks were building wacked out stuff like that over there! What's up with the control seat?! It looks like a freakin back-hoe operator's chair! LOL.

      Seriously, though... they need to port Mechwarior, and write device driver's for that thing! Put a couple of LCD moniters in there, a throttle control and joy-stick, maybe some foot pedals... Yo, if anybody want's to open a file on source-forge, and make a port of MechWarrior for Gundam-mech, there, count me in! =)

      Mod the parent up! That's the coolest link on this thread!
  • by deanj (519759) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:59PM (#5254615)
    The real question is, will THESE folks violate the GPL in products?

    Previous story here is on a company that did that. If Japan's encouraging the use of open source (and presumably GPL), what do they ship if they, for example, do an embedded linux port for a microwave? Do they ship a CD with the code with the microwave?

    Geeze, if they did that, half the country would use the thing as the coaster, 49 percent would try and mu-wave the thing, and 1 percent (well, less...go with the idea here) would be left figuring how to do cool hacks on it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:07PM (#5254666)
      if they, for example, do an embedded linux port for a microwave? Do they ship a CD with the code with the microwave?

      Lots of companies are already shipping products with embedded linux in it. You dont have to ship the code with the microwave. You can to make it available on a website.

      • yeah, but does EVERY company put that stuff on the websites? I'll bet they don't.
        • Do you have to include the code with the hardware that is running the software? I thought that you only have to include the source if you distribute the software. (I.E. download the binaries, etc...) The linux source code is freely availabe many places anyhow, if they don't make any modifications, do they still have to produce the source? This is too confusing - ARGGHHHHH!
        • Doesn't have to be on the website. I've sold, for real money, embedded systems that run modified versions of Linux. I don't make the source available for download, and I don't give the source away with the kit. I *could* sell the source code, but I don't do that either. If you want the source, you come round to my house and I'll burn it onto a CD for you.

          Since the embedded stuff was only a very short run, you're unlikely to ever see it. But if you do, and you want the source, email me and ask.
    • The best way for an embedded systems company to satisfy the GPL is simply to include the required written offer, good for three years, with the product: if you really want the source code, you could either download it from the web site, or send enough money to cover the company's costs (including labor costs) for shipping you a CD.

    • what do they ship if they, for example, do an embedded linux port for a microwave? Do they ship a CD with the code with the microwave?

      Um, you have read the GPL right? Section 3 as follows:

      3.You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

      a. Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

      b. Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

      c. Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

      You will notice what section 3 (b) says. All they need is a little slip of paper or note at the back of the manual saying "This product contain GNU Opensource program. Send mail Address MicrowaveCompany Tokyo for source get. Have nice day."

      (excuse my engrish)
    • If they use Linux as the base OS and then write an application that runs the microwave but don't do any mods to the OS,
      isn't it true that they don't have to make the source to the microwave app available?

      Someone please explain this.
  • Makes perfect sense. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amberspry (596952) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:01PM (#5254627)
    Many of the small devices that have any type of computing power run on Linux or proprietary software. Seeing as how open source software is already out there and developed to the point of using without as much modification, it is much cheaper that development from scratch. Since they do have such a high piracy rate they don't have to worry as much about licensing and other legal complications.

    As far as the government computers all they have to worry about is the software that runs on top of the OS, in fact most of the applications they would need access to are already available in one form or another. They can also get around any trouble from Microsoft. Even though they are probably not loosing any sleep over it now.

    • Many of the small devices that have any type of computing power run on Linux or proprietary software. Seeing as how open source software is already out there and developed to the point of using without as much modification, it is much cheaper that development from scratch. Since they do have such a high piracy rate they don't have to worry as much about licensing and other legal complications.

      Not to be picky, but Linux DOES have a license to deal with, the GNU/GPL. This means that their software would have to be open source as well.

      If they wanted to create a "*nix like" OS to power their gadgets, but didn't want to open up their software for others to look at (perhaps to hide really sloppy code), they may be looking more into BSD. There also remains the chance that some company (probably small) will end up using Linux in a device, and not releasing their code, resulting in a lawsuit from Linus. Odds are, this is more of a "when" than a "if".

      • This means that their software would have to be open source as well

        Not to be picky, but not all software that runs on Linux has to be Open Source. You have a fairly low UID, so I would normally lean towards giving you the benefit of the doubt. A friend once asked me how IBM was allowed to charge $30k for DB2 for Linux, because he too thought that all software that runs on Linux has to be released as Open Source. I know the woman who was until recently the #3 Linux guru in IBM, and I've asked her about how our software groups toes the line to release closed source software in Linux. Very interesting conversation to have, if you can find someone to have it with who knows their shyte.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:02PM (#5254637) Homepage
    I can hardly wait! Now not only are we seeing various countries and governments using OSS, now we actually have backing. Okay, so maybe it's a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but consider that this money goes directly (more or less) into the pockets of the people actually doing the work and not into vast amounts of overhead or to expiring license fees or any other such nonsense. An equal-sized fund given to Microsoft to create a project would buy far less... (for that matter, could end in the demise of the investor... don't mess with Microsoft or they'll find a way to cheat you in the end -- remember the cell phone company?)

    I agree this is important--very important. And just MAYBE I can get the same level of Japanese lanugage functionality out of Linux that I do out of Microsoft products.

    I hope Japan gets more than it paid for inspiring them and others to invest more into Linux in order to make more things happen.

    On another note: Gotta love that RMS who has managed to create a way to keep people and companies from abusing free software. BSD gave the world a pretty decent TCP/IP implementation and Microsoft thanks them heartily. I hope it all remains as OSS and benefits the world -- I really *DO* want world peace.
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:03PM (#5254641) Homepage Journal
    I'm not particularly happy living under our current operating system monopoly, but this article only bolsters my concern that we're on the brink of creating a new one.

    Could the adoption of Linux go too quickly and be too widespread?

    I know it seems a bit funny now, as it's still not very useful as a desktop environment and is going head-to-head with arguably better server software, but I think there's a menace lurking beneath the surface: companies may soon get to the point where they -expect- software to be produced for free. It's a bit ironic, I think, that the products of our success at programmers are in the position to undermine our ability to survive in our careers.

    Already, programming jobs are being exported to places where they can be done almost for free. I'm starting to wonder if Linux and other open source projects are choking off what remains of our software economy. Is it too farfetched to think that some restrictions need to be put into place to protect workers?

    • It still is. People expected the Internet to be free forever, yet there are still many sites that cost money. Free is generally regarded as inferior compared to a similar product that costs money. As long as there are enough things that cost money or enough companies that agree something should cost money there will always be a segment of the population that sees a perceived value and will shell out the bucks.

      Just think you can download Linux for free, yet people still pay for the CD. Why? There is an additional value perceived or real that comes with the product. If enough people are willing to pay then companies may continue to charge for their product.

      • bad example (Score:2, Interesting)

        People buy the CD because maybe they don't have the bandwidth to download 1+ gigs. Maybe they can't afford a CD burner. Maybe they don't have an operating system to begin with.

        It's not that they thing they're getting a better deal.
    • Already, programming jobs are being exported to places where they can be done almost for free. I'm starting to wonder if Linux and other open source projects are choking off what remains of our software economy. Is it too farfetched to think that some restrictions need to be put into place to protect workers?

      This is a non-sequitor. Jobs HAVE moved overseas, and it doesn't matter whether the software is Open Source or not.

      Frankly software should be free. We don't charge for understanding algebra, chemical processes have been known for years, and I don't recall paying royalties for understanding the history of WWII.

      It is only in the 20th century that we have regarded ideas as any kind of property. If you don't believe me that the open exchange of ideas speeds progress, look at how in a little under 200 years Chemistry CAN now turn lead into gold. (Granted, if you simply shoot protons into lead atoms you will end up with a radioactive isotope of gold, but I digress.)

      Alchemists tried for thousands of years, each toiling in secret. They coveted their formulas, and each took them to the grave. I don't recall any one of them being particularly rich at the end either.

    • I'm not particularly happy living under our current operating system monopoly, but this article only bolsters my concern that we're on the brink of creating a new one.

      I don't have much to contribute about your other points, but I wanted to point out that a "monopoly" based on a GPL'ed operating system would be a very different thing that a monopoly based on a closed-source operating system, because no one entity would have a monopoly on the code itself.

      Microsoft has a huge amount of leverage they can use by being the people who implement de-facto standards, and not disclosing them to their competitors. While Microsoft encourages other vendors to develop for Windows, and to some extent cooperates with hardware vendors in setting standards, it's not a level playing field. If you have an interesting widget you want to sell, and Microsoft doesn't like you, they can just guarantee that your widget doesn't work under windows (or more likely, subtly break things so that your widget doesn't work well). I can't easily figure out what they've done without their cooperation (and depending how they've done it, I might need extremely well-paid lawyers just to feel safe trying).

      If a GPL'ed operating system were in the same position of market domination and $linux_vendor tried to prevent my widget working with their OS, and assuming they were complying with the GPL, I could say, "Why would you want to buy a Linux from $linux_vendor, when I'll ship you a Linux for free with my $59.95 widget that is completely compatible with $linux_vendor's version, except that it works with my widget and I've folded in these hundred and fifty bug fixes and it runs a little faster?" (The latter two advantages being just because I was releasing my version a few weeks after $linux_vendor released their version.)

      (In theory, the same sort of hidden de-facto-standard torpedo could happen with a fork of a BSD-licensed OS as does with Windows, but I think it would be considerably less likely as long as no one proprietary fork got a huge market advantage.)

    • Is it too farfetched to think that some restrictions need to be put into place to protect workers?
      Maybe this will be a bit too vociferous a denial of this idea, but allow me to be the first to say, HELL FUCKING NO. "Protecting" jobs by limiting technological progress is an absolutely horrible idea. The only time it's justified is if the "progress" would make things worse than the protection -- and that isn't the case, here. (Specifically, in this case, it's about "protecting" Americans' jobs versus the jobs of overseas labor.)

      At worst, U.S. programmers may have to become more competitive -- or find other fields to work in. Just because the tech field pays a lot now doesn't mean it always will, and anyone who forgets that fact isn't going to get a lot of sympathy if the edifice crumbles.

    • If you read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," ESR covers this issue in pretty good detail. His counterarguments basically boil down to:

      1) Something like eighty percent of software development is done for embedded devices, specialized software for a single company, and other similar jobs. These things will not go away.

      2) By having quality open source, it saves developers from having to re-invent the same systems over and over again, freeing up development time for doing fundamentally new and innovative things.

      There were other arguments, which I can't give off the top of my head. He had me convinced, but YMMV.
    • You bring up a valid point, but remember this: if a company can only afford to hire a single person, then re-using existing free software components and having one guy maintain it is a lot cheaper than hiring a whole team. Cheaper costs == companies stays alive longer == profit == more jobs later on.

      Bringing open source software to the countries levels the playing field so that the small fish can compete with the big fish.
  • by $$$$$exyGal (638164) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:04PM (#5254653) Homepage Journal
    Business - AP World Business

    Microsoft Buys Japan
    Wed Feb 5, 03:53 PM PT

    Microsoft plans to spend about 1 billion dollars (120 billion Yen) funding Japan in its entirety, says Bill Gates, Wednesday.

    Gates' plans on purchasing the country at the end of fiscal 2004, but he's not sure what to do with it. Industry pundits predict that Japan will go the way of WebTV and many other companies/countries purchased by Microsoft.

    "I like Japan", says Gates, "they really are good at science". Later, Gates was seen snickering.

    --naked [slashdot.org]

    • Re:Press Release (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pubjames (468013)
      Microsoft plans to spend about 1 billion dollars (120 billion Yen) funding Japan in its entirety, says Bill Gates, Wednesday.

      I know many Americans have a distorted view of the world, but this is streaching things a bit far.

      Japan is a massive economy, even though it's currently in recession. It is also the worlds largest creditor - more so than the USA, and is home to some of the worlds largest banks. So thankfully there are a few things in the world that Bill Gates can't buy!
      • by Tingler (56229) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:18PM (#5254745)
        Joke (n)

        Pronunciation: 'jOk
        Function: noun
        Etymology: Latin jocus; perhaps akin to Old High German gehan to say, Sanskrit yAcati he asks
        Date: 1670
        1 a : something said or done to provoke laughter; especially : a brief oral narrative with a climactic humorous twist b (1) : the humorous or ridiculous element in something (2) : an instance of jesting : KIDDING c : PRACTICAL JOKE d : LAUGHINGSTOCK
        2 : something not to be taken seriously : a trifling matter -- often used in negative construction
      • The reason they are so large is because they have so few of them. 18 major ones I think. The US has thousands.
      • I know many Americans have a distorted view of the world, but this is streaching things a bit far.

        Yeah, thank god there is someone with crystal-clear perception and a brilliant intellect, untainted by stereotypes, to straighten us out.

    • Now according to the theory of marketing, an ideal product fulfills an existing demand. The marketer simply acts as way of communicating between buyers and sellers.

      Given how much in the way of resources Microsoft devotes to marketing, does anyone have illusions of it being an ideal product?

    • With $1 billion, Microsoft might be able to buy some real estate in Tokyo, but that's about it.

    • Gates' plans on purchasing the country [Japan] at the end of fiscal 2004, but he's not sure what to do with it.

      Well, we already knew that Gates has some odd misconceptions about the world and is a bit too full of himself. By the size of Japan's annual government budget (around $750bn), even Gates's wealth is kind of small. The entire Japanese GDP is about $3500bn.

    • I'm personally wondering when he'll be making a personal visit to Japan.
  • Next-Gen? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theCat (36907) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:07PM (#5254674) Journal
    OK, let's think about this a moment. The current generation of networks and servers already hinges largely on Unix and Unix-like things (GNU/Linux). Linux is free, and many point out that Linux is mostly replacing Unix boxen at the moment.

    Ipso facto, GNU/Linux will probably be a big part of the "next-generation" platform, whatever the foosh that actually refers to in practice.

    But I guess what is interesting here is that they are broadcasting this "truth" and not, oh for example, signing up on some zany M$ initiative-of-the-week.

    Someone actually pointed out in an earlier post (since modded into oblivion I can assume) that Asia pirates all their software so la-de-da. Which misses the point that Asia pirating software was always a good thing for the proprietary products. India is so awash in black market copies of Windows that they are practically addicts now, and still M$ gives them buckets of cash "donations" as soon as someone over there mumbles "Linux rulez" in his sleep.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:08PM (#5254677)
    Or is Japan producing/subsidizing everything that geeks like?
  • by RavinDave (58826) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:13PM (#5254707)
    "Japan is betting 50 million yen ($450k US) that the next-generation of high-tech products and computer networks will rely on open-source software. ... "

    Last time I read a headline about Japan trying to predict the future computer trends, I tossed out my "C" books and wasted 6 months learning PROLOG.

  • Next Generation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PetWolverine (638111) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:15PM (#5254719) Journal
    Japan is betting...that the next-generation of high-tech products and computer networks will rely on open-source software.

    The next generation?

    As far as networks: The Internet is the most important network that I can think of, and what does it run on? Apache is the main Web server; I run a mail server with Qpopper and sendmail, of which the former is open source and the latter is at least free (is it open source? I don't even know); for the FTP part of serving, you can choose from Pure-FTPd, Pro-FTPd, wu-ftpd, or whatever else. "High-tech computer networks" of this generation already run on OSS.

    As for products: There's a little more room for improvement here, but my PowerMac G4 is pretty damned high-tech, and while the GUI is closed, the core OS, Darwin, is open-source. And unlike Linux nerds who will say they have such-and-such a high tech system that's running OSS, mine came like this--right out of the box--and is a product targeted at, and sold mainly to, non-nerd consumers.

    It used to be that I used very little software I paid for because I pirated everything; now I use very little software I paid for because it's free anyway, and for a substantial part of that software the source is available if I want it. Open source isn't a bet pertaining to the next generation, it's here already.
    • Re:Next Generation? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SN74S181 (581549)
      The Internet is the most important network that I can think of,

      There are so many networks more important than 'The Internet' that I can't start to count them.

      There are many segments to the IT market. The Internet is actually fairly trivial when it comes down to it. It matters, but it doesn't keep the lights going, it doesn't operate hospital facilitys or power plants. And so on.
    • the rest of your post is just as naive

      nice try though
    • As far as networks: The Internet is the most important network that I can think of, and what does it run on?

      Well, it's the biggest, and it runs on Cisco, Bay , and Juniper, all communicating through the black magic that is BGP.

      • Okay, clearly I'm ignorant in a lot of this area. What is BGP?

        And while I know that Cisco is a database server (right?), what are Bay and Juniper?

        This is honest-to-goodness curiosity and lack of information here. Just wanted to clarify since lots of times on /. ignorance (and complacence with ignorance) masquerades as such.
  • worth $450k is it? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yaiba (628769)
    well $450k is big enough to show that they're serious about the open source movement... dont think about how big or small they're betting on.. it's the thought that counts
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:19PM (#5254750)
    Microsoft, concerned about Japan's move towards Linux, visits government executives with the hopes of swaying their decision.

    Microsoft Exec: We're a bit worried that you guys are moving away from Windows.

    Japanese president: There is nothing to worry about! We in Japan are all in awe of your large penis!

    Microsoft Exec: What?!

    Japanese president: You see, Japanese penis is so small!

    Japanese vice-president: So small!

    Japanese president: You Americans have such humungous-bungus penis!

    Microsoft Execs: Well... that's true!

    Japanese vice-president: Oh, such, a nice, big penis, American!

    Japanese president: What can we possibly do with such small penis? We cannot take over your operating system with programmers of such masterdonic penis!

    Microsoft Execs: Well, you've got a point there! That settles that! We're sorry for taking your time, gentlemen!

    Japanese president: Oh, no! Thank you! Another chance to be in same room with big American penis!

    Microsoft Execs (leaving): Nice guys!

    ... later ...

    TV announcer: And now, for a special announcement from the President of the United States.

    George Bush: My fellow Americans, I wish to address the concerns many of us have over the growing number of Japanese Linux distributions in America's IT sector. The new Japanese Emperor Linus Hirohito has made our own children into programmers who will soon launch a DDOS attack against American military networks at Pearl Harbour. However, I spoke with Mr. Hirohito this morning and he assured me that I have a very large penis! He said it was dinosauric, and absolutely dwarfed his penis which he assured me was nearly microscopic in size. My penis, he said, was most likely one of the biggest on the planet. I applaud Mr. Hirohito in his honest. Thank you.

  • by collapser (610412) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:19PM (#5254753) Homepage
    as I'm writing this from my zanussi-debian refridgerator.
  • Ah, (Score:3, Funny)

    by labratuk (204918) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:37PM (#5254869)
    It's so nice of Japan to donate this code to us.

    --
    CEO,
    Castle Technology UK

  • $450k US? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlad_petric (94134) on Friday February 07, 2003 @08:41PM (#5254884) Homepage
    ... enough to pay ~ 6 developers for a year ...

    Compared to the investment IBM made (they claim ~1B$), or even Redhat (50M$), this most likely won't have a real impact (except for PR, of course)

  • Yeah, Japan was going to the change the very nature of supercomputing. That didn't work either. Let's just say I'm dubious.
  • 450K, to develop a new OS are you kidding??? That's like nothing.

    Hmmm.... let's look at the article... whoa, it says $1 billion yen, like 8.6 million dollars. Now that is a little more serious, but still nothing like the $1 billion that IBM is sinking into Linux.

    Later in the article $50 million yen to study the possibility of moving government computers to Linux.

    Odd though - this article seemss to be rather different than what the Slashdot capsule says. I wonder if Slashdot editors read the articles? Nah, they couldn't possibly just psot this without reading the article.

  • Had you asked me, I'd have thought Japan was still all ga-ga over their home-grown TRON operating system.
    • Having recently worked for a Big Japanese A/V manufacturer, I can most certainly assure you that uITRON (micro-iTRON) ain't going away. Instead, they layer an uITRON compatibility layer on top of the Linux kernel (modifying the kernel as necessary, mentioning the GPL is a big no-no) and then run everything (including a Java VM of all things) on top of the uiTRON layer.

      I can't actually think of a worse thing to do; lose all the flexibility of Linux and the real-time behaviour of uiTRON. Gah.

      At least one embedded OS (eCOS) already HAS an iTRON API but Redhat seem to have killed it off.

      Jon

  • If you RTFA, it turns out that Tokoyo (city?) has budgeted 50M yen to investigating the current viability of switching over, while the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is going to dole out 1B yen (US$8.3 million) to support asian development of Linux software
    It seems like the /. editors didn't bother scanning the web page pointed to before they posted the story.
  • by timeOday (582209)
    "Japan is betting 50 million yen...
    Cool!
    ... ($450k US)
    Crap!
  • Here it is, 50 comments or so, and not one damn Godzilla post. Would Bill Gates be the Smog Monster?
  • by Tokerat (150341) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @01:52AM (#5256927) Journal

    $ ?? -??
    ??: No match.
    $ ?? -??
    ??: No match.
    $

    (shortened to apease the lameness filter)
  • You don't know Jap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Saturday February 08, 2003 @05:14AM (#5257366) Journal

    Its a potentially brilliant move by the Japanese government. They get screwed by GATT if they subsidize product manufacture for export. Also, roughly 5-10 year ago, they had a really screwed up computer infrastructure (picture 5 types of PCs but all incompatible to each other) which they probably unified by going Microsoft.

    Japanese makes major money from appliances and cars. They know that embedded programming to "smarten" up the products is the future. If the gov't gives the money to the keiretsus to invest in this direction, the US sends their lawyers to bitch that the Japanese manufacturers are "dumping" their Japanese gov't subsidized products.

    Instead, they put the money into embedded linux development. It ends up being an infrastructure building investment. The car and appliances manufacturers then pluck the finished development and incorporate it into their products. Furthermore, by having a desktop linux, they end up "unifying" their PC products without the decisions being made in Redmond, USA.

    Here's the kicker: their investment may not be poached by foreign competitors. Sure its GPL, and everyone has access to it. But perhaps they hope that Microsoft will supress adoption of Linux throughout the market. The investment is for the taking, but the Microsoft dominated markets can't use it. Its saves the Japanese industry all that software money that would be going to Microsoft for development infrastructure. It also results in cheaper products, because it doesn't have the Microsoft tax for each item. USG can't point to a gov't subsidy to support their claims of "dumping".

    Too bad for the Japanese that their government is too corrupt to clean up their banking problem.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 08, 2003 @07:51AM (#5257693) Homepage Journal

    Actually, its not really news that the Japanese government is doing this. They've been doing this for years - trying to get a globally accepted embedded device-control operating system widely adopted among the industry.

    There used to be a project, headed up by one of Japans most respected computer scientists, called TRON.

    This was pre-Hollywood "TRON" movie, which actually had some basis in its script and 'ideology' on the Japanese ideals put forth by the TRON project; which were, simply, to create a global networked computer 'system', accessible throughout the world, out of the embedded OS in consumer devices. In other words, put chips *everywhere* and have them all function as part of a global computer system.

    I guess the end result would be so that the phrase "imagine a Beowulf of that!" could be applied to *anything*, in actual fact there would be nothing *but* Beowulf clusters of everything, and its name would be "TRON".

    TRON was a project to try and define this OS and how these devices would communicate with each other - in 1978!!

    (It may also be referred to as the "E-TRON" project, I seem to remember there being some move to change the name at one point...)

    Anyway, just wanted to point out that the move of the Japanese government to promote OSS is probably based on an even older ethos among the Japanese techno/industrial zaibatsu's...

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