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Red Flag Linux Forced On Chinese Internet Cafes 295

Posted by timothy
from the billions-and-billions-served dept.
iamhigh writes "Reports are popping up that Chinese Internet Cafes are being required to switch to Red Flag Linux. Red Flag is China's biggest Linux distro and recently received headlines for their Olympic Edition release. The regulations, effective Nov. 5th, are aimed at combating piracy and require only that cafes install either a legal version of Windows or Red Flag. However, Radio Free Asia says that cafes are being forced to install Red Flag even if they have legal versions of Windows. Obviously questions about spying and surveillance have arisen, with no comment from the Chinese Government."
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Red Flag Linux Forced On Chinese Internet Cafes

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:13PM (#25980461) Journal

    Obviously questions about spying and surveillance have arisen ...

    Um, it uses RPM as a package manager so as long as the government isn't forcing Cafes to use a certain package repository or use certain packages, where does the danger of surveillance lie? I mean, I wouldn't trust the Chinese government either but I am confused why a mandate of Red Flag Linux upsets people in this case ... and a recommendation from the DoD is probably heralded [cbronline.com]?

    Yeah, they're running an industry's tech core, yeah they're stating exactly what OSS to use but where is the danger?

    • by winkydink (650484) *

      And I assume srpms are also available? RTFSC.

      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:53PM (#25981167) Journal

        I'm confused.

        Are there concerns that the Chinese government are going to be spying on citizens using the open source Red Flag operating system, or are there concerns that using the closed source Windows operating system will allow some group to spy on the Chinese?

        The second seems like a greater risk than the first.

        • by jesterzog (189797) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @11:42PM (#25984623) Homepage Journal

          Are there concerns that the Chinese government are going to be spying on citizens using the open source Red Flag operating system

          On that topic, is it very easy to get the source code for Red Flag Linux and to compile the whole thing from source?

          I searched Google for 'Red Flag Linux' which quickly led me to the English index page [redflag-linux.com] that's thin on information. The Download link only seems to allow for downloading an ISO, but I didn't go as far as downloading it. The Wikipedia article for Red Flag Linux [wikipedia.org] states that it's an Open Source model, but doesn't seem too clear beyond that.

          Can the entire Red Flag system be compiled from source? Not that it'd really matter, I guess. Most Chinese sysadmins would probably just install the binaries from an official repository anyway.

          • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @03:32AM (#25985919) Journal

            As I was saying earlier, I have Red Flag Linux 2.0. This is an old version, so what I say about it, may not apply to the current version 6.0. It does not come with sources.

            I see many people here presume that Red Flag Linux is open source software. I think that's a whole lot of assuming without knowing jack.

          • by Alex Belits (437) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @05:50AM (#25986675) Homepage

            Umm, hello?

            ftp://ftp.redflag-linux.com/pub/redflag/dt6sp1/SP1/ [redflag-linux.com]

            At least it looks like they have both source and binary ISO images (though no directories with individual packages, and English site seems to be unmaintained).

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dougmc (70836)

            On that topic, is it very easy to get the source code for Red Flag Linux and to compile the whole thing from source?

            Yes, it probably is. But that doesn't mean it's free from backdoors. It also doesn't even guarantee that the binaries that are available were actually compiled with the source that's available. The binaries could be compromised and the source not ...

            In any event, I'm certainly good with *nix, but I don't have the skills or the time to do a full scale security audit of the Linux kernel, let alone an entire distribution. If the Chinese government wanted to put a backdoor into a Linux distribution, esp

      • I wonder how long before the Lenovo laptop series come with Red Flag Linux as default OS?
      • by fugue (4373) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @08:04PM (#25982805) Homepage
        Do you? Are they? If the Chinese government violated the GPL, what do you suppose the consequences would be? There was some question as to whether the license was enforceable in the USA; is it in China?
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I mean, I wouldn't trust the Chinese government either but I am confused why a mandate of Red Flag Linux upsets people in this case ... and a recommendation from the DoD is probably heralded

      You said it yourself: mandate vs. recommendation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by no-body (127863)

        && rootkit preinstalled

        probably a rootkit cleaner would fix that but the site to download it is blocked by the "Great Wall of China" - dang!

        • by athakur999 (44340) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:10PM (#25981431) Journal

          Or they could just make some code changes to the rootkit cleaners available in the repository so that it ignores any hypothetical pre-installed rootkits. Most people are going to install programs from the official repository instead of directly downloading the source.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by X0563511 (793323)

          Yep, just like the rootkit they would put in the windows machine.

          I don't see a difference, only that the government is saying "you must use linux".

          Really, what's the problem with that? I mean, it sucks... but it could be far worse...

    • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:22PM (#25980647)

      Well if the distro includes an RPM that was custom built by the Chinese government and is specified as a dependency for other RPM's then even switching to a different RPM repo wouldn't help. Or the Red Flag installer could come with an RPM that includes a rootkit or other backdoor utilities that the RPM leaves behind even when uninstalled. So even if you switch repos after the initial install it could leave the system compromised.

    • by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:24PM (#25980671) Homepage
      Who do you think controls the RPM repository that Red Flag uses? A company in league with the PRC government.
      • Anyone can download (or otherwise acquire) the source RPM's from other sites and set up their own silo that still other people can point to instead of the official government silos.

      • by hackingbear (988354) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:33PM (#25981769)

        The new rules that went into effect Nov. 5 are aimed at cracking down on the use of pirated software, said Hu Shenghua, a spokesman for the Culture Bureau in the city of Nanchang.

        1. Common mistake #1: assuming whatever a little municipal government says equal what the Chinese central government says. REALITY: in China, local governments don't pay a shit to upper government and just make up whatever rule they want.
        2. Common mistake #2: assuming this has anything to do with national security, censorship, etc. REALITY: it is just a marketing maneuver some company trying to get people buy into their products -- by making it officially required.
        3. Common mistake #3; assuming any people actually pay a shit to this. REALITY: if so, they would have obey anything from tax laws to traffic laws first before worrying about this.

        Welcome to China!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mweather (1089505)
        Every company in China is in league with the PRC, including American companies.
      • by chrb (1083577) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:43PM (#25981913)

        And you think that Yahoo, Google, Cisco, Microsoft etc. aren't in league with the PRC government? In order to do business in China, you have to do as the government say. Actually, it kind of works like that in every nation...

        The backdoor fears are being overblown, this is open source after all. It would be trivial to compare the binary packages installed on one of the internet cafe computers with a standard Red Flag install to see if any have been modified. Then strace or disassemble the modified binary to find out what it is doing. If you're worried that the entire Red Flag distribution might be compromised, consider that the Chinese government is recommending that this distribution be used on government and corporate computers. If there were a deliberately introduced backdoor, then it is highly likely that either a Western security researcher, or the NSA, would find it, and then be able to gain access to the Chinese computers. Thus the Chinese government actually has a very strong motive to ensure that there isn't a generic backdoor. And again, finding such a backdoor would be trivial - all you have to do is compile your own distribution using the same versions of each source package, and then compare the output binaries. Having said that, Debian had a modified ssh package with a gaping security vulnerability for a long time before anyone noticed... but eventually someone did.

        I really think that there is a higher risk of the Chinese government sneaking a backdoor into Windows through a Chinese-American employee of Microsoft, or through compromising a Chinese CDROM factory or OEM manufacturer, than of being able to covertly introduce a secret backdoor into an open source Linux distribution like Red Flag. Having the source makes hiding a backdoor very difficult - if they ever did introduce a backdoor, they would probably be quite blatant about it. And as for the Windows comparisons, we still don't really know what the _NSAKEY [wikipedia.org] was for.

      • No shit?

        The software that the government hamfistedly forces its citizens to use is controlled by an entity affiliated with the government?

        What next - will Baidu block search queries for "Tiananmen" and "Falun Gong"? ;)

    • by Sylver Dragon (445237) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:00PM (#25981297) Journal
      Government recommendation: Hey, this stuff is pretty good. You guys should try it.

      Government mandate: You will use this, regardless of how good or bad it is, or we will put a bullet in you.

      Just a little different.

      Also, that article you linked talked about an internal DoD recommendation. They don't really care what Happy Fun Time internet cafe is using.
    • are you trolling? [wikipedia.org] or do you really not know?
    • by Hugonz (20064)
      They could easily set up a transparent proxy and mirror all of the RPM repositories if they really wanted...
    • by Sloppy (14984)

      I wouldn't trust the Chinese government either but I am confused why a mandate of Red Flag Linux upsets people in this case

      Maybe it's because the only conceivable reason they would mandate it, is that they're doing something in line with the very reasons that you don't trust them.

    • If the US govt. has a backdoor into MSWin (debatable, but Google it), and China puts backdoors into hardware they send to the US (ditto), and China is active in cracking US computer systems (don't even argue about that), is there any question that a govt. like China's doesn't put backdoors into every hardware and software piece internal to their country, considering that they are so paranoid about their subjects?

      Really. Unless youv'e been asleep for the last 10 years, can there be any question?

      • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @02:21AM (#25985589) Homepage Journal

        Yes, there can and should be questions.
        The first one to ask is "who would want this rumour, true or not, to be spread?"
        The second one to ask is "do those who might benefit have a history of disinformation?"
        The third one to ask is "if country X monitors hundreds of millions of PCs, where are all the millions of people doing the monitoring?"

        China is a new capitalist society with roots in communism, and has quite a bit of baggage to deal with. Among them a propensity to overregulate everything, and likewise for the citizens to ignore all the regulations as long as no-one is watching.

        I don't doubt for a second that the Chinese government can and will spy on some of its citizens, just like CIA, FBI, NSA and SS will over here. But they quite frankly don't have the infrastructure to do full scale computer surveillance, nor any need to -- if they want someone arrested, they simply arrest him or her. They don't need to collect evidence and convince a judge first.
        And just like here, if they want to monitor internet traffic, doing it at the ISP or confiscating equipment is far easier than backdooring individual systems. For one thing, you don't need highly skilled agents capable of accessing back doors with the required finesse and understanding.

        This whole article smells of FUD and agitprop. Sure, China is designated the new Big Evil, and the US needs another Enemy to believe in right now. But seeing Chinese government conspiracies in everything doesn't make it true, any more than seeing communist conspiracies in the 50s and 60s made that propaganda true.

        My guess: A canton or city government decided to go linux, and chose Red Flag as their distro. Some zealous and cerebrally challenged bureaucrats (I know, a tautology) then interpreted that as an order. And a newspaper picked up the blunder, and wrote a note about it, which was then picked up and massaged to fit the desired perception by their western colleagues who like to post propaganda against the enemy du jour, because it sells ads. Our local Ministry of Truth won't interfere, as long as the bashing is against this year's designated foe.
        ICBW, but it seems like a much simpler explanation.

        And personally, I think China is on the road towards freedom, even if they stumble every now and then. But we need to keep in mind that it's going to be a long march.

  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:14PM (#25980483)

    The year of Linux on the desktop, right?

    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

      by VeNoM0619 (1058216) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:17PM (#25980545)
      There will NEVER [wikipedia.org] be the year of the Linux in China...
    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:47PM (#25981061)

      One major reason internet cafe is asked to install Linux is probably to restrict gaming. Internet cafe in China is vastly different than it's counterpart in America. Think of it more as a "gaming center" rather than a place to surf the net. A few years back most of them used to provides food and bed to lure it's gamer based customer to stay 24/7.

      Over the past 5 or 6 years, there are increasing social problems generated by internet cafe. Parent's concern for their kids is a major issue. There are also a few incidents of unlicensed internet cafe not reaching safety regulation. One fire outbreak has caused 24 death in 2002 in a internet cafe in Beijing. Chinese government has been trying t o resolve these problems by introducing tighter regulations. Just to name a few: A policy came out a few years back requires all internet cafe to obtain a license, and no new license would be issued; Also under aged people are not allowed to enter internet cafe during weekdays unless accompanied by parent; All users are required to register wit h their ID before using internet cafe.

      This new move is nothing more than another regulation to address the issued introduced by internet cafe. As most games does not run natively on Linux, the government probably expects to turn internet cafe away from the old "gaming center" model, into a role fitted more to it's actual name.

      A rather ironic thing is, Linux was the choice for it's incompatibility with most games. So I guess YEAR_OF_LINUX_ON_DESKTOP=$((YEAR+1)) still holds.

    • Re:Finally (Score:4, Funny)

      by mdm-adph (1030332) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `hpdamdm'> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:49PM (#25981075) Homepage

      I checked all 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac -- couldn't find the Year of Linux, sorry.

  • Poor Microsoft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:17PM (#25980547)

    You know Microsoft has been pushing for the Chinese government to do something about the rampant piracy in China... They no doubt expected reduced piracy to lead to more legal installations of Windows but it has backfired on them hugely with this move to allow Internet Cafés to use Red Flag Linux.

    Also the spying claims are meh. We already know the Chinese Gov. watch the pipes closely there really is no advantage in further monitoring within Internet Cafés.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:23PM (#25980663)

      Windows market share suddenly drops below 50%

    • Re:Poor Microsoft... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:28PM (#25980749) Journal

      ...but it has backfired on them hugely with this move to allow Internet Cafés to use Red Flag Linux.

      Unfortunately, this isn't permission (they already had that). This is now a mandatory thing.

    • by Aphoxema (1088507) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:33PM (#25980827) Homepage Journal

      Maybe it's the fact that Windows is an OS made from their good friends in the US, and Windows is proprietary, and we know how many Americans (US) feel about the risk of software working against you...

      It's like the US Government buying Cisco routers made in China, how the US sabotaged a Russian oil pump station, there's only so much trust to be had, and when you have people from the Land of Microsoft being untrusting of Microsoft, how can you possibly expect a xenophobic, militant country to?

      Next will be North Korea I bet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)

        I don't think North Korea has a lot of computers at all. They don't even seem to have many light bulbs: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/dprk/images/dprk-dmsp-dark.jpg [globalsecurity.org]

      • That wasn't just an oil pump station... it was the software controlling the entire pipeline infrastructure and possibly caused the largest non nuclear explosion [zdnet.co.uk].

        The article actually mentions red flag and the fact that microsoft gave China access to all the XP source code!! I didn't know that!

      • how the US sabotaged a Russian oil pump station

        Well, technically Soviet Russia pretty well that the softwares they were getting were sabotaged (the situation isn't unique at all. Several companies had pulled such trick in the hope of earning money by subsequently selling support for fixing the sabotage).
        Lots of programmers were employed to reverse engineer and fix similar "bugs" slipped in various US softwares. My mother was one of them.

        The oil network incident was much more probably due to negligence and careless ignorance of proper safety procedure.

    • Re:Poor Microsoft... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:49PM (#25981083) Homepage

      no, no, no. you have it all wrong. don't you know that piracy is theft? now that hundreds of thousands of Chinese internet cafes are no longer pirating windows and stealing tens of millions of dollars from Microsoft, their quarterly profits will surely skyrocket as a result.

      after all, the BSA would never lie about the losses caused by piracy. if software pirates are actually stealing money from businesses, then surely any reduction in piracy will necessarily translate into economic gains by the industry. that is, of course, unless they made up their figures for financial losses based on the specious reasoning that not buying software from a company is equal to stealing from them.

      • Nicely put. I'd love to rub this in to all those game software companies that use abusive and irritating DRM to keep me from using their products legally.

  • by cabjf (710106) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:20PM (#25980597)
    A red flag should go up when you are forced to use an operating system designated by the government.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:20PM (#25980607) Journal
    If you don't think Red Flag is meant to be a Windows replacement, take a look at Wikipedia's screen shot of Version 6 [wikimedia.org] (presumably out of the box).

    Isn't this the part [slashdot.org] where Gates shits his gourd and asks to meet with Hu Jintao? Then baits the large part of greater China with free software that he writes off as a goodwill donation? I mean, we are talking a serious part of the world's population ...
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I mean, we are talking a serious part of the world's population ...

      That he has grown very rich ignoring thus far.

      I don't mean to dismiss the potential market of China - by all accounts it will be the next Japan, and then after that maybe the next US... huge market potential. But MS isn't exactly doomed if people that haven't been buying their stuff continue to not buy their stuff.

      • But MS isn't exactly doomed if people that haven't been buying their stuff continue to not buy their stuff.

        Actually they might be. MS has always counted on Windows sales, which are mostly from new computer sales (OEM) and corporate licensing. Corporate licensing is stagnating somewhat with Vista uptake being slow and market saturation in the US. If China isn't Microsoft's next big growth market, they have few other places to look for large sales increases. And people are getting tired of the periodic costly upgrades when they see little benefit, so upgrade sales will likely slow down over time.

        Microsoft's re

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          Yes, Microsoft is a growth company. I'm not convinced that they will be able to figure out how to make the transition to a mature industry.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "I mean, we are talking a serious part of the world's population ..."

      Money spent on MSFT is money lost to China. It makes perfect sense to expand Linux usage and save billions upon billions of dollars that can be spent elsewhere.

    • by db32 (862117)
      Actually, I think this is the part where China demands the source code to examine before allowing it to be used again...
  • by nycguy (892403) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:23PM (#25980649)
    Perhaps Microsoft will complain less about piracy if governments force people to replace pirated versions of Windows with Linux instead of forcing them to buy Windows licenses.

    In this case, though, I suspect that there are some other motives at work besides curbing piracy--namely supporting a local software developer/distributor over a foreign one and possibly the ability to better control/monitor internet access in the future.
  • TFA doesn't mention any. What they DO mention is "They're also not happy about the fees for Red Flag Linux, which are more than $700."

    So what's with the FUD?

    Seriously, this is about the Chinese government wanting to break MS dominance over the computer OS in china. If anyone was worried about "surveilance" they could install packages compiled from source so they knew what was in there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      What "questions about spying and surveillance?" TFA doesn't mention any.

      Did you read the same article I did? From TFA:
      It quoted Xiao Qiang, director of the California-based China Internet Project, as saying the new rules would help authorities regulate Internet cafes that now operate on the margins of the law, and allow them to undertake heightened surveillance.

      3 full paragraphs in the article discuss surveillance.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:25PM (#25980701) Journal
    This can only mean better support for a World of Warcraft client [wikipedia.org] in Linux:

    In China, because a large number of the players do not own the computer they use to play games (e.g. Internet cafes), the CD keys required to create an account can be purchased independently of the software package. In order to play the game, players must also purchase prepaid game cards that can be played for 66 hours and 40 minutes.[43] A monthly fee model is not available to players of this region. The Chinese government and The9, the licensee for World of Warcraft in China, have imposed a modification on Chinese versions of the game which places flesh on bare-boned skeletons and transforms dead character corpses into tidy graves. These changes were imposed by the Chinese government in an attempt to "promote a healthy and harmonious online game environment" in World of Warcraft.

  • Could it be.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kiralan (765796) *

    Maybe it is so the cafes are limited to software that runs on Linux? Does Red Flag Linux have/support WINE or an equivalent?

  • ... looks like Red Flag Linux ("RFL"), acts like RFL, but ... well, it isn't RFL. Aren't forks wonderful things!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437)

      What good is a fork? The rest of the world generally isn't using Red Flag anyways and China isn't exactly all butterflies and tater tots when it comes to their directives.

      If they say you have to use Red Flag, you'll be using Red Flag or they'll be "reeducating" you on just WHY you should be using it.

  • Another motive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theapeman (1068448) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:30PM (#25980795)
    If I were some non-american government then I would prefer people to use Linux. Not because of any backdoors that I could put in it, but because I could be reasonably sure that there were no backdoors put in it by the US government.
    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:14PM (#25981499)
      If I were some American government then I would prefer people to use Linux, too. Sadly I'm not an American government.
    • you support an authoritarian government imposing its prescription for surveillance on ITS PEOPLE

      why? because the us govt might spy on that authoritarian government

      i am sorry, but i am not diplomatic person: you are a fucking retard

      • by MooUK (905450)

        You didn't read what he said.

        He'd, given the choice, prefer people in his metaphorical country to use linux so that the US couldn't spy on them. He did not say he wanted to spy himself, although admitted that it was a possible route.

      • Slightly off-topic, but how in hell could you hope to succeed secretly be doing surveillance in an OPEN SOURCE software ? (GPL, in this case)

        - As the source is accessible, surveillance functionality hidden in the source code would soon be discovered and published about. (Just as exploitable bugs are regularily cleaned)
        - People would be free as per GPL to make surveillance-free forks of the code and publish "clean" versions of RFL (even more easy if these fix are done under non-Chinese jurisdictions)

        Even if

  • Gaming (Score:4, Informative)

    by number17 (952777) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:41PM (#25980943)
    I've been into some of China's small town Internet Cafe's and almost everyone was under 20 and gaming. I sure hope those games have been ported with proper language support or the cafe's will be hurting.
  • This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by darthaya (66687) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:54PM (#25981181)

    The internet cafes in China are not going to run Linux anytime soon.

    Why?

    Because the cafe users are gamers, mostly. They use the *cheap* internet connection to play one of tons of different windows only MMORPGs(And that includes World of Warcraft.) or Online shooters.(Used to be counterstrike.)

    To ask those internet cafes to run Linux is to ask them to get rid of their source of profits.

    • Re:This is stupid. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tubal-Cain (1289912) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:59PM (#25981271) Journal

      To ask those internet cafes to run Linux is to ask them to get rid of their source of profits.

      Or it is to ask game publishers to provide a Linux version (or fund WINE) if they want any revenue from China (assuming low piracy rates for games).

    • Re:This is stupid. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Vexorian (959249) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:12PM (#25981463)
      If they just want to play WoW, that's fine, you just mentioned one of those games that actually work well in WINE. platinum in winehq...
    • by robkill (259732)

      To ask those internet cafes to run Linux is to ask them to get rid of their source of profits.

      Two questions:
      1.) Does the PRC government really care about internet cafe profits, or does it care more about having control over them?
      2.) Does the PRC government "ask" the cafes to run Red Flag Linux, or is it telling them? If it is forcing cafes that have documented, licensed versions of Windows on their machines to switch (and pay $700 per machine to do so), then it's not "asking".

  • Does this mean we will get a Linux client for World of Warcraft?

  • Red Flag Linux opensources YOU!

  • spying...LOL (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:12PM (#25981469)

    I have had the occasion to visit MII in China. They can already get a screenshot of what any iCafe user is doing in real time. I saw it with my own eyes. Combine that with their requirement that iCafe users need to show their ID card when they rent a computer and there is effectively zero privacy. These were windows PC's so I'm not sure why the hurry to switch to Linux. It probably has less to do with the actual operating system and more to do with the vendor who is supporting the switchover backhanding some government lackey a Benz or three. Welcome to China.

  • by quantaman (517394) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:20PM (#25981587)

    That's going to be a lot of new Linux users.

    Imagine Linux on the desktop taking off due to support from a totalitarian regime!

    Btw. does anyone know if Red Flag contributes any code back to the community? It would be interesting if they've submitted any of their changes to KDE, Gnome, or OpenSSH...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rpillala (583965)

      On the wikipedia page [wikipedia.org], you can read that RFL has joined the Open Source Development Labs, which may indicate some kind of cooperation with the rest of the community. I don't know enough about the interrelations between different OSS entities to say. At the RFL web site they don't talk much about the source code.

  • I just got it for shits and giggles. This is a rather old version (from 2002 or so) and I see from a screenshot that it comes with KDE.

    Strangely enough, it seems to come with a CD key, and a longish one, at that.

  • You may assume the Chinese government has installed surveillance on it and thousands of backdoors, etc. And perhaps they did... But I think that it is more than that.

    They would sure like to have an OS in which they have a saying rather than having to trust American corporations, it is probably about control but not of the population but of their tech infrastructure. They are probably also looking in advance the sorts of issues TPM is going to cause them if they keep in MS' domain, not to mention all the

  • irony, irony, irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:31PM (#25981749) Homepage Journal

    that which was started to cricumvent corporate control, is used as a tool for authoritarian control

    this is not in any way good for linux

    it cuts to the very core of the rationale we all use for saying linux and open source software is a superior approach

    if the software is coopted and subverted by an authoritarain regime, where is the inherent freedom that makes open software ideologically superior?

    a corporate controlled software can make deals with an authoritarian regime, and withhold support for certain functionality. not that they do, but that they can. but with open source, the devil doesn't need to make deals with you, he just ignores you completely, and uses the software for dominance and control as the authoritarian regime sees fit

  • I guess we screwed up guys. Apparently having a solid security model also allows the government to put in monitors and back doors at superuser level that a normal user cannot bypass.

    Free as in...speech?

  • FINALLY, 2009 will be the year of Linux on the desktop. If Linux goes on every desktop in China then how long until Windows is the #2 OS in the world? There are a lot of people in China.

  • by AlfredZhang (1423421) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @09:39PM (#25983745)
    Anyone cares to read the referred articles? This is only a move of a insignificant local government and is already criticized in many Chinese forums and online media sites. As a big country, things much weirder than this happens all the time. It is surprising why it gets singled out here. Yes, Chinese government heavily filters Internet connections and suppress any sites that it sees inappropriate, but it does NOT have to force linux on Internet cafe simply to spy on citizens. Believe me, it is much easier and inexpensive to spy on Windows machines. My suggestion: next time before you bring up something about a monarchy/communist/evil China, do some research.

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