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Japan, China, S Korea Agree To Standardize Linux 270

Ooi writes "Japan Today News reports: 'The governments of Japan, China and South Korea have agreed to work together to come up with an alternative computer operating system to reduce reliance on Microsoft's Windows, the Yomiuri and Nihon Keizai newspapers reported Sunday. According to the reports, the three countries will help their private sectors develop Linux, an open-source OS that can be copied and modified freely. The agreement was signed in Beijing on Saturday by senior government officials from the three countries.' Australian IT has an article on the issue prior to the meeting." A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Asia OSS meeting in Hanoi of which the three gov'ts above are also members. There's a very serious commitment to OSS especially among the governments represented there.
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Japan, China, S Korea Agree To Standardize Linux

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  • by MrRTFM ( 740877 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:09AM (#8767803) Journal
    so here are 3 countries which have tradionally been 'not too friendly' with each other that can agree to standardise on a single installation of Linux...

    This is cool, but the $24,000 dollar question is - will they go with KDE or Gnome as the default ??

    Surely this should be a slashdot poll!

    Asian distro defaults...
    (o) Vi and Gnome
    (o) Vi and KDE
    (o) Emacs and Gnome
    (o) Emacs and KDE
    (o) Cowboy Neal is my interface and text editor, you insensitive clod!
  • But will it be OS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:10AM (#8767810)
    It's all well and good these countries developing Linux, but will it remain open source?

    Can open source be inforced with these governmental development?
    • by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:33AM (#8767938) Homepage
      They can tell the FSF to go **** itself, but they would shoot themselves in the foot. Keeping their source closed would lead to a fork, meaning they would gradually start losing compatibility. All those free and fresh updates available at SF and would gradually grow more and more incompatible.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        And with more coders in China than the rest of the world, the current version of Linux would end up being the incompatible one.
      • All those free and fresh updates available at SF and would gradually grow more and more incompatible.

        And with a billion+ people, you don't think that these 3 countries will be able to keep up with all of the OSS developments? The question is not *if* the countries may produce closed software, but *why* may they want to.

  • by Michalson ( 638911 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:10AM (#8767812)
    So how much can we expect Linux and OSS to be exploited for oppression and control of the population? China already takes a lot of measures to control the internet (students get arrested just for entering key phrases like "taiwan", "human rights" and "democracy" into google), if they can control the OS too what is to stop them from using that to further control (and while the GPL forces it to be open source, they can easily make it a political crime to use any clean/lite version of their distro)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "and while the GPL forces it to be open source

      What's to stop them disobeying (in particular, their Government) the GPL and doing what they like with the code?

      Who would be able to prosecute them? Who would care enough?

      The chinese government will do with linux what they want. And no-one wants to stop them, because you can't piss of the Chinese Government, as its too big a market for imports and exports.
      • by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <> on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:58AM (#8768087) Homepage Journal
        That would lead to funny (as in odd) situation.

        If Western software was being pirated by China, you'd expect the US to do something about it, right? The only problem is that that same software is the biggest competitor to the US's biggest software developer, who's also a major contributor to campaign funds.

        Want to talk about conflict of interest?
      • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:26AM (#8768264) Journal
        What's to stop them disobeying (in particular, their Government) the GPL and doing what they like with the code?

        Who would be able to prosecute them? Who would care enough?

        The chinese government will do with linux what they want. And no-one wants to stop them, because you can't piss of the Chinese Government, as its too big a market for imports and exports.

        If they wanted to keep their code to themselves, then they could just as easily use a BSD as a base, where the license expressedly permits people to take the code and do what they like with it without giving anything back to the community.

        Instead, they've chosen Linux, with its more restrictive license, and they've announced they'll be honouring that license.

        The Chinese are humans with a capacity for logical thought, not aliens or robots. You can be sure they have considered the benefits and disadvantages of the various options - Linux and the GPL, BSD, or Linux and no GPL leading to conflict with the US and EU. I find it hard to believe they've chosen the last.
    • if they can control the OS too what is to stop them from using that to further control (and while the GPL forces it to be open source, they can easily make it a political crime to use any clean/lite version of their distro)

      True enough, but if they're going to settle on an official OS this seems like a best-case scenario. Imagine how much more control they would have if the Chinese government were to write their own, closed-source OS. Even if it is a crime to modify the OS, I wonder how easy that would b
    • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:20AM (#8767867) Journal
      The parent is such an absurd remark. Firstly, they can not control the OS. They can Contribute, but that is it. They can legislate, enforce, or whatever. The only thing Linux is going to do is possibly make the governments more efficient at being oppressive.

      You will find that all governments (especially the US government) feel "pissed" when they are not "in control", and will use whatever tools at their disposal to gain as much control as possible. The US Govt is a prime example. Look at how they have used tech to gain control of their environment.

      So, The advancements that China/etc can make to Linux to make it a better tool for them are going to be used to the collective benefit of ALL linux users, (and I imagine that the BOFH Firewall admins will be especially happy). As for how the tech is used in China as opposed to the rest of the world, well, that is for the Chinese to determine.

      So, a government, whether Chinese or not, will always want control... it is their job. Linux, whether modified by the Chinese/etc or not, will be better for the experience.

      As for human rights, etc. Well, first you have to ask yourself ... who knows most about human rights?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        As for human rights, etc. Well, first you have to ask yourself ... who knows most about human rights?

        People that took mainly them for granted, and then lost them.

        See -
        Germans under Hitler
        Hong Kong Citizens after the turnover.
    • Because Linux is more effective than Windows, China will be more effective at oppressing and controlling the population? Hm.. perhaps China will buy Volvos instead of Volkswagens because you can fit more arrested students in them!
    • More importantly, since Slashdot posted an article entitled "Microsoft Violates Human Rights In China," simply because the government there uses Windows, does this mean OSS violates human rights as well? After all, China has its own custom Linux distribution, and Red Hat removed the Taiwan flag to sell there...

      Just curious what Slashdot editors' position is, since it's apparently so evil for Microsoft to be over there.
    • What is up with the sinophiles?

      Does the Chinese government have problems? Yes. Do they restrict people's rights more than they should? Yes. Would the Chinese people have been better off if the Guomingdang has won? No.

      I have spent almost half of my life in China. I recognize the problems. I'm critical of many things the Chinese government does. I am also very impressed by how much progress has been made without violence.

      Gradualism is necessary.

      And the Chinese government ISN'T a group of people who follow
  • Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Peter_Pork ( 627313 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:12AM (#8767821)
    It has been clear for some years that most countries are very unhappy with the existing OS monopoly. Given how critical IT has become, it is simply unacceptable to rely on a single, foreign vendor like Microsoft. Linux (in some evolved or forked form) will be the standard OS everywhere, at least outside the US. Other open source projects, like FreeBSD, may also conquer quite a few markets. Paradoxically, the only solution is an free, open source Windows, but I doubt Microsoft is so brave!
    • Try reactos. (Score:3, Interesting)

      Its a free open source operating system that is a clone of Windows NT. Reactos website []
      • Re:It's also doomed (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bastian ( 66383 )
        For a moment we'll assume that they are actually going to succeed in cloning a version of windows before that one is several versions obsolete and used by almost nobody. And we'll assume that they implement enough of Win32 to make it a good server OS (DirectX can wait), and implement all the server infrastructure that so many servers for NT/2k use, and that they reverse-engineer any cruft they come across that's undocumented but used by some important program, and get copies of all those API calls implemen
    • Re:Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

      by weave ( 48069 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:20AM (#8767864) Journal
      I do believe you're right. One could say "duh, obvious" even, but I've been surprised it hasn't happened before now. With growing mistrust of the U.S. around the world, why would a foreign nation trust a closed source piece of software from a U.S. company?

      On another angle, why did the U.S. and Europe bother suing Microsoft? If they didn't like Microsoft's monopoly abuses, all each of these governments had to do is leverage their buying power. "We demand you unbunndle, stop, etc, or we will take our business elsewhere." That would have been far more effective and quicker than the courts.

      Once governments switch, their contractors and vendors and others who communicate with them may switch too -- to be compatible. The same domino effect that help Microsoft be where they are today.

  • by KidCeltic ( 130804 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:16AM (#8767843)
    SCO will have you in its sights now!
  • (1.2 billion Linux users) x ($699) =

    Geez. With this, Darl might approach the riches of the head of Ikea [], who recently bumped Gates off the "richest dude" list.
  • Red Flag (Score:5, Interesting)

    by somethinghollow ( 530478 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:20AM (#8767866) Homepage Journal
    Wasn't that the Idea with Red Flag Linux (or whatever it is called... Slashdot's search feature rarely returns anything that has my search terms)? Will South Korea and Japan go for Red Flag or will they start a-fresh?

    At least China already has some experience in this market. Kudos for supporting OSS and maybe (if that actually write any code) helping Linux improve even faster.
    • Re:Red Flag (Score:3, Informative)

      by spafbnerf ( 749681 )
      China's Red Flag and Japan's Miracle Linux have a joint project named 'Asianux' which is now in beta.
    • Just like with cars, cameras, cellphone technology, etc. They won't be satisfied with playing third fiddle to the Japanese and Chinese, they'll make their own distro, just to be different. Of course, like Kia cars are built locally from Mazda/Ford specs, and like Daewoos are built from GM plans, this will be built from a common base (probably Asianux) and touted as an all-Korean project. What interests me, though, is that this is even being considered as an option. Honestly, I haven't met a single Korean
  • So in the near future, will we see SCO/RIAA file 1.3 billion lawsuits , 1 for each person in China, Japan and Korea? That would be a fabulous waste of money. They can just issue 1.3 billion trial delays, and SCO can take a rest for 30 thousand years!
  • by Debian Troll's Best ( 678194 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:22AM (#8767879) Journal
    This article is great news for proponents of Linux in the Asian IT market. However, this is only a first step on the long march to acceptance. In my experience, a big stumbling block of new IT rollouts in non-Western environments are the language and alphabet related ones. These problems extend from the GUI and applications right at the top, all the way down to basic command line tools. Making sure that there are suitably localized versions of commonly used Open Source and GNU tools would be a great first step in the cultural revolution taking place in workplaces across Asia.

    For example, the apt-get software is a key tool in the system administrator's arsenel. It has a relatively simple command line syntax, but it is obviously in English, and therefore would pose a problem for Japanese, Chinese or Korean administrators wanting to come rapidly up to speed. What would people think about tools like apt-get being re-engineered to include a language abstraction layer, so locales could be exchanged like plugins, to customise the tool for new countries? In fact, this type of localisation need not be limited merely to language changes. Entire cultural paradigms could be replicated via a plug-in system. For example, in Chinese markets the apt-get package management model could be described as a yum-cha cart, bringing tasty morsels of .deb packages to each table, or system. The package database would be the little card the attendant checks when you receive each plate, or in this case, .deb package

    I look forward to the community's response!

    • No.

      I use Debian and I can see messages like below

      "Package list wo yomikondeimasu"

      "Ika no tokubetu package ga install saremasu"

      "26 upgraded, 41 newly installed, sakujo: 146 ko horyuu: 12 ko"

      mostly Japanese message.

      But,IMHO,apt-get localization is rather irrelevant;One can't administer system if one don't have enough intelligence to understand relatively simple apt-get messages.

      In these internet days , language localization for administrative tools are nonessential and unimportant...every administrator
    • Entire cultural paradigms could be replicated via a plug-in system. For example, in Chinese markets the apt-get package management model could be described as a yum-cha cart
      For the benefit of a Brit, could you explain the cultural paradigm reflected by the apt-get package management model?
    • The problem with localisation plugins ... aside from the Western-European standard they were all begun with, it doesn't always work well, or reliably, or accurately.

      This was discussed when the Asianux thing first came up on /. several months back ... for example, can you guarantee through a plugin system that multi-byte characters will display correctly all the time? Or weird accents? How about languages that read right to left, of top to bottom?

      I have enough trouble getting japanese & cyrillic char
    • Not true necessarily. Have you ever read code from a programmer from Asia? All the keywords are the same, just the comments tend to be in the local language (though not always). I'm English, but I still have to use java.awt.Color rather than java.awt.Colour. I see no reason why admin tools should be any different.

  • What about Red Flag? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xandroid ( 680978 )

    I wonder how this will fare for Red Flag Linux [] (English [])? Nothing like a government-sponsored monopoly to cut into profits...

    • Actually, I can answer my own question. According to this story from the Korea Herald [], Red Flag will contributing knowledge, if not helping with the development:

      "At ['a meeting of government officials and industry figures in Beijing on Saturday'], Chinese software company Red Flag Linux and its Japanese partner Miracle Linux presented the results of their joint efforts in developing 'Asianux,' software designed as a compatible open-source standard for Asia. Korean companies Hancom, Wow Linux and others

  • Things getting to a point where no one wants them.

    Kind of an interesting analogy. This could be similar to the Big Iron vs PC issues that happened during the 80's. Everyone wants the speed, responsiveness, and immediate feedback of the PC. From a core OS standpoint, Microsoft just doesn't provide this. If you want a change, such as how it handles your system of written communication, you either pay the big bucks and DIY or wait for them to do it for you. Security issues tend to take longer with Microsoft. Etc, etc...

    Microsoft won't ever go away. But I fee that they will become less relevant.

  • At least... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:34AM (#8767940) Journal
    At the very least, given the big number of hardware companies in those countries (added those of Taiwan that probably wasn't in the agreement because China doesn't recognize it, but whose interests lie in the same line), this agreement will help improve Linux driver support.

    That's good news and no mistake.

  • by wsxyz ( 543068 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:40AM (#8767971)
    I'll believe it when I see Korean websites that are actually usable for people running Linux. In the Korean web, IE6 on Windows is pretty much required to do anything useful at all.

    Korean Ebay is IE6 only, Korean banks offer internet banking only to IE6 users, Many Korean government websites don't function properly with anything but IE6, etc. etc.

    I've been seeing articles about Korea's "committment to Linux" for a long time, but I've yet to see any evidence that the Korean web is anything other than completely and utterly owned by Microsoft.
    • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:23AM (#8768245)
      Well, at least on the server-side, there is a lot of action in Korea: kr/index.html []

      which is somewhat a prerequesite for Linux on the desktop. If admins in companies have experience with Linux on servers, only then they will evaluate it on the desktops. It seems Microsoft has already lost the Korea-server market without any hope of gaining ground (When you run Linux, you have more choice of webhosters, have better support and on top pay less.) the desktop is next. It will take much longer than on the servers, but it will happen, especially when the government is helping.

  • by News for nerds ( 448130 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:40AM (#8767975) Homepage
    For Japan, the most wanted goodness in Linux is security, which is considered higher than that of MS Windows. Money is not that big issue for Japanese government, as Japanese electronics giants such as Fujitsu which are close to the governemnt are traditionally big for their SPARC servers. Migrating to Linux may be short loss for those companies but killing license fee to MS and Sun will offset it.

    For Korea, the most wanted is cheapness of Linux, that will help the country to grow without paying licence fee to the US company.

    For China, to kill rampant piracy to meet global standard, Linux is ideal solution, and of course it is free of security backdoor that may be present in software made in the US as GNU/RMS repeats it. You may worry about China use Linux as a tool to suppress free speech, but considering this is a project of 3 countries, such aspect won't be in its contents.

    Though 3 countries have different causes, as the initiative of so-called Open Source development is still in the hand of the Western people and internationalization of current OSS is poor, it is no wonder those countries start their own movement.
  • I'll bet you Microsofts bank account that MS will start an ad campaign about how All American MS windows is and how RED HERRING linux is.

    • Easy enough to negate that. Have some of the Japanese contributors make a manga/anime girl mascot. If they really want the sysadmin to dig in, encode a hentai version of her somewhere in the source code. If you make it so applying a patch will decrypt a new pic for them, you'll also solve most future stability/security issues...
    • But that won't solve the problem. Microsoft essentially has a lock on the US desktop market. The problem Microsoft has is outside the US. Wrapping itself in the US flag certainly won't persuade any Chinese to continue paying Microsoft's 80% profit margins!

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:15AM (#8768191) Homepage
    Unfortunately the OSS conference at Hanoi quickly digressed into an argument on which country would wind up being on the bottom of the tower at the end of 7 moves.
  • But Google OS meter will be still showing 1% of linux users, it was showing the same for past few years. So what's a billion of users more or less. Stable figures are more important

    On the other hand one could ask: "What will OSX users say now, until now they've been bashing that OSX is the most widely deployed *X, oh yeah, it has tranlucency"

  • I knew this was going to happen. It was only a matter of time before Asia's electronics industry was going to get tired of paying the Microsoft tax. Microsoft is in big trouble, as outside the US, it'll be non-existent within the decade.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately, the meeting has not invited developers nor comapnies publicly and especially to comapnies that are not located in Beijing. The organizer of the event seems to have ignored the fact that this is an OSS event.

    An interesting observation from participants was the question about continuous effort and follow-up actions. Instead of hosting workshop to discuss future co-operation, visits to local companies was arranged.

    During the meeting, Redfalg CEO has claimed they have build a new distribution
  • The full effort is properly referred to ASIANUX and is heavily sponsored by ORACLE. Read about the initial announcement of ASIANUX at []
    They also have a story [] that just ran on Friday about ASIANUX hitting 1.0 Beta and signing up over 40 vendors for certification.
  • Who submitted a story and thought they needed to point out that linux was open source. Not only that, but they felt the need to explain that linux could be "copied and modified freely"

    this is still /. right?
  • by clawsoon ( 748629 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @11:12AM (#8769341)

    Being virtually freely copyable, software is coming close to fitting economists' definition of a public good [] - something that can't be provided to one person without providing it to everyone.

    Government action is the only sustainable way to fund public goods, because of the free rider [] problem. This announcement was only a matter of time - and it's only the beginning.

    Andrew Klaassen

  • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @11:16AM (#8769403) Journal
    I am happy to see the wider use of Linux and unhappy to see some of the xenophobic reactions every time that an Asian country announces support for open source.

    Some have gone as far as calling this unamerican, thereby furthering the hollow arguments put forth by C. Mundie and co. just a few years ago.

    There is a lot to be happy about:

    *More bug fixes and more features
    *Wider and larger hardware support
    *Better internationalizaton support

    And for those of us that also care about free software, I think the OS will have a slow ripple effect throughout the respective societies of Korea, China and Japan.

    Eventually, it will take time, students will be empowered to start their own businesses by having the right tools at their disposal; those in Civil Society will also have an easier time finding likeminded individuals and building issue communities that use the power of open source software to coordinate their activities. All of this will take time, but it is possible.

    I think FLOSS, if nothing else, opens a window into altruism and the opportunity to build a more open tomorrow. Those ideas will be the seed of change over a few generations.
  • by theendlessnow ( 516149 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @01:14PM (#8770701)
    Apart from the Chinese limitation on the number of child processes that can be forked... this sounds like a reasonable proposal.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_