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Linux Business The Almighty Buck

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 ms_drives_me_mad ( 766056 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:11AM (#8767818)
    a govt should remain neutral to any particular business - ofcourse if there is a monopoly there can be a monopoly suit - but as far as encouraging or shielding linux goes - that's totally wrong.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:15AM (#8767836)
    Why ?

    These 3 countries are out to save a buck and at the same time try to get a bit of traditional American IT industry, OS making.

    I think Americans in generally should be less worried over telemarketing jobs going to India, this is the real threat, the risk that high tech IT jobs moves east, far east.
  • 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 basingwerk ( 521105 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:21AM (#8767872)
    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!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:25AM (#8767898)
    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.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:28AM (#8767909)
    These 3 countries are out to save a buck ...

    Nothing wrong with that.

    and at the same time try to get a bit of traditional American IT industry, OS making.

    Since Linux is not traditional American IT industry software, there is no technological drain happening here. This decision does however have the potential to shrink the market share of a certain technologically stagnated and sloppy American OS vendor but that is only to be expected when this American OS vendor's product sucks bigtime. Another factor is the simple fact that given the USA's obsession with intelligence gathering nobody trusts this American OS vendor not to cave into the pressure to spike its product with backdoors
  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <ag-slashdot&exit0,us> on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:33AM (#8767933) Homepage
    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.

  • 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.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:35AM (#8767946)
    And with more coders in China than the rest of the world, the current version of Linux would end up being the incompatible one.
  • by spafbnerf ( 749681 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:35AM (#8767948) Homepage
    The development will be done by the private sector, but will be funded and co-ordinated by representatives from the member states.
  • So is a Linux monopoly better than a Microsoft monopoly all of a sudden? Some may say yes, but no monopoly is good. What these countries are doing is basically giving Linux the advantage within their own borders. Some may say this is a good thing, but to me this is government intereferance in a sector they should not touch.

  • 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.
  • by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:43AM (#8767995) Homepage
    A government should aso not allow it's entire IT infrastructure to be remote controlled from a foreign nation. A state monopoly is good when it achieves something private companies can not handle, or when you talk about critical things with few/no alternatives(e.g. water supply). (Replacing)Windows comes pretty close to both descriptions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:52AM (#8768048)
    > On another angle, why did the U.S. and Europe bother suing Microsoft?

    It was Sun that sued Microsoft in Europe.
  • by Walkiry ( 698192 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:58AM (#8768092) Homepage
    I think you confused "Monopoly" and "Monoculture". The Windows monoculture is bad because it gives control to a single company with their own interests as top priority (just as many other privately owned companies really). Linux, on the other hand, does not seek profit per se, companies making distros do by offering support and added value with their own code on top of it.

    Still, no monoculture is good. I don't think it'd be good to see Linux everywhere, I'd like it if there was more than one tool to do the job.
  • by chrism238 ( 657741 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:07AM (#8768146)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:18AM (#8768204)
    So you're saying that because they tell the truth about their government's policies on various issues, they must be lying about their government's policy on OSS?

    PRC policy is that Tibet is a part of China and happy about it. PRC policy is that Falun Gong is a dissident organisation that must be suppressed. PRC policy is that the events of Tiananmen were justified. And PRC policy is that open source will be kept open source.

    Why are you assuming that they're only going to change their mind about the last of the above policies?
  • Potential Target (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:20AM (#8768214)
    With something like 1.2 billion new users, wouldn't Linux become more of a target for virus/trojan writers?
  • 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.
  • by hyphz ( 179185 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:45AM (#8768438)
    No, it's not that.

    Microsoft are considered to have a monopoly because any new OS is caught in the chicken-and-egg problem: nobody will use the new OS because it doesn't support hardware/software, but nobody will code hardware/software support for it because - since nobody is using it - doing so doesn't gain them any customers.

    Microsoft may not have acted to create that monopoly, but that isn't necessary for a monopoly to thrive. The last mile problem is still grounds for monopoly regulation of telecoms even though the telecom firms didn't invent the problem.
  • by PetrusMagnusII ( 309326 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:46AM (#8768452) Homepage
    how can you be sure their will be 1.2 billion new users???

    just becuase the software is made in that country (by the PRIVATE SECTOR, only aided by the gov. like it says in the article) doesn't mean that everyone in the oountry will instantly switch..

    I've liked in Japan for two years now, I personaly knew only a handful of people that ran any for of *nix on their home computers, and I have met 0 people in Japan that do. People wont just switch, particularly people in asia were it takes decades to change any laws or ways of thinking...

    and if you assume that all 1.2billion ppl in those three countries will be ussing that os becuase it's made in that country, then you'd have to say that EVERYONE in america uses microsoft windows no matter what becuase their are american and it is an unwritten law.. if you said that, i'm pretty sure some people would not be happy.
  • by CowboyBob500 ( 580695 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:40AM (#8768994) Homepage
    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.

  • 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 dalutong ( 260603 ) < minus city> on Monday April 05, 2004 @01:52PM (#8771139)
    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 the devil. Each generation is more and more moderate. Anything else would cause many more problems than exist today.

    As for OSS, the Chinese would love to have China become a tech hub with an OS that was not under someone else's control. In the same way that the U.S. would support OSS if the roles were reversed.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan