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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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  • 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 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)
  • 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!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:15AM (#8767837)
    "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.
  • Try reactos. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Krik Johnson ( 764568 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:18AM (#8767848) Homepage
    Its a free open source operating system that is a clone of Windows NT. Reactos website [reactos.com]
  • by untermensch ( 227534 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:18AM (#8767851)
    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 be to enforce.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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!

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

    by xandroid ( 680978 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:28AM (#8767908) Homepage Journal

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

  • 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 DaHat ( 247651 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:40AM (#8767974) Homepage
    True, but even using windows and not paying for it puts the country effectively at the mercy of Microsoft. Should they no longer support local languages or worse, break existing installs during an update/service pack, suddenly you've got a country full of users who are SOL and quite unproductive.

    As the old line says, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"

    *looking around my house* Windows 2k, XP, 2k, 98, 2k... yea... I'm screwed.
  • Re:Yay! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AdamTheBastard ( 532937 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:40AM (#8767976)
    could this set the precident for the future? think about it, IKEA primarily makes products with "some asemberly required" now is there anything out there that you can think of that might "require some building" that could topple Bill Gates off his perch?
  • by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <mikemol@gmail.com> 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 Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:22AM (#8768235) Journal

    An OS monopoly wouldn't be a too bad thing, really. If true OS, you'd still have the ability to choose from several product because the OS certified licenses aren't allowed to bind you to certain products iirc. Besides, if you really like a certain project but don't agree with things,, you can always fork and take matters into your own hands.

    Anyways, the MS monopoly doesn't have to be horrible either. If MS decided to open up ALL win32 APIs, used PURE and UNENCRYPTED XML markup for Office documents, made all components in the OSes optional with an option to not install them in the first place and a few more things I can't think of atm, then the MS monoply would be allot less worse. Of course, this is Slashdot, people around here will always find something about MS to throw a fit at, just like some pro-MS sites will always manage to find something about Linux/OSS to throw a fit about.

  • by Louis Guerin ( 728805 ) <<guerin> <at> <gmx.net>> on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:35AM (#8768337)
    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 in my 114 months here who has even heard of linux, let alone one who'd actually consider using it. This country is completely hooked on windows, internet explorer and ActiveX. Check out a few [daum.net] typical [naver.com] korean [cwd.go.kr] websites [hankooki.com] for more flash, javascript, popups and other assorted evilness than you can probably bear...

  • Re:Alliances... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:41AM (#8768406)
    This is not intended to be flame bait.

    The vi vs emacs question is irrelevant to everyone but developers, and then only a small group of developers. For simple system editing you don't need to have either on your system:
    NE editor:
    http://ne.dsi.unimi.it/ [unimi.it]

    Since the concerns of these goverments are for everyday users their concerns will be for ease of use and so far KDE is ahead if for nothing else its similarity to windows.

    Just my opinion


  • by oddmake ( 715380 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:47AM (#8768471) Journal

    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 should learn some level of English.
    Someday sysad may get a mail from foregin Mailer-Daemon ...then (s)he must understand English regardless of your nationality.
  • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:49AM (#8768486)
    So is a Linux monopoly better than a Microsoft monopoly all of a sudden? Some may say yes, but no monopoly is good.

    I hate to break the blindingly obvious to you but:
    No one has a monopoly on Linux!

    They can't! It's free software. I can sell Linux, you can sell Linux, we all can sell Linux. And we can all have our own versions too.

    You're worrying about a problem that does not exist.

    Some may say this is a good thing, but to me this is government intereferance in a sector they should not touch.

    And why shouldn't they touch it? So they can keep sending money off to a foreign country for something that could be handled domestically?
    God forbid the g'ovt step forward and support something which benfits everyone, and only gets BETTER the more people use it.
    The g'ovt has no business getting people to come together and help each other find a solution to a common problem at little or no cost?
    It might destroy someone's profits and as we all know, once you make a profit with your business, the gov't is supposed to do anything in their power to continue that profit, even if your business model is totally outmoded.
  • Re:It's also doomed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:55AM (#8768551)
    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 implemented properly, and all the other crap thy have to get done. (Again, they have to hit a moving target while they do all this.)

    Assuming all that, what happens when they get a cease-and-desist letter from Microsoft owing to the fact that their entire GUI is an almost exact rip-off of Windows NT, including bundled apps like the text editor, and that they all use the same name as the stuff in Windows. What's the use of an OS that's no longer being developed owing to the fact that its core team has just been shipped off to a Gulag camp somewhere in Antarctica? It's not going to keep up with Microsoft very long under those conditions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:14AM (#8768738)
    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 "ASIANUX" as the foundation of all Asia Linux distributions.

    The question is that do we yet need another standard given LSB has been publicly accepted and who is RF to claim such statement...

  • by CowboyBob500 ( 580695 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:00PM (#8769961) Homepage
    Some have gone as far as calling this unamerican

    Who cares if it's un-American? The majority of the world are not Americans.

  • by GLX-Linux ( 768673 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @01:00PM (#8770581)
    This is true, BJ's oss activities has not been so open to the public, nothing was announce prior to the meeting.

    Moreover, it seems that some people is feedup with Redflag and effort is gearing up to promote another state-owned distribution. I thought the government understood that state-owned enterprises were generally non- competitive and that's the cause for massive restructurse that took place in the past decade...and if it is not competitive in traditional industries what would make a difference now in the IT industry???

    Lastly, many regional distributions were not invited to the meeting and if there are many differences in China, how do they expect it to work with 3 countries
  • by Chemicalscum ( 525689 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:34PM (#8775243) Journal
    You might not have noticed it but the Korean government is already a major user of Linux and was the first government to carry out a major switch to Linux on the desktop (ca 100,000) for its civil service.

    BTW you know very little about Linux - flash, javascript and popups (unless you disable them) all work on all the major Linux browsers. I am sure that the Korean version of Joe six-pack (Here in Canada he is Joe twenty-four-pack) knows nothing about Linux but I can assure you that in the Korean government and the big corporations they know a lot about Linux they are not going to let themselves get left behind by China and Japan.

    What you must understand is that this is all about setting up a standards base for asian Linux distributions to adhere to, together with related certification. It is not to develop one "official" distro for the three players.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp