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China targets Windows with Linux-based OS

Aims for 70 per cent of Win2k functionality. The best 70, presumably...

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In last month's report on a Chinese effort to build a home-grown Win98, we appealed for further enlightenment on the nature of the project. Well, it's taken a while, but a kindly Chinese speaker has done some digging, and reveals it's Linux-based, and GPLed.

Thanks to the unnamed translator for the following*, and to Mark for passing it on. The apparent involvement of the Taiwanese government, alongside Linux International, is particularly interesting:

Called Yangfan Linux, which means "raise the sail" in Chinese, the open source operating system is being pieced together by the Beijing Software Industry Productivity Center, a group established by the government to organize Linux development in China. Now six months in the making, Yangfan has been installed on 2,800 government computers, replacing Windows and in some cases early versions of Linux already running inside the government, The source code for Yangfan was made available last week under the GNU General Public License. The group is now collecting feedback and will continue improving the operating system.

Nearly 100 software engineers from 18 organizations, including universities, private sector as well as the Taiwanese government, have contributed to the project. Some of its major achievements include developing a graphical user interface that aims to simplify Linux for the desktop.

The group has also done significant work localizing the operating system to support Chinese-language characters, which will be contributed back into the Linux community, according to Jon "Maddog" Hall, director of Linux International, a nonprofit Linux advocacy group that has been working with the Chinese government.

The Beijing Software Industry Productivity Center said it is aiming to duplicate about 70 per cent of the functionality of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system. It is also working to add various hardware device drivers to the operating system.

Yangfan is based on two distributions of the Linux operating system. One is the distribution developed by Chinese Linux vendor Red Flag Software. The second is a version of the operating system called Cosix Linux, developed by China Computer Software Corp.

In addition to an operating system, the Beijing Software Industry Productivity Center is developing office applications and other Linux-based software to sit on top of Yangfan. The group's goal is to develop an entire desktop environment with open source technology for the government (this will be the MS Office equivalent functionality referred to in the original report, so it would appear we're talking about file formats rather than a clone). ®

* It's been drawn to our attention that this translation is in fact a retranslation of an original English language piece by IDG's Matt Berger, which you can find here. Our apologies to Matt and IDG for this goof.

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