Feeds

Ubuntu tapped by China for national operating system

Canonical to help government add "Chinese specific" features to OS

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Ubuntu is going to become the reference architecture for a Linux distribution, backed and developed by the Chinese government.

The news means Ubuntu-stewards Canonical will work with China's National University of Defense Technology, and The China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Center, to develop a Chinese-flavored version of the popular Linux distribution.

This software will help China provide "a flexible, open, widely-used and standardized operating system," Canonical said on Thursday.

"This collaboration will bring local investment and participation to ensure that the platform is relevant for the Chinese market, and close coordination with the global Ubuntu project ensures that it is familiar to software and hardware vendors, and useful for export products made by Chinese companies as well," Canonical chief executive Jane Silber said in a statement.

A "CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab" has been create in Beijing where where engineers from all three organizations will code "an enhanced version of the Ubuntu desktop with features specific to the Chinese market".

The first distribution made under this scheme will come out in April 2013 and will be named Ubuntu Kylin.

Chinese specific features in the 13.04 release include Chinese input methods and Chinese calendars, along with weather indicators and integration of various Chinese sites into the Dash.

Future releases will see services for payment processing for banks and online shopping added in, along with integration with popular Chinese software for photo editing and document production.

Other repressive nations that have developed local versions of Linux include North Korea, which built the KDE-based Red Star OS to help wean it as a nation off of an unfortunate dependence on Windows made by the capitalists over at Microsoft.

China's decision to plough more resources into Linux development stems from a similar desire to wean itself off of technologies developed by Western companies as part of the nation's latest five year plan.

Because the software is open source it's unlikely that any backdoors could be added into the Ubuntu OS without the global Linux community taking notice.

This contrasts with Skype, which is available in a Chinese-flavour that spies on its users and logs information about them talking or making phone calls about sensitive subjects to the repressive state. The software is delivered as a partnership between local company TOM Online and Microsoft.

The National University of Defense Technology tends to develop variants of Western technologies and then take them into a different direction altogether, as evidenced by its past involvement in stewarding the development of China's MIPS-based processors, and of helping guide development of the novel interconnects used in some of China's top supercomputers. Who knows what may go on in the lab?

With a population of 1.34bn and rising, China is all but certain to be the largest market for desktop operating systems in the world in terms of users, and with Mark Shuttleworth leading a charge to get the Unity-dressed Ubuntu in front of as many people as possible, who can blame him for hitching Canonical a little bit closer to the Chinese state? ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.