Is This Finally the Year of Open Source...in China?

One of the long-running jokes in the free software world is that this year will finally be the year of open source on the desktop - just like it was last year, and the year before that. Thanks to the astounding rise of Android, people now...

Share

One of the long-running jokes in the free software world is that this year will finally be the year of open source on the desktop – just like it was last year, and the year before that. Thanks to the astounding rise of Android, people now realise that the desktop is last decade's platform, and that mobile – smartphones and tablets – are the future. But I'd argue that there is something even more important these, and that is the widespread deployment of open source in China.

Here's why. China is already the number two economy in the world, and will become number one if current trends continue. It is the digital workshop of the world, where leading consumer electronics devices are made. And, last but not least, there are a number of companies like Huawei and ZTE that are likely to become the new Apples and Samsungs sometime in the near future. For all these reasons, it is imperative that open source become the norm in China, which will then push it out to the rest of the world for purely selfish, business reasons (and nothing wrong with that.)

That has led me to be on the look-out for signs for the year of open source in China. That's made hard by the fact that China is a really another world, largely because its language and writing system are so different from the West's. So I have to take what I get, like the following fascinating press release from Canonical:

On 28-29 June, the eighth Open Source China – Open Source World Summit, sponsored by China OSS Promotion Union (COPU), occurred in Beijing at Beihang University.

UbuntuKylin was the talk of the conference. The UbuntuKylin project is a collaborative effort between CSIP, Canonical and NUDT. Initially released in April 2013, UbuntuKylin is an official Ubuntu flavour that will follow the Ubuntu six-monthly release cycle.

UbuntuKylin was awarded the Number 1 China Open Source Project for the year.

If, as I was, you are intrigued by the idea of a Chinese version of Ubuntu, you can find out more about UbuntuKylin, including screenshots, on this (English-language) site:

UK--— is the Derivative version of official under the Ubuntu, Its purpose is to create a Chinese variant of Ubuntu, more suitable for Chinese users. The project through make localized desktop environment and develop specific requirements application software to meet the majority of Chinese users to provide exquisite Chinese experience.

UbuntuKylin's research get CCN Joint Laboratory of open-source innovation's support, and the support from the domestic and foreign open-source enthusiasts. All contributors are in UbuntuKylin developer team list; All the open source code are in the Ubuntu development platform, that anyone can download and check on it.

That certainly sounds like Ubuntu is beginning to make its mark in China. The press release for the 8th Open Source China Open Source World Summit contains some more hints about what is going on there:

Themes

1.How to construct open platform

Open platform is promoting the development of emerging internet terminal industry (including smart phones, tablets, smart TV, etc.), and boosting the growth of cloud computing, social network, Weixin/Wechat, and other new internet business. We will discuss the competition between open platform and close platform, study the risk of over-reliance on one platform and observe the rise of a number of emerging open platforms.

2.How to develop the emerging mobile internet industry

We will pay great attention to the developing modes of emerging industry, discuss the transformation from traditional PC to emerging mobile internet industry, research on the changed production methods, and communicate the following issues: the rising of China, competition of mainstream products, grassroots' counter attack, developing environment of software and hardware, developing mechanism, users experience and developing modes, and ecosystem construction.

3.Expand the mobile internet applications

We will focus on local applications (like "App store"), network applications via browser or cross-platform, application compatibility expansion and three-screen (TV, PC and cell phone) integration.

Sub-Forums

Focus on OSS new technology and application

OSS and mobile development (0.5 day): From operating system to developing tools, how does OSS enhance the efficiency of mobile application development and bring new ideas for it as well?

OSS and cloud computing (0.5 day): How to construct high-performance application and provide complete cloud computing solutions by OSS?

OSS ecosystem (0.5 day): OSS communities, open platforms and varied internet applications.

OSS hardware (0.5 day): How to use OSS hardware to start an undertaking and change mobile internet.

As that makes abundantly clear, the central theme of the conference was mobile – Chinese manufacturers know as well as anyone that this is where the growth will be in the digital market. That's why it's heartening to see so much interest in open source in this area, as manifest by the talks at the 8th Open Source China Open Source World Summit. Let's hope that translates into plenty of good, open source-based products coming out of China – maybe even a few for the desktop....

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+