Behind the upsurge in Chinese open source communities
When Novell and Red Hat set up open source communities in China last year, most Chinese companies merely watched. Recently, however, China-based software companies have begun to show a greater interest in creating communities of their own. TurboLinux and Red Flag have created Whitefin and Linux-Ren, respectively. Red Flag also plans to create two additional open source communities -- UMPC (with Intel) and OpenAsianux -- before the end of this year. Why have Chinese companies suddenly changed their tunes?
Zhou Qun, the general manager of TurboLinux, says there are two reasons why TurboLinux set up Whitefin: lack of open source talent has been hindering the company's development, so they hope to find more talent from within the community; and they also hope to promote the company's desktop system through Whitefin.
Part of the momentum behind this change comes from the Chinese government, which now regards open source communities as a key to its software industry and will put more resources toward them in its eleventh Five-Year-Plan period (2006-2010). "As a banner of China's Linux industry, Red Flag no doubt has more responsibilities to advocate the government's new tactic. It is vital to a government-supported company to take a good position in China," says a Chinese Linux expert who wished to remain anonymous. These new company-supported open source communities are lucky. They get support from companies, while the companies themselves get support from the government.