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GNU/Linux Use Growing in China and Israel
Saturday, February 28 2004 @ 11:26 PM EST

Chinese officials are saying that they will announce a law by summer that will require that a certain percentage of all software used by the government be produced in China. No one yet knows how much the percentage will be, though some say as much as 70%, but they are predicting that GNU/Linux will benefit, no matter what the percentage chosen:

"China says it is merely trying to level the playing field for its own software companies.

“'If a software program is dominant for a long time, it’s harmful for the development of the software industry,' said Li Wuqiang of the Ministry of Science and Technology. . . .

"China’s reasons for preferring Linux are many. Officials often say they feel safer with an open source operating system, because a proprietary system such as Microsoft’s Windows may contain hidden 'back doors' that programmers can use to evade security and gain access.

"'I believe the era of exorbitant profit for software should end,' said Li, the science ministry’s deputy director in charge of new technology. 'Basic software services should be cheap, just like water, electricity and gas.'”

There is also a lovely story from Israel, where Knoppix is spreading like wildfire. This article tells the story and also gives a very clear and complete description of how to use Knoppix and lists what you get with it (a lot). The reviewer is obviously very impressed. There's a version of Knoppix for students also.

"Another blow for Microsoft: on the heels of a free alternative to its Office software, a no-charge alternative operating system to Windows is now flooding the country. Knoppix, a Hebrew operating system requiring no installation, is the first real threat to the Microsoft monopoly in Israel. . . .

"Knoppix has a clear advantage over Windows: it operates directly from a CD, with no need to install it on the computer's hard disk. After a brief minute’s wait, you will discover a new and amazing world – an operating system very similar to Windows with a hoard of available programs that include Open Office (a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, and more), a graphics and multimedia program, an e-mail program, and an Internet browser. The operating system even identifies Web connections and allows you to surf Hebrew sites quickly and with no need for definitions. Knoppix contains everything home users need, saving them installation work as well as hundreds of shekels, since the program can be downloaded free of charge. That is what will make Knoppix a hit, as well as a threat to Microsoft’s total control of the market for home computer operating systems. The impact on this market is likely to be significant. Despite our request, Microsoft Israel declined to comment."

If that sounds appealing, you can get your own Knoppix in your language. Or maybe you'd like a 3-D Linux desktop?

"The transition from working desktop to fullscreen 3D environment is seamless. In other words when the pager activates you see your current desktop appear to zoom out to a point in space where you can see your other virtual desktops allowing you to select another. The best way to understand is to try it out and get the full effect!"

I definitely want to try this.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Ballmer is reportedly pleased to hear that Munich is having a harder time and higher costs switching to GNU/Linux systems than anticipated. If this is so, it's a great opportunity for local LUGs to step up to the plate and help with the transition, don't you think? Even if they don't, the truth would seem to be that once the transition is completed, you'll never have to transition again, and so this one-time expense isn't for the life of the product, despite Ballmer's glee. Paris is now considering switching too:

"This hasn't stopped other cities, states and countries from giving open-source software a try — or at least a second look. Paris recently revealed it was studying ways of moving its 17,000 government PCs from Windows to open-source.

"Agencies in Britain, Korea and China are studying similar moves. India's president said last year that open-source software should be encouraged in his country. Even Austin, Texas, is giving Linux a try."

Ballmer's mistaken if he thinks people are switching because GNU/Linux is cheaper. I'd pay *more* to use it, personally, and I don't even hate Microsoft. I just don't trust them. It's their corporate behavior. I just naturally prefer to deal with companies I trust. The entire SCO affair reflects badly on SCO, but it splashes on to Microsoft as well. They really do need to consider their ways and realize that if the world distrusts you, or dislikes your behavior, you can't possibly succeed in business over the long term.

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