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GNU is Not Unix

Taiwan to Start National Push For Free Software 299

Posted by timothy
from the makes-good-sense dept.
Andy Tai writes: "Taiwan will start a national plan to jump-start the development and use of Free (libre) Software, according to this report by the Central News Agency, the government news agency of Taiwan, Rep. of China. Due to high Microsoft license fees and also to improve the levels of software technology in Taiwan, this plan includes the creation of a totally Chinese free software environment for Taiwan users, free software application development, and training of 120,000 people for free software skills, as well as efforts at schools to provide diverse information technology environments to ensure the freedom of information. The original article is in Chinese; an English summary appears in this Kuro5hin article."
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Taiwan to Start National Push For Free Software

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  • by Kargan (250092) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @02:33AM (#3636709) Homepage
    //Also, the national education system will switch to Open Source in order to provide a diverse IT education environment and ensure the people's rights to the freedom of information.//

    Now *that* is what I like to see! Get the next generation started off right.
  • Heh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @02:42AM (#3636741) Homepage Journal
    Nary a mention of the GPL in the entire article text.
  • The problem.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neksys (87486) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @02:57AM (#3636788)
    The problem is that Taiwan is a relatively poor country in comparison to the Western powers. A large-scale shift to open-source, free software will do little in terms of affecting Microsoft's sales. What I'd like to see is a country like Canada take a real stand, and make an effort to use open source software in schools and such. I can guarantee that Microsoft has a significant enough investment in it's northern neighbor that such an act would certainly cause it to at least take a closer look at its business practices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @03:16AM (#3636843)
    Just curious ... the lack of mention of Linux (perhaps I skimmed too quickly) brought something to my attention ...

    Why do you think that (it seems) Linux is chosen more often than the other free operating systems? For example, the Germany/IBM/Linux deal, the elementary schools in the Pacific Northwest, etc etc.

    Granted, I run *bsd exclusively these days (read: not flamebait/troll/a zealot ... I'm just used to the 'bsd way'), so I am a little curious why Linux gets chosen over them. To me, it seems that a lot of these 'deals' are riding the coattails of the Linux 'fad' that has been going on for a few years.

    I'm the first to admit ... *bsd is behind Linux in support for new hardware, a lot of commercial and/or pre-compiled software, but, these can't be the only factors. Is it the licensing?

    --m
  • Re:The problem.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zoccav (242377) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:01AM (#3636999)
    A large-scale shift to open-source, free software will do little in terms of affecting Microsoft's sales.
    In Free Software terms, the user base is a more significant factor than economic size. If a country like Taiwan can do this other countries will follow certainly.
  • Re: Unicode (Score:2, Interesting)

    by szap (201293) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:22AM (#3637040)
    Even before we handle the CJK/Unicode human interface and application integration problems, Linux (don't know about the rest) should have proper support for Unicode in the kernel, especially the filesystem's filenames. What's the point of writing a Chinese document when you can only save it as 'abcde.doc'?

    Granted, you could just mount /home as a UTF8 friendly VFAT/umsdos (see here [linuxhq.com] for details, grep for "Unicode"), but that's a huge kludge.

    And after that, we have a whole load of typical unix software AND file formats that handles files suchs as tar to fix to make them Unicode/UTF8 friendly while making sure that they are backwards-compatible.

    One minor thing software developers (that's YOU) can do is to make sure that all your new software you create is UTF8 friendly. That way you'd save yourself lots of redesign problems later. It used to be 640Kbytes, then Y2K. It's Unicode now.

    Back on topic, don't underestimate the influence of .tw. They've manage to dominate the popular desktop motherboards and misc. electronics market. Given the right conditions and some time, they can hugely influence the software market as well. This is the best chance for the world to break free of a certain US company's monopoly on software. After all, would you ten years ago believe that most desktop motherboards today are made in Taiwan?
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @09:11AM (#3637532) Homepage Journal
    That's pretty much any college anywhere. My experience is that 90-95% of CS majors are only getting into the industry for the money. Most of them don't really care about or have any particular aptitude for computers in general or programming in particular.

    It takes less programmers than you think to make for growth in the free software community. Here in America I still usually get blank looks when I mention Linux or the GPL. Or data structures for that matter. You'd be surprised at how many "professional" programmers out there wouldn't be able to code a hash table or a linked list.

  • by DigitalHammer (581235) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @11:37AM (#3638353) Journal
    The push for free software in Taiwan, which plans to develop it, and China, which plans to use RedFlagLinuix on gov't systems, is nothing new. As I had stated in an earlier post, the Chinese will always go for the lowest possible price for something they want, if not free. However, when a product they want is beyond their budget, they'll try to get a "pirated" or "knockoff" version of it, because it usually costs less. As in the case of properietary software, they would rather get a pirated copy of Microsoft Office or WindowsXP than pay stratospheric licensing fees. Also, as "western" fashions are popular in Hong Kong, a lot of people their are on a budget. Instead of forking over 200 US dollars worth of HK currency for say, a genuine Louie Vallerie handbag, most citizens would prefer the "knockoffs" sold in flea markets, because trendy items to the Chinese are about appearances, not the quality of the material. From my experiences in these flea markets, I can tell one that while these "counterfeit handbags" are made of plastic rather than leather, it looks identical to the real thing.

    However, times are changing for China. As this country tries its hardest to enter the WTO, the Chinese government has been cracking down on piracy in government-owned computers and in markets all over the country. (As stated in a CNET article, an anti-piracy official in China was quoted as saying "We arrest the persons involved (in piracy rings) and turn to execute them). Yet the Chinese government, which had been running pirated versions of its software for years until recently, knows they they cannot afford licsensing fees from coporate juggernauts such as Microsoft. Therefore, they pushed for the use of RedFlagLinuix. This situation also applies to the free software movement in Taiwan, which has its roots in centuries old Chinese mentality: give me what I want for the lowest price.

    One last note...the Chinese have also considered sofware as an essential component for learining about technology. They do not feel it is a crime to "copy" software such as Windows XP, which is required to run Microsoft Word, a word processing program theyre most familiar with, which is used to type up various documents, especially for education. As one Chinese famous scohlar once said "Stealing a book is elegance".
  • by BigBir3d (454486) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @08:03PM (#3642026) Journal
    Do you know what foreigners (specifically chinese and taiwanese) think of Americans? They have no interest in giving us money. And you forget, if you are the standard, such as Microsoft is, you can charge whatever you want, and the people have to pay, otherwise they can't use your product. This is true for an OS, as well as proprietary file formats, such .doc or .xls or whatever else. Own the file format, and usually the customer has to own the program to use the format. No different than a car or anything else. Toyota owns the car, if you buy it (rent, lease or buy), then you can use it.

    Welcome to capitalism.

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