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GNU is Not Unix

Taiwan to Start National Push For Free Software 299

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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  • Re:Heh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by sffubs ( 561863 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @02:45AM (#3636756)
    Except that it is implied by

    "Also included are international cooperation on free application software development, with the results freely shared internationally"

    which suggests Taiwan is going to continue in the spirit of which 'free software' was intended.

  • by Overcoat ( 522810 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @02:49AM (#3636769)
    Taiwan has been recently involved in some legal hassles [] with Microsoft over licensing fees and excessive price increases. I wonder if this plan is a genuine effort to use free software just a bluff to put a scare into Microsoft?
  • Re:The problem.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @03:01AM (#3636797) Homepage Journal
    Taiwan's economy is half the size of Canada's. It is by no means small.

    Canada []
    GDP: purchasing power parity - $774.7 billion (2000 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate: 4.3% (2000 est.)
    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $24,800 (2000 est.)

    Taiwan []
    GDP: purchasing power parity - $386 billion (2000 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate: 6.3% (2000 est.)
    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $17,400 (2000 est.)
  • by Derleth ( 197102 ) <chbarts@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @04:32AM (#3636964) Homepage
    Taiwan is as much a country as Kuwait is (Remember when Iraq called Kuwait the 17th Province? Same deal.). China simply refuses to acknowledge it, and is threatening to conquer the independent nation of Taiwan by force. Hmmm... if they really owned Taiwan, why would they have to invade it just to assert authority over it?

    Taiwan has its own government, military, and seperate ties to the US (seperate from China, that is). In fact, the US has pledged to defend Taiwan if the gangsters of Beijing ever stage an invasion. So Taiwan is recognized by the USA and most of the rest of the civilized world.

    What the CIA says about Taiwan. [] - We recognize Taiwan. Taiwan recognizes us.

    BBC Article of interest [] - We sell weapons to Taiwan, much to China's consternation. Beijing does not dictate Taiwan's foreign policy any more than the UK dictates America's foreign policy.

    In short, you are full of shit. So is Beijing, for that matter. Taiwan is, and of rights ought to be, a free and independent nation.
  • by randy_ch ( 233470 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:02AM (#3637002) Journal
    I am a college student in Taiwan, and what I can only say is people in Taiwan are not ready for the adoption of free software. It still has a long way to go.

    For example, most of my classmates have no ideas of what free software is, even my major is computer science. That is because we have been used to the software from Microsoft for a very long time, and the teaching of using those software is part of our eduction. I am sure that most people can not succeed in the process of transferring from Microsoft to free software. It still needs a lot of effects before we can finally achieve it.

    However, I am still glad to see the government has such a farsighted plan that not only will save much money for our people, but also can bring about the rising of the develope of software industry. Although it will not come true in the near furture, I appreciate how perspective our government becomes! In fact, I am surprised. I think it is a blessing for we people in Taiwan. Thank god we are going toward the right direction.

  • Re: Unicode (Score:2, Informative)

    by Karkya ( 305020 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:54AM (#3637097) Homepage
    Most UNIX filesystems, including ext2fs, are in fact 8-bit clean; but the shells and file utils like ls are often not, at least not in their default setup.

    For zsh, setopt printeightbit will do the trick.
    For Linux fileutils, apply the following patch:
    diff -ru fileutils-4.0i.orig/src/ls.c fileutils-4.0i/src/ls.c
    --- fileutils-4.0i.orig/src/ls.c Wed May 5 21:13:49 1999
    +++ fileutils-4.0i/src/ls.c Thu Sep 16 11:10:10 1999
    @@ -883,7 +883,9 @@
    format = many_per_line;
    /* See description of qmark_funny_chars, above. */
    +#ifdef NO_FORCE_8BIT
    qmark_funny_chars = 1;
    I have lots of stuff with Big-5 filenames on my ext2fs. Even wu-ftpd and apache work fine on them.

    Unicode is only useful when you want to use more than one languages at the same time. Even the Taiwan/Hongkong version of Windows does user-I/O in Big-5, it's only when it's saved on VFAT that it transparently converts the encoding.

    In other words, Unicode support is a filesytem concern, application programmers simply need to make sure their apps are 8-bit clean.
  • by primus_sucks ( 565583 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @08:43AM (#3637419)
    So what would be so difficult about converting to Linux? In my experience KDE is just as easy to use as windows and OpenOffice is just as easy to use as MS Office. Not to mention avoiding liscensing fees and security hazards.
  • by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@m[ ] ['qdu' in gap]> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @09:57AM (#3637755)
    I hope I'm not too off-topic by posting this here...

    Behind U.S. support for Tibetan feudalists
    by Deirdre Griswold

    Very few people who seek an audience with the president of the United States get one. Even heads of state have to line up to see George W. Bush, who boasts of his short work day.

    Nevertheless, Bush found time May 23 for a meeting and photo opportunity with the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

    The Dalai Lama hasn't been in Tibet for over four decades. He left for India in 1959 to become head of a "government in exile" that represented the former Tibetan feudal ruling class.

    The White House dismissed the date of the meeting with Bush--May 23, which was being celebrated in China as the 50th anniversary of the day in 1951 when Tibet was declared peacefully liberated from feudalism and imperialist influence--as a mere "coincidence."

    Bush's sit-down with the Dalai Lama came just two days after Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, had an unprecedented dinner meeting with about 20 members of the U.S. Congress.

    To the Chinese people, these two political acts embracing secessionist elements are further proof that the Bush administration has embarked on a dangerous anti-China strategy with serious military implications.

    Covert U.S. strategy vs. official stance

    Tibet has been under Chinese jurisdiction since the 13th century. Today it is an autonomous republic within the People's Republic of China.

    The U.S. government's official stance, even after the Chinese Communists swept to power in 1949, has always been to recognize both Taiwan and Tibet as part of China.

    When Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was overthrown by the Chinese people and fled the mainland to set up a U.S.-backed dictatorship on the island of Taiwan, Washington continued to recognize his regime as the government of all China, including Tibet. So how could it argue later that Taiwan and Tibet weren't part of China?

    Unofficially and secretly, however, Washington has fomented the secession of both Taiwan and Tibet ever since it became obvious that the revolutionary regime in Beijing was here to stay. As long ago as the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency began training Tibetan mercenaries at Camp Hale in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (see Chicago Tribune of Jan. 25, 1997, and Newsweek of Aug. 16, 1999).

    According to the famous "Pentagon Papers," the CIA made 700 flights over Tibet in the 1950s. Dropping mercenaries into the frozen vastness of Tibet didn't work, however. So in recent years the anti-China forces here have focused on a "Free Tibet" campaign that has made inroads in the United States with its well-financed and synchronized promotion of the Dalai Lama as a deeply spiritual mystic fighting a soulless bureaucracy that oppresses his people.

    This view takes advantage of the fact that most people in this country know nothing about Tibet except that it has pretty mountains. They are easy prey for a slick campaign romanticizing the "spirituality" of feudal times.

    The Chinese people, however, have a much more recent memory of what it was like when all-powerful landlords ruled the countryside.

    Life for the serfs

    Nine out of 10 Tibetans were serfs at the time of the Chinese Revolution. They owned no land and had no personal freedom. Another 5 percent were hereditary household slaves.

    Their toil was backbreaking. Education for the common people was unheard of.

    Conditions were so backward that the wheel had no function except for saying prayers. Roads didn't exist.

    Back in the 1930s the British, who had been trying for years to add Tibet to their empire in India and had actually staged several armed incursions, made a present of an automobile to the Dalai Lama. Since Tibet had no paved roads, the auto had to be dismantled and carried to Lhasa on draft animals.

    The nobles, upper-ranking lamas in monasteries and administrative officials, together made up less than 5 percent of the population. Yet they owned all of Tibet's farmland, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers as well as most livestock.

    The current Dalai Lama became part of this owning class when at the age of 2 he was taken from his family by the monks to be groomed as a demigod. Before that he was just a toddler named Lhamo Toinzhub.

    Serfs were really slaves belonging to landowners. According to a white paper prepared in 1992 by the Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China (available online at "Sometimes they were traded as payment for debts. According to historical records, in 1943 the aristocrat Chengmoim Norbu Wanggyai sold 100 serfs to a monk official at Garzhol Kamsa, in Zhigoin area, at the cost of 60 liang of Tibetan silver (about four silver dollars) per serf. He also sent 400 serfs to the Gundelin Monastery as mortgage for a debt of 3,000 pin Tibetan silver (about 10,000 silver dollars).

    "Serf owners had a firm grip on the birth, death and marriage of serfs. Male and female serfs not belonging to the same owner had to pay 'redemption fees' before they could marry. In some cases, an exchange was made with a man swapped for man and a woman for woman. In other cases, after a couple wedded, the ownership of both husband and wife remained unchanged, but their sons would belong to the husband's owner and their daughters to the wife's owner. Children of serfs were registered the moment they were born, setting their life-long fate as serfs."

    Serfdom, whether in Europe during the most backward feudal period or in China more recently, was a ruthless system of exploitation through usury and corvee--unpaid labor that the landlords assessed on the serfs, like taxes.

    The Chinese white paper continues: "Incomplete statistics indicate the existence of more than 200 categories of corvee taxes levied by the Gaxag (Tibetan local government). The corvee assigned by Gaxag and manorial lords accounted for over 50 percent of the labor of serf households, and could go as high as 70-80 percent.

    "According to a survey conducted before the Democratic Reform, the Darongqang Manor owned by Regent Dagzhag of the 14th Dalai Lama had a total of 1,445 ke [a ke is about one sixth of an acre] of land, and 81 able-bodied and semi-able-bodied serfs. They were assigned a total of 21,260 corvee days for the whole year, the equivalent of an entire year's labor by 67.3 people. In effect, 83 percent of the serfs had to do corvee for one full year.

    "The serfs engaged in hard labor year in and year out and yet had no guaranteed food or clothing. Often they had to rely on money borrowed at usury to keep body and soul together."

    Class law

    Tibetan law divided people into three classes and nine ranks. Inequality was stipulated in the law. The codes said:

    "It is forbidden to quarrel with a worthy, sage, noble and descendant of the ruler."

    "Persons of the lower rank who attack those of the upper rank, and a junior official who quarrels with a senior official commit a serious crime and so should be detained."

    "Anyone who resists a master's control should be arrested."

    "A commoner who offends an official should be arrested."

    "Anyone who voices grievances at the palace, behaving disgracefully, should be arrested and whipped."

    Any socially conscious person in the United States knows that while everyone is supposedly subject to the same law, it is applied differently to rich and poor. But in Tibet the law itself demanded different punishment for the same crime depending on class and rank.

    The law concerning the penalty for murder said, "As people are divided into different classes and ranks, the value of a life correspondingly differs." The lives of people of the highest rank of the upper class, such as a prince or leading Living Buddha, were calculated in gold equal to the weight of the dead body. The lives of people of the lowest rank of the lower class, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, were worth "a straw rope."

    Servants who injured their masters would have their hands or feet chopped off; a master who injured a servant was responsible only for the medical treatment of the wound, with no other compensation required.

    A saying among serfs was, "All a serf can carry away is his own shadow, and all he can leave behind is his footprints."

    The Chinese Revolution eventually ended serfdom in Tibet. Those among the former rulers who resisted democratic change were then embraced by the CIA--which according to the Chicago Tribune article gave a special retainer to the Dalai Lama of $180,000 a year during the 1960s to keep a government in exile in Nepal.

    Today's budget for this high-powered anti-China campaign has not yet been revealed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @12:44PM (#3638810)
    One think to remember the written Chinese in Taiwan(Traditional) is not the same as it in China(Simplified).

    The character looks different. Surprisingly enough, this isn't a problem. It's simply a matter of a different font. The MAinland font has fewer strokes (usually, not always!), and that's why it's called simplified. The meaning behind the characters is the same. There is a one-to-one correspondence between simplified and traditional characters, I believe. We can use the same codes and different fonts on the two sides of the Straights.

    You also base your argumement on the misconception introduced by the former KMT dictatorship in Taiwan and embraced by the PRC that the the Taiwanese and the Chinese are the same people. (Note: Manadrin was not the language of Taiwan until the KMT "colonial" government seized control in the 1940s)

    This is true. It's also true that MAndarin was not the language of most of the mainland until about the same time. A far better argument is that Taiwan was occupied, first by the Portugese, then by the Dutch, then by ?, then by the Japanese for about 50 years, up through the end of WWII, then most recently by the KMT. They have about as much reason to call themselves Japanese as do the people of Guam. They do consider themselves Chinese, including the people in the independence movement (which was illegal until recently; may still be...).

    Most Taiwanese citizens have no interest in "cooperating" with Chinese. The people of Taiwan just want to be left alone and be allowed to live their own lives without Chinese intervention.

    There are a lot of folks who came over in the late 40's who have relatives on the mainland. They would really like to see conditions improve on the mainland. The biggest problem is the relative sizes of the two countries. Even if the mainland surrendered unconditionally tomorrow, Taiwan just couldn't help them. The mainland is too big, and has too many problems, and Taiwan is too small, and no where near rich enough to do anything.

    Taiwan is a threat to China in the same way that West Berlin was a threat to the whole of Eastern Germany: it is an example of (relative) freedom. The Communist authorities cannot allow freedom on their outskirts; it will cause unrest in their interior. Taiwan is a threat to China's system of government, not because it may attack, but because it exists, and is less evil. The one-china bit is partly smokescreen: the mainland will have to vilify and threaten the surrounding countries until either totalitarianism ends on the mainland, or until totalitarianism spreads around the world.

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