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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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  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @03:22AM (#3636862)
    As we all know, many of the critical components for computers are produced in Taiwan. If the nation itself shifts toward free software, Taiwanese computer producers will have a considerable interest in producing drivers for free OSes. In paticular, laptops might suddenly become more Linux compliant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @03:31AM (#3636882)
    you are forgetting that taiwan in your example is a country in and unto itself. how can they be in trouble with microsoft, they arent under US law or any other law, if it is the government doing it, then they are under the laws that THEY make, so they cannot be forced to pay any thing. Unless of course microsoft sets up their own independant country or army to invade them....i sure wouldnt put it past them
  • by poopie ( 35416 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @04:04AM (#3636927) Journal
    I believe this is a good thing and will have positive impact for all of Asia.

    Taiwan has a lot of computer-savvy people, and one of the things that is holding back opensource and linux in Asia are the less-than seamless integration of CJK/Unicode character display, input methods, and font rendering for Unix/Linux when compared with Windows.

    I know all about the efforts underway to systematically resolve those issues (and wish them well), but you still need to be a UNIX guru and in some cases a programmer, if you want to get a Linux system set up that can support all of the popular asian language input methods and have them be consistent across all apps in all environments.

    One thing micros~1 has done exceptionally well is operating system internationalization and providing a common consistent method for display, and changing of IMEs.

    If Taiwan can contribute efforts to making linux more multibyte-friendly, it makes linux more accessible and practical to the fastest growing segment of computer users in the world -- who likely can run any software they want for only the cost of a CD from the local software street vendor.

    When people who can pirate all the software they want actually *CHOOSE* to run linux, that will be a major turning point for opensource.

    I remember the old joke: "you can only sell one copy of any software in Asia" - Imagine if the creative talents of all those crackers/hackers/pirates were focused on creating free software...
  • Changing the world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enigma48 ( 143560 ) <jeff_new_slash@j ... m ['om.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:34AM (#3637064) Journal
    Originally I was going to comment on how different the priorities are between the western (US/Can) and eastern (China/Taiwan) worlds are. Assuming the translator did their job correctly and introduced a minimum of bias, a few phrases caught my eye: "benefits the government NT$ 2 billion and the society NT$10 billion", the statement about international cooperation on free application software development and coordination of training centres, "...and ensure the people's rights to...".

    From a Canadian standpoint, it sounded like people being put first. WAY first. Not about dropping Microsoft - just the fact that people tend to be put that far first.

    Sitting back a second, I remembered the just-passed anniversary of Tiananmen square. So much for the "ideal" ways of the east.

    But it got me thinking. Imagining what would happen if other governments adopted this plan of using and developing free software to meet the needs of the government. While the private sector has little incentive to release any work they did while paying for the employee to do it, the public sector has almost no incentive NOT to.

    Imagining a little further, a few other governments pick up the idea - at least small groups anyway - because the work of Taiwan (and maybe Germany) provided a very necessary tool that was only available via closed-source software. Simplifying and standardizing international charsets alone would be a godsend.

    Now, other countries make the switch to a partially open system and add their piece of the pie.

    Suddenly, governments everywhere are noticing the next-to-nil cost of switching some or all of their systems to an open-source based solution. Training was needed anyway and other governments won't mind giving some limited support for the first bit. Service companies step in later for more robust support seeing some money in the picture.

    I like the idea of open-source. I don't preach the benefits of open source nearly as much as I preach the benefits of solution X over solution Y where *applicable* (eg: Linux over Windows, Apache over IIS).

    I like the idea of governments co-operating, improving the picture for everyone. Even if it saved them nothing over the current system.

    I like the way the world looks for my future children right now.

  • by ScottKin ( 34718 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @05:55AM (#3637100) Homepage Journal
    And Linux has improved "software technology"?

    Please enlighten me as to what technological leaps have been provided by Linux? Sharing code is *not* a technological advance. OSS is *not* a new technology.

    Oh, you mean "free software" is now a technology?

    All of our current computing technology is based on the 1 and the 0 - how can you improve on the good-old 1/0, yes/no, on/off functionality of binary gates?

    There are some people doing hard research on computational models beyond binary digital computing, but I can tell you that it's not Microsoft or Linux.
  • by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <jeffwNO@SPAMchebucto.ns.ca> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @07:04AM (#3637207) Homepage
    There is a reason why there is a distinction beteween "theft" and "theft of service". Because there is a distinction.

    In your example, this person did not steal $1,691.00 from microsoft. It is the theft of a potential sale. Not everyone who runs pirated software would purchase it if they could not get it otherwise.

    Clearly since these 20 people are using pirated software they are unwilling to spend the money on XP. Why do you think that everyone that uses software is willing to spend money on it?

    Stealing a snickers bar is infinitly different. Effen had to purchase supplies to make the bar, and then distribute it. There is a very large incremental cost in producing a tangable item such as a choclate bar. In your example, someone is buring 20 copies of XP. There was zero incremental cost to Microsoft in that operation.

  • by s390 ( 33540 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @07:56AM (#3637280) Homepage
    Should people start lobbying the states/federal government to impose another penalty on M$: a boycott of Microsoft products?

    Well, one wouldn't use the term "boycott" as it's rather loaded with left-wing connotations. But some professional IT managers in government agencies at all levels (Federal, State, and Local) are way ahead of you. Many of them are ticked-off at Microsoft's heavy-handed "marketing tactics" (i.e., character assassination and thinly veiled extortion) and the high costs of Microsoft's new annual software rental licensing and forced upgrades, and they are looking at alternatives, including especially Open Source.

    Government MIS managers are a fairly buttoned-down bunch (they're civil service staff, after all), but if you listen to a convention of them talking about the escalating hassles and expenses of Microsoft software, you'll hear four common complaints: (1) security and stability problems, missing/late/buggy patches, and high maintenance labor costs, (2) arrogant sales reps going "over their heads" and denigrating their management judgement to their bosses at the first sign of hesitation about signing up for annual software rental licenses, (3) threats to force costly and disruptive software license audits if they don't toe the line, and (4) the high costs of Microsoft software licensing and support expenses. Many IT managers in government either can't afford to pay for annual software "upgrades" they don't really need or resent Microsoft's strong-arm approach, or both, and are looking for ways to reduce or even totally eliminate their dependance on Microsoft software. Lots of them are looking at Open Source for a way out.

    So yes, lobbying government politicians to open up software procurement to competition, use public taxpayers' money to acquire Open Source software that is freely available and open for inspection, eliminate the software monoculture that enables security vulnerabilities and pandemic infections, discourage sole-source and no-bid software contracts, and reduce public software costs... might be very helpful to public IT management. Polite letters to legislators, board members, and the heads of agencies can help.

  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @09:02AM (#3637489)
    "All glory is fleeting"

    Nothing lasts forever. Whether this is really the beginning of the end of the old Microsoft is still unknown, but the computer world is changing. It's beyond the control of anyone company at this point. The most a company fights this gradual evolution the faster they will die.

  • by caca_phony ( 465655 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @09:13AM (#3637539) Homepage
    Oh, you mean "free software" is now a technology?

    Technicly, if you want to get anal about it, yes, the free software development model is a technology. Methods are technologies. The person you are responding to is probably either lauding the advances Linux has made in kernel technology though (if there are any - I am no kernel expert) or admiring the GNU/Linux system's design, borrowed 100% from the original Unix inventors at Bell Labs.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.