Beijing, CHINA — China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII), the sector regulator, is hoping that the launch of the RedFlag Linux Desktop 2.0 system will put an end to U.S.-based Microsoft’s virtual monopoly in the Chinese market, the China Daily reported on Monday. RedFlag, set up by the state-run China Academy of Sciences (CAS), is a leading Linux distributor and is based in Beijing.
Linux, developed in Finland in 1991, differs from competitor Microsoft in that it freely distributes information regarding the software’s underlying source code and allows software developers around the world to build on top of the original program and repackage the software for sale.
In 1999, Linux accounted for about 25% of the server operating systems sold around the world, up from sales of nearly nothing some three years ago, according to Linux officials. “The move will break the monopoly of the Windows operating system in the Chinese market,” Chen Chong, a senior MII official, said of the new Desktop 2.0 system.
“The ministry will give its full support to the development of RedFlag Linux as well as all the other Linux systems,” Chen was quoted as saying. The move also comes as part of Beijing’s efforts to counterbalance Microsoft’s increasing market dominance with a homemade product.
China sold nearly 5 million personal computers last year and sales are expected to surpass 6 million in 2000. Some 5.4 million computers in China are currently using Windows systems.
“Although RedFlag may not be perfect, we are confident of the coming success,” RedFlag Software Co.’s CEO Liu Bo told the China Daily, adding that IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Legend and Great Wall were all currently in co-operative talks with his firm.
Chinese personal computer manufacturer TCL, the sixth largest in China, last Friday signed an agreement to have RedFlag operating systems pre-installed on their computers, the paper added.