Canonical, in concert with the Chinese government and local developers, is building an Ubuntu-based, open source operating system for China.
China, with a population of some 1.3 billion people, is without doubt the mother lode of operating system markets in terms of number of potential users, with the potential to cascade a dramatic expansion in reach for Ubuntu and Linux. In other words, this could be big.
The project is a co-venture between the China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Center (CSIP), National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and Canonical to develop a Linux-based version of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Kylin to be released next month, housing elements tailored specifically for the Chinese market, according to a Canonical statement.
CSIP is a part of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII). The Ubuntu project is tied to the Chinese government’s five-year plan to get more people using open source software and facilitate an open source ecosystem in China. Along those lines, the BBC reported that China wants to move off of proprietary Western software—as in Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in favor of locally developed platforms.
As part of the collaboration, CSIP, NUDT and Canonical together have formed the CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab in Beijing to hasten development of a China-focused version of Ubuntu for the desktop and the cloud. While the initial iteration of Ubuntu Kylin will focus on the desktop, future work will extend to other platforms, the parties said.
"CSIP, Canonical and NUDT share the goal of widespread adoption of high-quality Linux on personal devices and in the cloud," said Jane Silber, Canonical chief executive. "This collaboration will bring local investment and participation to ensure that the platform is relevant for the Chinese market, and close coordination with the global Ubuntu project ensures that it is familiar to software and hardware vendors, and useful for export products made by Chinese companies as well."
Already molded into the upcoming Ubuntu Kylin release are special China-specific services and software, such as music services, input methods and calendars. Later releases will include integration with Baidu maps, the shopping service Taobao, payment processing for Chinese banks, real-time train and flight information and WPS, a popular office suite software, along with photo editing and system management tools accessible from Ubuntu’s main interface.