Ubuntu tapped by China for national operating system

Ubuntu is going to become the reference architecture for a Linux distribution, backed and developed by the Chinese government.

The news means Ubuntu-stewards Canonical will work with China’s National University of Defense Technology, and The China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Center, to develop a Chinese-flavored version of the popular Linux distribution.

 This software will help China provide “a flexible, open, widely-used and standardized operating system,” Canonical said on Thursday.

“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,” Canonical chief executive Jane Silber said in a statement.

A “CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab” has been create in Beijing where where engineers from all three organizations will code “an enhanced version of the Ubuntu desktop with features specific to the Chinese market”.

The first distribution made under this scheme will come out in April 2013 and will be named Ubuntu Kylin.

“Canonical, the software company that manages and funds Ubuntu, announced that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will base their national reference architecture for standard operating systems on Ubuntu, and they will call it Kylin. Arguably China is the largest desktop market and the announcement has important implications. Shuttleworth says, ‘The release of Ubuntu Kylin brings the Chinese open source community into the global Ubuntu community.'”

With a population of 1.34 bn and rising, China is all but certain to be the largest market for desktop operating systems in the world in terms of users, and with Mark Shuttleworth leading a charge to get the Unity-dressed Ubuntu in front of as many people as possible, who can blame him for hitching Canonical a little bit closer to the Chinese state?

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