World's Largest Country Goes for KDE

As reported at CNet Asia, China has announced a new policy mandating homegrown software solutions throughout government agencies. Redflag Linux, a Linux distribution backed by the Chinese government, seems to be well situated to to fill their OS needs. And along with Redflag Linux Desktop 3.2 comes none other than our favorite desktop.

From the product sheet for their latest desktop offering: "Redflag Linux Desktop 3.2 introduces the latest and stable KDE desktop environment. The interface, beautiful and decent, is similar to that of [the] Windows operating system, enabling convenient operation for a green hand."

While I'm not sure about the "green hand" bit -- it sounds like they're happy with their KDE desktops. Hopefully we'll see more of the public sector following suit and embracing regional Open Source / Free Software solution providers.

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by Anonymous (not verified)

This should enumerate the couple of Spanish GNOME computers. :-)

by Lee (not verified)

KDE has a dictionary too, you know ;)

by Alex (not verified)

He/she says that, because of LinEx, a Debian based distribution, which uses GNOME as a basis:

Linex is the basis OS for Extremadura, an autonomous community in Spain.

by uga (not verified)

You can find strange people all over the world. Hey, some people never learn :-)

by Random coma (not verified)

They chose free software. That shows they learned something, instead of blindly buying more MS software. :-/

by Thomas (not verified)

It seems like they are using a special tool to enter chinese characters...
Should'nt this be used as an optional add-on for kde? Could be helpful for other asian speaking desktop users, too... (me thinks)
Well, idnsc (i do not speak chinese) and I do not know how they're getting one of these 27.000 different characters out of a qwerty keyboard..... must be really complicated.
And it would be nice to know, if that RedFlag distribution is interested in collaboration and improving "our favorite desktop"...

XIM (x input method) clients have been around for years. There are at least dozens of them for many languages.

KDE *still* has some i18n issues left though, Many of these are on the QT side. Maybe this much exposure might nudge QT to do something about it.

Yes but XIM really sucks for inputting Chinese. I've used redflag 3.2 and they have their own front end to XIM which works better than the other free ones available; but still it is a long way behind entering Chinese on Windows.

Just out of curiosity:
how is it working? How do you enter chinese characters on windows? Do you explain it to me? (I could not find any screenshots on the web)

Its easier to do than it is to explain. I'll describe the most common method in mainland China but you first have to understand a little about the language.

The written Chinese language is entirely pictorial based (normally referred to as characters), no new news there, each syllable is represented by one character and each character has one or more meanings depending on the context. Some characters can represent more than one syllable. Whole words are either single characters or combinations of characters.

There are many dialects in Chinese and different dialects pronounce the same characters differently. But they all write the same way (there are some very small differences, for example Cantonese has lots of its own characters), for now we will also ignore the differences between the old form of chinese characters and the new form. The Chinese language is also tonal. That means that one sound such as 'ma' can be pronounced in 5 different ways.

How do you write a Chinese character on a standard qwerty keyboard? There are two approaches: pronunciation or by breaking down the character into its component parts and mapping these to key combinations.

The most common Chinese input method in mainland China is 'pinyin' which is based on romanising the sounds of the Chinese language. Using pinyin I can write an entire sentence using western characters: jiu zhe yang (just like this).

With the old simple pinyin systems you would enter these syllables one at a time and then the computer would pop open a little box and show you all the characters that have this sound. With all the different tones this can be a lot. I always dread having to look up characters for the sound 'ji' there are about 50 or so of them!

So when you have identified the correct character you select it (either with your mouse, or by pressing a number which appears above each option) and it is transferred to the document yu are writing in.

Modern systems are more intelligent and basically work in a similar way to writing on a mobile phone. As you type pinyin the computer tries to make sense of what you are writing and select the correct characters. As you write you can correct its wrong choices.

The microsoft Chinese input system is very good at getting out of your way and letting you just type - it is very good at guessing what you mean.

I switched to Linux on the desktop a few years ago and I have to admit there are times now when I have to write in Chinese and rather than send an e-mail and suffer the paignful Chinese input system I write a fax by hand.

I hope that gives you a rough idea of how it works.

There is a mistake in my earlier post. When I said:

"Some characters can represent more than one syllable"

I meant that some characters can represent more than one sound.

Sometimes Chinese characters have to be thought of as representing concepts rather than specific words.

Thanks for your detailed answer!

Right... so what's the best way to input chinese chars in KDE? I want to write to friends in china and right now am writing pinyin....

by Eric Laffoon (not verified)

This has a very interesting and entertaining aspect. Of course I'm very happy about this and I believe it will be a benefit for the people of China and for KDE. However it kind of tweaks me and it would be cool to know their numbers. Certainly China is by far the most populous nation on earth. Anyway when I tell people about open source it's fun to tell them I lead one of the most popular apps in open source and I think it's safe to say the most popular OSS web development tool on Linux... Now it appears that it's possible it could become the most popular web development tool in the world without me even knowing if it is. That's a bit of a mind bender... but really fun! ;-)

So now we can all say we use what could be the most popular desktop in the world (on some day that we don't know when). Perhaps it would be interesting to get some indication of hardware sales in China and extrapolate the estimated Red Flag installs? It would be entertaining to think of M$ as a US centric niche desktop. ;-) Even better would be to realize proportional contributions from China and India on development efforts. That could produce really exciting results!

by fault (not verified)

> Now it appears that it's possible it could become the most popular web development tool in the world without me even knowing if it is..

Perhaps in ten years.. but right now, the combined computer usage of North America and Europe far outweighs any other continents combined. There is a great deal of development going on in places like China and India, but it's still, for the most part, hasn't reached the main part of the population.

by Damien Byrne (not verified)

Sorry to break it to you, but according to distrowatch, RedFlag doesn't come with quanta. It's only a 1 CD distro, so they obviously have to make some cuts.

by Helge Øyvind Hoel (not verified)

Don't think it matter to much if it's bundled or not. Quanta isn't a tool for the "regular guy" anyway. It's not like every guy out there develop web-pages. But for those who do, Quanta is easy to grab/install, and would probably be the program of choice for KDE-people.

And a little note to you Eric: Keep on the good work, I'm sure Quanta will become the most popular webdevelopment-package in China although it doesn't come bundled. I'm from Norway, and have used Quanta for many years now, and I find it to be the most excellent tool I've ever seen for web-development. No matter operation-system.

by Anonymous (not verified)

To me its a little scarey about China picking it up. Ever notice how close of an ideology Open Source is to Communism?

by Ideology (not verified)

Which just goes to show that when we get to the point where you can duplicate physical goods including skyscrapers, bridges, etc. as easily as you can duplicate software communism will finally be practical :).

by Chris Bordeman (not verified)

I just want to point out that China has not been truly communist for more than a decade. It has been embracing captialism very rapidly, which makes it *fascist*.

by Ac (not verified)

Facism and communism are like fire and water. Communism + Capitalism != Facism!

Communism is both an economic and governing type. Capitalism is only an economic type. Fascism, in many respects, is an ideology of negativism: anti-liberal, *anti-Communist*, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, etc. As a political and economic system in Italy, it combined elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-communism.
In other words: a communist country cannot turn into a facist country simply by adding an element (capitalism). It needs a revolution and complete flip-over to turn into a facist country.

by Chris Bordeman (not verified)

??? Communism is simply centralized control on both the political and economic sides, no matter what the underlying ideals are. Fascism is totalitarian on mostly just the political side. When a communist state abandons Socialist ideals and decentralizes on the economic side, they are moving toward fascism. It is absurd to say a communist country *cannot* evolve into a fascist one.

by [email protected] (not verified)

Your definition of Communism is total nonsense.

Not only the fact of centralization is important but most important the underlying idea! Facism is the last state of Capitalism where in both ones 'big profit' is the underlying idea. Communism is an ideal society of Socialism where 'all equal, all free, no exploitation' is the main idea. You see, both ones are the opposite to each other.

P.S.: I hope the manpower of China will reflect itself in contributions/patches/fixes to the KDE sources

by Chris Bordeman (not verified)

Your definition of fascism as only a *right wing* phenomenom is incorrect, and seems designed to hide the natural evolution of Marxism and Socialism to a form of Fascism as is now occuring in China.

For a quick explanation why, please read this:[email protected]/msg01091.html

And for a more thorough study:

There tons of articles, research papers, books, studies, etc. documenting and exploring China's move to Fascism, just do a quick google search. This narrow "original intentmeans as much as the end results" response is a left-wing defense mechanism for their precious socialism and everyone should see through it.

by NoNeed (not verified)

I'm no expert, but I would say that China is a (primitively) socialist state, with a communist government.

The fact that the government is using some capitalist economic policies to increase the living standard and level of development of the country needn't be a bad thing, although people may well disagree as to how far the adoption of these policies will go.

I also believe that for a government to be fascist, it must see complete control as the preferred means of operation. However, it could be argued that the government in China only exercises its control enough to maintain stability in the country. For instance, China does have non-communist political parties with which the government works closely.

Addressing the original point, though, I think it is sad that some Open Source enthusiasts (who realise the ability of humans to work cooperatively rather than selfishly) feel the need to post uninformed political condemnations of other countries which share these ideals.

by Tom (not verified)

The Open Source ideology is: develop in the most efficient, bug-free manner, which happens to be by opening the source code to encourage more eyes to look at the code and develop it.

You're thinking of the Free Software ideology...

Anywho, Free Software emphasises the important of the freedom of the individual user, and by extension the "society" of users, over the individual programmer(s) who write the code. As RMS recently commented, proprietary software tends to promote division and control. Marx wrote about similar themes, so in a sense they're close, even though what you see in China is about as far from Marxism as any "communist" state has managed.

by NoNeed (not verified)

While it must be convenient to pigeon-hole communism as being a system which goes against freedom, that it is not really what communism is about. If I may paraphrase the Communist Manifesto:

'The only freedom communism deprives people of is the power to subjugate the labor of others'.

To put that in practical terms, under communism people would not be able to make money from owning something. Under capitalism, someone can own a factory and pay the workers there a fraction of the profits. Thus the owner makes money not from working, but by subjugating the labour of others, i.e. simply by owning something.

This is similar to the principle behind closed source code. Someone owns a software patent, or a proprietary but widespread file type, or a near monopoly on desktop OSes, and then they can make money not from producing good products or services, but by abusing their position of control.

Of course, you may be talking about freedom in the sense of civil rights, but I think the universal truth is that all governments will infringe the rights of their citizens if the alternative is the country breaking down. Look at how the American government has put forward the Patriot Act and uses Guantanemo Bay to protect itself from terrorists. Previously America used similar laws and strategies to oppose the rise of communism in its own country and abroad, just as countries with communist governments have taken harsh steps to stop the rise of capitalism.

As for China, I would not call it a communist state, as it is closer to a socialist state with a communist party in government. As for its distance from the Marxist ideal for a state, I don't think anyone disagrees that it has a long way to go. I would say, though, that the government is applying Marxist theory in analysing the current state of the country and realising that the level of development is not yet right for the introduction of further socialist economic elements.

In summary, the political equivalent of the type of freedom in Free Software is the freedom offered by a system where the workers own the means of production.

by Chris Bordeman (not verified)

>'The only freedom communism deprives people
> of is the power to subjugate the labor of others'.

Just goes to show you how dangerous left-wing idealism really is.

by MH Dixon (not verified)

Hey, there's nothing about capitalism or free enterprise that keeps good-hearted individuals, or even governments, from producing free software. If you're free to choose, you're free to choose not to charge. Anyway, congratulations KDE team for spreading your good work to China!

by Aaron J. Seigo (not verified)

how is it scary, exactly?

by Anonymous (not verified)

Its scary that the Open Source phenomenon, the source code, is owned by the community. Everything under Communism is owned by the community. According to Marx, people are paid what they need. Then again I hear everyone has a job. Although splitting money equally amoung all classes is a horendous idea. I'm sure the lower class would love it, although people still do carry on different rankings in society.

Putting that into terms of this software initiative, there are people that will never spend their time dedicated working on an Open Source project. How does that help repay those few that do spend their time? People are doing very technical work with a low payoff? Only the Capitalism involved gives monies to the Open Source workers. Competition too is a capitalist attribute, being Open Source or X versus Microsoft. Think of this way, under Communism how many different types of competing government produced toliet paper will you find? How about just one, why compete, that's a capitalist idea!

by Lee (not verified)

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with communism. It's just a little tough to implement correctly. The same could be said for capitalism; there are many flaws in its implementation, too. Yet, if OSS shares the benefits of either of those systems, yet continues to work the way it does, then it's a good thing. Certainly not something to be afraid of :)

by Eric Laffoon (not verified)

> There's nothing fundamentally wrong with communism. It's just a little tough to implement correctly.

You mean "theoretically" wrong with it. In theory it sounds wonderful. It is worth noting that by definition governments can't implement it because they always revert to socialism with a ruling class. I studied communal societies as a young man because of the idealisms. One could argue it had some degree of success in the first century Christian church. It failed the pilgrims and in a book on communes in America over several hundred years I was stunned to find that every single one of them failed. In fact it is safe to say that it is nearly impossible to implement because it restricts any reward incentive, is antithetical to individualism and tends to have an adverse impact on personal responsibility.

> The same could be said for capitalism; there are many flaws in its implementation, too.

One could argue it's chief flaw is it's inequitable distribution. Certainly the failing of either ideal centers on their practice by greedy and immoral people. Monopolies, government corruption and exactly where to balance the socialist elements of the common good create problems, but of the forms mentioned only capitalism has demonstrable proof of long term success.

> Yet, if OSS shares the benefits of either of those systems, yet continues to work the way it does, then it's a good thing.

The communist slur on OSS is very wrong. The truth is that it is agnostic to your political views and social ideals. If you believe in the worker's utopian paradise or you think the government has no business in insurance and retirement you will still have something to like in OSS. The only ones who can object are those who wish to run IP like a lottery and work once so they can collect forever... an ideal that is not really of either camp. (Those who want to be paid for what they don't produce because they once produced are lazy gamblers.)

OSS makes sense because:
1) Financially you can get a tool for less money
2) Since infrastructure (like highways) is both too expensive and too vital to be produced by individual entities it is managed as a public resource... Operating system and other software is already demonstrating that being entrusted to OSS groups prduces superior results.
3) By enabling development of better software tools enterprising business types can offer powerful value added services at competative prices with nominal expenses.

> Certainly not something to be afraid of :)

Being afraid of this couldn't be more obtuse. By delivering open source software to China we in fact deliver our friendship and a message of the values of free software. We are saying "We want you to have these tools and we hope you will be enriched and they can help you make your life better." What could be better than that? This also means more Chinese are connected to the internet. I wish the North Koreans were all connected but they endure total information control. Do you know what they are told? Ask yourself if you think people will be more likely to march off to war with you if they only know they were told you are a murderous hoarde, or if they are using software you gave them freely to use and they have communicated with you by email.

We should all be very happy that China is moving to get people connected and to improve opportunity for their people. The only thing we should fear is ignorance, and being connected is where the cure lies.

by Giuseppe Bilotta (not verified)

> The communist slur on OSS is very wrong.

Ehm. I think this statement is wrong :)

> The truth is that it is agnostic to your political views and social ideals.

While I agree with this.

To make a long story as short as possible (and henceforth wrong like all simplifications of an inherently complex matter) there are two "layers" of communism: a social level, and an economical level; and the two are somewhat distinct, even if related. Oversimplifying, at the economical level communism basically means (usually) a sharing of the tools and of the deriving products. Again oversimplifying, at the social level communism means "no ownership".

Translated into software terms, FLOSS *does* result in an essentially economically communistic environment; what it doesn't do is fit the "social" communistic point of view, which would rather become something akin to "no intellectual property (of software)".

If some social structure has to be found in the FLOSS, this would rather be, IMO, an anarchic (self-aggregating, self-ruling communities) one. But that's another matter.

by Ken (not verified)

China nowadays is less communist than you might think? Market driven policies are leaving a lot of people out to dry, as they can't rely on state-run companies anymore.

I think this has to do more with technological independence (and security to some extent) rather than communism.

by CE (not verified)

The problem is China is a dictatorship with a more and more capitalistic system.
It doesn't match any good meanings of communism, but seems to be engaged to match all bad meanings.
But there are enough "good" countries not caring about humanity and individual rights, especially in the last years.

You're right, this decision is about independency and strengthening its own economy.
So it isn't surprising that they choose Linux and KDE. (OK, they could also use FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD, etc.)

by a.c. (not verified)

It is just like it. Lets see
1) All actions are dictated from top down like a CEO.
2) If anybody trys to compete against you,
then just "kill" or inprision them.
3) If anybody is succeding at making money,
then take it all away from them unless they are the right people

oh wait, This does not sound like OSS, but sounds like .....

Actually if you look at capitalism it is based on a free market economy(in theory)
A free market has low barriers to entry and high demand. In a free market economy the cost of goods and services will trend towards the marginal cost to produce.

With electronic duplication and internet distribution the marginal cost to produce one unit of software (an office suite for example) is close to zero. So the cost of for downloading software should be close to zero.

Worldwide internet distribution should be as close to free market economics as possible. As far as barriers to entry, you can produce software with a single PC.


by fault (not verified)

Have you seen Chinese economic theories since 1978? hardly communist (they never were, and neither was the soviet union)

by Chris Bordeman (not verified)

Interesting though, how OSS was invented inside capitalist societies...

by beccon (not verified)

>>To me its a little scarey about China picking it up. Ever notice how close of an ideology Open Source is to Communism?<<
You never lived in a communist country did you? name a few countries) - has nothing toCommunism - in the form the world has seen it (Russia, China, East Germany to do with colaboratoring, sharing resources (unless we talk about widespread theft and corruption) and working cooperatively.

Communism is rather state monopolies - one size fits it all: You have to buy that little, clunky, smelly two-stroke lawn mower engine powered Trabant car or walk because it's the only car you can buy.

If you want something special, say Banana or Mango fruits for dinner - you get probably laughted upon by the rough shop keeper in the government owned store. (if not they go after you for provokation ;-) )

Doesn't it rather match the business practices of a big software company from the North east of the United States? (let me see: one size has to fit, it's clunky, it will explode in a spectacular fire ball in the case of the slightest accident as its Trabant counterpart, you get ridiculed if you want something special ;-) )

Well the Chinese do what they want to do and their government is their business. If many of them choose Linux and KDE then they are our friends, aren't they;-)


by anonon (not verified)

Ever notice how far China is from being Free and Open?

by Nobby Pseudonym (not verified)

> Ever notice how close of an ideology Open Source is to Communism?

Open source works.
Communism doesn't work.

How about that for close?

It is the third largest (after Russia and Canada). It does have the highest population, however.

So some might say it has the largest population.

by Re: China is no... (not verified)

china is actually the 4th largest after Russia, canada, USA and after china comes brazil

1 335 840.3

1 088 056.2

United States of America
294 540.1

221 777.7

183 199.6

157 056.0

154 491.1

146 743.8

141 398.2

I think you would find China is indeed the 3rd largest country in the world, it is larger than the U.S, not by much i grant you but it's big enough.

1 Russia 6.6 million mi2 (17 million km2)
2 Canada 3.9 million mi2 (9.9 million km2)
3 China 3.7 million mi2 (9.6 million km2)
4 United States 3.5 million mi2 (9.1 million km2)
5 Brazil 3.3 million mi2 (8.5 million km2)
6 Australia 3 million mi2 (7.6 million km2)
7 India 1.2 million mi2 (3 million km2)
8 Argentina 1.1 million mi2 (2.7 million km2)
9 Kazakhstan 1,050,000 mi2 (2.7 million km2)
10 Sudan 966,000 mi2 (2.4 million km2)

Is this "Russia" figure from a *current* source?

I mean, back when it used to be the USSR it was like that. But nowadays big chunks of the former area have become states in their own rights: like Mongolia, Belorussia, Ukraine....


Are you into CIA paraganda.
The stretigic error, is done by purpose NOT a single typing mistake. It is a necessary part of US comprehesive Anti-China policy. It is also the old method that US HAS BEEN USED FOR AS LONG AS PEOPLE CAN REMEMBER, but the question is asked here is "Why Now". Have you checked the pass factbook by CIA??? why changed NOW( THE TIMING IS very interesting), in fact, the owned) just speedy up to change its Stats on China from 3rd to 4th in last week. What a kiddish method!!!