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 JSC (not verified)

I bought RF3.2 thinking that this could be the distro for my Chinese employees to use. It sucks. Off the top of my head...

Bad Points:
- Default user is root.
- Interface badly designed (by comparison the leading thai distribution is a s-l-i-c-k KDE desktop), the default desktop is ugly and boring.
- Sloppy. Using the system you just feel that it is sloppy.
- Very bare bones. (this could be a good point depending on your point of view) very few apps (and I mean very few), little choice.
- Try downloading from the site. It is so slow that you can't use it. This is a Chinese solution to a problem. Problem: our software is GPLd and we have to be seen to be making it publicly available but we want don't want freeloaders downloading it, what do we do? Solution: but it on a super slow ftp server that never works.

Good Points:
- Looks like Windows and works a bit like windows. From my point of view this sucks but I can see that for the digital illiterati of China switching from pirated windows this is probably a good thing. I seem to remember seeing a 'C:' drive in various places and the control panel has a remarkable similarity to windows.
- Chinese Input Method - better than XCIN (the main free XIM chinese implementation) still buggy and not up to Windows Chinese IM.

On the whole Linux use and understanding is small here. Its extremely hard to find Linux admins that can actually think - everybody is so used to pushing buttons on Windows until they get the right configuration or re-installing that they haven't learned how to diagnose a problem and work through it. Of course there are exceptions, and if you are one of them my apologies. Our company does have a couple of uber geek Chinese Linux hackers but it took us nearly a year to find them.

Why 3.2? It looks like 4.0 is out?

Ha-Ha. Because when I decided to try Red Flag the current version was 3.2. Version 4.0 was released after I bought 3.2 a few months back. Maybe 4.0 is a big improvement.

I can only hope that 4.0 is a big improvement. The distro that looks good for China is Turbolinux. I only played with it for a few minutes at the recent LinuxWorld in Beijing but it left a good impression. But Turbolinux costs about 10x as much as Red Flag (US$100+ vs US$13)

by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

Yea, but you can you install it on multiple desktops? If so then it is $100/n desktops.

Good point. Although small and medium sized Chinese companies are used to paying $0 for pirated copies of Windows. $100 sounds like a lot to a Chinese manager who is conditioned to think 'Why should I pay for software?'

Sounds funny when I write it down but this is just so true here.

Linux on the desktop in the workplace in China, much like in the west, will start in big organisations and then filter down.

I have just downloaded Redflag Desktop 4.0 from the redflag site. I would have to say it downloaded pretty fast I thought. Just for peoples reference Version 4.0 is only available for download on their Chinese website. The English one only contains Version 3.2. Version 4.0 seems OK. Pretty basic though in terms of apps. My over all comment is a linux version of windows98. This analogy gives you a pretty good idea of the kinds of apps provided and the overall server functionality. I think you have to buy the server version to get all the goodies like apache, etc. I am now trying to figure out how to use the various Chinese input systems (the whole reason I am trying out this dist.). Would have to say its better than RH in this regard, but not as good as windows (could be I am not using it right). Another thing, it ships with Mozilla 1.3. I thought ver. 1.3 was the Beta version for version 1.4??

by coder (not verified)

yesterday I installed Redflag 3.2. I have no language proficiency in Chinese. When I login after installing I am presented with what looks like a Product Key prompt, i.e. three boxes separated by a '-'. My CD came from I do not have ANY licensing or product key information. How do I get past this prompt? Many thanks.

You probably want to try fcitx or miniChinput for inputting chinese. I found both of them quite powerful, at least in pinyin method.

by Glenn Alexander (not verified)

The slowness of the server is likely the general slowness of the Internet in China. It often crawls under the weight of all the viruses and trojans that live on what is essentially a 'worm farm' network run by MCSEs whos sum knowledge of network administration is putting a CD in a drive and clicking 'OK' until no more 'OK' buttons appear. The up-comming generation are a bit more cluey, but the present managers are largely just in their positions from knowing the right people, rather than knowing anything about computer networks.

BTW: China has a communist government in the same way that the US Democrats are democraticaly inclined and the US Republicans haven't long-since sold out to the industrial imperialists. (And the Australian Liberals are liberal, the Labor party supports the workforce and the One Nation party isn't trying to split the country). Belive me, there are likely more comunists in the US today than in China!

by CE (not verified)

One step closer to world domination. ;-)
But there is still hard work to do...

by pczou (not verified)

hi, i'm an developer from Redflag Linux. and personally i prefer KDE to GNOME.
we built lots of tools based on KDE or plain Qt library. and here is a screenshot for one of our new system management tool (rfmin), which can be found in our 4-series release. it may look like Windows, but it's linux at heart.

unfortunately we dont have an English release yet, but it's surely on our schedule.

you can contact me or refer to our website ( for further information.

by ac (not verified)

Good to hear from you. Hope you stick with KDE! :-)

by Agricultural (not verified)

Oh give me a break,china is the worlds largest country and you all know it!


Anyway..whoever debates this is .... ERM...wronge?