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back to article 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 …

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Joke

Possible additions

Send to>

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-Gulag

Or maybe a Gimp editor where you can erase people from photos...as well as newspapers, books, history, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Possible additions

At least we should be able to hack them back easily then.

http://secunia.com/advisories/product/40762/?task=advisories

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Big Brother

Re: Possible additions

Rutherford unperson. Substitute Ogilvy. Ogilvy blog details as follows: war hero, recently killed, Malabar front. Today awarded posthumous secondary order of conspicuous merit second class.

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Re: Possible additions

But no where near as easy as Windows.

Most Linux vulns require local access to exploit.

Unlike Windows.

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Headmaster

Re: Possible additions

Gulags were those lovely Soviets, for the Chinese you have Laogai instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Possible additions

"Most Linux vulns require local access to exploit." - actually it's demonstrably the other way round. The vast majority of Windows malware requires local access. The vast majority of Linux exploits are remote - such as internet facing systems being remotely hacked - http://www.zone-h.org/news/id/4737

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Facepalm

Part of a Plan

In light of this, introducing feature that spies on peoples searches makes a lot more sense. They can just substitute PRC servers for their own now and keep the same code. Very convenient. Now if any company allied itself with China to build the operating system, there would be outcry aplenty. See this fly past the radar as Ubuntu is considered crucial by many in the free software movement in beating "evil" Apple and Microsoft.

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Anonymous Coward

ubuntu obvious choice

Ubuntu is already the most popular Linux dist in China, so its good they stop free-riding as usual and put some resources into developing the os.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ubuntu obvious choice

Do you really think you would like to use that OS ?

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Trollface

Re: ubuntu obvious choice

>Do you really think you would like to use that OS ?

What Ubuntu? Unity pushed me away not the Chinese. Long live Mint! (with the parts of Ubuntu worth using).

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Devil

Re: ubuntu obvious choice

The obligatory...

So on one end of the deal you have an entity controlled by a cadre of orthodox ideologues and lead by an autocratic leader who can't handle people disagreeing with him. It spies on its subjects and is willing to sell them out to multinational commercial interests. And on the the other there's Republic of China.

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Coat

Which Chinese Calendars?

I know of only two, the lunar calendar, popular for determining the date of Chinese New Year and other festivals, and the Minguo calendar.

The Minguo calendar was defined by Sun Yat-Sen with year 1 = 1912 in the Gregorian Calendar, and is only used in Taiwan. I would expect, uh, political difficulties in including it in a PRC Ubuntu.

So, what is the other Chinese calendar they'll be including?

Incidentally, functions for date conversion between the Minguo and Gregorian calendars were included in WordBasic, Word 6.0.

The lunar calendar depends on which side of midnight the full moon occurs, so a small uncertainty can sometimes change the date by a day.

icon - well, yes, I think today's a holiday...

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Boffin

Re: Which Chinese Calendars?

As a matter of fact, the traditional Chinese calendar is not a lunar, but rather a lunisolar calendar - otherwise, instead of occurring between 21 January and 20 February in the solar Gregorian calendar that most of us, including people in China, use, the traditional Chinese new year would, like, e g, the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calender, wander throughout all the months of year....

Henri

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Coat

Re: Which Chinese Calendars?

I got given a free Chines calendar by the Happy Garden last Christmas. It hangs up in my kitchen and is quite useful especially as, handily enough, it has their phone number on it in case I need to order a takeaway. They think of everything don't they?

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Anonymous Coward

"Because the software is open source it's unlikely that any backdoors could be added into the Ubuntu OS without the global Linux community taking notice."

Ha-ha-ha.

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Joke

Can Linus swear in Chinese?

I bet he's learning :oD

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Re: Can Linus swear in Chinese?

Swearing in Chinese is definitely the future...

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Happy

Re: Can Linus swear in Chinese?

Shiny.

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The system will be open-source for sure but only within the great firewall of China.

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Spies like us.

They way Ubuntu's treats it's users, this makes sense, Amazon sells a lot of china made products.

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Anonymous Coward

Amazing how silent the extremely virulent free software apologists are being on this thus far. I would expect more condemnation, though it is the middle of the night or very early in the morning in most of the Anglosphere.

Yet another reason to not use a Canonical product to me though. Not that I was at this point anyway.

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Facepalm

Don't forget, also

They'll be using the Linux kernel, best stop using that, too.

Just in case.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 03:47GMT - Why should FOSS apologists be angry with this ?

This is not limiting my freedoms in any way since I will not be force to use it. Like you and me, they can do whatever they want with Ubuntu. Oh, you were just trolling ? OK then, keep going.

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Re: @AC 03:47GMT - Why should FOSS apologists be angry with this ?

It's not limiting your freedoms (yet) but enabling the freedoms of others to be limited is not good. The tools the Chinese develop and add in will no doubt be picked up by other states and used to monitor their citizenry. You only have to look at what Obama is doing in the USA to see what a hard-on they'd have for a "national OS" with built-in spyware.

All to protect freedom, you understand.

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Anonymous Coward

Spyware-R-Us

Ubuntu does spyware-by-default really well, so it's a no-brainer that the Chinese government picked them.

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Anonymous Coward

"China's decision to plough more resources into Linux development stems from a similar desire to wean itself off of technologies developed by Western companies as part of the nation's latest five year plan."

Canonical Ltd. is UK based, so the UK is not considered a Western company?

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Anonymous Coward

If they want to wean themselves

they should pour a lot more resources into Windows development.

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"Canonical Ltd. is UK based, so the UK is not considered a Western company?"

Not by the Chinese, apparently...

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China owns the UK. Then again, they own the USA too; so what do they have to fear from their serf nations?

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Re: If they want to wean themselves

why? even microsoft seem to have stopped!

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Ahem....

China owns the UK....

Except for the bits owned by India (Land Rover etc) or Germany (Rolls Royce etc).

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Re: Ahem....

There is a difference between China owning something and the Indian or German owning something. When China owns, it is the Chinese government that does the investment via it's state fund. Where as the Indian or German ownership is by private companies. I recently happen to meet an Indian M&A senior official from a state owned Indian bank and the topic turned to acquisitions abroad (well, he was sitting in UK, so the "abroad" term applied to UK). He immediately said: "We do get lots of requests for funding acquisitions. But as we are very conservative we don't invest in risky assets. We need to think of the people investing with us - the bank account holders, because one mistake in investment division has ripple effect of the consumer banking division." I didn't know what to say!

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FAIL

How long before the 'backdoors' start appearing?

in Ubuntu code shipped to the West?

What ever happened to 'Red Flag' Linux then?

Perhaps the Chinese Gov are trying this route to get hold of all our data in the hope that we won't notice?

Fail for obvious reasons including the mandatory 'I told you so' when it all goes horribly wrong and Canonical gets taken over by the Chinese Gov (or Foxconn)

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Re: How long before the 'backdoors' start appearing?

It's open source, no prospect of hiding backdoors. They'd be noticed eventually. I view this as more defensive: China has just as much reason to distrust the products of American companies as America has to distrust the products of Chinese companies. Even if Windows is free of backdoors right now, one could be Windows Updated in easily should hostilities break out.

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Re: How long before the 'backdoors' start appearing?

Ubuntu is not entirely open source unlike, say, Trisquel. Canonical would have no problem including binary blobs that spy on users.

They pretty much do this themselves!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How long before the 'backdoors' start appearing?

I think you're right about this. The Chinese are obviously now comfortable enough with the level of monitoring they can do at the NETWORK level to go open on their operating system platform. All those routers and firewalls Cisco delivered and configured for them years ago, together with the stuff made by their own HTC, is clearly getting the job done to their satisfaction. Back doors are much harder to hide in an open as opposed to closed source system. Of course even with open source you have to have people watching the code who (a) will know a back door when they see one; and (b) are willing to go public when one is discovered. The first requires dedication and intelligence, the second people ready to put the common good over their own personal enrichment. I think the Linux community has an abundance of both from the top down. Not so sure about all those closed source companies.

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Good reasons to be defensive

Stuxnet etc - thanks to Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good reasons to be defensive

"Stuxnet etc - thanks to Windows"

Morris Worm etc - thanks to UNIX. Just saying....

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This is very good news for Ubuntu

A huge market and further enhancement of Ubuntu overall.

I'm not a fan of Unity - I use Xubuntu on my laptop - but others seems to be happy with the latest Unity incarnation on Ubuntu so maybe it's coming together.

A couple of points.

Surely any attempt to introduce any backdoors is going to be found easily and would be a huge PR problem for China. The repositories are run by Canonical, there is all sorts of code diffing stuff as well as it being relatively easy to check the network traffic to/from any Ubuntu build.

If fact - I would say that China adopting an open source OS is a huge move forward in terms of freedom. They are effectively promoting an operating system which they actually CAN'T put monitoring stuff into.

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@bailey86: Re: This is very good news for Ubuntu

"if fact - I would say that China adopting an open source OS is a huge move forward in terms of freedom. "

Yeah, who needs bullshit like the right to vote for the who leads the government if they have an open source OS, right? And of course if memory serves, North Korea is also just racing towards democracy too; isn't that right?

Well I have always said that the "freedom" that Open Source software claims to promote is a very trivial sort of freedom. And this of course is a good illustration of that.

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Facepalm

Re: @bailey86: This is very good news for Ubuntu

Then write to China and ask them to use an OS you don't like very much instead to make you feel better.

Alternatively you could use Windows, I guess.

#IfThineOperatingSystemOffendsThee

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Anonymous Coward

@bailey86 - Re: This is very good news for Ubuntu

Your last paragraph shows clearly you are naive in believing the Chinese government would promote something so dangerous as a free OS without putting in place some form of control. Keep on dreaming, it's good to have people like you.

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Re: This is very good news for Ubuntu

They don't have to make any source code changes to spy on users... It's all built right into Ubuntu already in the lenses feature... Where they, by default, funnel all your search results through their "lense providers" aka. Amazom.

The chinese version just swaps amazon out for governmentapprovedsearchprovider.com and job done.

"Your computer has encountered an error.. Click Here to submit your information"

[OK] [YES] [OK]

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Re: This is very good news for Ubuntu

"They are effectively promoting an operating system which they actually CAN'T put monitoring stuff into."

Why does everyone think that just because the Linux kernel is F/OSS that everything that runs on it is also F/OSS. nvidia drivers anyone?

It would not be beyond the wit of the Chinese to include binary blobs. Want to connect to the Internet? First the closed-source blob must authenticate that it is running and correctly filtering/reporting on you.

One could remove the blob, of course, but then the authorities just have to detect that fact and kick your door down for trying to undermine the glorious Party.

They don't have to do anything to the kernel, the kernel is irrelevant; it's what Canonical help then include in userland that should worry you.

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Re: This is very good news for Ubuntu

also, nothing prevents a FOSS distributor from putting in changes that are not accepted by the core teams. Sure, Linus & co can spot evils in the kernel or elsewhere and reject them from the official kernel distribution, but China is plenty big enough to effectively run a fork. Assuming they play nice with copyright law and recognize the GPL as legally binding, all they need to do is either:

a) block access from their population to sites that host the relevant source

b) tell their users that of course the benevolent government needs to monitor their computer use, and if they don't want to be re-educated, they will use the approved distribution.

Big, powerful governments have a lot of options for shoving crap down people's throats. FOSS doesn't change that.

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Anonymous Coward

Could be interesting from a security perspective as there are lots of compromised unlicensed windows PCs that don't get patched in China.

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insecure devices

Could be interesting from a security perspective as there are lots of compromised unlicensed windows PCs that don't get patched in China.

Indeed, this could be revealing. We might see a lot less malware coming from China as botnet hosts die.

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A simple Google

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=closed-source+code+in+ubuntu

and we may have a winner from 2012/10/19 -

http://www.zdnet.com/ubuntu-moves-some-linux-development-inside-7000006069/

I wonder how much will be revealed when 13.0 ships?

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I don't understand

If china is so evil and opposed to western democracy why don't they have their own pc architecture with Chinese software and a local only Internet, also, why do western business's do business with a state that imprisons anyone asking for a little freedom?

I also thought Chinese society was 99% farmers/workers (fixed living income), and 1% ruling elite - turns out they've got layers of society too, middle class, affluent, poor etc. any Chinese resident readers (via vpn), wanna write an honest breakdown of modern Chinese society.

Also, is it true you don't have a Chinese equivalent for child abuse/paedophilia and can marry 14 year olds?

Honest curiosity.

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Re: I don't understand

>Honest curiosity.

Okay, these figure are a bit out of date:

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms. We've got roughly 2.03 million people behind bars, or 701 per 100,000 population. China has the second-largest number of prisoners (1.51 million, for a rate of 117 per 100,000),

-http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2494/does-the-united-states-lead-the-world-in-prison-population

> can marry 14 year olds?

Alabama: You can get married at 14, but you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. Both parents must be present with identification, or if you have a legal guardian they must be present with a court order and identification. The state requires a $200 bond to be executed, payable to the State of Alabama. If one or both parents are deceased, proper evidence of such must be provided.

-http://marriage.about.com/cs/teenmarriage/a/teenus.htm

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