China's home-grown Linux OS shutters

China's home-grown Linux OS shutters

Summary: Once the world's second-largest Linux distributor, Red Flag software has closed down reportedly due to mismanagement and after owing months in unpaid wages.

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TOPICS: Open Source, Linux, China
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Once the world's second-largest Linux distributor, Red Flag Software has shuttered reportedly due to mismanagement and after owing employees months in unpaid wages. 

China's state-funded answer to global software giants like Microsoft, the Chinese company filed for liquidation over the weekend and terminated all employee contracts. Set up in late-1999 amid the dot-com boom, Red Flag was touted as an alternative to Windows, offering desktop and server OSes built on the open-source Linux platform. It thrived in the early days, inking deals with partners such as Oracle and Dell which products were certified to support and shipped with Red Flag Software. 

The Beijing-based vendor was primarily funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Software Research, and later received additional funding from state-owned Shanghai NewMargin Venture Capital and the Ministry of Information Industry's VC arm, CCIDNET Investment. 

Signs that Red Flag was in financial trouble surfaced in April 2013 when employees were told they would not be paid their wages, and the company's headquarters in Haidian district was forced to close in December over unpaid rent and utilities, reported TechWeb

The company's 150 employees reportedly are now seeking to reclaim some 15 million yuan (US$2.46 million) in unpaid wages from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. They alleged the academy did not fork out 40 million (US$6.56 million) in grants, as pledged, to support the software vendor, resulting in its demise. The Chinese academy refuted the claims, saying Red Flag's team had mismanaged the company and pulled out of a project that would have brought in the promised funds.  

"A lack of brand awareness and sustained investments, coupled with the rise of rivals including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise, led to its downfall," Eric Peng, Beijing-based research manager with IDC, said in a report by South China Morning Post.

Peng noted that, during its heydays, Red Flag had enjoyed high adoption among government agencies, state-owned organizations, and schools.

The Chinese vendor in December 2003 was part of the Asianux consortium, comprising members such as Japan's Miracle Linux, Sri Lanka's Enterprise Technology, and South Krea's HaanSoft, which offered a Linux distribution that could be separately customized and marketed its members. 

The Chinese government has launched several of its own operating systems, including Ubuntu Kylin which has been downloaded over 1 million times since its launch last year, as well as a the China Operating System (COS), a mobile platform developed to compete against Google Android and Apple iOS. 

Topics: Open Source, Linux, China

About

Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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30 comments
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  • Good riddance

    Chinese would rather use a pirate version of Windows than Linux. That tells you the quality of Linux or lack thereof.
    LBiege
    • doesn't say either way.

      That would be the same as saying that Microsofts corruption conviction is proof it is an arm of the Mafia.
      jessepollard
    • That tells me you didn’t read the article

      "A lack of brand awareness and sustained investments, coupled with the rise of rivals including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise, led to its downfall," Eric Peng, Beijing-based research manager with IDC, said in a report by South China Morning Post.
      RickLively
    • actually...

      ...it tells you how good mainstream linux distros are supporting different languages...
      vgrig
    • You missed a couple of letters: XP

      As in: the Chinese overwhelming use pirated Windows XP, so using your logic, that would also tell you the quality of Windows Vista/7/8 and 8.1.
      anothercanuck
  • I'm sure M$ had moles in that organization

    that sabotage this great effort!
    LlNUX Geek
    • Re: I'm sure M$ had moles in that organisation....

      Thats Pathetic.
      5735guy
    • re: I'm sure M$ had moles in that organization

      Get your head out of your rectum ... you're giving Linux fanboys a bad name.
      perrrob
  • There sholud only be one Linux.

    Until then its shooting craps.
    greywolf7
    • Did you mean Linux Kernel

      Or Linux Distros ie; Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution


      “shooting craps” ?
      RickLively
    • re: There sholud only be one Linux.

      I'm not sure if only one distro is the solution but I agree that there are way too many of them.

      Desktop Linux is all over the place and isn't going anywhere until they decide that reinventing the wheel every 6 months is detrimental to it's adoption rate.
      perrrob
    • How do we do that?

      Anybody with the necessary expertise can create and distribute a Linux distro. Distributors cooperate to varying degrees and there are standards that are generally followed (which is why an executable compiled on one distro will run on the others as long as the requisite libraries are present), but the only *real* way to insure that there is "only one Linux" would be to make it proprietary, which legally can't happen, and would destroy much of its appeal if it did.

      And there are definite advantages to having many different distros, as it makes it easier to make sure there's a Linux for every taste. And since the developers of the software usually included in a Linux distro aren't trying to develop for one particular distro (or even specifically for Linux), the components are there for anyone to build on.
      John L. Ries
      • re: How do we do that?

        "And there are definite advantages to having many different distros, as it makes it easier to make sure there's a Linux for every taste."

        I would argue that this is precisely the reason why desktop Linux hasn't made it big ... lack of standardization.

        1- Many package management schemes.
        2- Different package dependencies for different distros.
        3- Tons of incompatible/deprecated API's.
        4- Many UI packages (KDE, Gnome, etc)

        Because of fragmentation (see points 1-4 above) and low market share, software development of commercial quality for desktop Linux is a money losing endeavour. Thus the scarcity of popular commercial apps on that platform (ie: Photoshop, AutoCAD, games, etc).

        For most people, computers are just a tool and not an end onto itself. They just want their computer to work out of the box ... not to spend time to make it work (ie: few have any desire of editing .conf files in order to get their sound or video monitors to work again after every update).

        This fallacy of choice and the perceived advantages of using a free OS are quickly nullified if you can't run the software that you want.

        The declining desktop Linux market share indicates that for most people, it's the apps that are important not the OS itself. It is also evident that they would much prefer to use quality commercial software over free sub-standard "clones/copies" on Linux.
        perrrob
        • Who says I can't run the software I want?

          That part hasn't been a problem in close to a decade (I'm not concerned about brands, merely functionality). And there is a degree of standardization, which is why execs compiled on one distro will generally run on another (the major problem there is getting execs compiled on a newer distro to run on an older one; but that's true of all UNIX family operating systems to include MacOS X; and there are way around it).

          But you failed to address the issue of "how we get there". Anybody with the know how can produce a Linux distro, so how do we get to one Linux?
          John L. Ries
    • You mean lkike only one Windows?

      So what's up with Windows Home, Windows Home Premium, Windows Pro, Windows Enterprise, etc., and I won't even list all the server versions.

      So does your logic apply to Windows, as well?
      anothercanuck
  • China's home-grown Linux OS shutters

    Linux is in worse shape than anyone thought. China probably got tired of being hacked through the open telnet port in linux or having to recompile the kernel daily. We can add this red flag distro to the long list of many failed linux distributions.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • That's nice, dear...

      Your special.....
      RickLively
    • You need to come up with some new material

      Those telnet and kernel compiling jokes are getting very old now.
      Smalahove
      • If linux fixed them

        then I wouldn't have to keep mentioning them.
        Loverock.Davidson
        • They have been fixed since version 0.

          A telnet port has NEVER been mandatory, any more than it was mandatory on UNIX systems since day 1.

          And recompiling a kernel has ALWAYS been a choice up to the administrator. And that has been true since the very first distribution in 1991.

          So you are just repeating your lies.
          jessepollard