Chinese government builds national OS around Ubuntu

The Chinese government has announced plans to release Ubuntu Kylin, an Ubuntu 13.04-based OS with features targeted at the Chinese market.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

The Chinese government is building an operating system based on the open source OS Ubuntu.

The China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Centre (CSIP), part of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, on Thursday announced that Ubuntu would be a new reference architecture for an OS targeted at the Chinese market.

Working with Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, the CSIP plans to release the Ubuntu 13.04-based Kylin desktop OS in April this year, with plans to extend the Kylin OS to other platforms at a later date.

"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," Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical, said in a statement.

The Chinese government released an earlier Kylin OS in 2007, a system based on Mach and FreeBSD that was designed to be hardened against malware available at the time, in what was perceived as an attempt to block attacks by foreign governments.

The first release of the Ubuntu Kylin OS will include features and applications that cater for the Chinese market. Features include Chinese input methods and Chinese calendars, a new weather indicator and search across the most popular Chinese music services from the Dash. Future releases will include integration with Baidu maps and shopping service Taobao, payment processing for Chinese banks, and real-time train and flight information.

The Ubuntu Kylin team is working with WPS, the most popular office suite in China, and is creating photo editing and system management tools which could be incorporated into other flavours of Ubuntu worldwide.

The CSIP, Canonical and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) have also formed the CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab in Beijing. The joint lab hosts engineers from each organisation who will accelerate the development of a China-focused version of Ubuntu for desktop, cloud and mobile devices.

The announcement is part of the Chinese government's five year plan to promote open source software and accelerate the growth of the open source ecosystem within China, Canonical said.

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