China building its own Ubuntu-based national operating system

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Windows may run on more than 90 percent of computers in China today, according to NetMarketShare, but the country clearly wants its own home-brew operating system that’s more than an adapted and translated piece of software. In fact, China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) will be working with Canonical to develop a Chinese operating system based on Ubuntu at the CCN Open Source Innovation Joint Lab in Beijing.

The first version of Ubuntu Kylin, the name for the Chinese version of Ubuntu, will be released in April 2013 for desktops and laptops. The goal of the software is to make the OS more relevant to Chinese users. Not only will Ubuntu Kylin be in Chinese, it will also make it easier to type in Chinese characters. Ubuntu Kylin will include the Lunar calendar that many Chinese national holidays are based on, and it’ll link to popular Chinese sites like Baidu for maps and Taobao for online shopping.

Future releases of Ubuntu Kylin will better integrate the Baidu maps into software, will sync payment systems with Chinese banks, and will offer train and flight information in real time. The Ubuntu company even wants to chip away at Microsoft Office’s dominance in China and beyond. The Ubuntu Kylin team is working on photo editing and system management tools which could be added to other Ubuntu operating systems around the world.

According to the The Register, this push to develop its own software is part of China’s latest five-year plan to “wean itself off of technologies developed by Western companies.” With Ubuntu being an open-sourced software, at least China will be able to make its own changes to the operating system rather than rely on foreign corporations to profit while making updates it may not even want. Washington, take note.

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