October 11, 2004

France and China sign open source/open standards deal

Author: Tina Gasperson

France is doing a lot of business

in China these days. French president Jacques Chirac is coming home

on Tuesday with an armful of new deals struck between French and Chinese

interests. At least one of those has to do with semiconductors and open

source software.Two big scientific entities, the French

Atomic Energy Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Science and

Technology, met in Beijing on Saturday and inked an agreement to develop a new low-cost,

high-performance open source software platform.

Included in the deal as associates are two French companies known for

open standards development: Bull and


Bull designs and develops open server architectures for the public

services industry with profits last year in excess of 4 million euros,

and STMicroelectronics is a large semiconductor company with net

revenues in 2003 of over $7 billion in U.S. According to research done

by Gartner Dataquest, ST is already the second largest supplier of

semiconductors to China.

A press

release issued by Bull today said the project is based on Linux and

"an open distributed system," to be developed by the consortium, which STMicroelectronics dubbed the "Chinese Open Platform Initiative".

China is no stranger to Linux and other open source software. The

Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences released the

1.0 version of Red

Flag Linux in October 1999 and is now up to v.4.0 for

desktops and 4.1 for

servers. Many view the distribution, funded and supported by the

Chinese government, as a way to escape both the dominance and expense of

Microsoft platforms, and to solve a chronic software piracy problem. Some sources

say up to 92% of computer systems in China were still running pirated software three years after the initial release of Red Flag Linux.

The Bull release said the technology intitiative will create a

"complete chain of compatible open source systems," for China, including servers,

mobile terminals and consumer appliances that will promote interoperability, new online services, and communications applications. Benefits for France include income from China IT interests that is expected to soar higher than $11 billion USD per year in 2004 and beyond.


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