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.
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.