back to article China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft

The world's about to get a new operating system, if reports out of China are correct: the Middle Kingdom hopes to kick off its own operating system in October 2014. According to Xinhua, Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told local trade magazine People's Post and Telecommunications News the OS will first hit on …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Short Development?

    Kicked off in March and due for release in October? Along with a lack of funds and developers running amok? I guess the question is: "what could go wrong?" since it sounds like every project I've ever been on.

    1. Salts

      Re: Short Development?

      Please don't take this the wrong way.

      Just because both you and me have worked with projects that fail, does not mean this one will be the same.

      projects succeed, despite, lack of funds, seen it done and admired the results

      What could go wrong, same as every project, but could it work?

      Can they deliver? not long to wait, October, if not this year, question answered.

      The real question is, what happened if it does go right?

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Short Development?

        If it is just re-skinned Linux, then it is possible. If it is a ground-up OS, then it is unlikely.

        That said, if a new OS has a hope of getting market share, then it is a Chinese one, in a market that is essentially state controlled. That said, their last effer didn't really take off.

        1. Fungus Bob

          Re: ground-up OS

          You mean ground up as in chewed to bits? That'd be Windows...

      2. Anonymoist Cowyard

        Re: Short Development?

        A more sensible start wiuld be chromeos, degoogled and hooked up to a state controlled app store.

        1. Fungus Bob

          Re: Short Development?

          "A more sensible start wiuld be chromeos..."

          Chromeos? Are those shiny Oreos?

      3. Uffish

        Re: Short Development?

        The real question is what will happen when they have a working OS. What happens with all the applications - will they run on the new OS?

        Or are they just trying for a Great Wine of China brand of XP emulator.

    2. NoneSuch

      Re: Short Development?

      The key will be drivers. Good luck with that.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        Re: Short Development?

        In that case, their best option might be to eschew x86 and build a new hardware platform. The loongson chips seem to be a good candidate, or maybe something from the ARM family. Going for a state-controlled platform would greatly reduce the number of drivers needed.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: The key will be drivers

        Most computer hardware is assembled in China, so I doubt they would have much issue with compelling suppliers to provide the necessary drivers if they want any of it to be sold in China.

        Whether they use/abuse the GPL Linux as a start is unanswered, but they could go FreeBSD and avoid open-sourcing the drivers to play nicely with global IPR practice. Other non-GPL aspects compiled in and not open sourced could be built-in state spying...

        As others have said, it is very doubtful you could do a whole OS without starting either something similar it that sort of time scale and budget.

        1. kit

          Re: The key will be drivers

          Its acceptance also depends on the tens of thousands of programs that is working on Windows, will be available on the new OS.

          1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Re: The key will be Linux

            Canaima was developed by socialist countries in reply to the USA politically.

            There are already immitaion Windows versions of Linux. So what is holding up the Chinese?

            And why do they need funds?

            Linux development has had very little and look at it now. I presume they want something written in Chinese codes? Is that even possible?

            1. Crazy Operations Guy

              Re: "Linux development has had very little and look at it now."

              You mean struggling to gain acceptance when there is no company supporting it?

              Its no coincidence that the two most-deployed distros are Red Hat and Ubuntu*, both supported by companies selling support and pushing some of that money into supporting development (Servers, testing resources, CDs/DVDs, expertise, etc). The truth is that money is needed for anything to happen on a decent scale, volunteers and donations will only get you so far (Just look at the various *BSDs).

              *And their descendents that directly benefit from the company's work (CentOS and Fedora for Red Hat; and the various '-buntu's)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Linux development has had very little and look at it now."

                "Its no coincidence that the two most-deployed distros are Red Hat and Ubuntu*, "

                Erm - no - that would be Red Hat and SUSE.

  2. Gray Ham

    New user interface ...


    1. Longrod_von_Hugendong

      Re: New user interface ...

      Think the prompt should be

      政府正在看着你 $

      at least it will be the truth with a China Gov os

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: New user interface ...

      I was thinking something more along the lines of

      东与西 $

      Which in Hong Kong would naturally be

      東與西 $

    3. Adam 1

      Re: New user interface ...

      I have no clue what you guys are saying.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: New user interface ...

        Google translate is your starting point...just don't use it for anything culturally sensitive!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New user interface ...

      你所有的基地都属于我们 :>

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it is Linux based, then it will never be a homegrown OS. A homegrown OS would be something entirely written by the Chinese, not bits and pieces taken elsewhere and incorporated in; that would just be a distro.

    1. Sokolik

      Development-to-deployment in *seven* months? Agree with your premise and conclusion. As for compare/contrast, didn't Hugo Chavez also try to oust MS from the Venezuelan government (also for nationalist reasons, I 'spose)? And and if memory serves didn't the Venezuelan government end up with a Linux distro?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        In a few months you can get a homegrown Minix up and running. But who wants to use that?

        Socialistic dreams, and then the Penguin beckons.

        Or maybe the Fugu fish.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects


        I have never even tried it but I imagine it is a cut down version of Mint. If there was an English version I would try it. It was, IIRC, designed to go straight onto government sets that were designed for Microsoft and to use drivers from Windows but I have no idea how.

        Sounds like El Reg should live up to its nickname and tell us more. It is time this rag cut the USA adrift. It reads more and more as though it is a US based magazine these days.

      3. Daniel von Asmuth

        The nerds who say Ni

        China had a Linux ditribution called Red Flag and terminated it. Past claims indicate that they would like an OS that can run Windows applications.

        Seven months? That's how long Microsoft takes for beta-testing a new version of Windows.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: The nerds who say Ni

          Seven months? That's how long Microsoft takes for beta-testing a new version of Windows

          I guess if you have a real Mongolian Horde, it's possible...

      4. Lars Silver badge

        C'mon Sokolik, "for nationalist reasons", There are very good capitalist reasons for using Open Source in any country and government including the USA. Grow up.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      "If it is Linux based, then it will never be a homegrown OS". I wonder where that "homegrown" word came from. If it came from China I suppose a new Linux distro could be called homegrown by somebody who does not understand the difference between a OS a kernel or a distro. They can of course use Linux like anybody else. Lots of countries have a "homegrown" Linux distro like Spain. Italy, Turkey, France, Germany and I think Russia. Not Blighty with I find both rather (or not) surprising and disturbing. They will comply with the GPL2 just by telllng the version of the kernel, and if they feel like tweeking the kernel they have to tell where that source is. Using BSD will of course be even easier as they can take it and run like Apple. Assuming they will base it one a Loongson MIPS64 processor and as that was developed using Linux I think Linux is the more obvious choice. But they will have the typical "Linux" problem trying to persuade people that "homegrown" is better or at least as good as MS and Apple.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If it is Linux based, then it will never be a homegrown OS. A homegrown OS would be something entirely written by the Chinese, not bits and pieces taken elsewhere and incorporated in; that would just be a distro."

      I'm pretty sure that the Chinese expression for "homegrown technology" actually translates into "taken from elsewhere" in any western language. Can't think of any example to the contrary beyond the early days of black powder.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doom to failure

    No apps - can't rip them off with a home grown OS.

    1. Sokolik

      Re: Doom to failure

      Excellent incisive point. Agreed.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Doom to failure

        Perhaps they could base it on ReactOS.

        1. John Savard Silver badge

          Re: Doom to failure

          That actually would be a brilliant idea. But I doubt that it will happen.

  5. Arthur Kater :-D ☺

    Heard Adobe is already porting Creative Suite.

    This new port will come without an annoying license key mechanism. Because, why bother..

  6. Mikel

    Laugh if you want

    When it comes to state information security, China doesn't fool around. They have compromised enough Windows boxes at NRC, Langley, NSA and other places to know better than to use it to hold their own secrets.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Laugh if you want

      [citation needed]

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Laugh if you want

        Well, it does seem to have happened at the National Research Council in Canada. I haven't heard about suspected Chinese government hacking at the CIA or the NSA, although I have seen news items about it at lots of other places.

    2. DrGoon

      Re: Laugh if you want

      And yet they are going to start with Linux and work from there. Those who cannot remember reflections of trusting trust can be trusted to trust that which they shouldn't:

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laugh if you want

      "They have compromised enough Windows boxes at NRC, Langley, NSA and other places to know better than to use it to hold their own secrets."

      You know that in terms of servers at least, it's Linux boxes that are far more likely to be vulnerable and get hacked?

  7. Tim99 Silver badge

    Red Flag...

    ...Linux again? Wikipedia Link.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Red Flag...

      Maybe Red Flag BSD this time?

  8. Fihart

    Welcome, RSOD.

    Red Screen of Death.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome, RSOD.

      Brought to you by MaoSoft. We crush the Capitalists !

  9. Denarius Silver badge

    be original

    was not there an attempt to brew an opensource version of Win NT ? Redo to run all the copies of Office 97 knocking around.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OS from scratch? easier than you think

    If you're targeting fairly uniform hardware, you can build an OS in a year. What you need is a single architect and a few developers, mostly experienced pragmatic types along with a little young blood and a couple OCD types to curtail the "we'll iron out that API later" hand-waving.

    The tough part is getting enough apps written (preferably from scratch) for you pristine new OS. And, as mentioned in the article, having too much government funding and too many developers pulling in different directions.

    Basically, anyone can do this. You don't need (or want) one government-backed OS to rule them all.

  11. John Savard Silver badge

    One Option

    Android is open source, and it's based on Linux.

    What about a modified Android that becomes a full copy of Linux once you click on an icon? So you can run safe walled-garden Android apps if you stay on the front page, but if you click the "desktop" icon then you get to use Ubuntu... or Red Flag Linux... or whatever.

    As long as it doesn't leave China, Microsoft might not have luck suing for a violation of whatever patent they have on the Windows 8 design.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I predicate it

    Will look exactly like Windows 7, have exactly the same APIs as Windows 7, run all the same software as Windows 7 without change on all the same hardware as Windows 7.

    But it will be a brand new, home grown OS.

    1. Hargrove

      Just observations

      China is, in terms of numbers of consumers, one of the few countries capable of attaining viable economies of scale without export. I believe that they also have a significant numerical advantage in computer scientists with advanced degrees (mostly educated in the US and Europe). That doesn't mean that market dominance in IT isn't a strategic goal. The growing success of Huawei in the global telecom market, while continuing to support and develop the indigenous TD-SCDMA for the Chinese Wireless market is an example of trying to do both.

      If anyone is going to develop a more tightly written and secure OS, the Chinese, while not a sure bet by any means, is one of the better bets on the table.

      With regard to the specific project described in the Reg article, roulette provides a useful analogy. Betting on China may the equivalent of betting on red; betting on this project is betting on number 3 (red) to come up several times in a row.

      But, the fact that they are thinking about it is noteworthy.

    2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Sounds like a winner NT

      What's wrong with NT?

      Just needs some inscrutable.... scrutiny.

      How about DamnsmallNT?

      I just looked up Dino Nuhagic. He sounds Asian if not exactly Chinese. If he could do IT....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard to compete with "free"

    That's what they're essentially competing against with Windows 7, given the piracy rate in China. It may succeed if the government forces its adoption, but those with the choice will mostly stick with Windows because its what they know.

    Same reason why PC buyers in the US use Windows - it is free with their PC. If they bought a bare PC and had to purchase and install the OS themselves, Linux wouldn't be dominant, but it would have a much larger desktop share than it does today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hard to compete with "free"

      Here in Brasil, most of the cheap computers are shipped with Linux pre-installed.

      Of course the first thing that people do when they get home, is install a pirated copy of Windows. You can´t even give Desktop Linux away.

  14. MyffyW Silver badge

    I can't imagine that this is anything more than news management. But I'm happy to be proved wrong in the coming months. If I have to use an OS with government backdoors in it I'd trust the NSA over the Peoples Liberation Army any day. Sort of frying pan, fire dilemma I suppose.

  15. tempemeaty

    The way of success

    China needs to adopt "known" "success" "methods" that have been "demonstrated" in desktop OS creation. I believe the way is to start with a Unix/BSD kernel and create their own OS on top of it. Why? Because it works. Apple's OSX demonstrates it. (just my useless 2 cents worth)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am a Chinese working as a China analyst at a think tank. It is becoming more and more apparent to many people, that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knows it is on its last straw of survival.

    The party is facing severe and endlessly increasing systematic stress on all fronts:

    1. Increasing external oppositions from all other countries in the world including all of China's neighbours. They are forming more and more alliances and becoming more outspoken with rising strengths against China, in addition to increasing anti-China sentiment from people in all other countries. Many countries including Canada and Australia have tightened their immigration policy to prevent Chinese from entering their countries. Even on these casual internet message boards, when you look past the paid Chinese propaganda professional commenters, you notice rising general anti-China feelings from all over the world.

    2. Increasing internal severe and massive violent social unrest and anti-CCP mutiny from people of all Chinese living places e.g. mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Macau etc. To beat down internal dissent, the CCP every year is forced to spend even more money than on its massive military budget. This is continuously worsened by the free flow of information, with Chinese people knowing more and more from travelling abroad and learning about truths from jumping beyond the "Great Fire Wall" on the internet.

    3. Its own economy and social condition never able to develop to higher level beyond mass skill-less manufacturing, due to complete absence of law and common morals. High technology and innovations and scientific development all require many citizens working together voluntarily contributing long term in a system they trust, with things like rule of law, no censorship on knowledge, no restrictions on speech and expression, copyrights, patents, common morals when collaborating and trading with each other etc. These qualities are all destroyed in modern China by the CCP. When was the last time you heard an announcement of technology development or innovations or scientific breakthrough coming from a Chinese organization / company / university? You haven't because there ain't any. Unlike mass manufacturing factory work, these high level human developments cannot be forced on or bought with a dictator's central planning. The only way modern China gets these things is from stealing and spying from all other countries, but that has become much more difficult since the whole world has caught on to their act.

    This systematic fatal weakness is why you do not see even one Chinese brand or company that can compete in the international market in any industry of the human race. No rule of law in China also means no people or businesses, both Chinese and foreign, ever invest in China long-term or on a large scale because everything frequently change on a whim along with the political climate. No one trusts any contract or agreement in China because they are always broken by the Chinese and there is no legal protection whatsoever, meaning China can never advance to a knowledge economy or service economy. No rule of law also ensures Shanghai fail to become a financial city despite the CCP dumping huge resources into it for 30 years.

    4. China's mass skill-less manufacturing itself is going away to other countries due to sharply increasing costs and openly hostile and unfair business environment full of frauds and sanctioned protectionism and government robberies. The labor force is endlessly more demanding both in wages and benefits expectations and working conditions, especially since all of today's Chinese workers are single child used to coddling and indulgement by their families. It is further worsened by the rise of robotic automatic manufacturing and 3D printing. This situation is a death knock to the "growth-based legitimacy" of the CCP, which is the only thing CCP can rely on for continuing ruling power. For sure Chinese people tolerate the CCP when the economy seemingly explodes, but when one day it crashes and the country's hopeless bad shape hit them in the face the people's "support" for the CCP will turn on a dime.

    5. Fierce unstoppable purges and mutually-destructive infighting among different factions within the party, who are imprisoning and killing each other every day. This power grab goes on under the laughable thin guise of "anti-corruption drive" when everyone knows all officials in china are corrupted. No work to manage the country or guide the ship is being done while this is going on.

    6. Its many previously-suppressed fatal problems have all grown too big to be contained all catching up to the CCP e.g.

    - severe carcinogenic poisonous pollution everywhere in air and water and soil and their own food etc, with the WHO issuing multiple warnings on Chinese population having the fastest cancer growth rate in the whole world

    - skyrocketing unrepayable bad debts of all kinds everywhere, its true scope no one on Earth knows because all data from China are faked

    - biggest housing bubble in human history, in addition to innumerous crumbling "ghost cities" and shoddily-built vanity project infrastructure that cannot and will not be used

    - rapidly aging demographics with a 140:100 male:female ratio (from one child policy, culture of "leftover women", and many Chinese families killing their own daughters so as to chase boys)

    - world's no.1 wealth inequality, with a Gini coefficient rivaling 18th century France just before the French revolution

    - complete absence of soft power / cultural influence / social attraction, one result of which is minimal and sharply dwindling number of foreign professionals and tourists and students going to China. It also means the CCP only has force as the only tool to use on the international stage

    - all Chinese chasing foreign-brand goods and services while ditching low-quality Chinese-brands, who have a well known history of poisoning their own food and their own baby formula so as to make more money. This dashs CCP's hope to build indigenous industries and a domestic consumption economy

    - corruptions and fraud throughout the whole rotten core of a system

    - desperate mass exodus at all levels of Chinese society to escape the country using emigration or buying houses / study abroad or marriage to foreigners or plain old human smuggling, resulting in all able Chinese leaving taking huge amounts of talents and money out of the country

    - the law of large numbers, "middle-income trap" and "Minsky moment" all work against the growth-based legitimacy CCP desperately needs for its survival

    Most importantly, the CCP knows that if 1.4 billion Chinese learn about basic human qualities such as morals, truth, justice, human rights, rule of law, fairness, freedom, universal values etc the CCP will be toppled very quickly. Therefore its state-controlled brainwashing education and propaganda machinations ensure a complete lack of morals and regard for laws in all Chinese growing up and beyond. This results in failure in all basic aspects of human interactions with every modern Chinese, whether it is business trading / personal dealings / technology development / creating innovations / human communications / scientific research / artistic expressions / teamwork collaborations / academic exchange etc.

    The longer Chinese people deny or refuse to acknowledge the CCP problem, the longer they are only digging themselves into the hole and hurting themselves for any chance of recovery. Consider the example of Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Youtube, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram etc - these services are all completely blocked in China while at the same time the rest of the planet are on these services every second communicating ideas with each other, making friends, exchanging knowledge, doing business, working together, improving science and technology and arts, and advancing humanity.

    Some people say China economically developed a lot in past 30 years, but the truth is this "development" is actually debt borrowed against the future. The only entity left to suffer is China's future starting from now, a country that has been turned by the CCP into a place with no law, no morals, no system for future scientific or economic or social development, no spiritual support apart from money, no trust or cooperation among Chinese, no trust or goodwill from foreigners, no other country as friends, all resources sold away cheaply, entire environment and air and water and soil and food fatally polluted, only social recognition is to make a lot of money for "face", no creativity or personal development for Chinese young people, a populus not allowed to know the truths and not allowed to say the truths.

    For the CCP in 1989, 1.4 billion people is great central-planning asset when the country start from nothing and you order them to do backbreaking mass manufacturing repetitive factory work 20 hours a day without workers protection of any kind. But in the 2014 borderless knowledge economy when that no longer works, 1.4 billion immoral and uncooperative and selfish and undeveloped and angry Chinese contained in a lawless system without any hopes of growth is very, very dangerous liability for the CCP.

    All debts against the future have to be paid back - China is no exception. That moment may arrive a bit later than expected but it surely will come, as it has on 100% of occasions in human history. For China the moment has arrived to suffer the consequences for all its own chosen actions in past 30 years. All the festering fundamental systematic problems listed above and much more, are only getting worse and worse everyday until one day when the system can suddenly no longer bear.

    Think USSR in 1989.

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