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State of Linux: Substantial Growth in Asia-Pacific - www.reallylinux.com
The State of Linux: Substantial Growth in Asia-Pacific by Mark Rais, senior editor reallylinux.com, for The
State of Linux series, part 2.
Nearly every day we
read about another major migration, adoption, or engagement of Linux
in Asia-Pacific -- and with good reason. After visiting the region,
I find that most of the leading I.T. nations in
Asia-Pacific are experiencing substantive Linux growth.
As a result, far
greater numbers of Linux installations and desktop integrations are
taking place today than news reports or announcements often convey.
Although this article is only a cursory review, hopefully it
will testify to the significant growth of Linux in Asia-Pacific.
I saw definitive signs of strong growth in the leading I.T. nations
including: Australia, China, India, and New Zealand. For these
nations, Linux growth, although often unspoken and covert, is exponential and across
sectors. In other nations of the region, most growth
concentrates uniquely in one sector, usually the public sector where
government funding is included.
GROWTH ACROSS SECTORS INDIA
All over India are signs of Linux use and integration applied across sectors. Sushil Mayengbam, GNU/LINUX technologist in New Delhi, India, and writer for e-pao.net,
shared with me a few important insights regarding this sector
Linux is going to play a major key role in the overall IT markets [in India] including the government sectors like educational institutes, R&D hubs, academics, banking, telecom etc.
Raghavendra K, from the I.T. capital Bangalore, shares additional insights:
There are many intiatives going on in India to popularise Linux.
In my university we have Linux User Groups formed and run by students, which takes the intiative of organising seminars. A separate mailing list for the group, where people pool in their thoughts or queries and get instant replies by students out here, etc.
Raghavendra validates what others have also been saying, that Linux popularity is greatly on the rise. He shares:
When I first bought a computer I asked the dealer to load the computer with Linux, but he said he had no idea about it and installed Windows 98.
But things have changed. Now students are very particular that their system should be loaded with Linux at least as a dual boot.
But the university setting is not the only one being infused with greater Linux use.
Sushil Mayengbam, who authored this excellent article regarding Linux benefits, states:
In the government sector, it is not surprising that the humble President of India even endorsed the feasibility of free open-source software in this nation.
There is a good
summation of the President's view in a Times of India article. It is readily apparent that the leadership in India see Open Source as both an empowerment
tool and a method of offsetting growing capital expenditure costs.
As mentioned in my
previous article Linux in Asia, India's leadership continues to make wisely balanced decisions with effective foresight. Open Source is seen as a
key to their continued growth pattern in India. Today, this growth is
most dramatic in the private business sector, but steadily
expands into the public sector as well. India remains a key driver nation and will be a significant contributor to Linux expansion in the region.
such as China, much of the large growth occurs today
in the public sector. This growth is being led by the
strength of big names like IBM and Novell now comfortably settled in the region. But there is also more subtle growth occurring through government initiatives and state funding.
Darryl K. Taft, in his
article titled China Says
Yes to Linux, No to Open-Source Middleware,
shares information on this unique disparity between China's public and
private sector growth. He quotes Huang Yong, chief executive at CCID
Consulting Co. Ltd. as stating, on the one hand:
promotes and supports desktop Linux very strongly. So the government
hopes that Linux -- legal software such as Linux -- can replace all
But on the other hand, he
At present, no Chinese
software company has open-sourced code, particularly in application
As a result, although there is reasonable growth in Linux use in China, it lags substantially behind India.
There is substantive and positive growth in the use of Linux and Open Source Software (OSS) in Malaysia and for that matter in much of the Asia-Pacific region. Although there is far too little recognition of what is occuring, nations like Malaysia have adopted a wise, balanced approach to Linux use.
Similarly, Singapore is
seeing Linux adoption primarily among government supported projects.
In one of the most recent examples, the Singapore Housing Development
Board began to migrate major business applications leveraging IBM and
Linux. In a notable quote from Koh Kok, from an AmeInfo article:
support for Linux has allowed us to move forward on a platform that
However, overall sector
growth in Singapore lags behind the other nations and needs to be
contrasted to the driver nations who are successfully integrating
Linux and dominating I.T. expansion in the region.
Likewise, in Thailand,
the government continues to enable the application of Open Source
solutions. But much of this expansion is slow in comparison to
other countries. Although the involvement of Thai government agencies including Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) are making policy changes that will expand Linux use.
In the ZDNet UK article Linux Thais up more support, Ingrid Marson provides some useful insight how Thailand is addressing OSS. Nevertheless, today Open Source makes up only a tiny margin of overall software use even among the government agencies.
Japan's adoption of Linux is complicated by matters not only of localization challenges, but also cultural approaches. Although there is some private sector growth, even with strong external support the Japanese I.T. leadership remains somewhat passive in regards to adoption.
In a very insightful article, Lyle Saxon shares his thoughts regarding Japan's issues with faster adoption and growth.
Japan remains somewhat sluggish in terms of adoption when compared to other nations in the region.
In Korea the public
sector adoption is definitely growing with major successes. One example is The Ministry of Information and Communication's (MIC)
decision to begin building an Open Source "city."
MIC revealed the scheme of building up the city and university, which will operate as test beds for the open-source programs... toward which end the ministry earmarked 4.1 billion won for this year alone.
That is over $4 million US dollars per year for this one project alone. It is a signifier of how serious Open Source initiatives are being taken by the governance.
But there are many
reasons behind South Korea's public sector migrations to Linux.
One of which is the bottom line. From a Linux Insider report:
South Korea will likely accelerate its move toward adopting the Linux computer operating system to replace Microsoft's Windows 98 in the public sector.
Why? The answer lies in the body of the excellent article:
Microsoft's decision to stop offering updated anti-virus patches will leave many South Korean users of the outdated Windows operating system vulnerable to threats of hacking and malicious codes.
According to industry data, Windows 98 runs on around 13 percent of the total 27 million personal computers in South Korea, most of which are being used at government agencies.
As odd as it may seem,
Korea is seeing expansive public sector Linux growth as a result of
Microsoft's product support failure. Although a bit ironic, this
is apparently quite true. However, not all of the growth in Korea is
so overt. Instead, each day through local seminars and LUG meetings,
thousands of Koreans share the power and benefits of Linux related
Much of this grass
roots effort to promote and drive new Linux initiatives begins with
the universities like Korea University in Seoul and is a result of the highly social and interactive Korean culture. LUGs are an incredibly vital
part of the growth of South Korean Linux adoption. The Korea LUG is
preparing for its 10th seminar, and you can get more
details from: Korea LUG
If securely deploying
10,000 wireless access points across 1,700 locations in five months
to create what may be one of the largest enterprise Wi-Fi network
sounds like a challenge, Victoria's Department of Education (DET) in
Australia took it all in stride.
In general, although
numerically Linux adoption has plenty of room to grow down under,
major strides are being made regarding the acceptance of Linux and
Open Source, especially within the government sectors.
A recent report by the
Australian House Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs included recommendations "consistent with those requested
by the Australian Open Source Industry Association (OSIA Limited)."
If you're interested in what is happening in the land down under,
this excellent (as usual) Groklaw synopsis contains many more details.
As I reported in my earlier article, in New Zealand
adoption is numerically greatest in the government sector, but hidden
are the true numbers of adoptions and migrations among the many small
Zealand] has many small businesses, and naturally these small
startups are very innovative, and try all the new ideas that are
around. OSS saves them setup costs, and is very attractive to someone
starting almost any kind of business.
Once Novell endorses... government departments tend to take notice and think
"hey, this Linux stuff is being done by Novell. It must be
good.". IBM is also doing their bit, and naturally their name also helps make Linux more respected
and helps push it to the mainstream. And names like Weta Digital are helping to make OSS a house-hold word.
This seems to be an
accurate depiction across the entire New Zealand, as Andrew Hill,
president of Treshna Enterprises, in Christchurch New Zealand,
verifies what he sees in his region:
The areas we are using Linux is in servers, the desktop, kiosks and more often now in embedded systems. If you visit a new client, you'll often find that they already are running Linux on their servers. It's reasonably common.
head of The New Zealand Open Source Society, a nonprofit organization
to protect, advocate, and advance OSS, provides
a very useful glimpse into two factors. The first is an honest
assessment of the work still to be done. The second, as he puts it
well, has to do with understanding and appreciating what Linux has
To be honest Linux and OSS have not cracked market share except in a few areas. You will probably find a Linux box of some kind in most server rooms. ISP's will almost all have significant installs. Telco companies and web hosting companies will also have large installed bases.
However, this misses quite an important impact OSS has had on software worldwide. Linux proved that an operating system on Intel boxes could be reliable and secure. It wasn't until the popularity of Linux became apparent that people suddenly discovered that crashing wasn't a characteristic of the Intel machine.
There is obviously work still to be done but overall Linux growth in this region is quite strong.
A handful of nations are leading a massive, often subtle expansion of
Linux here in this region.
Moreover, it is increasingly difficult
for other nations to catch-up not only regarding Linux adoption
but also regarding overall I.T. leadership. Also, while
many announcements of major endeavors are reported each day, the
grass roots efforts of the Linux communities and local companies in Asia-Pacific has
at least as much impact if not more.
For further research, I strongly recommend the thorough summary of Asia Linux adoption assembled by Frederick Noronha. He is a freelance journalist who has written a very useful summation of Free Software in Asia.
In the document, Frederick offers background regarding OSS in Asia and concludes:
Linux originates from
Finland [Europe]. Red Hat originates from US. Mandrake originates
from France [Europe]. SuSe[Europe] originates from Germany. The only
region left is Asia. I bet you, Asia will be the next hub of
I strongly agree, having heard first hand accounts of Linux
adoption in Asia-Pacific. I too believe that a number of the nations
here are now poised to become the leaders in OpenSource's future.
Perhaps it is just as
important to note that Linux adoption in Asia-Pacific is also being
used as an empowerment tool to address major humanitarian needs.
Linux is solving problems far beyond Information Technology.
Speaking with Narinder Bhatia, a technology leader for Shiksha India Trust, he shared
how Open Source software such as Moodle was providing technology access and coordination in some of India's poorest schools. Shiksha India Trust is part of the significant Confederation
of India Industry (CII). The beneficial work of Narinder and his colleagues, is
representative of similar positive humanitarian initiatives throughout the
The low cost,
beneficial licensing, and power of Linux and Open Source is a
substantial tool, not only for I.T., but for all of humanity. As a
result Linux grows significantly in use across sectors and across
nations here in Asia-Pacific.
Mark Rais serves as senior editor for
reallylinux.com, promotes Open Source to organizations and government leadership in USA, Asia and Africa, and has written a number of Linux books, including Linux for the Rest of Us.
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