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OSDL Waves Red Flag in China

UPDATED: Officials at the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) announced one of China's top Linux shops will support their efforts in the burgeoning East.

Beijing-based Red Flag Software joined OSDL Monday and plans to participate in the research organization's desktop Linux, carrier grade Linux and data center Linux working groups.

Red Flag develops several enterprise Linux offerings, including: Red Flag Linux Server, Embedded Linux OS, Security Server and desktop Linux.

"Linux is a huge success in China and there is enormous potential for widespread Linux adoption across all market sectors," Chris Zhao, Red Flag executive president, said in a statement. "Red Flag is joining the internationally recognized OSDL organization so that our contributions to Linux and open source development can benefit the global Linux community. Together with OSDL and its members, we intend to share our expertise and technology to further promote Linux in China, in Asia, and around the world."

The announcement comes five months after the OSDL, a group dedicated to accelerating the operating system's incorporation in business, set up shop in the country to promote Linux. The office, also in Beijing, is intended as the hub for all OSDL efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, and has the backing of China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

According to Chinese IT research firm CCID Consulting, the Linux server market in the country is expected to grow at a 50 percent compound annual growth rate for the next five years.

Stuart Cohen, OSDL CEO, said Linux vendors from the Asia-Pacific region make up about one-third of its membership, and the addition of one of the largest Linux distributors in China is a welcome addition.

"There's a tremendous amount of interest in Linux, and there's a tremendous amount of opportunity for Linux in China," he said. "Because of the computing revenue growth rates and people getting PCs either for the first time, and just the population explosion, it's a tremendous opportunity for Linux and open source."

Dealings between the two are nothing new, Cohen said. When the OSDL opened in Beijing, the lab had several discussions with Red Flag executives. Though the two have been working together for more than a year and a half, he said changes in Red Flag management in the past have kept the company from joining, much less assigning resources in the various OSDL working groups.

For the past year, Red Flag has been working with a Japanese Linux vendor, Miracle Linux, to create a Linux standard in the region. Their collaboration effort, called Asianux, is an effort to develop and standardize software and hardware around a common Asian Linux kernel, its libraries and packages, with a certification track to ensure its compatibility in the region.

When Asianux launched its beta in April 2004, the group already had 40 certified vendors -- including Hitachi, NEC, Computer Associates, and Toshiba -- on board.

The Asianux coalition is second high-profile move for the company. In May 2003, Red Flag joined Turbolinux to support Oracle's Unbreakable initiative, a compatibility program to marry Oracle's software packages with Red Flag's operating system software. Oracle is big backer in the Asia-Pacific region, notably through its 54 percent stake in Miracle Linux.