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Rising Asian Support For Debian Linux

Community based Linux distribution Debian got a boost from China and Japan, thanks to a deal involving Sun Wah Linux and VA Linux Systems Japan.

The Tokyo-based VA Linux Systems and Nanjing, China-based Sun Wah Linux plan to promote and jointly develop Debian's Linux OS for Chinese and Japanese markets.

Both companies have almost five years of experience in their respective markets marketing products under their own brand names. Sun Wah Linux was founded in July of 2000. VA Linux was founded a few months later in September.

The two firms currently boast at least eight "official" Debian developers between the two of them. Among them is Sun Wah Linux employee Roger So, who is on the steering committee for Open I18N, a term that means software internationalization/translation. Also involved is VA Linux employee Takuo Kitame, who is known in the community for his work on Mozilla and GNOME Debian packages.

Sun Wah and VA Linux Japan said they would target telecom and enterprise markets in Japan and government customers in China.

Debian Developer Matthew Garrett told internetnews.com that Debian has always been one of the most international Linux distributions. "It's wonderful to see initiatives that will increase our representation in countries with a growing interest in Linux," he added. "It's especially heartening to see this move coming from commercial enterprises, as it demonstrates that free software can work with business."

Alex Banh, CEO of Sun Wah Linux, called the Debian Project a rock solid open source distribution and "inseparable" part of the Sun Wah Linux business.

"It promotes true open source spirit and offers incomparable values to our customers. I am seeing a growing number of Debian users in China and I am certain that the strategic alliance with VA Linux will contribute significantly to the development and adoption of Open Source solutions in our respective countries," he said in a statement.

The new Asian Debian partnership enters a red hot Asia-Pac Linux market that has at least three major player all vying for a piece of the open source pie. Red Hat has been active in the Asian market for some time with offices in Japan, China and Korea. The current head of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) operations in Asia, Hirano Masanobu, is a former Red Hat Japan president and General Manager of Red Hat North Asia.

Asia's own Linux effort, dubbed "Asianux," was originally based on a Red Hat Linux OS. Asianux commands the support of over 40 major industry vendors, including Oracle.

TurboLinux is also an active participant in the Asian market and last year won a major deal with China's Department of Railways.

Debian differs from Asianux, Red Hat and TurboLinux in that it is definitively a community developed project and not driven by any one commercial entity or group. Debian also differs from its competitors in that it doesn't currently have a rigid release schedule like its competitors.

The next release of Debian Linux, code-named "Sarge," had been expected last year but is still under active development and expected to be released in 2005.