China builds its own operating system

As part of the country’s drive to embrace open source software, China has contracted Canonical to help build an OS specifically with Chinese users in mind.

It is expected that the OS, dubbed Ubuntu Kylin, will be designed for desktops and laptops, and will ship with Chinese characters. The idea is to create an operating system that is in tune with the way Chinese people use their computers, plus supporting Chinese dates, the BBC reports

Both in-house Canonical staff and Chinese researchers will be working on the OS at a Beijing lab. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will collaborate with Canonical to come up with Kylin to run on servers, aimed at websites, online shops, and hosting.

The move will be a mixed bag for Western companies that traditionally have dominated the Chinese IT landscape. There have been increasing calls for the country to crack down on rampant piracy, including from Microsoft, that has insisted in the past illicit copies of Windows have been profligate. Washington previously hoped to exert pressure onto China to take action against piracy. This move seems to indicate a desire to, at the very least, reduce reliance on the West.

Bundled with Ubuntu Kylin will eventually be popular Chinese language services like Baidu maps, alternatives to Office and image management, and the Taobao shopping service.

By leaning on Linux for its IT, China will also be encouraging coders to build and modify their own versions of Kylin.