Sun Notches Linux Win With Chinese Govt

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-11-17 Print this article Print

Sun announces a technology partnership with two IT ministries in the Chinese government as well as the formation of a new company to deliver a China-branded software stack based on Sun's Java Desktop System.

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Monday will announce a technology partnership with two IT ministries in the Chinese government as well as the formation of a new company, China Standard Software, to deliver a China-branded software stack based on Suns Java Desktop System. Sun CEO Scott McNealy will make the announcement during his Monday morning keynote address titled "Scaling Out: Sun Applies Innovation to Volume Technologies" at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas.
The announcement comes just days after Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president for software at Sun, said the company was pursuing a new "per citizen" pricing model for the upcoming Java Desktop System, to allow government agencies to distribute the system to their citizens.
In an interview ahead of McNealys keynote, Curtis Sasaki, vice president of desktop solutions at Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif., told eWEEK that the Chinese government is hoping to roll the solution out around the beginning of next year. A Sun executive who asked not to be named told eWEEK that while the current Java Desktop System is powered by SuSE Linux, the Chinese deal will probably have a custom Linux Standards Base-compliant Linux operating system that will be supported by the Chinese government and its IT partners. But Sasaki was evasive when asked what Linux distribution will power the Chinese desktop system, saying Suns code is very portable. He did, however, indicate that it may not be SuSE Linux, saying, "While we are not wedded to any Linux distribution per se, we do have a partnership and contract with SuSE." The Chinese agencies and their partners will provide all of the infrastructure, support and marketing services around the offering, he said, adding that the Chinese government already has a strong initiative around Linux, and this makes it easier for them to get the solution to market quickly. Microsoft Windows and Office are "just too expensive for most ordinary citizens," he said. The new company, China Standard Software, will be funded by a couple of existing Chinese IT companies as well as by two of the information technology ministries within China, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Information Industry, which were responsible for setting the IT standard for the government and education in the country. Sun has no investment stake in that company: "Our contribution is really the IP and technology base," Sasaki said, adding that the Chinese government is looking to deliver software that is affordable to its citizens as well as create a standard for use in government and education. Next page: Bridging Chinas digital divide.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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