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Korean interest boosts open-source Asianux

Beyond its Chinese and Japanese creators, Asianux is set to get a Korean backer, bolstering its hopes of becoming a pan-Asian Linux standard.

Developed by China’s Red Flag Software and Japan’s Miracle Linux at Oracle’s research centre in Beijing, the flagship version of the server operating environment, Asianux 1.0, was commercially launched last month. Using a shared kernel and other common components, Asianux acts as a common base for both companies’ server operating systems so software and hardware makers need not certify their products with two different versions of Linux.
The two firms are banking on Asianux to drive interoperability and Linux standards by garnering greater support from other Linux distributors throughout Asia. However, this effort lacked the endorsement of South Korea, one of the three North Asian hotbeds for open-source software besides China and Japan.

According to Chris Zhao, Red Flag’s acting president, the situation is set to change.

“We have been in discussions with Korean partners regarding Asianux. We should be able to decide on a Korean partner within two months,” he told reporters at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in Shanghai. Zhao did not reveal the name of the potential Korean ally. However, observers point out that there is a small base of homegrown Linux companies in the country, with Hancom Linux and Wow Linux ranking among the largest.

With the Korean partner onboard, the Asianux effort would mirror a larger, cross-border cooperation on a government level. Following an agreement inked last year, government officials from Korea, China and Japan met in Beijing in April to discuss how they can create an open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows, honing in on issues such as the setting of standards, areas of joint technical development and manpower exchange. Two more meetings have been scheduled for later this year.

According to media reports, Red Flag and Miracle Linux had presented the Asianux project to North Asian authorities at the first meeting. By rallying support from a leading Linux seller in Korea, Asianux could now stand a better chance of being considered as the base Linux platform for the three governments’ open-source collaboration.

To date, over 40 hardware and application vendors have signed up for certification on Asianux. These include computer giants AMD, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and China’s Langchao. On the software front, backers for Asianux include Trend Micro, Sophos and Computer Associates.

Oracle, which owns a majority stake in Miracle Linux, is the only business software maker so far to have put its full weight behind the new Linux operating system. At its China conference, Oracle said Asianux will be one of the three Linux flavours it is supporting as part of its “Unbreakable Linux” marketing campaign.

Having achieved full certification on Asianux, the Redwood firm will now provide worldwide, round-the-clock joint technical support for customers that have deployed Asianux alongside Oracle’s 10g offerings, including Database 10g, Application Server 10g, Enterprise Manager 10g and Collaboration Suite. Previously, such perks were limited to companies that have deployed Oracle products on Linux distributions from Red Hat and SuSE Linux from Novell.

“Asianux is a milestone in the maturation of Linux in the entire region,” said Charles Phillips, Oracle’s president. “We were all trying to converge on a standard version of Linux we can invest in. Now that fragmentation has been removed, we have a standard, certified Linux version we can count on and that’s going to mark for big change for this area of the world.”

Taking a jab at the recent Asian tour by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and chief executive Steve Ballmer, Phillips added: “Linux already has a lot of momentum throughout Asia before this and now it’s going to accelerate. The management team of Microsoft has been flying here every other week. Now we’re going to keep them busy flying here every other morning.”

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