03 December 2008

The Muddle Kingdom

You would have thought this represented a real opportunity for free software:

Nanchang, the capital of China's eastern Jiangxi province, has required Internet cafe operators to replace pirated server software with licensed versions. Cafes that don't will lose their license to operate, but some are grumbling about the cost of installing legitimate software.


"We recommend the use of Red Flag Linux server operating system or Microsoft Windows Server operating system," said the directive issued by Nanchang's Cultural Department on Oct. 22.

But even against this apparently favourably background, things are not all sweet and lightness:

As part of Nanchang's crackdown on pirated software, officials apparently struck a deal with a local Red Flag Linux distributor to install licensed software and provide two years of support for 5,000 yuan (US$725).

Which seems steep. No wonder, then, that:

Some Internet cafe owners were unhappy with the fee, and complained they are prevented from using other Linux distributions.

"You have to install Red Flag Linux, and pay 5,000 yuan," complained one user on the Jiangxi discussion forum (in Chinese). "If you are using a different Linux distribution, they just say it's pirated!"

Someone hasn't quite got the hang of this free software stuff, apparently.

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