Linux in China and Dot-com Growth

My blog languished while I spent the past 8 days in Hong Kong and Beijing. Sadly, my time in Hong Kong was limited to less than 48 hours for business meetings, but I was able to spend more time in Beijing. When talking to people in Beijing, most inevitably mention the tremendous growth of the city, and the traffic is reminiscent of Silicon Valley before the dot-com bust. During times of rapid population and economic growth, the infrastructure cannot keep pace with the growth of the region. Traffic jams are as much a part of daily life in Beijing as they were in Silicon Valley in 2000.

Like the proliferation of dot-com companies, China is currently experiencing a proliferation of Linux distributors. Most of these, including China Standard Software Company (CS2C), Red Flag, TurboLinux China, and Sun Wah Linux are at least in part supported by various Chinese government agencies. The Chinese government seems to be focused on encouraging the success of local Linux vendors, which helps to promote the local software ecosystem. Like during the dot-com bust, a few companies (like Google) will survive while many others will not last. We will probably see many of these local Linux vendors go out of business or merge with the strongest companies, but it is too early to do more than speculate on which ones will make the cut. Last August, there were a number of rumors about the possibility of a merger between Red Flag, TurboLinux China, and Co-Create, but we have not seen any real consolidation yet.

Linux also appears to be growing rapidly in China as many organizations replace aging Unix servers with Linux and a few governments and schools are starting to deploy Linux desktops. Earlier this month, a new Linux Certification Lab was just announced in China with support by the Free Standards Group. The growth of Linux and efforts like this certification lab highlight the importance of Linux in China. I expect to see the growth of Linux in China continue to accelerate as the local Linux vendors mature and begin to consolidate over the next year or two.