Monday, December 8, 2008

Come the Free Software Revolution ...

You'll do as you're damned well told. And you'll pay for it:
Authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Nanchang are requiring all local Internet cafes to replace their Microsoft Windows XP operating systems with a Chinese-made system, Red Flag Linux, according to officials and Internet cafe owners.
Red Flag Linux is a Linux distribution backed by the ChiCom.Gov. Red Hat, SuSE, and Ubuntu are other distributions. It's a fancy name for "let's package up some Linux goodness".

But remember, Linux is free, right? Well, there's "free as in beer", "free as in speech", and "free as in Chinese Linux":
But cafe managers said the new system requires a licensing fee of 5,000 yuan (about U.S. $726), and that even legitimate, non-pirated copies of Windows XP were being replaced.
Now I'm digging my Ubuntu Linux, but $700? Yikes.

Via The Dark Visitor, who adds a potential motive:
Trying to force internet cafes to close down. Chinese officials aren’t very fond of the cafes and the extremely high licensing fee could be a way to force them out of business.
The government putting prohibitive taxes on something it doesn't like as a means of controlling the public? Well, this is in China; that sort of thing would never happen here.

Here Chez Borepatch, we take the view of "let a thousand flowers bloom", at least regarding Operating Systems. Without the ookie self-criticism sessions, show trials, and executions.

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