Korean Government Support for Linux
A most promising development for the free software movement in
Korea is the government's Ministry of Information and
Communication announcement in late July that it will "provide
government support for the development and proliferation of Linux."
The Korea Herald, among others, reported
that the ministry "will establish a Linux consultative body
composed of software experts from the government, academic and
industry sectors to standardize Korean versions of Linux and
develop a variety of programs based on the operating system."
At the forefront of the Korean government's support for Linux is
the Electronics and
Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI). According to Kim
Hae-jin (family names are first in Korean), who is heading the ETRI
Linux project, ETRI's plan is to "provide a highly scalable, highly
available, single system server image cluster [technology]...
adaptable from Internet [servers] to [the] mission critical
A non-profit organization called the "Linux Council" has been
established. Four committees within the Council have been
Standardization -- standardize Linux's Hangul terminology and
R & D -- promote research in and development of Linux
Supply and Support -- support Linux in end-user markets,
schools and government offices
Education and Training -- promote Linux education and
Kim adds that they will also sponsor more Linux forums like a
recent one held in July 1999, which was attended by Linux
International's John "maddog" Hall.
More recently, in May of this year, Tim Ney of the Free Software
Foundation visited Korea with a Massachusetts Software Delegation
and "met with a number of young software start-up companies..."
According to Tim, "many of the companies [he] saw were
predominantly writing software for the Windows platform, yet
responded quite positively when [he] spoke about free software and
opportunities with GNU/Linux."
Free Software Projects
Ongoing free software projects in Korea include:
Hanterm 3.1 from
the KAIST, a Korean language (Hangul) xterm
OpenHWP, reported to be an
almost defunct Korean free word-processor
And a team of at least four package maintainers contribute to
the Korean Debian Project.
The Korean Debian project has members from both the academic and
business communities. Park Chu-yeon, current
leader of the project, is working on the Korean Debian Bible with
other project members. They maintain nearly 50 Korean
Korean Companies That Market Linux
Choi is developing a unique Linux distribution, qLinux, at his
company, WebDataBank. According
to Choi Jun-ho, qLinux will be bootable from a large ext2 file
image on an existing Windows FAT partition via a loop-back device.
He says qLinux will also be able to "utilize" the Windows Registry
to configure X Windows, network cards, etc. WebDataBank is in the
Linux Internet server hosting and groupware development business.
They will soon release a Korean version of TurboLinux 4.0.
Another Korean company, MIZI
Research markets MiziOS, its own Linux version and HWPX-R4, a
Linux/Unix Hangul word processor that is a close cousin to Hangul
and Computers (H & C) Hangul Windows version (Hangul
means the "Korean written language"). MIZI's head, Seo Young-jin,
was the UNIX HWPX-R4 team leader at H & C before H & C
decided to drop the UNIX version in 1997 and focus on their Windows
version. Seo then licensed HWPX-R4's source code and started
HWPX-R4 is included on the MiziOS CDs, as either a demo version
or an official bundle.
MIZI also supports the Free Software movement with:
ManIM, which enables Hangul fonts in Netscape on X
a Hangul font server
some document viewers that will soon fall under the GPL
four Korean TrueType fonts under the BSD license
MIZI's decision whether to publish under the GPL or a commercial
license is level-of-effort based. According to Seo Young-jin, "Some
software is attractive and fun and others [requires] endless
maintenance. The latter [we license] commercial."
Under commercial licensing, MIZI is currently working on an
architectural CAD application that will be available in Hangul and
English. Seo said that he hoped to "shareware" the English version,
explaining that part of the code was licensed from another company
and MIZI needed to recover the cost.
Zion Systems Zion Systems develops Accel, a
Korean distribution based on Red Hat. In developing Accel, Zion
Systems uses the latest kernel version and libraries, builds their
packages optimized for Pentiums and is working on a Korean GUI
In partnership with Samsung, Zion Systems markets a line of high
availability Alpha and Xeon SMP servers that can support clustering
and further plans to market a sub $1,000 Linux PC in October.
Currently Zion is working on GPLing their audio drivers and high
availability management software.
Zion is also setting up an "after service" center for its
3R Soft 3R Soft produces MailStudio, a
Linux/Unix Web-based e-mail server. MailStudio's user interface
runs inside the Web browser, like Netscape and Yahoo's mail
servers. MailStudio is compatible with Sendmail, SMTP, POP, and
qPopper. In their upcoming 3.0 version, 3R Soft plans to offer
IMAP, LDAP, and spell checking support. While 3R Soft does not
produce any GPL software, they are compatible with Red Hat,
Caldera, TurboLinux and Apache.
Other Korean Linux Companies
At least three other Korean companies produce seperate Korean
versions of Linux:
Linux Korea markets
the Power Linux distribution and the Netspirit 2000 and 3000
"I have been witnessing an enormous growth of
"registered Linux users" in Korea for quite some time. (Take a look
at "the Linux Counter", under
"Denis Havlik's report"...) The growth is not so dramatic any more,
but still rather fast: 156% annually."
"Registered users" probably account for less than 1% of the
Linux user base(*) -- currently there are more than 3,000
registered users. Therefore, my estimate is "more than 300,000
Linux users in South Korea" today. Greater than 500,000 would not
surprise me, either."
The Fight for the Linux Trademark
Sadly, all the positive news about Linux in Korea is not without
its controversy. The last week of August, a fight broke out over
the Linux trademark, when a lawyer for Kwon Yong-tae, who holds a
Korean trademark for 'Linux', demanded that the Kyobo Books
bookstore stop selling books with Linux in the title. Three days
later, the incident became a hot topic on Korea's popular Linux bulletin board and it
made the English Linux news sites the following weekend.
Allegedly, the trademark was applied for in 1995 and granted in
1997. Korean publishers, business and other interested parties are
still working to resolve the issue. For those interested, Lee
Kyong-ho is maintaining an event time line at the bottom of his
Web page on the
problem, with a link to an English version of a petition.
Randy lives in Taegu, Korea and is on his third,
most fun and least stressful career. He's the QA/Test guy on a
small team supporting a large Solaris WAN integration project, with
a few Linux boxes scattered about. He gets to play with computers
all day and intentionally break them -- then complain about it, and
usually see things get fixed. When he can, he likes to fly
airplanes, lift weights, hunt and fish.
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