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Eric S. Raymond -- Communist China adopts Linux? Not so, apparently...

Nov 11, 1999, 04:07 (146 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric S. Raymond)

By Eric S. Raymond

In a November 10th Yahoo-UK story http://uk.news.yahoo.com/991110/22/ax8w.html, the government of Communist China is alleged to have said that Linux will be adopted by that country as its official OS and that "There is a strong identification between communist China and the open-source free OS" Authority for this statement is traced to a press release by GraphOn www.graphon.com.

This story appears to be untrue. The only GraphOn press release I can find that mentions China is http://www.graphon.com/News/pr-china991102.html from 2 Nov. This is a routine announcement of a partnership with a private firm in Hainan. There is no mention of any Chinese government sponsorship or action to make Linux "official".

In the past, I have avoided presuming to speak for the whole Linux community. This time, however, I think I may safely say that this news will come as a vast relief to all of us. Insofar as it has politics at all, the open-source movement promotes freedom, increased choice, and *voluntary* cooperation. Any "identification" between the values of the open-source community and the repressive practices of Communism is nothing but a a vicious and cynical fraud.

There are a few of us who have a soft spot for the theoretical Communist ideal of "from each according to his ability, to his each according to his need"; but I am certain that even that minority would not care to be associated with the totalitarian and murderous government of Communist China -- unrepentant perpetrators of numerous atrocities against its own people.

It may be too much to hope that this statement will head off a flurry of snide opinion pieces divagating about "open-source communism"; the clumsy rhetoric of some of our past ambassadors may have made that outcome inevitable. But the prospect of being "identified" with the bloody-handed gerontocrats behind the Tianamen Square massacre would be, I believe, genuinely revolting and insulting to all of us.

No matter that such official Chinese government sponsorship might add a quarter of the planet's population to our user base; if this is "world domination", we'll want none of it.

Eric S. Raymond

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