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
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.