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    Linux in Asia
    by Mark Rais, author of Linux for the Rest of Us, and Linux evangelist.

    The magnitude of the Information Technology (IT) expansion in India is both obvious and momentous.  Indias software development and support industry is booming at a national level never seen before, except perhaps in a microcosm in Dublin, Ireland.  It is booming so dramatically that other nations are beginning to see that Indias IT is now globally ubiquitous. 

    A key driving factor for Indias success and the uncanny and very astute decisions made at governing levels is to embrace Open Source and Linux without losing any footing regarding the proprietary software market. 

    Linux is pervasive in India to the point in which students at top national academies are grounding their software engineering skills on the Linux OS.  Today, almost seven out of ten requests I receive for guidance using Linux come from India. 

    Yet, there is a major dissimilarity between the software technology boom in India and the industry in China.  Why?

    It is entirely likely that rate of Linux adoption in India is a symptomatic response to a much more deeply rooted and inherent socio/political characteristic. In India, although regional diversity exists, although unique political structures and class structures compose the foundation of business and law, the principal that Linux can be used as a device for independence and achievement is understood. 

    From the bottom rungs to the very highest posting in government, Indias leadership has wisely adopted a balanced, forward thinking perspective that Linux can and must become part of the fundamental structure of Indias software development industry.

    "Indias leadership has wisely adopted a balanced, forward thinking perspective
    that Linux can and must become part of the fundamental structure..."

    Contrast this to the often wavering perspectives of Chinas leadership. 

    In China, often regional hierarchy dominates even the decision making processes regarding technology.  Regional leadership then influences fundamental attitudes towards software adoption and use. 

    In some instances Chinas regional leadership is simply not cognizant of what Open Source is or what it has already achieved.  Nor is the leadership amenable to adopting new perspectives.  Even in the air of détente as the Beijing Olympics of 2008 approaches, few if any of Chinas leaders are making any specific or purposeful decisions regarding software development and platforms.  In perhaps a naive attempt at balancing a rigid approach with acceptance of new ideas for modernization, Chinas leadership is making decisions or in many cases simply not making decisions.  This then in turn influences how quickly China falls behind in the global IT market. 

    Perhaps this is also why India is without question a leading exporter of IT and China remains an importer of IT.

    The adoption rate of Linux and the application of Linux as an educational instrument, an industry model, and a governmental tool are at the heart of this reality.

    Linux has become integral to the institutions of India further expanding and influencing global software trends.  India shall continue to lead and others, including China will likely follow, until they too understand the ramifications of Open Source and Linux as a viable tool for self-sufficiency, modernization, and education.

    For China to do so will require both a breakdown in the power and autonomy of regional leaders to influence industrial growth and a new foresight into the modernized world of Information Technology, which currently not enough people in China recognize.  I am hopeful that this can and will change.

    Industry based communities found all over India in the form of, for instance, Linux Users Groups (LUGs) also remains absent in mainland China. 

    With increasingly more members joining Indias already well founded LUGs, software developers, business leaders, and governing institutions in India can continue to collaborate and conquer more of the worlds IT realm, and all with good reason.

    Mark Rais is the author of Linux For the Rest of Us 2nd Edition, editor-in-chief of, and has composed numerous industry documents including: Moving to Linux, Getting Linux on to the Desktop, and Free Software: A guide to GPL.

    For personal help or answers to questions, please visit our message boards.

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    Copyright 2004, 2005 Mark Rais   All Rights Reserved.

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