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Feature: Education & Training

China takes lead in Linux education

By Chen Nan Yang on August 15, 2008 (9:00:00 PM)

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Since the Chinese government began supporting domestic open source communities in 2005, hundreds of thousands of young people in the world's most populous country have become a part of the open source world.

With the help of the government-supported Leadership of Open Source University Promotion Alliance (LUPA), Zhejiang Technology Institute of Economy (ZJTIE) founded its Linux Training & Examination Center in 2006. The center started out offering a simple 48-hour course; upon completion, students received a Linux operator certificate or a Linux network administrator certificate or both. According to ZJTIE, 1,500 students in the last two years have passed the examination. However, those students who wanted to learn more had to learn by themselves.

Now, however, LUPA offers nine Linux certificates, including certificates for software engineers, C programming language engineers, and LAMP system engineers. In response to a requirement from China's Ministry of Education, LUPA published 11 new Linux textbooks in July. The Ministry hopes that these textbooks will help Chinese students learn more advanced Linux technologies.

Rising employment

Some Chinese schools believe that Linux education has helped students gain employment. According to ZJTIE, 90% of the students in its Economic Information Department received the LUPA certificates in 2006; as a result, employment rose to the highest the school has seen. This may be a result of the booming open source market in China. According to CCID Consulting, the sale of Chinese open source software increased 17.1%, while sales of Linux increased 20.2% in 2007.

As Linux accounts for 66.5% of China's open source market (according to a 2007 survey from CCID Consulting), open source education has been focused mostly on Linux. However, its success has encouraged ZJTIE to expand its teaching and certification. In March 2008, ZJTIE worked with LUPA to expand its education system from Linux to the whole open source industry.

According to LUPA, more than 300 Chinese universities and colleges have joined its system. Open source technology has become a required course in many of these schools. Although the total number of students who have been trained for open source technologies is not available yet, Zhang Jianhua, chairman of LUPA, estimates that LUPA will train 100,000 students in Linux per year.

Beyond the classroom

Besides developing open source courses, government-supported communities also regularly hold activities such as open source conferences, speeches, contests, festivals, and campus marches to attract students to learn more about the culture, history, ideas, and technologies of the open source industry. At the same time, open source communities without government support have brought many young Chinese to the open source world by offering free open source information, translation of open source articles from other countries, and forums for open source technologies communication.

Thanks in part to promotion by these communities, open source has become a powerful idea among Chinese programmers. In a survey by PHPChina in June 2007, 32.6% of PHP professionals said that they chose PHP mostly because it's open source, and 64.8% of interviewees who would start to learn PHP believed that "open source is the strong point of PHP." The same survey also showed that more than three quarters of the Chinese PHP professionals learned something from or received information through domestic PHP communities.

The rapid growth of China's open source expertise has yet to result in much contribution to the development of the global open source industry. This may be because young Chinese people are still novices in the open source industry, or it may be due to the fact that they have to work more than 60 hours a week to fight for their new jobs and have no time to work on open source projects for the time being. However, as the open source education system improves and as more young people become open source veterans, the global open source community will benefit from China's presence.

Chen Nan Yang is a Chinese freelance journalist and former IT director in the Chinese government.

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on China takes lead in Linux education

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 78.181.29.225] on August 15, 2008 11:16 PM
I am sorry, but I have lived in China and while China has some growth in linux and open source in general, it is not as rampant as the author mentions. Due to the author's affiliation with the government, I have to question the validity of his findings.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.47.42.74] on August 16, 2008 12:34 AM
I would say it is encouraging; Linux, being low cost and customizable, is perfect fit for countries like China, India and Brazil.We just have to wait and see how Microsoft plan to slow the proliferation of Linux in these countries.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 211.99.159.198] on August 16, 2008 11:17 AM
I have lived and worked in Beijing for the past 4 years. While the local linux group is very active, the fact is that I don't ever meet anyone who uses linux ever, outside of those few people. When I take my computer in to one of the giant computer mega-malls, no one in any of the shops (and there are tons and tons of them) has a clue about linux. They are always curious and ask a lot of questions but the next time I go in, they have done nothing to investigate further. I work in education and I have yet to hear about a single school that takes open source seriously. This is China. Pirating software is what they do best.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.181.88.85] on August 16, 2008 01:01 PM
I must agree with previous comments: China is a country where it is nearly impossible to use the web without IE. Unlike Europe, main websites are Microsoft only (allmost no one in China uses anything else). Of course, buying a computer with something else than a pirated Windows installed is really hard.

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Re: China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.38.144.34] on August 16, 2008 01:55 PM
I have a different opinion. Nowdays, most laptops on sale are preinstalled with authorized MS Vista. Things are getting better. When it comes to Linux, it's only popular among college students and programmers.

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Re: China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.248.143.231] on August 17, 2008 01:39 AM
I live in China and use only Ubuntu Linux and Firefox on all my computers. No problems 99.9% of the time. Just an occasional website these days that does not follow international standards -but rather old IE technology. Yes most people use Windows but Apple computer stores are proliferating all over! Linux is sure to follow. Also UMPC's and others notebooks are often being sold without a Windows OS or with Linux. These are from ASUS, ACER, LENOVO, HP and others. To say Linux is not happening on the desktop in China is simply very untrue. Software is political and change will be gradual. Linux saves me from security hassles too. Chinese networks are full of malware. From and Ubuntu WIFI enabled notebook crusin here in China!

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.69.28.85] on August 16, 2008 01:18 PM
Seems lately China is takign the lead in a LOT of things, including Gold medals in the olympics.

JT
www.FireMe.To/udi

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Dirk R. Gently on August 16, 2008 06:41 PM
One would hope third world countries (yes China is one IMHO) take advantage an develop Linux. This could really populate linux growth. Most people I know of outside this country never consider there is a choice (mostly because they don't know of any - even apple). The biggest problem in domesticating linux may be linux's lacking a display case.
[Modified by: Dirk R. Gently on August 16, 2008 06:41 PM]

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 122.7.4.92] on August 17, 2008 09:31 AM
I'm member of OSQDU(Opensource Qingdao University) and we are making progress in OS-Edu.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 218.4.61.114] on August 17, 2008 02:13 PM
I'm a IT teacher in a middle school(high school) in east of China(One of the most rich part in China).Little of students learn Linux or other open source software.Most of the content in Books is based of Microsoft Windows.

www.ictedu.net.cn

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 123.152.100.9] on August 17, 2008 02:16 PM
i‘m a chinese, it's not like author says,but the situation is getting good,im using linuxmint.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.235.166.86] on August 18, 2008 01:39 AM
If so many students are being trained in open source software, then why are we not see a flood of new open source projects started by Chinese programers? Who can name a single famous Chinese open source developer?

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 123.112.211.169] on August 18, 2008 07:06 AM
The number of OS activists is growing fast in China, yes. China takes the lead in OS education and promotion? not yet.

And ip: 69.235.166.86, you are an idiot.

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China takes lead in Linux education

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.131.74.101] on September 01, 2008 08:06 PM
I'm American, with a skype friend in China. She never heard of Linux. When I send her a link to a Linux site such as Ubuntu, she can't see it. The Great Firewall seems to be blocking access to anything Linux. Is that true?

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