Amy Jiangsu on OSS in China

Amy Jiangsu, who is promoting Ubuntu in China, has some thoughts on open source software in China that I found to be pretty interesting.

Question: With software piracy rates in China so high and proprietary software being almost free as in beer, do FOSS advocates like yourself have to work harder to persuade users to try Linux than advocates in other countries?

Answer: I don’t like to use the word persuade. It’s true that there is almost no economic incentive for users to opt Linux over Windows on their PCs in China, but let’s face the fact that this option has rarely been an economical decision. Even in developed countries, where people has to pay for proprietary software as enforced by copyright law, how many Linux users have chosen Linux merely because it’s free as in beer

Swimming Upstream – Open Source in China

3 Responses to Amy Jiangsu on OSS in China

  1. Just some thoughts…

    Cost may not be a significant factor for choosing an operating system (often needs driven) or a browser (hardly anyone charges anyway). However, I think it is a significant factor for (Windows) users who choose GIMP, Inkscape, Audacity, etc. where the proprietary options are pricey.

    That said, when price is not a factor there are many ways FOSS can stand above the rest:
    - Meeting a certain set of needs (that may not be profitable)
    - Internationalization
    - Ability to customize
    - Freedom and openness philosophy
    - Sometimes it is simple a better product (e.g. Firefox vs. IE)

  2. > how many Linux users have chosen Linux merely because it’s free as in beer

    About 90% I guess, just look how it is advertised nearly everywhere (Magazines, forums, …). Also the fact that my people on a linux based distribution use software the FSF considers non-free like Flash or the nv/ati drivers indicates which form of free they want.

  3. How can you be so sure most people only care about the gratisness? Windows comes bundled with most computers, so the cost is hidden anyway. Besides, it’s not like it’s hard to pirate Windows (for those who feel like pirating it) in the western world. Sure, the price is nice and plays a part, but I don’t think it’s the only reason for most people. And not everyone care so much about software Freedom that they refuse to install a little Flash plugin/gfx driver. Linux has many advantages like configurability, stability, lack of viruses that also plays a part.