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New version of Ubuntu made just for the Chinese market

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March 22, 2013

China said this morning that it has chosen Canonical's Linux-based Ubuntu operating system as the reference architecture to establish a standardized OS in the nation that could end up with multiple PCs, servers, tablets and smartphones all running on the popular operating system. The end result will be a new version of Ubuntu, customized and tailored just for the Chinese market. The news were also confirmed by Canonical.

China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Centre (CSIP) and the National University of Defense Technology have formed a joint partnership in Beijing for the whole project.

The partnership is just the latest attempt by China to develop a homegrown operating system in a market where Microsoft's Windows still dominates the whole country.

CSIP is an institution under China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and it actively promotes the utilization of Linux-based systems in a very broad manner.

Overall, Windows has currently about a 95 percent share of the operating system market among Chinese Internet users, according to online analytics site Linux-based systems have less than a 1 percent market share as of January 31, 2013.

The ultimate goal of the latest effort is to push for an open and widely used operating system, Canonical said. The new localized Chinese version will be called Ubuntu Kylin and, remarkably, will be released in just a few weeks, alongside the latest 13.04 global release of the Ubuntu standard OS. Some in the Linux community are surprised that a new tailored version just for a country like China can be ready in such little time.

Future releases of Ubuntu Kylin will feature integration with popular Chinese online services run by local search engine Baidu and ecommerce giant Alibaba Group.

Payment processing for Chinese banks and real-time train and flight information will also be incorporated into the new OS. The partnership could help expand Ubuntu's user base in China, now the world's largest market for PCs and smartphones.

The company's partnership in China will not only bring local investment to the Ubuntu OS, but also make it "useful" for export products made by Chinese companies, Canonical said in its statement.

The naming of the new Chinese version also suggests that Ubuntu could leverage technologies from the Kylin OS, an operating system developed by the National University of Defense Technology.

The university is best known as the designer behind some of China's supercomputers, including the Tianhe-1A, now the world's eight fastest machine.

In other Linux news

Some in the Linux community will tell you that observing Debian Linux releases come together has most often been a long and very slow process, and they are probably right. And it probably explains why most Debian enthusiasts are so patient.

Few other Linux projects have the same breadth of platform support or packages and few have the same fiercely principled approach to development as Debian always has demonstrated and the trend is as strong as ever, make no mistake.

Codenamed Wheezy, the next big Debian release is almost done, with just a few minor changes to the kernel, we are told. But there are still one-hundred bugs and issues that need to be fixed to Wheezy before it can be deemed a 'production' version.

So the question is: how is the Debian community and its developers going to deal with those last 100 bugs and problems?

Well, some will tell you that it's a process that will involve some discipline and 'package cutting' as well. In a mailing list posting, Debian developer Julien Cristau wrote: "We are only interested in the absolute minimum patches that fix RC bugs. Spurious changes will simply lead to longer review times for everyone, disappointment and ultimately a longer freeze."

He then added "It helps us if you justify your request sufficiently to save time going back and forth. We don't know all packages intimately, so we rely on you to answer the question why should this fix be accepted at this stage?".

Going a step further he said: "As the release approaches, it's more likely that we will simply remove some packages that have open RC bugs."

Overall, Debian has long had the philosophy of being done 'only' when it's done. But it's a view of doing things that has caused some issues in the past, such as the so-called 'Sarge' release which was delayed for nearly a year back in 2005.

However, some in the Debian community say it's also a doctrine that works, provided you are patient about it and if time is on your side, of course.

In other Linux news

In case you didn't know, there's a new law that's about to take effect soon, and it sure raises the bar in the field of patenting. What makes it worse is that the burden falls entirely on small inventors and, most of the time, on startup companies with limited financial resources.

The full measure of the penalties for not adhering to the new patent laws, i.e., not promptly filing a patent application are the most dire-- no patent protection to begin with, and no future protections against copying either.

The most significant change to U.S. patent law since 1836 (or perhaps even 1790) is being implemented tomorrow, March 16, 2013. Part of the America Inventors Act of 2011, the new law concerns the doctrine of first-to-invent, laws concerning the protection of original inventors, regardless of whether they were the first to apply for a patent or not.

The new law awards inventorship under a first-inventor-to-file standard. The emphasis is now placed on inventors seeking immediate patent protections, preferably before any disclosures to any third parties and patent filings of others.

Under the soon-to-be old law, such disclosures were somewhat protected and true inventorship ascertained and rewarded. However, those protections have almost all been eliminated.

Now, there are greater hazards to inventors -- particularly small inventors -- which will possibly preempt them from obtaining a patent alltogether.

The so-called 'grace period' of one year from a public disclosure of an invention to patent filing under the old law is technically still there. But third-party patent filings during that grace period now trump the earlier inventor merely by reaching the Patent Office first.

This change in the law tries to objectify determination of a true inventor instead of engaging in procedural challenges called "interferences," which it eliminates.

Many view this substantive change as contrary to the philosophy of the U.S. patent system, which rewards true and original inventors, i.e., the first to invent.

The new law is patterned on that of foreign patent systems, which place much less emphasis on the individual in favor of corporations, which want more certainty in the patenting process.

Since some third-party patentees may derive their "inventions" from primary inventors who are second to file for patents, new proceedings determine inventorship under these circumstances.

These derivation proceedings are mini-trials to ascertain whether the earlier inventor was primary and whether the later filer gleaned the invention by theft or other illicit means.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office over the past year or so has been hiring and training hundreds of Patent Office judges for the purpose of hearing these proceedings and administrating many other new proceedings already implemented under the Act, e.g., various post-grant opposition actions to challenge newly issued and all other patents.

Although there are several ambiguities in the new law, there are some clear lessons for inventors. Like, "first to file" means just that, with the consequence of possible automatic curtailment of patent rights for many second filers.

For example, an individual inventor is typically unaware of the extremities of the patent laws with regard to deadlines.

Additionally, publication or dissemination of the invention prior to filing for patent already kills virtually all patent rights outside the United States. Often, these inventors are well into the grace period when they consult a patent attorney.

Now, those same inventors may have unwittingly destroyed their opportunity for patenting by delaying the filing. Fortunately, provisional or informal patent filing is available, which can preserve patent rights. Nevertheless, the first-to-file patent rule still applies.

Unfortunately, those rushing to file informal and often sketchy documents may find their patent descriptions challenged for insufficiency, i.e., the details may be so bare as to raise a question of whether the inventor was in possession of the invention claimed.

The most dire potential consequences of the new law is no patent -- no protection. Period. The countermeasure is education and consultation with a patent attorney early in the innovation process and definitely prior to third-party disclosures.

Great minds often think alike, and others are also addressing the same technological issues. But putting inventive thoughts to paper is often a difficult thing for some inventors.

Since a patent is a property right, its contours must be set forth in detail. For example, in land purchases, the delineations of the property line are critical. So too with patenting -- the patent claims carve out a portion of new technology, separate from what is known.

A patent attorney can help navigate this terrain and stake out a claim for particular technological knowledge. It's critical to be first to file a patent application under a post-March 16 first-inventor-to-file standard.

Sadly, the actual contours of this change in the law will not be known for many years -- that is, after the courts make pronouncements -- but in the United States, it is the new law, like it or not.

And since the new standard is draconian, it warns us all to educate ourselves as to this imminent change in the patent laws.

In other Linux news

Red Hat said earlier this morning that it is assuming the leadership role of the OpenJDK 6 community, just a few days after Oracle said it would issue the final patch for version 6 of its commercial Java SE 6 Development Kit.

To be sure, Oracle posted JDK 6's update 43 on Monday as an emergency patch for the latest in a series of severe security vulnerabilities that have plagued the Java browser plugin for several months already.

Although Oracle is investigating other similar security flaws, it also said that this would be the last set of public fixes for the Java SE 6 platform.

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"Oracle recommends that users and developers migrate to JDK 7 in order to continue receiving public updates and security patches," the database giant added in the update's formal release notes.

As a matter of fact, users got more useful life out of JDK 6 than they had any reason to expect. Oracle originally set the end-of-life date for JDK 6 for July 2012, but it pushed back the kill date twice to give users extra time to upgrade to the new software.

But yesterday, Red Hat said it would continue to maintain JDK 6, even now that Oracle has ceased supporting it, in the form of OpenJDK 6, the open source reference implementation of the Java platform.

"Red Hat has transitioned into a leadership role for the OpenJDK 6 project, effectively extending support for the technology and its users," the company said this morning.

Although primarily known as the leading enterprise Linux vendor, Red Hat has also been a major presence in the Java community, ever since its $350 million acquisition of open source middleware maker JBoss in 2006.

Since then, Red Hat has been one of the most active participants in the OpenJDK community, along with the likes of Google, IBM, and well, Oracle itself.

Red Hat added that its decision to take on the leadership of the OpenJDK 6 project reinforces its commitment to the broader Java community and to driving the future of the platform.

"Red Hat's vision includes better overall performance and manageability while enabling greater functionality around dynamic scalability and cloud computing," the company said.

Red Hat didn't outline any specific plans for OpenJDK 6 under its current leadership, but given that the Java 6 specification is frozen for now, it's safe to assume that its main focus will be on fixing bugs and closing security flaws as they are discovered.

According to the OpenJDK 6 project website, "bug fixes in JDK 7 that do not involve specification changes have presumptive validity for OpenJDK 6. That is, by default, such fixes are assumed to be applicable to OpenJDK 6, especially if having 'soaked' in JDK 7 for a time without incident."

That simply means that any new fixes Oracle makes to JDK 7 should also be applicable to OpenJDK 6. What's needed is someone to do the work, and that's where Red Hat is stepping in.

Of course, there is one other option available to JDK 6 users who don't want to switch to OpenJDK, and that's Oracle's premium Java SE Support. Oracle will continue to provide updates to JDK 6 for another two years or more, but for a fee or course.

Maybe you can thank Red Hat for offering what's essentially the same thing but for free. We will keep you posted on this and on other stories as they develop.

Source: Canonical.

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