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Protesting China's Required Censorship Software

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the good-luck-with-that dept.

Censorship 63

dinoyum writes "Censorship in China is nothing new, but the level of action taken to force Chinese citizens to comply has garnered global recognition. China marked the date July 1st, 2009 as the day manufacturers will be forced to install filtering software on all new PCs. While many have resorted to digitally lashing out against Green Dam, Chinese artist and designer of the famous Bird's Nest at the Beijing Olympics, Ai Weiwei has decided upon a different approach. '[He wants] a general internet strike — no work, no games, no email or anything else online — for 24 hours on the date the government plans to require censorship software on all new computers, he says, will be a quiet act of rebellion. Not coincidentally, July 1 is the 88th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. Though he posted the idea, Ai wants to leave the meaning to those who participate. "I gave almost no explanation about why I'm doing it," Ai said. "I just give the structure and people will fill in their own meaning. I don't want to be political first. I wanted to set up an act that everyone can easily accept, and then realize the power later. I want people to see their own power," he said.'"

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The Unfortunate Hurtles Ai Faces (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451055)

Artist, government critic, blogger, Twitter pioneer. Now Ai Weiwei wants to shut down the internet for a day.

I wonder if his disappearance will be covered up as "performance art?"

It's certainly a valiant idea, I wish him the best of luck. It seems he'll need it:

... and news about the strike call has been scrubbed by censors from the most widely read sites.

I doubt it can but hopefully Twitter and word of mouth make this possible. I would probably have to take the day off and walk around town in order to avoid internet usage all day ... then again, I live under a less invasive government.

I'm not clued into Chinese culture at all so all I know is that globally other news sources in other countries are criticizing this ... but what is the majority feeling of the general Chinese populace? Honestly there have been other things where I know at least some of the populace supported the Chinese government's actions to "watch out for them." Ai needs to overcome those people, I have no idea if he's a lone voice or the voice of everyone's repressed thoughts.

Re:The Unfortunate Hurtles Ai Faces (2, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451097)

Ai Weiwei press report on July 1.

"Greetings fellow comrades after careful consideration and reflection I have decided to help glorious China design a new labor / reeducation camp, I invite all my friends who oppose China's decisions to join me there.

Forget silient protest (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451153)

1. Ai Weiwei want you to get your ass behind a proxy, for the July 1st raid of critical government sites.
2. ???
3. Shit bricks!

Re:The Unfortunate Hurtles Ai Faces (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451161)

I fear the general sentiment towards censorship isn't much different than it is here. All too readily people accepted that there are "bad ideas" and "bad thoughts" that should be banned. Look around yourself. We have, all over the "free world", from Europe to the US, parties that call for tougher reglementations of internet use, that want to ban "killer games" and "addictive games" and "terrorist education pages", we have Germany that created governmental censorship under the guise of child protection (how you protect kids by looking away when they get abused is beyond me, but maybe I'm just dumb...), we have the EU mandating month to year long logging of internet connections...

Either parties don't talk about it at all and people don't care about it. Or they even laud it as a good step against those terrorists/pedophiles/boogiemenoftheweek. You think it's much different in China? I can well imagine a wide acceptance, ignorance or even appreciation of censorship, after all, it's for the good of the people...

Re:The Unfortunate Hurtles Ai Faces (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453515)

What gets me on thought policing is that everyone has the bad thoughts. What separates me from the guy in prison has nothing to do with the way we think, since on many occasions I've thought about how best to rob a bank and get away with it. The difference between me and that guy in jail is that I realize it is wrong and therefore don't act on it. That is why the crime is in the action, not the thought or planning of a crime. Crime fiction novelists plan crimes all the time, but what they do is in no way a crime.

Re:The Unfortunate Hurtles Ai Faces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28452997)

I think this is why anonymous browsing and secure transmissions are so important. Maybe it's just me, but my eyes have really been opened to the need for a community based effort to allow those in repressed regimes access to modern communication. If you have the skills, and the desire you should check out how you can help.

#irantech on irc.freenode.net and
#tor-dev on irc.oftc.net (it's not just for pirates anymore)

*You* CAN help people escape dictatorship!

Option of Protesting from the Top Down? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451063)

China marked the date July 1st, 2009 as the day manufacturers will be forced to install filtering software on all new PCs.

The article linked to that text's story says

The notice says the software must either be pre-installed on the hard drive or enclosed on a compact disc.

The manufacturers and distributors could comply with the letter of the law and just put it on a disc. If you wanted to see true protests from them, you would burn the disc in some unknown standard or zip it up ... or put it on an HD DVD disc :)

Have these requirements since changed to require it installed? If they have I haven't heard ...

If you're a netbook manufacturer and you put it on the disc instead of the netbook (which are almost always sans disc drive) what are the odds anyone's going to bother figuring out how to move that to their computer unless they themselves personally want it. You could also provide tutorials on removing the software completely for people that have any "issues" (wink wink) with the software.

Re:Option of Protesting from the Top Down? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451081)

If you're a netbook manufacturer and you put it on the disc instead of the netbook (which are almost always sans disc drive) what are the odds anyone's going to bother figuring out how to move that to their computer unless they themselves personally want it.

And if they *do* want it, support nightmare ensues.

Re:Option of Protesting from the Top Down? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#28455951)

The manufacturers have NO real interest in trying to evade this law. China is too big of a market for them to risk any kind of possible restrictions on sales.

The first manufacturer that tries this sees all their merchandise helpfully confiscated by the Chinese gov't (which is a bonus, as they keep the equipment AND they show they are serious about the software being installed by the factory). It won't take long for all the big companies to get back on their toes, belly to the trough...

Futile (2, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451067)

For some reason I just don't think the MMORPG junkies will be able to tear themselves away for a whole day. Or the daytraders. China has daytraders, right?

Re:Futile (1)

EmmDashNine (1082413) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451141)

For some reason I just don't think the MMORPG junkies will be able to tear themselves away for a whole day. p>

Yes, who would farm our WoW gold?

Re:Futile (1)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451331)

For some reason I just don't think the MMORPG junkies will be able to tear themselves away for a whole day. Or the daytraders. China has daytraders, right?

I doubt the Slashdotters would be able to tear themselves away for a whole day either (except me, I can stop at any time).

Re:Futile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451701)

You live in China?

Not mandatory anymore (5, Informative)

CosmicRabbit (1505129) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451115)

Due to all the international pressure and bad publicity gathered from the original move to mandate the installation of Green Dam on every computer, China backpedaled from the decision [businessweek.com] .
So it seems weird to me that this kind of protests are being organized. It would make a lot more sense to educate people about how to uninstall the dam(n) software out of their machines, or why people should not willingly accept to install it under the usual "think of the children" argument.
Having said that, it's a free country, and he can protest whatever he wants... Wait, no... I'll be back to you on that one.

Re:Not mandatory anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451397)

From your linked FA:

Chinaâ(TM)s Ministry of Industry and IT 'on Wednesday insisted that its notice to the PC makers and sellers does not mean the software's installation to userâ(TM)s operating system is mandatory, instead, the software package should be installed on either the hard drives or a compact disc with the computers.

Sounds like they still want their spyware to be ready to go at a single misplaced click.

Also, from the embedded Xinhua article [xinhuanet.com] :

Sources with the ministry revealed on Wednesday that all the computers to be on sale in China's rural areas at an average of 13percent discount from the government's subsidies have been preloaded the software packages making the total number of preloaded computers exceed 50 million.

        After the ministry selected the two filtering programs from a public bidding last month, it has asked all primary and secondary schools to install the software.

        So far 20,967 primary and secondary schools had installed the software in some 2,618,000 computers and more than 6,957 websites have installed the software in their computers.

Sounds like it's still something to be worried about.

Re:Not mandatory anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451417)

I will install the software, get the list of blocked websites, import them to my bookmark, and then uninstall.

Re:Not mandatory anymore (1)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451461)

Pointless anyways.

After living in China for years I can tell you the second this went into effect they would have set up stalls right beside the dealer to uninstall it before you left the building (ok maybe not if you bought it at Carrefore but they would just be outside then.

What strikes me as interesting in all this is the redundancy (ie they arleady have the Great Firewall - which works pretty well) why do they need to wear two condoms all of a sudden? My guess would be cyber warfare. Sell a few hundred million PC's in the next few years and have the biggest nastiest botnet in the world with some back end hooks for military access. Actually quite genius (until another country figures out how to access it and wipes you out from the inside...).

Re:Not mandatory anymore (1)

ChinaLumberjack (1443691) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453637)

Right and lots not forget all the not-so-hidden gray-market tax dodgers who'll be happy to purge your system and give 1% off so long as you don't request a receipt.

Re:Not mandatory anymore (3, Informative)

Dotnaught (223657) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451585)

Apparently the Chinese government has backpedaled on its backpedaling: The Green Dam mandate stands [informationweek.com] .

It's likely however that the government will change its mind at the last minute. There's precedent for brinkmanship in negotiations over cyber security rules in China.

Re:Not mandatory anymore (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 3 years ago | (#28452411)

Having said that, it's a free country, and he can protest whatever he wants... Wait, no... I'll be back to you on that one.

You'll have a long wait. China is nothing more than a slave state.

Yo! American Capitalist Swine! Leave China to Chi (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28451131)

Yo! American Capitalist Swine!

Leave China to China.

Re:Yo! American Capitalist Swine! Leave China to C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451293)

You mean to say, American Imperialist Swine. Get your history right before you come in here again. Slashdot has standards, you know.

Re:Yo! American Capitalist Swine! Leave China to C (0, Flamebait)

Koreantoast (527520) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451561)

But what about Canadian and European Socialist Scum? Don't forget our other fine friends here in /.

It will take a war (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451155)

I think unless we are all willing to give our lives in a war to allow the chines people to have the freedoms we think they should have,no one really has anything to say. Nothing speaks better then actions. I'm personally against what the government of china is doing but,but why should i get upset when 95% of its own people don't care,of are afraid to act.

Re:It will take a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451713)

If you're American or British, you're duty bound to ignore whatever's going on at home and make noise about something halfway across the world!

Green Damn Exploit (1, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451179)

i read that Green Dam has an exploit, just search Google_News [google.com]

Re:Green Damn Exploit (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451225)

Or how about you search it for us and not cite a search engine as a source in the future?

Re:Green Damn Exploit (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451275)

Perhaps he's from China and doesn't want to be "disappeared."

Re:Green Damn Exploit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451871)

no one every just [NO CARRIER]

Re:Green Damn Exploit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28467729)

The first rule about candleja[NO CARRIER]

Re:Green Damn Exploit (1, Informative)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451893)

ok, i will tell you why i did not just post a link, at the time i made that first comment i was using a linux powered computer that is very old and does not have an X window system, i was using a commandline interface browser so copy & paste does not work considering the lenghth of most URLs nowadays i did not want to spend a hour typing in a URL that was 750 characters long (or longer).

Re:Green Damn Exploit (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453835)

tinyurl is your friend

Re:Green Damn Exploit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28462675)

[s]he'd have to copy the link to tinyurl first... the notion is that [s]he was using a terminal based browser.


Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28451387)

They bury him at sunset. LOL. Fuck you all.

Does anyone else think it's ironic... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28451199)

that Obama plans to use Missile Defense Shield technology to intercept a N. Korean missile launch towards Hawaii? This is the same technology which only months ago Obama himself called "unproven," in an attempt to discredit the program as an unnecessary, overpriced toy. This is the same program that Obama recently forced the defense secretary Robert Gates to slash over a billion dollars from. I guess the liberals in Congress and the White House are taking a break from their seething hatred for all things military while the military uses this "unproven" technology to shield all their high-priced condos. Then after the launch and a successful interception, it'll be back to business as usual for them: unilateral disarmament.

scared old men in power (0, Offtopic)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28451231)

China is run by a very small group of disconnected old men who are deathly afraid of losing their grip on power (and the privilege and corruption proceeds that flow from it). They are watching groups of other old guard dictators slowly succumb (often with a fight and loss of innocent lives) to the will of a younger generation in other hard line countries around the world.

It's futile steps like this that show how desperate the CCP is to do something (anything) to slow down the inevitable. Fasten your seatbelts because it's going to be a VERY bumpy ride. These guys aren't going to just melt away without digging in their heels and fighting.


Re:scared old men in power (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451381)

Both Iran and China show dramatically how the Internet has become a tool of political change. This was already happening much earlier but not reported by main stream media.

For instance, web-based activists have been hitting politically in Europe since 1999, to prevent software patents. I've argued that Obama was the first "Internet president" since his campaign was heavily driven by Internet communities.

The fight by political elites to retain power, and the use of ever more sophisticated communications to break their grip, is a worldwide pattern.

So far, the Net has proven it will win such fights.

Re:scared old men in power (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451903)

The situation is different in USA, Iran, and China.

In the USA, there is an established venue for a democratic vote to oust the established government. Voting works in the USA. All the internet has to do is convince people to go out and exercise their right to vote in order to oust people from government.

Iran also has voting, but the results don't match the votes, so it's back to revolution for them. They haven't succeeded (but hopefully it's just a matter of time). The internet has to convince people to go out and possibly die. It remains to be seen if they'll continue to protest against the hard line that their government has started to take. This morning's news seems to say that they're faltering.

In China, they don't have voting, and they don't have a revolution either. Some may not like it but they put up with it. The Internet needs to first get people to care.

The internet caused the incumbent control over the USA's executive and legislative branch to switch from one party to the other...in a two party system.

The internet is having some effect, but it can't be credited for the overthrow of governments yet.

Re:scared old men in power (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453359)

If the internet really had that much power, then Ron Paul would be the president right now, the executive cabinet would consist entirely of /b/tards, and we'd all have dates!

Re:scared old men in power (1)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | more than 3 years ago | (#28455859)

If not for the Internet, I never would have heard of Ron Paul... or Rick Astley. That doesn't mean I'd consider voting for either.


Re:scared old men in power (2, Insightful)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451537)

The same can be said for every national government. You don't rise to power without a lifetime of struggle and by the time you get there you'd hardly be considered connected to anything or anyone but the people who got you there. Just because the Chinese power class lets it all hang out while Western powers play the cloak and dagger game [wikipedia.org] doesn't make them any different underneath all the bullshit. Remember that the media is part of this game too. Don't let yourself be distracted by troubles in one part of the world when there is plenty of trouble brewing elsewhere.

An interesting story... (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451343)

...from the ancient history records of Guoyu [wikipedia.org] . In the dynasty of Zhou, a king (King Li [wikipedia.org] ) was so corrupt and cruel that the people began criticizing him widely, in public. The King tried to suppress the dissidents by strong censorship measures with harsh punishment attached. As a result, the people *stopped speaking* at all -- no public speeches, no private talking, not a single word said by anyone. Shocked by the situation, an advisor of the King told him "To censor the speech of people is even more dangerous than blocking a flooding river" and advised the king of cancelling the strong censorship. The King refused to listen, and finally was overthrown in the inevitable revolt of an angry mob under his oppression. He was exiled by his people, leaving the kingdom in a state of power vacuum (the "Gonghe" period in Chinese history).

OK so much for stories.. I'm not suggesting that Ai's proposed protest should be expected to result in similar consequences, but I wonder whether he was having the story in mind when he got the idea. On one hand I admire his stand on the matter of censorship; on the other hand I doubt whether this is able to deliver a message strong enough. Individuals in this society have been so dependent on communications that it is no longer possible to do as the ancient Zhou people did. Look at what's happening in Iran -- we can *still* hear the voice of dissidents because they actually tried their best to take advantage of the Internet instead of burying their voices in a silent protest.

Unless you produce a *really* massive and well-coordinated voluntary silence. Which I think, given the diversity and decentralized nature of the Internet, is no longer possible.

Oh boy (4, Insightful)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451531)

The Chinese government is not a government that takes well to public protests (Tiananmen Square massacre or the June 4th incident as the Chinese call it). I'm not saying these people should back down but I wonder if a better approach might yield better result. You have to take culture into consideration when dealing with politics. Culturally, the Chinese react very, very poorly to public confrontations, especially if one party will be humiliated by backing down. (Before anyone asks, I come from a Chinese family. This is experience from dealing with other Chinese, especially parents.) There's this concept of "face" and the Chinese will practically do anything to save it. Generally, to get compromises or change someone's declared public position you have to do it in a subtle way that doesn't threaten anyone's public image if he changes his position. Best of luck to him because he might actually succeed in changing the government's mind by showing them public anger, but the government will punish him simply for his public confrontation. This is actually quite heroic of him. He might be surprised by how many Chinese would care, despite his own blog post to the contrary, because of the very practical impact the Internet has on their day to day lives. The Chinese tend to be practical rather than idealistic.

Re:Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28453369)

The Chinese tend to be practical rather than idealistic.

They seem to have an idealistic notion of who they are an their history.

Will tourists be obligated to install this? (2, Interesting)

sosume (680416) | more than 3 years ago | (#28451763)

Will visiting foreigners (tourists, businessmen, etc)be obligated to install this software at the customs desk at the airport when entering the country? Would be a good reason not to go to China..

Re:Will tourists be obligated to install this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28452171)

Probrably not. If you have white skin and round eyes, the Chicoms don't give a hoot what you say in English. I (American) openly discussed the Falon Gong with a Brit in a Beijing restaurant where the waiters listen in on your conversations.

You're simply not worth the effort and the PR flack.

Pro tip: when in China, don't eat at restaurants where the waiters wear white badges with red stars on them.

Green Dam as Botnet? (3, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 3 years ago | (#28452245)

Now I'm not advocating cyber-terrorism in any way, but how long will it be until someone turns all of these computers against the Chinese government?

Also, for conspiracy theorists out there, the North Koreans are planning a ballistic missile "test" shortly after the July 1st date. They have also forbidden foreign ships in their waters because of a naval "test." With the possibility that China is converting its entire nation into a botnet, this is slightly alarming. Could they be gearing up for war against the US?

Re:Green Dam as Botnet? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#28452589)


Beyond the economic consequences, which the Chinese want no part of, we have too many nukes for them to nuke U.S. and a conventional occupation of a country the size of the United States (one with lots of goofballs armed with high powered rifles running around) simply isn't practical across an ocean. Especially when it is a big ocean.

Re:Green Dam as Botnet? (1)

morghanphoenix (1070832) | more than 3 years ago | (#28452907)

Just give us a few years, all the guns will be gone, then nobody would have any trouble occupying the US once the military and police were dealt with. The second amendment is there for a reason, too bad so many of us seeem to think giving up those rights for the illusion of safety is a good idea.

Re:Green Dam as Botnet? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453085)

That's a pretty pessimistic viewpoint. There are millions of hunters and millions of people who wouldn't want to take their guns away.

Besides, if it really starts looking like that is the way it is going to be, real crazies, people like me, will go to gun shows, buy some guns, package them nicely, and bury them somewhere. Maybe with reloading equipment, I haven't really looked closely at the shelf life of ammo recently.

Re:Green Dam as Botnet? (1)

morghanphoenix (1070832) | more than 3 years ago | (#28458185)

Maybe my view is just colored because I now live in the Seattle area, it didn't seem like that when I lived around Dallas.

Re:Green Dam as Botnet? (1)

KingBenny (1301797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28462851)

Ofcourse not. The fact that both Russia and China welcome Ahmadinejad, who happens to be (like me) a believer in the end-is-near-theory right after the elections in Iran while his militia is battling it out on the streets with the opposition also means nothing. Nothing means anything. As a matter of fact ... i didn't say anything either. Just like Barack Hussein Obama ... he didn't say anything right ?

Linux support (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 3 years ago | (#28452927)

I've wondered lately, how does this censor/"antivirus" software fit into Linux PCs offered by manufacturers? Does it run under those options? Or can no one in China any longer buy or use a Linux PC to go online?

Ai Who? (2, Interesting)

vampire_baozi (1270720) | more than 3 years ago | (#28453395)

Quick survey of the Beijing internet cafe I'm in now: most Chinese don't know who he is, at least among the computer/wang ba/internet cafe crowd. If they do, it's as an artist/saw his name on the list of Bird's Nest designers. And they don't care. They're not installing the software, mandate or mandate, and if it comes preinstalled, they don't care as long as they can still play games/surf the net/etc. They were more pissed by the idea that this schmuck (artist and designer though he is, once you tell the youth to get offline, he's a schmuck) would tell them to get off the net for 24 hours. A few pointed out that any protest would be a drop in the bucket of hundreds of millions of internet users.

If there's 400 million people online, and a few million dont log on for a day, does anyone notice? Or even care? Just an annoyance for those participating, proposed by some artist who is now meddling with government shtuffs. If you're gonna protest this, this isn't the way to go- it harms the participants and achieves nothing (unless the software uninstalls itself if not used in the 1st 24 hours on that one day). Demonstrating the flaws of the program would change the government's mind more than anything- but Chinese computers as so full of holes it hardly matters (Xunlei, ubiquitous unpatched pirated windows running IE6).

Linux or *BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28453775)

What stops someone from simply formatting the OEM hard drive and replacing it with Linux or *BSD?

Oh you guys... (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 3 years ago | (#28454203)

You guys that think China gives a hairy rat's ass what you or anyone else thinks about thier censorship policies are just so damn cute.

This is just software, correct? (1)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 3 years ago | (#28454573)

As software, and not on-chip instructions, (ROM firmware or BIOS), is this not trivial to defeat? Or do I misunderstand? Also, is this going to be deployed for all architectures and operating systems, or do users working with more esoteric hardware / OS combinations get a pass? Also, why do this at the user level at all, when any filtering could be enforced at the ISP level? How effective are Tor, proxies and encryption at evading filtering measures in China? Is there any access (via satellite or other source) to internet feeds outside of Chinese government control?

You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#28457415)

Remember: Green Dam is still not required for Linux (as there are no install Candidates)

I think the quote is finally fulfilled:
"Year of the Linux Desktop" (in China)

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