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Open Source Participation Gains Support In China

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the community-growth dept.

Businesses 35

eldavojohn writes "ZDNet blogger Fred Muller notes that a Chinese company called Taobao has become one of the first in the country to participate in open source. After years of Chinese companies using Linux, Taobao has announced they are open sourcing TAIR, and they revealed what is believed by Muller to be the first open source repository hosted by a Chinese corporation. Muller tracked down the originator of this information and was also informed that the Linux kernel can expect contributions soon from Taobao. Several people involved with bringing open source to China have expressed concerns over a cultural divide (PDF) in regards to opening your corporation's source code to potential competition. Some people speculated that the culture created by an open source movement was irreversibly foreign to Chinese culture. Taobao is exhibiting cracks in that assumption — exciting times for open source advocates as code contributions to open source become even more multicultural."

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Irreversibly foreign to Chinese culture (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33007622)

A few bullet-related deaths will get the troops in line.

Great news (2, Insightful)

franki.macha (1444319) | more than 4 years ago | (#33007770)

I, for one, welcome this news, I've read a lot about Chinese companies using open source software, for example I would love to get my hands on a Debian-running Loongson, but this is the first time I've heard about them giving back to the community.

I wonder if they're hiring native English speakers who can't speak Chinese to help them with community relations? :>
That's a job I'd love to have.

Re:Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33011292)

<sarcasm>Yea, the end of America as we know it! Great news!<\sarcasm> Come on. You know once they start infiltrating our code it is all over. It's just a matter of numbers. It's 2 billion versus... Achhooo... oh, I think I missed that number it was so tiny. Yup, we are screwed.

Re:Great news (1)

jonamous++ (1687704) | more than 4 years ago | (#33021350)

What are you talking about? They can't "infiltrate" the code anymore than you or I can. Anything that's malicious will be found. It's open source...people can see the source code and change it.

There goes US support... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33007786)

*sigh* Great, just what Linux needs. Something some talking head in a suit with a TV show can point to and hysterically scream "ZOMG LINUX IS COMMIESOCIALIST AND UNAMERICAN!!!1!".

Yes, even though this is more to do with open source and not Linux. I never said hysterically screaming heads-in-suits had much in terms of intelligence or comprehension skills.

Re:There goes US support... (3, Insightful)

franki.macha (1444319) | more than 4 years ago | (#33007868)

And those of us in Unamerica think it's great news...

More diversity in open devs (1)

tebee (1280900) | more than 4 years ago | (#33007940)

Maybe this will help other under-represented sections of society to consider joining the open source developer community.

The vast majority of developers are still white and male, women in particular are still in short supply see - http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/58218 [networkworld.com]

......cue sarcastic comments about women in short supply , sorry for setting that up...

Considering Chinas track record, (-1, Troll)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 4 years ago | (#33007964)

how can anyone even begin to think about committing code from a Chinese company into the mainstream linux kernel?

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008016)

Why not? Review, test, check, etc. How would it be different from code from Columbia, North Korea, or Russia?

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009482)

When setting up multi-country dev for open source, consider having people from different countries do review, test and check. In this way the final code is usually very good.

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (2, Insightful)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008030)

how can anyone even begin to think about committing code from a Chinese company into the mainstream linux kernel?

Because it's open and can be read by anyone to make sure nothing sneaky is in there?

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (5, Insightful)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008060)

The same way they would begin to think about committing code from an American company into the mainstream Linux kernel? The fact that the Chinese government carries out some nefarious business doesn't mean that each and every one of the billion-plus Chinese citizens is out to get us. Besides, it's not like we're just accepting arbitrary binary blobs here: contributions to the kernel are human-readable source code that the tinfoil hat crowd is perfectly welcome to pore over in detail...

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33008708)

Justin is right.

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (2, Funny)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008746)

Please, society, produce a Bieber who's famous for something other than being an idiotic teen popstar. If he stays in the limelight, I'm going to have to stop identifying myself in public :(

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#33012222)

There is probably not a government in the world without at least some "nefariuos" business going on. Rulers always had to make decisions, often tough ones, and it often involved breaking lots of rules.

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (2, Insightful)

fly1ngtux (1504905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33013640)

Makes me think.... India has restrictions on Huwei's products. However, how will we tackle the issue of these guys contaminating almost all our devices by infesting Linux? :)

Re:Considering Chinas track record, (2, Insightful)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008080)

Because it's pretty hard to embed lead in code? [nytimes.com]

Open source foreign??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33008138)

Hello, communism? Working for the collective?

Also, working for nothing is very similar to working for next to nothing.

Verify, then trust (4, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008550)

While I've seen China do a lot of innovative things, one thing I've learned from Western scientists working in China is that you should Verify first, before trusting.

Remember, the normal response to any question there is "Yes", even when they intend to do absolutely nothing.

Re:Verify, then trust (1)

parasite (14751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009338)

Damn straight.

I had a co-worker (Chinese) who originally went into government research for nanotech. I was shocked he would quit something so bleeding edge and exciting to do inconsequential projects at a software company. Turns out all their 'research' is nothing but an attempt to 'save face' for the government. The repeat experiements we have already done, with crap equiptment, 1000's of times until they get 1 positive result (it takes that many tries with crap equiptment) then they check it off the list "yes china can do what the USA can do as well".

Re:Verify, then trust (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009458)

The stories I could tell you about buildings that look - in front, as if they were high tech research labs - but inside they're just hollow shells.

Remember, if you're a project manager for an Open Source app, don't just accept the Yes response when you assign tasks - and don't accept the code until you've had someone else validate it functions per spec.

There are some fine and brilliant coders and scientists in China - just be aware that it may be a problem sometimes.

Re:Verify, then trust (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33010992)

This is really just about your inter-cultural skills. While the Chinese will not use the "no" word literally, an experienced Chinese has no trouble distinguishing a yes that means yes and a yes that means no.

Naturally you're free to choose to not to be bothered and just ignore their contributions.

Re:Verify, then trust (2, Informative)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 4 years ago | (#33011814)

While I've seen China do a lot of innovative things, one thing I've learned from Western scientists working in China is that you should Verify first, before trusting.

Remember, the normal response to any question there is "Yes", even when they intend to do absolutely nothing.

The website hosting the code is right here: http://code.taobao.org [taobao.org] . It's not a press release, they actually have the files hosted on a special site they made just for distribution. There isn't a whole lot to be skeptical of. Also, from what I understand, Taobao is a private enterprise, not part of the Chinese government or anything. Of course, they will still need to comply with the government, but their basic motivations are not the same.

For those unaware, Taobao is like the eBay of China. Few Chinese have an international credit card (i.e. Visa, Mastercard, etc.), and instead the Chinese banks issue Union Pay cards, which are specific only to China. Because they use Union Pay cards, everything is basically different, and Taobao is really the de facto place to shop online for the Chinese.

Re:Verify, then trust (2, Insightful)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#33012226)

Yes is not always an answer, even in West. It's more like ACK packet. Acknowledgement and request for more of it.

Re:Verify, then trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33012392)

While I've seen China do a lot of innovative things, one thing I've learned from Western scientists working in China is that you should Verify first, before trusting.

Remember, the normal response to any question there is "Yes", even when they intend to do absolutely nothing.

I would like to have what you said verified, especially because you are not a 1st hand source of that information.

To be really clear about my intentions with this comment, I must say that I was a bit offended that you would rather trust a person from west than one from east*. You should be critical of any source of information before you use it. If you're only critical of information from "east" you will get bitten from "west".

* East/West what does it really mean when the Earth is round? I get the idea that most of the time that wording implies Capitalism vs. Communism or is used to avoid sounding racist.

Open China (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#33008868)

And soon, they'll be contributing to Android too!

Foreign to the culture? (1)

hackel (10452) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009020)

Is it really? If so that is sad. Open Source software seems to exemplify the Communist ideals of shared ownership and development for the public good that China purports to adhere to. I've often felt that Open Source software was the best way for Western nations to get away from capitalism in a way that is truly democratic and not controlled by any single, despotic rulers. I hope China embraces this new company and more follow-suit soon!

Re:Foreign to the culture? (2, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009288)

the Communist ideals of shared ownership and development for the public good that China purports to adhere to
 
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not; there's no such thing in China. There is a wide difference between Marxist communism and Maoist/Stalinist communism. Marx envisioned socialism as an intermediary step on the way to communism (and what you've described) while Mao and Stalin saw socialism as a mechanism for total state control with themselves at the head of state. They use the name communism but only for window dressing. The current economic system in China allows private enterprise but does certainly not work towards shared ownership and the public good in any political sense.

Re:Foreign to the culture? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009962)

FOSS actually lines up with communism AND capitalism quite well, as well as perhaps just about every other system outside of perhaps corporatism. Traditional uses of copyright require large governments providing monopolies to private entities, which doesn't fit well with many economic systems.

Re:Foreign to the culture? (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 4 years ago | (#33012026)

This "Chinese culture" is not about the pseudo-communism crap popularized by the Western media in the 20th century. "Communism" didn't displace Chinese culture even back then when China was at least attempting to implement Communism, and these days it's nothing more than the name of the ruling party.

From my understanding, part of the "Chinese culture" is the rampant piracy and disrespect of the most basic IP rights. Release software in GPL? You'd have dozens of rip off companies taking your code and releasing their own proprietary systems. Even the state sponsored "Green Dam" filter software was allegedly pirated, so you can see how bad that is.

The other part of it is the traditional way knowledge is passed down -- secret recipes, secret formulas, secret techniques, secret processes, supposedly passed down from generation to generation within a family, or between master and students, but never to outsiders. Or at least, that's how it's said to be like.

Combine these two and you can see why open source is a "foreign" concept.

porn angle comparison (1)

parasite (14751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009254)

I get about 50% of my porn from Chinese websites and 50% from American, and I can tell you that the Chinese are far more trade-oriented. While people here will spam the shit out of porn-brothers of 4chan and it's ilk with entire photo series in exchange for nothing, most Chinese sites lock-down upwards of 90% of their porn and only 'upgrade' users that make serious contributions.

In short, Chinese won't do fucking shit unless they can be goddamn sure they'll get something in exchange. It's ironic the 'generosity' of Americans in contrast -- culturally Chinese have much more of a capitalist spirit. I blame Christianity for the sorry state of America -- so many anti-profit anti-selfishness ideas.

Re:porn angle comparison (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 4 years ago | (#33009352)

Dude, your handle is "parasite"... what do you expect?

Re:porn angle comparison (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33013860)

If you think Christianity is anti-proift, you haven't been to the Vatican.

OpenCog (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33009732)

I've been noticing a lot of China outreach from projects like OpenCog [opencog.org] . Any others?

Taobao = Chinese eBay (2, Informative)

ralphrmartin (1711260) | more than 4 years ago | (#33011868)

"Some company called taobao..." Actually, they are not just "some company". They are to China what eBay is to the US and many other countries.

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