China launches first open-source desktop computer operating system OpenKylin 1.0
Published: Jul 06, 2023 03:26 PM
 OpenKylin 1.0 Photo: VCG

OpenKylin 1.0 Photo: VCG

China launched the country's first open-source desktop operating system (OS) named OpenKylin 1.0, marking a breakthrough in building independent software system. The move, part of the nation's broader efforts to stand on its own feet on technology and science, will further narrow the gap with dominant Western technologies in the sector, industry observers said.

The OpenKylin 1.0 version has completed selection and upgrade of more than 20 core components of the operating system, Zhu Chen, senior vice president of Kylinsoft, a subsidiary of state-owned China Electronics Corporation, said at the launch event on Wednesday.

"We have tried several versions prior to 1.0 version, meaning we have gradually fostered the ability to self-develop desktop OS. We hope the new version will attract more developers," Zhu said.

The OS, based on Linux, was built by a community of 3,867 developers, 74 special interest groups and 271 companies, according to a statement sent by Kylinsoft to the Global Times.

Kylinsoft rolled out the country's first root community of desktop OS OpenKylin last year, in an effort to gather the industry strength to boost the development of China's open-source ecosystem.

The Chinese software firm is ranked top in terms of market share in domestic Linux OS segment. Its series of operating system products can be used in both the personal computers and mobile phones, and are widely used in such sectors as customs, energy and financial institutions.

The launch of the first open-source desktop operating system marked the country's latest effort in developing homegrown software in a bid to reduce reliance on Western technologies.

Homegrown operating systems are considered key to serving as a pillar for driving construction of new infrastructure and boosting development of the digital economy.

Ni Guangnan, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that China's digital economy has been gradually heading toward a new phase of in-depth application and scale development, with the goal to reduce reliance on Western technologies.

"The release of OpenKylin 1.0 indicated that domestic OS ecology has reached a new height. It also witnessed our unremitting innovation in the Linux ecology," Ni said.

Ni has advised the authorities on building "China's system" to address the foreign stranglehold.

Ma Jihua, a veteran high-technology observer, told the Global Times on Thursday that although the current China-US confrontation in the high-tech sector is mainly focused on hardware as represented by semiconductors, "we should also guard against potential threats from the OS at the moment of US' decoupling push."

"The launch of OpenKylin 1.0 is in line with the trend of China promoting independent technologies since many key technologies, including operating systems, are related to national information security," Ma said.

Currently, the market share of domestic operating systems is still low due to factors such as a late start and enormous investment the industry requires, Ma said.

Chinese developers have rolled out more than 10 domestic operating systems, such as the UOS and Kylin OS. Yet, Microsoft's Windows and Apple's MacOS still dominate the Chinese market.

In the global desktop OS market, Windows is taking a definite leading position with a 68.15 percent while the share of Linux comes in at 3.08 percent, according to statistics agency Statcounter.

It is worth noting that the majority of homegrown systems are based on open-source OS initiatives such as Linux and Unix.

China's Huawei Technologies has also performed a stellar role in the OS sector.

By the end of December 2022, the number of enterprise members in its open-source Euler community has exceeded 600. OpenEuler is designed for enterprise customers and can be used in devices such as servers, cloud computing and edge computing.