Conference Paper

The Changing Situation of FOSS in China


Although there are always excellent Chinese individuals contribute to the world’s top-level open source projects, FOSS is not prosperous in China. But recent years, big strides have been made in this area. Dozens of FOSS projects emerged, and many of them are proved and used in the most severe working environments. These projects orient to various software domains: Linux OS distribution, distributed file system, extra-large-scale DBMS, server side infrastructures and middlewares, web front-end etc. However, few FOSS for Geospatial projects can be found rooted in China.

Several aspects of reasons can explain the low-level FOSS in China. 1) Software industry is not highly developed and most programmers struggle for living in big cities. Few people code in their spare time as hobby. Programmers work long time, having little time and energy to contribute code. 2) Many enterprise-users don’t believe FOSS, considering FOSS as unreliable, unsafe, hard to use and hard to get support. They also are not capable to maintain their own technical support team for FOSS. 3) Until last decad, software copyright are not strictly protected. Large amount of pirated softwares are harmful not only to proprietary software but also to FOSS. 4) Geospatial data gathering and using are strictly controlled by government. Although people can freely use web map and navigator software, individuals and organizations can hardly get geospatial dataset without official contract and approval.

Recent years, things are greatly changed in China. Some big internet giants in China realized the benefits of open source and open-sourced parts of their softwares in use. Core contributors are mostly their employees. These internet companies don’t earn their money through selling software. By opening source, their software get more users and more feedback, even more contributor, which can help improve software quality. Opening source can also improve the enterprises’ reputation, attracting more talents. It’s a win-win situation, as on the other side, many middle and small-sized enterprises benefit from these open source projects by greatly lower their cost.

Realizing the illegality and harm of pirated software and pushed by more severe copyright protection, more and more individuals and organizations discard pirated software. After comparing and selecting, parts of them found suitable FOSS for themselves, as the FOSSs becoming more and more reliable and user-friendly.


Xinghua Guo, Weiling Lin, Bin Zhao

Presenter Biography: 

Dr. Xinghua Guo received his Ph.D.(2009) of Cartography and Geographic Information Engineering from PLA Information Engineering University in Zhengzhou China. Since then he work as software engineer in Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Engineering(NRIEE).
Now he is a visiting researcher of Jacobs University Bremen with Prof. Peter Baumann's team.

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