China's investment in Linux as a viable Windows alternative

I’ve been reading a lot since the early-mid 2010s about China trying to replace Microsoft Windows with Linux-based OS’s, including

When this news first started spreading, I was genuinely excited because it combines two interests of mine: geopolitics and Linux. Regarding Linux, I was mainly excited because I thought it would mean more investment in the user experience for people who want a stable OS with a well developed app ecosystem that works out of the box. That does not describe my use case, but it does describe that of my wife and a lot of other important people in my life. I would also imagine it would describe a lot of people in China, in particular business users and gamers. Therefore, if China, a country of over a billion people, is serious about replacing Windows with a Linux based OS, I would expect to see evidence of this through an improved experience for those users .

Despite this, Linux still seems to lag behind Windows precisely in those two areas: business and gaming. It is true that huge strides have been made in gaming, but as a non-gamer I can’t speak to how far Linux now needs to travel to provide a serious challenge to Windows in this market segment. Regarding office applications, I personally, I use LibreOffice and Evolution Mail and that is good enough for my needs on an individual level. However, if my workplace switched to Linux we would seriously struggle due to a lack of alternative to the Microsoft Office suite. So what explains the fact that we’re in 2022 and Linux is still only for tinkerers (like us basically)? I have two theories, and both can be simultaneously true:

  1. China has simply not done enough to convince people and businesses to make the switch

  2. China may be using Linux as a basis for its Windows-replacement OS, but a significant portion of the software it is using is closed source and restricted to use in China.

What do you think?


The Chinese government correctly understands that all proprietary software is inherently untrustworthy (except the software that they are the proprietors of). This is especially true in the case of Micro$oft. It does not take a lot of imagination to come up with a scenario in which windoze is being used for corporate and even government espionage.

So, like everyone who is concerned about security and privacy, the Chinese Communist Party is looking into alternatives, Linux being the only viable one – just like North Korean government and businesses run completely on Linux.

I doubt we’ll see a lot of Free software (Free as in freedom) to result from this, but in my opinion, anything is welcome as long as we can inspect the source code and build it locally.

Regarding proprietary software, I trust Chinese proprietary software about as much as I trust Micro$oft, which is to say: not at all. So you won’t see me using it on my computers


Micro$oft Office can’t do anything for me that LibreOffice doesn’t already do.

Also, IMHO, Linux has a much larger following than just “tinkerers”.

IMHO, open source software is the future. I can’t stand waiting for software defects to be acknowledged and addressed with the closed source solutions that the company I work for chooses to use. Sometimes they choose not to address issues. To add to that, I don’t trust closed-source software. Call me cynical, but I view it as just another data collection app that provides other benefits.


I should specify that I’m talking only about desktop Linux here - not servers, smartphones and IoT devices. The reason I use Linux is so I can set up a device that works the way I want it to, and I don’t mind spending days or up to a week setting it up and making sure it is configured just right. This may not describe every single Linux desktop user, but probably fits 90% of them.

LibreOffice is perfect for my use case at home - however the integration between MS Office, Outlook, OneDrive and Sharepoint is very important for the industry I am working in and is expected by our clients. Unless Micro$oft offers their Office suite on Linux, I don’t see my industry using Linux outside of the server room. Call me cynical, but that’s just how businesses like the one I’m in think.

I won’t be switching and that’s about all I’ll say. I’d rather use Micorosoft’s Windows if that were my choices. I think I’ll stick with the free open source versions of Linux. EOS sounds really good!


EOS only “sounds” good? :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not going to install potential spyware either, but I would consider installing a 100% opensource Deepin derivative on my wife’s PC simply because she likes pretty stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the looks of deepin and in works good on Debian but i don’t trust it either. It doesn’t work good on Arch for me. If they ever get it working properly on Arch I will have another go at it.

Well, I can say that I have used o365 on linux in the past (just to prove that it works).

I have zero use-cases that require ANY m$ technology. I’ve been living without m$ for over a year. For me, there’s no going back. Even though the company I work for is heavily in m$ I could work perfectly without any m$ technology (assuming the company has a BYOD policy, mine does not).

I only just learned that Micro$oft announced last year that it’s rolling out Windows 11 upgrades to customers with TPM 2.0 chips:

Chinese computers use TCM chips, and so will not get the upgrade. This is another own goal by Micro$oft - punishing their own customers in China. I expect that this will only accelerate Linux adoption in China.

It makes sense that China would “have” it’s businesses transition to Linux but I can’t help wondering how they get around MINIX. Big Brother cares little if one uses Windows or macOS or Linux.

Can you elaborate/explain more your point regarding MINIX? I haven’t heard of this operating system until now…

Nope, your not cynical. I don’t trust anyone who makes you their product while getting you to pay for the priveilege.

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I wonder how strongly they would follow GPL2 so you could inspect/build that code.

I trust an operating system developed by a communist state (open source or not) as much as I can throw a piano. However, the same is true for all Microshit software …

Chinese companies constantly violate GPL or ignore it with zero repercussions… So likely not strongly

They’re not exactly communist considering Communism is defined by workers owning the means of production, but that’s another discussion

off topic

Just to round things out, Archlinux was inspired by CRUX


Then you might like this as well…


I wouldn’t say there’s always zero repercussions: :rofl:

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I assume that you have googled MINIX by now and if you did, you will understand my reply.
ALL governments, especially communist ones, can access our machines if needed.
If I were China, I would definitely deploy Linux everywhere possible and only keep Windows where cooperating with global business partners is a must.

If someone orders parts based on a SolidWorks file, then Linux is of no use. But for an administrative system that needs to manage 1Billion + people, Linux would be the clear winner. To bring this back on topic, yes, I believe that China will invest quite a bit in all areas as it transitions to Linux.
Will they opensource their code? I doubt it but then again, time will tell.

yeah ive seen that before, but thats really not a repercussion. That had absolutely zero impact in that long run and i dont think thats the first time shes done something of that nature if i remember right.

so they give some youtuber a code drop, that means nothing if the companies dont continue to release source code. Rockchip has improved some over the years but they too still suck and people have griped at them forever. Very few companies actually see any harm in violating GPL even outside china because tbh GPL enforcement is a joke.