The Next Open Source Stronghold: China

The People’s Republic of China is emerging as one of the world’s strongholds for the Linux operating system.

According to a new report from Evans Data, nearly two-thirds of those Chinese developers that were surveyed (65 percent) expect to write an application for Linux in the next year. Close to half (44 percent) have already done so.

The study also revealed the use of Linux as the primary host OS are expected to jump by 175 percent next year. About one in eight (11 percent) Chinese developers say their primary OS target will be Linux compared with 4 percent this year.

“Our research suggests that a significant shift in operating systems may be underway in China, possibly as a response to the urging of the government to adopt Linux,” said Esther Schindler, an analyst at Evans Data.

“However, while Windows use has declined from the last Chinese survey, the developers are not automatically switching to Linux — many are adopting Java virtual machines as a native development environment and as the target OS on which they expect their applications to run. Ten percent of Chinese developers say their primary host OS will be a JVM next year.”

Among other key survey findings:

* Half of Chinese developers (49 percent) say that their company has experienced a network or security breach in the last year. The most common type of breach (33 percent) was a deliberate hack into a company database. Viruses are close behind, at 30 percent of responses.

* Growth in 64-bit application continues with 13 percent of respondents currently writing new applications or porting existing applications to 64-but architecture, up from 8 percent six months ago. Nearly half of Chinese developers (48 percent) expect to begin writing new applications or porting existing ones to a 64-bit architecture in the next year.

* Chinese developers tend to work in small shops. Only 16 percent are employed by companies with more than 1,000 employees, compared to a quarter of North American developers. Among other key differences is the Chinese developers’ relative lack of experience. Nearly 98 percent of them have less than ten years of experience programming and the average is under four years.

The study, the 2002 Chinese Developer Survey, Vol. 2, was completed last month with the help of more than 1,000 Chinese software developers. The survey also includes numerous cross tabulations of data across different questions such as company size and region.