Saturday, October 17, 2009

The growth of Linux in developing regions.

Since I started my Blog I noticed an interesting trend. A lot of the readers and individuals who link to my Blog are from developing regions around the world such as China, India, Indonesia and Central/South America. However, most of the time when I am writing about Linux I am concentrating on the North American and European market and there is a huge audience that I am not targeting mainly due to the fact that I don't know much about these regions. One thing is for sure though, while the adoption of Linux is surely increasing in the "West", the future of Linux growth will certainly come from the developing world as well.

China has more internet users than the United States even though the penetration of the internet is high in the U.S. but is still low in China. This means that China has a huge growth potential in this area. Most of us are aware that China uses a lot of pirated software but in recent years the government has been trying to crack down on it. So the trend that is occurring now is that instead of people and businesses purchasing genuine copies of Windows, they are switching to Linux. This might be both a cost issue and the fact that Linux is a great alternative to Windows. With its huge population of 1.3 billion people, the Chinese market will definitely increase the presence of Linux in the world. Even the Chinese government has its own version of Linux because they like the fact that they can see the source code of Linux for political and security reasons...

Indonesia and India are other countries that are linking to my Blog as there seems to be interest about Linux in these countries as well. This might stem from Linux being cost effective or having low hardware requirements. Just like China, these countries have a large population. Indonesia has 240 million people and India has 1.1 billion. There is a huge growth potential because the penetration of the internet is still very low as well.

Even though majority of the time I am focusing on the North American and European market there is a huge Linux user base in other regions of the globe as well. China, India and Indonesia all have a viable Linux market and in the future it will surely increase. The growth of Linux is occurring in the "West" but the developing world will also play a huge role in this trend.

Are you from Asia or are you knowledgeable about the region? What can you tell us about the adoption of Linux? Are people using Linux for political reasons, cost effectiveness or low hardware requirement reasons? What is the trend in the school system, government or private sphere? As more people will purchase computers and connect to the internet, do you think they will use open source or proprietary operating system?


  1. I am not form Asia, but can tell you what I've heard on the news. It seems the China government has been not just fighting piracy and stimulating the adoption of Linux. They are forcing this Linux distro of theirs over everyone. I've heard people can't even use other Linux distros, it _has_ to be the government's... I think some business had to pay fines if they didn't used that distro. It's free software, but not quite free-minded, unfortunately. :( I only hope this is and old and inaccurate story.

    I'm from Brazil. We do have a strong movement of Linux users, and we have all that potential to increase the number of Linux adopters. But if you ask me, it's taking too long for it to take off. Not even Firefox is managing to become much popular among windows users.

    People are just lazy, and it's just too hard to fight the difficulty of buying computers that don't come infected from the factory with the Redmond software. The problem is simply this same decades old "comes bundled" and "they do it in the factory and we can't do anything" tactics. Unless we put an end to this inexcusable monopolistic evil practice, no competitors can hope to conquer much attention. All we will get are those brave users willing to _fight_ to use what they want.

  2. Hi,

    I am Deng, from the Philippines. We are currently doing a study now to provide statistics, behaviour and perspective on the adoption of Linux in our Country though it is quite difficult to pull this through and complete it since we rely on our finances, resources and strategies alone. We will try to provide you with more tangible data once we have verified them as well. Linux and Open Source for me is not just a technology but has provided me a path to practice my learning and doing Philosophy, part of our living as we, in our team, is trying to transcend Linux to users on the precept that they should realize and discern the value and perspective that goes along with the Technology as well.

    There are a lot of hurdles in just even advocating or spreading awareness about Linux in the Philippines, I'd like to mention some:

    Government and Politics - We have a CICT, who has been provided with mandate but not power and/or regulating policies over CICT issues and procedures. Policies on IT Expenditures (such as Purchases of Hardware and Software) in my opinion should be reviewed and "lowest bidder" should not be the major criteria for implementing bids and awards primarily because BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) of each government agencies should be aware that though price is among the list in the criteria, there are a lot of factors or qualifications to be considered when issues on Software and Hardware. is at hand.

    Schools and Education - Most of our developers learned about Linux and Open Source on their own. In the course of our going around to provide talks and awarenees for free to different Schools (Colleges and Universities) on Linux and Open Source (as part of our advocacy on Values and Education), we have learned and realized that there is much work to do: Most IT Curriculum is not adaptable to how the Technology has evolved and is evolving, Teacher Competencies in how to teach IT (for IT to be learned and assimilated by their Students) must be defined and then provide the needed training and guides for Teachers to keep up (of course we also have the issues that our Teachers' Salaries are meager that some of them opt to go abroad and earn higher to help their families). The Computer Laboratories do not have Linux OS installed. But recently, with the help of a lot of small organizations, there are quite a number of Schools both private and public who are now starting to have their Open Source Computer Laboratories.

    Among our initiative and efforts is the recently released Kahel OS, as a community project. For the Filipinos and for other Countries who may have the same plight as we have, we would like alleviate software piracy and the attitude that comes with it, to promote innovation in the midst of crisis and our current state as a nation, to instill in Filipinos (talent, intent and skills) that we can rely on each other for IT use and development so that we can divert funds to other more pressing and important needs of our Country. The Kahel OS at the onset placed itself in a controversy because it was built on Arch Linux (a very reliable, strong, simple OS and for very competent Linux Users/ Developers). It was difficult for the team to make people understand our intents and show respect and high regard for Intellectual Property and Innovation but we reckon that along the way, time will make all of us see it through. We imbibe in ourselves the epitome of the word sharing. In simple words, we would like to believe that even the not so competent or for those who would like to experience Linux deserves a good distro and start it right. They (the users) may have to, of course, still learn and discern the values why one should use it but not as much as the experts. For the community, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude in discerning what Kahel OS is for and helping us in this community project. We continue to seek the community's help and understanding that when we share, we gain more than what we expect.

  3. Hi. Im from Latvia and Linux here is being localised by the university, in another University is trying to use only open source technologies. I myself am one of «Simple Linux For Simple Users» ( author, and there is a lot interest in Linux. And I have convicted a lot of my classmates Computer Techicians to use Linux, and they really like it.

    Most popular distros ar Ubuntu, Slackware, Fedora, Moblin, but for all newbies I advice any *buntu and explain the differences, give advice and sending links. And Linuxoids like me in Latvia are a lot.

    Its just start!

  4. There are several reasons why I cannot make an informed comment. Firstly, I'm not from Asia (I'm from Australia which btw has quite a strong Linux/FLOSS movement contrasted by my state, NSW, purchasing a licence for Windows + MS Office for every school student in year 9). Secondly, there is a language barrier stopping me from communicating with just any Asian person. Thirdly, I can't verify any of the articles that I can read because of the Second reason given.

    I have used the English edition of Red Flag Linux 6.0 before because I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. My conclusion was that, although it had a nice boot splash, it was no good because it was already dated and was otherwise hard to use. In hindsight I think the experience was somewhat similar to running Red Hat 7 or 9 with KDE. It seems that it is no longer offered on the English website:

    Download it from the Chinese website here and try it out for yourself:

    If you can't read Chinese, then make sure that you have a university degree in guessing. (See also the Second reason given)

  5. hey.. am from india.

    most of the government organizations use linux to cut costs. piracy is little high here. most of the people who use linux also have windows, as both of them r free here. :)

  6. Hi! Here in Uruguay, Linux has at least 380,000 users --OLPC; see for a review-- so that makes about one out of every nine uruguayans; not too shabby!

  7. I lived in USA for more than a decade, am currently living in India. I am working as a senior executive in an Engineering college.

    What I noticed in India - lots and lots of people are suffering from Windows viruses. Where ever I go, people ask me - "what anti virus software you use?". My answer is always - "I don't use any, because I don't need any. I use Linux.".

    Since they got the Windows copy and/or AV software illegally, they do not have a way to upgrade their installed software.

    I think people are not using Linux as much as they should due to lack of net connectivity, poor connection speeds and download quotas. I foresee tremendous adoption of Linux in India as the broadband connectivity becomes ubiquitous. Indians, grounded in "frugal engineering" mindset, will always look for "cheap and best" option(which Windows is not).

    India has more young people than other countries (2/3rds of the population below 35 years of age, half of us below 25). In India younger people tend to prefer latest things, Windows always being a step or ten behind Linux/Mac, will suffer.

    Personally, I spearheaded an initiative to put Linux on 120 systems in our labs, and had students use it along with Eclipse for their lab assignments. In the geographical region we are operating, we are leading in usage of latest and greatest software(by moving away from eight year old Windows XP). I am sure other educational institutions will follow.