Korea plans to build Linux university

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The Korean government plans to select a city and a university late next month where open-source software like Linux will become the mainstream operating programs. The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) revealed the scheme of building up the city and university, which will operate as test beds for the open-source programs.

''We will start to receive applications next week. After screening candidate cities and universities, the test beds are likely to be decided by late March'', MIC director Lee Do-kyu said. The project will be kick-started just after the decision of the city and university, toward which end the ministry earmarked 4.1 billion won for this year alone. Already many universities and local governments have shown interest in the project. The selected government and university will be required to install open-source software as a main operating infrastructure, for which the MIC will support with funds and technologies.

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In the long run, they will have to migrate most of their desktop and notebook computers away from the Windows program of Microsoft, the world's biggest maker of software. The test beds will prompt other cities and universities to follow suit through the showcasing of Linux as the major operating system without any technical glitches and security issues, Lee said. The open-source software refers to an emerging operating system alternative to the closed-door Windows program of Microsoft, which has flat-out ruled the global market thus far.

The underlying source codes of the new-type software are basically open to the public so that programmers from across the world can upgrade them continually, the strength that the proprietary Windows lacks. The attempt to create a Linux city is not a first. Munich in Germany plans to deploy Linux and open-source packages on its 14,000 PCs in place of Microsoft office automation suites and operating system. Other cities and governments also look to embrace various open-source software, which represents freedom and flexibility by nature, to save costs and increase efficiency. In fact, Korea is not a world leader in adopting Linux and other open-source programs. Currently, less than 1 percent of desktop PCs are based on Linux in Korea, much lower than the global median 3 percent. For servers, Linux accounts for about a fifth of the market here. The Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency wants to increase the rate to 5 percent for desktop PCs and 40 percent for servers by 2010.

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