Despite a notable shortage of Linux developers in China, it appears the movement is gaining steam among Dell users.

According to a report by Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, 40% of all Dell computers in China now run on Ubuntu Kylin, a version of Linux being modified in China. It comes at a time when Microsoft attempts to woo Chinese users with free upgrades to Windows 10, even if the software is pirated.

While the number of open source users using Dell’s hardware is high, it’s worth noting that Lenovo, the country’s biggest PC hardware provider, inked a partnership with Microsoft last year to distribute Windows 10, meaning that the proportion of Linux-based operating systems on Lenovo hardware could be much lower than 40%.

Nevertheless, Dell’s footprint is certainly a significant indicator of growth in the open source software sector. Just last week the company announced they would invest $125 billion USD in China over the next five years. It’s part two of a total $250 billion USD commitment that they made back in 2010. Public records show they took in around $5 billion USD in China revenue annually before the company went private in 2013.

China has a checkered relationship with its operating systems. Windows Vista was a hugely popular OS in the country, however its use has been declining for several reasons, including piracy.

The growth of Apple’s market share, primarily on the consumer side, has weakened Window’s grip on the market. That said, a confusing trend has also emerged in China where Apple users replace the iOS operating system on their Apple hardware for Windows, hoping to nab the Apple status symbol without working on the new OS.

On the business side, the government has begun a push to convert large companies and state-owned operations away from the foreign operating systems. Earlier this year Beijing issued a policy guideline requesting state owned banks to phase out foreign technology by 2020.

The ban was later put on hold in April, though the race to develop a China-friendly open source OS still continues. Currently the government is working on up to four different Linux-based projects, with Ubuntu Kylin gaining the most momentum.


Image Credit: Shutterstock

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or

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