A Chinese software vendor has won a contract to deliver one of the nation's biggest Linux deployments to date, including more than 140,000 desktop PCs.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Sun Wah Linux announced that the Chinese government had awarded the company a massive desktop Linux contract. Under the terms of the deal, the Beijing-based software vendor, working with six Chinese PC hardware firms, will deliver a total of 141,624 PCs to primary and secondary schools in Jiangsu Province by the middle of next year..
Sun Wah Linux will install RAYS LX, its Debian-based Linux workstation distro, as the default operating system on the desktop PCs. . According to Minou Nguyen, a U.S.-based Sun Wah Linux spokesperson, although the project at one time specified Microsoft Windows as the desktop OS, Sun Wah "managed to turn these desktops into dual-boot machines with RAYS LX as the preferred loading OS."
Sun Wah Linux will deploy 20 to 40 percent of the systems by the end of this year, and the company will complete the project by Q2 2006, Nguyen added. The company will also supply Linux training services, technical support, instructors with open-source experience, and maintenance to the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education as part of its contract.
Asked what other software Sun Wah planned to install on the Jiangsu schools' desktop PCs, Nguyen said: "Currently, it will be RAYS LX plus certain e-learning applications provided by local vendors. The best part about it is RAYS can use its software updating client to provide new, open-source software to the student as the school approves of them. So the system is dynamic. No installation is needed." ' The RMB $346.2 million (USD $42.7 million) award, funded in part with Chinese Ministry of Eduction subsidies, will mostly assist schools in lower-income urban districts of Jiangsu Province -- a densely-populated area that includes the lower Yangtze River plain and the western approaches to Shanghai. The deployment is part of China's School-to-School Project, which aims to connect 90 percent of the nation's public schools to the Internet by 2010.
in spite of the size of the Jiangsu Province deal, a number of private-sector Linux initiatives could soon rival the deal both in size and complexity. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), for example, recently announced a three-year Linux migration that will include 20,000 retail branches, serving more than 100 million consumers and 8 million corporate accounts, and eventually touching every aspect of the bank's IT operations.
Compared to other Linux deployments worldwide, the Jiangsu Province initiative probably ranks among the top four or five, and may have a claim on the top spot. Although both Novell and Sun have announced deals involving anywhere from 250,000 to one million Linux desktop PCs, including a 2003 deal between Sun and China Standard Software Company (CS2C) involving at least 500,000 Java Desktop System seats, actual deployment figures tend to be much harder to find.