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Should Chinese developers take global open-source role?

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Chinese developers of open-source software should play a more prominent role in the development of Linux and other open-source software, senior industry executives said at a conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

China has a small but rapidly growing appetite for open-source software. Total revenue from Linux sales in China grew 20 percent between 2003 and 2004, from US$7.8 million to $9.3 million, according to market analyst IDC. Looking ahead, it expects that figure to continue growing at a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent through 2009, when revenue will top $27 million.

By comparison, IDC expects China's total spending on software and services to top $18 billion by 2009. The amount expected to be spent on Linux may look like peanuts by comparison, but industry executives said Chinese developers are well positioned to take a leading role in the open-source software movement.

"Interesting things are happening here," said Jack Messman, chairman and chief executive officer of Novell Inc., referring to the rapid rise of Linux in China during a speech at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in Beijing.

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