China to replace last Windows computers with Linux operating system

Published 7 July 2023
- By Editorial Staff

China’s ambitions to reduce its dependence on foreign technologies are taking a decisive step forward. The country’s state-owned IT company, Kylinsoft, owned by the China Electronics Corporation, has introduced an open-source Linux-based operating system, OpenKylin. The launch is part of China’s efforts to compete with leading US companies such as Microsoft and Apple.

OpenKylin, the first Chinese operating system for both computers and smartphones, is the result of the efforts of nearly 4,000 employees. Developing an operating system completely free of US technology is a major step for China in the ongoing technological competition with the US. This is seen as a significant breakthrough, especially after the Ukraine war, when several Russian programmers were excluded from the international open source community.

The US has previously imposed restrictions on the export of advanced microchips to China, and limited the ability of US citizens to assist Chinese companies in developing their own microchips. These measures are aimed at hindering China’s technological progress. Against this background comes the news that the US plans to restrict China’s access to US cloud services.

OpenKylin is similar to the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, developed by UK-based Canonical, but it is emphasized that it has been built from scratch, meaning that Canonical cannot control OpenKylin. The operating system, equipped with a unique desktop environment called UKUI, supports Linux, Windows and Android applications through emulators.


Kylinsoft’s new operating system comes at a time when the Chinese government has ordered that the remaining 20% of Windows installations be replaced by the end of the year. Kylin Linux is increasingly emerging as a strong player in the field.

Statistically, Microsoft Windows still leads the Chinese and global desktop market with a market share of 85% and 74% respectively. Apple’s MacOS holds around 15% of desktop OS installations. OpenKylin is already used by 850,000 users and is planned to be implemented in China’s space program, among others.

To accelerate the development of domestic desktop computers, China has created an open platform, the so-called OpenKylin project. The goal of openKylin is to use the open source platform to challenge Windows and macOS in the country.

Kylinsoft, in collaboration with more than ten Chinese entities, including the National Industrial Information Security Development Research Center, aims to push open source initiatives across a broader community of users, developers and stakeholders.

It remains to be seen how quickly Kylin OS will become mainstream, but at the time of writing, Windows still has majority share in the local market. Linux-based operating systems, including most of China’s domestic systems, retain a small but stable market share, according to the South China Morning Post.

To further reduce reliance on Western technologies, China also runs its own GitHub alternative, Gitee, to counter the Microsoft-owned code hosting and versioning platform.

A short review of OpenKylin is available on It’s FOSS News.

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