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Oracle puts weight behind Asian Linux

Business software maker takes open-source route in race to beat rivals in China.

Oracle is backing an Asian variant of the open-source Linux operating system, as tech companies get ready for a software boom in the region.

The software maker said on Tuesday that it is giving total certification to Asianux, developed by Japanese company Miracle Linux and Chinese Linux distributor Red Flag. The operating system has a shared Linux core that provides interoperability to both companies' products. Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle is a majority stakeholder in Miracle and a longtime partner of Red Flag in China.

The certification enables businesses to use Asianux and receive joint technical support for the operating system on for all of Oracle's 10g business software, including Database 10g, Application Server 10g, Enterprise Manager 10g and Collaboration Suite.

Oracle, which has extended its business software rivalry with Microsoft and SAP to China, has already enlisted hardware partners such as Advanced Micro Devices, Dell and Sun Microsystems to back Asianux. The company has also been working with Linux reseller Red Hat in the region.

CCID Consulting, a Chinese IT consulting firm, has estimated that the Linux server software market in China will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 49.3 percent over the next five years.

China is Oracle's fastest-growing market in the Asia-Pacific and its third-biggest after Japan and South Korea. Market researcher IDC has forecast that China's business software will hit $400 million in 2007, up from $85.5 million in 2002.

Oracle made the Asianux announcement at its OpenWorld conference in Shanghai, China. At the show, the company said it was working with the Chinese government's Ministry of Education to support IT education in Western China, a relatively less-developed part of the country. Up to 50 universities in the region will get Oracle software worth $143 million, and the company will provide reference courseware and faculty training to 50 IT teachers. Through the project, Oracle hopes to train 15,000 Oracle professionals every year.