Linux lovers and Windows haters everywhere are gonna love this! Chinese company Ylmf (an abbreviation for Yulinmufeng, or Rainforest Wind) has released a Linux distribution that's skinned to look exactly like Windows XP. The company has even gone so far as to purchase the domain, for a reported US$100,000, which currently redirects to their website.

Ignoring the legalities of blatantly replicating Microsoft's user interface, one must admit that there's a certain brilliance behind an OS such as this. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for Windows switchers is that both Linux and Mac OS are much different experiences than they're accustomed to. A Linux distribution dressed up as Windows XP certainly solves that problem, as users would be presented with almost the exact same graphical interface as the old Microsoft OS.

The operating system is based on Ubuntu 9.10, and comes complete with the following programs:

  • Open Office
  • Firefox Browser
  • Filezilla FTP Client
  • Transmission Bit Torrent Client
  • Pidgin Instant Message Client
  • aMule P2P Client
  • Claws Mail
  • Sogou IME
  • SMPlayer
  • Wine

The Firefox browser comes with the Baidu search bar, an entry point to China's dominant search engine. And given the recent Google/China controversy, it's safe to say that this was a wise choice.

While the legalities of this Windows copycat are surely dubious, it could potentially keep many Chinese users from installing pirated Windows. That said, I would be surprised to see the Ymlf OS gain any momentum, except maybe on some Shanzhai machines. The new English version on the other hand (which I'm downloading as I write this) could potentially gain a cult following among Linux users hoping to trick their friends into switching to a more secure OS!

I hope to update with a look at the English version as soon as I install it. Stay tuned!