In an effort to get a step up on the perceived influence of the United States on the computer market, Cuba has launched its own Linux distribution.
The Cuban-made Nova Linux was under development for more than one year, and Cuba unveiled it during the Conference on Communication and Technologies in Havana, Cuba.
Last year's convention, which unofficially turned into an anti-Microsoft conference, saw open source GNU Project founder Richard Stallman urge Cubans to adopt open source technology.
"Getting greater control over the informatic process is an important issue," said Ramiro Valdes, Communications Minister, who has been a proponent for Cuba to use free and open source software.
It's unsure what packages are available through Nova Linux, and it's still unknown where it can be downloaded. The Cuban government didn't announce any news of creating a tech support division, so community support will likely operate official tech support for the distribution.
The U.S. trade embargo limiting sale and trade of products by U.S. companies makes it difficult for Cuban computer users to legally purchase and keep Microsoft software updated.
Cuban citizens have been able to purchase their own PC for about one year now, and prior to that had to visit PC clubs to be able to have access to the internet. With a growing number of citizens now owning PCs, it's the perfect time to begin offering free software for them to use.
Around 20 percent of all computers used in Cuba are now using various forms of Linux distributions. The Cuban university system and several government agencies have made the switch over, but there are still a few industries delaying the switch because of possible software compatibility issues.
"I would like to think that in five years our country will have more than 50 percent migrated (to Linux)," said Hector Rodriguez, Dean at the School of Free Software at Cuba's University of Information Sciences. "The free software movement is closer to the ideology of the Cuban people, above all for the independence and sovereignty."
Linux has become increasingly popular in South America, Africa and Eastern Europe, where companies and citizens aren't able to afford all of the latest Microsoft software. Furthermore, the open source software can be freely distributed among friends and colleagues in these nations, which helps it spread faster than Microsoft can.
quote: "The free software movement is closer to the ideology of the Cuban people, above all for the independence and sovereignty."
quote: welcomed with open arms
quote: Some countries may not like American policy, but they love American people
quote: Americans and America is loved in the VAST majority of places you would actually want to go to.
quote: Of course you are going to want to go to places that you area disliked.
quote: "Getting greater control over the informatic process is an important issue,"
quote: This distro may have a few undesirable "specials" included.
quote: Unless of course, they want to have a lot of control of what the Cuban users have installed and what they use.
quote: The target market should be whatever you (as a distro builder) want to target. Isn't that supposed to be one of the advantages of the whole freedom thing? Full consolidation would go against that.
quote: What really ends up happening in Linux world, is that developers make programs for their favorite instruction set, and so each distro ends up with its own program exclusives