Cuba gets its own Linux distribution designed for Cuban PC users

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. 

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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