Nova: Cubans roll their own Linux
Reuters report today, 12th February 2009, that the government of Cuba aims to replace the, all pervasive Microsoft software, running on its administrative infrastructure, with its own Linux distribution. The Cuban distribution, called Nova and apparently a Gentoo variant of Linux, was introduce recently at the annual International Conference on Communication and Technologies in Havana. The Cuban government says it sees the Microsoft software it has been using, as a potential threat, because the CIA and other U.S. agencies have access to secret back door codes into the software. Also U.S. trade embargoes against Cuba make it difficult for Cubans to obtain legal copies and updates of Microsoft software. According to the Register last years conference was attended by none other than Richard Stallman, who urged attendees to adopt open source software.
Computers only became available for general sale to the Cuban public last year. The dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba's University of Information Sciences, Hector Rodriguez said that already about 20 per cent of the computers in Cuba use Linux. He says "I would like to think that in five years our country will have more than 50 per cent migrated (to Linux),".
Cuba's move follows that of Russia, according to a recent press release on PRWeb Igor Schegolev – the Head of the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications of the Russian Federation – thinks open source software development in Russia one of the most important directives. At a recent meeting with Werner Knoblich, Red Hat Vice President for EMEA, he announced support for a Russian Fedora association and for Red Hat development in the Russian Federation. He also expressed support for open source infrastructure and applications, and the development of a repository for industry best practice.
To some, this may reinforce the view that Linux has always been a communist plot, although Russia is of course, at least nominally, no longer a communist country. It certainly underlines the clash in ideologies between the capitalist proprietary software model and that of free and open source development.