Cuba launches Linux distro to combat Windows

The Cuban government has launched its own Linux distribution, dubbed "Nova", this week as it attempts to drive up the use of Linux in the country, and to lead the country away from what it views as U.S. dominance.

According to Reuters, Cuba sees the use of Microsoft's operating system as a potential threat, because "U.S. security agencies have access to Microsoft codes."

Until May last year, citizens of Cuba were not allowed to own a computer, but when PCs went on sale, they came pre-installed with Microsoft Windows XP, despite the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Hector Rodriguez, dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba's University of Information Sciences, says that Linux currently has a 20 percent market share in Cuba and that the Cuban government hopes that Nova will increase this to 50 percent within the next five years.

Developed with staff and students at the University of Havana, the Gentoo-based Nova was unveiled at the inaugural International Computer and Software Convention in Havana.

Cuba is not the first country to back open-source software in favour of proprietary software, according to Computerworld. Government ministries in Venezuela have been changing from Windows to Linux, while China has had its own government supported version of Linux, called "Red Flag", for several years. Red Flag is even supported by U.S. vendors Oracle and Hewlett-Packard.

Rodriguez said that open-source software is more secure, as closed-source software could contain malicious code. "Private software can have black holes and malicious codes that one doesn't know about. That doesn't happen with free software," he said.

"The free software movement is closer to the ideology of the Cuban people, above all for the independence and sovereignty."

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I think all Government departments should 100% definitely use OpenSource technology. It makes no sense to use proprietary technology (In any situation in my eyes) especially for governments. It's not just radical Governments like Cuba and Venezuela that are considering and implementing open source tech, the New Zealand government (my government) is also doing so, and I know there is a lot of advocates for it pushing it into other governments as it should be. The amount of Anti-trust law suits filed against Microsoft should be a clear indication to any government that their systems aren't a safe option, government organizations should always have the most see through systems possible anything proprietary could (call me paranoid) potentially be a threat. Especially when the worlds wealthiest man is behind it.

note: by see through I mean their system administrators know what's going on, not see through as in the public can go wandering around in their filesystem*

References to check out concerning this topic, TCG or TCPA (Trusted computing group or Trustworthy computing platform alliance, or ah Treacherous computing platform alliance as it would be more correctly dubbed) also the Fritz chip.

What's funny is that they are moving to Linux to get away from the American dominance in the market; however, can assure you that they are still using Intel or AMD processors. Too funny. If they really want technological independence, how about designing a new processor. Really, laughable.

That said, do hope that we can normalize relations with Cuba in the coming years. Would love to be able to get a decent cigar here in the States.

Lol... every freak is releasing his own distro... instead working on standards and one distro...
Also the title of this article is so inquirer style... "combat windows" omg ^^

They've named it Nova? I find it mildly humorous that the fact that "No va" means "It doesn't go" in Spanish has completely escaped the attention of a Spanish-speaking government. Classic.

They are correct, all government should only trust software they have full access and permission to change to conform their security.

They are not forcing people to use linux, you can have the os you want.

Interesting, they just want to be sure of what's under the curtains, in that sense Linux is transparent. I'm taking a Windows 7 laptop to my aunt in Cuba, wonder if they'll force me to change it to linux on the airport...

"Private software can have black holes and malicious codes that one doesn't know about. That doesn't happen with free software," he said.

Yeah, that's right. Closed-source software is riddled with flaws but open-source software is perfect. In fact I don't think Linux has ever had a security threat. It's completely bullet-proof.

Don't tell Cuba about this:

And dare we open the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) debate?

On second thought, let's just let them be. If Cubs insists on Linux then perhaps Windows 7 will be a little lighter since all that Cuba spying code can be removed.

You didn't get it.

He was talking about security issues that might risk Cuban regime, because its a US product. Since open source code is released, they can see if it has those kinds of risks or not, while Windows is closed source.

They were not talking about bugs in the os, but of a commercial product which they had no access to the code, could have been infected or contain some procedure that will prejudice or sabotage. Also germany and many other countries are taking the same approach, i think even the US military are using linux for ages...

I have nothing against Linux, but this goes up to show what a communist dictatorship is willing to do to maintain its citizens under the most cruel and absolute control, Let Cubans decide what Operating System they want to use on their PCs, very very few Cubans can afford to have a PC anyway so even if the government says %50 that's just government buildings and schools that will have access to it, so never rely on what they say.

I don't necessarily agree with Cuban government and I know how repressive a government they are much opposed to the idealist view that is so often painted of them by naive westerners but I think pushing an open source alternative into play is a completely common sensical move for a communist government. I mean Microsoft is the epitome of capitalist western business practice, essentially everything the political ideal of Cuba stands up against as you must understand having been born in Cuba. To let it dominate would be to show their reliance on the western business model which is obviously not what they want.

They couldn't have picked a better version of Linux to base it on? That and with most people having only a years worth of computer experience and now they switch them to Linux. It's gonna be fun to see how this plays out.....

Until May last year, citizens of Cuba were not allowed to own a computer

Holy crap!!
Bassackwards freaking country, anyway!!

Caveman-ugh: That comment is ... plain stupid, in my opinion.
I'm no fanboy, but Linux is actively developed (not outdated).
Most people, when they think in linux, they think in command lines.
Actually, most Linux distros have a GUI.

A great idea in my opinion! Something all countys should do. I'm a Windows and Mac user but I think a country supporting free software is a great idea, especially somewhere like Cuba so new to the technology scene.

Not only government agencies, but public universities, schools and all should use free software. It's a good way to reinforce the security, gain knowledge and be a little more independent technological.

At your home or private business you can have the OS you want.