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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