Cuban Government Kick-Starts Linux

You want real open source? Head south to Havana.

The Cuban government -- the one that's outlasted 10 U.S. presidents and a 50-year American boycott -- has launched a new operating system called Nova, a variant of Linux, in a bid to end U.S. computer dominance.

According to this Reuters news report out of Havana, Cuba views Microsoft software as a security threat because it claims American security agencies have access to Microsoft codes. Is Cuba being paranoid or does it know something we don't know? Frankly, U.S. security agencies have gained easy access to data files, private phone calls, ISP records, web surfing histories and God knows what else during the last eight years, so far be it for me to doubt the Cubans on this one.

Cuban officials believe the free software movement is more compatible with the ideology of the Cuban people. (It's also more in tune with the ideology of most everyone under the age of 25 in this country, as evidenced by the growth of online music sharing.). They estimate 20 percent of computers in Cuba already use Linux, and they intend to push that number to 50 percent in five years.

Computers were just made available to the general population in Cuba a year ago, and there are VARs in that country who will now face the dubious task of making a profit off the Cuban Linux derivative. Meanwhile, Cuba heads off into an open-sourced future. Kind of makes you appreciate what a little centralized planning can accomplish when it's not burdened by quarterly stock analyst expectations or a demanding free market.



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