Cuba launches its own Linux distro: Nova

At Cuba’s annual Conference on Communication and Technologies in Havana, the Cuban government unveiled its latest weapon against the U.S. capitalist devils (aka Microsoft): a new distribution of Linux, called Nova.

The motivation for this project is at least three-fold.  First and foremost, the Cuban government is worried about rumored back doors in Microsoft’s closed operating systems that would allow US security agencies to monitor activity over the Internet.  An open-source operating system couldn’t contain any such vulnerabilities without them being spelled out in the publicly accessible code.

Second, Windows is relatively expensive for the Cuban economy, and the US trade embargo makes it difficult to obtain legal copies or updates.  Guess how many pesos it takes to buy Linux?

Three, Cuba wants to assert its technological independence from “US hegemony”.  They don’t need no steenking license keys!

According to Hector Rodriguez, who is dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba’s University of Information Sciences, Cuban university computers have already converted to using various flavors of Linux.  Several government ministries have also made the switch — the remaining holdouts voicing concern over software compatibility.  Nevertheless, Rodriguez expects that within five years, half of all computers in Cuba will be running on Linux.

The unveiling of Nova comes only one year after Richard Stallman visited the previous conference to encourage open source adoption in the Communist island nation.  It also echoes Russia’s plan to build a nationwide operating system to replace Windows.

Will it be legal for US users to download Nova?  How different will it be from other Linux distros?  What’s the point of creating a whole new distribution instead of using existing, publicly available ones?  Does the Cuban government intend to retain control over what features it provides?

Hey wait, “No va” in Spanish means




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