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Cuba Launches Own Linux Variation 494

willclem writes "According to Reuters, it seems that Cuba has launched its own variation of Linux in order to fulfill its government's desire to replace Microsoft operating systems. 'Getting greater control over the informatic process is an important issue,' said Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes, who heads a commission pushing Cuba's migration to free software."
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Cuba Launches Own Linux Variation

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  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:31AM (#26823249)
    Seeing as you have to go through great hoops, (most of them not legal), to get anything Cuban around here, how is the Cuban government running american products? I suppose they purchased from south american, european or asian retailers, but one has to wonder, how many legit copies of windows are in Cuba? Can Microsoft go in to sue the Cuban government about illegal copies? What jurisdiction would Microsoft have to keep Cuba from enjoying their cracked copies until communism dies?
  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:42AM (#26823319)

    Somehow I have a hard time picturing penguins in Cuba.

    I don't. [wikipedia.org]

  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:47AM (#26823359) Journal
    While I support adoption of open source, I am starting to get worries that it will get strongly labeled as Communist/Socialist.. now that China,Russia,and Cuba have all officially adopted it. Do you actually think that America would join them, even if it is in America's best interest?

    It is kind of sad.

  • by setagllib ( 753300 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:53AM (#26823397)

    Yes, in stark contrast to the politically flawless United States, having no record of any government involvement with production of open source or proprietary software. Pleeeeeaaaaassssssssseeeee.

  • The big deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moniker127 ( 1290002 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:58AM (#26823441)
    I dont see the big deal here. Governments would love to have direct control of operating systems, so that they can place undocumented "features" inside them. Even if they release the source code (which I suppose they have to, theoretically), 99.99% of the users who will be employing their distro will not be able to understand what source code even is, or how to interpret it.
    Well, I guess there are still people (the people who are reading this message) who will be able to report any backdoors/home phoning they notice placed into the source, but that will only make a difference provided:
    1- Cuba releases the source
    2- The distro is popular enough to have people using it
    3- People carefully examine the source code
    4- Said examiners are able to spot a problem
    5- Said problem is heard by the end users of the distro
    6- End users of the distro have options as to what operating system they are able to use, if it is mandated by the government, they pretty much have to live with it.
  • Fidel Penguin? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jtara ( 133429 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:58AM (#26823443)

    I'd love to see the logo be an image of Fidel dressed-up as a penguin.

    I'm pretty sure the guy has a sense of humor. When I was a kid, I was a "shortwave listener" (before I got my ham license) and sent of to Radio Havana (among others) for a "QSL" card, confirming that I had heard their station.

    Besides the card, I got other periodic mailings, including a Christmxxxx New Year card one year, bearing the cartoon likeness of Fidel Castro, laid-out on the dining-room table as a pig, complete with an apple in his mouth. I kid you not. I'll bet he had a big laugh.

    Wish I still had it - could probably sell it for a bundle on eBay!

    (Other "interesting" material I received included a copy of the Little Red Book from Radio Peking, and a subscription to China Pictorial - a beautifully-printed bled-to-edge full color magazine with gorgeous pictures of fields and tractors...)

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:02AM (#26823461) Journal
    There market is about to shrink in a BIG way. If they were smart, they would jump on a couple of distros of linux and make sure that they are the standards. Adobe, Intuit, AutoCad all have programs that are in demand. If they port to this, they can quit having to compete against MS on MS's turf. More importantly, they would get a WHOLE NEW market with minimal competition.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:20AM (#26823547) Journal

    I said something similar [slashdot.org] regarding the Russian decision to use Linux. It wasn't received too well. I think that this sort of event truly does mean trouble for MS and proprietary software in a rather large way.

    I think that it is more likely that F/OSS developers will beat large proprietary vendors to the punch though. There will be a new market for proprietary Linux software though. When Adobe does port to Linux it doesn't have to be Free or Open Source to run on Linux, but it will be hard to sell software to people that are happy to use the F/OSS alternatives.

    It should be interesting times.

  • Nova, eh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by photomonkey ( 987563 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:32AM (#26823621)

    Chevy had some trouble in Mexico and South America with it's 'Nova,' because the name is a play on no va, or it doesn't go.

    Funny that Cuba would pick such a name for their new OS.

  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:32AM (#26823623)

    Why did this post get labeled troll? Honestly? The US has admitted to sneaking code into valve controllers made by a company that the US knew that the russians were discreetely and secretly buying, that would cause them to go wonky when certain circumstances happened, leading to a huge explosion on one of their main siberian gas pipelines. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1455559/CIA-plot-led-to-huge-blast-in-Siberian-gas-pipeline.html [telegraph.co.uk] Why would it be different for cuba?

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:34AM (#26823631) Journal
    You are Right. You have red flag in China; The new one in Russia; Various South American states are talking about doing more. Funny thing is, NOW is the time to fire up new apps on Linux. The other companies like Adobe, Intuit, etc are NOT there. A start-up can make a killing by not having commercial competition. As to FOSS beating them to the punch, FOSS works GREAT for OSs and MAJOR apps. But when you have SPECIALIZED apps, like say design a deck for a house, or design your yard, etc. than Commercial really shines; Service, Market or Trade Data, etc. I would not be surprised to see a number of new start up companies around the world taking on these companies because they have the Windows system locked up. That is how it happened on the move from mainframe to DOS and then Windows. The companies that had the mainframe locked up did not move until new and better competition came along.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:40AM (#26823667) Homepage Journal

    Gah. Are you retarded or what? The whole fucking point of the article is that the Cuban government wants to be able to look for back doors in the software. They're not relying on the open source community being "more aware and quicker to patch said vulnerabilities", at all. This is simply a case of Cubans saying "why are we running software we can't even inspect?"

  • by Ian Alexander ( 997430 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:19AM (#26823847)
    Hey, Americans are dumb (and really, the only place where being "socialist" is something you have to worry about really would be the US). Many probably still associate Russia with communism, even though it was socialist when it was Soviet and hasn't been Soviet for ~20ish years now.
  • by JoeZ99 ( 999617 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:20AM (#26823851) Homepage
    I've been living in cuba for the last 6 years. I've been using linux since the slackware 100 diskettes era (about 12 years ago).
    • cuba is absolutely windows friendly. everybody in everywhere uses windows. The goverment itself announced a few years ago it was going to migrate to linux. So far nothing yet.
    • cuba works around the embargo thing by means of massive pirate copies (I'm perfectly OK with that).
    • it's a usual thing to announce something with great fireworks that ends up in nothing, so I would have not so many expectations on this .
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:54AM (#26824355)

    I know people who grew up in Eastern Europe. They had home computers, mostly C64s and the like imported at vast expense from the West. Apparently in Russia a few people had cloned machines, mostly from designs from Sinclair in the UK.

    On the other hand I met someone who worked in a chip factory in East Germany. Everyone knew what they were doing was very far behind the west. In fact there was a joke that the first 1Mhz processor in the Eastern Bloc would fly in on a cruise missile.

    This page reckons that the Soviet Block was 10-12 years behind the West at chip production.

    http://www.cpushack.net/soviet-cpus.html [cpushack.net]

    There were also CoCom [wikipedia.org] restrictions on selling technology. You can see how this worked with this example

    http://www.canberra.edu.au/~scott/C=Hacking/C-Hacking13/os.html [canberra.edu.au]

    Bootstrapping was the first major problem. How do you start a new computer and debug its OS if don't have an OS on the computer? From earlier systems I already had a small monitor program - directly burned into an EPROM - able to load binaries through a serial line. Getting the MMU (74ls610) was the second problem, because it was on the CoCom list, and it was not allowed to export to eastern countries. (Although I don't live in an eastern country, this posed some difficulties...)

    So if you were an Eastern Block engineer you'd have to get someone to buy this MMU on the black market somehow which cost precious hard currency. Or you could get some local factory to make a clone. Obviously either are harder than buying it from a mailorder shop.

    My guess is that the Cubans set up a front company and buy PCs somewhere in the West and then probably pirate the software.

  • by Cymurgh ( 1462447 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @04:12AM (#26824459)

    The point here is not really about socialism or communism, but about countries that are neither free nor open embracing software that is.

    (Imagine explaining 'Free as in speech, not free as in beer' in Cuba or China. Or Russia, for that matter, with its open season on investigative journalists.)

    People strongly committed to the idea that there is some kind of intrinsic link between FOSS and political freedom might want to chew this over.

  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @07:38AM (#26825585) Homepage

    One thing I am concerned about is that Linux is a moving target. Will an app developed today work on a distro 10 years from now, without having to rewrite it to match the modern libraries?

    The good thing it that nothing will stop distro-makers from packaging several libraries or several generations of them.

    In fact most installed Linux around have both QT and GTK2 installed, because these are use by lot of software. As a similar example, during the KDE3-4 transition you're bound to find both QT3 and QT4 installed on lots of machines. Up until recently you had GTK1 and GTK2 installed together because lots of legacy application didn't make the move.

    Also if some legacy interface is *that much* popular, newer version will include wrapper code :
    - pulse-audio has lot of interface plugins to communicate with applications targeting only ALSA or ESD or ARTSD.
    - latest GTK2 version has a GTK1 wrapper for legacy applications
    - etc.

    So even if Linux is a moving target, its modularity gives you a lot of room for maneuvering.

    (Even if I personally think that, once in a while, restarting a project a fresh and including latest input between the original version and now isn't bad. As long as you make your users aware that the new version won't be as good as the old one for the first duration. cf. KDE3 vs KDE4).

    The only point where Linux is a moving target is when writting driver code, because you can only have 1 single kernel to target and thus only 1 single API (mostly). For example, you can't (easily) mix 1.x, 2.x and 2.6 driver models.

    But that's not what most applications developpers have to worry about.

  • by analyst-cz ( 1386075 ) <analyst@centrum.cz> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @08:15AM (#26825807)
    I am from the Czech republic, the country (and me myself) less than 20 years ago under the communistic Russia occupation. Reading other comments to this I have to protest:
    1) The respective comment writers did evidently never experience living in the totalitarian communistic society.
    2) Russia and communists were allways and are still exploiting the worse and lowest human feelings and motives.
    3) They are skilled in using the propaganda based on that any points of view, that people living in the democracy can believe (or even imagine), are terribly improper when applied to the totalitary ruled society and its rulers acts. I ensure you from my own experience, that applying democratic rights to the totalitarian rulers is just supporting of the evil, believe it or not.
    4) Many crisis in the past (Cuban one being just the one most sound to the West) shows, that any single concession to the Russian threats just leads to making them more and more aggressive and expansive, while they never fullfilled their threats face to face someone, who simply said "I will no way retreat, so do what you intend to." (Again, Cuban crisis is just one of such events. It is not occasional, that destruction of USSR and Warsaw pact (what was really the big world's peace threat) began after Ronald Reagan's ruling, many years told to be the one who's non-compromising will launch the WW III.)

    So conclusions:
    1) Please do not let to get foxed by democratic retoric of rulers, who have no connection to democracy at all (as in Berliner crisis, Vietnam and Corean war you did (I am not accusing, just commenting), what lead to literary milions of deaths in our countires).
    2) Do never step back before Russian threats, as in fact only showing the weakness is what can lead them to some aggressive and destructive actions, not showing the morale and strength. Take this as the long history (longer then just the last century) approved fact.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @09:30AM (#26826339) Journal
    The only reason people think Linux isn't big is that it isn't big on the desktop. Exactly. That is why MS fears Linux, not Apple. Apple has a chunk of desktop and a big lead in mp3 players and very small lead in SINGLE phone (and shrinking). They are pretty much locked in because they are just an appliance group. Linux is an OS that others can play and sell with.
    But Linux on the desktop is about to take off. And when it does, all the other types of areas (servers, large embedded, small embedded, even hard real times), will expand greatly as the world learns about little bitty tux.
  • by isilrion ( 814117 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:22PM (#26829787)


    Purchased copies: almost zero. Legit copies: exactly zero, tanking into account that Microsoft's EULAs explicitly forbid their use in Cuba. I'm yet to see an official (or unofficial, for that matter) Cuban facility where copyrights are respected. Even the TV shows and movies of our national TV channels come from there.

    I'm a Cuban Free Software advocate, and that is the single reason why the migration path has been so hard in this country. Btw, in some instances, not even the GPL was respected. I know some members of the Nova team (the Cuban distro mentioned on the article - not the only one, btw), and they had to fight a lot to get permission from they university to publish Nova as free software... and they belong to the "free software faculty" of their university.

    (In my opinion, in some cases, our disregard for foreign copyrights, specially American copyrights, would be the right thing to do... if it were done consistently and publicly.)

  • by oogoliegoogolie ( 635356 ) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:24PM (#26829831)

    The embargo affects more than just the US.
    Foreign companies that do business in Cuba are forbidden to do business in the U.S.
    Any ship carrying goods to Cuba cannot dock in a U.S. controlled port for a period of something like 6 months.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982