"VIVA LA REVOLUCION" has long been a rallying cry for tiny Cuba, valiantly standing up to its giant US neighbor for the past 50 years, but it would appear the call now applies to the island's software usage too.
Cuba plans to launch its own computer revolution, using homegrown Linux-flavoured 'Nova' to overthrow the entrenched Microsoft software hegemony.
The open sauced Nova software was lapped up by bearded, scruffy-looking intellectuals at a recent Havana computer conference on 'technological sovereignty'.
Paranoid (or should that be 'perceptive'?) Cubans reckon the big, bad US government is still out to get them and is using Microsoft software to spy on them. Cigar-smoking Cuban officiados say the CIA and other shady characters hailing from various US security agencies, could tap into Microsoft codes and cause McCarthyist mischief for the communist state... something most Cubans aren't keen on.
Hector Rodriguez, dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba's University of Information Sciences says approximately 20 per cent of Cuba's computers already sport Linux.
The Cuban public was only officially able to start buying PCs last year after longtime ruler, Fidel Castro, handed the reigns over to his brother Raul who promptly ordered toasters, microwaves and other electronic goodies for all.
But despite the lifting of the ban, the continuing US embargo doesn't make it at all easy for Cubanos to get their hands on a computer, or for the legal software to go with it for that matter. Much of the Volish software installed on Cuban PCs is pirated, but that doesn't allay suspicions.
"I would like to think that in five years our country will have more than 50 per cent migrated [to Linux]," noted Rodriguez, who explained this might be difficult as some organisations were resisting the move over application compatibility concerns.
Openly saucy Cuban Nova bundles various applications into its operating system and, of course, it's free, which Rodriguez admits better suits Cuba's world view.
It better suits Cubans' very thin wallets too, we imagine. µ
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