Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cuba is set to move to Linux in 2011

English.news.cn 2010-12-29 16:44:16

HAVANA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cuba has set a strategic goal in 2011 to migrate most of its computers to open-source software, a move designed to strengthen the country's technological security and sovereignty.

Once the migration is fully implemented on the ground, the Cuban Nova Linux will be the operating system used in 90 percent of all working places, and Microsoft Office will be replaced by Open Office in all government institutions, Vice Minister of Information and Telecommunications Boris Moreno told Xinhua Tuesday.

The authorities also set a similar goal to replace Internet Explorer with Firefox, he added.

Moreno, responsible for managing the entire migration project, said besides saving money, the process would enhance Cuba's sovereignty in the field of technology.

"In 2010, Cuba made significant progress in migrating all its ministries and institutions to open source software," Moreno said.

Although the IT infrastructure of the country has not been entirely migrated, Cuban's General Customs of the Republic has completed the transition, becoming the first sector embracing free self-developed software.

The ministries of Education, Culture, Health, and Information and Communications are also considering following suit, the deputy minister said.

Cuba is ready to begin the distribution of open source operating system Nova Linux, which is being updated from the Ubuntu software, one of the most popular international distributions in the world, Moreno said.

The project headed by the University of Las Villas involves experts from the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA).

"Conditions are being set so that computers assembled in the country can be distributed with two operating systems. The new computers will be installed with Cuban Nova Linux (operating system) and Windows," Moreno said.

While the nation-wide migration to free software is well underway in government agencies, it is much more difficult to convince end users to shift to the open-source software, he said.

"The most difficult part of the migration campaign is to convince the end users, because Cuba has a strong tradition of using Microsoft Windows. Besides, resistance to change is a human nature," Moreno added .

In that regard, the Ministry of Information and Communications has created a Disclosure Committee aimed at developing a strategy to promote the use of open source software.

"The goal is to promote the culture of migration to open-source software among information technology professionals and the general public," Moreno said.

He added that the committee would also focus on raising public awareness of the importance of migration as a vital element to beef up technological security and sovereignty.

The Youth Clubs of Computing and Electronics (JC), an institution founded by Fidel Castro in 1987 to promote computer education in the country, has played an important role in the migration.

"The JC will remove Microsoft Office from its teaching courses and will gradually replace it with Open Office," Moreno said.

"To meet these objectives we must meet certain requirements for a legal point of view," he said, adding that it would not be an easy task as there were different types of licenses for various applications.

"We need professionals in the country who can advise all organizations on how to address the issue of migration to open source software from the legal point of view," concluded the vice minister.

The drive to migrate to open source software and to develop computer and telecommunication technology by Cuba itself is included in a program aimed at updating the nation's economic model in an effort to address the economic crisis.

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JG: Way to go Cuba!

I have been using Ubuntu Linux for close to two years now. It is much better than the overpriced and buggy OS that Bill Gates peddles. And being a retired programmer, I can change anything in the software that I don't like, without a license that has as its sole purpose the maintenance of software monopolies.

In the web browser arena, I am extremely impressed with the Opera browser, but I continue to use Firefox so I can have the 'No-Script' plugin, something that Opera does not have yet.

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