Cuba and Open Source: A Touchy Subject
Last update: 02-21-2007
Submitted by Matt Hartley
(Column) – Unless you have been living under a rock in the media sense,
surely by now you have heard the news of Cuba embracing open source and
all that it has to offer. Unfortunately, much of the mainstream press is
likely to once again point to open source and claim that it is anti-free
enterprise, which could be a problem.
Education and Politics. In this day and age, I suppose these may seem
like hollow words in light of the growth of Cuban open source adoption.
But regardless, I remain hopeful that even the critics of this news will
understand that making software available to everyone is never a threat.
In fact, if anything, it's a great way to offer opportunity in a region
with very little otherwise.
At the same time, however, this is not a PR label that open source fans
within the US really are looking for, in my opinion, especially those
who run their businesses on open source software. Regardless, it has
happened and there is a lot of good that can come of this. After all,
seeing the spread of education via open source and Linux is always a
All About the Hardware. Even with Cuba working on a distribution of
their very own, because of hardware issues, there have been reports that
the overall migration is expected to be rather slow. Some believe this
is in part to having purchased PCs designed for Windows specifically,
something that we see here often in the US. Nevertheless, future
hardware purchases ought to be done from vendors that support Linux.
Based on Cuba's political affiliation and the existing US embargo, I
believe that China is perhaps the best bet for future PC imports.
Seriously, does it not stand to reason that buying hardware from vendors
that will support your OS as well as be willing to ship to you, would
make the most sense for Cuba at this point? I would certainly think so.
"Luke, Where's the Source?" Something else that I'm interested in is
whether or not Cuba will be releasing the actual source code of their
distribution in accordance with the spirit of current open source
licensing? Because all of this is so new at this point that I'm going to
give Cuba the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure that once this site gains
some traction, we will see their progress firsthand as they release
their source code for us to inspect.
Should Cuba be serious about embracing open source principles, it will
mean that their otherwise restrictive government policies will need to
take a backseat in order for Linux to truly catch fire in this
Can Cuba Remain Microsoft-Free? This is largely up to the powers that be
in this country. Even with their best and brightest working with others
from other regions in the world, government policy can be a hindering
force should software self-expression become too flamboyant. On the
opposite end, however, if Cuba teams up with other like minded
countries, we could see this adoption spread like wildfire.
The main thing to consider is that anytime a group is dealing with
migration to Linux, they are working around the same types of challenges
that the rest of us face all over the world: hardware, software
compatibility, and of course breaking old closed source habits.
To be brutally honest, I see China making stronger Linux inroads with
regard to adaptability as Cuba is still living very much in the past,
both by choice as well as via the US embargo. For this island country to
truly experience success with the migration to Linux will require the
government to be a little more lax with its restrictive control over how
programmers may wish to communicate with others outside of its borders.
After all, collaboration requires freedom and freedom is not an area
that Cuba has seen much of in a very long time.