The Early Days of a Better Nation

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dot Communism

Cuba opts for Linux. (Via).


One suspects cost as the main reason, rather than ideology. With the widespread adoption of Linux in poorer countries, I hope someone will take on the usability problems.

There's actually quite a bit on free software on that site, at least in Spanish; my girlfriend says that the revolutionary rhetoric was removed from the English version. I am bemused to note that Cuba has declared "National Free Software Day".

...well, of course. Cuba's just taking advantage of the, er, free market, bwahaha, like so many other not-so-poor countries and global organizations, including the German goverment and Paris. But, yeah, it's even more of a help to poor countries. The best current distro, Ubuntu, was founded with getting Linux out to Africans in mind.

> I hope someone will take on the usability problems.

Randolph, Ubuntu Linux is way ahead of you, and meanwhile Vista's security system really is designed to be torture. Those two things are which is probably a big part of why Linux is picking up alot of business these days. And Vista's still buggy and insecure.

Ubuntu includes cool technology that lets you try it without installing it, called LiveCD. If you cut an Ubuntu CD using an image from, you can reboot into it and go into a live mode where you can check it out without installing. Many, though of course not all, feel Windows Install is troublesome and buggy enough that that Linux has passed it in ease of installation.


All the "free software is superior [only no-one will use it]" rhetoric is starting to remind me of the old Soviet "our technology is superior [when it works]" rhetoric. I used to believe it, but it simply hasn't worked out that way, and it's been decades. So far as I can tell, the free software projects that are successful in the long term are supported by grants: most obviously, Google supports Mozilla (and thereby keeps Microsoft from locking Google out of web apps), but I can't think of any major free software project that hasn't enjoyed a lot of support from businesses or academia.

RE, I think your article overstates its case. That said, software development is not an industrial process. Since it's not, it would be surprising if capitalism were the best way of organizing its economics. As in the early days of industrialism we are casting about for economic models.

My girlfriend has offered a rough translation of the Spanish, with rhetoric. I'll make some time to smooth it out & post it later.

Sorry, Rennie, but the marxist has it all wrong, of course. For one thing, big companies, including Novell and IBM are making big buxx off Linux, so it's hardly anticapitalistic or unused; even Microsoft has, fortunately for Internet performance, adopted a derivative of Internet software developed at Berkeley and released under an early Open Source license.

On the other side, if you actually read Das Kapital, you can see in black in white that it's not just the Soviets who wanted to take away freedom. Marx prescribed that the replacement system all be one Microsoft-like big bureaucracy down to the worker - regimentation rather than freedom. And we'd all have to use StateOS, no matter if it was even worse than Windows.

No, really what Open Source is about is extending advantages of open research to software, an engineering realm, a thing made practical by its ease of copying.

Better organizations than capitalism could exist, but, of course, we don't know what they are yet. Capitalism's existed for millenia, even for engineering in particular. I wouldn't get my hopes up too high of a replacement without some other major changes, ala our host's plausible nano-communism and superintelligence-based big-scale planning, or Stross' posthuman capitalism.


Jon, seeing as you've actually read Das Kapital (or Capital, as most English-speaking readers prefer to call it), maybe you could cite where it advocates - in black and white, no less! - as a replacement system one big bureaucracy with worker regimentation?

Just asking.

Ken, but Marx and Engels talk about nationalization in the Communist Manifesto, no? This surely requires an extensive state apparatus. Or did M&E not think so?

I do have the translation here. We were bemused to discover that the Diario de la Juventud Cubana (Young Cuba Daily) substantially edited the Spanish between the time we downloaded it first and the time we checked the translation. The original is (I am told) formal and difficult Spanish, and it has been left rough to give some sense of the original. In any event, here it is:

Migration to Linux guarantees technological independence
Cienfuegos, Cuba.
By: Julio Martínez Molina
From Diario de la Juventud Cubana
11 November 2008 02:02:33 GMT

(summary) The goals of the “Festival de Software Libre del Programa” (Free Software Festival) of the “Joven Club de Computación” (Youth Club for Computing) in this central province of Cuba was to help promote the knowledge and dissemination of this operating system.

Among the principle advantages of the Linux operating system is the technological independence it brings, as well as the security and reliability that can be obtained by adopting it.

The final conclusion of the Free Software Festival from the program of the Youth Club for Computation that was held here is how many gains must be made in the visibility of the Linux operating system, as it is mostly unknown.

The event, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution and confirmed that the youth of Cuba will be always faithful to it, was held in Cienfuegos as a prize for their sustained advance in the material over the past years, which has allowed various enterprises and institutions to migrate towards Linux.

During the festival various conferences were held on the principles of distributions, tools, and advantages of said system, which is characterized by its flexibility, and that each entity can take the kernel to make their own version of the operating system.

Dania Pérez Antero, director of the Palace of Computation of Cienfuegos explained to JR [Young Cuba Daily] that the event reinforced the existing knowledge around the subject.

The president of the Free Software Group of Cienfuegos, Alexei Seisdedo [six-finger!], explained that the principle advantages of using this system are the technological independence that it brings as well as a degree of security and trustworthiness that may be achieved by implementing it.

He added that the number of organizations that decide to migrate toward Linux is growing, and mentioned some within the Cienfuegos region: ETESCA, Popular Assembly of Aguada, Youth Club of Cumanayagua and Cuanao, Polytechnic Institute of the Information Sciences Jose Gregorio Martinez, and the University Rafael Rodriquez, among others.

The proponents underlined that to use Linux was, above all, to facilitate the de-colonization of the technological plane.

randolph, I didn't ask Jon about the transitional measures listed in the Communist Manifesto, with which I'm acquainted. Jon specifically mentioned Capital, and it's a cite from that that I'm asking for.

Marx's ideas of the transition around the time he wrote Capital can be found in The Civil War in France.

Since I bought a Linux computer in an English toyshop, a few weeks ago, I think I can reasonably dispute claims that Linux is either hard to use or somehow non-commercial.

Given the US Government's attitude to trade with Cuba, it would surprise me more if Windows was being widely used.

Ken, thanks.

Zhochaka, oh, I'm sure you can dispute it, and dispute it, and dispute it...but you can't actually get a majority of people use the system in their day-to-day lives. The offices that do use Linux do so by executive fiat. Maybe in a few years the UI work that Canonical is doing--they announced plans to hire a design team last September--will bear fruit, but it's going to be a long haul. I think it's actually more likely that Google's Android, and other ubiquitous computing technologies, will overtake all the operating systems. The reality is that computers are no longer rare and expensive, and the "make-the-system-on-your-desktop-do-everything" (or in my backpack--sometimes I feel like a tinker) approach to OS design no longer makes a lot of sense.

As to trade, if MS thought it was worth doing business with Cuba, I'm sure they'd find a way. I have great faith in the influence of that much money!

I can just imagine Mr Gates III holding up the (paper) article, waving it about, and sputtering like "Eros" the alien in "Plan 9 from Outer Space", 'Yuh see? yuh SEE?!! Your, stupid, minds.... Stupid! Stupid!'

(Next: Eros explains that our Sun is like a tin of gasoline, and Ted Stevens pops up to tell you about the Tubes throughout which it flows.)

So they've decided to be technologically colonised by an alliance of Finland, France and San Francisco? Could be worse.

randolph, I've never worked in an MS-Office-using office that did not do so by executive fiat, so I'm not sure what you mean by saying that about LInux. *All* offices standardise on software by executive fiat; the libertarian status quo ante is for there to be no standard, and multiple systems.

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