Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In praise of Cuba

I'm a long term Linux and FreeBSD user, haven't owned a Windows computer for years though I still use my old iMac for Photoshop. I was a bit disappointed when I first installed Ubuntu Linux on my workstation and laptop. Everything was picked up and installed correctly, everything works, including the bluetooth on my laptop. There was nothing to fiddle with at all. I had to do some actual work instead.

If you've never experienced the joys of virus, spyware and adware free computing, consider giving the Ubuntu LiveCD a whirl. Just boot from it and see what you think - no need to install it unless you're sold.

And no, this isn't some kind of blogger commercial post, I really mean it. If I couldn't just select a new application from a list of some 16,000 possibilities, set it installing over broadband and then just use it I'd feel crippled. I'd feel hamstrung without virtual desktops, proper networking tools, a meaningful firewall, full development environment and the ability to see beneath the hood when there's an issue - to actually know what's happening with my own computer.

That's why I applaud Cuba's decision to ditch Microsoft Windows and convert entirely to Linux.

Other countries have tried similar moves. China, Brazil and Norway have encouraged the development of Linux for a variety of reasons: Microsoft's near-monopoly over operating systems, the high cost of proprietary software and security problems.

Cuban officials, ever focused on U.S. threats, also see it as a matter of national security.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once described copyright reformers — including people who want to do away with proprietary software — as "some new modern-day sort of communists" — which is a badge of honor from the Cuban perspective.
That was a dumb thing for Gates to say - Linux and the BSDs just extend certain conventions of academia to the outside world. But there are actually very good reasons to hate Microsoft from the viewpoint of a free-marketeer. I'll outline them in a future post.

No comments: