Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — This past Saturday, April 25, Havana’s Central Computer Club (Palacio Central de Computacion) hosted the Latin American Freeware Festival (FLISOL), which saw the participation of hundreds of people who opt to use operating systems such as Ubuntu’s Linux Mint edition and a whole “array” of similar repositories and applications. Admission was free of charge and the venue was open to everyone.
The festival placed emphasis on a broad range of programs linked to the use of the Internet navigation platform Firefox, particularly those destined to Android smart-phone systems, Open Office (now compatible with both Windows and Linux), Debian and Lubuntu. All of these programs were available in the dozens of computers set up in the spacious hall of what was once Sears’ flagship branch in the Cuban capital.
One of the special offers made at FLISOL this year was a DVD with a bootable or installable version of Linux Mint, given to those who wish to try their luck with this operating system that competes with the Windows monopoly.
Some participants (particularly the young) agreed to offer some comments:
“I’ve been using Linux for several years. It’s more stable and less vulnerable to viruses, offering greater protection against use by others, including my own kids. Also, I don’t need drivers or any other commercial packages to carry out all of the basic tasks you can do with a computer.”
“Freeware is hard to contaminate. You just need to get used to it, take the first step, step out of the box. At any rate, it is still compatible with the applications produced by Microsoft and other world monopolies.”
Hosted by Cuba’s Joven Club (Computer Clubs), the festival was co-sponsored by the Free Technologies User Grup (GULT) and Cuba’s Mozilla Community. These also organized a series of short lectures where Cuban experts spoke of different problems and their solutions, based on computer programs developed in the country.
Many were surprised to hear of the festival. On talking about it outside the venue this Saturday, several interested people complained of the little publicity given the gathering. The administrator of a busy navigation room said: “We didn’t hear about it beforehand. I am grateful for the opportunity of copying what others, who luckily found out about the festival on time, were able to get their hands on, through this valuable gathering that is out of the ordinary.”
The Latin American Freeware Festival held in Cuba certainly saw plenty of sharing among those present, ready to lend a hand to the less experienced or informed. For a few hours at least, the spirit of freedom, faith in the future and friendship devoid of discrimination – the same spirit that originally led to Cuba’s Computer Clubs – blossomed at the festival.
Vicente Morín Aguado: email@example.com