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NovaDroid, the Operating System of the First Cuban Cell Phone

  • NovaDroid is the operating system that will accompany the first Cuban cell phone.

    NovaDroid is the operating system that will accompany the first Cuban cell phone. | Photo: Twitter/@JovenAvila

Published 7 June 2021

The Industrial Enterprise for Informatics, Communications and Electronics (Gedeme) recently announced the entry, almost at the final stage of development, of the first Cuban cell phone prototype, made with an architecture designed for the conditions of Cuba, and with software and systems developed by national institutions.

In the pilot phase, the 6,000 units of the "Cuban" cell phone will not be marketed with its own operating system.

However, for the second phase, it is expected that this cell phone will have a native operating system, NovaDroid, a project developed by the University of Informatics Sciences (UCI), built and customized from the source code (set of text lines expressed through a programming language) and focused on mobile devices, including this cell phone made in Cuba.


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Although the beginnings of NovaDroid date back to 2013, with the boom in Cuba of smartphones based on Android, eight years ago, a group of students, free software enthusiasts at the UCI, devoted hours to create an operating system that would serve as the basis for the migration to open standards in the country's institutions.

On the other hand, Nova (which includes NovaDroid) was a research project that evolved little by little, gained in organization, and went through different stages until it became the current UCI Free Software Center, Yurisbel Vega Ortiz, director of that institution, told Granma.

In this endeavor, it was also taken into account that Nova should be able to be executed in the greatest number of devices, due to the wide range of computer equipment existing in Cuban institutions, which include from very modern computers to some with more than a decade of use, she said.

Hence, she added, each version has three variants, bearing in mind their use: medium and high-end computers; older equipment; and environments in which telematic services are provided, such as web and mail servers, among other platforms.

Vega Ortiz stressed that the Nova project is committed to the country's sovereignty, independence, and technological security, an effort that is made sustainable through alliances with the Cuban electronics industry, the commercialization of migration services, and the UCI's training-production concept.

"What is NovaDroid, and how did it come about? Find out more about the operating system for smartphones that is under development at our university and will soon be available in terminals assembled in #Cuba."

It is also designed as "an operating system made by Cubans, and for Cubans, which focuses on the needs and technological conditions of the country and, at the same time, it is safe, because being open source, free of backdoors, increases the security levels of national institutions. It is these same characteristics that we have transferred to NovaDroid," said the Director of the UCI Free Software Center.

Initially, he pointed out, NovaDroid only focused on the customization of hardware model systems, but then began to work with Gedeme tablets and on the development of an operating system from the source code, that is, all the steps that the computer or equipment must follow for the correct execution of a specific program.

As a result of the UCI-Gedeme link, he said, 375,000 computers, 15,300 laptops, 36,700 tablets, 50 technological classrooms, 275 Nova as servers, and 95 Nova Unified servers have been assembled or created with NovaDroid or tools associated with this operating system.

Vega Ortiz pointed out that they have several significant challenges: the migration to free software of a broad sector of organizations and entities and the support processes these generate.

"There is also the possibility of incubating the Nova project in the Scientific and Technological Park of Havana, which will allow us to take steps in the relations with free software communities in the country and identify strategies to assimilate contributions from these essential groups.

"At the same time, we have to assimilate the challenges of the national industry because as a result of the UCI-Gedeme alliance, we will continue supplying our operating system for computers, laptops, tablets, and cell phones produced in the country," he said.

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