Cuba’s government is to migrate its desktop computers to open source, as it distances itself from the US software giant, Microsoft.

Several ministers of the communist regime backed the move at a technology conference last week, where communications minister Ramiro Valdes gave a pro-open source keynote.

Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation head, also warned the conference of the inherent insecurity of commercially developed software.

A Cuban academic, Hector Rodriguez, who is supporting the move by leading a development programme in one of Cuba’s largest universities, was quoted by the Associated Press as supporting the move, but refused to give any indication as to how long the migration to Linux would take other than to say it would be a tough job to complete within three years.

Cuba's customs service has already migrated to Linux, while the ministries of culture, higher education and communications are planning to do so, Rodriguez told the conference.

The decision sees Cuba joins the ranks of other governments, including Venezuela, China, Brazil and Norway, considering migrations from Windows to open source. Many city administrations also use Linux, with European programmes underway in Bristol, Amsterdam and Munich.