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Re: Getting people into Linux

Wade Hampton wrote:

Glad you are trying to get more to use Linux and OSS.  However, from
my perspective there are some serious issues that should be addressed
through education of the educators, parents, PTA, etc.

1) Many schools teach "keyboarding" which is little more than the use
of Windows and Word.  Often they don't even know of OpenOffice.  That
is their response to "typing" and "using computers"

That's a problem for the kids any way you look at it.

2) Many have tight budgets but can get enough for a few "state of the
art" computer centers often with Government grants or corporate grants
-- lots of shiny computers with shiny copies of Windows and shiny
copies of commercial educational software.  It really looks good to
the PTA.

Unless the grant comes with strings from Microsoft, that same
amount of money could drive at least 10x more desktops using
something like the k12ltsp distribution - and take much less
time to manage.

3) Schools often don't know of the tools available.  For example, my
son's H/S algebra teacher who has never used, or was not aware of
octave, gnuplot, etc.

Most of this comes included in the k12ltsp distribution - you don't
have to waste a lot of time finding it.

4) They don't have the staff that are capable of supporting Apple,
Windows, and Linux.  They can barely support Apple and Windows.

Do they measure where this time goes?  I'll bet the big time wasters
are virus protection and recovery on the Windows boxes and license
tracking for all the proprietary software.  Use Linux with network
booting thin clients on the desktops and eliminate all of that - and
save enough money to hire an extra person to work with the students.

5) Windows can play mp3 audio files, generate videos, comes with Word,
Excel, and Powerpoint,

"Comes with"????  Now there's a misconception that you might be able
to straighten out.

 and comes with IE, a browser that is supported
by most sites (at least this is what it APPEARS like).

Firefox is popular enough these days that it is clear where the
problem lies with IE-only sites.  And if it isn't illegal for
government funded agencies to be tie anything to a single vendor
instead of following standards, it should be.

Other concerns
are secondary (like security, flexibility, openness, etc.).

6) Most parents use Windows at home and that is what is on their
computer so they can help little Johnny with it at home but they don't
know what this lin-ucks stuff is.

You can run OpenOffice on windows, and you can give away CD's with
it to anyone who has a problem getting their own.  Can you provide
that kind of equal access to Microsoft products for home use?

Some of us have no choice in the
matter, for example, I have to use XP for a legacy Canon printer
(hence one computer is mainly Windows, the one my oldest son uses most
of the time).

In most cases you use the OS to load and run the application you
want.  If you already have/need Windows, fine - run the app there.
The real issue is when a proprietary application becomes the only
way to access your own data and it is even worse if that app only
runs under one OS.  Educators should be teaching about this problem
and how to avoid it, not letting their resources be used to promote
a single vendor's view and trap content that should rightfully be
your own.

AFIK, Schools used to get Apple machines (my H/S was one of the first
in the country as the then-president of Apple had a brother that
graduated there).  Now they get whatever they can, often via grants or
state programs.  Those programs try to get the "best" educational
software they can find, but from their perspective, it nearly always
means Windows....

There are success stories:
The k12ltsp site seems to be having problems right now - I think they
are changing from one wiki to another among other things, but when
they come back, look around at http://www.k12ltsp.org/mediawiki/.

  Les Mikesell
   lesmikesell gmail com

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