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Re: [K12OSN] Letter to local schools - draft [ rationale ]
- From: Bill Kendrick <nbs sonic net>
- To: K-12 Open Source NOW <k12osn redhat com>
- Subject: Re: [K12OSN] Letter to local schools - draft [ rationale ]
- Date: Fri Oct 17 01:53:00 2003
I decided I'd follow-up to this to provide rationale for some of what I
wrote. ;^) I dunno, maybe I'm bored...
On Thu, Oct 16, 2003 at 10:34:46PM -0700, Bill Kendrick wrote:
> My name is Bill Kendrick, and I'm with the Linux Users' Group of
> Davis, a non-profit dedicated to the Linux computer operating system,
> and to 'Open Source' software in general.
Many in the community are familiar with LUGOD. At the very least, they
can see I'm not just some random nutcase. (I'm a _specific_ nutcase ;^) )
I also mention "Open Source ... in general" so that they, hopefully,
don't immediately jump to the conclusion:
"This is some Linux evangelist trying to make me throw away Windows"
Sure, in the long run, that's the goal. :^) But in the meantime, I want
everyone to know about great things like OpenOffice.org and Tux Paint,
which run on Windows and Mac, _too!_
> I'd like to bring to your
> attention a variety of software which you might find useful at your
> school. Best of all, it's free.
(Ugh, I hope that doesn't sound lame to everyone else ;^) )
> If you're not familiar with Open Source, then allow me to explain.
> What's commonly known as the 'Open Source' movement began over 20
> years ago, and was simply a formalization of the tradition of sharing
> information that computer programmers had been doing since the 1960s.
Happy birthday to GNU & GPL, if I'm doing my math (and Slashdot recollection)
correctly. Of course, RMS was just fighting change... that is, the increasing
proprietarity of software. Hence the 'tradition ... 1960s' bit.
I hope my dates are generally close enough. The idea is to instill the
notion that Open Source isn't some "newfangled doo-hickey", but is really
just the roots of the computer/hacker spirit...
> Software that is released under an Open Source license is available
> freely to everyone. The human-readable source-code behind the program
I've used the term "human-readable source-code" to describe 'source' so many
times that it comes out without me thinking. Do you folks think it makes
sense to lay-people? (I might be mailing principals of K-6 schools, and not
necessarily comp lab folks with IT backgrounds, remember!)
> is available, and this accessibility allows people to fix bugs, add
> features, and even create completely new software based on the
> existing code.
...just a summary of my bullets below...
> Open Source provides people with the ability to share ideas and work
> together freely. It's like the scientific method, which works well
> for physicists, doctors, and researchers. It's ideal for software
> creation too!
I forget exactly where I read the quote which I'm paraphrasing/hacking
here. (I actually quote it on my home page right now.) One thing the
original had in there was "It's not communism." :^) So, the quote was
kind of a rebuttal to non-believers.
I don't want to assume my reader had jumped to that stupid 'communism'
comparison to BEGIN with, so I left that part out. The rest of it sounds
great, though, no? I _love_ the "scientific method" comparison.
Something educators should find interesting. :^)
> In fact, Open Source software is being embraced by schools,
> governments, corporations, and individuals all over the world. The
> Internet itself has always been build on such open software, but today
> more Open Source software is being created for 'the average person,'
> including teachers and children.
Tried not to waste space with the words "servers" and "DNS/BIND" :^)
If they don't understand, they can ask. I just want them to get the jist...
> Along with cost, the Open Source model has a number of other
> advantages over commercial software:
> * Extensibility
> Authors of Open Source software are often amazed at the kinds of
> uses other people come up with for their work. Apple took an Open
> Source web browser and replaced Microsoft's Internet Explorer with it
> in their Mac OS X. IBM took the Linux operating system and made it
> run in a wrist-watch.
I think I read LinuxDevices.com too often. Other than the gas station
fuel pump running Linux, I couldn't think of much more here that could
fit in a few sentences. I'd love some suggestions. :^)
> When programmers get an 'itch,' they can easily
> 'scratch' it, without paying licensing fees or worrying about asking
> for permission.
Sadly, I repeat the "licensing fees" junk below. Again, help appreciated
> * Security
> Because the source is available for peer review, bugs and errors are
> found more easily. Open Source software has a very good track record
> for repairing problems quickly. (Even if the original creator of the
> software is unable or uninterested in fixing it, others are free to do
> so -- to the benefit of all of the users.)
I avoided doing my "Linux is like Pizza" analogy that I think I've
irritated my LUG members with. ;^)
> * Interoperability
> Open Source software does not just mean programs for Linux!
There! I said it! Loud and clear! ("does not" is in italics, even.)
For those with a VAGUE idea of what Linux & OSS are, I want to make sure
they don't think they are THE SAME.
> Countless Open Source programs are available for Windows,
> Mac, Unix, and other operating systems you've probably never heard of!
BeOS, SymbianOS, Amiga, BSD... :)
> They run on all sorts of hardware, from the ubiquitous
> Intel-compatible PCs to hand-held PDAs. And nobody likes software
> that won't work with other software; the Open Source movement is also
> about open file formats, which can be used anywhere without paying
> royalties or dealing with patents.
I didn't want to delve too much into this, but I wanted to mention
> * Control
> Open Source software, like Linux, can't be controlled by a single
> company. You are not at the mercy of a single vendor. There is no
> forced upgrading, and no pay-per-user licensing policy. Your school
> is freed from the obligation of tracking license certificates, and
> freed from the risk of audits for improperly licensed software. Open
> Source provides true free-market products -- an alternative to
I'm paraphrasing a friend's excellent description of Linux for a small
busiess some of us are putting together. (It's specifically in a
"Linux Advantages" section of the website and brochure.)
I'm /guessing/ permission will be granted for me to yank it like I did. ;)
> I'd be happy to sit down with you and tell you more, if you'd be
> interested. Feel free to contact me via e-mail at:
> bill newbreedsoftware com, or call me at home: (XXX) YYY-ZZZZ.
> I'm personally involved with a non-profit in Arizona,
"Tux4Kids", of course. (Hi Sam!)
> and have created of a number of educational Open Source programs for
Again, I wanted to be a /specific/ nut-case. :^)
> I'll be holding a handsn demonstration of one of them at the
> Davis Food Co-Op later this month (Sunday, October 26th from 11am to 3pm).
> I'd be more than happy to answer any questions then, as well.
Invitation to come visit me, to go along with my invitation to come visit
> For now, I'll leave you with a small list of some useful Open Source
> software that you can download today, and begin using on your
> computers tomorrow!
Unfortunately, my list could be better, I think. Though the size is
perfect... My letter comes out at exactly 2 pages (US Letter with .5" margins
on all sides) :^)
> Celestia http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
I have no direct experience with it. I've played with KStars and love it.
Sadly, I think KStars is NOT yet available for Windows. :^(
> OpenOffice.org http://www.openoffice.org/
Obviously got to mention it if I dedicate a 4-page (or 2-page, double-sided)
pamphlet to the thing! :^)
> Tux Paint http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/tuxpaint/
> Tux Typing http://tuxtype.sourceforge.net/
> Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.org/
The idea to throw this in came when I was using this very site to come up
with good ways to explain Open Source! :^) GNU FDL... perfect example of
Open Source _non_-software. :^)
>  England, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, India, Brazil, Israel, and the
> state of Massachusetts, to name a few.
>  IBM, Oracle, HP, Sharp, DreamWorks, Intel, AMD, Apple, Amazon, and
> Google all use the Linux Operating System, for example.
Good broad ranges in both cases, I think... Also, the first I could
rattle off the top of my head. :)
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