[K12OSN] Best approach to calm the school's administration about Linux?

Christopher K. Johnson ckjohnson at gwi.net
Sat May 29 12:30:26 UTC 2004

Terrell Prude', Jr. wrote:

> Even if they're businessfolks, don't expect a straight business case 
> to work with them.  I've seen plenty of "businesspeople" that, once 
> they're in a school board or administration, become instant 
> politicians.  I would take the approach that "not only will it cost 
> you all this money to rip out a perfectly working system, but now 
> you'll take the school down with viruses.  Thus, you'll end up denying 
> children access to computer resources, when they're not denied that 
> with the current system."
> Also, raise the spectre of potential lawsuits due to the use of 
> proprietary formats.  There are statutes on the books of some 
> jurisdictions that say "thou shalt use an open standard" so as to not 
> favor one vendor over another.  OpenOffice.org's file formats, as well 
> as those of the GIMP, Mozilla Mail/Thunderbird, KMail, TuxType, Dia, 
> and anything else that's Free Software, are wide-open.  Microsoft 
> Office's, Adobe Photoshop's, and Visio's, to name just a few, are not.
> Basically, I'd take the strategy of painting a "gloom and doom" 
> picture if they pull out your system and a "bed of roses" picture if 
> they continue further deploying your system more.  It's a political 
> head game; they're afraid of "looking bad" in front of someone 
> important and especially in front of each other.
> --TP

Be careful how you paint the gloom and doom or they will not believe 
it.  First you need to point out that the school does not have the same 
resources as businesses do, and that there is a significant software 
cost and labor cost to protect and disinfect and keep security fixes 
current on windows systems, which you do not have now.  Hence the lost 
time, outages, etc. if you convert.

I doubt that the lawsuits issue is real for a Christian school because 
it is not public.  But I would point out that OpenOffice and Mozilla are 
widely used even on Windows, and that students in other schools have no 
problems switching between those and the Microsoft Office and IE.  So 
students are well prepared to use office and browser applications with 
what you currently have.  Then point out the significant cost savings 
you realize with Linux, OpenOffice and Mozilla vs. Windows and MS Office 
Pro, and the savings for Gimp vs. Photoshop.  The net result is that you 
can provide software for more computers, and more software applications 
on each computer, and less cost keeping all of that in working order 
with Linux than you can with Windows.

Lastly I would point out that there are more Linux desktops installed 
than there are Apple desktops, and business use of Linux is growing 
rapidly.  See 
for example.  Public sector use of Linux is growing too, both 
domestically and abroad (such as the whole city government of Munich, 
Germany).  So when it comes to familiarity with Linux and open source 
software your students will have skills that are in demand.

   "Spend less!  Do more!  Go Open Source..." -- Dirigo.net
   Chris Johnson, RHCE #807000448202021

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