[K12OSN] School board not interested in OSS

Brian Fristensky bfristen at shaw.ca
Mon Nov 10 22:53:46 UTC 2008

On Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 7:12 AM, Rob Owens
<rob.owens at biochemfluidics.com> wrote:
 > > Jason Yeoman wrote:
 >> >> Here in Ontario the Ministry of Education purchases licenses for
 >> >> software and provides it at no cost for the schools.  There is no real
 >> >> incentive to look towards OSS.

The problem is not limited to K-12, but exists in universities as well.  The 
administration gets a bulk deal on MS products, and then pretends to provide 
them free to the entire campus. They think it's normal to throw computers
into the trash on a four year obsolescence cycle. There never seems to be
enough money for research and teaching, but there is always enough money to
buy commercial software and replace perfectly good computers.

This is especially ironic at the University of Manitoba, where I teach.
Our central Unix system is the finest I have seen at any university anywhere.
The system is professionally managed and software is kept up to date.
I have a SunRay thin client on my desk which gives me the full power of
the clustered Unix servers, RAID backup, performance and availability.
I do my heavy numbercrunching for research, as well as preparing lecture
notes and presentations, all on a single Unix desktop, using what is now
a 6-year old thin client.

Thin clients could easily replace 99% of the PCs on campus, cutting the
cost and eliminating the need for sysadmins to spend their days roaming
from on PC to another, trying to figure out what each user did to their
machine. Or deleting viruses.

But, when it comes to computers, people are very very afraid to try
anything new. There also seems to be a fear that if students work on a
day to day basis with something other than Windows, they will not be
able to function in the "real" world. My own experience in teaching
scientific computing at the university level is that Windows is where
people tend to pick up their bad habits in the first place. A student
trained on a Unix/Linux platform will probably end up being a better
Windows user.

Brian Fristensky
971 Somerville Avenue
Winnipeg MB R3T 1B4 CANADA
bfristen at shaw.ca

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