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Author Topic: How to Sell Linux to Schools  (Read 4897 times)

Paul Keith

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How to Sell Linux to Schools
« on: June 01, 2010, 12:19:33 AM »
Source: http://linuxandall.w...x-to-schools-part-2/

Table of Contents

Quote
What would be the Incentive?

How Cost Effective would it be?

How quickly could new users Adapt?

What Software would be pre-installed?

What Distro would be used?
« Last Edit: June 01, 2010, 12:45:28 AM by Paul Keith »

mouser

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2010, 12:30:56 AM »
Paul,

when you cut and paste so much of a linked article i find it just makes it hard for me to tell what's going on and if you are adding your own comments, etc.

when linking to an off-site article, i think the best thing is quote one paragraph and then give the link to the original -- let people read the text on the original site -- no need to copy and paste so much.


Paul Keith

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 12:46:39 AM »
Ok, I've modified the topic.

I guess I just find it more annoying to click an extra link and then be disappointed that the individual sections don't hold up to the entirety of a topic.

zridling

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2010, 07:31:51 AM »
I've long bitched about the fact that my taxes go to pay Microsoft's license fees (or Apple's) at public schools. If students and their parents want to pay for proprietary software for use in their private schools or homes, more power to them. But a public school should be free from the legal constraints, the tech support required, and as always, the costs involved. Once you buy into proprietary software, it's nearly impossible to get out of its subtle lock-in.

I haven't lived a year yet when property taxes (the method for funding public education throughout most of the US) didn't rise. Schools always claim they need more money than a Wall Street banker. Let's at least save money on software when free alternatives can do the same work.

Renegade

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 09:09:37 AM »
I've long bitched about the fact that my taxes go to pay Microsoft's license fees (or Apple's) at public schools. If students and their parents want to pay for proprietary software for use in their private schools or homes, more power to them. But a public school should be free from the legal constraints, the tech support required, and as always, the costs involved. Once you buy into proprietary software, it's nearly impossible to get out of its subtle lock-in.

I haven't lived a year yet when property taxes (the method for funding public education throughout most of the US) didn't rise. Schools always claim they need more money than a Wall Street banker. Let's at least save money on software when free alternatives can do the same work.

Zane, I think that licensing fees are the least of worries for education. It simply isn't prioritized at all. Quite frankly, even the best education is pretty thin. It's pathetic. Companies profit from educated workers, but nobody is willing to pick up the tab for decent education. Anyways, that's really off topic.

But I don't really think that it needs to be an either/or situation. The fact is that if you work in the real world, you must be able to work on Windows (for most people). There are entire sectors where if you aren't on Windows/Microsoft, you simply aren't in the sector, period. So, in a lot of ways, it's simply practical to have Windows computers.

It's also practical to have Linux or Unix computers as well though. There are quite a few distros now that really are just about 100% prime time ready for the desktop. Ubuntu and Suse come to mind. Linux has a lot to offer in education, and it would be a shame to not have it available for computing classes.

I find it hard to find reasons to have Apple computers in education. They really don't offer much over Windows or Linux or BSD or whatever, and they are likely to start losing in some of their traditionally strong markets (NLE and DAW and other multimedia authoring/editing).

Why would anyone want to learn software that once they get out in the real world, they'll never use again? OpenOffice is a good example. While it does have its foot in some poor markets, it's simply not used widely in the corporate world. Has anyone ever received a "Calc file" from anyone, or did you receive an "Excel file"? Actually, OpenOffice is done pretty well, and the skills you learn in it will translate into Microsoft Office pretty easily, so it's not really all that great of an example in that aspect.

The author writes:

Quote
First of all, it is a matter of migrating schools to Linux, not selling them.

To me this seems like the wrong approach. Why all or nothing? Why not introduce Linux as an excellent operating system that students can do all kinds of cool things on?

He goes on to quote Richard Stallman, which pretty much sets the tone. Stallman is a zealot. He's a necessary zealot though. The world is a better place because of him. But thank God that he doesn't get his way for the whole world.

The animosity between commercial software and "free" software really isn't very productive. They all have a place, and the trick is to use them where they are best suited. FOSS is simply impossible to use in some areas. Same for commercial software or non-free software. On both sides of the fence there is functionality that does not exist on the other. There is no way to completely avoid one of the other.

So why would you want to switch a school completely over? The only reason I can see is if you're buying into Stallman's zealotry.

Even the platform developers in the FOSS world can't manage to avoid proprietary technology, e.g. From Ubuntu Studio:

Quote
Graphic design and modeling applications including The GIMP, Inkscape and Blender. Along with plugins like dcraw to help with RAW camera files and wacom-tools for people with Wacom drawing tablets.

Wacom certainly isn't FOSS, but it's unavoidable. It's pretty much the standard.

Anyways, I'm just mindlessly blathering. :P :D
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techidave

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 10:55:30 AM »
I'll jump in on this one as I work at a school in the USA.  I don't think Linux will become very wide spread very fast do to the testing requirements.  In our state (Kansas), our state assessment software is not made for Linux yet.  Some of our other required software isn't even compatible with the Mac OS yet.

maybe in time it will as it would save a bundle of money.

superboyac

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2010, 11:14:38 AM »
I've long bitched about the fact that my taxes go to pay Microsoft's license fees (or Apple's) at public schools. If students and their parents want to pay for proprietary software for use in their private schools or homes, more power to them. But a public school should be free from the legal constraints, the tech support required, and as always, the costs involved. Once you buy into proprietary software, it's nearly impossible to get out of its subtle lock-in.

I haven't lived a year yet when property taxes (the method for funding public education throughout most of the US) didn't rise. Schools always claim they need more money than a Wall Street banker. Let's at least save money on software when free alternatives can do the same work.
Z, I used to work at a high school.  They waste money like crazy.  The example I always like to give is this one:  you know those lab stools they use in high school?  With the gray metal and wooden top?
images.jpg
Well, they cost a lot more than they look.  When I was a new teacher, they had to buy a whole bunch of them before the year began.  So they did.  Thousands of dollar spent like nothing.  Then, in class, the kids would treat them like crap.  They would always be knocking them over, sliding them around, banging them here and there.  Within a few months, they were are in very poor condition.  Wobbly, screws loose or missing, the wood half-ripped off.  Thousands of dollars gone just like that.  The next year, same thing.  More stools.

These stools should last decades.  Is it the kids fault?  Is it the teachers fault?  Is it society's fault?  I don't know. But I know the money is wasted.  This is just one example.  Don't get me started on office admin costs, paper supplies, tons of money spent under special, fancy program names that tug at the heartstrings.  As long as the stools can be replaced, nobody cares.  Let's say we cut all funding, to be extreme.  how much worse can the education get?  Not much.  Whenever the adults say the money is for the "kids", it's probably not.  If you probe, there's always some weird, political, sort of shady reason for the money they have. 

Deozaan

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2010, 01:03:04 PM »
Apparently this article is a "guest post" by Darlene Parker.

Quote
The Distro

In my personal experience there are 2 distros that stand out in the Educational sector.  Edubuntu and KDE I have deployed these 2 distros globally with great success.

I'm a linux noob and even I know that KDE isn't a distro.

Quote
First of all, it is a matter of migrating schools to Linux, not selling them.

To me this seems like the wrong approach. Why all or nothing? Why not introduce Linux as an excellent operating system that students can do all kinds of cool things on?

Even though I agree with you, I thought she explained why it has to be the "All or Nothing" approach fairly well with this statement (bolded for emphasis):

Quote
All or Nothing Approach for Computer Real Estate

  • While subscription licensing usually has the lowest cost of entry of the various Microsoft licensing options, it is an “all or nothing” approach which can have the effect of requiring schools to pay Microsoft licences fees for computers that aren’t actually running any of Microsoft’s software. This is because the subscription licensing cost is based on the total number of computers in the school. This has meant that if a school is using Microsoft’s subscription licensing, fees need to be paid to Microsoft for Apple Mac or Linux computers, and indeed those computers running OpenOffice.org.
  • Additionally, even when many of the school’s computers could not run Microsoft Vista schools would still have been required to include those systems in their Microsoft licence count and pay the appropriate licence fees

It seems as though if Microsoft didn't have "no compete" clauses in their license then it would be perfect to have a nice mix. But for schools to get "their money's worth" they are compelled to put Windows on every machine.

I took a programming class (in college) and we ran Redhat Linux in a virtual machine on Windows for that class. I didn't think much of it at the time, but maybe it's because of the licensing for those PCs. Of course, the school does have Linux clusters and even some Linux only PCs in the computer labs. So maybe it was just a more practical decision than anything else.


40hz

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2010, 02:20:24 PM »
Not gonna happen.

Even if Linux were the superior technical solution (and that's up for debate depending on what you want to use it for) school acquisitions are seldom based entirely on merits or costs.

From what I've seen, what gets used seems to revolve around internal school politics and finding something on an "approved educational product" list from an "approved school supplier." Windows is in every catalog. Linux (not being a 'product' in the traditional sense) isn't.

Which brings us to market saturation...

As long as Windows accounts for 90.3% of the deployed desktop OS base, it would take a pretty brave administrator - and a lot of equally forward thinking parent groups - to deviate from the norm. Especially with the emphasis that's being placed on on educating "for the real world."

Which leads us to the question of cost savings...

Well...I hate to say this, but you can just forget about that argument. It's a non-issue.

Microsoft will never allow its license pricing to become a true deal-breaker for school systems. Microsoft is not going to relinquish mind share or lose access to impressionable young brains without putting up a fight. If cost becomes a problem, Microsoft will just continue to sweeten the pot until the school systems cave in. It's already worked in several places where governments announced a switch to FOSS software only to reverse their decision after Microsoft offered them renegotiated terms that were "too good to ignore."

And lest you think this couldn't happen, take a look at how that same tactic got used to effectively sink the FOSS/OLPC initiative. Even Nicholas Negroponte had no qualms about selling Linux down the river via a policy reversal that would have made a beltway lobbyist blush. And all in the name of "people want Microsoft software" - combined with Microsoft offering a Windows/Office bundle to the project for three dollars!  (Yes, you read that correctly - $3 USD.)

So lets not hold our breaths waiting for Linux to make a big entry into schools.

Schools will only go over to Linux when they're told to go over to Linux by the federal government. Because without that federal 'blessing,' they would have to stick their necks out. And what school administrator is ever going to put his career on the line? Especially when there aren't any compelling technical or financial arguments for school systems to abandon the current leading OS.


monkeys.gifHow to Sell Linux to Schools


 :-\




« Last Edit: June 01, 2010, 02:25:32 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2010, 03:16:01 PM »
I can attest to what 40hz is saying.  At my previous company, they renegotiated the Office 2007 bundle to the point where all the employees got it for dirt cheap.  i don't know the details, but something happened there.

zridling

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2010, 12:24:29 AM »
(allowing a tangent)

Quote
[Renegade]: Why would anyone want to learn software that once they get out in the real world, they'll never use again? OpenOffice is a good example. While it does have its foot in some poor markets, it's simply not used widely in the corporate world. Has anyone ever received a "Calc file" from anyone, or did you receive an "Excel file"? Actually, OpenOffice is done pretty well, and the skills you learn in it will translate into Microsoft Office pretty easily, so it's not really all that great of an example in that aspect.

It's neither the program nor the OS so much as its adherence to open document formats and open standards. If I have to buy your software (Excel) just to read your file, I will never do that. Why [do school boards] force taxpayers to fund a private corporation's products? Simply put, we're all broke out here. It's time to tell Microsoft to get its money from someone else, even if it's only $3.*
___________________________
*In full disclosure, I also don't want my tax dollars funding wars, AIG, GM, Dick Cheney's Secret Service Secret Service protection, and any number of things. But I realize that realpolitick doesn't offer me a choice.

PS: Oracle is doing a good job already of killing off OpenOffice.

Renegade

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2010, 02:57:53 AM »
(allowing a tangent)

Quote
[Renegade]: Why would anyone want to learn software that once they get out in the real world, they'll never use again? OpenOffice is a good example. While it does have its foot in some poor markets, it's simply not used widely in the corporate world. Has anyone ever received a "Calc file" from anyone, or did you receive an "Excel file"? Actually, OpenOffice is done pretty well, and the skills you learn in it will translate into Microsoft Office pretty easily, so it's not really all that great of an example in that aspect.

It's neither the program nor the OS so much as its adherence to open document formats and open standards. If I have to buy your software (Excel) just to read your file, I will never do that. Why [do school boards] force taxpayers to fund a private corporation's products? Simply put, we're all broke out here. It's time to tell Microsoft to get its money from someone else, even if it's only $3.*
___________________________
*In full disclosure, I also don't want my tax dollars funding wars, AIG, GM, Dick Cheney's Secret Service Secret Service protection, and any number of things. But I realize that realpolitick doesn't offer me a choice.

PS: Oracle is doing a good job already of killing off OpenOffice.

While I think you have a very good point about open document formats, I have some good/bad news. The Microsoft document formats are all open and/or standards.

The Office Open XML specification has been standardised both by Ecma and, in a later edition, by ISO and IEC as an International Standard (ISO/IEC 29500).w

Microsoft file format specifications at MSDN

In order to publish a document, you must have some kind of a specification for the file format. That's just trivial.

But Microsoft's Open Office XML file format is no less open than the Open Document Format. Who here contributes to ODF? If you tried, would you get anywhere? Of course not. Whether the organization creating the specification claims to be OS or FOSS or commercial or whatever, the fact remains that they are closed to outsiders.

Just try walking into the FSF or whatever and telling them that since things are "open" and "free", you'd like to change the GPL wording. Not gonna happen. Just because something is "open" doesn't mean that everyone gets a say or gets input.

Now, you can get a job working for Microsoft or OpenOffice or whoever, and then you can have input into their file formats, but until then, there is no functional difference.

You're not *paying* to open Microsoft documents when you purchase Microsoft Office.

You're paying because everyone else that tries to open Microsoft documents just doesn't get it right and can't manage it properly.

You either get half-assed or you pay for MS products. That doesn't make MS formats any less open than their so-called "open source" alternatives. Nobody uses OpenOffice because they simply can't open or write other document formats properly, and that's just unacceptable in business. It's cheaper to pay for software that works than to fight with software that doesn't work. (OpenOffice support for other file formats may have improved significantly since I last used it, but it would have to be an incredible leap forward to even consider looking at again.)

Quote
Why [do school boards] force taxpayers to fund a private corporation's products?

But there's no way to get around paying for things. Should schools force student to wipe their butts with leaves or old newspapers because if they purchase toilet paper they're giving money to a corporation that works for profit? All the paper, pencils, cleaning materials, and everything else inside the schools come from companies that produce products for profit. Why should software be different? [[If there's a better free product (I don't think leaves or old newspapers are better), then sure. But there isn't a better product than Microsoft Office. It's simply the best, and it's the best by a very large margin. Nothing comes close.]]

By the same token, individuals work for money, so why should we pay teachers just to subsidize their extravagant indulgences in cup noodles? (Teachers are already underpaid.) They're working for profit. I'm sure there are pedophiles that would do the job for free. Ok, that is entirely silly to the point of insanity. The point is that we need to pay for things. There's no free lunch out there.

But you're absolutely right about funding wars. I sure as hell don't want to pay to kill people. Errr... That's not totally true. I'd pay to see a mass slaughter of politicians, bankers, and financiers! :P :D Something set in an arena on pay-per-view sounds good to me. :)

Same thing for incompetent companies. Why should we bail them out? I'd be perfectly happy to see AIG (or whoever) crash and burn, and let the cards fall where they may. (Though I am softer when it comes to companies like GM as they actually create wealth rather than simply manipulate it.)

I'm curious as to how Oracle is killing OpenOffice. I've not really been paying any attention there. Could you post back about it?

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Renegade

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2010, 03:54:34 AM »
Kind of in the same line regarding lock-in and proprietary formats, check this out -- PST SDK for Outlook PST files. Brought to you for free under the Apache 2.0 license by Microsoft.

It makes me wonder what direction MS is going in as they are opening up everything now, while Apple and other companies are becoming MORE proprietary and closed. Will they shift their revenue model and open source Windows? That's a VERY long way away, if ever, but with the kinds of things they are doing, it looks possible.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Josh

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2010, 06:06:14 AM »

It's neither the program nor the OS so much as its adherence to open document formats and open standards. If I have to buy your software (Excel) just to read your file, I will never do that. Why [do school boards] force taxpayers to fund a private corporation's products? Simply put, we're all broke out here. It's time to tell Microsoft to get its money from someone else, even if it's only $3.*

Microsoft offers free readers for document formats. Their formats are well documented and opened by any number of programs and applications. School boards force taxpayers to pay for things that train their children in things used in the real world. Like it or not, openoffice and ODF are used by a very small minority. Training people on these products would result in a student that is not prepared for what is being used. I have yet to see a job offer that states "Experience with openoffice" or "Adherence to open document standards" as a job requirement. I do, however, see jobs that REQUIRE you know the software used by the company and a majority of it's subsidiaries, partners and clients. That is not only Microsoft Office, but other products that are "proprietary".

I realize you have a big thing for Open Standards and ODF, almost to the point of blindness on any other stance or viewpoint, however this does not change the reality that these standards and products are in the minority. This does not change the fact that many companies do not rely on these open products. As mentioned above, these products often give a sub-standard or incomplete feel. They are not the quality of software needed to train and educate the young workforce. Why spend thousands upon thousands of dollars training staff and teachers to learn a new product and the way it works? Most school courses do not require just basic document editing but actually delve into various features found in these other products. If these products were in the majority, or even the small minority (actually found in use in the business world), then I could see spending time and money in training on them. Point is, these products are not. I do not want my child being taught something she will never use or could cost her a job because she didn't know the competitors product.

40hz

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2010, 09:26:01 AM »
It makes me wonder what direction MS is going in as they are opening up everything now

Smokescreens and puppet theater is what it is.  :P


The current "opening up" is just one more rework of an old Microsoft business strategy that's usually referred to as: Embrace - Extend - Extinguish.


And in support of open standards? Hardly.

Look at Balmer's undisclosed list of 'patents' the Linux OS is allegedly infringing on. Microsoft's management insists they have no intention of suing - but they also refuse to make an official and legally binding statement to that effect. (Can you say 'FUD' boys & girls?)

Microsoft has a history of pushing for "open" when it works to their advantage - or a competitor's or (more importantly) an emerging technology's disadvantage. But the minute Redmond feels it has an opening, they invariably defect from the group and circle their wagons once again.

About the only thing that's really changed is Microsoft has learned to be more subtle about it.


 8)
(Lordy, lordy, lordy! Don't they teach history anymore?  ;D)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 09:56:23 AM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2010, 10:10:54 AM »
School boards force taxpayers to pay for things that train their children in things used in the real world.

Isn't "in the Real World" little more than a fancy way of saying "just because" ???

Time was when educators viewed it as part of their mission to point the way towards progressive change instead of surrendering to the status quo.

--------
BTW: "We have to teach our kids what gets used because our kids can only use what they're taught!" is a circular argument.  You'd think school boards would be smart enough to see that.

*sigh* :-\
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 10:14:41 AM by 40hz »

Josh

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2010, 10:41:41 AM »
But, if you teach something to try and enforce change, aren't you then setting up the people being educated for failure if they are being taught something they won't use, as was in my original comment? I am not saying not to try and enforce change, but if you are going to do it there has to be some basis and validity to the change and not doing it to try and change a standard that is, after all, a standard in the workforce.

Also, my "in the real world" certainly does NOT mean "just because". "Just because" would be used if the schools indeed forced students to learn something that major players in the job market are not using. Like it or not, MS Office is the standard and will remain so until major players switch away from it. Switching just because a software suite is "free" is not a good enough reason if the software switch involves massive retraining and additional support costs when the software does not work in a way that is intuitive to the end-user.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 10:44:04 AM by Josh »

Dormouse

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2010, 11:08:52 AM »
MS Office is the standard and will remain so until major players switch away from it. Switching just because a software suite is "free" is not a good enough reason if the software switch involves massive retraining and additional support costs when the software does not work in a way that is intuitive to the end-user.

But which MS Office? 2003, 2007, 2010?

2003 & 2007 appear radically different to most users and the alternative office suites - OO etc - seem as much (or more) like 2003 as the later versions of MS Office do.

And for most users, who just use computers as they have been set up for them, adjustment to Linux rather than Windows comes very quickly.

zridling

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2010, 08:37:23 AM »
Don't get hung up on OpenOffice, think ODF. It's only one program in 25 that uses ODF as its native file format. Sure, MS-OOXML was approved as a standard, but not a single program outside of the Microsoft family has implemented it. That may also tell you how difficult it is for someone else to write a converter (free) for MS-OOXML's 7,000+ page file specification. And Microsoft doesn't even adhere to its own "standard" in Office 2010.
__________________
As for school funding of proprietary software, is Microsoft Office even needed anymore? What exactly is a 10th grader going to input that another format cannot handle? I don't see hardly any MS-OOXML documents online. Any case you might make for Microsoft products purchased with taxpayer funds can also be made by Adobe (the children MUST have Photoshop skills; how else are they going to create memes on chan sites!) or Apple (the children MUST have iPads; how else are they going to afford their AppStore and data provider fees?) Next time you see a school bond increase, ask yourself why they don't cut any of the vast array of athletic programs that include enormous maintenance and travel costs. Point is, the "schools" never need less money, always more, more, more. Therefore, take the money spent on proprietary software to give to teachers, and any other thing students can live without.  Voters in several states are rejecting school funding increases this year. I hope mine (Missouri) does the same. Mind you, I'll gladly pay for school infrastructure and capital improvements, but don't ask me to build a new football stadium where only five or six games get played each year.

Again, if you want that for your kid, fine, pay for it out of your pocket. But when there are viable, free alternatives to every proprietary software app (and OS) now used in schools, I know that simply having the proprietary app is mere luxury.

PS: In my perfect(ly twisted) world, those who have kids would have to fund their education, athletic events, and post bail (ha!).

zridling

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2010, 08:52:17 AM »
I'm curious as to how Oracle is killing OpenOffice. I've not really been paying any attention there. Could you post back about it?

Oracle bought Sun (back in August 2009?) and despite press releases that assured the management of OpenOffice would not change and there would be a cloud version (why?), Oracle has done absolutely nothing since. Both Novell (go-OO) and IBM (Lotus Symphony) have forked their own versions. But despite 132mn downloads for the 3.0 version and from all appearances, it seems Oracle is willing to let OpenOffice wither.

I could take it or leave it, since most of my document creation is done online for sharing within the company, not within a certain suite. But I realize that's not the majority.

zridling

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2010, 09:07:43 AM »
Here's an article making the argument on how Linux could (cost) effectively replace Windows in the schools:
http://www.linuxinsi...for-Linux-70139.html

Lashiec

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2010, 03:57:05 PM »
I wonder what these 3.2 and 3.2.1 versions of OpenOffice I have floating around are :P

Also, the forks happened way before Oracle bought Sun, and I ignore up to what extent IBM and Novell are improving OpenOffice with their forks, instead of sipping code from the main project and slapping a few key features on top of it.

Renegade

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2010, 09:14:05 PM »
Don't get hung up on OpenOffice, think ODF. It's only one program in 25 that uses ODF as its native file format. Sure, MS-OOXML was approved as a standard, but not a single program outside of the Microsoft family has implemented it. That may also tell you how difficult it is for someone else to write a converter (free) for MS-OOXML's 7,000+ page file specification. And Microsoft doesn't even adhere to its own "standard" in Office 2010.
__________________
As for school funding of proprietary software, is Microsoft Office even needed anymore? What exactly is a 10th grader going to input that another format cannot handle? I don't see hardly any MS-OOXML documents online. Any case you might make for Microsoft products purchased with taxpayer funds can also be made by Adobe (the children MUST have Photoshop skills; how else are they going to create memes on chan sites!) or Apple (the children MUST have iPads; how else are they going to afford their AppStore and data provider fees?) Next time you see a school bond increase, ask yourself why they don't cut any of the vast array of athletic programs that include enormous maintenance and travel costs. Point is, the "schools" never need less money, always more, more, more. Therefore, take the money spent on proprietary software to give to teachers, and any other thing students can live without.  Voters in several states are rejecting school funding increases this year. I hope mine (Missouri) does the same. Mind you, I'll gladly pay for school infrastructure and capital improvements, but don't ask me to build a new football stadium where only five or six games get played each year.

Again, if you want that for your kid, fine, pay for it out of your pocket. But when there are viable, free alternatives to every proprietary software app (and OS) now used in schools, I know that simply having the proprietary app is mere luxury.

PS: In my perfect(ly twisted) world, those who have kids would have to fund their education, athletic events, and post bail (ha!).


I can see Photoshop as it truly is the industry standard. All high-end web design is done in Photoshop. Magazines. Everything. iPad? Well, it's current, but it's by no means in the same category.

I really don't think that there are free alternatives for all software that you'd use/need in schools. DSP software isn't free. The free stuff out there is just code or POC, but not production worthy software. There is no audio editor to replace any of the top commercial versions. (Audacity is ok, but it's not quite there.) There is no free video editor either that's worth using. (I looked, and what I found was simply useless.) There's nothing that can replace SASS. Scientific and statistical software packages are pretty much all commercial. I've seen some free stuff, but it's simply far too basic to use for anything except a very small set of tasks.

It all depends on what level of education as well. I think Audacity is lots enough for everything up to high-school, and probably good enough for most everything there with some exceptions. But at some point Logic, Avid, Adobe, SAW, Magix, Steinberg, or some comparable company's software will be needed. For a music program, Audacity won't cut it.

There are a massive number of software packages that are easily replaced, but I don't think they all can be. OpenOffice is more than enough for elementary and middle school. Does it cut it for high-school though? Maybe. I suppose it depends on a few things.

Education is progressive, and at higher levels, more advanced software is needed. I think that very often that means that at higher levels of education, you really need to carefully consider commercial vs. FOSS (or free) alternatives.

e.g. Is there any point in using any software other than AutoCAD? There are alternatives to AutoCAD. But do those skills have any value in the real world? I really doubt that you'll find any of them on any computers at Lockheed or Boeing.

I'm really on the other side of this debate than you though, Zane. I'm all for increased spending on education. I think that education is underfunded and that improved/increased education will payoff in countless ways. It's an investment, and not an expense. If you give kids the tools (education) to succeed in life, they're far more likely to do just that. You'll get that investment back multiple times in terms of tax revenue and less spending on welfare-type programs. But this is really kind of off topic. I mention it because I think we're approaching the software issue from fundamentally different perspectives, so we're naturally arriving at different conclusions.



I'm curious as to how Oracle is killing OpenOffice. I've not really been paying any attention there. Could you post back about it?

Oracle bought Sun (back in August 2009?) and despite press releases that assured the management of OpenOffice would not change and there would be a cloud version (why?), Oracle has done absolutely nothing since. Both Novell (go-OO) and IBM (Lotus Symphony) have forked their own versions. But despite 132mn downloads for the 3.0 version and from all appearances, it seems Oracle is willing to let OpenOffice wither.

I could take it or leave it, since most of my document creation is done online for sharing within the company, not within a certain suite. But I realize that's not the majority.


It's sad to see Oracle do that. OpenOffice is a fantastic piece of software. I'm glad to see Novell and IBM picking up the ball there, though I do have more faith in Novell than in IBM to continue it. (Yeah... I've been a secret admirer of Novell for years and always like to see them do well.  :-[


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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Paul Keith

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2010, 12:37:17 AM »
I'd like to insert another side to the problem now that I thought about:

All these "standards in the real world" talk reminds me of how some people like Ken Robinson insists more art in schools.

Do you think the problem goes beyond FOSS and is actually a problem of introducing philosophy and creativity in schools and for this same reason, maybe the clues of introducing Linux can be found there too?

The mention of Photoshop reminds me of how if you weren't into drawing manga, you probably wouldn't have heard of Manga Studio before and it extends to everything else about schools from the evolution-intelligent design debate to the simple standard that there should only be one version of history told in schools.

Like in that other thread I made, someone mentions FOSS is a philosophy. Philosophy is almost a banned or disrespected subject in most schools and when it is allowed or taught, it's a subject that relies on the instructor's vision rather than the curriculum.

To that extent, philosophy is very anti-standard. Philosophy asks that you must ask the why in a standard and maybe even create the gap in your student to rebel against the standard in order to support it with the understanding of why it is a necessity. I have not been to many schools especially those with high prestige but I would assume had I enrolled in a school and asked teachers all around of this issue I may eventually encounter one who will say something like what Renegade is saying but that same teacher probably wouldn't mention it to any of his students until someone asks the right question.

Now the better schools and the better instructors seem to have a will to insist upon the philosophy of their course and the greater ones have a knack of pushing these lessons into their students but for the better part institutions aren't there to provide anyone with understanding, they're there to provide anyone with rigid materials for rigid results in the real world and let the real world for the most part, teach students of that something else that might be related to philosophy.

Even FOSS advocates seem to make the mistake or is it developed cynicism in such a way that they will pursue cost as the main issue to have such applications in institutions but when asked about the merit of necessity, they eventually lead to philosophy. Philosophy that has no room as a standard but equally philosophy-in-a-closet in the sense that they are content with pushing FOSS apps without FOSS philosophy as long as said applications are able to co-exist and maybe replace current standards thus narrowing the argument into a case of wanting an inferior application to replace the superior accepted application.

The resulting conclusion is that cost is only mentioned in the beginning but the reasons fall into philosophy while the necessity for philosophy is ignored in the beginning but the reasons for introducing philosophy is used over the reasons for cost and it turns into a paradoxical propaganda rather than anything related to education.

Renegade

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Re: How to Sell Linux to Schools
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2010, 02:09:37 AM »
+1 for Paul.

You've hit on some core issues. While FOSS *can* be purely objective, it isn't. It has an underlying philosophy behind it and a political agenda as well.

I've been fairly vocal about my opposition to radical FOSS positions (those that insist on FOSS and only FOSS), I am most certainly glad that is exists and I would strongly state that FOSS is needed. I would go so far as to say that FOSS (in the Richard Stallman sense) is every bit as much a requirement for freedom and liberty as other factors. The transparency behind FOSS cannot be beaten, though it can be equaled. GPL software is generally garbage for me in the same way that the space shuttle is garbage for me as transportation, i.e. What are your needs/requirements?

For philosophy in the classroom, I would argue that this is a serious problem with the education system, as the classroom needs a strong philosophy to guide it.

Philosophy is the beginning of all knowledge. First, the metaphyics, and second, the physics. Everything else follows from there, and indeed, all of western civilization is built upon that exact beginning: metaphysics and then physics. (I do not mean physics as in the modern sense of physical science, but in the philosophical sense of physics, which led to modern physical science.

Now, there's is a difference between having a philosophy guiding education, and teaching philosophy.

I really think that philosophy should be taught in middle school and high-school. I would want to see it start with the skeptics and progress from there, with a strong focus on informal and formal logic. But, it seems educators are simply too short sighted to actually teach kids how to think properly.

For having an underlying philosophy behind education, I think that's what you were referring to, Paul. This is a difficult subject to approach because all the arm-chair philosophers out there want to get in their $0.02 when what they really need to do is either educate themselves on the topic or shut up.

How many times have you heard someone talk about their "philosophy"? Usually it's just a set of opinions with no real basis or support. (Now, I am aware that sounds somewhat arrogant, but I am trying to keep the term "philosophy" as an academic study that can have personal implications, rather than a personal opinion that is posing as a pseudo-academic study.)

Anyways, back to FOSS as all that is going waaaaayyyyy off track...

One of the core problems for FOSS is that it attracts a lot of people that cannot see past "free" (as in price tag) and understand the motivations behind FOSS and the reasons for it. This creates a misconception about what FOSS is, and that misconception gets perpetuated and only grows.

The "F" is FOSS has nothing to do with money or price. It is about "freedom". The GPL is NOT adverse to charging for software. People just don't do it because it is extremely difficult to pull off properly. The business model is non-traditional and simply scares people off. The traditional commercial/proprietary approach is much easier as a business model.

Check eBay for FOSS software being sold and you'll find lots.

The reasons for FOSS are far more involved and much deeper. They are political in nature. They are the same kinds of motivations that were behind the US constitution's right to bear arms (to overthrow an oppressive government), i.e. to help preserve liberty.

However, we have a very real problem with FOSS as the responsibility to preserve it is basically in the hands of a very few: developers. For a lot of FOSS software, in order to make use of the freedom that it affords you, you must be able to at least compile it, or dig into to code or even more. That's where the freedom is kept, not in the price tag.

Is that something that needs to be pushed on school kids? I rather doubt it. I have a hard time believing that there are many high-school kids that actually understand what those freedoms are and just how valuable they are. Heck, the American people sell their liberties for a small modicum of what they believe to be safety on a regular basis (e.g. the "patriot" act). (The same holds for other nations, but the Americans happen to be the most visible.) To put that another way, how many high-school kids have come face to face with a secret police or an intelligence service agent, and knew exactly what it is that those people do? I doubt many have.

Here are some prices for FOSS software. ($50 for OpenOffice.)

FOSS should not be marketed based on price. Software that has a good price may be FOSS, but the two are not the same.

NSFW (and potentially offensive) joke about money and free
What's the difference between sex that's free and sex that you pay for?

Sex that you pay for is cheaper.


But the joke does make a point that is analogous to free software. Often it is cheaper to simply buy commercial software.

If the issue is about price, then it isn't about FOSS, as freeware fits the price category very well, even though it may be proprietary.

On a further unrelated tangent, I really never liked the "free as in beer" analogy as it really doesn't say anything clearly.

--End tangential rant--
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker