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The Almighty Buck Software Linux

Ostrich Lessons In Oregon? 255

Posted by Hemos
from the going-for-the-cheap dept.
dalslad writes "Oregon Schools Prove Linux Saves Money, says the headline but this article says "One has to wonder if Northwest school districts took ostrich lessons; they must represent the biggest secret in the Linux community. If their successes occurred in New York, Microsoft would be fighting for 5% of the PC desktop share". Maybe so? I've seen a lot of sites with Linux success stories, but the K12 Linux projects show progress I never knew existed." Yeah, I don't think that the schools are going to prove to be the sole factor in Linux on the desktop, but it's a good step. More importantly, I think the success of the system depends on projects like the K12 Linux project and its like, especially for broader individual usage.
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Ostrich Lessons In Oregon?

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  • by sweeney37 (325921) * <mikesweeney@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @08:54AM (#6338385) Homepage Journal
    With Microsoft's desire to have complete market dominance [slashdot.org], how long before they start offering schools free, or cut-rate discounts all under the guise of "charity" [slashdot.org]?

    Get 'em hooked early, then they'll never be able to stop using it.

    Mike
    • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @08:58AM (#6338416) Homepage
      Please don't take this as a troll, I am just trying to go with the other side...

      Why shouldn't they be hooked early? Do you think that businesses are just going to magically stop using MS Office in the near future?

      So we are going to have these kids learn Linux and OpenOffice or maybe StarOffice or maybe KOffice and they are going to go about their daily duties with those applications...

      They get to an interview... "Do you have experience with MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Access?" "No sir, but I have used Kblah, OOBlah, and StarBlah."

      I would LOVE to see interviewers more tech. savvy and understand what those applications are. I doubt that day will come anytime soon. They are just too entrenched.

      I think using Linux in schools is a great idea. I also think that MS offering hardware/software to schools is also great. Whereever they can save the money that I end up paying in the end is good for me.

      Just my .02
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:26AM (#6338580) Journal
        Heh. You're taking exactly the wrong tack. Computer literacy is not about which software you know. We deployed StarOffice at a company and they cried and cried and cried because it wasn't MS, nevermind that, when they had been using MS they had to share 5 computers with MS on it. (Gov't agency; get audited all the time.) These people were complete computer idiots. I mean their big problem with the Linux desktop was that they didn't like the fonts.

        Turn this around; take an applicant who's just coming in for a job that requires a spreadsheet, a wordprocessor, and some sort of presentation software. What's going to impress you? Someone who just knows MS Office 2k, and gets hysterical when you give them Office 97 or Office XP. Or someone who has a good grounding in something a little different. "Have you ever used Word?" "No, but I've used Writer, Abiword, Islandwrite, and Emacs." Shows you've got flexibility, and that you've done something more than use yer grandmothers computer."

        Just my opinion.
        • I really don't think it will make too much difference one way or the other as far as getting a job, as long as it's presented right. If you're applying for a non-technical job where you would be using MS software, I doubt they would be impressed by the fact that you knew non-MS alternatives, though I doubt they would hold it against you too much as long as you said that you pointed out that you had experience in very similar programs. On the other hand if people only know open source alternatives and go int
        • "Have you ever used Word?" "No, but I've used Writer, Abiword, Islandwrite, and Emacs."

          Sorry, but if I ask someone in an interview whether they have used a wordprocessor, and they reply that they have used emacs, then they ain't gonna get the job!

          A texteditor is not a wordprocessor!

          (Mind you, if they say at any stage that they use emacs through choice, they are unlikely to get the job ;-) )

          • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:57AM (#6338767) Homepage Journal
            heh...if you read the post, you'd understand the point was showing that the person had flexibility.

            I laugh at the fact that they actually have courses to teach people how to use word processors and the such, and then I wake up from geek world and take a good look at my parents. I've never had anyone "teach" me how to use word, excel, or anything else, but when I had to use it, I learned it on the go, and wasn't inneficient at it either. To any computer literate person, the skill to figure out a tremendouly easy gui is just intuitive. "hmm...I want a table of contents...hey, look...insert TOC...hmm...it filters through heading types...I guess all I need to do is set up my headings as I type, then click the right radio buttons for the ones that I want to show up in the toc"

            If you hire an employee that has experience in a system that makes you be able to think (ie, linux, where you need to figure out how to get things to work--and thus learn how to figure things out), you'll not only get an employee who will be able to figure out word xp in no time flat, you'll get an employee who won't be complaining that he can't do his job because he doesn't know how to use the new, upgraded "word l337" or whatever mycrosoft thinks their new cool name should be.

            • Maybe I'm dumb, but I've never been able to figure out how to use word for anything more complicated than what wordpad can do. Graphics hop around. Editing a subscript is liable to make everything after the subscript subscript as well. Autocorrect never fails to fuck me over. LaTeX is so much easier. It does what you tell it.
          • It is a religion. Of course it can edit text too. And naturally it can do semi-WYSIWYG document processing as well - that seems to be what "word processing" means.
        • Have you been to a job interview for a NON-TECH job in the past year? (I am saying a year b/c that's when most of my job interviews were).

          100% of the interviewers asked "do you know MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Access."

          If I told them, no I use Emacs and OpenOffice they would have blinked at me and marked something on the clipboard that wasn't good.

          Companies do NOT use Free Software (for the most part, the small minority does NOT count). Companies probably aren't going to move to free alternatives anytime s
          • by the gnat (153162) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @10:10AM (#6338866)
            100% of the interviewers asked "do you know MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Access."

            So fucking what? Lie through your teeth, and tell them "oh, yeah, sure." You'll never be put into a situation where they're testing your prowess with the Word table wizard, and timing you. I never actually use Word or Excel, but I put them on my resume anyway because it's buzzword-compliant and because I'm confident that I can figure out how to do anything quickly enough that no one will notice I'm winging it. It's not like padding your resume with C++ or Fortran - I've seen this done.

            If you're technically competent, you should be able to pick up any application like Word in seconds. The problem with the tech industry is that people learn an interface rather than concepts, sort of like Pavlovian training rather than actual learning. I've worked as a full-time programmer and as a senior tech-support goon, and I've seen many people who were fine as long as they didn't stray from what they knew. There's nothing more pathetic than a Windows support technician sitting down in front of a Macintosh (OS 9!) and looking helpless. I'd far rather have someone less knowledgeable but willing and able to learn anything.
        • by tambo (310170) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:51AM (#6338729)
          >What's going to impress you? Someone who just
          >knows MS Office 2k, and gets hysterical when
          >you give them Office 97 or Office XP. Or
          >someone who has a good grounding in something a
          >little different. "Have you ever used
          >Word?" "No, but I've used Writer, Abiword,
          >Islandwrite, and Emacs."

          Two comments - one you'll sort of like, and one you won't.

          Bitter pill first: Familiarity counts. Any application beyond Calculator or Solitaire requires a learning curve - regardless of platform. Even if you know Writer, Abiword, Islandwrite, Emacs, StarOffice, and MS Word, using mail-merge in WordPerfect will still be harder for you (the first few times) than for someone who's only used WordPerfect.


          Now here's a helpful suggestion, though rarely-seen on Slashdot: It's most impressive to have as broad a background as possible.


          Which of the following candidates would you choose for web admin:
          1) The stodgy Microsoft guy who insists on using IIS because that's all he knows; or
          2) The wild-haired Linux guy who launches into a tirade when you mention not using Apache; or
          3) The guy who has solid experience with both, knows their relative strengths and weaknesses, can provide an expert opinion on which is better suited to your needs, and is comfortable developing for the platform that you choose?

          David Stein, Esq.

          • by 4of12 (97621) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @11:23AM (#6339399) Homepage Journal

            If you have your choice, then (3) is obviously the right answer.

            People from category (1) and (2) don't need to be paid as much as people from category (3).

            Finally, if you have a server room cage to contain person (2) to keep him away from scaring the upper management, he can do wonders with the computer, and will work unbelievable hours to prove that his FOSS LAMP application on a trashy Pentium II can outperform god's own webserver.

        • "Have you ever used Word?" "No, but I've used Writer, Abiword, Islandwrite, and Emacs." Shows you've got flexibility, and that you've done something more than use yer grandmothers computer."

          Try that on an interview for anything other than being a programmer in a Linux shop and see how far that gets you.
      • by tuffy (10202) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:37AM (#6338650) Homepage Journal
        Why shouldn't they be hooked early? Do you think that businesses are just going to magically stop using MS Office in the near future?

        If the workforce knows an alternative to MS Office, prefers an alternative to MS Office and can get the same job done just as well using an alternative to MS Office, businesses are going to magically use an alternative to MS Office.

        Seen WordStar lately?

      • You are correct to point, but it is a chicken and egg thing.

        Many firms use Windows and Office because a large number of persons, not to mention the owners of the firms, are familiar with the software. This familiarity provides a significant comfort level. This is a great change from 20 years ago where most were not familiar with any microcomputer technology, and so it was truly a wide open game.

        Which leads to how we teach our students? Do we teach them commands and processes by rote, explaining that

      • I don't think that a majority of companies are going to stop using MS Office in the near future. But I do think that anyone with experience with one of the other products you cited should be able to figure out the major features of Office with no training whatsoever.

        Sure, there are going to be some managers/HR-bots who fail to recognize this. But we're not in the business of saving people from their own stupidity. :) Anyways, as the alternatives get more popular, such people are going to be less and
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:52AM (#6338740)
        They get to an interview... "Do you have experience with MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Access?" "No sir, but I have used Kblah, OOBlah, and StarBlah."

        Wrong answer, Say "Yes".

        If it's a technical job requiring you to have deep knowledge of VBA macros, of course you actually have to study it. Otherwise, using the K* and OO gives you almost exactly the same experience. If lying bothers you, (and this is trivial on the scale of job interview lying), spend an afernoon playing with someone's Windows PC and create and print a few documents, add up your shopping list, sort it alphabetically. You now have all the experience you need to do 99% of real world MSOffice work.

        You don't have to "study" MS Office for six years to learn how to write a memo, or add up a column of figures. I worked it out, the closest I came to a computer at school was a pocket calculator.

        On your resume, you write "experienced with MS Office and Linux office software". Or reverse the order if you think they'd prefer to hear that. You now have one more ability that may help you get the job.

        • While i agree with you , if the person in question is remotely technical, if not this just doesnt work. The average computer user is practically authistic when it comes to application use. Hide a toolbar , move a button, in some cases delete their desktop icon so they have to hunt in the start menu, and that it. The sky has fallen in, the computer has broken, and if you admit that you are responsible god help you. The average, I write memos word user learnt to use it by rote. They dont understand the concep
        • by ajs (35943)
          Wrong answer still, though I think you're closer than some others.

          When interviewing for a job, you should know the tools that the job requires. If you are looking for office jobs, you should know the tools used in those jobs, and if that's MS Office you should learn MS Office, and learn it well.

          That's also beside the point of the original thread. What should be used in K12 is any tools that teach the basics that you will need to move on to college or independant learning later in life. You should not be u
      • It makes perfect sense to have MS applications as appropriate for specific learning tasks - for example, as someone who's paid the rent many times in the past with temporary clerical work, it would be remiss in my mind to have a word processing/keyboarding class that did not teach MS Word. But multi-platform, multi-program proficiency can only be of benefit to a student.

      • They get to an interview... "Do you have experience with MS Excel, MS Word, and MS Access?" "No sir, but I have used Kblah, OOBlah, and StarBlah."

        I would LOVE to see interviewers more tech. savvy and understand what those applications are. I doubt that day will come anytime soon. They are just too entrenched.


        Well, being familiar with Linux or *BSD and being able to use either vi or emacs is more a less a requirement for any tech position in our (small) company. Even for sales or marketing positions, be
      • by woozlewuzzle (532172) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @10:14AM (#6338886)
        I think we're talking K-12 here. The purpose of K-12 is to teach kids to think and how to learn - it isn't a job prep school, it's a life-prep school. In the final 2 years of high school, there will be kids who go directly into the job market for whatever reason. A percentage of these will require specific computer skills (many will need to know how to make change). It would be nice for these kids to learn the current standard (MS Office) - but it really isn't the (public) school's responsibility to provide that. For all the students younger than that, learning a specific product won't help them much, since that product won't be de riguer when they get out of high school. Of course, those that go on to college will be even more removed from the current computing environment. Teach the kids how to use a computer, how to figure out how to use a product (Contextual menus, help files, interface hints) - they can brush up on specific technologies when they're ready to get a job. It's like the complaint that schools use Macs, but Autocad isn't available on the Mac, so they need to switch to PCs - How many 6th graders are quitting school to take a job that requires Autocad skills? Is the correct solution to teach them autocad earlier?
      • Why shouldn't they be hooked early? Do you think that businesses are just going to magically stop using MS Office in the near future?

        I'm continually astounded that they don't, and I've worked in the military, manufacturing, insurance, and state government.

        Sure, if you need complete interoperability with MS Office users, then you need a copy. No-brainer. But why the hell does every seat in an organization need it? The receptionist? The customer service rep who at most generates paper letters?

        MS O

      • So we are going to have these kids learn Linux and OpenOffice or maybe StarOffice or maybe KOffice and they are going to go about their daily duties with those applications...

        School and learning is not supposed to be about very specific things. The goal is for you to be able to think for yourself and learn and use problem solving skills. Learning one very specific software package is NOT going to be an advantage to you later in life. Have you ever worked in an office that did not have at least 5 applic
    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:04AM (#6338450)
      With Microsoft's desire to have complete market dominance, how long before they start offering schools free, or cut-rate discounts all under the guise of "charity"?

      They've been doing that as long as they've owned the market. It's not working any more, i.e., it's getting hard for Microsoft even to give Windows away. For educators, Windows just isn't nearly as good a value proposition[1] as Linux.

      [1] Yes, I know that's PHBspeak. It's also intensely ironic.
      • not working any more, i.e., it's getting hard for Microsoft even to give Windows away.

        Really? Silly me. I thought that with all the Linux companies folding and Linux products being discontinued and MS's continued massive profitability that it was the other way around. Facts, schmacks, huh?
        • I thought that with all the Linux companies folding and Linux products being discontinued
          Care to name some, with dates?
          and MS's continued massive profitability
          Numbers, please. Thanks!
    • by mmol_6453 (231450) <short.circuit@ma i l . g r n e t.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:19AM (#6338539) Homepage Journal
      When I was in elementary school (K-6), my schools used Apples and Macs. (Remember that Apple did the whole "charity" thing once, too.) I don't think it had much of an impact on the students. It didn't have any affect on me or anyone I knew. The only reason I'd get a Mac would be to get a piece of that IBM's 970 processor.

      Unfortunately, I expect the same will be true of exposure to Linux. Most of the benefits that schools will see in Linux systems will come from the administrative end. To get exposed students interested in running the platform at home, there'll have to be computer clubs and activity groups that take advantage of the benefits of Linux.
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        When I was in elementary school (K-6), my schools used Apples and Macs.....It didn't have any affect on me or anyone I knew..... Unfortunately, I expect the same will be true of exposure to Linux. Most of the benefits that schools will see in Linux systems will come from the administrative end.

        your school didn't have the ability to at the beginning of the semester to hand you a free and legal MAC. with linux... here you go, a full legal copy of the OS...Oh and have a copy of the Office Suite too...

        This
    • by thornist (64703) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:21AM (#6338552) Homepage
      With Microsoft's desire to have complete market dominance, how long before they start offering schools free, or cut-rate discounts all under the guise of "charity"?

      In South Africa they've already done this. In fact the story goes that the Department of Information were making very positive noises about a state pro-open source policy a couple of years ago, and then just a couple of days later Gates had flown out to meet Mbeki and Mbeki was announcing the "generous" gift of free MS software for all South African educational institutions (don't have time to seek out the reference for this story right now).

      In South Africa the issue is more than just getting people hooked to the company. Bigger than that for us is the question of being dependent on the US for our IT infrastructure. What happens if South Africa falls into disfavour with the mighty America and we cease to be able to get software or support, but all our data is tied into MS proprietary formats.

      Open source is a question of sustainability and survival for countries like mine.
      • I read your post, and though this will surprise you, I agree with your position and sympathize with you. I'm one of those evil right wing Americans that you hear so much about that likes the fact that we're the dominant power in the world right now.

        So you might be shocked to learn that I completely agree with you. Open source software can help you. And if I were in your position, I wouldn't want to become beholden to one company's product no matter WHERE it comes from. An open, standards based information
      • What happens if South Africa falls into disfavour with the mighty America and we cease to be able to get software or support, but all our data is tied into MS proprietary formats.

        Just cut out the middle man and get support from India [theinquirer.net].
    • In an unheard of move from Microsoft, Bill Gates found a new way to subside schools in our Country.

      Profiting from the offer for free harware with Windows 2000/Office 2000 licences, thousands of schools answered the call for free money.

      But why, would you ask, take the whole deal ?

      Effectivly, soon after the announcement, we all had a big surprise. Here the comment of Jack Doe (Brother of the famous you know who) :

      -"Well, yes, I know, finding our MS Licences on Ebay must have been a real surprise to you, b
  • by binarytoaster (174681) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @08:55AM (#6338391)
    Yeah, I don't think that the schools are going to prove to be the sole factor in Linux on the desktop, but it's a good step.
    Remember way back when, when Apple donated a bunch of Macs to the schools? Yeah, then the parents all bought Macs for compatibility and because their kids knew how to use them.

    That was when computers were new; however, teaching them how to use Linux at a young age can affect how they decide later on. Now when they see Linux, they won't think "Ugh, I'm not going to be able to use it, so even if it is free..." - they'll be thinking "Hmm, I learned how to do this in school, maybe I'll try it at home."

    This is a nice step...
    • by gregfortune (313889) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:10AM (#6338485)
      And that's the same factor that influenced the adoption of UNIX systems in the 70's and early 80's. The universities received their copies free or at drastically reduced costs and then students demanded UNIX like environments when they entered the workplace.

      I teach UNIX/Linux at the local university and I've heard the last line in your comment verbatiam from several students each quarter. If we can get kids started on it even earlier.....
    • Remember way back when, when Apple donated a bunch of Macs to the schools? Yeah, then the parents all bought Macs for compatibility and because their kids knew how to use them.

      Heh, yeah, I remember those days. All the kids would say "c'mon Dad, buy a Mac" and Dad would say "What the hell's a Mac? I'm buying an IBM like we use a work".

      You raise a crucial point. I think it's important to remember that kids don't have money. And, although Linux, OO, etc. are all free, the hardware they run on isn't. So long

  • Of course having Linux in Public Schools will make Linux appear everywhere. Just look at Apple's success with the same strategy.

    The problem becomes one of kids thinking that Linux is a "training" computer environment, and that when they "grow up" they get to use a real environment.
    • I doubt that, since usually there are two kinds of pupils - those who are very interested in computers and thus easily learn to use them and those who aren't and have difficulties learning. When they grow up the ones that learnt well will choose what's best for them (no I'm not claiming that it will obviously be Linux) since they'll have the knowledge and probably more advanced needs too and the ones that didn't learn much will probably have limited needs (since they won't know what else they could do with
  • by under_score (65824) <mishkin-slashdot@nospaM.berteig.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @08:58AM (#6338415) Homepage

    Linux is great. I personally use it as a server (along with FreeBSD), and I have RH8 running in a desktop configuration. However, I still haven't completely rid myself of Windows because I am lacking certain types of software that will run on Linux. Dreamweaver for myself and my wife, and a multitude of educational games for our kids.

    So I have a question... what is available to replace this type of software? I haven't heard of _any_ educational games for kids! Is there some other way that I can solve this problem?

  • by Gefiltefish11 (611646) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @08:59AM (#6338421)

    I think it's well-agreed that most MS users are that way because of simple familiarity. Your run-of-the-mill user wouldn't port to Linux or another platform (even apple, as easy as it is to use) because they all seem foreign and counter-intuitive (this because intuition is based on repeated experience).

    Because of this, it seems critical to catch kids early, before they become pigeon-holed into one particular OS (or any software package). Rather than using Linux exclusively, perhaps a revolving curriculum would be most helpful --Linux, MS, Apple, etc. Provide the variety of experiences that helps kids to learn the similarities among systems that makes for general intuition rather than intuition that is product-specific.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:02AM (#6338438)
    I was personally involved in pushing for linux use in school networks, and met with huge amounts of resistance - especailly immediately after that point at which MS threatened to audit Portland public schools with their gestapo license enforcement crap. I swear to honest god someone on the school board was getting paid off or some shit.

    We installed linux at a few schools anyway, on their network cores, only to come back later and see that the admins had come around and installed win2k right behind us.

    I wonder why MS isn't offering these cut rates to schools like they do to countries and organizations that are threatening to use OSS.

    Fuckers.
    • We installed linux at a few schools anyway, on their network cores, only to come back later and see that the admins had come around and installed win2k right behind us.

      You installed software (on "network cores", no less) behind the systems administrators' backs, and you were expecting something different to happen?
    • I am a unix admin for the largest k12 school district in Colorado and am meeting stiff resistance to the use of Open Source here. Most of the critics here are astonished to learn that the majority of the internet's web sites run on an "Open Source" product called apache. The district as a whole seems to shun anything not from MicroSoft or Novell. However a colleague and I are starting a Pilot Project using Linux and Open Source at the charter schools within the district. Most of them are very progressive mi
  • It reads like a bad babblefish translation. I expected better from Linux Journal. While one of the headings in the article asks, "Can You Explain the Oregon Legislature?" I would ask of Linux Journal, "Can You Explain Who Edits This Stuff?"
    • Well, it may be written poorly, but it's extremely biased, that meets my expectations about Linux Journal. Not an attack on Linux, but I wouldn't read Windows magazine for news either. Or MacAddict *shudder*. As a rule of thumb, I don't trust news reported by evangelists.
  • Maybe... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Infernon (460398) * <infernon@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:12AM (#6338498)
    I don't think that the schools are going to prove to be the sole factor in Linux on the desktop, but it's a good step.

    Maybe it won't be the sole factor, but it sure as hell is going to make a huge difference. Think of all of the lucky kids who are getting to know Linux at a young age and take that knowledge and (hopefully) preference into adulthood.
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mausmalone (594185)

      Think of all of the lucky kids who are getting to know Linux at a young age and take that knowledge and (hopefully) preference into adulthood.

      This, of course, assumes that Linux is a good thing. And that these kids will get a chance to know it. Every Windows PC at a school needs to be locked down to prevent tampering and just general mis-use by curious do-it-yourself kids. What makes Linux any different than OSX or Windows if the kids are only allowed to launch certain applications, and never allowe

  • by WPIDalamar (122110) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:13AM (#6338504) Homepage

    I work for an educational software company... and I've never heard of anyone asking for linux versions of any of our products. If you want companies to make linux versions, you need to get on the ball and ask for them... hint hint...
  • I have been banging my head up against a wall for about 2 years now trying to get our University to at least make some sort of switchover to Linux servers/desktops. I mean, you don't need Windows to just check email and run telnet apps. Needless to say, they signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract extension to Microsloth.
    • From what I can tell, the use of Linux in Universities depends on the users. Technical departments like Engineering, Computer Science, and Natural Sciences have used Unix for years and the inclusion of Linux has met little fanfare or resistance. I recently talked to my Dept. Chair and his IT budget includes a Linux admin. The reason he has it in his network was for graduate students who have salvaged old computers and turned them into a cluster for high-end computing.

      At the higher levels, there is more

    • Any my university is all Solaris / linux with some Macs thrown in for good measure (the Math department likes Maple and has been using it since long before Maplesoft supported linux...)

      It all depends on where the powers that be place their priorities I suppose...

  • Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:22AM (#6338557) Homepage
    With K12 linux, I found this especially impressive:

    "On the server side, two Compaq servers--a 933MHz dual-processor ML370 and a 1GHz dual-processor ML350--run Red Hat Linux and support about 220 concurrent users. "

    220 users! Thats 220 times the price difference between a thin and a 'fat' client, minus the servers.
  • by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:25AM (#6338573)
    I donate my time to set up a terminal server environment and other linux goodies for school. Next week I am going to work on converting a under funded christian school and the week after content filtering solution for a public school. Linux is making alot of headway in these projects and I really enjoy showing them what can be done with a simple download.
  • by Build6 (164888) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:34AM (#6338629)

    Does anyone else think these guys now have a big bulls-eye painted on them? I'm no historian, but from what I remember of revolts that weren't crushed (heads on sticks, bodies swinging from gallows, babies thrown onto bonfires etc.) is that there needs to be a critical mass before being able to withstand the (lethal) reactions of any oppressive tyrant. One single village aflame with the spirit of revolution pretty quickly becomes aflame in a physical sense when the imperial troops arrive.

    Some new MS "education initiative" for those special school districts? Something else? How hard is it to replace the education board with different membership with different ... priorities?

    Then again, maybe I'm just operating under FUD/paranoia... .
  • MainBrain School (Score:3, Informative)

    by ErikSev (10724) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:43AM (#6338680) Homepage
    Just a quick and shameless plug, MainBrain [mainbrainschool.com]allows schools to set up an amazing website which lets parents check grades, attendance, discipline, and all sorts of other information. It runs on Linux, using Perl and MySQL.

    Check this school administration software [mainbrainschool.com] and let me know what you think.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      The problem with software like that.. espically the type that screams all over it "I'm horribly Expensive!!!!" because of the lack of pricing on the site and the tell-tale... "see if you qualify for a grant" meaning... there is no way in hell you can afford this... let's see if the govt will flit the bill...

      I'm sure you think your software is worth $24,000.00 but the schools don't.. Sell it for $1000.00 max and you will get customers...

      It's nice, I'll give you that... but from what I can see from the we
    • That sounds like a GREAT idea! I think that all sensitive information should be stored in MySQL! I also don't lock the doors of my house and put up a "Please do not steal anything" sign on the front door.
      • That sounds like a GREAT idea! I think that all sensitive information should be stored in MySQL! I also don't lock the doors of my house and put up a "Please do not steal anything" sign on the front door.

        Please stop spreading the FUD. MySQL's last exploit was = 3.23.56. Production is 4.0.13. Any database is a possible security hole, becaue if someone gets the login information everything is open anyway. This is why you put them in a trusted segment of the network, and watch connectios and you have les
  • by bahamat (187909) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @09:47AM (#6338701) Homepage
    People will natually want to use the computer system they grew up with. My mom first used to learn about computers with a System 5 Macintosh, and she still swears by them even though she's been using a PC for the past 10 years. She still wishes it were a mac, she just knows they're far too expensive. Today's generation of people using computers really have only known MS products. There's comfort there, and better the devil you know than the one you don't.

    I've always said that Linux on the desktop is not harder, it's only different. It's just different, so they complain. Linux is different so it's too hard. Mac is different so it's too dumbed down. It's just lame excuses from people unwilling to change. If kids grow up learning Linux they'll stick with it their entire lives. Just as youngsters in the 80's loved UNIX and when they grew up and got IT jobs they brought it into business. Truth is, people are sheep. They'll follow and do pretty much whatever they're told. The best progress into the world of home and business can be made in schools. If children grow up riding on a penguin they'll stick with it.
    • She still wishes it were a mac, she just knows they're far too expensive

      First of all a disclaimer: I am not a Mac fanatic, indeed I haven't used one for about 15 years. Also I don't use Linux at either work (tho I would love a Kylix contract!) or play (hmm maybe NWN now?). But I think to claim Macs are too expensive (despite the fact that I can't afford one) is unfair.

      Why? Well unless your mother is desperate to play the latest games or needs fast compilation/rendering/whatever, a Mac will last a bit lo

  • One of my daughters had a computer class in grades 1 through 6, in a decent funded public school. They had Apple IIs and Macs. They would only allow the Macs to emulate the Apple IIs to be fair to the students. I seriously doubt any student graduated and went on to recommend Apple IIs.

    The sad part is that no one cares about the level of tech in the public schools. This would be good news if it meant anything.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @10:17AM (#6338904) Homepage Journal
    While they may not have been on the front page, K12 has been discussed on here, distrowatch, OSnews, and several educational slanted open source sites ( that I fail to remember the name of at the moment )...

    It wasnt a secret by a long shot.

  • It's no supprise! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pontiac (135778)
    After the Big screwing [slashdot.org] Microsoft tried to hand NW schools I'm not supprised there is a bigger push for open source software in NW school districts.
    You have a limited shoe string budget to keep the school running.. To the left we have MS asking for a cool half mill a year to license ALL your PC's regardless of OS they really run. On the right we have OSS software.. You make the call.
  • Microsoft Abuse Resistance Education
  • by slashkitty (21637) * on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @10:53AM (#6339148) Homepage
    Did anyone notice the testimonial at the end? The "Grant Tracking System which had previously been developed with state funds at the office of the Governor." A quick check at GovermentDomain.com shows this description for the app [216.61.35.115]:
    Front end is developed in Microsoft Access 97. The database runs on SQL Server 2000 The online portion of the application requires a windows NT Web Server running IIS 4.0
    It doesn't look like the reporter did the research on this example.
  • by Kyouryuu (685884) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @11:24AM (#6339403) Homepage
    I've personally been witness to one Oregon school district that has switched over to K12LTSP. Over last summer, we built a hundred of those thin-client computers. Let me be the first to tell you, walking into that computer lab today and seeing all of those kids on those computers with Linux and enjoying it would put to rest any concern over the need for Microsoft. Who needs PowerPoint? They've got the OpenOffice equivalent. Why pay thousands for a site license for Adobe Photoshop when The Gimp is free? The whole thing is basically free, of course, which means saved cash in an already strapped sector of the government. In this district alone, over $20,000 is saved annually. That's $20,000 that could be used to keep class sizes small, hire a new teacher, or update textbooks. In this economy, particularly one where schools are complaining everyday about lack of funding, every dollar saved is worth it. I see these other school districts with their pricy Dells and shiny iMacs and wonder just how much cash they blew through that they didn't need to. I don't insinuate that they didn't receive a steep discount, but I would be surprised if their technology spending for their labs was lower than this district. A thousand here, a thousand there - all of those little expenses lead to our state's current financial crisis. Based on the success of Linux in Oregon schools, open-source proponents had moved to pass a bill by the Oregon legislature that would mandate the state consider open-source solutions prior to spending the big bucks for Microsoft. Alas, despite widespread support, the representative from Wood Village shot down the bill and refused to let it be heard, citing verbatim the same reasons the huge tech firms - adamant in their lobby to stop the bill - had argued. The bill eventually died. Proponents mourned. Personally, I didn't see it as an open-source "power grab." I saw it as a way to hold the government accountable for its technology spending. The government should choose the most economical means of getting the job done and not waste taxpayer dollars on extravagant operating systems when all they need is simple word processing or whatnot. If that economical approach is open-source, so be it. If Microsoft decides to just hand over their wares for free, so be it. But always keep them on edge. It's clear this sort of thing scares Microsoft and a bit of fear is always a good thing if it means getting cheaper rates. The fact that the bill died showed Oregon's government is not ready to be held accountable for its decisions when it comes to technology spending. Consequently, I hear the same legislature is trying to up our taxes again in November. Go figure.
  • by runswithd6s (65165) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @11:36AM (#6339525) Homepage

    I had once helped a couple friends install Linux systems at a small extension high school, one of them was a teacher railroaded into the part-time IT Coordinator position. Even though we had successfully deployed a stable, secure, low-maintenance, low-cost Linux environment, his peers were committed to causing his eventual resignation.

    Windows was the only "real" answer for his peers, even while staring into the eye of a year of success with Linux. A year of success. Sometimes you simply cannot win against the engrained "religious" beliefs of some computer users, especially those people who influence financial and policy decisions in your work place.

  • by Doug Loss (3517) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @12:10PM (#6339834)
    Folks, let me tell you how it is. I lead SEUL/edu [seul.org]. Right now, I'm with Paul Nelson and Eric Harrison (and a bunch of kids from Riverside High School in Portland), representing K12LTSP [k12ltsp.org], and Harry McGregor of the Open Source Education Foundation [osef.org] at the National Educational Computing Conference in Seattle. We're doing the evangelism where it's needed, in the educational community, rather than were it isn't, in the Linux community. Linux folks already are convinced of its usefulness, but folks in education need persuasion.

    That's one of the reasons you may think we're being very quiet--we're not talking directly to you! But if you're interested in what's actually going on with open resources in education, go to any of the websites above, or to Schoolforge [schoolforge.net] and look around and follow the links.

    Another reason is that whenever we've submitted links about such things to /. (I asked Paul about this a minute ago, and his experience has been the same as mine) they have been rejected. If you're not interested in telling people about what's being done, don't expect them to know about it! We've stopped submitting our stories here, since they're never used. We try to use our energy more constructively now, but submitting our stories to educational journals, etc.

  • Tech Cadre (Score:2, Interesting)

    by descil (119554)

    I was the CEO of a NW Oregon company called 'Tech Cadre' for less than a year. Tech Cadre has some interesting properties that a lot of companies don't possess. For one thing, no employee can possibly last more than four years, and none have yet lasted more than three. The company does its firing, then waits several months before hiring anyone new - although at times it loses half its workforce in one of these three-month changeovers.

    Tech Cadre is an in-school business, and all of the employees are studen

  • by sisukapalli1 (471175) on Tuesday July 01, 2003 @12:17PM (#6339886)
    This may sound like a flamebait, but here is the reason... I use windows and cygwin at work (mainly tools such as xemacs, gcc, perl, jdk, mozilla, latex)... The underlying OS is more or less irrelevant it seems. Linux is nowhere in here, but GNU/OSS is everywhere. Of course, sometimes it is still way better to boot up in the linux partition (though some of our work *needs* to be done on windows).

    In this context, may be it is the introduction of tools to youngsters is more important than the underlying OS. For instance, compare xemacs with wordpad or textpad or the latest $29 shareware text editor with obnoxious alerts about registering. May be show how it is better to write a "structured document" versus highlight and the standard way of selecting a font size and strength of some text in a document. May be show how tabbed browsing in mozilla or opera is good... Most of the die hard fans of systems such as emacs/mozilla/perl/latex are fans because these tools do things "better" in some way... If kids are shown that "there is more than one way to do it", they may really be ready to experiment with new software.

    S

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