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How Microsoft Inadvertently Helps To Fund FOSS 122

Posted by kdawson
from the i-has-ur-monies-kthxbye dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "The State of California sued Microsoft for anti-trust violations, and now the proceeds of the settlement of that case are being used to fund the acquisition of computers for any school district in California. The terms of the settlement allow every school district in California to be reimbursed a set dollar amount for the purchase of computers with the software of their choice. Microsoft probably anticipated that school districts would mainly use the settlement to buy more Microsoft products, with a few Apple purchases sprinkled in here and there. But now that Free Open Source Software is being commercialized by hardware vendors such as Dell, System76, EmperorLinux, Zareason.com, and TechCollective.com, acquiring computers powered by FOSS is straightforward. I'm a volunteer sysadmin at a northern California public charter school and in my Slashdot journal I detail the step-by-step process for using Microsoft's money to pay for the Linux purchases of your school's choice." And then there's the Ubuntu team in Belgium that is raising funds by auctioning off a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate that a Microsoft rep gave them at a trade show. So far the bidding is up to 101.76 Euros, about $144.
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How Microsoft Inadvertently Helps To Fund FOSS

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  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:24AM (#20940565) Journal
    Look at all the Linux users who buy pre-built machines with Windows, because until recently, they lacked many alternatives short of building their own.

    That's not just Soviet Russia my meme spouting friend.
  • Were that the case, microsoft would have been bankrupted many years ago.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:30AM (#20940695) Journal
    Conversely, the though of supporting FOSS could artificially inflate the price, MS could ignore that fact, and could argue that people percieve Windows to be worth more than they are charging.

    Double-edged-sword, that.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:31AM (#20940721)
    Or.. most likely.. the auction will come and go with little fanfare, and a handful of snarky Ubuntu users will get a good laugh, but that's about it.
  • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:33AM (#20940741)
    Why would anyone be trying to promote Linux here at Slashdot? Everyone is either converted or never will be.
  • by bcattwoo (737354) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:39AM (#20940833)

    The fines Microsoft were given are being used to buy computers that have Linux installed on them. Rather simple to understand really.
    Perhaps I missed it when Dell announced that a portion of every Linux purchase would be donated to the FOSS project of your choice.
  • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ExE122 (954104) * on Thursday October 11, 2007 @10:46AM (#20940947) Homepage Journal
    I come from a nerdy IT college that was almost exclusively Linux. However I've worked on setting up labs with a friend of mine at another college down the road, and they insisted on being exclusively Windows. Their argument was that Windows was more "user friendly".

    I think the problem is that most schools don't realize that running Linux doesn't mean you have to learn how to write bash scripts, develop C code, and use vi to edit documents (even though regex editing pwns).

    I think Linux vendors just need to do a better job of marketing themselves as a user-friendly and low cost professional solution that can be intuitive to an inexperienced user.

  • Re:$64bn dollars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jmac1492 (1036880) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:16AM (#20941379)
    In Slashdot form, here's a (bad) car analogy translation: Say your computer is like a car. Just like your car needs gas to do anything useful, your computer needs an operating system to do anything useful. What Microsoft did was pretty much muscling all the gas stations out of town so they could jack up the price, which is illegal. California made them give some of the money back. What this is is basically taking the money Microsoft is giving you as their fine, and using it to buy Linux gasoline.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@hotmail.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:17AM (#20941389) Journal
    A hundred bucks or so that would raise wouldn't "fund" anything more than a catered lunch, if that.

    Are you insane?

    Do you know how many copies of Ubuntu that'd buy you?

  • I wish... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:17AM (#20941391) Homepage
    ... they insisted on being exclusively Windows... I think Linux vendors just need to do a better job of marketing themselves

    This is the equivalent of the Photoshop/GIMP discussion that's endlessly recycled on /. "If only GIMP had feature X...." Well bad news, even when GIMP gets feature X, they'll have a new reason for not switching.

    In both cases they are so single-minded they happily accept all of the limitations/expenses they bring upon themselves. Trying to convince them otherwise is a steep, nasty, uphill battle that probably can't be won.

    Pick your battles very carefully and figure out what the school needs and is ready to pay for then provide it for free. An excellent start is the domain controller. An even simpler start is a dumb file server.
  • Re:Even worse? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Machtyn (759119) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:30AM (#20941561) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps, it is because HAD Apple gained the marketshare that Microsoft did, not only would we have closed software, we would also have closed hardware.

    While Apple certainly has an extremely creative group of engineers, would we have as much choice and innovation as we do now for hardware if 80+% of the market went with Apple? I think not. This is where the "even worse" comes in, it is in the possibility of what might have happened.

    /Won't somebody please think of the games?!
  • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halber_mensch (851834) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @11:34AM (#20941619)

    I come from a nerdy IT college that was almost exclusively Linux. However I've worked on setting up labs with a friend of mine at another college down the road, and they insisted on being exclusively Windows. Their argument was that Windows was more "user friendly".

    I rather think that users and observers commonly mistake "user-friendly" to be "a familiar type and amount of pain". Windows is less easy to use than it is familiar, and remembering the pain it took to gain that familiarity many users will shy from diving into something new fearing what new pain to unveil from a different system.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Thursday October 11, 2007 @12:02PM (#20942009) Homepage
    The lines on the finances can be drawn anywhere, but to stay in business a company has to earn a little profit. Are they marking up Linux, or their services, the hardware, or?

    What is key here is that companies have noticed they can make a profit off of FOSS, rather than being forced to suckle at MS's teat. This isn't bad for FOSS.

    The business (and educational) world wants computers and software that just work.
  • by JohnBailey (1092697) on Thursday October 11, 2007 @01:52PM (#20943627)

    Well, at least the smart ones will buy Windows PCs for their students, since that will best prepare them for their future.
    Quite the opposite. Any school that just teaches specific applications is letting their students down and wasting any money spent on computer equipment. Teaching someone that a certain menu option is here, and you do a certain task like so is a waste of time. The entire class could be replaced with a set of cheat sheets that list the whole process.
    What they are supposed to be teaching is how to use a computer. The person who only learned the specific steps without understanding what those steps mean is not going to really understand the finer points and be able to adapt to different software. Teach someone how to use the help menu, and they can find out for themselves how to do things that were not covered in the class. And if the teachers can't do the same, they need to spend the money on better teachers instead of new hardware and software.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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