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Does Your College Or University Support Linux? 835

Posted by kdawson
from the country-and-western dept.
yuna49 writes 'Lately I've been visiting colleges with my daughter, who is a senior in high school. Every school has proudly announced that they support both Windows and Macs, and most of these schools report having about a 50-50 split between the two. However we've been a Linux household for many years now, and my daughter routinely uses a laptop running Kubuntu 9.04. Sometimes I would ask the student tour guide if Linux was supported and was usually met with a blank stare. We're obviously not concerned about whether she can write papers using OpenOffice and Linux. Rather we've been wondering about using other computing services on campus like classroom applications, remote printing, VPNs, or Wi-Fi support (nearly all these campuses have ubiquitous Wi-Fi). Given the composition of Slashdot's readership, I thought I'd pose the question here. Does your school support Linux? Have you found it difficult or impossible to use Linux in concert with the school's computing services?'
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Does Your College Or University Support Linux?

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  • 1 semester of "Linux" is a required course at my college

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by A12m0v (1315511)

      Same where I went to college. The OS course was all done on Linux for obvious reasons and that what got me to switch to Linux at home.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Neil Hodges (960909)

        "Obvious reasons"? The OS course at the University of Washington I took used the Windows Research Kernel.

        Granted, I've been using Linux for many years before then, and would've preferred the course to be Linux-based, it was still a great learning experience.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by yo_tuco (795102)

          "The OS course at the University of Washington I took used the Windows Research Kernel."

          The UW? If they didn't, I doubt they would ever see another "donation" from Microsoft.

          • Baseless accusations, much? For the TL;DR folks: UW uses Linux extensively, and it is required for many of our CSE clesses.

            The UW offers OS courses on both the NT and Linux kernels - Neil chose to take the NT one, but in terms of degree progress the Linux version of the OS course is exactly equivalent. The CSE undergraduate labs are a mix of Windows and Linux boxes. The department offers a few Windows servers for student use, but the majority of the servers, including the file server, mail server, and cycle server are all Linux-based.

            As for the required courses, one of the earliest courses in the curriculum teaches basic Linux knowledge, ranging from shell familiarity and manpages to scripting and regular expressions, plus gcc, make (and writing makefiles), and so forth. Later classes include security (one of the programming projects specificaly requires Linux and GDB knowledge), embedded systems (the latter half of the class uses an ARM chip running Linux, and we are required to modify a kernel driver and use the ALSA API), Networking (this one varies, but usually involves developing for a device like a router or N800, running Linux).

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jeremyp (130771)

              I find it a bit disturbing that an operating system course at a University would cover only one kernel, or even only two.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cbhacking (979169)

          For those who don't know, the WRK is a mostly-complete source code distribution of the Windows 2000 kernel (NT 5.0). It's made available for academic and research uses. While the source isn't included for every single component, there's more then enough there to understand how the kernel works, how its components communicate, and to write your own extensions or modifications (system calls, changes to the scheduler, doing things at different points during initialization, modifying included drivers and so for

    • At the Colorado School of Mines our physics department only uses Linux on their computers. Every computer in every lab is equipped wiht Linux In addition to this, you can typically find a linux box in most of the computer labs. They even issue you linux notebooks from the laptop checkout center if you specifically request it.

    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:35PM (#29356545) Journal

      Due to a few bad decisions in college and the economy imploding at work, I am now going to Indian Hills Community College [cc.ia.us], trying to at least keep it together for a semester or two before I invest in a four-year college again.

      I have no idea whether it's required, but there is a Unix/Linux class. But then, there's also a Visual Basic class.

      Aside from the fact that a few things (VB?) will require Windows -- though they at least have the decency to have an MSDNAA license, meaning free copies of Windows and nearly everything needed -- there's also the fact that Macs sort of get a passing reference saying "We hope it works, but we can't support you," and Linux gets no mention.

      The wireless fails out of the box with Ubuntu, yet works with Windows. Talking to the help desk, they basically said "We don't support that, we don't know much, but our vendor assures us that the problem is not with our equipment, but with Linux."

      To get it working again, I had to switch DHCP clients. Neither dhclient nor dhcpcd worked, but udhcpc did. It's worth mentioning, this is not a common problem -- I used NetworkManager's point and click interface pretty much everywhere, and it worked pretty much everywhere, from hotel rooms to hospitals to crappy little Linksys routers -- it even worked if I plugged into ethernet in school -- everywhere except the school wireless.

      The conclusion to this story? I mailed the helpdesk again with my findings, and with the little script I wrote to disable NetworkManager, bring up wlan0 manually, and run udhcpc. They seemed very glad to have a solution.

      So, I'm not really sure what to make of it. On the one hand, it was obviously a priority, and I was pretty much left to fend for myself. On the other hand, no one actually has a problem with me using Linux, most of the time.

      I realize that doesn't answer your questions about printing or VPNs -- I haven't had to do either yet. Printing, I've only done from lab computers (all Windows, naturally), and they don't require a VPN, though my personal VPN works fine from the school wireless. Their website is an abomination, but it mostly works fine in Chrome, with only one place so far which requires Firefox, and I haven't had to use IE yet, except on lab computers.

      Just for fun, another anecdote: Iowa State University, when I was there, had a lab full of top-of-the-line Linux workstations. In the classes I was taking, they were used mainly to run rdesktop, which seems profoundly retarded, but I never had a problem due to running Linux or OS X. This was around 2005-2006.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      I know when I started (back in '01), the CompE/CompSci programs required a minimum of 20GB hard drive in addition to the CoE laptop requirement, so that they could dual boot Windows and Linux.
  • Move to Finland (Score:5, Informative)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:57PM (#29355861) Journal
    Most universities/polytechs/etc. are quite Linux-friendly here. They generally have a mix of machines, and avoid doing anything particularly hostile to any one platform.
  • TBH... (Score:3, Funny)

    by janeuner (815461) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:57PM (#29355863)

    I've found it fairly impossible to use Windows in concert with my college's computing services....but I don't think that has anything to do with Windows.

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:58PM (#29355883)
    Unless she intends to pick a job in the future based on whether they use Linux, then whether the University supports it is probably a moot issue. It's like having cable TV, or private bathrooms, or a pool table in your particular dorm. Nice to have, but not essential.

    Either she'll get a school that supports Linux (Good), or she'll get a school that doesn't, and be well prepared for what the rest of the real world is like, where Linux people are a minority who do what they want because they want to, not because their IT department puts their stamp of approval on it (Also good).
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cptdondo (59460) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:14PM (#29356215) Journal
      Well, there's tolerant and then there's hostile. Take my workplace. If your PDA doesn't run Windows, you can't use it to connect to your desktop. You can check email through the web interface - but only if you use IE. You can use our groupware through the web - but only if you use IE. Unless it runs Windows, you're not allowed to connect to the network. So... Yup, I can bring in my Sharp Zaurus PDA with Angstrom, and my Asus eeePC with xubuntu, but I can't actually use them for anything, or, according to IT edicts, can't connect them to our network. So on the few occasions when I brought them in, I used the Public Library WiFi connection. So the question has real substance. If their email is MS Outlook, and their web interface is written in ActiveX, then you're screwed if you have linux.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by randalotto (1206870)
        At my school, we're required to use Exam4 software, which doesn't run on Linux, for ALL of our exams (unless we want to handwrite them.) Questions to the registrar and IT people about Linux support elicit a response, essentially, of "tough shit." So, I care. It's a pain in the ass to have to borrow a laptop or purchase Windows for the privilege of typing a final exam. I'm fine with the school not promoting Linux, but it shouldn't be actively hostile towards it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        At which point you get Windows and write it off as a cost of attending school, like a textbook (have you seen how much textbooks cost these days?)

        Really, your operating system choice should not be so totally ingrained with your personality that you can't change to adapt to situations where you may be required to use something else.

        • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:02PM (#29358971)

          At which point you get Windows and write it off as a cost of attending school, like a textbook (have you seen how much textbooks cost these days?)

          Really, your operating system choice should not be so totally ingrained with your personality that you can't change to adapt to situations where you may be required to use something else.

          It's one thing when you're talking about using other's computers (like at the office, or at school), but when it's your own computer, there's definitely grounds to be concerned about it.

          Sure, reality is rarely ideal, but that doesn't mean someone shouldn't wish otherwise, or look into alternatives. You're acting like people shouldn't have personal preferences, and should always accede to the whims of others.

          Put yourself in the reverse situation. What if your school/workplace required you to run Linux at home, when you're currently using Windows? (and your home situation is dorm-like in that having multiple computers is not a terribly straightforward option). You'd have to switch your iTunes or WinAmp or whatever over to Linux. No photoshop, different camera software, OpenOffice instead of Word, no games, etc., etc.

          I'm not saying that schools should fully support Linux. I think that's an unreasonable expectation (although the amount of Windows-only requirements should be fairly limited, as most things are naturally multi-platform, like WiFi, and shouldn't be locked in to Windows at all), and the poster's daughter is likely going to need to either dual-boot or run Windows in a VM.

          Even so, there's nothing wrong with asking. Treating him like his preference in OS's is some sort of character flaw ("Really, your operating system choice should not be so totally ingrained with your personality that you can't change to adapt to situations where you may be required to use something else.") is uncalled for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RobBebop (947356)

            You're acting like people shouldn't have personal preferences, and should always accede to the whims of others.

            I'm reminded of the quote, "A reasonable man adapts himself to his environment while an unreasonable man adapts the environment to him. Progress depends on the unreasonable man."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Unless she intends to pick a job in the future based on whether they use Linux, then whether the University supports it is probably a moot issue. It's like having cable TV, or private bathrooms, or a pool table in your particular dorm. Nice to have, but not essential.

      I wouldn't think it's comparable to cable TV or pool tables at all. Pool tables are for fun. If my kid wants to play on a pool table, he can find a bar to go play. Supporting Linux and OpenOffice is a horse of a different color.

      Here's the thing: education is very expensive already without making it more expensive unnecessarily. Why should students be forced to spend hundreds of dollars on software licensing when perfectly good alternatives are free? In my mind, supporting free software and developing

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I wouldn't so much respond with "Who cares?", as with "Get your ideology out of here!".

      Unless you are actually studying CS or IT, then Linux versus Windows versus OS-X is irrelevant.

      Regardless of your own favourite platform, an institute of higher learning has to deal with reality. Sorry to break it to you, but that means that they are not going to invest in staff time and training on the off-chance someone wants to use Hanna Montana Linux. They're going to provide the computing resources they believe you n

    • by stokessd (89903)

      He makes a good point albeit obliquely. One requisite of many employers is proficiency with MICROSOFT office, not open office, not joe's organic office suite, etc. So Not all employers do that mind you, but if you spend some time cruising Monster, you'll see that as an overarching theme.

      Linux is great and I really find it useful in several hobby areas, but at work, it's a windows and MS office world. And more importantly, I don't see that changing anytime soon.

      So depending on the career field she wants t

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TorKlingberg (599697) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:12PM (#29357257)

      What is it with Slashdot these days? I'd never demand to use Linux at work, but I use what I want at home. The submitter asked about using Linux on your personal PC. I would be very disappointed is my university required me to use specific operating systems at home. I didn't expect them to help me configure Linux, but I did expect their systems to use open standards.

    • Education is something that you get for your life, not something that you get for your job. If you are getting an education for your job, then blind obedience is the most pragmatic way to approach a class so long as you make the grade and it enables you to perform a particular task. Sometimes going to school can be a requirement of parole. Often times just being in a school and being in the environment is better than sitting around at home playing video games. I even have friends that go to school because t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      He didn't say he was picking a school based upon whether it supported linux or not. He asked whether it has been easy or hard to run linux on a college campus. I don't know about you, but when I went to college I bought my computer BEFORE I got there. It was only AFTER I got there that I was able to judge how well linux was supported. Maybe he is trying to figure out if he should go ahead and spend the $$$ to put windows on her computer, or if it is unnecessary.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Since the college's "mandatory" spyware only runs on Windows and Mac, you're out of luck.

    • by Zordak (123132)
      When I was in law school, if you were running a Windows machine, you were required to let them install their "security suite" (including Norton) before you could connect to the network. But if you were running Linux, it just let connect.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by AndrewNeo (979708)

        I visited a friend at college who had that same system (a lot of college use this same network, I can't remember what it was called, though.)
        All it did was check the browser's User-Agent, so if you spoofed yourself as Linux you could just use a standard login instead of having the security suite installed.

  • You asked a guide? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:01PM (#29355951)

    Seriously? These are usually freshmen or sophomores in some club (for resume building) that are hyper outgoing and love showing off their brand new school. In addition they're trained to know quite a bit about everything. I bet they couldn't even tell you what some of the graduate students were working on either.

    If you want an answer, find the school's IT department [purdue.edu] or LUG [purduelug.org] and ask them. I bet that my tour guide wouldn't be able to tell you that our CS department hosts a Linux Mirror for quite a few projects or that Debian was started by a student, doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

    • by Goldsmith (561202)

      Extremely good point! Guides *might* know what you can buy in the school computer store.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Universities' web sites are good places to get various distros (U of I, home of the Tevatron and with a supercomputing facility is one). I would think that any school that didn't support Linux would be a poor school, indeed.

  • support or allow? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qwertphobia (825473) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:01PM (#29355957)

    Let me ask you a question in return..

    Do you think the average college helpdesk is prepared to answer random Linux questions?

    Asking the tour guides is just plain silly. You might as well ask them what brand ERP the college uses.

    Most colleges would allow a linux installation but are unprepared to provide support to every possible linux variation and configuration.

    • This is an excellent point and probably generally the case these days. I would presume most colleges are fine with Linux under the condition that you don't expect support from them. Some colleges explicitly support certain Linux flavors. For example my younger brother is a freshmen at CalTech and was attending a summer program which he brought his laptop running Ubuntu 8.10 down for. There were instructions for XP, Vista, OS X, and Ubuntu (I'm not sure about others, but at least Ubuntu was there).

      I atte

    • Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:26PM (#29356393)

      My bet is for personal systems, they'll allow anything. We do where I work (I work for a university). However support? My bet is no. For one Linux is by far the minority. Not worth it to hire.train people to support something only a fraction of people use. Also Linux isn't standard. What applies to RedHat doesn't apply to Gentoo and so on. No way you can support all the different distros.

      As a practical matter, support for end user computers is generally very limited. They'll give you general advice and help, but complex issues you are on your own. The university doesn't have the resources to spend time fixing every issue that students can come up with. They can offer advice like "Here is where you download the campus AV software," or "These are the settings to check your e-mail," but they are not going to walk you through getting X working on a custom kernel with non-standard drivers, or something of the like.

      Also, if your kid wants to use Linux they need to learn to support themselves. That is how life is with Linux. Heck you should learn some self support either way, but in particular for Linux. Most IT departments don't have a lot of Linux people, if any, on staff and none of them have any patience for cowboys. If a company does use and support Linux on the desktop it'll be well defined. They will support one version, in one configuration, setup their way. They well not at all be interested in spending time doing things your special way.

      That's how we do it here. We do support Linux on campus research/educational machines in the department where I work. However, if you want it centrally supported you run Fedora, we install it with our config, it uses our auth/file servers, we have root, you don't (you can have sudo), and you don't fuck with it. You wanna do your own shit? Best of luck to you, we don't support it. We have a very limited amount of staff and a lot to deal with, we cannot spend time hand holding for special configs.

    • Most colleges would allow a linux installation but are unprepared to provide support to every possible linux variation and configuration

      I don't think it's as simple as what the helpdesk will support or allow, but also what the classes will support in their instructions and expectations. For example, if you take a statistics course, will they expect you to have a spreadsheet program? Will they expect that program to be Excel? Will they offer instruction on how to use Excel, and if so will they also offer instructions for OpenOffice? Will they require you to use Excel add-ons that don't work with OpenOffice?

      Even if they don't support eve

    • Do you think the average college helpdesk is prepared to answer random Linux questions?

      At my community college, they were prepared for the specific Linux question I had. Unfortunately, the only answer they had was "We don't know." They were glad to have a solution once I solved it, though.

      a longer explanation [slashdot.org].

  • by jojoguy (1347119) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:02PM (#29355971)
    I am currently attending UCF and my main laptop on campus is running ubuntu 9.04. I have no problems using any of the online course work/websites and have no issues connecting to the internet.
  • My university (university of Brussels, www.vub.ac.be ) promotes Linux (and not mac/osx). Every program we write has to work on the CS server, which runs slackware. We (the CS student organisation/club) provide wireless network that works under linux (and not under vista >:) ), do linux InstallFests where people can bring their computer or just come into our room with a laptop and we'll happily help em. We try to promote opensource as well, for example when people had to reinstall and left their microsoft
  • by kungfuj35u5 (1331351) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:02PM (#29355991)
    Does. I'm actually the president of an organization that prominently supports and promotes free software (Laboratory for Recreational Computing). http://pohl.ececs.uc.edu/ [uc.edu]
  • But then again, I went to a Polytechnic where one of our classes involved remoting into the old Unix Box...

    Fun times!

    If the college campus has an Information and Computer Technology (or ICT) wing/branch/faculty, talk to those guys. Considering THEY are the ones who set up the servers, tested applications, WiFi, etc etc, they'll be able to give you the whats up on whether your linux box will work. DON'T waste your time with the "Techs" they have set up for the quick laptop repair. If its a Mac, they'll have

  • how about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:03PM (#29356003)
    Your daughter can consider her university's Mac/Windows-centric policy as simply part of her preparation for the "real world" in which application developers and IT departments favor Mac/Windows and largely ignore Linux.
    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      Your daughter can consider her university's Mac/Windows-centric policy as simply part of her preparation for the "real world" in which application developers and IT departments favor Mac/Windows and largely ignore Linux.

      There you go dragging reality into the conversation. Won't somebody put our fantasy lives first?

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      ...yes, because we all KNOW that Universities should be a mirror of the average fortune 500 company.

      • Re:how about... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by srealm (157581) <prez&goth,net> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:27PM (#29356419) Homepage

        Even that's wrong. Quite a number of fortune 500 companies rely on Linux heavily. Almost every investment bank certainly, but I'd wager a number of others too. Maybe not on the desktops of the employees, but still, Linux is certainly a viable and well-used platform in fortune 500s.

      • by Carik (205890)

        Mirror, no. But they ought to take that into account. After all, their purpose is to educate people and to get them ready for real jobs. That second part, at least, requires teaching people to use the industry standard equipment. The first doesn't, of course, and really ought to include teaching people alternatives, but, well... do you really expect logic from schools?

    • Re:how about... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:40PM (#29356629) Journal

      Yeah, no one has Samba servers or firewalls running variants of Linux. No one out there runs Apache.

      Any IT department that doesn't at least have some familiarity with Linux is rather like having a garage that doesn't know how to fix Jeeps.

  • Blank Stare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sethus (609631) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:04PM (#29356009)
    The reason you get a blank stare is because said student is usually a business or communication major and has no clue what Linux is. Heck as I computer science major, I don't know what you mean by 'support' Linux. Do you mean, do they have it in labs? Do they allow you to connect to the dorms using Linux? Do you mean as in what limited Tech support on campus and does it support Linux? Or do they have Linux in the computer labs?

    Assuming you mean computer labs, I can tell you here at UNT they do not have linux, but they do have (on every computer) an ssh client that allows you to connect to your Linux account (CS Major).
  • Spotty support (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Devil's BSD (562630) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:04PM (#29356025) Homepage
    Here at the University of Kentucky, Linux support is kind of spotty. Some IT guys support it, others don't. When I was doing biology research at the University back when I was a high school student, the sysadmin for the building with my lab was a diehard Windows/Dell guy, and discouraged use of other stuff, saying he couldn't guarantee data integrity, etc etc. When I moved on to computer science research, the sysadmins in that part of campus tend to be anything-but-Windows types. In the fine arts department, the sysadmins tend to be more partial to Apples.
    If you live on campus, though, the campus internet (ResNet) people officially only support PC and Mac, and they only support it if your computer is directly connected to the connection they provide. If you have a router between you and the campus network, you are required to remove it and directly connect to the cable modem or other gateway device that they provide. I think the policy is bollocks, but judging from the stories I've heard of how inept some of the L1 techs are, maybe it is better that way...
    • If you have a router between you and the campus network, you are required to remove it and directly connect to the cable modem or other gateway device that they provide. I think the policy is bollocks, but judging from the stories I've heard of how inept some of the L1 techs are, maybe it is better that way...

      I did tech support for an ISP, and they had the same policy: if you were behind a router and had connectivity issues, we'd ask you to connect one computer directly to the modem, bypassing the router.

  • seen, kinda. Certain classes require certain programs that only work on Windows, but that's down to a class by class basis. Hell, the lecture I'm sitting in as I type this, Digital Logic, requires Quartus, which ... you have to pay for if you use Linux, as opposed to the free version available for Windows. Some require certain discs that only work under Windows, etc. However, everything Uni wide works totally fine under Linux.
  • A lot of 'services' like wifi, or citrix don't really care what OS you are running, so why do they *need* to support it? If you get stuck with a 'windows only' application they *require* you to use, you can run it under wine, or inside a VM worst case. Problem solved.

    • Wine doesn't run all programs perfectly correctly (some programs don't run at all). As for the VM, most VMs don't allow accelerated 3D graphics (I think I rememember recently hearing something about VirtualBox adding 3D support for VMs, but I think they may be the only one). Granted, not all programs require 3D graphics, but what if the program you are required to use is something like SolidWorks, which is a Windows, 3D-accellerated CAD program? If it doesn't work well under Wine, and doesn't work at all in

  • NC State University (Score:5, Informative)

    by toppavak (943659) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:07PM (#29356081)
    As a recent grad I can speak to the fact that NCSU supports Linux in a big way [ncsu.edu] by deploying it in computer labs, supporting it for students, having a very active LUG (the mailing list is very friendly, they meet several times a month and host regular install-fests), making Linux desktops available remotely through a Virtual Computing Lab and giving students remote access to a couple of on-campus beowulf clusters. To the best of my knowledge support is strongest in the College of Engineering and in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. I believe most of the other Colleges (Life Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Textiles, Natural Resources etc) tend to use a mix of Windows and Mac workstations (and I'd heard somewhere that Design uses exclusively Macs).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by toppavak (943659)
      After re-reading your post, I should probably also clarify that the University's IT infrastructure and services provided to students is one of the best I've ever seen, from personal experience its light-years ahead of UNC Chapel Hill and a lot more user-friendly and headache-free than GaTech's. I've heard similar stories from many friends that have gone on to grad school. With regards to Wi-Fi access, they use a fairly platform-agnostic web-based authentication portal supplemented by the ability to register
  • I graduated in Dec 2005 from James Madison University in Virginia. The main CS lab actually ran RHEL exclusively, so that might say something right there, but none of the Linux users I knew had any problems. Granted, Linux users began to become rare well before that because OS X became an attractive development environment right around the time the university adopted wifi en masse.

    The ultimate question is how much she needs you in order to keep using Linux every day. If she can't handle most of or all of th

  • ...I do live in a college town, so I have some contact with campus life. I've been able to get online with the school's WiFi without much trouble, so I imagine students can, too.

    I think the important thing is not to try to reinvent the wheel. Probably every college and university in the US (and a great many other nations) has someone who's using Linux. Find those people. Ask them what they do.

  • Or are they just simply supporting the Mac version of Office? What happens if you want to use iWork or OpenOffice instead?

  • In 90% of cases, SMC supports linux. There are a few minor exceptions (ISYS 110 is windows focused and can be tested out of but is required), but in those cases you can simply use a computer on campus to complete the requirements.

    Those of us in the IT department tend to use linux for most of our servers and even some of our desktops. I myself use a mac full time. I'm always pushing to remove the dependancies on a single operating system.

  • by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:11PM (#29356161) Homepage
    "Sometimes I would ask the student tour guide if Linux was supported and was usually met with a blank stare." I doubt that it was a "blank" stare. The student tour guide, and everyone else in earshot, was probably wondering if you're a complete jerk, or just utterly clueless. Why would you ask some 18-19 year old kid giving tours stuff like that? Are you trying to prove something, or do you really, honestly believe that some random kid giving tours is going to know what "Linux" is?
  • But, for calculus, you may be forced to use Mathcad, which you will need to install in Virtualbox. There also may be some other trivial programs that require Windows. But, you will almost always have lab computers available for these. You may have to use Texmaker for math classes: aptitude install texmaker in Kubuntu. At my school, nobody prints from their laptops, so running linux on your laptop isn't much of an issue as long as you save your office documents in MS Word format.
  • by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:18PM (#29356289)

    USM (University of Southern Mississippi) strongly supports linux. The default student userspace is hosted on linux (until recently you had to ssh into a shell account to check your campus email, they now have a web interface as well). The CS departments higher classes generally require the use of linux as a programming environment (more specifically ssh shell accounts into the CS departments server). As for IT support for linux desktops/laptops? I am not sure, but all the CS computer labs dual boot into SUSE and win xp when I was last there.

  • Check out the web. Search the college website for Linux, look in the IT departments for Linux. I found information on connecting to the WPA-secured wireless network in the darkest corner of the IT website for mine. Life isn't as easy as it is for Windows users (you'll have to edit text- based config files instead of having an automatic, friendly GUI), but it's still usable if you try hard enough, and for those tasks that are impossible, just use a computer lab. If she takes computer courses in say Matlab, t

  • There might be other issues here. At my university I was required to use certain software packages for various classes which did not have a linux version and would not run under Wine.

    I don't care how "similar" or "equivalent" the linux version of the software package is, if the prof. says you must use Mathcad, then you're going to need a Windows machine. (note, this was just an example. Other situations may apply).

    Barring stupidity, which is likely to occur at some point, if the universities program s

  • Linux is probably not going to be officially supported by any school's IT department. However, that doesn't mean that they won't allow you to use a Linux computer. Of the 3 school networks I've used as a student (1 as undergrad, 1 for summer research, 1 for grad), all followed this rule (I graduated from undergrad 3 years ago). The least supported will be custom applications for scheduling/payroll/etc... But many of these are being moved to the web in a cross-platform environment (this is the case for my un

  • When I went to uni (2002), they weren't that fussed, but if you wanted any help with it you'd better be running Windows.

  • FWIW I'm a Mac user who is reasonably familiar with desktop Linux, and also happen to be employed in the computing group of a university department.

    It basically comes down to: What sort of "support" are you looking for? If there are applications needed for courses and those applications are Windows only - are you expecting them to find a work around other than saying "Install VMware" or "use the Windows computing lab"? Are you hoping the official computing folks will be able to help her if her distro won't

  • I think it is going to depend on the classes she takes. I ran Linux at UNT and had little to no problems connecting to the internet. I had no problems with papers, vpn, etc. The problems I did run into where the classes that have a little course application that came with the book that needed windows or mac only. My wife ran into an issue like that where her statistics software would only run on Windows or Mac. The school IT department is not going to know about that. Most of the wi-fi is DHCP, or if it is
  • Oregon State (Score:2, Informative)

    by phoenix0783 (965193)
    Half of all computers in engineering are Linux. OSU also hosts the osuosl [osuosl.org]. You get a free vpn client and other useful free stuff on a cd as a student.
  • by pythonax (769925) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:32PM (#29356503)
    A good chunk of the labs at my school (Carnegie Mellon) are linux. We actually are in the process of finishing a new Gates building, in which all the labs will be linux. There are definitely groups on campus which can help you and a large percent of the student body probably can too. Go find a few computer labs and wander through them. If you know what you are looking for, it shouldn't be hard to find out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SteveAstro (209000)

      ...... in the process of finishing a new Gates building, in which all the labs will be linux..

      Oh the irony.

  • My university here in Oregon doesn't support Linux, so it's more of a, "you're on your own." So for the VPN, I had to hack the config files provided for Windows and Mac users, decrypt the group password, etc. I then wrote up directions, and submitted it to my university's tech department, to include on their wiki! I have yet to get printing support functional---they use some kind of weird print thing I have yet to figure out.

    For wifi, I had some problems using NetworkManager, KDE4, and Arch, so I dualbooted

  • by Seto89 (986727)
    I'm in University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and I feel like Linux is well supported here.
    It goes without saying that one doesn't get the same level of support with setting up certain systems as they would with a PC or a Mac, but everything works fine, and all the essential programs (Remote Desktop access through an NX client, ssh, engineering programs (like MATLAB), VPNs) are available from school's servers in Linux versions, and there ARE detailed instructions on our web, describing how to ss
  • My computer must be broken, I do not see any pics of the daughter.

  • I work as a Network Admin. at UWO, and we do support well known Linux distros, as well as the MacOS and of course Windows. We find the number of students choosing to use Linux is increasing every year, so we try to accommodate it as best as possible. Many of the folks in the NOC use Linux (an have used *nix OS's for years), but the weak link so far is in getting documentation to accurately reflect alternate OS's as much as Windows. Statistically, we're at about 5 to 7% *nix, 20% MacOS, and the rest as Wi
  • "Does your school support Linux?" There are several problems with this question. The tech savvy would reply "Which version of Linux are you talking about?" Unlike Windows or Mac OS X, there is no coherent thing that you can point to and say "This Linux.... support it!" What you've got are competing distributions, and within them competing windows managers like KDE, and GNOME, each of which do things differently. The second level of this question kind of begs the question... what kind of support are y
  • by Jim Hall (2985) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:57PM (#29358903) Homepage

    Lately I've been visiting colleges with my daughter, who is a senior in high school. Every school has proudly announced that they support both Windows and Macs, and most of these schools report having about a 50-50 split between the two. However we've been a Linux household for many years now, and my daughter routinely uses a laptop running Kubuntu 9.04. Sometimes I would ask the student tour guide if Linux was supported and was usually met with a blank stare. We're obviously not concerned about whether she can write papers using OpenOffice and Linux. Rather we've been wondering about using other computing services on campus like classroom applications, remote printing, VPNs, or Wi-Fi support (nearly all these campuses have ubiquitous Wi-Fi). Given the composition of Slashdot's readership, I thought I'd pose the question here. Does your school support Linux? Have you found it difficult or impossible to use Linux in concert with the school's computing services?

    I work in central IT at a Big-Ten university, and I'm not surprised you got blank stares from the campus tour guides. All our tour guides are students trained into the position, and are very knowledgeable about buildings, academics, that sort of thing. Ask a technical question, like "Do you support Linux on campus?" and unless the guide happens to be an EE/CS student, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a "huh?" response.

    Our university officially supports Windows and Mac. But we don't specifically prohibit Linux. In fact, many people who work the call-in help desk know about Linux and will do their best to support you (even though it's "unsupported") in getting connected to the wireless network, or checking your email.

    In practice, I suppose most universities are the same. Nothing to actively break Linux, but not really looking out for Linux's best interests either.

    Our basic services don't care - central email is platform-agnostic; use any system you like as long as it talks POP or IMAP (or use our webmail system.) Wi-Fi is open to anyone with a valid university account, nothing else required. I've connected to our VPN using Linux vpnc. Calendar has downloadable clients for Windows/Mac/Linux, or use the web interface. Our web-based file share for students supports all major browsers, doesn't care about the OS. (There is a desktop client for Windows that integrates the file share at the Windows desktop, but this is just a convenience.) Similarly, our web registration and many other central web-delivered services only check the browser, not the OS.

    That said, you may run into problems with things like e-learning if you aren't using Windows or Mac. Check first. The e-learning platform used at each institution may dictate what OS you can use. Some commercial e-learning systems may only support Windows and Mac. I think I had problems accessing our remote classroom system (to participate in a remote meeting) when using Linux. It would be better to ask things like "What is your campus e-learning system?" (which a tour guide would likely know, by the way) then google that e-learning system later to see what clients are supported by the vendor.

    Specific systems at the college level may also depend on platform (CAD or GIS, as two examples) and departments may run their own web systems that assume Windows or Mac, and may break for Linux (use of ActiveX or Silverlight, for example, if that's what the collegiate web developer wanted to use to build that system.)

    Based on what major your daughter is interested in, you may also ask students in that college about their use of Linux in the program. If you explain "I'm visiting with my high school daughter", students are often inclined to answer questions about the program and what they use.

    The major also could be a clue. Engineering or Computer Science? Probably running Linux. English or Fine Arts? Probably Mac or Windows. Physics or Chemistry? Could be anything. Or, just wander the lounge and see what students are running on their laptops - that may give you an idea. At our university, I can walk through the lounge on any given day in the semester, and guarantee seeing at least one GNOME or KDE desktop.

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