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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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  • 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).
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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?
  • 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:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:16PM (#29356245) Homepage

    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 open source textbooks should be among the goals of any modern university. That both of these things aren't prioritized tells me that these schools are run by people who are either corrupt or clueless. Well, or maybe just apathetic and not very good.

  • 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.

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

    by srealm (157581) <`ten.htog' `ta' `zerp'> 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.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:29PM (#29356459)

    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 need for your time there, with the lowest level of expenditure they can get away with.

    That means you're on your own for Linux support. There might be a local user group, or the odd Linux user in the IT department, but that's it.

    You're wasting your time asking about Linux, particularly asking the tour guide who's doing this for brownie points with future sales or marketing employers. Ask the college IT department, and *don't* ask about Linux, ask about which standards and protocols they use. Then you can decide if your Linux laptop is compatible with the college you'd like to go to.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:29PM (#29356463) Homepage

    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:1, Insightful)

    by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:33PM (#29356515) Homepage

    Or maybe they have more important things to worry about than an ideological debate that, ultimately, nobody except zealots on either side actually care about?

    You can make a difference between 'free' and 'not free' in the sense of monetary cost, but that's an analysis that ultimately the University will be making anyway- and Microsoft makes it very comfortable for them with MSDNAA and other programs.

    You can make an argument based on 'free' and 'not free' in the sense of ideology, but this is not something that universities give a damn about, and to be honest, they really shouldn't. They buy chairs that are patented, buy textbooks under copyright, probably issue textbooks under copyright and apply for patents- universities, certainly, are not ideologically opposed to the current IP-licensing regime, just like 99% of people in the world.

  • by Neil Hodges (960909) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:36PM (#29356575)

    "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: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.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shadowmist (57488) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:41PM (#29356665)
    It's not a matter of being actively hostile. (After all Mac people would have the same issue) It's a matter that this is the infrastructure that they invested in and they're simply requiring you to conform to it. I'm pretty sure if you could get the Exam4 software to run under Wine or Crossover and get the results that they need done, done, they probably wouldn't care less. But again because they're not babystepping you through what you'd have to do is not an expression of hostility, it's more like you're here, this is what you need to do and the only route that we support doing it is through Windows.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:50PM (#29356807)
    Probably the same reason they used to charge *YOU* ridiculously high prices for textbooks that they forced you to use, when other cheaper/better alternatives were available. That's what universities do.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:54PM (#29356887)
    She might have to live in the crappy freshman dorm too, and park her car off campus, and do a million other things that she'll have to bite her lip on and just deal with. Colleges don't cater to everyone's whims, you know.
  • 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.

  • by yo_tuco (795102) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:13PM (#29357281)

    "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.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms&infamous,net> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:17PM (#29357367) Homepage

    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?)

    What's the cost of data insecurity, of giving up freedoms, and of supporting a criminal corporation? What form do you write those costs off on?

    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.

    My preference is not for a particular operating system, it is for open standards. A situation where I am forced to use proprietary standards results from either incompetence or corruption; both are things I'd like to avoid.

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

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:24PM (#29357513)
    It's only ideology if you are looking at it from a 'religious' perspective when viewing that question rather than a support question as to whether they support open standards and formats. In which case, you project your own ideology onto the question.
  • Not really (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:35PM (#29357731) Journal

    Actually the office support you dismiss is what I found to be biggest sticking point. I found no shortage of assignments like "create a powerpoint slideshow about x" and for the most part submitting assignments in word format was common. Printed papers were not.

  • by A12m0v (1315511) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:39PM (#29357813) Journal

    I always thought the reason they went for Linux for the OS lab, when everything else was Windows, is the fact that Linux is open source and we can get to see the code and play with it, to a degree. It sure seemed that way to me, even the book we used for the lectures had some exercises on compiling and tweaking Linux a bit.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtbritishskull (1435843) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:00PM (#29358149)

    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 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.

  • 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:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:16PM (#29359151)

    I don't give up any freedoms.

    Yes, you do. Got a bug in Windows? Can you fix it in the source, and recompile? Can you give a copy of Windows to a friend? Can you reinstall Windows on a second PC? If MS's WGA decides your license is invalid, even though it is valid, can you get MS to restore your license?

    No? What freedoms did you have in mind when you wrote that?

    I am fully of the opinion that once you've been convicted and served your time, you're free to go and no stigma should accrue to you. I don't blame Microsoft for having been convicted regarding their business practices any more than I would refuse to associate with someone who, in the past, had been convicted of shoplifting.

    MS was convicted of a felony, and have not shown any sense of remorse or rehabilitation. If someone was a repeat shoplifter, and continued to engage in shoplifting after conviction, I wouldn't necessarily "refuse to associate" with them, but if I were a shop owner, I'd definitely keep my eye on them if not ban them from my store outright.

    Probably the form that requires me not to be an insane zealot.

    Insanity is often cited as holding a world-view that is inconsistent with reality. While "zealot" may apply to the OP, I don't think insanity is terribly apt. Your views, on the other hand, do seem to contradict reality rather squarely...

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @08:17PM (#29359721) Journal

    You have no right to give a copy of a digital work to a friend.

    Ok, I'll bite on this bait. Yes we do have that right. It is a natural right. Anyone can legally give a digital copy of the Bible or any other work that's out of copyright to anyone else. We can also give out copies legally with permission from the rights holder.

    And, most important of all, anyone can give out copies of digital works without knowing or caring about the legality. No matter how badly certain industries want to make it legally or technically impossible, they can't stop us from copying.

  • by 0x25 (90552) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @08:32PM (#29359889)

    It doesn't matter if they teach you C, C++, FORTRAN, COBOL, Assembly, Visual Basic, LISP, Scheme, etc.

    It doesn't matter if they force you to use emacs or vi.

    It doesn't matter if they use Windows, UNIX, Linux, etc.

    It isn't what they make you use. It's what they teach you that matters. A good university will teach you the ideas behind computing - how operating systems work in general. Nor should a university be predominant in any given language - they should be exposing you to several different languages that showcase the fundamental differences between them (i.e. procedural vs. functional vs. object-oriented).

    What matters is that whatever it is that they teach you; will allow you to take any of the above technologies and be able to become proficient and productive with them. People get bent out of shape over a particular technology, but particular technologies either evolve or fade away in time. The foundation that was taught to me in university was sufficient to allow me to adopt new technologies, understand them and implement them within any environment as required.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yfrwlf (998822) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:49PM (#29361179)
    There's no excuse for not using standards that are cross-platform. Doing so is dumb/fail/stupid. Why do you think there is so much development for "cloud computing" and java stuff? College IT departments, along with those in ALL educational surroundings, need to remember they are taking on the responsibility of teachers and are directly influencing the lives of students. They need to remember they are targets for corruption from software companies wanting to convince them to make their students buy the company's products. They directly help determine how expensive it will be for students to attend college. With all this in mind, using open source software and cross-platform software to give the students freedom and help lower college costs. Students should indeed be concerned about it and try to attend colleges which care about their wallets, freedom, and flexibility.
  • Re:High School (Score:2, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @01:43AM (#29362329) Journal

    Good for you! My high school was pretty high-tech too. We had an IBM PC in 1979 (OK, technically it was an IBM 5150. They didn't start calling it a PC until later), and a computer science teacher, Alan Schulz who was one of the "boys from Boca" that invented the damned thing. He got us a computer lab (with Apple ]['s of course) and a variety of other machines (does anybody really remember the Timex Sinclair or TI99/4a?). They made him teach math most of the time because computer sciences weren't some serious business endeavor back then. He owned the local Apple store.

    He taught me a lot about basic science. Don't accept anything as a "magic black box". Start with an understanding of the transistor and how they build into gates and logic. Proceed to an understanding of machine language -- especially comparison and branch operations. When you know how such things are done on an electrical level it does amazing things for the persistence of your understanding of the rest of it and your ability to detect bullshit. Having struggled through a course where we had to write useful applications that worked in 8 bit opcodes written in pencil on paper in binary I learned some things I'm unlikely to forget. Doing so as the only member of a four-person team to produce anything useful I learned other facts that still give daily service. A few years ago I went back and some of the apps I wrote are still in daily use, though heavily modified of course.

    As a historical note, the student computer society (BUHSCCIOBBDT) had fundraisers and bought some stock - IBM, Microsoft and Apple among others. It did quite well.

    Logic diagrams, Venn diagrams, and other primitives are still as useful as they ever were. APL is still a write-only language. BASIC is still good for quick mock-ups of what a program will be when you've written it in a real language. Tape still sucks for bandwidth. ADA is still easy to sell and gruesome to program in. Game programming is still about balance between challenge and reward. GOTO is still flamebait. Programmers still play D&D (or some modern equivalent) in high school. Applications are still data structures + algorithms. To be honest, a lot of the stuff I learned then and in years following is now worthless (SNOBOL anyone?) but I'm doing better than some because my excursions from Assembler, C, and C++ have been recreational at most. I've collected scores of languages the way some people collect Happy Meal toys and discovered the same thing such collectors have: 90% of stuff that's manufactured is junk to stuff a landfill with.

    I was also fortunate to be in school with folks like Robert Toth and Vince Sherart, who were great minds well ahead of their time. From your post I'm guessing that you're also surrounded by folks who will persist and do well.

    Let me put this another way. In every field there's a ton of fakers who subsist by getting in with buzzword proficiency or an MCSE cert and rise to middle management through meeting management. These people serve the purpose of preventing excess productivity, which believe it or not is a socially useful goal. You don't have to be one of those. You can get ahead by knowing how to do stuff. If you proceed in your education from understanding the first causes to the prime forces, then when you have to deal with one of these jerks you can cut him off at the knees by pointing out the things he doesn't know, and in the process make your work environment more fun to be in. As a bonus it's fun to watch them wilt.

  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RobBebop (947356) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @08:35AM (#29364241) Homepage Journal

    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."

  • by jeremyp (130771) on Wednesday September 09, 2009 @11:04AM (#29366171) Homepage Journal

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

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.

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