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Education Microsoft Linux

Free Software For All Russian Schools In Jeopardy 265

Posted by kdawson
from the borg-not-taking-it-lying-down dept.
Glyn Moody writes "Last year, we discussed here a Russian plan to install free software in all its schools. Seems things aren't going so well. Funds for the project have been cut back, some of the free software discs already sent out were faulty, and — inevitably — Microsoft has agreed to a 'special price' for Windows XP used in Russian schools."
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Free Software For All Russian Schools In Jeopardy

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  • In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @09:29PM (#30111210) Journal

    Free software costs too much? Really?

    Somebody needs to explain some things to these folks. It's not that hard: you install LTSP on a server, all the clients boot to the network. Install all the software you want on the server. If instead of (or in addition to) thin client/shared desktop you want an image on the desktop you configure the PXE server to dish an installer image.

  • Re:Special pricing. (Score:3, Informative)

    by value_added (719364) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @09:45PM (#30111346)

    Well, we don't know whether the government was playing politics, or was honest in their intentions. Either way, it's fair to characterise Microsoft's moves as good business for them, but problematic for everyone else.

    By problematic, I'd use the analogy of a loan shark giving you a special rate on a new load to get you past the missed interest payment you missed on your last unpaid loan. Sure it resolves the crisis, but the underlying problems and high costs remain.

    And speaking of underlying problems and high costs, the following article is appearing on news.google.com.

    Are Microsoft to blame for "hidden" malware costs [freesoftwaremagazine.com]

  • Re:Free (Score:2, Informative)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:16PM (#30111580)
    Oh no, tell me you did not just shit on a Soviet Russia joke....

    Someone come take this guy's geek credentials away.
  • Re:Special price (Score:3, Informative)

    by kiwimate (458274) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:35PM (#30111692) Journal

    How else can you beat free software?

    By ignoring costs for retraining on the new OS, retraining on the new applications, headache costs when the specialized educational/academic/back office software doesn't run on Linux, and so forth?

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:07AM (#30112136) Journal

    This is going to shock you but written English is quite common in Russia and most Russians are multilingual.

    This is simply false. It may hold true for Moscow and a few other large cities (though even then I'm not sure), but most of the country is definitely not multilingual, English or otherwise. There's simply no point in learning it, and whatever schools give you is really basic, and is quickly forgotten for the lack of practice.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Informative)

    by Captian Spazzz (1506193) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:31AM (#30112252) Homepage

    Right Click the network manager icon in the top tool bar.
    Select EDIT Connections
    Select DSL (assuming that's the type of connection your using PPPOE for, but it should work regardless)
    Click Add
    Enter username and password and any other settings required.
    Connect
    ???
    Profit!

    Seriously dude I just bridged my DSL Modem and connected using the native PPPOE client in Ubuntu. No command line needed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:18AM (#30112458)

    Of course, predatory pricing involves temporarily selling your product at a _lower_ price than the competition. Linux is free, so unless Microsoft are charging a negative price for Windows, that's not really relevant here. To beat out a cheaper rival like Linux, Windows has to be a superior product, eg by offering better features or being cheaper to operate.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:1, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:40AM (#30112552) Journal

    I direct you sir to the Wikipedia page that documents 27 "official" Russian languages, 13 "near extinction" languages, and 11 "endangered" languages. [wikipedia.org]. That's not considering dialects or local fluency in the languages of former and recently independent republics.

    Russia is a very large country that has a far richer history than the US. A good Russian church has more years of history than our country has. America is not as old as a firmly built Russian manor house, let alone a well established Russian Orthedox cathedral.

    American English is the language of global commerce and I assure you it's commonly taught in Russian schools as well as Japanese, Canadian, Bolivian and German schools. My adventures abroad have found no lack of folk to talk to, though I am unfortunately linguistically impaired.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:50AM (#30112586) Journal

    Russia is a very large country that has a far richer history than the US. A good Russian church has more years of history than our country has.

    I am Russian, not American, and I grew up in what we call "province" (i.e. not in a big city). I speak from personal experience, so don't throw WP links at me, especially when they're so out of context. Sure, there is a bunch of local languages - they're about as relevant in Russia as Native Indian languages are in the U.S. Aside from that, everyone speaks Russian, and most people belonging to minority nations don't speak anything but Russian as well (with exception of Caucasus republics, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan).

    And schools? Yes, they do teach English there, in theory. In practice maybe 1 out of 5 people taught that way will know English well enough, say, a year after school, to actually read a random English text of moderate complexity. Spoken English is even worse, especially understanding it.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:56AM (#30112880)

    Every single major Linux distribution I have used in the past 5 years can be completely configured from X-Windows. And with UNIX variants, once configured, they stay configured unless someone messes with them, some outside factor (router changed its IP), or hardware changes/failures affect the box.

    I am an old UNIX person, so I prefer popping an xterm (or even better, control-alt-shift-F2 for a console TTY) and editing files or using curses based utilities. However, these days, you don't have to know the ins and outs of sendmail.cf (or even sendmail.mc) to have a mail server configured for you by modern day administration tools from KDE or GNOME. I would say that configuring a Linux distribution like RHEL or Ubuntu is just as easy as configuring a Windows box.

    And if you are into remote management, Webmin and Plesk can allow you to do a number of sysadmin tasks from your Web browser. Webmin has been around for over a decade, and is a (for the most part) very stable tool. Plesk is a commercial utility that has gotten a good amount of praise as well.

    So, don't let the fear of a bash shell stop you from running Linux. You can do an amazing amount of stuff without ever needing to even look at a "$" or "#" prompt. It might have been true about 10 years ago that graphical admin tools were at best good for only general stuff, and at worst, SUID root disasters, but time has moved on, and a lot of work has been done in this field.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:4, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:25AM (#30113270) Journal

    Ok. I've got a real person onsite with with real needs. I'm happy to have an opportunity to help, as I'm sure many other slashdotters would be. How can we help you? Really.

    I'm not "on site" anymore - almost a year in Canada now, and while I do not know where I'll settle down eventually, one thing I know for sure is that I'm not planning to return.

    How can you help someone else there? In the large scheme of things, money and other donations can be handy locally in some very remote (and consequently backwards) locations, but on the whole lack of funds is not the issue. This isn't to say that Russia is rich, but it's not quite a third-world country, either. Schools mostly have computers (if outdated), and software to run of them (if pirated), for example.

    The real problem is the present socio-political system, and more precisely, the corruption that it generates and protects. You can pour as much money as you have into that bottomless pit - most of it will end up in the pockets of people who run the show (and have much more than enough already). That system is what strangles middle class - it's very hard to run a small business there, because bigger fish will always seek to swallow the smaller ones, and they have plenty of money to bribe the bureaucrats with. Tiny middle class means lower wages for working class (they can only go to big business to work, and their negotiating power is consequently diminished), wrecked economy, and government which is the mix of the worst of oligarchic kleptocracy and tyranny of the majority.

    The story in TFA is, to some extent, a case of that - the project may have been started to reap the true advantages of FLOSS in education, but in the end, it always devolves to a cash grab by corrupt government officials and their privileged businessmen friends. Large parts of money were almost certainly wasted like that - it's called "otkat" in Russian, and it's when a government official in charge of a public tender for a particular project will select a more expensive option, because the company backing that option will pay a percentage of its profit directly into his pocket.

    By the way, It's also why proprietary will likely win in the end - there is more money to spend there, and therefore "otkat" is larger.

    What you, or anyone else outside the country, can do to help that, I truly do not know. The change has to come from within, but I do not see it coming - rather the opposite, things have only been getting worse in the last decade, and seemingly with the silent consent of the majority. Which is part of the reason why I'm out.

  • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:2, Informative)

    by supersloshy (1273442) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:26AM (#30116498)

    Boring cheap wireless card in my new PC "just works" with vista but I've spent more hours than I really should trying to get it to work in unbuntu to no avail so I have to string a cable across the house when I want to use the net with linux.

    1) Did you try ndiswrapper?

    2) You can't blame Ubuntu or Linux in general for something like that. Whenever you install an operating system you are never guaranteed (except maybe by the hardware's manufacturer) if it will or won't work out of the box. Linux is way more out-of-the-box compatible with devices such as printers, webcams, and (IIRC) tablets than windows ever was. Sorry about your wireless card, but nobody ever said it would work right away.

    3) Did you try Ubuntu Karmic Koala (9.10)?

    Now the bright side of linux is that it tells you when something is wrong, it tells you even when nothing is wrong, it gives you all the details you need to figure out how to fix it, so many details that if you aren't equipped to understand them it worries you.

    ...

    but for most users they don't know how to fix a computer, they really don't want to know, they don't even want to know the full details of what's gone wrong because they dobn't read error messages anyway, they're not going to spend an hour reading documentation to get their sound to work again. And they shouldn't have to.

    Oh gosh... This isn't a problem at all. You're making a mountain out of a shoebox; creating a problem where there isn't one, if that makes sense to you. Linux error messages are much more human-readable (at least on Ubuntu with it's Apport system). Not only this, but it (Apport) gives you the ability to report the problem, tells you what will be in the report (optional) and since the code of whatever crashed is most likely Free, a fix is MUCH more likely than otherwise. Nobody ever said reading documentation was a "problem"; it should be obvious for some programs, right? Why aren't you mentioning this as a Windows or Mac problem as well?

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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