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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 @10:29PM (#30111210) Homepage 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:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:39PM (#30111286)
      It depends though. If you look at a lot of (American) schools technology is crap. About 2 years ago I was in an elementary school computer lab with computers still running Windows 98(!) on hardware made for Windows 95. And legacy software wasn't the issue the school just didn't have the funds or the motivation to switch. After all a kid can learn just as well on a Pentium II that takes 4 minutes to respond to mouse input as a Core 2 duo that responds instantly right? Even the small expense of some noiseless thin clients and a powerful server might be too much because until the HDDs are dead, the memory is bad, the CD drives are stuck and the monitor has exploded, they have no desire to upgrade.

      Retraining is also hard. Schools (at least in America) generally have a large amount of dead weight. Teachers long past their prime who teach boring classes who are apathetic towards students but who have been tenured and can't be fired without having to fight through the unions. These teachers have no desire to get a new keyboard, let alone an entirely new OS or new ways of doing things. In fact I'm sure a lot of them would rather have paper grades and typewriters. So when the price is $20,000 to switch to Linux $50,000 to upgrade Windows or just $0 to do absolutely nothing, many schools choose the free option especially in lower grades.
      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @11:21PM (#30111614) Journal

        Yeah a few years back I ended up giving a bunch of old office boxes to one of my local schools. I installed Win2K along with some basic office software OO.o and the like, and I bet they are still being used to this day. Why didn't i just use Linux? because unless I wanted to be their free admin for the rest of my days I had to install something their "IT" guy understood. This guy was such an old fossil he wanted to know where to input the DOS commands.

        Most folks here talk about "Oh, Linux is free!" but sorry, that's bullshit. Yeah the OS may be free, but you ever priced a Linux Guru? Cheap they ain't because there simply aren't many of them. It is a LOT easier to teach a teacher how to go "clicky clicky, next next next" than to deal with a CLI. They know Windows, they use Windows at home, so they ain't scared of Windows.

        After trying to give away nice older machines that I'd get given to me on jobs with Linux installed by me I quickly learned that old saying was true "Linux is free if your time is worthless" because i would get called back to service their 'free" machine when they couldn't get the printer to work, an update borked sound or video, etc. In the end it was just easier to wipe the machine, reinstall whatever Windows it had a license for, and then sell or give it away.

        So while I appreciate the idea of a free OS for schools, unless they got the money to hire the Linux admins to run it I've found it just ain't worth it. Better to give them a locked down Windows box and just be done with it. Windows admins are cheap and MSFT is happy to give educational discounts to keep Windows in the schools, no different than Apple and my local college.

        • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @11:40PM (#30111712) Homepage Journal

          Most folks here talk about "Oh, Linux is free!" but sorry, that's bullshit. Yeah the OS may be free, but you ever priced a Linux Guru?

          I'm feeling my years. My grandmother has quite a few of them on me. It took me an hour to install her Linux over a year ago, and it still works fine. Nothing bad happened. I showed her how to install software and now she's got quite a lot of it. One of these days she's going to ask me to debug her wget scripts. Grandma never did learn to drive but she can MySpace like nobody's business.

          Where I'm at Linux geeks are more common than the other kind so they're not expensive. Your mileage may vary.

          Windows admins are cheap

          Not always, but sometimes, you do get what you pay for. The problem with Windows admins is that you also need a LOT of them. Just techs to clean malware and fix twitchy software is >1% of headcount for some large organizations. IMHO most Windows admins see the internal workings of the machine as a "black box" and they are neither able to nor interested in understanding the lower level of activity that drives the magic blinky lights. Linux geeks are a different breed indeed.

          • If all they want to do is run a browser and possibly Open Office, anyone should be fine with Linux... but what if you, say, want to install new hardware? How about a printer? New WiFi card/dongle? Oooooh, how about one of those nifty wireless WAN thingamajiggies?

            Or how about clicking the "Update to latest release" button? Tried that yesterday on a Virtualbox VM of Ubuntu 9.04, and after an hour of downloading and installing crap, the VM rebooted and got stuck in an endless loop of flashing text - I'm having

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jedidiah (1196)

              ...then such a person is going to run into problems unless they are their own guru.

              There is simply no avoiding this.

              They will inevitably plug in a printer into Windows before they've installed the driver. They won't notice the red tape or fully realize what it means.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by BitZtream (692029)

            Admins aren't cheap, lackeys are. You don't need a lot of admins, you probably need a few lackeys to deal with users.

            Admins aren't the people dealing with users, those are basic tech support people. Admins automate to the point that they can cover a LOT of administration by themselves.

            This applies to any OS, Windows, Linux , or whatever. if you need a lot of 'admins' then you don't have admins.

            Example: National cable company, 7 admins with 24 hour coverage, for 3 million subscribers, for every system th

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Arkaic (784460)
          I'd say you aren't much of a real Windows admin if all you know if the "click click" side of things. Even a halfway decent PC Tech knows how to effectively use things like ipconfig from a cmd prompt. I just recently did some online coursework for Windows Server 2008. Guess what? There are still PLENTY of tasks that can ONLY be done from the CLI, for managing DNS and number of other things. As much as Windows like to focus on the GUI for the average user, you will never get away from the CLI if you want
          • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Spad (470073) <slashdot@nOspaM.spad.co.uk> on Monday November 16, 2009 @05:26AM (#30113274) Homepage

            If anything, Microsoft is moving *more* stuff to the CLI. Look at Exchange 2007; half the management tasks can *only* be carried out from the Powershell management interface and it looks like they're headed the same way with most of the new versions of their core apps (including Server core, obviously).

            Not that it's a bad thing (I love Powershell, having been stuck with VBScript for automating Windows admin tasks for years).

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228)

            Wow thanks...I so rarely get to use this in a sentence....WOOOOSH! Way to not read the post there pal! Kinda miss the part where I said i didn't want to be their free admin for life? What should I do, constantly trawl forums for lists of supported hardware and hope like hell somebody doesn't drop any Lexmark printers or Broadcom wireless chips off?

            The POINT was it don't take squat for time to show someone how to admin a Windows box. Lock it down, only allow limited users, hell your already halfway home! And

        • > "Linux is free if your time is worthless"

          Why try to make that Linux specific? It's more like, all desktop computers require maintenance. In my experience, Windows computers need more of it. Presumably, the IT guy would not be calling you when he hit a Windows bug he couldn't handle? Well, then the situation is clear, and requires no Linux bashing to justify. He only wanted Windows, and was willing to pay for the licenses. Done.

        • by daveime (1253762)

          This guy was such an old fossil he wanted to know where to input the DOS commands

          Yes, because a DOS-box is *so* far removed from a bash terminal, there's simply no comparison.

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          I have seen both sides of this fence. My conclusion is that this depends on the area of the country.

          Here in Austin, there are plenty of top notch Linux, BSD, AIX, Solaris, OS X, and Windows administrators. So, if I were handed the plans for a school computer lab, depending on the concepts being learned, Linux would be just as good as Windows, because the school can always find someone at UT (University of Texas) who is versed in Linux, and can keep their systems running once my task is done.

          But, in other

        • by Krneki (1192201)
          Why do you need to pay for IT when you have a lot of students with free time? Back in the days we were happy to maintain the PCs in our free time, as long as they allowed us to play games. Just let the students tinker with the devices and they will learn how to use them.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)
            Because back then, you didn't have these things known as "ambulance chasers". What do you think will happen if little Suzy gets exposed to porn on one of those school machines because some kid has figured out how to load it when they were supposed to be "maintaining it"? Can you say million dollar lawsuit boys and girls? I think you can. another nice thing about MSFT-Blame it on a bug works real well.
            • by Krneki (1192201)
              Is it true I have no idea how Joe's mind works.
              For me it's simple, teach people how to protect themselves.

              But probably it's just me and the old "use common sense" doctrine.
    • by linumax (910946)
      Free software doesn't mean no costs. It just means cheaper, and usually only in long term. You have installation, training, support, cost of porting existing applications and data, etc.
      • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @11:23PM (#30111624) Homepage Journal

        Free software doesn't mean no costs. It just means cheaper, and usually only in long term. You have installation, training, support, cost of porting existing applications and data, etc.

        TCO for Windows involves the risk of 17 years in a siberian prison [russiankafe.com].

        TCO for Linux involves asking some people to work an hour late one day a week for a few months.

        Plugging that into my ROI calculator gives a time to recover investment of... 1.2 milliseconds.

        • by DJRumpy (1345787)

          Part of the costs they are looking at is to train everyone to use it. Like it or not, not everyone can just dive right into an OS. For most folks on /. it's easy, but for someone who's intimidated by a PC, not so much. They also have costs invested in current software that will have to be replaced, be that with OSS, or with some pay solution. It takes time (people hours) to replace software, and then time to train on the new software in addition to the OS training.

          Last but not least, you have to have a supp

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

            by symbolset (646467) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:08AM (#30112416) Homepage Journal

            I've said this before in this thread so I'll cut you some slack and refer to my other posts. In Soviet Russia manpower is cheap. It's a very top-down management system. People are so resourceful that some of them don't just build their own schools from raw trees, they have to go out and earn the scratch to buy the tools to do so with manual labor or barter. This doesn't just apply to schools - in some ways their space program works the same way. It's terrible to think about what an engineer will do to actually get to perform some engineering. The whole ROI thing does not work in Russia. If people protest that they need Windows it's because they have been paid to do so or incentivised to do so by other people who have been paid to motivate them to protest, and even in that they accept some risk. In most cases these folks are glad to have books, heat, one computer per classroom and a classroom to teach in. This is nothing close to a free market economy. They achieve great things with these constraints because they are well motivated (inspired) and because they hope to bring about progress. On average, they're also bright because being stupid is in their system more fatal than it is in ours and in this case Darwin wins.

            Urban Russia is not like this but Russia is vast and Urban Russia is but a small fraction of the schools and those few are even more politically (and unoficially) motivated.

            Russians are very adaptable and resourceful in ways you cannot imagine. The difficulty in switching software systems is absolutely nothing to them. It's background noise. Compared to the difficulties of their normal lives outside of teaching it's not worth considering. Some teachers have not been paid their salaries for years and eke by on donations from the families of their students or in barter where they develop value above and beyond their official duties.

            Russia is a very different place than you are used to. So no, overcoming the objections you mount are so trivial to them as to not be worth consideration.

            OSS is great, but it is rarely free for non-personal use.

            Ok now you're just plain lying. There are some OSS solutions that are not also free, but they're so rare and limited as to be unworthy of consideration. How desperate must you be to lie about the plainly obvious? In FOSS not only can the average user download an operating system and 50,000 useful applications for every endeavor, they can do with it what they will whether it's personal or government or corporate use, without the risk of years in a Siberian prison that Microsoft solutions provide. They can install it on a billion machines and the only restriction is that if they make changes and share them outside their organization they have to include the source code. If they build on BSD they don't even have that problem as they can even sell their innovations for a profit and not share the source code. This may sound harsh to you but as an alternative to using your spare time to turn trees into homes for favored Russians who have cash, it's a slam dunk. The fact that Linux runs well on the legacy hardware they're faced with is just a bonus.

            It is very un-Russian to complain unless you are motivated to complain by some promised money. Where is this money coming from?

            • I nominate this post as one of the most informative posts ever made to Slashdot.
            • by DJRumpy (1345787)

              You seem to think I am saying they will somehow pay for the OSS itself. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying there are other costs associated with switching an operating system outside of the OSS itself.

    • Free software costs too much? Really?

      If it works out of the box it is not too much, but maybe they have to localise the software into Russian. Given the differences between the languages, that might not be a trivial task. I don't know what software they need - it might include education apps that are not part of any standard distro.

      As others have said, there is also the cost of training, both of the teachers who have to use the computers and the IT departments who must administer them.

      • by symbolset (646467) on Monday November 16, 2009 @12:13AM (#30111890) Homepage Journal

        This is going to shock you but written English is quite common in Russia and most Russians are multilingual. Also, most Russians are quite adaptable and resourceful - by necessity as they've been more challenged than we have in the west. Some of these teachers built their own schools from raw logs, and they had to do manual labor to get the tools to work the logs. I'm not kidding. After that experience figuring out Linux should be a cinch. In short these are not typically your inner-city career button pushers. The ability of Russians to endure travails without complaint that would wreck our average American polar explorer is legendary - they're almost British in this way.

        Localization is trivial. I believe Russian interface is supported in every Linux variant I've ever used. It's just Cryllic alphabet, keywords and fonts anyway. It's not like it's got some fancy top-to-bottom or right-to-left glyph sequence or anything. Lots of Russians use Linux by choice and I'm sure lots of them have figured this out. This isn't Windows: localization has been part of the standard GNU project template for many years.

        If they're complaining that they can't do it then it's because they've been paid handsomely to make such a complaint. Otherwise they wouldn't be Russian. Now, who would pay them to do that? And why is anybody listening?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          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.

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

          That sounds like a poor answer for a government mandated, national standard for software. "Sorry, but we couldn't come up with a system in our own language." A great loss for national pride! As an Australian, I know that there would be an uproar if our government tried to foist a software standard for schools which used American English, let alone another language.

          Some of these teachers built their own schools from raw logs ... After that experience figuring out Linux should be a cinch.

          Someone from a thousand years ago could build a school from logs, but that doesn't mean to say that they could understand Linux either.

          I believe Russian interface is supported in every Linux variant I've ever used.

          That is wh

        • by westlake (615356)

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

          In the primary grades?

          In outland cities and towns or just in Moscow?

          Localization is trivial. I believe Russian interface is supported in every Linux variant I've ever used

          Only a geek could think that localization of software is trivial because he has solved - or thinks he has solved - the problem in the UI.

          Some of these teachers built their own schools from raw logs, and they had to do manual labor

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      yes because free software doesn't mean the whole project is free. you have to pay people to roll out the software, train teachers, manage the people doing the roll out and then the support staff after. then there is the hardware and the networking that needs constant maintenance.

      your little busted arse network at home is not indicative of how a nation wide system roll out occurs ok?

    • by nomadic (141991)
      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.

      Ok, stop for a second and re-read what you wrote, but this time pretend you're not someone who is knowledgeable about computers.
      • by grcumb (781340)

        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.

        Ok, stop for a second and re-read what you wrote, but this time pretend you're not someone who is knowledgeable about computers.

        Yeah, you're right. Some translation is needed:

        1. Put this CD in the server. Click here, enter your password, then tick this box. You're done.
        2. Put this other CD in all the other computers. They'll just configure themselves.

        You have installed LTSP [edubuntu.org] recently, haven't you?

  • Special pricing. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip@paradis.palegray@net> on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:31PM (#30111230) Homepage Journal
    This is business as usual for governments and Microsoft. The government in question threatens to roll out an open source solution to a large number of machines, problems magically pop up early in the deployment, and Microsoft pitches their solution for next to nothing in upfront costs. Note that the ongoing costs of managing the deployment down the road are virtually never considered, and the taxpayers wind up getting screwed with a "solution" that eats up enormous amounts of money in overhead, future licensing fees, and security issues.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by value_added (719364)

      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 h

      • by FudRucker (866063)
        and to go a step further in your comment, eventually microsoft cuts off the russian PCs from windows update so no more patches to secure all these russian PCs and there is your next botnet collection free to send spam and DDos whoever the russians decide to target.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Beelzebud (1361137)
      Yes because we all know that open source software never has problems that pop up in deployment...
  • Free (Score:5, Funny)

    by p0rnographer (1051212) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:32PM (#30111234)
    In Soviet Russia, free costs money!
    • by Device666 (901563)
      In the United (bankrupt) States of Amerika capitalization is government buying companies.
  • Donations? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:32PM (#30111238) Homepage Journal

    It almost smells like sabotage. I imagine MS wouldn't directly do it, but instead pay people to "keep an eye on the project" with a lot of wink-wink. I wonder if there's not a way to donate to the cause?

  • So where can I send disks? I'm sure if everybody at the Slashdot community burns at least one disk then we should be able to make up the difference.

    Anybody have a list of software which we can download and burn? And the address to send it to?

    Y

  • Costs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick (976696)
    "Funds for the project have been cut back..."
    FOSS should seriously be cheaper to roll out than XP. Windows would have to reduce the price to near nothing... Does this say something sad about the usability of FOSS?
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:35PM (#30111262) Homepage

    Moody says:

    Finally, Microsoft has been up to its old tricks of offering special deals for its software

    How is that a "trick"? Isn't that what competition is supposed to do--cause vendors to lower price?

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) * on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:36PM (#30111266) Journal
    I'm currently working on a video game project I can finish in a couple months that may make me some money so I can support myself and do other more ambitious projects. The #1 project I feel that needs to be done is the freeing up of textbooks in education. If someone doesn't offer a free textbook that is important, we should have a community that rewrites it without plagurizing, and then provide it free of charge. The Internet should be a global library. The old problem with distribution was printing, but that problem is solved. Publishers like newspapers have less importance in this society. The new problem is compensating people who provide free information, but this problem is less of a problem than restricting their information from eager minds.

    My theory is that computers can do books better than books do books. We can have multimedia experiences yes, but we're so new at knowing how they help people learn, we don't need to consider them at first. We need to do books, and link a course together by the books people need to tackle to get through them. We can have videos that train people like lectures. We can have LOTS of redudandant passive learning eventually. We can even have live tutors through live chat and email. There is a definite revolution in education looming at the horizon, and I hope that I'm not the only one who sees it because I'm horrendous at being able to accomplish big projects on my own, with no funding.
    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      You mean something like wikibooks?

      http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page [wikibooks.org]

    • Sorry, but you are being really naive. There are two reasons free books are a silly idea:

      1. Anyone with any motivation at all can already learn whatever they want on the Internet. The information is not neatly in order, with careful examples and consistent explanations, but it's all fundamentally there.

      2. Putting information neatly in order, with careful examples and consistent explanations (i.e., writing a textbook) is a lot of work. Writing a textbook from scratch, in a field where you are an expert,

      • by selven (1556643)

        For some subjects a book from 1979 is as good as a book from today. This applies especially to mathematics, but also, in the lower grades, to sciences like biology and chemistry. Languages don't change fast enough to warrant a new book more than once every few decades. As for how do I propose that we get people to write free books, look at Wikipedia. It's free and the quality is about the same as Britannica (and it covers far more topics)

  • by TheStonepedo (885845) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:42PM (#30111328) Homepage Journal

    Trebek: This state failed to consider the cost of changing software and training users.
    Yakov Smirnoff: What is free market Russia?

  • by iamhigh (1252742) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @10:49PM (#30111390)
    Offer free use of the bandwidth from 5pm to 7am (or whatever off hours are over there) in exchange for a usable school system. I guess if they must have a bunch of shady sites and scammers, might as well get some education out of it.

    In Soviet Russia, spam funds school!
  • i see a pattern... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cies (318343) on Sunday November 15, 2009 @11:25PM (#30111630)

    i get the feeling its not just microsoft being "clever" in always offering highly discounted versions as a last resort to prevent a free software takeover. it is also governments who cleverly threat to switch to free software (back up by some actual action), on which microsoft drastically cuts price.

    i think the same about china for instance. they wanted to put the whole government and education system on their red flag linux. microsoft now gives them windows+office for a couple of euros (or even less i forgot) per machine.

    so i suspect free software is used as a threat in order to make microsoft cut its prices. is that a problem? i think it contributes to free software's growth in the end -- but it is surely not as beneficent as the free software actually being used to run on computers.

  • "Free Software For All Russian Schools In Jeopardy"

    What sort of jeopardy does a Russian School have to be in to qualify to receive free software? Like academic jeopardy or financial jeopardy? Sounds like a good idea to me! ;)

  • Why are these Russian computer programmers not making applications to fill the gaps. If there is a bug, why not just fix it? Its Russia, they have tremendous talent for coders. Just commit some coders to fixing bugs, then submit them back upstream to the application distributor. If I can file bug reports, so can they, but I never see them actually do it.

  • Solaris time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Akir (878284)

    If the problem with deploying Linux is not having enough trained professionals, why not go with Solaris? OpenSolaris is free, and Sun offers training for it. Don't know if they have russian solaris training, though. Or they could go through multiple other training sources that are available for Linux. No matter how you put it, paying for windows, no matter how low your discount is, doesn't make sense. For chrissakes - if everyone in Russia were running Linux, wouldn't that get rid of the training problems?

  • Horror of horrors, Microsoft is attempting to compete on price with free software!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Not really.. it's not robust competition from MS. It's a special temporary deal to try to dissuade them from going to free sw.

      Once they're using MS sw, they'll be locked in pretty quickly and can't switch, the price will shoot right back up immediately.

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:06AM (#30112134)
    Many of us were suspicious from the start that the Russian government was never serious about using FOSS. Rather, it was just a ploy to get MS to drop their prices. Now that MS will drop prices, FOSS is becoming "too expensive" with the trite old arguments about retraining blah blah blah. Government saves face, gets the price on MS software they wanted, and Bill/Ballmer keep their monopoly. Everyone wins, except, of course, the people who use the computers.
    • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:38AM (#30115866) Homepage Journal

      Everyone wins, except, of course, the people who use the computers.

      No, computer users win, too.

      I've just recently largely gone back to XP from a combination of using Arch Linux, and FreeBSD since May. Every time I try and use Linux long term, I inevitably end up going back to Windows, purely due to the amount of sheer misery it causes me. Why?

      a) The "community." This is the single biggest issue. As a group, Linux users are among the most toxic, hateful, myopic, delusional, generally vile human beings on the face of the planet. Stallman's cult, and the people defending it, gets really old after a while. The persistent, ongoing hatred of Microsoft is also as pathetic as it is toxic, especially when it mostly consists of arguments which were relevant in 1999, but really aren't now at all.

      The icing on the cake here, is the scenario where the FSF's boosters refuse to accept the fact that the only basis for their belief system is pure, raw Stallmanite mind control. The FSF's perspective isn't based on anything logical, or anything that the neurotypical population remotely cares about.

      b) Stability. I bet you'd never expect the time to come when a Microsoft OS could claim to be better than Linux in this department, did you? The time has come. PulseAudio (as but one example) is a disaster, and I also had other programs (such as Xine) crashing under Linux when they didn't under FreeBSD.

      c) The need to endlessly screw around with things in order to get them to work. This isn't exactly the same as the stability argument above, but it's close. I realised a couple of days ago, that with Linux or FreeBSD, there's an instinctive expectation with me, for something to crash once or twice, and for me to have to tweak it somehow, before it will work without a problem. In Windows, that is never the case. Everything just works.

      Those are the three areas where Linux needs fixing. The cult, the lack of stability, and the need for gratuitous over-configuration. Of the three, the cult is the only one which I fear actually isn't fixable at all.

  • by westlake (615356) on Monday November 16, 2009 @01:48AM (#30112338)

    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

    There is more to FOSS than Linux.

    One of the great strengths of the Windows platform is that it has always been licence-agnostic.

    The system never frets or complains when you try to install an app that doesn't meet Microsoft's standards of political correctness.

    The Linux distro can make you jump through a hoop or two or three before you get to that closed source app or binary driver.

    Windows does like to see a signature.

    Which makes perfect sense when you realize that there are thousands of independent Windows "repositories" with names like Download.com.

    OLPC ran into trouble because of its "all or nothing" attidude.

    The education minister was expected to buy into its bundle of hardware, software, and constructivist philosophy of education without any inconvenient doubts or questions.

    When the minister took his business elsewhere there was suddenly room in OLPC for XP and MS Office.

    The moral of the story being that it isn't always wise to try to take all the apple in one bite.

    You can successfully introduce FOSS into the Russian classroom without trying to replace the whole of the existing Windows infrastructure at the same time.

    The competition might even force you to look more closely at the quality of your open source product.

  • Russia is a country where "money talks", and it talks in ways people in the west are not used to. And, Microsoft has a lot of it.

    Corrupt officials get the cream and the people get the creampie.

  • by FrankHS (835148) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:48AM (#30112578)
    Microsoft gives the schools free software and Russian students learn to use it. They get the Microsoft propaganda (Lower TCO, innovative, how easy is is to do ... etc). In a few years these students are the experts and will be working in government, industry and where ever. When they are asked how to solve a problem they will usually recommend Microsoft because that is what they know. Now had they been trained on OSS they would recommend that. This is a quite a bargain for Microsoft, even if they give the schools free software forever. If it works for them a large part of Russia will be using and paying for Microsoft software, just like here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ledow (319597)

      In theory, you may think you're right.

      In practice - by the time these kids get into management, it's unlikely that anything will even be similar. I grew up on BBC Micros, BBC BASIC and a CP/M word processor in school - and I'm only 30. The entire face of computing changes on a regular basis (e.g. the whole Internet thing becoming popular).

      Additionally, you go with whatever makes business sense. If MS makes business sense to you, go with it. If not, then don't. It's quite simple. There are no end of di

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