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A Year of Linux Desktop At Westcliff High School 283

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the freedom-for-all dept.
jrepin writes "Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows." And they didn't even meet much resistance: "Younger students accept it as normal. Older students can be a little less flexible. There are still a few that are of the view that I can get rid of Microsoft Word when I can pry it from them. Staff are the same (although it is surprisingly not age-related). Some are OK and some hate it. Having said that, an equal number hate Windows 7 and nobody liked Windows 8. I think the basic problem is that Windows XP is a victim of its own success. It works fairly well from a user point of view, it's been around practically forever, and people don't like change, even some students, oddly."
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A Year of Linux Desktop At Westcliff High School

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  • by WillAdams (45638) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:28PM (#44437275) Homepage

    I'd really like to see a desktop suite of alternatives which do away w/ the shackles of backwards compatibility and instead try to do things right:

      - LyX for documents
      - Flexisheet for spreadsheets

    Wish there was something other than Asymptote or METAPOST to suggest for vector graphics (I'd like to see a successor to Altsys Virtuoso and Aldus IntelliDraw and FutureWave SmartSketch).

    Other alternatives which aren't ``just'' clones?

  • by crashcy (2839507) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:29PM (#44437289)
    Is there any reason to think this user base would be any more or less likely to adapt to Linux than a "normal user base"?
  • People hate change (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:31PM (#44437309) Journal

    News at 11!

    When do not want to leave XP or IE 8 and even when I show them the benefits after the upgrade most start coming around to acceptance that is was time to change rather than be happy. Some were of course.

    For grown ups I would be furious if I had to use LibreOffce too over MS office. Outside of slashdot it most certainly is not equal unless you are doing simple things. I tried to print something on another computer with it and all the margins were messed up. I could not change title's and preview changes before selecting them. Everything was hidden in a menu and after 4 minutes I wanted to pull my hair out before just downloading Word viewer instead.

    LibraOffice has years to play catchup unfortunately just like the Gimp is no Adobe PS. But again fine for kids typing a paper in middle school or highschool.

  • Exactly! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:31PM (#44437311) Homepage Journal

    > [Windows XP] works fairly well from a user point of view, it's
    > been around practically forever, and people don't like change.

    Yes, yes, and yes. Too bad MS didn't realize that -- they could have just spent the last few years refining XP and keeping people happy.

    Apple actually has a pretty good thing going on with OS X -- like them or not, "small changes every year or two" beats "monumental fuckups twice a decade."

  • by KernelMuncher (989766) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:36PM (#44437371)
    I have to wonder about the Microsoft corporate strategy to keep changing the interfaces to their OS with each release.

    Imagine if all changes were on the back end (security, improved networking, etc) and only a handful of changes were made with the front end. Windows would have millions of content and loyal users. And nobody would ever want to change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:38PM (#44437411)

    The author mentioned that some parents protested because they felt learning Microsoft Office is crucial to their children's success. However we now live in an era where Microsoft is beginning to lose that stronghold. With Open/Libre Office always improving and solutions such as Google Apps gaining traction, I fail to see how this is really a factor anymore. By 2024 MS may not even be the major player anymore in the office space. This is like the prior generation telling us we must be proficient at using a typewriter or hand writing in cursive to land a job.

  • by masterofthumbs (2881445) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:40PM (#44437435)

    To be fair, the difference between XP and Vista/7 wasn't that drastic. Sure the colors changed but if anything, it was still XP underneath with an updated look (and some cool new tools). Windows 8 is where they went off on a tangent and put a little too much tablet UI in a desktop OS.

  • by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:43PM (#44437485) Journal
    If Ballmer is able and willing to pull the plug on both win XP AND windows 7, in favour of windows 8, it will be easy to predict a booming interest in Linux on the desktop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:53PM (#44437605)

    Figure out this: Loading very large documents, which are fairly common in professional settings, is instanteous with Word because it loads them asynchronously and doesn't parse the entire document when it is loaded, LibreOffice and its predecessor on the other hand try to parse the entire document, which can take upward to seveal minutes. It is them that need to change some of the architecture of their program, not the users who "must adapt to change".

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:54PM (#44437631) Homepage

    If you can't figure out LIbre Office you shouldn't have your job.

    LibreOffice just isn't very good. I've used StarOffice, then OpenOffice, then LibreOffice. I haven't used Microsoft Word since Word 97. And I still think LibreOffice sucks. It's usable, but amateurish.

    Open source just can't get user interfaces right. LibreOffice has subtle problems, such as spelling correction that insists on making a change even after you've undone the change. Microsoft Word will yield to the user in that situation. The command-line crowd will never get fine details like that. I have Windows 7 and Ubuntu machines side by side on my desk, but the Ubuntu machine is used only for robotics software development.

    I've watched Linux blow it on the desktop for fifteen years. There was an opportunity when XP was late. Linux blew it. There was an opportunity when everybody hated Vista. Linux blew it. There's an opportunity now when nobody wants to go to Windows 8. Linux is blowing it.

    For a good laugh, look at what it takes to create a shortcut to a program in Ubuntu. [askubuntu.com]

  • Bring back XP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:00PM (#44437683) Homepage

    It's OK to upgrade it with drivers for newer hardware, and plug up more security holes. But give us the same user interface (as a choice).

    Really. We CAN go back and run most older window systems/managers on a new Linux kernel and maybe new X server. We can get the old user interface. We can even get something that emulates Windows 95 (seen it). Why can't the core Microsoft Windows system do that? Just provide an app that chooses which user interface to use.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:03PM (#44437737) Homepage Journal
    None of my workplaces have used Windows for anything important. The shift to everything-as-a-web-app certainly helps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:04PM (#44437753)

    My last workplace used Linux almost exclusively. Its not a Windows World out there.

    Personally, I think learning only one OS cripples someone's understanding of is a design decision in an OS, what is a fact about current computers, and what is basic reality. Its much like learning only one programming language, or only one spoken language: you can't understand something very well from passive use of a single just one type. This is why you pretty much have to take some foreign language to get into college, and the same thing applies to OSs.

    There is a reason I've played with Windows, Mac (os 1-9 and X), Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora, Sugar...), BSD, Plan9 etc. and read up on others like DOS, Genode, Unix, Multix etc. I don't expect everyone to go that far, but using at least a few will greatly help you understand what an OS is, and what they can do.

    I've see single OS users (my mom with Mac for example) attempt to explain how to do something on a different OS (say windows) to someone by referring to specific specific abstraction's details (where menus are for example) which are missing or very different on the OS they are talking about. Not understanding the difference between "launching a web browser", and "clicking on safari in the right end of the dock" is horrible! People won't make it past this naive understanding unless you either make them use a couple OSs, or give them a serious lesson in OS design (I recommend the first approach).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:15PM (#44437913)

    It's ok. Linux is winning the long game because the importance of the desktop and desktop applications is diminishing.

    All of the most popular things to do with computers. (Twitface, mytubes, yougram, whatever) are all just as easy to use on linux as they are windows. Or macintosh. Or a tablet. Or a smartphone.

    Microsoft may have a lock on the desktop, but the desktop is no longer the king in the consumer's mind.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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