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Perception of Linux Among IT Undergrads 893

iconian writes: "The Linux Journal has a story on IT students and their perception of Linux. One of the funnier myths perceived to be true is that 'Microsoft's technical support is the best in the industry and is superior to that offered by the Linux community.' It just goes to show how little real world experience students have. It's a bit disturbing considering they will be the next generation of technology workers."
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Perception of Linux Among IT Undergrads

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:56PM (#2723183)
    Come on, guys .. I like Linux just as much as the next guy does, but I would hardly call it a "myth" to say that Microsoft's tech support is far better than anything you'll get with a Linux-based solution. Is it expensive? Sure. Is it cumbersome? Maybe. But at least it's there. Telling somebody to go out and read some FAQ or ask a question to a newsgroup isn't going to do much good, particularly if that person doesn't know what a FAQ or a newsgroup is.

    Most IT undergrads these days don't know a lot about the Internet (or at least, they don't know a lot about it yet.) These are kids that were born in the mid 1980s, for crying out loud. When the average /. reader went to school, we had a background with an Internet that had never heard of the "World Wide Web", we posted to USENET religiously, and many of us were subscribers to the venerable SF-LOVERS list. ;-)

    The kids these days don't know much beyond Internet Explorer and Visual Basic and all those sorts of things because by and large, they haven't been exposed to the real world yet. Now this doesn't mean they won't be eventually, but at the current time their experience is limited. That aside, I still think we need to consider that the point is valid. Microsoft's tech support is better than anything you'll get with Linux-based solutions .. this doesn't mean that Microsoft's solutions are any better, just that they're more established.

    That's okay, it gives us something to work on. ;-)
  • by ThePurpleBuffalo ( 111594 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @06:56PM (#2723186)
    It just goes to show how little real world experience students have. It's a bit disturbing considering they will be the next generation of technology workers.

    Having just finished my BSc in Computer Science, I've found that those who want real world experience will go out and find it on their own. Formal education is there to assist your learning, not to spoon-feed you.

    Alot of the students are at school for the piece of paper, not to learn and enjoy the subject matter. We attempt to filter job applicants based on a "geekiness" scale to help remove those who are not interested in the field.

    Beware TPB

  • by Magus311X ( 5823 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:04PM (#2723270)
    You need to know where to look.

    A few weeks ago the Exchange 2000 server decided it was going to roll over and die and to corrupt the mailbox stores with it. We tried restoring (which took 30 minutes to pull off of tape) but it was a no go. When the system state backups didn't fly, we realized we might need to rebuild the server from scratch...

    Instead of wasting 2 hours pulling off a stock Win2K Server image and reconfiguring everything, MS support actually referenced a few obscure cases and we had it resolved in about 25 minutes.

    A few months before a power surge sporked out a rackmount running Samba on Linux 2.4.x. Fsck laughed at us and we had a LOT of data to pull off too. It was going to take about 3 hours to restore the data from tapes. So we gave IBM a call while we were restoring. Only took about 20 or so minutes to get an answer and back up and running.

    Verdict? I don't see any problem with Linux support as long as you have a contract of sorts. I wouldn't dare leave big messes or small disasters to usenet or forums -- for ANY OS. That's fine for configuration quirks, or trying something new on a test server, but when something needs to be fixed and you've tried everything in the run book, you need someone you can rely on.

    And for the record, with the exception of a burp each, both the Linux and Windows 2000 servers are humming along without a problem. I have no real preference -- they each do their job and do it well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:06PM (#2723287)
    "Anytime I've had a Linux issue I have basically been told to RTFM."

    Usually if a newbie is told to RTFM, that is because their question is answered there.

    What I like to do when asked questions that are already answered in TFM is to add WHICH manual to look in to my RTFM.

    Normally newbies interpret RTFM to mean: this guy is a total asshole, and doesn't want to help me. If you tell them which manual in addition, they'll be more likely to understand that you did in fact answer their question. Its not like it takes any more effort to say "RTFM; man foo" or "RTFM;"
  • Re:Its sickening! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:14PM (#2723363)
    I attend the Univ. of RI and I am a CE major. Its nauseaing to see all the incoming freshmen, even sophmores and juniors that have no clue about Unix based OSs in general.

    "If anyone had told me back then that getting back to embarrassingly primitive UNIX would be the great hope and investment obsession of the year 2000, merely because it's name was changed to LINUX and its source code was opened up again, I never would have had the stomach or the heart to continue in computer science."
    -- Jaron Lanier
  • by de_boer_man ( 459797 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:17PM (#2723379)
    I completely disagree.

    I have been teaching classes at a local college for six years and my experience has been completely different. A majority of the students in my evening and weekend classes are "working stiffs," but many of these "working stiffs" are working in CS fields and are more knowledgable than the whiny brats in my daytime classes that are attending school and are funded by the "Bank of Daddy."

    Age doesn't necessarily determine whether or not someone understands and uses *nix or the "other operating systems." The "working stiffs" in my evening and weekend classes tended to have more practical experience in computer science, including more exposure to a wider variety of operating systems, than their daytime counterparts.

    When I teach evening classes, I am used to people being able to follow along when I use Vim and Cygwin so that I can feel at home and productive in the school-mandated MS OS. My first daytime class was an eye opener! I spent WAY too much time explaining that ls is the same as dir (except better), that less is type (but with functionality), etc. At first, the blank stare "deer-in-the-headlights" looks that I got when I didn't explain such things surprised me. Then I realized that a majority of my day students seemed to care more about their grade than about the quality of the education they were receiving.

    Yes, there are generalizations in what I have typed, but after my second daytime class, I vowed never to teach another class between 8am and 5pm.
  • Re:Real Example. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:17PM (#2723380)
    I understand what you are trying to say - but the resume thing is a poor example.

    I personally use Linux as my main OS (read as 90% of my computing time - the other 10% is Black and White playing). But... My resume is still done in Word2k.

    Why? Well, I first did it years ago in Word95. When I opened it in StarOffice 5.2 - it opened just fine (I use a bunch of crazy formatting to make it all fit so I was amazed). So I thought, great! But then I edited it in SO and saved it in Word format and e-mailed it to myself so I could print it out at Kinko's. Lo and behold when I got to kinkos and opened it - almost all of the formatting was lost and I had to redo the whole thing in Word2k. (have recently tried beta6 with same results)

    I wouldn't want a potential job to be given to someone else because their formatting stayed, and mine didn't - so I am going to stick with using Word2k for my resume.

    My School is great (UMR []) - we even learn assembly on Sparc processors, and we usually don't have to code in any particular language or for any particular OS. But unfortunately most HR departments out there are not so open, and Word is the defacto standard, so that is what I have to use.

    BTW - This post stuck out to me because I use a pirated copy of Win2k and Office2k to do my Resume - so you really struck a nerve.

  • by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:26PM (#2723454) Homepage
    My first daytime class was an eye opener! I spent WAY too much time explaining that ls is the same as dir (except better), that less is type (but with functionality), etc.

    OK, make it an assignment:

    Write a paper documenting the differences between Windows 2000 commands and UNIX commands: ls/dir, cd, etc.

    Install an alternative UNIX: FreeBSD or Linux . Write an essay on the differences between installing i386 UNIX and Windows.

    Then give them CDs. Make it 25% of the quarter grade, and give 'em a week.

  • by Chuck Milam ( 1998 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:32PM (#2723496) Homepage
    Have you ever called a paid support line and been told "We don't have a fix for that problem handy, however, if you'd like to upgrade to our platinum support package, I could...blah...blah...blah...[Insert Sales Pitch Here]"?

    I have. It left a pretty bad taste in my mouth for commercial support offerings.
  • by ClubStew ( 113954 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:33PM (#2723512)

    Here at Iowa State University, linux is perceived as the god of all operating systems. More students are fed up with Microsoft and their holes, and even more faculty and staff, as well as departments, are following right along. Unfortunately, ISU signed off on a Microsoft campus agreement making linux on the average desktop a no-go, but most students who work in IT-related fields are installing linux. The Ames Area Free Unix Group for Information Technology (AAFUGIT []) is rapidly growing and there is an increase in newby questions.

    I think the sample for this census should've been expanded to more Universities/colleges. Perhaps the places where this is really a problem is places like Vatterott and DeVry and what not, where people are trained to do a particular thing and not the science behind it. Anyway with a decent background in computer hardware and software can't deny the power of linux. As I've told many people I've converted, "if you really want to learn networking and what-not, you can't learn by clicking a few buttons (like in Windows) - you have to go to the a matter of speaking."

  • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:34PM (#2723520) Homepage Journal
    Basically, in the past when Ive had a NT/2000 or MSSQL issues I've paid my $200 bucks and got it worked out... everytime. Its not free or fun, but generally MS's paid corporate support is actually quite efficient.

    Show me a student with $200 to fork over for support. On the other hand, show me a student who could use learning about databases by setting one up. I have SAP, Sybase, Oracle and MySQL discs lying around that I got for free by writing to the companies. They aren't all licensed for commercial use, but they all have kickass support - and the Open Source one has some of the best, for free, pay by incident and contract.

    If you're not talking "support for a student" level stuff, I've had eight Oracle consultants under my department farting away time in the cubicles we provided as they played the blame game with IBM over an Oracle on AIX installation... for nearly three weeks. In retrospect, walking in and wiping all partitions and telling them to rebuild the damn installation would have been quicker and cheaper. When I needed support from TCX, I had bought a year of support, ran into a problem with a persistant connect through a firewall. I gave them an account on my system, went home, came back the next day, and *they* had called the firewall company, gotten support, and had provided precise step by step instructions to fix the problem... on the firewall. They knew it wasn't their problem - but they got it working.

    You're the one who brought up Databases, so I figured I'd reply in that vein. As for Linux itself, I've *never* run into a problem that a little Google or mailing list archive searching didn't resolve quickly.


  • Re:tech support (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DavidJA ( 323792 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:56PM (#2723650)

    But you're right. I get answers faster through IRC and/or USENET posts than though MS tech support almost every time

    My $0.02 - We had a problem with Services For Mac on a win2k server - it was causing the SYSTEM process to go to 100% and stay there. Logged a call, paid the $200. - Got first level support on the phone withing in 10 minutes - Useless as tits on a bull. They basicly search the KB for you. - Then the problem was escalated to regional support.

    Got a phone call from a guy called Leon Booth @ microsoft regional support, and he was FANTASTIC! - Got a direct phone number @ e-mail to use for communicating with him for the length of this problem.

    To cut a long story short, 2 days later still no success, so we started monitoring thread creation calls (they send some utilities to do this) - Leon sent this to the guys that wrote the services for mac service, they suggested a registry hack, which actaully fixed the problem.

    Our support guy was saying that if it did not fix the problem the MS would send a tech out with a debug box? (a box that sits next to our server and traces every call), and send the results to the US for analysis - all for the $200. Now try and get that service from a guy at the end of IRC!

    Anyway, Leon organised a refund of the $200 support charge because it was deamed a 'bug'

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:2, Interesting)

    by morbid ( 4258 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @07:59PM (#2723667) Journal
    That may be true, but Visual Basic drones can make a lot of money, and because of the 1990's can make a very good business out of writing VB frontends for Access and SQL Server databases. All that M$ marekting FUD paid off for them. Being able to program isn't all that important when all you have to do is paint a few forms and fire off requests to the database. Despite a Physics degree, 5 years experience as a Nuclear Engineer, Chartered Physicsist status and pretty good C programming skills, my VB drone friend I went to school with has been earning 20-50% more than me over that time. What is really ironic, is that one evening I had to explain to him the Shunting Yard Algorithm because he needed to parse infix expressions. I knew that when I was 14. Sorting algoirthms, what are they? Multiuser systems, the stuff of fiction and legend? $0 per seat licensing for such a system?

    Oh well. At least I'm not still stuck in Aberdeen (Scotland). That's where all the dinosaurs live.

  • by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <slashdot-nospam@ ... m minus physicis> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @08:25PM (#2723833) Homepage
    Once you get past the trained monkeys answering the phone, you get someone who knows his shit. And if that guy doesn't know his shit, he will WALK DOWN THE HALL, and find the guy who knows his shit, and get him on the phone with you.

    Microsoft's first level tech support role is to take care of the "inexperienced-users" who don't know what Autorun is or where the Start button is.

    I've used Microsoft's tech support on several very obscure bugs in very obscure API's (that only about a dozen people on earth use). In every case, I've had the problem solved. As much as I hate them, I love them.

    You know what would make my day? The reliability of Solaris coupled with the featureset of Windows 2000, and DevStudio + MSDN and all for under $500. And Windows 2000 is getting there. Except for the cost thing. ;)

    Caio, all!
  • by Tazzy531 ( 456079 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @10:23PM (#2724286) Homepage
    The thing about why people say that MS technical support is the best in the industry is because of their name and where they place themselves. People know that when they have a problem with a MS product, they call Microsoft. If you have a problem with your Dell Laptop, you call Dell. The same for IBM servers.

    Now, if I [I as in not me, but a "typical" user] has a problem with their Linux installation... who do I call? Do I call RedHat? Do I call VA Linux? To be completely honest, a typical user does not want to spend hours reading dejanews or HOWTOs to find out why they can't run spell check in emacs.

    The thing is, we being inside the industry are not able to look at the full picture. We, being inquisitive and want to know anything and everything, are willing to put in the extra time to learn. But a person majoring in Business or Art Humanities wants to be able to click on a button and run spellcheck. They don't want to spend the time to learn how a computer works. I mean, how many of us are willing to buy an "open source" automobile? How many of us want to spend the time to figure out how an internal combustion engine works or how a catalyic converter works?

    Just because we do certain things doesn't mean that we can expect consumers to be just like us.

    Lastly, Linux is a great operating system. I run it for a lot of my CS projects. However, when it comes down to writing a paper, I will not think twice before using Win2k/MSOffice. Linux has a lot of potential but before it can actually succeed it has to be more "consumer friend" (different from User Friend). A while back, there was an article here on /. about how a lot of linux users are too advanced to teach beginners. Consumers don't care about Open Source, Consumers don't care about customizability. They want something that they feel secure with. [That makes them feel all cuddly inside.] They want to be able to click on My Computer and have it go to the hard drives. They want to be able to go out to a store and buy software with the MS Windows Compatible sticker. And I think Linux has the potential to do all this and be even better. But it is going to take some major time and also we have to look into how we market linux to consumers.

    Well, that's my 4.5 cents...
  • by didyaseethat ( 539691 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @10:38PM (#2724327)
    At my university (of Arizona), MS sponsors all sorts of activities for the CS department. This has a huge influence on what the student hear and think. I'm a CS minor, its a hobby, and all the TA's for the intro course, in Java no less, are all MS "enthusiasts." Its an odd sight looking around at the kids grinning like idiots over their Windows based laptops, and the "teachers" wearing XBOX caps. The Prof did an informal survey at the begining of the course, and like others suggested, by far most students are in it for the money, having little previous computer experience. They are ripe for the picking by MS. It is really sad. The CS department wouldn't even set up remote homework collection for our class, because most of the TA's had no unix experience, and would not be able to access our turned in homework via ssh. At least every single piece of the UofA's network/ CS department servers are Unix. Its odd though, the fact that a school does not use MS products for their networks, yet breeds graduates that toe the MS line.
  • by sillysurfer ( 235479 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @10:45PM (#2724351) Homepage
    I graduated with a CompSci degree in 2000 at UKC in Kent, UK. When I first arrived we were taught UNIX skills such as vi etc. However the year that arrived after us were taught NT! UKC is a really UNIXy UK university and some idiot thought it good to get rid of it for the undergrads.... doh! We formed a protest group as 3rd years, we got a petition and forced the uni to teach UNIX. Now a year later they are glad they took our advice.

    Advocacy is an interesting thing, funny at my home (office) I'll openly admit to using XP on my desk, why not ? Its pretty good for a MS OS and I want to get work done in an interchangible format without spending a whole load of time messing around. You see you can all argue till the sun sets, but the fact is some of us don't have time to piddle around or argue for that fact!
    As for UNIX boxes, well I love 'em to bits, and if Linux had a good office package I'd use it rather than XP. I have a Netra T1 AC105 with Solaris and 5 Linux boxes, so don't say I don't know my stuff.

    As for graduates being dumb blah blah, well everyone does IT for different reasons and thats their choice. All I find in this industry is a pack of 'I'm a guru know-alls' who actually know squat. Why don't IT consultants act more professionally, keep their mouths shut at the relevant times and help people rather than blow their own trumpets?

    Another one is incompetance, how many other industries can important records be blown away by a keystroke, with some kiddy saying 'we don't need a backup strategy as modern computers are reliable' ?

    Finally, I don't know everything, but I sure as hell am willing to learn and show others.

    One of the reasons I never post on Slashdot is because I am too busy, hell a lot of you guru's are either a) On benefit b) wasters - if you have time to argue all this stuff online!
  • by AxelTorvalds ( 544851 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @11:11PM (#2724429)
    We all know that the idea of MS tech support being best is a joke, compared to what IBM and some of the other companies do it's a joke. I'm not sure what it takes to get an MS developer on site but other companies will do that.

    Depending on the task I could see ways to spin MS tech support as top notch though. There are some tasks MS products do very well and their organization is designed around supporting. For example if I was trying to make 5 computers talk to each other and share a printer attached to one of them and use a common disk attached to another one of them I could do it with Linux or Win2k in roughly the same time, but I'm fairly experienced with Linux. If I wasn't expert at either, I bet I could actually do it with win2k in a reasonable amount of time (say a day) and when I had problems I could read their help, go to their web site and I bet I could get it done without ever talking to anyone. I think it would be very difficult, even with the newest mandrake and other easier to install dists to do it if you were a fairly novice person. If they found the howtos they could probably figure it out but they aren't always displayed in an obvious location, even on Mandrake there isn't an icon on the desktop or a search feature for them, they are in the KDE docs menu though..

    If I had to do that and I suffered with it, I might say MS had better tech support. Likewise, bye the 5 or 6th try at it, MS has made the networking install and configuration pretty good and they've put a fair amount of effort in to trouble shooting those issues before you even have to go to the web or pickup the phone. At that particular task, they may be the best in the world. At real tasks that require real support? Well that's a little different.

  • by AtomicBomb ( 173897 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @11:51PM (#2724566) Homepage
    I have not actually done a survey with the undergrads, but from my perception, we should be able to find a correlation between the competence of a student (in term something "real", eg performance in a project, not just merely marks) and their attitude towards unfamilar OS/language etc.

    The main problem is probably not "brainwashed" by MS , but rather, lack of passion to learn anything new. Many are attracted to do CS or IT for the wrong reasons (eg image, salary, job availabilty etc).

    Trust me, most of these "MS fans" are the same bunch of today's marginal IT workers: someone who does not know how to lookup his/her own IP, does not understand the need to apply service pack, compulsive rebooter etc...
  • by f00zbll ( 526151 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @11:53PM (#2724577)
    For us hardcore geeks who live, breathe, eat, sleep and pee technology, the reward is not money. For those who have enough brains and feel they can make a living or get rich at programming are sadly mistaken.

    The only thing the survey tells me is a large percentage of the people in CS and IT are in it for money pure and simple. It's not because they lay awake at night thinking in code, abtraction layers or regular expressions. Every industry has the same problem.

    There will always be a significantly larger percentage of people in an industry for the money than those in it for love. Will microsoft kill linux? Hardly, the source it already out there. Will linux kill windows? Hardly, something else will kill windows. I don't get people's pre-occupation with platform wars. First and foremost surveys like these tell more about the person giving the survey than those taking it. The message is only useful if you know who is telling it and why.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @11:53PM (#2724578)
    Actually he is simplifying it. At the major ISV that I used to work for bugs were assigned one of 5 levels with 5 being the most severe.

    The order of fixing those problems was sometimes an arcane science unto itself but the basic gist is that a level 5 bug that occurs only occasionally but would probably take a major rework to fix would more than likely not get fixed.

    Level 1 bugs however, if they were cosmetic and did not take a lot of time to fix, would usually get fixed at the same time that the source file (or resource file for that matter) ever got touched by a programmer. Level 1 bugs were more than likely spelling mistakes or cosmetic bugs.

    The biggest problem that we would have with fixing bugs is that there were instances where the bug itself was not necessarly a problem with our code, but of an external circumstance. We had one case where moving a PCI card from one slot to another solved the problem and was narrowed down to a badly designed motherboard. This was after the customer started screaming and bringing his lawyer into the picture threatening a lawsuit.
  • Re:Dead On (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @12:13AM (#2724650) Homepage
    Funny, calling MS about issues with AutoCad or Oracle hasn't ever gotten us anywhere. We always had to call the company who we bought the product from.

    However RedHat will support anything on their distribution CDs and I know where I can find BSD support for damn near anything (most of the core team is available for around $350 US an hour for phone support, Jordan used to do onsite support for a little more plus airfare -- and they'll support 75% of the ports tree (6000+ programs)).

    MS supports what they ship, just like Oracle, Redhat, PGSQL Inc, and various other companies support their own products.

    It's seldom that you can call a single vendor unless it's Dell or Gateway as you've had custom configured boxes sent your way -- in which case they support exactly what they ship too!
  • by compumike ( 454538 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @12:25AM (#2724683) Homepage

    A few months ago, I had an issue with sound under the latest 2.4 series kernels. This was with the trident driver and an ALi 1535+ southbridge. I have been using Linux as my sole desktop operating system for a while, and sound is very important for desktop/gaming use. This bug caused an OOPS when the module was loaded, which became a serious problem.

    I read Documentation/oops-tracing.txt, and I submitted my report with whatever information I could figure out. What did I get in response? Within four days, 7 people were talking on this thread, including kernel giants Alan Cox and RML. Within four days, I had a patch that made this problem go away. (turned out to be bigger than just my card)

    Do you really think that I could have gotten that kind of support from Microsoft? You might say that four days is a lot. But do you think I'd have ever gotten anywhere with MS? Even if I could get the level of debugging as I did from ksymoops, I'd have gotten shoved around. Microsoft would claim that its the manufacturer's responsibility, and the manufacturer would certainly not be receptive to any kind of technical description of a problem from a customer.

    We're the guys who call the DSL company and have to say "Your access concentrator is sending a PADT packet to terminate the session," with the only response being "Sir, can you tell me if your modem is on?" I've actually tricked at least 2 of their techies into believing that I'm running Windows.

    Verizon: Now open up Network Neighborhood.
    Me: Hold on a second. It's still warming up... Oh damn, it hung. Let me reboot.

    I didn't pay a cent for support. In exchange for a few minutes of my time learning to use ksymoops, I got replies from some of the top kernel developers, and got the problem fixed. Beat that, Microsoft.

    Michael F. Robbins

  • by azcoffeehabit ( 533327 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @12:56AM (#2724780)
    The reason for the fact that Microsoft is considered better among the IT Undergrad is the simple fact that they wern't taught anything else. I finished my Undergrad IT degree in May and I feel really sorry for 95% of the people who finished with me. The eduacation simply went like this: semester one... This is a network cable, this is DOS, this is a hard drive... semester two... This is how you make a network cable this is how you use DOS this is how you install a hard drive... semester three.. This is Windows 3.11 This is how it connects to a network. This is BASIC. semester four... Here is WIndows 95/98 they work on a network. semester four... tHis is it! What you've been waiting for the Ultimate! Windows NT 4.0.. this is how you connect your windows clients to NT... CONGRATULATIONS! You now have an IT Degree! This was pretty much the quality of education the others in my class got. This (un)quality of education was largely in part to the fact that there was no one to teach anything else (the school couldn't afford to pay someone $90,000/yr which is what people were making at the time) to teach a real computer course. I luckily took it upon myself to learn Linux and UNIX during my time in college (as well as smoke a bunch of weed, find a few girls, and learn to play counter-strike) along with a couple extra semesters of random classes I was able to learn enough to get over the UNIX learning curve and am now quite successful... I feel though that the others in my class are not fairing as well in this economy...
  • by cheinonen ( 318646 ) <> on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @01:12AM (#2724814)
    My senior project used PHP and MySQL on a Linux box, and when the time came for other students to review the projects of classmates, one student raised up her hand and asked "Can I not review or fail anything that uses Linux?". Seriously. I couldn't believe that a CS major would be that closed minded about an OS they probably should learn to get familiar with, but they were. Of course, the only other girl in the class had written a sound driver in Linux to get her senior project completed and was at the total other end of the spectrum.

    We didn't have to deal with UNIX/Linux much outside of a couple classes, though, so it was really easy for students to hate it, and not know how to use it, which was really quite sad.

  • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @08:03AM (#2725286) Homepage
    For written assignments, I was able to convince most of my professors to accept HTML documents instead of MS-Word based .DOC files and turned in many assignments by just sending the URL in an e-mail.

    The first step was to specify the assignment in number of words, 200 or 500 words instead of 1/2 page or 1 page. After that, it was sort of a carrot and stick thing.


    • My web pages worked in their favorite browsers.
    • The web was (still is) trendy.
    • Macro- and VBS-based MSTDs galore
    • 6 different OS+version combinations of MS-Word on our campus gave constant rendering and compatibility problems.

    Use the office hours to find a way in which they are willing to try it and be prepared to meet them more than half way. If you make the experience convenient and useful, then they'll also tell they colleagues. But if you don't ask, you don't get.

  • by xtremex ( 130532 ) <cguru AT bigfoot DOT com> on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @08:25AM (#2725320) Homepage
    I was never too keen about putting all your eggs in one basket. As a computer profesional, I consider my self a scientist or implementor of technology rather than a vendor whore. For example, I know a cisco guy who is probably the best Cisco Engineer I've ever met, BUT, he is not a slave to Cisco.He has an extremely broad range of networking protocols, and continues increasing his knowledge of "foreign" networking components. As well as myself, I know and use and administer 5 different UNICES, as well as Linux (SCO, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX and IRIX). To me MCSE's are like the guys who say "If I'm gonna get hit by a car, it BETTER be a Ford"
  • by Gleef ( 86 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2001 @08:52AM (#2725363) Homepage
    nam37 writes:

    when Ive had a NT/2000 or MSSQL issues I've paid my $200 bucks and got it worked out... everytime.

    If everytime I've had an issue with a Microsoft product, I've paid the $200 to open a trouble ticket with the dialup support, the non-profit organization for which I work would have gone broke. To that end, I haven't tried their phone support.

    I have tried other companies phone support (iPlanet, Network Associates, FICS, off the top of my head), and generally found phone support to be a useless waste of time and money. Often I find I know more about the product than the person I'm paying to help me with it. I avoid it whenever I can.

    On the other end of tech support, their manuals and documentation, I do have a MSDN Unlimited subscription, which gives me access to a large quantity of their technical documentation both on and offline. I have to say their documentation has some good parts, more than I had expected. I also have to say that the indexing(offline) and searching(online) features of their library are very very poor, and often inaccurate. This makes their documentation much harder to use.

    Likewise, I have never tried Linuxcare or any of the other Linux telephone support people. I have found documentation for a typical Free Software package more complete (with a few exceptions) and much better organized (with a few exceptions). Also, with a Free Software package, you have the ultimate canonical documentation, the source code.

    Anytime I've had a Linux issue I have basically been told to RTFM.

    If you haven't read the manual, you shouldn't be asking on the lists/IRC chanels/newsgroups/whatever, nobody is on the list to read the manual for you. If you are looking for someone to hold your hand so you don't have to read documentation, hire a consultant.

    Whenever I've made sure to read the existing documentation first, and made sure to ask a mailing list having something to do with the package I'm having trouble with, I've often gotten higher quality help faster than I've ever gotten with any corporate phone support.

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