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Education Software Linux

23,000 Linux PCs For Filipino Schools 142

Da Massive writes "Speaking at the linux.conf.au event in Melbourne, Australia, independent open source consultant Ricardo Gonzalez has told of how he has helped bring 23,000 Linux PCs to over 1000 schools in the Philippines: 'Ministers in the Filipino government now understand Linux can do so much for so little outlay.'" The slow process of educating a government that knew only Microsoft is especially well described in this piece.
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23,000 Linux PCs For Filipino Schools

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  • don't hate me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blhack ( 921171 ) on Monday January 28, 2008 @10:30PM (#22216954)
    Let me preface this by saying that I am one of the biggest linux geeks you're ever going to meet. I run gentoo on my laptop, as well as on my Desktop at work. I have installed Ubuntu on my sisters' laptops and my mom's Desktop. I do graphic design work in scribus and inkscape.

    I'm a linux geek....but

    If the true goal of a computer program for a school is to ready its students for the workplace, then is linux really the best method of doing so? Isn't the school in some way doing its students a dis-service my training them on a computing method that they will very likely never use again?
    As much as i DESPISE some of microsoft's products (i admin a damn win2k3 server...do i really need to explain WHY i hate microsoft?) i understand that in order to function in a modern workplace, the ability to navigate microsoft windows is almost as essential as any other office skill.
  • Re:don't hate me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Monday January 28, 2008 @10:42PM (#22217034) Homepage
    I am also a Gentoo guy.

    It doesnt matter what OS or software they use.
    Typing up a document or surfing the net is nearly identical no matter what you choose.

    Also hopefully some of these kids will go on to management and instead of being tied to Windows they will lean towards Linux instead.

    I really want to shoot the managers who think "Windows works well on my desktop. Lets make all our company servers run it too!"
    Thats a effect of Microsoft being in all the schools.
    In Australia, Microsoft actually gives away all their software to schools in a effort to make sure everyone is brought up with their software.
  • by RuBLed ( 995686 ) on Monday January 28, 2008 @10:58PM (#22217144)
    I RTFA because I live in the Philippines and I could agree with the last paragraph..

    "If Linux and open source wants to take hold in the education market it must deliver course material for high schools and elementary schools."

    Most of the public and private schools here only computer textbooks that is only related to MS products. What I find funny is that, they can't afford to buy those Office suites and operating systems in the first place, yet they are teaching them. There is nothing wrong with teaching it but then again it boils down to the fact that they had to pirate these software just to be able to practice what they teach \ learn.

    Recently, BSA had been hot on companies and large educational institutions here, I have seen some smaller educational institutions switch most of their OS to Fedora since they could only afford to show a number of licenses. There are also raids conducted on local internet cafes but the rumor is that, they are not BSA but the local NBI units trying to make some money. Because of these factors, most cafes that only offer printing and internet surfing switched to Linux also. The only cafes I know in our area that run windows are those gaming cafes and those located at known malls.

    Yes, we had been pretty much dependent on MS as a nation. At least this is a good step in the right direction. Even though DSL is pretty much affordable by middle classes here, the combination of OS and Office seems to be much, many just pirate them leading to numerous unpatched systems that are always online, coupled with users who only know the basics.

    On second thought, we should really do something about the whole educational mess we are right now. Not just regarding computers / technology.

    Or is resistance futile?
  • Re:don't hate me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cduffy ( 652 ) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:24PM (#22217358)

    Those folks ended up using PCs once they went on to college and real jobs.
    Ehh? I haven't seen a decent university-level computer science program yet that isn't mostly using UNIX, and there're plenty of "real jobs" for folks who know something other than win32.

    Even for those that do go on to work with Windows, though, having used more than one UI is a Good Thing for a reason: The more of them you learn, the better able you are to notice and generalize the common concepts, and the less limited you are to only being able to use the individual UI you learned on.
  • by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <earthforce_1@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:52PM (#22217558) Journal
    This is good news, yet I wonder why they went with Fedora instead of a localized distro?
    ( http://bayanihan.gov.ph/ [bayanihan.gov.ph] )

  • Re:don't hate me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @12:14AM (#22217750) Journal
    Just don't look up anything in a reference book in front of your patients (or in the case of a vet, the owner of your patients).

    I'm actually encouraged when a doctor looks something up. It means they're not just guessing or relying on memory of a similar case they came across a long time ago. The only GP I currently trust proverbially as far as I can throw is one who when I presented a medical problem offered to do some research and ring me the following night from home.

    My boss is a pilot, and he told me a story about how he took up a friend for a flight once, and when coming in for the landing, he got out his checklist to go through the proper landing procedures. The guy got all freaked out because he thought that he was looking in a manual, and didn't know what he was doing.

    Your boss' friend is an ignorant idiot. Not only does this friend not know that checklists are common in aviation, but he decides to freak out when the pilot's workload is highest. My response in your boss' shoes would be to politely explain how it works, then lose the friend (certainly never take that friend flying again).
  • by nicodoggie ( 1228876 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @12:30AM (#22217854)
    The Philippines is pretty low on budget. Not because we lack certain industries or we have a crappy economy, but because those dumb-ass politicians we have keep most of our tax money in their pockets. Mostly, they don't start projects they wouldn't profit from. When a certain amount of money is alloted to a certain project, they find ways to cheapen the price and keep the change for themselves. They see Linux as their cash-cow. They get praise for computerizing the public school system (which gets them votes) and they keep the remaining amount of money they save from not purchasing licenses from Microsoft.

    Anyway, in the Philippines, Computer Gaming/Internet shops are quite ubiquitous. These shops are often jam-packed with students of all ages from different walks of life who play MMOGs for 20 pesos an hour (about 50 cents). And the kids with computers have cheap 100 peso (a little over $2) pirated copies of Windows in their systems. This already provides them with enough Windows know-how.

    Linux is really a lot better anyway, and the kids here today have to learn to realize that.
  • Re:don't hate me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by merc ( 115854 ) <slashdot@upt.org> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @12:55AM (#22218000) Homepage
    If the true goal of a computer program for a school is to ready its students for the workplace, then is linux really the best method of doing so? Isn't the school in some way doing its students a dis-service my training them on a computing method that they will very likely never use again?

    Your question is quite valid, and worth consideration. However, the inverse could also possibly be true, and one of the core disputes I have with community colleges and many high schools of today, that being:

    How much are we teaching the IT leaders of tomorrow about computer science and technology by making them Windows centric end-users? I fear sometimes that all of the Visual Basic and Java is going to create a layer of abstraction over basic computer science comprehension (this has, of course also been discussed [slashdot.org] on slashdot).

    I think the answer is simple -- don't teach platform specific technology, or cover a few of them.
    Give a well rounded education but most importantly cover the computer science concepts.
  • Re:don't hate me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @01:53AM (#22218372) Homepage
    No I don't hate you. :) And I think you deserve at least the +3, but not moderated as "Funny", because the issue you raise is serious enough.

    Eight years ago, I was planning for my wife (a health care professional) her first PC, and I thought that the purchase of an iMac would be the most user friendly and logical choice. But her criticism on that plan was (along the lines of your story) that at work she would need to use a Windows PC, and then with a Mac at home she would only get confused. So, I got her a Windows 98 desktop and with only using Outlook Express and Internet Explorer, she lived "happily ever after" for the next 8 years.

    But last Xmas holidays that setup really became outdated and needed a refresh. So I installed a RedHat based system and converted her IE and OE to FireFox and Thunderbird. And I simply told her, if you still like it a week from now I will put it on your desk (instead of the old box) otherwise we'll go to the store and go buy some new Windows PC.

    Let me tell you, I wasn't pushing, and she wasn't biased !! I got a few questions during the first 3 hours and then it was "business as usual". Today's desktop GUIs have become so similar that for the casual user it doesn't matter anymore if the underlying technology is Windows, Linux or Mac. It's all the same.

    So, making school-kids ready for their Windows dominated future workplaces, can pretty well happen by letting them use Linux while in school. For them the difference will be as big as switching from a Nokia to a Motorola phone. Or from MySpace to FaceBook.

  • Re:don't hate me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheater512 ( 783349 ) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:07AM (#22218456) Homepage
    "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

    The little guys count more than you imagine.
    If every insignificant country switched to Linux overnight, Microsoft would be screwed within months.
  • Re:don't hate me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @02:40AM (#22218638) Journal
    "Granted she also knows where to find the stuff if she doesn't know."
    This was my major point. There is WAY too much to know and remember...ask your sister.

    Education and experience will let you know what to remember and what to look up, but in your reply you raised valid points:"There are some majors where rote memorization is good. When you're in the ER and you just reacted to some drug and you're going into cardiac arrest do you want the doctor to go "Hold on a second let me let me look this up." Absolutely!! The point I failed to elaborate on. To know the difference between memorizing 'this' and 'that', compared to the ability to look 'it' up was my point. I apparently failed to adequately express my point of view here. (no sarcasm...I'm serious here).

    Some info needs to be almost 'hard-wired' for instant recall, but some info just needs to be ' a reference away' for most situations. (for example: as a Vet Tech in Oklahoma, do I REALLY need to remember the scientific name of an internal parasite (worm) in the Ethiopian River Rat that is not a medical problem in the USA?- but I can tell you for certainty that if your 'sight hound' [greyhound, afghan hound, borsai, etc] have had aspirin recently...LET YOUR VETERINARIAN KNOW before there is any general anesthesia involved. Aspirin is a protein-binder that will cause an anesthetic overdose in 'sighthounds' if not accounted for, and the tolerance for lidocaine for local anesthesia in llamas is 2.5 mg/kg- if this is exceeded, the said llama will go into some spectacular seizures!)

    As an engineer, you should maybe look at this method. (not trying to be an asshat here) Do you memorize every engineering table you are exposed to, or do you only memorize the relevant ones to your work?...and have a clue as to where other relevant tables could be found?

    YMMV, Proceed with caution, and the best of luck to you. :)
  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @04:39AM (#22219098)
    "We wanted to use Fedora 5 and it went all the way to office of [the Filipino] President and they kept passing it around saying 'why would they offer something for free, and how would they support and teach it'," Gonzalez said. "The project dragged on for four to five months to a point where Microsoft matched the price by offering Windows XP for $US20 a copy and throwing in Office for $US30, but we still came out cheaper. Microsoft was also providing free training to high school teachers."

    That is the sound of inevitability.
  • by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:00AM (#22219212)
    $20+$30 is still expensive. That's about 1/4th the monthly salary of the average worker here. The OEM version of XP is roughly $100 when converted. Basic Office (no Powerpoint) costs around $200-300. Don't even get me started on Vista Ultimate (and the hardware upgrade that comes with it). If people in the US think its robbery, its practically a small fortune over here. OTOH, Linux would run on machines we already own.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"