[clug] Linux on new school computers

Daniel Rose drose at nla.gov.au
Mon Nov 26 21:36:45 GMT 2007

rodryan wrote:
> Gday cluggers
> The greatest good the new government can do for the australian student
> is to have linux as the operating system on their computers. 


I'm not trying to stir up trouble, but if you've never seen windows, does this make you more or less employable as a receptionist or other office staff?  What about in other roles? The push in schools is for job readiness; nobody in the media is talking about the real purpose and value of education, only employment, skills and money.  If you want to get in on the action, you can't use (valid) philosophical, moral or ethical arguments, it won't wash with the beaurocrats, the pollies or the public.

If we are going to push for this (and I reckon we should), that's the first question they will ask.  "Why?"

If the PCs are 2nd hand ex-gov as indicated elsewhere (hearsay from my missus) then they will already have a Windows licence, so it's not cheaper.

Financial arguments won't work well either I reckon, even if they are true.  You push purchase price, they show either existing licences, software assurance or massive volume discount.  You show lower TCO, they show training costs.  You show rock-solid properly researched 100% certain savings of 75%; they say that you can't put a price on the future of our nation and say that our children deserver the best we can give them, whatever the cost.

Now the parents can't help much if the computer goes wonky, and the teachers will mostly know windows better than linux, so the same goes for them really.

If laptops can go home with kids, many parents will feel somehow that Kev broke the promise; this is not what they pictured in their minds, any more than they imagined Palm Pilots as the computers in question.

There's a massive amount of educational software already purchased by schools which runs only on windows (yes, or maybe on wine, but we already _know_ it works on windows).

Overall, I think pushing for dual-boot might be more successful.  Then you don't have to be better than windows, and all the negatives above vanish.  It's not about whether Linux is better than windows, it's about whether Linux deserves a seat at the table....

THEN you talk about job skills, software development, the clever country, international  competitiveness, point out the Linux in BMW's car computers, in some ADSL modems and wireless boxes, point out that it runs australia.gov.au, and see if you can get background info on its use in defense, the ATO and so forth.

As an either/or, it's a selfish agenda push by smelly hippies.  As an also ran, it's an enlightened addition that shows exactly the kind of fresh thinking that Australians voted for.

You might want to involve people who are already doing this sort of work, like Con:


Con Zymaris has been pushing governments on open source for ages, and AFAICT he's OSS for-profit (like me) so it's clearly in his financial interest to do so, and he seems to have a lot of experience.

Having said all that, at some stage someone will ask: "What about when the kids use nessus and metasploit and other Linux-friendly tools to mess with the school's network?"

For that particular question, I have no good answer, because it will happen, and it's easier on Linux than windows.

I think it's a good idea but I think it's really really hard.  Good luck!

Daniel Rose
National Library of Australia

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