[clug] Linux on new school computers

David Howe david at qednet.biz
Wed Nov 28 00:02:45 GMT 2007

Excellent arguments Paul. I can add another one, longevity. A swag of  
new laptops with windows will in a very real way depreciate both  
financially and usefully inside a couple of years. FOSS is famous for  
usefully extending the life of hardware well beyond the norm,  
something I would imagine to be quite applicable here.

I think the idea of mailing the CD's out is a great one, happy to help.

David Howe

On 28/11/2007, at 10:43 AM, Paul Wayper wrote:

> Daniel Rose wrote:
>> 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.
> This may be true, but it's a self-defeating argument.  What's the  
> point
> of learning Shakespeare if you're not going to act on the stage?   
> What's
> the point of learning History if you're not going to be a historian?
> The answer is easy: because school still actually aims to give  
> everyone
> a broad spectrum of knowledge.  Up until the end of Secondary school
> there is nothing taught that is useful only to one profession, and no
> tool taught exclusively to others.  Do schools teach only linear
> differentiation?  Do they only teach one language?  Do they only teach
> how to write job proposals?  No.  Why should the issue of what  
> software
> is used imply any form of 'teaching' or training for the future?
> Looked at another way, when I was a student there was no  
> requirement to
> use any one software package to do ones assignments.  I used an  
> Amstrad
> CPC6128 with a variety of software whose titles I can't remember to
> write my assignments and to do graphs.  Did anyone say "you must use a
> Commodore 64 with such-and-such word processor"? No.  Did anyone say
> "you must use an IBM PC with Word Perfect," which would be the  
> standard
> for word processing for the first three years of my university days?
> No.  Why all of a sudden is anyone talking about Microsoft Windows and
> Microsoft Office being a 'standard' that 'everyone' has to learn?
> The paranoid answer, of course, is that this is Microsoft's own
> rhetoric, bolstering their own position.  It is hardly an argument.
> I'd also add that it seems to me that one of the key things we  
> _should_
> be teaching, if we're not teaching it implicitly in the methods of
> setting assignments and exams, is flexibility.  There should be no
> difference between the dichotomy of using Open Office at home and
> Microsoft Office at school, and the dichotomy of wearing one set of
> clothes and calling teachers "Sir" and "Miss" at school and another  
> set
> of clothes and patronyms at home.  Why all of a sudden is it so
> complicated for a child to use different software packages?
>> 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.
> However, that license is non-transferrable and illegal to reuse.  So
> you'd have to purchase a new license.  But given that that's given  
> at an
> 'academic discount' we can consider this point moot.
>> 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.
> Never mind the cost, feel the quality, eh?  That's a poor argument at
> the best of times, especially when it's quite convincing to argue that
> the best - and in terms of security provably the safest - is Open
> Source.  Other people have talked about cost not being an issue in the
> education sector.  I see that as fallacious on two counts.   
> Firstly, the
> money comes from somewhere, and that somewhere may be from other
> services that are impinged, or by raising taxes which depresses the
> economy.  Secondly, it ignores the hidden cost of the parents  
> keeping up
> with the requirements of a school.  It might be amusing for a  
> school to
> buy a site license for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, but  
> is it
> going to pay for a license that includes a copy on every student's
> computer at home?  On the other hand, is it right to expect that  
> people
> will pay for, or pirate, software in order to give their kids the same
> software their school uses?  The costs of this 'free education' are
> continually rising.  Why add another burden.  A school can hand out
> unlimited copies of The Open CD to everyone - parents, children,
> friends, strangers, passers-by - and still be perfectly legal.
> Keep in mind that this problem also extends beyond Microsoft.  Try  
> doing
> a graphic design course without using Adobe Photoshop on Microsoft
> Windows these days.  There are lots of industries
>> 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.
> Now, don't get fixated on "Linux" being the One True Way here.  Sure,
> it's better to have the whole package.  But "Free, Open Source  
> Software"
> isn't just Linux.  There are plenty of packages for everyday use that
> run on Windows and OS-X.
>> 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.
> So let's "improve" the school's "security" by installing expensive
> proprietary clients?  Sounds like a stupid idea to me.  Some kid with
> some smarts sets his laptop up dual-boot or uses a Live CD and USB key
> to use the same exploits and you're back to square one.  Are you
> providing a Wireless network for all these machines?  You're back to
> square one.  Security by obscurity is ineffective at best.   
> Security by
> pretending the problem doesn't exist is ludicrous.
> As a non-sequitur to the above paragraph, I have, oh, more than a
> hundred Open CDs still sitting around on my desk.  Maybe we can post
> them out to all the ministers in the new Rudd government with a form
> letter that tells them about FOSS and why this might be useful to try
> out.  They're no good sitting here :-)  There's probably enough left
> over to send the rest to schools in the ACT.  Thoughts?
> Have fun,
> Paul
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