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Free Software For All Russian Schools In Jeopardy

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the borg-not-taking-it-lying-down dept.

Education 265

Glyn Moody writes "Last year, we discussed here a Russian plan to install free software in all its schools. Seems things aren't going so well. Funds for the project have been cut back, some of the free software discs already sent out were faulty, and — inevitably — Microsoft has agreed to a 'special price' for Windows XP used in Russian schools."

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In Soviet Russia (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111210)

Free software costs too much? Really?

Somebody needs to explain some things to these folks. It's not that hard: you install LTSP on a server, all the clients boot to the network. Install all the software you want on the server. If instead of (or in addition to) thin client/shared desktop you want an image on the desktop you configure the PXE server to dish an installer image.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111286)

It depends though. If you look at a lot of (American) schools technology is crap. About 2 years ago I was in an elementary school computer lab with computers still running Windows 98(!) on hardware made for Windows 95. And legacy software wasn't the issue the school just didn't have the funds or the motivation to switch. After all a kid can learn just as well on a Pentium II that takes 4 minutes to respond to mouse input as a Core 2 duo that responds instantly right? Even the small expense of some noiseless thin clients and a powerful server might be too much because until the HDDs are dead, the memory is bad, the CD drives are stuck and the monitor has exploded, they have no desire to upgrade.

Retraining is also hard. Schools (at least in America) generally have a large amount of dead weight. Teachers long past their prime who teach boring classes who are apathetic towards students but who have been tenured and can't be fired without having to fight through the unions. These teachers have no desire to get a new keyboard, let alone an entirely new OS or new ways of doing things. In fact I'm sure a lot of them would rather have paper grades and typewriters. So when the price is $20,000 to switch to Linux $50,000 to upgrade Windows or just $0 to do absolutely nothing, many schools choose the free option especially in lower grades.

Oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111522)

All software in Russia is free, and always will be!

Re:In Soviet Russia (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111614)

Yeah a few years back I ended up giving a bunch of old office boxes to one of my local schools. I installed Win2K along with some basic office software OO.o and the like, and I bet they are still being used to this day. Why didn't i just use Linux? because unless I wanted to be their free admin for the rest of my days I had to install something their "IT" guy understood. This guy was such an old fossil he wanted to know where to input the DOS commands.

Most folks here talk about "Oh, Linux is free!" but sorry, that's bullshit. Yeah the OS may be free, but you ever priced a Linux Guru? Cheap they ain't because there simply aren't many of them. It is a LOT easier to teach a teacher how to go "clicky clicky, next next next" than to deal with a CLI. They know Windows, they use Windows at home, so they ain't scared of Windows.

After trying to give away nice older machines that I'd get given to me on jobs with Linux installed by me I quickly learned that old saying was true "Linux is free if your time is worthless" because i would get called back to service their 'free" machine when they couldn't get the printer to work, an update borked sound or video, etc. In the end it was just easier to wipe the machine, reinstall whatever Windows it had a license for, and then sell or give it away.

So while I appreciate the idea of a free OS for schools, unless they got the money to hire the Linux admins to run it I've found it just ain't worth it. Better to give them a locked down Windows box and just be done with it. Windows admins are cheap and MSFT is happy to give educational discounts to keep Windows in the schools, no different than Apple and my local college.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111712)

Most folks here talk about "Oh, Linux is free!" but sorry, that's bullshit. Yeah the OS may be free, but you ever priced a Linux Guru?

I'm feeling my years. My grandmother has quite a few of them on me. It took me an hour to install her Linux over a year ago, and it still works fine. Nothing bad happened. I showed her how to install software and now she's got quite a lot of it. One of these days she's going to ask me to debug her wget scripts. Grandma never did learn to drive but she can MySpace like nobody's business.

Where I'm at Linux geeks are more common than the other kind so they're not expensive. Your mileage may vary.

Windows admins are cheap

Not always, but sometimes, you do get what you pay for. The problem with Windows admins is that you also need a LOT of them. Just techs to clean malware and fix twitchy software is >1% of headcount for some large organizations. IMHO most Windows admins see the internal workings of the machine as a "black box" and they are neither able to nor interested in understanding the lower level of activity that drives the magic blinky lights. Linux geeks are a different breed indeed.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1, Redundant)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111884)

Grandma never did learn to drive but she can MySpace like nobody's business.

Is that some sort of perverted euphemism?

Re:In Soviet Russia (0, Flamebait)

muncadunc (1679192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111760)

Honestly, I don't think you should have to use a CLI for basic administration. Having to regularly drop down to an xterm is what keeps driving me away from Linux again and again. Linux is an incredibly cool idea and will eventually get there, but with the state of Linux today, I can't be too shocked that people would choose Windows or Mac over something that's so fiddly.
Linux doesn't even need to be as good, it needs to be better and easier to use for regular people before they'll make the leap.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111824)

I don't think you should have to use a CLI for basic administration. ...with the state of Linux today

WTF?

When did you last use Linux?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1, Insightful)

muncadunc (1679192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111908)

The last time I gave Ubuntu a try was last month, having used Linux on and off since Red Hat 5. This time around I made it for a week.
In my case, I had to connect over a PPPoE network to get online. The problem (if I recall correctly) was that while Vista had the dialog to connect, Ubuntu did not, and I had to fall back to a command prompt to get the job done.
Thing is, there may well have been a package that I should have installed to get the functionality. Thing is, you shouldn't have to do that. And if it doesn't just work, people vote with their feet.

I keep checking back on Linux every now and then to see how things have progressed, and on some fronts it looks pretty slick. It's when you try using it for that one thing you really have to do that you realize that it's still an OS made by coders, for coders and whatever coders think users are.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

fucket (1256188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111954)

I thought connecting to a PPPoE network was the router's job.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

muncadunc (1679192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111972)

In this case, it was a policy on the part of the building management so they would know who was illegally downloading.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111992)

Correct me if im wrong, but if youre setting up a thin client deployment scenario, having to configure the client is a very minor issue because you do it once and it applies to all clients.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112046)

And you don't.. just open the package manager and look for pppoeconf. This will allow you to have a gui to manage your pppoe connection.

All done from a gui as well.. personally, I go to the CLI because I find easy.. My mom has been using Ubuntu for 2 years, and she does not even know what a CLI is.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Informative)

Captian Spazzz (1506193) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112252)

Right Click the network manager icon in the top tool bar.
Select EDIT Connections
Select DSL (assuming that's the type of connection your using PPPOE for, but it should work regardless)
Click Add
Enter username and password and any other settings required.
Connect
???
Profit!

Seriously dude I just bridged my DSL Modem and connected using the native PPPOE client in Ubuntu. No command line needed.

Re:In Soviet Russia (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111934)

I don't know about the GP, but I've never done any command line or text file management of the Debian box I'm typing this on (up about a year now). Until I read your post I hadn't thought about at all but yeah, things have changed quite a bit in the last few years. I still wget on the command line and edit files by hand for programming projects, but for system admin? Not any more. I can't remember how long it's been.

Now, to config a server to give some options to a thousand netbooted clients whether to start various types of thin client, VDI, DBAN, Clonezilla or select from available installer images? That's going to be a text file, but what the heck - you can't do that in Windows no matter what you edit. But xorg.conf or .desktop? I don't even remember the syntax. Are they still on M4 or whatever the heck that heinous syntax was?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112238)

Well, I use Ubuntu server everyday and its default install doesn't even come with a graphical UI. So I use the CLI for pretty much all administration. For some boxes I'll throw on webmin, for Oracle I'll connect to a remote X-server, usually my laptop but there is a lot of cli there too. Make no mistake, we're talking about administration here and in the administration you expect to use a CLI if you're working with Linux.

There are those of us that appreciate the simplicity of running a few shell scripts for common tasks such as adding extensions to Asterisk but we're not blind to Windows which is inherently far easier to administer. Ease of use comes at a cost so it's not always the right tool for the job, that's why having alternatives is great.

The GNU world likes their small tools and because of this flexibility you'll rarely find a full featured administrative GUI without spending lots of money on time and 3rd party software tools. There is a lot of inherent flexibility but ultimately it means that the CLI isn't going anywhere, nor should it. Even in the Windows world the power of a CLI is finally getting recognized with Powershell. Scripting is the future of administration. Who cares if it's hard to write a script if you only have to do it once?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111868)

Honestly, I run Mint and Ubuntu and I rarely drop to the CLI unless I just want to get something done faster. The GUI is capable of pretty much everything I've needed to do in the past 2-3 years.

Re:In Soviet Russia (2, Insightful)

Arkaic (784460) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111910)

I'd say you aren't much of a real Windows admin if all you know if the "click click" side of things. Even a halfway decent PC Tech knows how to effectively use things like ipconfig from a cmd prompt. I just recently did some online coursework for Windows Server 2008. Guess what? There are still PLENTY of tasks that can ONLY be done from the CLI, for managing DNS and number of other things. As much as Windows like to focus on the GUI for the average user, you will never get away from the CLI if you want to use all of the feature for managing a Windows machine. I have to use Windows on my work desktop, and I have always have a cmd prompt window open. Simply because its something faster for doing certain things, than trying to use the GUI.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111964)

> than to deal with a CLI

Another Windows prat who hasn't looked at Linux and believes the Microsoft FUD that you need to use a command line.

Of course using a command line is easier than a GUI for those who have two clues to rub together (as in: "he wanted to know where to input the DOS commands"), but everything a user wants to do can be done with a GUI on most distros, including installing new software.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112000)

Uh, I would say I agree with you, but last time I checked, Linux wasn't some obscure and confusing CLI. Showing computer illiterate people Ubuntu makes it easy for them to learn, and it doesn't take a genius to figure stuff out pretty quickly. You don't hafta be a genius to use Linux anymore.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

linumax (910946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111302)

Free software doesn't mean no costs. It just means cheaper, and usually only in long term. You have installation, training, support, cost of porting existing applications and data, etc.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111624)

Free software doesn't mean no costs. It just means cheaper, and usually only in long term. You have installation, training, support, cost of porting existing applications and data, etc.

TCO for Windows involves the risk of 17 years in a siberian prison [russiankafe.com] .

TCO for Linux involves asking some people to work an hour late one day a week for a few months.

Plugging that into my ROI calculator gives a time to recover investment of... 1.2 milliseconds.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0, Troll)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111710)

Your ROI calculator is broken. There was no investment in the case of the teacher who pirated (cuz he pirated), thus, there can be no return on said investment.

Re:In Soviet Russia (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111746)

Ooh mister smartypants -the teacher did in fact buy the Windows from the government's official vendor at the going rate and he had no way to know they sold him cracked software. Nice try. You have no idea how government business is conducted in Russia, do you?

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111776)

So, the Russian gov't sentenced one of their own citizens to a prison camp for pirating software that they themselves (through their approved agents) sold to him. I'm still not seeing how that is Microsoft's fault for providing a poor ROI.

Re:In Soviet Russia (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112140)

OK, I've reviewed my posts from your reply to the top of the thread and nowhere did I say it was Microsoft's fault. It is an observed fact. It is, and to Russians to whom the blame belongs is irrelevant. They can choose to use free software or they can choose the risk. Microsoft has backed off some for now and so the risk is less, but eventually the risk will return because the software is not free and their Russian channel can never be reliably honest. In the Russian language corrupt government provisioning is so assumed that the reverse must be made explicit. I believe Chinese languages are similarly cynical. The safe choice is to be free forever. Free contains no risk.

If you want to fix the blame on Microsoft for not dropping the suit after finding out that the affected individual was in no way to blame for the piracy, that's on you. I didn't say that.

As to Microsoft's ROI, well, I don't know what to say here. Given the current state of free [ubuntu.com] I can see how they must struggle to prove where they add value - especially when dealing with the malware ecosystem [secureworks.com] mounted against them which at some accounts is larger than the Windows market itself. I'm sure it's hard to deliver on this nine year old commitment [microsoft.com] when you can't even get your network software geeks to check their inputs [softpedia.com] on the most basic service they provide or even read the licenses of the software they publish [theregister.co.uk] .

You should probably check the corkboard on the way out of the blog center. I think there's a note there about me. Take your stuff with you when you go or you might not see it again.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111870)

Part of the costs they are looking at is to train everyone to use it. Like it or not, not everyone can just dive right into an OS. For most folks on /. it's easy, but for someone who's intimidated by a PC, not so much. They also have costs invested in current software that will have to be replaced, be that with OSS, or with some pay solution. It takes time (people hours) to replace software, and then time to train on the new software in addition to the OS training.

Last but not least, you have to have a support infrastructure, who will also need to be trained, and the IT folks themselves will need a higher tier to go to when they cannot resolve in house (with the in house support being optional..I'm not sure how a school's IT support works in Russia), which means support contracts.

OSS is great, but it is rarely free for non-personal use.

I would think that once they got over the 'conversion' hump, they would be in a better position, but it sounds like they are struggling with even getting through the conversion itself.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111718)

Free software costs too much? Really?

If it works out of the box it is not too much, but maybe they have to localise the software into Russian. Given the differences between the languages, that might not be a trivial task. I don't know what software they need - it might include education apps that are not part of any standard distro.

As others have said, there is also the cost of training, both of the teachers who have to use the computers and the IT departments who must administer them.

Re:In Soviet Russia (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111890)

This is going to shock you but written English is quite common in Russia and most Russians are multilingual. Also, most Russians are quite adaptable and resourceful - by necessity as they've been more challenged than we have in the west. Some of these teachers built their own schools from raw logs, and they had to do manual labor to get the tools to work the logs. I'm not kidding. After that experience figuring out Linux should be a cinch. In short these are not typically your inner-city career button pushers. The ability of Russians to endure travails without complaint that would wreck our average American polar explorer is legendary - they're almost British in this way.

Localization is trivial. I believe Russian interface is supported in every Linux variant I've ever used. It's just Cryllic alphabet, keywords and fonts anyway. It's not like it's got some fancy top-to-bottom or right-to-left glyph sequence or anything. Lots of Russians use Linux by choice and I'm sure lots of them have figured this out. This isn't Windows: localization has been part of the standard GNU project template for many years.

If they're complaining that they can't do it then it's because they've been paid handsomely to make such a complaint. Otherwise they wouldn't be Russian. Now, who would pay them to do that? And why is anybody listening?

Re:In Soviet Russia (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112136)

This is going to shock you but written English is quite common in Russia and most Russians are multilingual.

This is simply false. It may hold true for Moscow and a few other large cities (though even then I'm not sure), but most of the country is definitely not multilingual, English or otherwise. There's simply no point in learning it, and whatever schools give you is really basic, and is quickly forgotten for the lack of practice.

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112248)

This is going to shock you but written English is quite common in Russia and most Russians are multilingual.

That sounds like a poor answer for a government mandated, national standard for software. "Sorry, but we couldn't come up with a system in our own language." A great loss for national pride! As an Australian, I know that there would be an uproar if our government tried to foist a software standard for schools which used American English, let alone another language.

Some of these teachers built their own schools from raw logs ... After that experience figuring out Linux should be a cinch.

Someone from a thousand years ago could build a school from logs, but that doesn't mean to say that they could understand Linux either.

I believe Russian interface is supported in every Linux variant I've ever used.

That is why I mentioned the part about the education software. It is not just the base operating system that needs to be localised. From the original, original article:

Via Google Translate: By the end of 2009, all school computers will be installed package of free software (PSPO).

Who knows how much of the PSPO was written from scratch or needed to be adapted. I don't know because it is so hard to search the russian pages - the original letters for PSPO actually translate as SCPI.

This isn't Windows: localization has been part of the standard GNU project template for many years.

What makes you think that Windows hasn't had localisation from the start. The Russian version of MS-DOS has been around for 19 years [google.com] . How else do you think that the teachers already know Windows?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111952)

yes because free software doesn't mean the whole project is free. you have to pay people to roll out the software, train teachers, manage the people doing the roll out and then the support staff after. then there is the hardware and the networking that needs constant maintenance.

your little busted arse network at home is not indicative of how a nation wide system roll out occurs ok?

Re:In Soviet Russia (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112100)

Somebody needs to explain some things to these folks. It's not that hard: you install LTSP on a server, all the clients boot to the network. Install all the software you want on the server. If instead of (or in addition to) thin client/shared desktop you want an image on the desktop you configure the PXE server to dish an installer image.

Ok, stop for a second and re-read what you wrote, but this time pretend you're not someone who is knowledgeable about computers.

Special price (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111228)

Special price == free || getting paid?

How else can you beat free software?
Not like labour is terribly expensive in RU; So I can't see installing being expensive. Schools should have plenty of bright young hackers to install it too...

Re:Special price (2, Informative)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111692)

How else can you beat free software?

By ignoring costs for retraining on the new OS, retraining on the new applications, headache costs when the specialized educational/academic/back office software doesn't run on Linux, and so forth?

Re:Special price (4, Insightful)

Chuq (8564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111770)

I've noticed costs for retraining somehow are never an issue when changing from eg., MS Office 2003 to 2007, or XP to Win7, but are showstoppers when open source software is involved.

Re:Special price (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111974)

because your more technical support staff can field the questions from low tech users without retraining, but the radical change to OSS requires EVERYONE be retained, usually by consultants who charge a fortune.

Re:Special price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112102)

My mom switched from a Windows XP PC with Word to an Ubuntu PC with Open Office Writer and didn't need to be retrained by a consultant that cost a fortune... I would suggest that 99% of people whose interaction with their computers is limited to the application level need no more retraining (and perhaps less retraining) than someone going from Office 2003 to Office 2007 (remember the whole menu vs. ribbon paradigm shift). There is nothing inherently different in the user interaction between an open source application and a closed source application. Now if all the IT staff you have are Windows-only, then yes, with a change to the operating system to an open source operating system, you probably have a few IT staff to train. So I only quibble with your use of "EVERYONE".

Re:Special price (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111822)

I kind of thought training was what schools specialize in.

A few bucks for a few guys to get the kinks out, and a couple workshops for the CS teachers, vs. licences for the whole country... I just can't see it.

Re:Special price (1)

sofar (317980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111836)

The problem with this is that due to the exclusivity of linux, linux training is also exclusive, and thus costs are high. If linux marketshare would be 90% or more, the prices for linux support and training will most likely be on par (cost wise) with that of Windows, r better.

That's a largely ignored factor. Throwing linux at a whole nation's education system is the best way to cure the dependency on proprietary tie-in, but the hurdle might be high. The problem is that linux isn't gaining market share even though everyone knows that the windows problem will be solved quicker if linux gains market share early.

Special pricing. (4, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111230)

This is business as usual for governments and Microsoft. The government in question threatens to roll out an open source solution to a large number of machines, problems magically pop up early in the deployment, and Microsoft pitches their solution for next to nothing in upfront costs. Note that the ongoing costs of managing the deployment down the road are virtually never considered, and the taxpayers wind up getting screwed with a "solution" that eats up enormous amounts of money in overhead, future licensing fees, and security issues.

Re:Special pricing. (2, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111346)

Well, we don't know whether the government was playing politics, or was honest in their intentions. Either way, it's fair to characterise Microsoft's moves as good business for them, but problematic for everyone else.

By problematic, I'd use the analogy of a loan shark giving you a special rate on a new load to get you past the missed interest payment you missed on your last unpaid loan. Sure it resolves the crisis, but the underlying problems and high costs remain.

And speaking of underlying problems and high costs, the following article is appearing on news.google.com.

Are Microsoft to blame for "hidden" malware costs [freesoftwaremagazine.com]

Re:Special pricing. (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111396)

and to go a step further in your comment, eventually microsoft cuts off the russian PCs from windows update so no more patches to secure all these russian PCs and there is your next botnet collection free to send spam and DDos whoever the russians decide to target.

Re:Special pricing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111716)

Pirated copies of Windows can still auto-update. Don't let me stop you bitching ineffectually though, it's quite funny.

Re:Special pricing. (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111594)

Considering previous CD burning fails I'd call it diversion.

Re:Special pricing. (1, Interesting)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111382)

Yes because we all know that open source software never has problems that pop up in deployment...

Re:Special pricing. (4, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111806)

Of course it does. The difference is primarily that you don't get yourself locked into a single platform for years to come that winds up costing a small fortune in licensing fees, and your overhead for managing the systems is lower over that period as well. I've worked on both sides of this equation for over a decade.

Zero-day holes, poor code from generations back... (1)

xjlm (1073928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111900)

Oh, wait a minute, that's not open source I'm talking about, is it? No, that's the famous 'proprietary' software everyone gets for free. No, that open source stuff isn't even good enough to run the latest worm or virus like certain other OSes I could mention. Or play games for kiddies. Or install your latest piece of hardware you picked up down at WalMart.

Re:Special pricing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111536)

Bad disks? They couldn't come up with anything better than bad disks? I've recorded hundreds of disks. Its tough to make a bad one. But somehow, they made hundreds of bad disks. And unfamiliarity? What kind of bullshit is that? I've seen this kind of crap spewed before. If you are having problems with OpenOffice and don't know what's going on, use the latest resources for WORD and follow the instructions EXACTLY, problem solved (there are of course online resources bundled with OpenOffice, but just sayin'. Somehow, someone had a problem. Its like money was exchanged and somehow the computer stopped working after someone took a blowtorch to it. Then the operating system was declared to be the problem, and we have the result as shown in the article. Microsoft is suddenly cheerful to spend billions on 'educating the children'. Good job Komrade Gates, Komrade Ballmer! Now we can finally serve up some .NYET!

Re:Special pricing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112200)

Yeah problems seem to 'magically' pop up, those darn magicians...

While excuses 'magically' pop up in the Linux community.

Maybe, just maybe... Linux is an awful desktop environment to work in and the community that surrounds it doesn't want to accept any responsibility or settle on standards.

Where was Linux desktop and driver support 10 years ago?

Free (5, Funny)

p0rnographer (1051212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111234)

In Soviet Russia, free costs money!

Re:Free (0)

ndik (1186119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111288)

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. If by chance we were living in 1991, then free would cost money. However as we're in 2009, your statement is invalid.

Re:Free (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111434)

"The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991"

Technically, but I bet on Putin bringing it back more than I'd bet on a feeble few believers in democracy succeeding against the entire history of the Russian people. That's almost as tall an order as teaching Muslims that secular freedom is good for anything but overthrowing governments which practice it.

Re:Free (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111488)

That's almost as tall an order as teaching Muslims that secular freedom is good for anything but overthrowing governments which practice it.

LOL, if not so true. effin brilliant statement. I will use in the future. Would have moded you up but just HAD to make an "in soviet russia" wisecrack.

Re:Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112122)

What wise-crack? Have you been to Russia lately?

I can tell you, the Red is back in.

Re:Free (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111444)

In Soviet Russia, joke misses you!

Re:Free (1, Informative)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111580)

Oh no, tell me you did not just shit on a Soviet Russia joke....

Someone come take this guy's geek credentials away.

Donations? (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111238)

It almost smells like sabotage. I imagine MS wouldn't directly do it, but instead pay people to "keep an eye on the project" with a lot of wink-wink. I wonder if there's not a way to donate to the cause?

I'll take First Post for 200, Alex (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111250)

In this once-powerful empire, software frees you.

Re:I'll take First Post for 200, Alex (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111338)

That explains the Soviet collapse. free()ing a non-malloc()ed address. Stupid stupid stupid.

Where can I send disks? (1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111254)

So where can I send disks? I'm sure if everybody at the Slashdot community burns at least one disk then we should be able to make up the difference.

Anybody have a list of software which we can download and burn? And the address to send it to?

Y

Re:Where can I send disks? (5, Funny)

mk_is_here (912747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111626)

You're trying to offer DDOS (Disk Delivery Overseas Service) to Russia?

Russian to me (0, Offtopic)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111256)

At least have someone translate the piece before we can start waging verbal jihad, slashdot style. It could be talking about vodkas and hookers for all we know.

Costs (2, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111258)

"Funds for the project have been cut back..."
FOSS should seriously be cheaper to roll out than XP. Windows would have to reduce the price to near nothing... Does this say something sad about the usability of FOSS?

Re:Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111410)

Software licensing even when paying full price is usually only a fraction of the cost of a large scale deployment. Even a small difference in cost of engineers to do the work can be enough to completely invalidate any FOSS saving. Most on /. only see the cost of the licenses and think there is no way FOSS can be more expensive, the reality is software licenses usually make up only a few percent of the overall cost

Re:Costs (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111468)

Agreed. My point was that the roll out costs in FOSS should be similar unless we are deficient somewhere. Working on that would be a good thing.

BTW, whoever modded me troll. It was a question, Sorry for wanting to improve FOSS, way to take criticism jackass.

Re:Costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111582)

And my point was that it does not necessarily have to be costs or deficiencies with the software itself to make the price difference. something as simple as the relevant FOSS trainers being more expensive or shortage of FOSS engineers or a glut of MS engineers can be enough to change those costs in such a way as to completely negate savings without there even being a software issue.

Re:Costs (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111764)

True, but in Russia, Last I checked, a decent IT job pays maybe $500/mo. (2-3x more in Moscow).
That's what... 2 or 3 windows licences?

Low'ing price in face of competition not a "trick" (3, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111262)

Moody says:

Finally, Microsoft has been up to its old tricks of offering special deals for its software

How is that a "trick"? Isn't that what competition is supposed to do--cause vendors to lower price?

Re:Low'ing price in face of competition not a "tri (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111404)

Let's remember the original cause [techdirt.com] of this Linux migration, shall we?

Re:Low'ing price in face of competition not a "tri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112196)

It sounds like a common scenario. They were stealing Windows and got nicked. Rather than paying for Windows, they decided to switch to Linux. In the process of rolling it out, they discovered that Linux was an inferior solution (higher costs, less functional or both), and wanted to go back to Windows. They still refused to pay the full price, but offered high volume, so Microsoft agreed to a discount.

Re:Low'ing price in face of competition not a "tri (0, Offtopic)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111726)

Oh, someone please mod "Insightful". I have said on /. many times in the past that here, of all places, people should appreciate the choice...and if I choose, voluntarily, after having tried the alternatives, to stay with IE instead of Firefox, or Windows instead of Linux, then the /. community should embrace that decision. Sometimes I feel that there are people on /. who will not be satisfied until there is no OS besides Linux. Ironic, really.

Re:Low'ing price in face of competition not a "tri (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111788)

You have to understand, slashdot isn't pro-Linux. Its anti-The Man. And at the moment The Man is Microsoft. Once Microsoft becomes an underdog people will sing its praises as they hate on whoever The Man is of the day.

Re:Low'ing price in face of competition not a "tri (1, Interesting)

shermo (1284310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112018)

Maybe yes, maybe no.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predatory_pricing [wikipedia.org]

Predatory pricing is a great example of competition at work.

PS. Can I get some of those windows licenses at that price?

In soviet Russia (0, Offtopic)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111264)

apt-gets you!

We need free books first (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111266)

I'm currently working on a video game project I can finish in a couple months that may make me some money so I can support myself and do other more ambitious projects. The #1 project I feel that needs to be done is the freeing up of textbooks in education. If someone doesn't offer a free textbook that is important, we should have a community that rewrites it without plagurizing, and then provide it free of charge. The Internet should be a global library. The old problem with distribution was printing, but that problem is solved. Publishers like newspapers have less importance in this society. The new problem is compensating people who provide free information, but this problem is less of a problem than restricting their information from eager minds.

My theory is that computers can do books better than books do books. We can have multimedia experiences yes, but we're so new at knowing how they help people learn, we don't need to consider them at first. We need to do books, and link a course together by the books people need to tackle to get through them. We can have videos that train people like lectures. We can have LOTS of redudandant passive learning eventually. We can even have live tutors through live chat and email. There is a definite revolution in education looming at the horizon, and I hope that I'm not the only one who sees it because I'm horrendous at being able to accomplish big projects on my own, with no funding.

Re:We need free books first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111564)

Learning is not new. It is heavily researched and there is a lot of empirical evidence on how and when people learn. However, people are gee-whiz gung-ho about them new-fangled technologies that we seem to have bought into the implicit idea that learning something "with a computer" is somehow better than from a book... we just don't know how or why.

The politics surrounding education are fantastic and often quite unpleasant.

Re:We need free books first (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111648)

I hope that I'm not the only one who sees it because I'm horrendous at being able to accomplish big projects on my own, with no funding.

There are very few people in this world that can accomplish big projects, on their own, with no funding.

Re:We need free books first (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111772)

I'm currently working on a video game project I can finish in a couple months that may make me some money

LOL! So basically you are working for several months to maybe make a few thousand dollars... Why don't you just go get yourself a real part time job?

Well, I guess money isn't all that pressing of an issue if your mother doesn't charge you rent for her basement.

Re:We need free books first (1)

abarrieris5eV (1659265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111904)

I'm horrendous at being able to accomplish big projects on my own, with no funding.

Pretty much everyone has that problem. If you need some entry level physics or EE or some more advanced materials science stuff maybe I'll contribute one day. Free education is possible, just like you say. At the same time I'd be sad to see the brick and mortar schools go. You can't replace being physically in the same buildings with the same labs for a lot of stuff.

Re:We need free books first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112092)

There is one huge problem. Dead trees are incredibly portable, don't have an upfront cost of a few hundred dollars, don't have batteries that need recharging or that explode, and can be recycled.

Some books online are fine, search for a text book is a fine thing to have, but for the most part a computer screen is not the place I want to do any recreational reading.

I'll Take Overhead for 600 Alex (2, Insightful)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111328)

Trebek: This state failed to consider the cost of changing software and training users.
Yakov Smirnoff: What is free market Russia?

Great advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111348)

The kids get to try it at school before they download it off a torrent.

Get the hackers involved (3, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111390)

Offer free use of the bandwidth from 5pm to 7am (or whatever off hours are over there) in exchange for a usable school system. I guess if they must have a bunch of shady sites and scammers, might as well get some education out of it.

In Soviet Russia, spam funds school!

FOSS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111398)

Fail!

i see a pattern... (4, Insightful)

cies (318343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111630)

i get the feeling its not just microsoft being "clever" in always offering highly discounted versions as a last resort to prevent a free software takeover. it is also governments who cleverly threat to switch to free software (back up by some actual action), on which microsoft drastically cuts price.

i think the same about china for instance. they wanted to put the whole government and education system on their red flag linux. microsoft now gives them windows+office for a couple of euros (or even less i forgot) per machine.

so i suspect free software is used as a threat in order to make microsoft cut its prices. is that a problem? i think it contributes to free software's growth in the end -- but it is surely not as beneficent as the free software actually being used to run on computers.

Jeopardy (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111646)

"Free Software For All Russian Schools In Jeopardy"

What sort of jeopardy does a Russian School have to be in to qualify to receive free software? Like academic jeopardy or financial jeopardy? Sounds like a good idea to me! ;)

Fix Once, Run anywhere, anyone? (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111674)

Why are these Russian computer programmers not making applications to fill the gaps. If there is a bug, why not just fix it? Its Russia, they have tremendous talent for coders. Just commit some coders to fixing bugs, then submit them back upstream to the application distributor. If I can file bug reports, so can they, but I never see them actually do it.

Re:Fix Once, Run anywhere, anyone? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111736)

Its Russia, they have tremendous talent for coders.

Like everywhere else, gov't budgets are lean right now. This is a long-term investment, as far as learning to work with OSS. But when gov'ts are short of cash, they tend to make short-term decisions.
       

paypal from the world: bounties for ru bug fixes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111920)

I for one would contribute to a fund to compensate Russian big fixers for Russian Linux distros.

Solaris time! (2, Interesting)

Akir (878284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111694)

If the problem with deploying Linux is not having enough trained professionals, why not go with Solaris? OpenSolaris is free, and Sun offers training for it. Don't know if they have russian solaris training, though. Or they could go through multiple other training sources that are available for Linux. No matter how you put it, paying for windows, no matter how low your discount is, doesn't make sense. For chrissakes - if everyone in Russia were running Linux, wouldn't that get rid of the training problems?

Re:Solaris time! (0, Flamebait)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111828)

I've used Ubuntu. I willingly moved away from it and paid for Microsoft XP because after 6 months I found Linux wasn't worth my time in making it work as well as XP.

Believe it or not, not everyone in this big wide world shares your view. Hop off your high-horse and consider personal freedom of choice for once.

Re:Solaris time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112014)

Care to explain more in depth?
What was not working? ... and you returned to XP .... that is 'how old' in MS terms ... ?
No I'm not fanboi of any OS ... I have them all (3) running at the moment ... Linux being most used, Mac 2nd and when there is a must ... Windows, since some stuff just won't run on any of the 2 other ...

I've jumped thru hoops multiple times to make something work on all these 3 OS'es ... so don't even get me started ...

details / data / something or I'll mod you a troll ;-)

Microsoft's competitive behavior (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111862)

Horror of horrors, Microsoft is attempting to compete on price with free software!

Re:Microsoft's competitive behavior (3, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30111946)

Not really.. it's not robust competition from MS. It's a special temporary deal to try to dissuade them from going to free sw.

Once they're using MS sw, they'll be locked in pretty quickly and can't switch, the price will shoot right back up immediately.

Sabotage? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30111882)

Is it impossible to imagine that MSFT paid off some people to get the free software disc fail? It's amazing how little money can buy how much in certain countries.

Re:Sabotage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112112)

Yeah, that's probably what happened...

Mashenka (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30112032)

It's a very old news. About 1,5 months ago the company (Armada) which was working on the project last year (in a consortium with some other companies) lost the bid. So now another company (I.T. Co) took it over - www.eng.it.ru/new_1478.html [eng.it.ru] , http://www.eng.it.ru/new_1490.html [eng.it.ru] . This is the education site for teachers about FOSS - http://pspo.it.ru/ [pspo.it.ru] (but it's on russian).

Actually I suspect things are going very well. (2, Insightful)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30112134)

Many of us were suspicious from the start that the Russian government was never serious about using FOSS. Rather, it was just a ploy to get MS to drop their prices. Now that MS will drop prices, FOSS is becoming "too expensive" with the trite old arguments about retraining blah blah blah. Government saves face, gets the price on MS software they wanted, and Bill/Ballmer keep their monopoly. Everyone wins, except, of course, the people who use the computers.
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