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Schools In Portugal Moving To OSS

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the seize-the-opportunity dept.

Education 319

New submitter thyristor pt writes "In light of massive national budget cuts, the Portuguese government will force public schools to move to free/open source software (Google translation of original in Portuguese). Schools with some 50,000 outdated computers won't see their software licenses renewed, the main reason being the cost of hardware upgrade inherent to mostly Microsoft software updates. Will the Euro debt crisis be a driving force to the spread of open source software?"

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Waiting for MS to underbid (5, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884414)

We've seen this over and over again. Microsoft will just offer to give the software for free. They know that it's not in their best interest for it to become general knowledge how functional open-source alternative have become.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884432)

In 3-2-1...

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884468)

Only it's not just the question of the license cost--these are older machines that can't deal with the high demands of a current Microsoft system. So they'd have to replace 50.000 computers just to benefit from these supposed licenses microsoft would give them for free.

Instead, for nothing, they can install Linux. How is Microsoft going to underbid that?

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884640)

It is a lot more challenging to do than "just install" GNU/Linux. There is a very high chance most if not all the systems will have to be retrofitted in some way to accommodate another operating system. Microsoft has a monopoly and manufacturers refuse to release specifications so hardware can be properly supported on ANY platform. With GNU/Linux you get updates for free and much more frequently. The inability to use older hardware in Microsoft land is partly resource and partly proprietary drivers.

Long story short. I can guarantee you that you will run into problems. You may need to buy new video cards, audio adapters, wifi adapters, and similar. You may not need all of these of course. But chances are you will need at least one or two. It depends on the machine(s). The only systems I know (and this is my job) that don't have this issue are ThinkPenguin machines. That is because they only ship free software compatible hardware. This includes firmware and drivers (although not BIOS-although that isn't a big concern from a compatibility perspective usually).

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2)

Vapula (14703) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884670)

Most computer work 'out of the box' with current Linux distributions. Hardware problems are less and less frequent.

For the graphic card, you only have to boot in correct VESA mode and use VesaFB X11.

For the wifi, you've a way to use windows driver (Mandriva has it as an options as soon as at install time)

I've sometimes had less trouble installing Linux on a laptop than installing XP... All hardware being detected at install time with Linux when windows needed that I downloaded drivers (from Linux) in order to have both NIC and Wifi running, nvidia driver, SP2 (for the sound card), ... not speaking of the trouble of having XP install on a SATA system without floppy disk...

Microsoft can give the soft for free, but here, they'd have to also donate some hardware which is way less probable...

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885050)

I think he is mostly refering to older hardware, not modern hardware.

That is something I am curious about to. A lot of old hardware isn't supported anymore by modern drivers in new linux kernels. Possibly most of it is FOSS anyway and so you could (given the needed knowledge) recompile them to work for modern distros but I can see where a gov implementation would get stuck there.
Not to say I don't like the idea, I fricking love it. Still I really don't think much of the IT skills of the gov sector (in any country).

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885302)

Most linux distros have their older versions up for grabs.. It's not that hard not to install the cutting edge (and since this is meant for old computers, maybe that's even smart).

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884742)

There will be curriculum issues too. If it's anything like the UK curriculum, all the texts are written just assuming Windows and Office - every instruction to 'click here,' every screenshot of a dialog box. It'll need extensive rewriting.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (4, Interesting)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884782)

It's not the case with Portugal. Teaching software has to support (and in fact does support) Linux and Windows.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884944)

There is a very high chance most if not all the systems will have to be retrofitted in some way to accommodate another operating system.

Huh?

Have you ever used Linux? You know, it's not something mysterious that you need to wonder about, you can just try it with a live CD or other live distro.

One thing you'll find once you get used to it, is that it'll work very well on most older hardware out there.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885006)

It is a lot more challenging to do than "just install" GNU/Linux. There is a very high chance most if not all the systems will have to be retrofitted in some way to accommodate another operating system. Microsoft has a monopoly and manufacturers refuse to release specifications so hardware can be properly supported on ANY platform. With GNU/Linux you get updates for free and much more frequently. The inability to use older hardware in Microsoft land is partly resource and partly proprietary drivers.

Long story short. I can guarantee you that you will run into problems. You may need to buy new video cards, audio adapters, wifi adapters, and similar. You may not need all of these of course. But chances are you will need at least one or two. It depends on the machine(s). The only systems I know (and this is my job) that don't have this issue are ThinkPenguin machines. That is because they only ship free software compatible hardware. This includes firmware and drivers (although not BIOS-although that isn't a big concern from a compatibility perspective usually).

What's this about "retrofitting"?

FYI, it is often *easier* to install Linux on older machines than newer ones, precisely because the hardware's been around for a while and thus more likely to be supported "out of the box" by OSS.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885298)

These are old work computers. You only need them to run an office distro and do basic Ethernet web browsing. No games or multimedia needed (sound, video, etc).

I never failed to get any of my computers to run well enough for that with any common linux distro...

My bad (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884680)

Yes, in the grand tradition of Slashdot, I posted without reading TFA.

One wonders if somewhere in Redmond someone is trying to figure out how to get some mutation of Windows CE or Windows Phone 7 to install on old computers like the ones here, in order to try to stop this phenomenon.

Or perhaps Microsoft will even offer to subsidize the cost of newer hardware while developing an answer?

Re:My bad (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885044)

Indeed, the "generous donation" of hardware and/or cash would be a viable option for Microsoft - I can see them going for that (sincerely). Of course, there may well end up being limits beyond which they can't push that method but who knows, it'll be up to the bean-counters to determine how much it's worth to ensure they keep people inside the MS Ecosystem.

Re:My bad (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885062)

AFAIK WP7 has a 380MBish Ram requirement which would make it unusable on any machine with less than 512MB... Also having had a PC in the 1990's I vividly can remember having much (much much) less than that...

Re:My bad (1)

udippel (562132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885118)

Posting without reading TFA is very much appreciated in Slashdot.
People might, however, construct snide remarks when a post lacks insight.
Like the fact, that CE and Windows Phone 7 only run on ARM. Show me any old(er) PC with an ARM-Processor, and I'll show you a pig that can fly.

Re:My bad (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885212)

Microsoft is simply not as fast an nimble as they once were. New ideas are risky to them now and they would rather just buy a company with a good idea. They have seen for YEARS that there is a busy market for low-end hardware devices and they have yet to respond to it. (And seriously, they have the source code for Windows XP... dress the shit up to look like Windows 7 and call it something else like "Windows 7 nano" or something like that.) They no longer, if ever, the market trends and their customer's interests/needs.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884512)

microsoft can suck my DICK

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884650)

Good for you. Mine is not available for them. Neither under a proprietarian license nor for free.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2, Informative)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884616)

Yeah, you said it, and beat me to it.

Remember when "Blah moves to Linux" used to elicit thoughts of "Yippee! The Year of the Linux Desktop Advances"?

Now these kinds of stories are just a kind of parody of themselves.

Also the Linux Desktop has basically just jumped the shark (Gnome3, Unity), so I don't think there's any real joy from the geek corner for Linux Desktops anymore.

Also, it's hard to wish a Linux desktop on anyone because instead of fixing old bugs, they've taken to creating 100s more.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884674)

I didn't like the Unity desktop at first, but it improved a lot since the first time it got implemented. You can get the hang of it in just a few minutes - if you are willing to give it a chance. Actually, it improved my user experience and i don't want to switch back anymore.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1, Flamebait)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884858)

I can't tell if you're a deluded Unity developer, or a Microsoft shill trying to push popular opinion towards a truly terrible GUI to Keep the Linux Man Down.
 
Unity is a fucking terrible interface, they took the dock interface from Apple, and forgot to put in any of the features that make it worthwhile. What a mess. What a waste of time, money and effort, and what a huge step backwards for Linux usability.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884908)

I can't tell if you're a deluded Unity developer, or a Microsoft shill trying to push popular opinion towards a truly terrible GUI to Keep the Linux Man Down.

I CAN tell, however, that you are an utter arsehole that considers the opinion of others worth less than your own. I'm not the biggest unity fan but some people clearly like it.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884932)

Long time gnome user here. I have been using unity since about two weeks before Ubuntu 11.10 came out. It still has some strange bugs and I think Ubuntu will have to work hard to get it ready for an LTS release. But it works for me as a gnome replacement. It is definitely an easier UI for non skilled users. For the rest of us there is still fvwm ;).

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885090)

1st of:

...shill trying to push popular opinion towards a truly terrible GUI to Keep the Linux Man Down.

wha?>!!>!>T^$#!?

Second: Gnome 3 seems to work just fine. After all you are talking about a gov implementation so they probably will take advantage of the FOSSness of the whole deal and customise the hell out of it, maybe even spin out a distro (I can see "Porto'OS 19% alcohol" comming). So they probably will adjust the desktop (any desktop they choose) to their paradigm.
</delusion>

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885068)

instead of fixing old bugs, they've taken to creating 100s more

I have been given to understand that under modern culture (the petri dish variety) this is progress!

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885142)

>Also the Linux Desktop has basically just jumped the shark (Gnome3, Unity)...

Xfce is stll there, kde4 apps matured, and they work the same on all platforms. On windows land, a 2ghz 2gb 160gb machine is `too old` for word documents only because it shipped with vista and now performs slower than a 450mhz ubuntu 6 box.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885240)

Jumped the Shark. I just love that expression. Funny thing is that most who use it, didn't see the "Happy Days" episode it was coined after when they were kids -- you'd have to be in your early 40's at least to have seen it.

Yes, my initial reaction to Gnome3 was "holy fucking shit..." as I was not prepared for what I was seeing. I gave it almost a weekend, but I had to get back to my life soon and there was no room or time for adjustments to wildly new things. I had planned to go back to the previous version of my OS and live with it a while longer, but before I actually did it, I was starting to get use to and like Gnome3... it was just missing too much. I hear it's more complete now and I'll be ready to give it a go when Fedora 16 comes out... cautiously though... I may wait a few weeks to see the forums fill up with comments, complaints and solutions first.

But back to the "Jump the Shark" thing... I think that's the most appropriate description of what they did. They ran out of new things to offer and somehow felt deeply compelled to break new ground and go in a new direction. Many people feel (and I still feel) these changes were "change for the sake of change" which is bad for people who do more than tinker with their computers.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885312)

Jumped the Shark. I just love that expression. Funny thing is that most who use it, didn't see the "Happy Days" episode it was coined after when they were kids -- you'd have to be in your early 40's at least to have seen it.

Unless they saw a rerun or on Youtube [youtube.com] . Anyway, by that reasoning no one should use expressions from old movies (I was shocked, shocked... ), let alone the Bible, Shakespeare...

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2)

udippel (562132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884620)

Why don't I have modpoints???
+5 is adequate for this post, because it is spot on.
Microsoft not only relies on the schools, the universities, for the 'first-shot-is.free'; they also rely on the low-priced OEM versions. Would they charge for the first shot what they charge later, piracy would be rampant, or people would be up in protest against them, like they are against banks. Very few people are willing to pay a full licence price (don't come to me arguing about student licenses), I repeat: the full price, for their PCs. Alternative software would be rampant.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885020)

Microsoft ... also rely on the low-priced OEM versions.

I don't know what universe you live in, but in this one, the Windows 7 Pro OEM DVD that I bought about 3 weeks ago was not by any stretch of the imagination "cheap".

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885042)

Because YOU paid for it. Had the manufacturer or distributor paid for it, they'd have paid about $15/install.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2)

udippel (562132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885102)

I'm not a lawyer and not aware of the country you live in.
But you should know that you didn't even pay for a full-licence version. OEM could mean - at least if you ask Microsoft - that you are not allowed to run it on a PC of your choice; or transfer it to another PC once the current one is dead (what I do not hope for yours to happen). OEM-s are limited for the PC on which they are installed, and sold for this specific purpose: to be used by an Original Equipment Manufacturer at the production / assembly of that computer.
A full license (which may be expensive without any stretch of imagination) allows the transfer to a subsequent machine once the software has been removed from the first one; as long as it is installed (and subsequently used) on only one PC at a time. Read the EULA coming with your merchandise if in doubt.

In the country where I reside, you can buy OEM-licenses for the simple reason that people like me - cursing the fact that there is no way to buy a machine without Microsoft-Bloatware - have licenses with OEM-numbers on the shelf, of which we never even bothered to remove the shrink-wrap. I for one usually throw in a Knoppix or other *nix Live-CD and fdisk the whole lot. So the OEM-license numbers that I was forced to obtain with some of my boxes have never been used or activated.
I don't know if this is still valid, but there was a time, once upon a time at least, when others could activate their boxes with such OEM-license-numbers, irrespective of the actual PC, as long as it was activated (and used) uniquely.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2)

Aviation Pete (252403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884632)

We've seen this over and over again. Microsoft will just offer to give the software for free. They know that it's not in their best interest for it to become general knowledge how functional open-source alternative have become.

Did you notice that the issue is the hardware cost which is inherent with those updates? If they do not want to spend on the hardware upgrades, Linux will be hard to beat.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (4, Insightful)

Zemran (3101) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884656)

It is not about the functionality. Most people use MS because it is all they know. They do not know and are not familiar with the alternatives. My mother went to university and studied art after she retired, and if you visit any of her uni friends, young and old, they now use Macs because they got used to them. If all the schools in one country switch to Linux, in few years all the universities will be full of people that are used to Linux and then, soon all the companies will be full of people that prefer Linux. It will be the OS that they are familiar with.

Too many people get into the My Computer is Better Than Your Computer without realising that MS are playing a different game. They do not even try to be the best, they just make sure that they are what most people are familiar with. To do that they will happily offer free software and free 100% support to all education establishments if that is what is required to keep the status quo and the schools and universities know this. Portugal will be using 100% free MS next term.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (2)

rnturn (11092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884724)

"Microsoft will just offer to give the software for free."

So what if they do. Plenty of schools are not going to be able to undertake a wholesale replacement of their existing computers with something beefy enough to run whatever Microsoft decides to give away for free. When's the last time you saw a version of Windows require a less powerful computer than the previous release? Heck, for that matter, when's the last time you saw a new release of your favorite Linux distribution require less computer than it used to. But... when's the last time you saw a system running Windows outperform the same computer running Linux? I don't know about anybody else but I can't say I've ever seen that happen. The Windows system I have to use for work can barely make it through the boot process to a point where it's stable enough to begin running application in less than ten minutes. Oh yeah, let's toss the next release of Windows on that hardware.I can't even imagine throwing the load on it that I regularly run in the ten virtual desktops I have set up on my Linux system (an aging P4-based box; certainly older than the hardware that Windows is running on). IMHO, you get the biggest bang for your hardware buck/peso/whatever if you run Linux on it.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (3, Insightful)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884834)

When's the last time you saw a version of Windows require a less powerful computer than the previous release?

You mean like Windows 7 and soon to arrive, Windows 8?

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884918)

You mean like Windows 7 and soon to arrive, Windows 8?

Okay, so he worded it badly. Yes, the previous "release" to Windows 7 was Windows Vista and yes, Windows 7 has lower requirements than that piece of crap. But that's irrelevant to most people considering an upgrade becase they wouldn't be upgrading from Windows Vista, they'd be upgrading from XP (or even earlier versions). So he should probably have asked about versions that have lower requirements than the version people are upgrading from. Now, are you going to give an honest answer to the question or do you have more semantic games to play?

We don't know whether Windows 8 will have lower requirements than Windows 7, since it hasn't been released. It'll certainly be a good thing if it does.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884900)

Microsoft probably offered the software for free, but the schools lacked the resources needed to upgrade the hardware needed to run the Microsoft software.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885164)

The problem with that (as pointed out) is the cost of the hardware upgrades as well. Linux is typically better at running on older / more entry-level hardware.

Re:Waiting for MS to underbid (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885184)

Yes but there's one thing I have never seen Microsoft do -- buy them new computers.

Yes, a volume license deal always has a downgrade allowance, but WinXP no longer updated, is office 2003 still supported? The point is that these upgrade DO require upgraded hardware as well. Microsoft only knows how to be bigger in their OSes and not smaller. This gives F/OSS a huge advantage. So it's more than just the software costs.

Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884422)

If they're actually serious I applaud them. However forcing both a change of platform/infrastructure is not going to work well without changing the support staff. A bunch of Microsoft monkeys simply can't handle the transition. The biggest roadblock besides having to replace support staff is surely the culture change.
Could this be a ploy to force Microsoft to come to the "rescue"?

Re:Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884570)

besides having to replace support staff

No need to replace them. Retrain them.
Sure, some will not be able to do that and will indeed be replaced. Most of them will just have to be retrained.

And that will be what will happen if they go to Linux. That is how Europeans think. Silly communists don't just replace people. They replace knowledge. All the fault of the unions where they even have a CHOICE what union they join if any at all.

Re:Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884950)

Condescending much?

Yes, you're probably right, they may just be negotiating with Microsoft. But if they do change, it's probably not going to be the end of the World. They'll probably keep as many of their Windows PCs and Macs as possible for as long as possible, and they'll just add linux workstations/servers as needed. And sure, their network may go down for a couple of days once in a while because no one really knows what they're doing, but that's not going to be the end of the world either and eventually, someone will learn how to get it working again.

Re:Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885200)

This is not how things work though. When the network goes down, suits get really agitated and demand that it be "fixed". This would mean replacing the Linux systems with Windows which the poorly trained staff know how to manage.
Their lack of organisation or focus shows that this is *meant* to fail.

Re:Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (5, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885204)

I went to a (public) High School here in Portugal around eight years ago; at the time, all the machines we used in IT classes already dual-booted between Windows and a Portuguese GNU/Linux distro ("Caixa MÃgica") and we had to learn how to get around on the Gnome desktop.

Re:Administrative support? Culture change? Ploy? (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885260)

If this is true, then perhaps I am wrong. If the will, culture and training is there then this could be a great start.

Not likely (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884434)

Will the Euro debt crisis be a driving force to the spread of open source software?"

Not likely. Everywhere else money has been a problem, it has caused the spread of piracy. Open Source can only spread by being objectively better (in ways customers care about).

Re:Not likely (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884508)

I think a properly done open source installation can be better than the Microsoft alternative. At our university (Helsinki University of Technology) there are large Linux-only computer classes, and those computers just work. In Linux you will not have viruses, which is a big plus in the school environment use case. Also, managing those computers should be easy, although so is a properly done Windows installation.

A Linux installation can also be made more lightweight than the Windows installation. Especially when taking in account the mandatory anti-virus software for Windows.

The traditional problems Linux has in business environment are less severe in school environment: The Office compatibility issue is not there, and hopefully there aren't that many legacy applications to support. The students will learn Linux just as easily as they do learn Windows. If they have to use both Linux and Windows, it is just a good thing. Too many users know how to use Windows, not how to use a computer.

Portugal has one big advantage in this move: they might get the educational software for free from Brazil. Same language, and Brazil is a heavy user of OSS. Brazil did a move of 350000 school computers to Linux in 2009. I don't know what the current status of the program is, but I suspect there is a lot to reuse from that move.

Now, take in account that this installation is likely a lot cheaper than the equivalent Windows installation, and you have something that should be better for their school system. Of course, I can't say if it is objectively better from their position...

Re:Not likely (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884572)

Heck, even running an older office version that you're licensed for on Linux under wine may be a genuine improvement! The underlying system is secure and on current maintenance. It's very easy to isolate the office suite with selinux so that unpatched security bugs in the office suite won't affect anything besides a small briefcase used to move files between the compartment and rest of the filesystem.

The positive of running, say, office 2000 under wine is that its hardware requirements are AFAIK lower than for a current version of libreoffice.

Re:Not likely (2)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884732)

> even running an older office version that you're licensed for on Linux under wine

Are you sure that some of the fine print in that license doesn't say that the software has to be run under Windows? I suppose that in Europe that might not fly, they have stricter laws concerning interoperability.

Re:Not likely (1)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885012)

Are you sure that some of the fine print in that license doesn't say that the software has to be run under Windows? I suppose that in Europe that might not fly, they have stricter laws concerning interoperability.

AFAIK Crossover (the commercial Wine distribution) has never gotten in any legal trouble either in Europe or the US, so I doubt that.

Re:Not likely (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885236)

they might the educational software for free from Brazil. Same language

Sorry, but not really. While they're both Portuguese, until recently they didn't even use the same orthography, and while that has been fixed, we still don't use the same vocabulary nor phrase constructions.

Don't get me wrong, we can understand it just fine (as it's evidenced by the millions of Portuguese people who watch Brazilian soap operas ever night), but it's not close enough for an educational setting.

Re:Not likely (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884520)

Open Source can only spread by being objectively better (in ways customers care about).

Have you tried Libre Office lately?

Most people I've set it up for like it a lot better than the current ribbon-infested Microsoft version.

Re:Not likely (2, Interesting)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884624)

Have you tried Libre Office lately?

Most people I've set it up for like it a lot better than the current ribbon-infested Microsoft version.

Recently LibreOffice corrupted line art horribly in my documents which made me quickly switch to Office. I still cannot trust LO to be compatible with the rest of the world. Maybe for basic text-only stuff you're good.

Re:Not likely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884802)

> I still cannot trust LO to be compatible with the rest of the world.

You say that like you could even trust Office to get it all right even between versions...

If you want people to see what you see, then you use PDF/PS/DVI

Re:Not likely (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884914)

I still cannot trust LO to be compatible with the rest of the world.

You seem to have a basic misunderstanding of who is creating the problem...

Having said that, try making sure you're saving the file on the native format for the version of Word you're using - eg, .doc for Word 2000-XP, .docx for Word 2007 and above. Word messes up formatting enough between versions, let alone with documents exported from a competitor's product.

Re:Not likely (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885310)

You seem to have a basic misunderstanding of who is creating the problem...

Having said that, try making sure you're saving the file on the native format for the version of Word you're using - eg, .doc for Word 2000-XP, .docx for Word 2007 and above. Word messes up formatting enough between versions, let alone with documents exported from a competitor's product.

Oh, plenty of people understand who's creating the problem. And it's not hard to explain to those who don't.

But in all my life I have never heard of a business choosing F/OSS software purely on the basis of price. There's always a degree of pragmatism involved - "cheap and adequate" is usually how it pans out. As soon as you have to interact with someone else who's using MS Office, there's a good chance it ceases to be adequate.

Re:Not likely (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885158)

You can't trust Office 2010 to play nicely with Office 2007, or 2003, either. When I need to send a document to someone, I make it in LibreOffice, and then hit that nice convenient Export to PDF button. PDF may not be the nicest of formats, and it's not editable without some source file voodoo, but it's still the best guarantee the end reader will be able to read it, and read it exactly as I made it.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885208)

Abiword can save and edit pdf's. A killer feature really.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884744)

That is until they gnome3 it....

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884882)

I have and do use it - but I really miss some of the simple but very useful features in Word, like the ability to define a style not to have paragraph breaks between paragraphs of the same style. LO is not only incapable of doing that, it designed around it by instituting different substyles for start/middle/end, so it's unlikely it will ever get it (which is a shame, because it's comparatively a huge pain in the ass to set up).

(BTW, Microsoft can't have a patent on this; it was in Timeworks DTP, and for how long it's been in there, any such patent would have expired by now.)

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884902)

I don't understand what that means ("not to have paragraph breaks between paragraphs of the same style").

If you didn't have breaks between paragraphs, they would not be recognizable as paragraphs and hence paragraphs would not exist. It would be one 20 page free-flow text.

And what is a paragraph style?

Can you elaborate?

Re:Not likely (1)

temcat (873475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885120)

I think he/she means the vertical space between paragraphs (dunno how it's really called in English).

Re:Not likely (1)

udippel (562132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885138)

I'm really curious about this one.
I also fail to understand what you mean, except that the sentences are constructed in a readable manner, that I might simply be unable to grasp.
Could you be more specific, or offer an example?

Re:Not likely (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884984)

LibreOffice is well and good, but if what you need is interoperability, you're just screwed.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885028)

Well, your not going to get that with MS either!

Re:Not likely (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885124)

Well, your not going to get that with MS either!

Given that 98% of the world is using MSOffice for their spreadsheets, words processing and presentation needs, being able to interoperate means being able to spit out a document that MSOffice understands. And being able to understand a document in the MSOffice format.

I know there is a theological sense to interopreability that this is completely oblivious to, but in real life, interoperability means being able to share stuff with other people. That means being able to communicate with people running MSOffice.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885150)

Oddly, lack of interoperabilty is what's always put me off using Word. It's practically impossible to find two organisations using the same version and if they're not, you have no idea how the result will break.

I stick to pdf, generated any way I want.

Re:Not likely (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884612)

Performance isn't often the main motivator for piracy. People pirate because they want to install the same software at home that they use at work, or because they need compatibility with some system that they interact with frequently. Change the environment, and people's piracy interests will change:

If they can impose linux in all schools, then a lot of people will want to have linux at home just to be compatible. Open source use will grow, Microsoft piracy will shrink.

Wrong as always, /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884440)

The article says they're switching to free software, not open source. Unfortunately the only reason seems to be not wanting to pay for it, but, still, people will become more used to GNU/Linux so this can't be a bad thing.

"unfortunately" ?!?! (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884574)

Unfortunately the only reason seems to be not wanting to pay for it

whats unfortunate about it. half of the reason we invented free software, was because we wanted people to use software for free and in abundance.

Re:"unfortunately" ?!?! (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885246)

Considering the founder of the Free Software movement often charged for it, I doubt that.

How ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884446)

...that the only licences they ARE renewing is for servers, because Linux is "not feasible" for them!

Re:How ironic... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884486)

They may renew licenses but only for servers which are in good condition, not too outdated and for which linux is not feasible. Outdated servers, or those which are not totally locked into microsoft may well get replaced with linux.

FAGE - the linux legacy (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884492)

Free And Good Enough is wonderful, but what are they sacrificing? I'm not going to stand on the MS makes great stuff - I'm 25 years in this industry, and my only windows exposure is trying to repair and troubleshoot family and friends computers (damn you Apple, why didn't you get your game on 10 years earlier).
Every time I'm confronted with linux distros, I'm stuck with that odd sort of feeling like when your 5 year old makes breakfast for you. It isn't about the quality of the breakfast.
Here, Canada, its ass-pain because the schools have bought into weird SAS solutions, that are mainly MS focused. I guess they aren't paying attention to what Uni/College students are buying. That said, these solutions aren't half bad (nor half good), but what does it leave country X with? Sorry, we have no e-learning tools because we weren't forward looking enough to demand standards, and our pocket books can't afford the minimal requirements.
It isn't a good news story. A good news story is:
Country X selected Linux because it kicks ass!
The rest is just kinda sad.

Re:FAGE - the linux legacy (2)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884618)

You could, of course, rephrase the story title to "Portugal might find out that GNU/Linux and FOSS kick ass once they start their budget-bound migration". It's a bit lengthy, obviously hypothetical and not particularly inflamatory, and therefore not up to /.'s standard of short, inflammatory and generally plainly wrong titles. seriously though : if institutions are not forced to migrate they won't, no matter how much their current system suck. Complete infrastructure changes based on quality assessments are rare, as there are a) just too many costs associated with such moves, and b) people don't like big changes. Therefore, as a Gnu/linux and FOSS proponent, I'm more than happy to see stories like this one, as they are probably the best one can realistically expect, at least until enough success stories are publicized. If enough of those appear, then people in charges might jump on the bandwagon (probably for all the wrong reasons, like being seen as "progressive" and whatnot) and force other institutions to follow.

Re:FAGE - the linux legacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884652)

"It isn't a good news story. A good news story is:
Country X selected Linux because it kicks ass!
The rest is just kinda sad."

This will never happen, not because Linux isn't better but because a free (or cheaper) alternative is just not allowed (mentally) to be better unless its better because of the price.

Re:FAGE - the linux legacy (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884868)

I strongly suspect(as a linux user who has done some school dept. IT work, largely Windows with a sprinkle of Mac) that "they", the students, will neither lose nor gain all that much.

Some of the admin layers will have it tough(so they probably just won't switch those people), because that is where the spreadsheet-jockies, the users of obscure proprietary student information systems, etc, etc. congregate. The techies will be split: the microsoft crew will resent losing relevant skill, the FOSS-enthusiasts-just-working-a-job will be gung-ho.

As for the students, though, I doubt they'll see much change. Unless the computers are the explicit focus or means of pedagogy(as in something like the OLPC experiment), which is rare and nontrivial to do. Think what you will of their results, they built a previously unavailable sort of hardware along with a new security model and a variety of other tweaks to get that going. In the majority of cases, 'educational' computers are just tools. The teachers want them to be working, reliable, and running the browser/word processor/whatever required to get the classwork done. Admin wants them to be not disruptive, to be a not excessively good porn source, and IT delivers as it can. Because most of 'educational' IT is so peripheral to learning(yes, there are plenty of arguments for why office is better than LibreOffice. None of them have any bearing on whether you'll be able to learn to write a decent essay by writing a bunch of crap essays and revising. VI might be pushing it a little; but notepad should be enough), it is good that they are going with the cheaper option, to free up money that can be better used; but I'd expect virtually no change in how pupils are expected to interact with technology.

Hey, you are using OSS! You can make changes however you want! No, actually, your user account on our system is locked down to keep you out of trouble, just like it was on Windows. The school wants you to be able to log in, get your files, and use programs X, Y, and, Z. We've delivered.

Outside of strictly vocational schools(later in the student's progress, so they will still be fresh when they hit the workforce), where learning specific tools might be what the doctor ordered, or outside of ground-up computers-in-education-rethinks, which make student exploration of the computer a focus, not a problem, educational use of computers is really incredibly generic. Web, email, word processing, copy-pasting.

A minority of specialist users will simply be un-switchable, certain specialized software isn't multi-platform, has no real competitors, and is too costly to try to duplicate. It just isn't worth it. The vast bulk, though, really get a very constrained view of computers at school. It barely matters what they run.

Support? (1)

Jaro (4361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884552)

Free as in software, not free as in support. Who is going to migrate this? I think their MS admins are probably just waiting for an opportunity like this.

Re:Support? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885256)

Plenty of our school computers already dual-boot. Migrating just means "Not installing Windows".

Brazil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884562)

It is time for Portugal to look towards its former colony for support with Linux.

Re:Brazil (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885010)

Portugal has had for years a company marketing a linux distro - caixa mágica. The national "one laptop per child" project already shipped with a linux installation. The IT world is already entrenched in linux. There is absolutely no need to look at brazil for linux support.

These systems will collect dust, Win7 is why. (2)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884582)

As listed, this only applies to outdated computers made between 2004-2007. Namely, Pentium 4's, Pentium D's, and perhaps some Core 2's from 4-7 years ago.

But as the article states: "A lot of these devices, given their age, will not be in good working order and does not support the latest versions of Microsoft products."

Most IT Departments in school systems have been switching to Windows 7 as a cost-cutting measure, not just because XP security updates expire in 2 years. The deployment tools on Server 2008 R2 for Win7 are insanely excellent. One can pull a central server to a distant school just once from a PXE boot, and it will peer-to-peer on the local network, rather than download a ~10GB file 30 times. Any additional drivers, software, and updates can be installed on the spot -- think Ninite, except before the installation. Doing things like installing XP from Ghost and babysitting the systems for an hour are obsolete, as is the staffing required for it.

But Windows 7 requires 1-2GB of RAM to run properly depending on software installed. With the crisis in the EU (PIIGS especially), it's very unlikely that they'll spend the money to buy DDR1/DDR2 to upgrade systems that don't. A 7-year old system is going to have hardware problems that low staffing can't troubleshoot, to the point where they won't even bother. And they certainly won't have the staffing required to take the time to set up an OSS system, much less train their staff on it, as it was only "recommended."

At best, someone might set up the ability to install Edubuntu through PXE boot, but they'll just be Edubuntu systems, nothing more. Some kids might play around on them at times, but otherwise, these old systems are just going to collect dust.

Gah, typos, it's late. (1)

SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884590)

Gah, typos, it's late.

* Did not mean to insinuate Core2's were 7 years old, just the range of CPUs would be 4-7 years old.
* "One can pull an image from a central server"

Re:Gah, typos, it's late. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884708)

Christ, you were taking this crap from ad-copy, doesn't W7 support cut+paste? We all like the new hood ornament, must you jam it down every-bodies throat?

shill.

Think Ninite... (2)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884720)

uh, yeah, think bootp circa 1989.

Its an interesting phrase "to run properly"; I'm sure that one day there will be a Windows that "runs properly". The real question is, can Windows 7 run properly?

Re:Think Ninite... (3, Informative)

Hymer (856453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884786)

"The real question is, can Windows 7 run properly?"
Nope, it keeps asking me for admin password all the time. ...and on Windows servers it became next to impossible to use a browser.

Re:Think Ninite... (2)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885134)

Yes seriously why does it do that? I tried setting up Windows 7 with a separate Admin account, and it asked for admin password all the time. :-(

Right thing for stupid reasons (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884678)

It is galling that despite free software having become the industry standard on the web, being demonstrably more reliable and secure than Microsoft products and more flexible and configurable than Apple products, people consider it chiefly as the low-cost option. They shouldn't use Linux because it's free, they should be using it because it's better.

This is a problem because any information infrastructure, even a Linux-based one, will suck if you don't have the funding to afford enough hardware and support. As long as only schools with gutted IT budgets use Linux, Linux will retain an awful reputation among schools. The circular effect is that schools will avoid using it as long as they can afford outrageous license prices, and even schools with Linux will abandon it immediately if they ever gain enough funding to move back (combined with Microsoft giving them a sweeter deal on license packages). This will in turn reinforce the image of free software as a cheap alternative that should only be used if you can't afford commercial software.

Re:Right thing for stupid reasons (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884832)

I agree with you, but its worse than you say. Beyond the 'does this hardware work' problem lies a brave new world of 'does this software-as-a-service work'?

My experience is mainly no. There is wicked entrenchment in many areas - though I've noticed it most in education - that is bolstered in the rush to go back to mainframes (or clouds, as they now apparently are).

Vendor lockin loves the clouds; your data is our data, but ours is really ours and you can't see it is bad enough. That the effective portals are crappy, poorly considered, and mostly a hunk of shit is another issue. The wider issue is most of this lameass worthless software only works with some crappy MS software.

I can't really blame the cloud providers. When your MS box is unresponsive, you blame it, not the cloud.

When your Mac is unresponsive, you blame the cloud.

Why add linux clients; it just makes you look bad.

Re:Right thing for stupid reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884872)

If you add them companies will support them. Your failure to add them is why nobody supports them. Stupid.

Re:Right thing for stupid reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885148)

It is galling that .... people consider [free software] chiefly as the low-cost option.

Welcome to the real world, where most people are a little bit Dutch* at heart.

* I could've written Scottish, as both are known for being stingy, but since I'm Dutch I decided to only insult myself ;-)

The truth... (1)

arunce (1934350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884766)

This government don't want to spend money in education, is cutting everything, from class hours to teachers, 30 thousand will be fired over the next two years.

They just found that primary sector is the way... and it might be, with all the resources, from ore to fishing.

But the ugly truth is that they don't want to buy new computers, and by doing so, they are just saying this as a show off.

Microsoft Portugal at the end of the day won't notice a glitch with their money flow, in fact, most of computers have double license. (OEM from manufacturers and Volume Licensing from MS.)

Also, lot of schools already use Linux.

I'm missing something in all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884874)

I have some questions that are troubling me with this.

"Schools with some 50,000 outdated computers won't see their software licenses renewed, the main reason being the cost of hardware upgrade inherent to mostly Microsoft software updates"

Why do they have to update the computers OS and software any way?
Is there a change in the curriculum that needs the software update?
Do they have to switch to a new version of Windows when the old one reaches it's end of life? If so why?

I work in a major supermarket chain that uses at least 5 computers per store all tied into a main office main frame. These are very old HP P4's running XP. They run Windows based, linux based, even java and flash based programs within XP depending on need, and I doubt they'll get upgraded in the next 10 maybe even 20 years. There's really no need, they preform as well now as they did new.

So what's the overwhelming need that's driving this decision?
If Microsoft gives away the license to run it's software, why is it rescinding it now? It's not like it's costing them money either way. Unless they think that students will demand Win 7/8 at home if they have it at school which is stupid. I can only see that driving a very very small percentage of sales.

I'm thinking this is political rhetoric more then anything else. "We've totally boinked our economy, but see we'll make it better by using Open Source "free" software" Meanwhile there's all the added cost of migrating. It's one thing in a government with constantly shifting priorities, but in a public school system? I might be wrong but I really don't see the need to do anything in all this.

A portuguese perspective here (1)

Endimiao (471532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884906)

Certainly the economic troubles have a role here. But I'm frankly pessimist about said outcome.
Let's see why:

- Portugal is sadly often enough a testing bed for microsoft-based techs. In regards to the enterprise microsoft in portugal has alot of power. Until some years ago most of linux users I've met tend to came from an university background. Check the statistics in regards to browser/email/operative system as opposed to the rest of europe and you'll often see said effect.

- Most school netbooks are dual-boot linux/xp. Guess which one kids tend to choose from.

- Plenty of enterprises typically buy a copy or a single computer (usually windows comes pre-installed on most purchases), then carry on and simply shamelessly use a pirated cd to update whatever outdated system they have - this assuming they go to such troubles of course.

Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884960)

Sucks to be them!

Google Translate for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885262)

It's funny how Google Translate makes "Eça de Queirós" (a portuguese _male_ writer) become "Jane Austen"...

But is the open software free, though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885304)

Because if not, it won't change anything, will it? If it costs, it costs, no matter if it's open source or not. Amazing to see that people still can't separate open from free.

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