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Indian State Logs Microsoft Out

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the player-one-has-lost-the-match dept.

142

slack_prad writes "An Indian state, Kerala has chalked out a plan for migrating its high school students to free software platforms in three years. This was apparently in response to RMS's recent visit to the place. The education minister for the state said that the Free software guru Richard Stallman's visit last week had nudged the schools to discard the proprietary software altogether. 'Stallman has inspired Kerala's transition to free software on the lines of an exciting model of a Spanish province.' Initially, schools were given the option to choose whether teachers were to be trained in Linux systems or Microsoft. The option has now narrowed down to migration."

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142 comments

Oh good (1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985361)

Since open sores software is useless, the kids won't be using the computers at all, and pretty soon the state can save big $$bucks$$ on computer purchases because they won't ever need computers again!

Thanks open sores!

kerala (3, Interesting)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985363)

A quick google shows that Kerala has a population of 33 million people, so (depending on how many are in school) this could be a fairly big test to see how useable linux is in this sort of environment, especially with other indian states as a control. I hope RMS is not just talking it up and has some real plans in place to measure the benefits that are thought to be possible.

Re:kerala (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985388)

I hope RMS is not just talking it up and has some real plans in place to measure the benefits that are thought to be possible.

Dumb.

RMS travels around attempting to persuade people/states/organisations the benefits of Free software. MS no doubt is similarly talking to the Kerela govt to persuade them to use their software.

The government makes the choice, then it's their responsibility to monitor the outcomes.

Would you suggest that MS should monitor each sale they've made where they've caused a switch to ensure there's 'real benefits' of the switch.

I know random RMS bashing is popular on slashdot, but please, try to make your trolls less stupid.

Re:kerala (4, Informative)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985423)

RMS travels around attempting to persuade people/states/organisations the benefits of Free software


I didnt mean to sound like I was bashing RMS, I meant it as being a good opportunity to get some decent, large-scale statistics about the benefits of free software with alternative indian states as a useful comparison, not as a demand that RMS act as an institution on his own, and that I hoped RMS or people affiliated with him use it as a chance to further the cause of free software (or learn from any potential problems with free software).

Re:kerala (4, Interesting)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985483)

You have a good point and I, too, hope that (a) this experiment works and (b) it's well documented, whether it succeeds or fails. If it succeeds, obviously, it's great ammunition for future debates. If it fails, then it'll be an excellent opportunity to evaluate the shortcomings and try to address them rationally.

In this case... (3, Informative)

vivin (671928) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985729)

In this case, I think he will be successful. The mentality of Malayalees is very different compared to the rest of Kerala. They are highly politically aware - in fact, the first thing they will do every morning is read the paper - you can see it all over Kerala. They are highly involved with what goes on in the government. Also due to the fact that Communist parties are strong in Kerala, there is a socialistic trend and as a result they're not too fond of Monopolies. Recently they banned Coca Cola because of issues with contamination - they weren't passing certain tests. RMS picked a good environment to push foss.

the poor should not be 'experimented on' (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15986153)

fucking douchebags, the schools should choose their own technology not some fucking bureaucracy influenced by ideological douchebags. fucking morons.

Re:kerala (1)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985805)

Exactly what part of that comment was bashing RMS? Calling it a dumb, stupid troll is a bit ridiculous. The rest of your comment actually was insightful, but it's a shame to had to surround it with that crap.

Re:kerala (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985977)

Would you suggest that MS should monitor each sale they've made where they've caused a switch to ensure there's 'real benefits' of the switch.
I'm sure the OP wasn't suggesting that, but MS and companies like them always make great play of case studies, and sometimes work closely with companies embarking on big projects using their software, because it helps the software co. as much as the customer, allowing them to understand how their users use the software and what they need. So yes, MS will monitor some sales very closely so they can identify the real benefits.

Re:kerala (4, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985391)

Indix, a localized GNU/Linux, is already available [ernet.in] in Malayalam [ethnologue.com], the principal language of Kerala, so they're in good shape on that score.

Re:kerala (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985643)

What is Indix based on? It would stink if Kerala used a poorly done and poorly supported Linux distro. I hope they go with one of the bigger ones with Unicode support like Ubuntu or Fedora. At least that way there is a very large community that can help to make sure that the roll-out in Kerala is as smooth as possible.

Did you happen to look at some of the screenshot of Indix? Take a look here [ernet.in]. They look _really_ bad. It looks like GTK 1.x and Gnome 1.x both of which are _very_ old and outdated. Gtk 1.x is really bad compared to the latest Gtk 2.x. Gtk 1.x has horrible font support, very poor copy and paste and tons of other problems from being such old technology. I really hope Kerala doesn't go with some old and out-dated crap Linux.

Re:kerala (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985698)

Look at some of the other screenshots. The guy ran the 'date' command...those screenshots were made in 2001.

A look at the distro home page has the numerals 2003...maybe that's when it was last updated?

Re:kerala (2, Insightful)

richlv (778496) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985411)

wtf ? do you expect rms to personally deal with every project on the world than involves oss/foss ?
the local authorities, businesses and citizens are the ones who should evaluate, choose and rate the decisions. which, i suppose, already happens.
rms is evangelizing - which is good - but it is not feasible for him to push his preferences, make decisions and overall control processes in whole world.

Re:kerala (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985424)

I hope RMS is not just talking it up and has some real plans in place to measure the benefits that are thought to be possible.

The benefits RMS advocates consist of freedom to run, modify and share software. It's difficult to "measure" that. It's like asking whether we've measured the benefits we get from freedom of speech.

Note that I'm not saying that you have to value those freedoms as he does. In fact that's the point, it's subjective. If you think those freedoms are vitally important then they're going to be worth having regardless of e.g. monetary costs and hardship. If you think they're wothless then... well, you think they're worthless :) "Measuring" the benefits isn't very meaningful either way.

RMS is an evangelist (1, Flamebait)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985448)

He appears to have no interest in the practical outcome of his evangelism, either in regards to implementation or tracking results amongst converts. His MO seems to be to come in, spout the benefits of Free Software, and immediately leave the scene before any questions of practicality arise.

That's fine if you're interested in Free Software solely as a political tool (which seems to be the case with RMS). But if you're actually interested in the long-term viability of the model, how it is interwoven with the Open Source movement, and the practical outcomes that can be used as a tool to encourage more folks to look at Free Software as an alternative, you really need hard numbers.

That's not RMS's "thing" though. Hopefully someone else will do the necessary followup.

Re:RMS is an evangelist (3, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985496)

I don't think you give RMS credit. Sure, his public appearances and talks focus on evanglism. However, he and the organization he built do a lot more than cheerlead for free software projects. As others have pointed out, one person only has so much time available, and only a fraction of that in the public eye. Just because he focuses on one aspect doesn't mean he's not interested or not working on other fronts as well.

Re:RMS is an evangelist (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985542)

Whatever. It's easy to criticize RMS, except that his ideas have turned out to be wildly successful, and he will be long-remembered. I enjoy the benefits of OSS every day, even though it doesn't meet all my needs like he wishes it would (and so do I).

Re:kerala (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985461)

Definitely, Linux has been successfully deployed in such environments before.

Kerala (4, Informative)

vivin (671928) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985674)

Kerala [wikipedia.org] - the state with the highest literacy rate in India. And one of the two states with a democratically elected communist government.

Compared to the rest of India, the state is much more advanced. It's the subject of what economists call the Kerala Enigma [utne.com].

I'm sure there are a lot of benefits. Kerala might be poised to become another IT hub in India. There are computer courses and classes almost EVERYWHERE in India. I remember when I visited my hometown this may when I was on R&R from Iraq - it's changed quite a bit over the past few years. The people are a lot more tech savvy and there's a LOT of interest in Open Source stuff - mainly due to cost benefits. Hopefully Malayalees look to Open Source as an alternative for M$ - it will be a good boost for Open source.

Re:kerala (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985701)

Kerala is quite a unique state.
It [wikipedia.org] has the highest human development index and a very high standard of living, while it's economic development is sub par.
It has the highest literacy rate in India which reaches 91% [wikipedia.org]. This is much more than the avg literacy rate of India.
They have a very strong socialistic tendencies and is against any sort of monopoly which can affect the people adversely.
One of the prime examples of fusion of captilastic and democratic socialistic views.

People there have very strong views about politics, every single one of them!!! They actively [keral.com] discuss politics and are acutely aware of the problems and advantages of different political and economic systems. They do tend to lean towards socialism a little more, though.

RMS has chosen wisely. If this has to have a chance of working anywhere, it would be in Kerala, I guess.
.

Re:kerala (1)

Edwin Jose Palathink (910376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985859)

Kerala is wierd place.

Some more facts:

1. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/0 7/0711224 [slashdot.org]
2. Literacy: 91%
3. Had the first elected communist government which was brought down soon after.
4. Some notable keralites
  • M. Night Shyamalan, the guy who makes boring movies,
  • Arundati Roy, Pulitzer Prize Winner for "God of Small Things"
  • George Sudarshan, the physicist who NEVER got nobel prize for Sudarshan-Glauber representation in quantum optics in 2005. (But Glauber got it).
  • d. Edwin Jose Palathinkal, the louzer who made this post ;)
5. BTW,(just to give the idea of open mindedness) there where christians in kerala before there were christians in britain.
6. When Vasco da Gamma thought he found the sea route to kerala, Zheng He was already there by sea.
7. Now if RMS & govt. wants kerala to use Linux, then so b it... I bet the people here are ready for it given what they have achieved and the attitude of the people. I'm sure it will b successful. This was better decision than Andhra Pradesh's who chose to be slaves for MS.

MA, Netherlands, Kerala (1)

eliot1785 (987810) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986321)

It's interesting to note that Kerala is technically India's only technically communist state (currently governed by elected representatives of the Communist Party of India), a holdover from India's stated neutrality during the Cold War, which led it to embrace parts of both sides. However, it is more like a socialist state in practice. I don't mean this as a "dis" to Kerala or RMS, just to note that Kerala is not indicative of a general trend in any way. So far Free Software has Massachusetts, the Netherlands and Kerala under its belt - all it needs is Berkeley... oh wait... ;)

Re:MA, Netherlands, Kerala (1)

eliot1785 (987810) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986332)

PS, I am aware that Bekeley's OSS claim to fame - BSD - is not Free Software as defined by FSF. I was just making a joke in my last sentence, so don't flame me. Thanks ;).

now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (5, Insightful)

hector_uk (882132) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985365)

my schools network is pure hell and the school is half a million quid in debt because it never works, and they refuse to hire more tech to fix it due to lack of money, ironically the staff are pro linux/mac but the stupid headteacher is a Microsoft bitch.

schools need to actually do a proper investigation into what'll actually work best rather than the idiot head teacher who's only expertise were woodshop in my case choose based on what they use at home.

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985392)

the stupid headteacher is a Microsoft bitch.

Is that why she instigated the policy of only teaching pupils to use capital letters when mentioning Microsoft?

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (5, Interesting)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985407)

That's a familiar story - schools waste a lot of money on MS products around here because
the one making the decisions either hasn't a clue there are alternatives, or because they don't WANT
to look for them.

I've worked briefly for one of many schools where the head of IT had seen the benefits, but simply
didn't have enough experience to roll out Linux (or the other alternatives), and the school was wasting
its budget (which they could have spent on keeping me employed there ;) on an expensive terminal
server system that had all sorts of problems. For example, to install software for the students, the
teachers had to go through a not-always-present admin at the company with the servers, THEN they
had to set the permissions themselves. Security holes and instability was still a problem when I left.

They would have loved to use something like Skolelinux, as it covered all their software needs, or
could easily have some webservices written for what was missing. Unfortunately their contract was paid
for, so they bloody well wanted to get the system working :P

Not just schools... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985567)

That's a familiar story - schools waste a lot of money on MS products around here because
the one making the decisions either hasn't a clue there are alternatives, or because they don't WANT
to look for them.


All kinds of organizations, public and private sector, educational, charitable, and commercial, do the same thing. Big businesses find themselves in nasty traps because they spend huge amounts of money on centralizing their office automation tools but don't bother considering what parts of the company are already using. At my last job our per-desktop costs went through the roof because we got billed for our shares of the "cheap" bulk licenses of Windows-based tools... but the alternative of enabling the open system back ends to the Lotus and other servers wasn't available, because the company had committed to a per-employee license fee whether they used them or not.

So it's a big problem in big business as well.

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985717)

That's a familiar story - schools waste a lot of money on MS products around here because the one making the decisions either hasn't a clue there are alternatives, or because they don't WANT to look for them.

I will say I'm just as in favor of getting rid of Microsoft as just about everyone around here...but considering that most businesses currently use MS Office, as well as a host of other MS products, that maybe the people in charge want to train the kids on what businesses actually use?

Myself, I think businesses will start using Open Office. And when it gets to the point that a large number of businesses use Open Office on Linux...then I'm sure more people in charge will start to look at deploying it in schools (and taxpayers will save a ton of money).

And when that happens, Linux has won! But until that happens, I can at least see why schools would want to be using Microsoft, even if I don't agree with it.

Again, for the record, I think Bill Gates should be taken apart with a blow torch and a pair of pliers

Transporter_ii

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (2)

W3BMAST3R101 (904060) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985414)

At my school we had almost an identical issue. Nearly all of the network admins were proLinux. Except where it mattered, the higher ups.

the w3b

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (3, Insightful)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985482)

"schools need to actually do a proper investigation into what'll actually work best..."

Ah, classic "No True Scotsman Fallacy".
First you're operating under the assumption that they haven't performed a proper investiation.
Second, it wouldn't matter what investigation they did. You want the school to, (ahem), "investigate" until they come up with the answer you've predetermined to be the correct one. It's obvious that you want an answer that doesn't involve Microsoft, therefore any investigation which results in a Microsoft platform being preferred you'll just claim is not a "proper" investigation.

It's entirely reasonable to think that an instutition with political and financial concerns, that are invisible to its attendants, are at play here. You might think their decision is wrong, but how sure are you that the head teacher is even the one pulling the strings? I've seen plenty of situations where the person who appears to be making the decisions is really just doing what their superior has determined they should do. The person who makes decisions is seldom obvious or directly accessible to the underlings.

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (1)

hector_uk (882132) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985719)

I basically worked as a tech for my school in the last two years i was their and hung around the department, i knew how things worked, the head would choose a brand and tell the system admin to "buy 10x workstations from them" or buy 2x servers or whatever, the system admin suggested buying a few linux boxes to try out and even ran linux some old pc's in the common room which were used well but the head would have none of it, he just said "the real world uses windows so that's what we'll use". we ran windows 95 up till 2003.

Re:now if only the uk used anything but RM pc's (2, Insightful)

too_old_to_be_irate (941323) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985850)

Well, sort of, perhaps, maybe...

An awful lot of schools in the UK haven't had RM networks for many, many years. I have been working as IT Support for schools in Norfolk (UK) for the past decade, and have seen only one RM network, and then only in passing as it was thrown out into the skip. The norm is a pure MS based network, with something like Winsuite on top if it is considered that local expertise is insufficient to set up and maintain proper security profiles, etc.

There are reasons for this. Pragmatically, teachers do not want to move out of their comfort zone, which means Windows. It is still not uncommon for IT to be taught at Secondary level by teachers who do not have IT as their first subject. This is changing, but very slowly. As it is also the norm for a particular teacher to be 'in charge of' IT (i.e. holding the budget, shaping the policy as best he or she sees fit), it is not going to happen very often that a school will deviate from the safe option. Up until recently, NGFL funding enabled schools to equip themselves in a half-decent fashion, and if spent prudently, money was no more of a problem for IT procurement than it is for any other area of school budgeting. As a consequence, most schools have modern, fast networks with decent desktop machines to work on.

Should those desktops be running Windows? Well, from a techy quasi-political point of view, maybe not. But IT in schools is not a purely techy thing. In many of the schools I have worked in, IT is seen as an empowering skill. Before you get all indignant, think on this. At the last mainstream Secondary school I worked at, there was a considerable basic skills deficit. Literacy and numeracy, to you and me. Reading, writing, and arithmetic. OSS ain't gonna make the difference. Being comfortable with the machines those children will meet in their day to day lives MAY make a difference. Their parents are not going to be installing UbuLinuxHat, and they won't be seeing anything other than Windows machines in the real world (in THEIR real world) any time soon... And yes, for many of these children, the difference between Windows and *nix is enough to cause confusion, and to dissuade.

Until recently, I would have argued vigorously against what I've just written. But now, working at a special school has rather driven the point home. Yes, it's a different client group, but that only serves to emphasise the point that children with difficulties, whether in mainstream education or not, need the comfort of the familiar in order to stand any chance at all. And at the moment, the 'familiar' is Windows. That may be an uncomfortable conclusion for the evangelists, but until Linux (or MacOS, for that matter) is a commonplace in the real world, a significant proportion of children are better served by not being pawns in an intellectual slanging match.

As an aside, it may be that the children in the developing world will be among the first to see Linux in their 'real world' for economic reasons - and yes, their education should reflect that.

Tuppence worth.

Huh? (3, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985371)

I love to use and code Open Source stuff as much as the next guy, but shouldn't schools/governments be worrying about the best tool for the job instead of making blanket statements like "100% open source by 20xx"?

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

richlv (778496) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985395)

they could have investigated the situation and decided that the opensource nature would radically promote incentive and ability to explore and learn it field.
they might have made estimates and came out with figures that show big savings over a longer period of time.
or it could be that actual policy is more sophisticated and longer than the headline.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985408)

I love to use and code Open Source stuff as much as the next guy, but shouldn't schools/governments be worrying about the best tool for the job instead of making blanket statements like "100% open source by 20xx"?

I see where you're coming from - but consider, if you're in a position where you need a certain amount of control over the software you're running, then nothing but F/OSS is going to cut the mustard.

Vendor independance, ability to control your own destiny, freedom from the possibility of foreign government intervention, possibility to independantly audit code, etc etc etc.

You can write all of that in your requirements or just 'OSI approved license". *Shrug*, the second is certainly shorter....

Re:Huh? (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985459)

I see where you're coming from - but consider, if you're in a position where you need a certain amount of control over the software you're running, then nothing but F/OSS is going to cut the mustard.

Maintaining a certain amount of control doesn't mean you have to have all the damn source code. Many, many school districts in the US run Windows and things operate just fine. So, in short... you're an idiot.

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985613)

Many, many school districts in the US run Windows and things operate just fine.

Well, that all depends on who you ask, doesn't it? I don't know about school districts, but I can speak first hand about working as a mathematics instructor at a community college and being restricted to using Microsoft products. Things DON'T operate just fine. Have you ever tried to prepare a mathematical document with MS Word that doesn't look like it was scrawled by a 6-year-old? I thought not. It's fucking impossible. So, I went to our "Admin" to request her kind permission to install LaTeX on one of the sacred MS boxen. She did, and things were okay until we got new computers. So, I asked her again to put LaTeX on the new machine. Her response was, "Last time it broke the e-mail client, so I'll not allow it." Ahhhh, the genius and worldly knowledge of the MS slave. So, I prepared my documents at home, exported them to .PDF files (since the bloody MS boxen couldn't even read postscript files), took them to work on a disc, and printed them out on the school computers using the single useful program installed on them --- the free Acrobat reader.

Re:Huh? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985877)

You have my sympathy. I wrote a paper containing equations in TeX. The equations looked very nice. Once he accepted it, the journal editor insisted on WordPerfect so that he could edit it, so I converted it (manually) to WordPerfect. The equations didn't look nearly as nice. The publisher then demanded MS Word, so I converted it again. The printer evidently used the MS word file more-or-less directly, so the published version of the paper is noticeably uglier than the WordPerfect version. By far the nicest version is my original TeX version.

Re:Huh? (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985854)

If you need full control, you make your own proprietary software.

OSS will only provide you control if you spend a lot of money to develop for it.

You aren't vendor independent if you want support, which you'll need since none of your IT guys will know what to do with it.

Most businesses aren't paranoid enough to waste money on having code audited.

  Some companies may be willing to do some support for you, but you have to pay for that.

Re:Huh? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986086)

I was going to moderate this thread, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to knock down so many canards in one little reply.

"If you need full control, you make your own proprietary software."

Rubbish, and an utter non-sequitur. You're conflating 'control' with 'custom software development'. (I was going to say 'customisation', but a great deal of customisation is often possible with little effort or expertise because of the open nature of the software and the communities that support it.)

"OSS will only provide you control if you spend a lot of money to develop for it."

Rubbish again. See comment above.

"You aren't vendor independent if you want support, which you'll need since none of your IT guys will know what to do with it."

So there's only one ISV that supports Linux in your entire region? I didn't think so. The quality of support resources for FOSS surpasses those of proprietary software in most parts of the world. And FOSS operating systems require, on average, fewer support hours per installation than most proprietary products.

The second clause of that sentence is begging the question [wikipedia.org]. Do you know for a fact that there is no in-house knowledge of FOSS? I didn't think so.

"Most businesses aren't paranoid enough to waste money on having code audited."

It's true that 'audit' is a strong term to use, because few people do that, as you rightly note. If the GP had said, 'we can look at the source whenever we need to,' the issue would have a very different complexion. I've quickly glanced through FOSS source code to better understand functionality, or to solve a problem, innumerable times. I have never had that luxury with proprietary software.

"Some companies may be willing to do some support for you, but you have to pay for that."

What you say? Pay for support? Well, forget it then; best to go back to the world of proprietary software where the Tech Support Fairy will fix anything for nothing more than a pat on the head and a cookie.

HTH HAND

Re:Huh? (1)

LinuxIsRetarded (995083) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985865)

but consider, if you're in a position where you need a certain amount of control over the software you're running, then nothing but F/OSS is going to cut the mustard.
Define "certain amount of control." Your statement is extremely vague. I'm not aware of any user that doesn't require a "certain amount of control" over their software. Most businesses and organizations seem to operate just fine using closed source software. Are you suggesting that this high school needs the ability to modify the source code, or are you suggesting that the high school con only achieve the interoperability between different applications that F/OSS affords? I'm thinking you're meaning the second, but even that can be obtained through closed source solutions as well.

Vendor independance
This can be achieved with closed source as well. I can choose a closed source OS from one vendor and any number of closed source applications from other vendors as well. Writing this in your requirements wouldn't rule out closed source software.

ability to control your own destiny
This sounds like something from The Matrix. I'm not sure what you're trying to convey with this.

freedom from the possibility of foreign government intervention
I hate to break it to you, but there is absolutely no way to guarantee that a foreign government won't assert ownership or control over software despite its license. If I remember correctly, the Soviet Union in the 1980s decided it would not honor any US copyrights. Just because something is a legal contract here (and in the rest of the world) now doesn't mean some irrational government will decide otherwise (for itself, obviously) in the future.

possibility to independantly audit code
Again, this doesn't rule out closed source software. Many vendors will provide licensed source code (Microsoft included).

You can write all of that in your requirements or just 'OSI approved license".
From the requirements you've listed, you would be unnecessarily restricting your solution if you listed "OSI approved license." I will agree with the parent post in saying that any organization (or individual user, for that matter) would be better off choosing the best tools for the job rather than restricting themselves to a 100% open source solution (or a vendor-specific solution as well). Could the best solution be 100% open source products? Absolutely. Could the best solution be a mixture of closed source and open source products? Absolutely. Could the best solution be 100% closed source products? Absolutely.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985410)

Maybe the "best tool" is one that allows people to get work done without exporting millions of dollars or pirating software. It may be relatively easy to pirate now, but who knows what the political climate is like ten years from now. Or perhaps the best tool isn't the one that will saturate network infrastructure with spam from zombies -- helps keep the infrastructure costs in check.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985436)

shouldn't schools/governments be worrying about the best tool for the job instead of making blanket statements like "100% open source by 20xx"?

Governments and goverment agencies often have other goals which they try to satisfy (e.g., "buy american"). Typically that kind of thing will slightly increase the cost, but the other goals are deemed worthy enough to make this acceptable.

There are a number of worthy goals which can be helped by adopting free software, and presumably they judge the increased cost of re-training people used to microsoft products worth it.

Mostly it's only businesses that have a "short term utility regardless of the long-term cost" attitude.

Re:Huh? (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985457)

Only if you take the short term view.

Countries like India and China can think a bit more about the long term. If I was them I wouldn't want to be paying Microsoft/UnitedStates for software forever.

They have lots of reasons... (3, Interesting)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985521)

I gather that they have looked at this carefuly but there are other reasons as well.

From the article: "A sting operation by Microsoft in October 2005 had not endeared the proprietary software to PC and peripherals dealers."

Remember a while back when Microsoft tried some strong arm tactics of threatening to audit schools who ran anything but Microsoft operating systems. Well.... Payback is a bitch ...

Seriously though, they are switching because they see the value in FOSS and Microsoft gave then a good look at the dark side of corporate tactics.

best tool for the job when? (2, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985700)

cost/benefits/longevity/support

You have to take all those factors into consideration. What's the best tool? Will that tool be viable 5 years down the road, after you have committed a lot of time and money into it, or will it turn out to be an expensive white elephant, and just keep costing and costing until such a time as supporting the tool with time and money costs more than getting your original job done? MS wants you to keep the tool as the most important part, forever and ever, and keep shoveling cash their way. FOSS encourages you to use the tools now, keep using them in the future, share what you learn about it, others share with you freely, and in the meantime maybe save a lot of your cash and time and use it for something else possibly more important than just keeping the tool supplier in yachts and benzs. FOSS lets you get on with life, staying stuck to the MS tool rental store means you are their property and cash cow in perpetuity. They like to bandy about TCO figures, but seems to me you can never determine what that realistically is if you get on an endless check writing treadmill to redmond.

Think about the children! (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985405)

Why does it have to be one or the other? How about some PCs with Windows and some with Linux. Not all machines have to be Microsoft OS/Office/Outlook/etc. but at the same time why migrate all machines? I know, I know, to save money but how about saving some money (most money perhaps) migrate a good chunk of machines to Linux and teach the kids commandline, Open Office, free software and still let them use Windows as well.

Why teach kids that everything in life is just one or the other. Let's have the best of both worlds. Heck, let's throw some Macs into the mix as well.

Think about the training! (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985454)

Although I agree with you in theory that kids should be exposed to all different OSes, this would be a logistical and financial nightmare for most US school districts, never mind poorer ones in India.

They'd have to train all their teachers and administrators in all three OSes. Many of these teachers and admins can barely manage working one type of computer and require heavy training to do that. If you're hoping they'll use these to enhance their curriculum, rather than simply teach kids how to use a computer, then that's ANOTHER whole round of training, on each OS. In fact, for effective technology use in the curriculum, both teachers and administrators need ongoing training - which is 3x as hard with 3 OSes.

Then there's the kids. With everything else they need to learn, now you have to put in 3x the computer classes. And in poorer areas, they probably don't have a computer at home to learn any of it on, it's all on the school. Yes, in the end it might increase their marketability so they can get a decent job, but how big an increase is it vs the increase from no computer skills to one OS?

It might be the ideal, but it's not very realistic. At most, having different OSes for a couple different purposes (for instance, Macs for graphic design etc) where only certain teachers need to know how to use them is probably the best most schools can do.

Re:Think about the training! (4, Insightful)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985551)

Ah, that old straw man. Are schools teaching computing or Windows? All the basic skills they need to use any computer GUI can be taught with Linux just as well as Windows. In fact, having variety will make the students much more comfortable with the idea that things move and so in order to find the setting you want you need to hunt about a bit. People worry about the time to retrain users but you can put a Windows user on a Mac and within an hour they will be able to function and quite possibly be as capable as they are on Windows within a day. Most people who claim to know Windows really don't know much beyond using a bit of Office (badly) and the file manager. I say to people that if they can use a keyboard and a mouse they can use a Mac and the same is true of Linux, especially in a supported environment where all they need is to be able to do their work and someone else will keep it running. Sure, for home users Windows may be the best option (well, no, it isn't, buy a Mac, but that is another story) but where you don't have to run the system yourself you should be able to cope with whatever you are put in front of. At our site we have a mixure of Windows, Linux and Macs and the only people who really have problems are the PA and secretarial types who really don't know anything about their computers and function by remembering where stuff is. Move anything and they panic. Everyone else, the younger more computer literate types are happy enough on whatever they get. There is no benefit teaching students where to find something on version X of Windows, teach them what to look for based on what it is that they are trying to do and when it moves they will still be able to function.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985892)

But you're shooting yourself in the foot at the same time because you forget the basic function of schools.

Schools are ment to make you a "normal well rounded person", which means teachers often have to teach several subjects (in my primary school we had 6 teachers whole, most of them had a PC in their room but they weren't even remotely familar with them). These teachers are a jack of all trades and a master of none. They don't much care for computers and use them only when they have to and act just like the PA types you described.

Teachers use what they know and just stick to it. If you force them to learn all the differences between multipule computer systems it draws time away from A, their personal lives or B, their school work.

I hate to say this and people never listen, but Linux is not the solution to everything (again nor are macs), it won't be for another 5-10 years before kids like me start teaching, when we grew up with this and can adapt, teachers today are 30-60ish, which is from an era where PCs weren't common for all and they arn't comfortable with them.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985916)

At our site we have a mixure of Windows, Linux and Macs and the only people who really have problems are the PA and secretarial types who really don't know anything about their computers and function by remembering where stuff is. Move anything and they panic.

And that's where a lot of teachers are. I've been through an MAEd program, and one at a halfway decent college. A lot of my classmates in that program would have needed a LOT of training to master three OSes. I took a class on technology in curriculum, and it was held in a Mac lab. Even in this class only being taken by people who are interested in tech and its applications in education, a good portion of the class had problems using the Macs. And we were really only using them for basic things like web browsing and a few educational apps.

Not all teachers are like this, of course, but enough are. Plus, they have enough to do already - schools have trouble fitting in the amount of professional development they need already, even fitting in a two-day seminar on a new operating system would be a challenge.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985982)

So, we should cripple our education system because the teachers aren't able to learn anything new themselves. Heck, we'll have people complaining that they'll have to come up with a new mneomic for the names of planets next.....

Teachers are supposed to impart knowledge to our kids. If the teachers are unable to learn new stuff then the kids would be better off being given a book to learn from. Teachers have to be able to explain what they are trying to teach. If the teachers simply learn parrot fashion and can only point at stuff without explaining what is behind it then they have no right being in the profession.

The very best teachers I had during my long (very long....) education were those who not only taught what we needed to know but also could explain why.

Besides which, there is plenty of evidence that people who continue to learn new stuff throughout their lives retain their mental faculties far better than those who simply sit back and complain that things aren't the way they used to be.

I am so sick of society pandering to the lowest common denominator. It is pathetic that we try so hard to ensure no-one fails that we pull back the brilliant minds and destroy their potential. IT skills training is the worst example of this. Calling it IT is an insult to those of us who have real IT skill.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986035)

You are absolutely right that we should have high enough quality teachers that this wouldn't be an issue. But unfortunately, we don't in most places, and you'd have to solve that problem first. And that gets into an ENTIRELY different discussion (such as how to make the profession of teaching more attractive to the most qualified people). You're talking about ideal situations, I'm talking about reality as it is right now. Having all schools on three OSes would be great, but it would not be practical or even possible the way things are right now. Yes, if we had nothing but great teachers who are themselves lifelong learners etc etc, it would probably work. But until you can make that happen, it's only possible in la-la land.

And I'm just talking about the situation in the US right now. I don't even know what it's like in India, which is what the article is talking about. I doubt that their average teacher quality is significantly higher than ours.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986151)

I agree. One of my friends trained as a teacher and after a few jobs quit and went to work in an electronics store because the teaching work was horrible. I considered being a teacher myself but decided against it because the incentives are not there. However, the reality that teaching is not treated with the respect it deserves and so the good people are not encouraged to join the profession does not mean we should make the education system poor to cope with the crap teachers that do join. There is a reason the quality of education is taking a nose dive and this 'realistic' thinking isn't going to help. You have to stand up and shout from the rooftops that it isn't good enough! Until you do that and actually change the dynamics you will continue to have poor quality teaching and poor quality education as a result. Fix the fundamental problem rather than trying to limit the damage to the current teachers. The qood ones will shine, the bad ones will leave. I would rather teach my kids myself than have them be taught by someone who can barely function. Oh, and we should not be teaching operating systems, we should be teaching computing concepts and as I said in my first post, the concepts exist in all currently used GUIs so the choice of which one to use shouldn't matter. It is fear of the unknown that is the problem. I have experienced plenty of resistance to new systems from people I have worked with over the years but the fact is, if they know how to use a keyboard and mouse then the rest is child's play. Can these teachers use a keyboard and mouse???? Don't be so defeatist.

Re:Think about the training! (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986294)

Fix the fundamental problem rather than trying to limit the damage to the current teachers.

Deciding that all teachers shall learn three OSes is not "fixing the fundamental problem." It's ignoring the problem and thinking that if you proceed as if it's not there, it will go away. You need to fix the fundamental problems FIRST, then you can can focus on making sure all teachers are super-computer-literate. Because that's not one of the fundamental problems.

The fundamental problems are more things like teacher training programs on the college level that don't include any computer instruction at all, or even more fundamentally, teacher training programs that don't (successfully) encourage teachers to keep learning once they graduate. Lack of incentives to entice those who are more intrinsically motivated to learn into the profession. Crappy outdated tenure policies that make it impossible to fire bad teachers. Things like that. Teachers' ability to use different types of computers, and school districts' abilities to train them to, is another level up from those things.

Re:Think about the children! (3, Funny)

mikeswi (658619) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985715)

I agree. There should be that one Windows computer in the back of the classroom that takes 5 minutes to boot and then crashes an hour later because all the spyware pop-ups have run out all the memory. That would be the example for why all the computers in the classroom run something else. ;-)

I forsee (3, Funny)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985406)

I foresee a massive discount for a certain Indian state by a certain U.S. company...

Re:I forsee (1)

Poppler (822173) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985554)

I foresee a massive discount for a certain Indian state by a certain U.S. company...

If they're doing this after a visit from RMS, I doubt that cost is the only consideration in their decision.

Re:I forsee (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985583)

In fact the discount may be the state's original goal - first threaten MS, then get a sweet deal. But I doubt that India wants to abandon Microsoft.
MS's Indian HQ is providing a lot of jobs. And India seems to have lots of Visual C# programmers. Not to mention that Visual Studio 2005 shows photos of ONLY Indian people during installation - suggesting the biggest market target for VS2005.

Re:I forsee (1)

cyanid3 (998026) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985611)

I foresee a massive discount for a certain Indian state by a certain U.S. company... We don't pay for anything; school or no school ;)

Turn About Is Fairplay (0, Troll)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985412)

All well and good. But, if there are any MS related call centers or tech centers in that state, MS should close them. Then, we'll see what happens to the fr*cking outsourced help.

Yes, I'm all for wiping out 3rd world debt, but I'm also for wiping out the economies that harm the U.S.

Go MS, take that commie's, RMS, adherents and show them what-for.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985447)

Yep, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If they are going to teach their students Linux they are all but locking them out from the entire job market surrounding Microsoft products.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986016)

That's total nonsense. You can teach a monkey to click-and-drool their way through a GUI. And KDE is not a whole lot different from windows on that front.

"click start, go to programs, go to internet, internet expolorer" or "click K, go to Applications, go to internet, konqueror browser" are for all intents and purposes the exact same thing

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985474)

Yes, I'm all for wiping out 3rd world debt, but I'm also for wiping out the economies that harm the U.S.

You can't have both: wiping out 3rd world debt is inherently harmful to the US whose economic policy is based on the availability of poverty-wages around the world, which in turn are caused by the local economy being a mess. It's not alway's the US's fault that it is a mess - local corruption is a big player but on the other hand a lot of local corruption is supported by the US and US companies - but it is almost always in America's interest to keep poor countries poor.

And, anyway, I would love to see all Indian call-centres closed down. Hell with it: I'd love to see call centres closed down everywhere. They exist mainly to further insulate the people in a company who make the real decisions from their customers and their reactions and difficulties with those decisions and make it hard to complain to anyone who can actually do anything about it.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985753)

"You can't have both: wiping out 3rd world debt is inherently harmful to the US whose economic policy is based on the availability of poverty-wages around the world"

No. It's inherently harmful to US banks who make risky investments in the hope of big rewards and then expect taxpayers to bail them out when the investments fail to live up to their expectations.

You're witnessing a failure of the US economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985507)

What you're actually seeing with the outsourcing trend, as well as this move towards the use of open source products, is a massive failure of the US economy.

The fact of the matter is that the US economy was unable to provide support center services at a competitive price. The industries of other nations could offer those services in a more cost-effective manner than could be done in the US. And as would be expected, the jobs moved to those countries where a greater return could be obtained.

The same goes for software. Like it or not, nations like India and China have highly-educated workfoces in the computer software and technology sectors. And for various reasons, they can produce products at a lower cost than they can be produced in America. So it's no wonder that there is a move away from the overpriced software from Microsoft, towards cheaper alternatives. When the alternatives often offer many additional benefits (increased security, decreased vulnerability to malware, better performance, greater stability, etc.) over the American software, it's only natural for the American software to be shunned. It just couldn't play the economic game well enough, and so the loser it becomes.

Re:You're witnessing a failure of the US economy. (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985744)

"The fact of the matter is that the US economy was unable to provide support center services at a competitive price."

Dell is learning the economics of support at a "competitive price" right now as customers have discovered that the quality of Dell's support has slipped.

"And for various reasons, they can produce products at a lower cost than they can be produced in America."

Various reasons? I think you'll find all of those reasons to be related to being a poor country easily exploited by the western world.

Re:You're witnessing a failure of the US economy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985882)

"And for various reasons, they can produce products at a lower cost than they can be produced in America."

Not true at all. Alot of companies found out the hard way that if you pay a worker nothing they will produce next to nothing. If an american working at $10/hour produces 10 tv's and a worker in another country makes $2/hour and makes 1 tv, which is better? Also some country will take over factories if they see fit, and other unforseen things can happen in other countries that one cannot always account for.

"The fact of the matter is that the US economy was unable to provide support center services at a competitive price."

Again just like the above statement, this is also false most of the time. Once you are known for poor customer support, people will not buy from you anymore. If you pay someone more they will work harder and will get you more sales in the future.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985509)

"Go MS, take that commie's, RMS, adherents and show them what-for."

This is a attempt by a communist to associate his economic ideology with linux. See how he purposly sounds like a whiny MS fanboy, followed by showing that he hates communism. It's designed to make it look like losers hate communism. This is then followed by him grouping RMS, and adherents together with communism. This is because he wants to associate his communism with the popular idea(at least here) of F/OSS. No one who develops F/OSS gives a hoot about supporting communism, so trying to associate it with us pinko.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (1)

ardin,mcallister (924615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985517)

You know, I know its flamebait, but I think I need to point out that harming microsoft does not equal harming the USA, nor its economy.

Re:Turn About Is Fairplay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985612)

O rly? Care to explain how dominance the software industry by a US corp is not beneficial to the US?

I laugh at the hypocrisy of bashing overseas outsourcing by those who happily play with their Playstations and Nintendos.

Teach both (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985413)

Diversity is a good thing. Students and teachers should have SOME experience on Linux and Windows boxes. Let them make their own decision about which is truly "best for the job."

Re:Teach both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985587)

That sounds oddly similar to the 'teach evolution and intelligent design' argument.

skollinux (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985443)

I wonder if they're going to go for a school biased distro, although I don't suppose it will matter. Would their choice then lead to other bigger and better things such as using Linux at the firewall/router level also? I'm sure they'd want to use squid. It'd be very nice to see India become a linux house. I better brush up on my Indian though.

RMS must be getting better (2, Funny)

David Off (101038) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985449)

My old company (the OSF) had a visit from RMS once. He spent the whole week with some wierd GNU logo stuck to his forehead which I think frightened my boss. I hope, like Linux, he's more user friendly these days.

Those interesting counter arguments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985455)

Are all the people calling for diversity and suggesting that token Windows machines remain prepared to back themselves up? Are you all going to be campaigning that linux and Mac boxes be made availiable wherever Microsoft have the current monopoly? Choice is a good thing right?

Kerala will now be known as ...... (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985456)

GNU/Kerala?

Seriously it probably doesn't hurt that RMS looks like an Indian Sadhu with that hair of his. Congrats RMS (or RMSji)

I belong to Kerala and know it will work (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985467)

I am originally from Kerala..the mentality of the people there is quite unique from anywhere in India. Almost totally against all forms of monopolies. It may have done lot of harm to the economy, but Keral booted out CocaCola when it allegedly did not meet the stringent quality tests. BMW was also stopped from having a factory there over working conditions.
The Govt was always receptive to Stallman - way back in 2001, I was the the capital and RMS had a seminar over there. He had put on a long robe and a CD around his head as halo and announced himself as prophet stallman - or to that effect, I dont remember.
But the crux is people at Kerala are ready to put that extra effort needed for moving on to Linux

Re:I belong to Kerala and know it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985615)

way back in 2001, I was the the capital

Yeah I know... *sigh* when you were having Socialistic Capitol Syndrome [wikipedia.org]

Re:I belong to Kerala and know it will work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985639)

RMS had a seminar over there. He had put on a long robe and a CD around his head as halo

He got you: It's obviously the "I put on my robe and wizard hat" thing.

This is pretty bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985488)

This is pretty bad, because now choice has been taken away by the government.

Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985511)

Schools must spend money responsibly. They need to buy what works, not what is the fashion. Linux is incredible powerful, but really good teachers are usually older and are lost when it comes to technology. Students can probably handle this well, but can the teachers? This is nice, but will it really advance the students education?

-bendodge

Re:Responsibility (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986050)

You obviously haven't used linux recently.

The people who'd have problems with linux are the same people who would have problems with windows these days

They should switch to Open Source. (1)

Borgschulze (842056) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985546)

The schools need something more complex, it's just not working what they have at my school. Nearly any kid with half a brain about computers can get into our school computers without the security software. It takes about 2 minutes and you're in, totally unmonitored and no extra security features. If they had Linux on there, it would be much harder, because probably 1 in every 100 kids has even used a Linux operating system at my school. Mainly because "It's crap" and "My iPod doesn't work on Linux!", they're too ignorant to do any research, and will end up with a more safe computer experience. Choosing operating systems for some is the same as those people who go and buy the most expensive speakers they can find, then use a little tiny amp that puts out no power... it's a waste, they don't check the alternatives and what good other stuff will be for them. The pure fact that Microsoft is the most popular operating system in homes is the main reason they should not use it. More people understand how to abuse it, how to make it work the way they want, not the way it was meant to be used.

Re:They should switch to Open Source. (1)

Borgschulze (842056) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985557)

Wow, Slashdot needs to let me space out my stuff, that's really hard to read. Breaks work I guess...

Re:They should switch to Open Source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15985642)

Slashdot needs to let me space out my stuff

Try posting as "plain old text" instead of "HTML formatted". You can still use html tags, because "plain old text" doesn't remotely describe what it does, but you'll get normal paragraph breaks etc, preserved too.

This is education? (3, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985693)

An obvious observation here is that however they decide such a question, the decision is profoundly anti-education. Anyone with the slightest interest in education would start by rejecting the dichotomy that the only choices are Microsoft and linux. And deciding on only one means that you have no intention of allowing your students to get a real education in the subject.

Any actual educator would want their students to become familiar with many different kinds of computers. They would have a bias against Microsoft, of course, because MS systems don't permit the students to study much of the system's innards. Apple would also be fairly low on the list, since their software's inner workings are somewhat more accessible to students, but not as accessible as most of the alternatives. The list of accessible systems would rate linux highly, of course, but not a lot better than the various *BSD systems or OpenVMS. Or OpenDOS, for that matter. And the iTron system should be on the list, as the world's major open real-time system.

OTOH, I suppose those Americans and Europeans worried about a takeover of the computer industry would applaud this decision. A cohort of students who grow up knowing only linux would be nearly as damaging to India's computer industry as if they knew only MS Windows. OK; not that damaging, but damaging enough.

Of course, enough schools in America and Europe are MS-only right now that we can look forward to a general loss of dominance in computing, as schools graduate students who think that computer expertise consists of knowing how to make Word docs and Powerpoint presentations.

A real educator would more likely reject them all, and set their students to the task of building their own computer system, following the precedents of Tannenbaum and Torvalds (and the Berkeley gang). They'd have a lab with a few of each available system, for showing what has been done and asking "How could we do it better?" But they'd put the emphasis on learning by doing.

But having only linux in a school makes about as much sense as, say, having only Honda in the auto (driving and shop) classes. OTOH, having only Microsoft computers would be like having only drivers' ed classes using Honda; the "shop" classes would only read about cars but would never be permitted to open up an engine compartment or remove a dashboard.

Sorry; that's not a real education program.

Re:This is education? (1)

kie (30381) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985770)

> A real educator would more likely reject them all, and set their students to the task of building their own
> computer system, following the precedents of Tannenbaum and Torvalds (and the Berkeley gang). They'd have a
> lab with a few of each available system, for showing what has been done and asking "How could we do it
> better?" But they'd put the emphasis on learning by doing.

I don't think that "build your own and do it better" is a good starting point for computer education.
It would first require a great amount of understanding of how operating systems work.
This understanding is likely to be a lot easier if you can examine the source code.

> But having only linux in a school makes about as much sense as, say, having only Honda in the auto (driving and
> shop) classes. OTOH, having only Microsoft computers would be like having only drivers' ed classes using Honda;
> the "shop" classes would only read about cars but would never be permitted to open up an engine compartment or
> remove a dashboard.

Ah, the traditional if not tired car analogy, which doesn't work too well, however...
I would suggest that using a car analogy that the Microsoft car has the bonnet welded shut not allowing
access to see or tamper with the working of the engine.
The linux car does allow this access and also provides some free tools to do so.
In addition everybody can have a linux car for free whereas you need to purchase each Microsoft one.

Re:This is education? (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985857)

Before you can say anything intelligent about what kinds of computers/OSs are needed, you have to be clear as to what you want to use them for. What is appropriate depends on the application.

  • If the purpose is to enable students to use computers as part of their education, they just need systems that let them surf the net, write, maybe do calculations and so forth. This they can do perfectly fine using just Linux or FreeBSD or indeed pretty much any single system. I don't see any particular benefit to diversity here.
  • If the purpose is to teach about how computers work and programming, again a single system will do just fine, and an open system like Linux or FreeBSD will be superior to a closed system like MS Windows.
  • For the specific purpose of teaching classes on topics like "Operating systems concepts" or "networking" there may be value in having a variety of systems to play with.
  • If the purpose is to teach "computer literacy", such as how to use word processors and spreadsheets, again a single system will work just fine.
  • If the purpose is to prepare students for jobs in which they will have to use specific systems or pieces of software, e.g. to train secretaries to use MS Word, there is reason to have the specific systems and software for which they are being trained.
  • If the purpose is to prepare students for jobs as general purpose computer techs, salespeople, etc., then it will be desirable for them to know about a variety of systems.
  • If the purpose is to use computers for administrative purposes, diversity is probably a bad idea as most of the users will be inexpert and you want the system to be easy to maintain. In this area, availability of appropriate software may be a decisive factor in the short term, and may well favor MS Windows. On the other hand, as security is presumably a major concern here, that would be a strike against MS Windows.

It looks to me like there is no virtue to diversity, and a big advantage to open systems, for most of the purposes for which one may want to use computers in primary and secondary education. The cases in which diversity is a virtue, or there is a need for MS Windows in particular, involve certain types of vocational classes that would only be offered at a secondary level and a few CS classes of a type rarely offered below the college level anyhow. In short, it seems to me perfectly reasonable to make Unix-type open systems the foundation for educational computing and to provide other systems only for the limited set of secondary level classes, mostly vocational, for which there is a need for something else.

Re:This is education? (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985913)

the decision is profoundly anti-education

Actually, these are primarily infrastructure decisions, and they are properly based on cost/benefit over the lifetime of the infrastructure. It's incorrect to suggest that such decisions are either pro- or anti- education. They are neutral with respect to education.

More correct than the tired auto analogy, I think, would be if the decision were to standardize on a certain type of lighting system for school buildings which only lets students read books printed on compatible paper made only by the same company that makes the lights. The alternative would be a lighting system made from commonplace parts which works with paper whose formulation is widely understood and available from many different suppliers.

I wouldn't characterize this as a decision in which educators need to be involved at all. Typically we're not teaching students how to make paper, we're teaching subject material that just happens to be delivered on paper. And given that we have limited funds to replace lighting systems and books, we'd like to make a decision that doesn't lock us into a single expensive solution that also makes us dependent on a certain brand of paper.

Sure, in the short term we might lose access to certain desirable book titles because they're only printed on that special paper. That can be a problem, but not a fundamental one, and therefore not one which weighs greatly in the long term when we're talking about building infrastructure. There's no reason that any book title cannot be printed on ordinary paper, and it's in the nature of economics that if the market wants it, sooner or later the market will get it.

Some time ago we left behind the idea that computers were in schools in order to educate students about computers. You and I might be personally interested in that subject, but it's really not driving a lot of decisions. And yes, as a personal preference I'd rather learn everything about an open system than just the surface information about a closed system. There's a reason why Unix took off so dramatically in university computer science curricula, why it appears in so many research papers on operating system design, and so on. You want to design a different process scheduler, or filesystem, or security model? Off you go. Unix won't stop you in any technical sense, and open source won't stop you in any legal sense.

So within this narrower area of education I'd say that open source very much wins in terms of promoting education. It's hard to get around the issue that proprietary systems necessarily promote ignorance.

Yes its education. What world do you live in? (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985964)

The purpose of this program is to provide computing services to the entire school system. Its not to turn every single student in the state of Keralla into a computer science graduate. Aside from computer science and computer engineering students, virtually NO ONE ELSE needs to be exposed to 2 at most 3 operating systems, and here you are suggesting exposure to what, 8? What purpose would be served by teaching Johnny to write an essay on OpenVMS?

Why restrict it to one platform? (2, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985754)

Initially, schools were given the option to choose whether teachers were to be trained in Linux systems or Microsoft. The option has now narrowed down to migration.

I realise that schools have other priorities (eg. teaching reading, math, science, history, etc), and limited resources, not to mention that having computers in schools isn't always primarily to teach about computers. It's a shame, however, that children can't be trained using multiple platforms.

I feel I have a much better appreciation of computers, and feel more comfortable using them, because I appreciate the differences between things like Windows, Linux distros, Macs, Amigas, even DOS, and whatever else. (I'm sure many people here could run off a long list.) I know what I prefer to use for different tasks, and I know why I prefer it..

Restricting teaching to one OS and accustomising students to one way of doing things doesn't seem like preparing them to make their own choices at all.

I predict (2, Informative)

t_ban (875088) | more than 7 years ago | (#15985927)

that the state of West Bengal will follow suit soon. Kerala and West Bengal are ruled by the same party's government, and a decision of this level usually comes from their central politburo.

Free Software (1)

Peaker (72084) | more than 7 years ago | (#15986008)

Its not about what is "best for the job".
Its about software freedom.
For RMS and the Free Software movement, what's "best for the job" is not nearly as important as what helps and guarantees freedom.

RMS and people in the Free Software movement, believe that there is no room for software that takes away the freedoms of the user. And its important to teach kids in schools just that, so that they know to respect those freedoms as they grow older as well.

Spanish model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15986258)

I think what they're talking about is gnuLinEx [wikipedia.org].
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