Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

University of Michigan Linux 273

CosmicEntity writes "A while back there was a Slashdot article about the University of Michigan signing a huge distribution deal with Microsoft. In protest, students offered free copies of Red Hat Linux 6.1 and Star Office to people as they came to purchase the MS products. Now, it seems the university's College of Engineering is openly adopting Linux, and releasing their own version to students. They call it CAEN Linux (CAEN stands for Computer Aided Engineering Network.) It's a modified version of Red Hat, with all sorts of useful tweaks (like bug fixes and patches) and security "enhancements," to protect the new machines. It looks like there will finally be support for new students hoping to use Linux, but too unsure to just go out and do it themselves. Oh, by the way, the original name was going to be "Blue Hat Linux," but it didn't stick. " I think it'd be very interesting to see what could happen if some of the universities got together and created a University Distro - designed to handle their security needs, and a shared resource site for help on running and learning Linux - what do you folks think?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

University of Michigan Linux

Comments Filter:
  • i'm glad to see that they've done their homework and are releasing it for download, along with the source. time for me to throw in another hard drive and check it out...
  • I'm serious.

  • Any step schools take twords linux are good ones. Academia is all about free thought.
  • alright. i'm dumb. so i go to download and both of the download links (off the main download page) are broken... terrific. i searched around and couldn't find a good download link - any ideas?
  • Like the subject says, I'm all for the Uni Distro. I work for the Engineering computing department at my school and we have mostly Sun UNIX workstations, but the labs are crowded and it would be kinda cool if more people used Linux in their dorm room and ssh'ed into the labs...
    Definately a project that some people should get together on...
  • Well, Redhat may not be the end all to be all, but it's nice to see that someone is thinking along the right lines over there.
  • by pb ( 1020 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2000 @10:51PM (#1292942)

    The same thing is starting to happen at here at NCSU, and hopefully we'll see Linux replace those darn NT machines yet. The LUG here is great about providing packages for Red Hat + NCSU-specific stuff. (well, we're sort of nearby, and whatnot. ;)

    If that isn't an option at your school, at least convince them to get some interoperability. Linux plays well with others. NT can be forced to do better if you buy the right packages. So far I'm pretty happy with what they have bought, but NT is still not that reliable (it leaks memory here, the mouse dies, etc. Solaris boxes are much better).

    However, at least X-Win32 and Tera Term Secure Shell are making life easier on NT. Still not as easy as it is on my Linux box, though. :)

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • you can't download CAEN Linux from their site - you have to be on the UMICH network. is this not a violation of the GPL?
  • by ghjm ( 8918 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2000 @10:52PM (#1292944) Homepage
    North Carolina State University has had a group of students supporting a Red Hat-based distribution called EOS Linux for some time. Just recently, the university announced that they would begin treating it as an officialy supported platform. Details are sketchy - the announcement just came out - but it's a pretty big deal for the NCSU folks. Perhaps some Eos Linux people can provide more depth.

    Actually, recent versions of EOS Linux aren't distributions, but a set of rpms that you install against a specific version of Red Hat. The Eos Linux group felt it would be easier to it this way, rather than taking on all the day-to-day maintenance responsibilities of supporting a full distribution. I think this is a better model for site-specific Linuxes. It's a good discussion topic, anyway.

    Last but not least - I don't know if it would be possible to build a global "University Linux" as the article suggests. The main benefit to Eos Linux, and presumably to the University of Michigan Linux as well, is that it integrates tightly with all the on-campus systems and networks. It's site-specific, and that's why you want it. It's hard to imagine how you could build a single distribution that would be site-specific at all sites.

  • linuxconf is not enabled in /etc/services by default

    That's a good thing. They had to block that port at the central routers here because people left them wide open without knowing. Linuxconf is bad for your karma anyway.

  • I attend NCSU and they have a very good linux network they call EOS. It was modeled after Georgia Tech's system I think. The coolest thing about it is that you can install their version of linux on your hard drive and, if you are connected, use all of the remote apps and services made available by the university just as if you were in a lab across campus.
  • At the University of Maryland Baltimore County, we have Linux (RH6.0 with tweaks) running in all of our PC labs. We used to have an official distribution, but that sorta ran aground.
  • It is good to hear about a school supporting something other than Windows. I understand that from the schools point of view Windows is easy, but the lengths some places go to to make it difficult for people to use other systems is really ridiculous. Like the Hiram College, where I happen to be right now, expects you to give them the MAC address of your machine before they will activate the port in your dorm room, and they provide a detailed, illustrated text showing how to get it in Windows. But for other systems they provide virtually nothing. The people in the computer center aren't much help either.

    Anyway, to keep from making this too long, I think it is great that they are providing so much support for Linux. I certainly would have it running on my machine if it were that easy.

  • Yeah, one of my friends is involved in this project, he just had a four-hour meeting about it today. (poor guy!)

    I don't know how much they want me to say, or even how much they told me, but...

    - Our network uses Kerberos, zephyrs, AFS, etc., pretty much taken from MIT's Athena Project. They're making RPM's of that stuff. I think they'll end up using ARLA instead of AFS under Linux, we'll see. Universities tend to have a lot of specific stuff too, though, maybe one university distribution is unlikely.

    - MIT has RPM's up for Project Athena too, it's still a good base for a "university distribution". :)

    - Hopefully the next release will be based on RH 6.2, I'm running somewhere between 6.0 and 6.1, and 6.2 beta should be up now.

    - I sure hope it doesn't end up getting called "EOS/Linux", 'cause that makes about as much sense as "GNU/Linux". ;)

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Uhhh... no?
    GPL doesnt' say you have to make sure it's accessible to everyone, it says that *if* you redistrubte, those you distribute to cannot be constrained into who they distribute to.

    I am perfectly free to refuse to give you a copy of redhat, but to give it to the next guy. But I cannot prevent that guy from giving it to you.
    And I have to provide source to the first guy if he asks.

    In other words, as long as UMICH doesn't *contractually*, or by way of license, inhibit it's distribution..... it's not a problem.
  • I'm double posting here I think.. but..

    GPL does *not* force you to distribute software. You can give it or not to whoever you want.
    GPL ensures that anyone in *receipt* of that software is free to distribute it as they want.

    In other words, the *software* has it's freedom.. nobody can take 'ownership' and prevent it's spread. Everyone who receives is has the right to redistribute.
    Nothing in the GPL forces UMICH to put it on their website and let the whole world have it..

  • CMU has Andrew Linux, which basically is a very modified Redhat that
    looks and feels like the Unix machines in the clusters. It's got stuff like
    afs, CMU zephyr, CMU kerberos, etc., which are normally non-trivial to get
    (find the secret source code, compile, configure it for your system rather
    than Andrew Unix, compile, realize that you got an old version that doesn't
    work anymore, compile, realize that the afs kernel module doesn't match
    your kernel, compile....). However, this is probably not very useful
    for anyone outside of CMU.
  • Even if this Distro is not for everybody, I think it is really good news to hear that an entire department is taking on Linux instead of windows. There are of course the obvious technical benefits to Linux over NT. But, think about the future.

    This maybe common sense, but if Linux gains strong underpinnings in academia it will gain huge amounts of support in the future. Especially if it gains support by the administration of the engineering and computer science departments. More people will be coming out college with good proficiency in Linux.

    This is the place where people need to focus. Get budding developers to learn on Linux and the OS and open source will soar.

    This news is very comforting amid all of the other articles about M$ taking control of academia, and universities filtering out services. We can only hope that more universities will follow suit.
  • no it's not!
    the GPL says that IF (and only if) you get the binaries, you have a right to get the source and distribute it.
    the GPL does not require them to distribute at all, if they don't want to.
    it's either both or nothing, and in this case it's nothing

    (of course any student could eventually go ahead and distribute further)

    greetings, eMBee.

  • Thought people might like to know this. Carnegie Mellon University [] has its own Linux distribution called Andrew Linux. We originally started out with RH 4.2 but have gradually made changes such that it no longer resembles it. The distro has provision for necessary CMU like Kerberos [], AFS [], etc built it.

    Guess each college will make modifications to tailor Linux to its own needs. A common distro might just be unusable as each college has its own needs and probably a setup unique to itself.
  • I'm an Engineering student at U of M, and I have been running Linux almost since I got here. I works perfectly, and I can run all of the programs available on the University's Sun and HP boxes locally via SSH on my box. Sometimes the connection is a bit sluggish, but it beats spending hours in a lab.

    The nice thing about "CAEN Linux" is that it allows one to mount their AFS space, and therefore eliminates the need for seperate FTP/TELNET sessions. I haven't yet tried this out, but it is something I'm looking into. I think that it's great to have your AFS space a click away anytime you need it, saves a lot of time and headaches.

    A lot of students here at U of M are already running Linux, but I must say that there is almost no support for it from the University. Granted, there are some help pages available on how to set up the Ethernet in Linux and a few other things, but in general the University is prepared for Win/Mac support only. You would think that with the number of UNIX stations, as well as the size of our EECS department, there would be more Linux help available. Maybe one day...

    - Adam
  • I'm really impress that they got their act together and put forward something to challenge the MS invasion of their school.

    But as for the suggestion of a University wide distro, I don't think it would be as easy to implement as a school specific distro. Rather than rallying for an overall solution, why not get some people together at your university and put together a distribution?

    I can see it now. Please click here to download the enlightenment theme for [University]

  • It's not a GPL violation if they provide source when they send it out on campus. A lot of Slashdot readers would be well advised to actually read the GPL. Click Here Now. [] You will not find anywhere that it says you have a personal obligation to give copies to anyone. It's just that if you do distribute a copy, you must also give out source, or provide a way to get it.

    Think about it. How much free software would be written if all free software authors were required to maintain multiple T1s to handle the load, if they happened to write something popular?

    Now, if they try to say that students aren't allowed to redistribute CAEN Linux from a student, or whatever, they're violating the GPL. But they haven't done that. They've just put it on an on-campus-only download site. If you offered to mirror it off-campus, no doubt you could get a copy.

    However - if it's anything like Eos Linux from NCSU, it'll be full of site-specific code that's meaningless outside the UMICH network. So why would you want it?


  • If you were ever in doubt about our impending victory or the futility of efforts to block our path this is some evidence to help change your mind.

    The way you fight a product that beats you on price, quality and hype ( the top 3 factors afecting a buying decision ) is by bribing people in positions to choose for others. I.e. I have some crap furniture to sell at inflated prices. I wouldn't go to individual clients buying for personal use. I would go to a major bureaucrat. Take her for diner and a movie. Maybe even sleep with her if she's interested. Toss a bit of money under the table to boot.

    At the end of the day I will have spent $10,000 to get 2,000,000 worth of business and made a whole bunch of employees angry.

    The problem MS now has is that this won't work against Linux. They don't have the budget to bribe all the decision makers in all the big organizations that could care. Most can't be bribed with personal luxury anyway. You have to ofer them subsidies on some other stuff. Deaply discounted machines to go with the software you are giving for free to make it all "competitive with Linux".

    Those that do go the MS way despite the trend will have to explain the choice and they don't know how.

    Why ? Because it's ok to be wrong when everybody else is wrong in exactly the same way. When it's you alone then you just look incompetent.

    Worse yet Linux is "free" ( beer not speech ) so you can't claim to be "buying one thing instead of the other." After all you can buy Windows and let those who don't want it use Linux right ? No extra expense, right ? ( There is some but it won't matter when you are trying to justify the ban ).
  • I hope this time it will go the right way as it should've happend with UNIX before.

    May I say GPL rules?

  • Hmm. Maybe the config files and custom hacks would be somewhat different, but it sounds like CMU, UMich, MIT, NCSU, and anyone else using "Andrew Linux" or any "Athena Project" offshoots and basing a Linux distribution off of RedHat Linux would have the same basic packages for a given RedHat version.

    The "University Distribution" idea might not be that far off after all.
    ...except when we have to patch the source.

    But maybe the other Universities do the same with some of the packages, and maybe we could get some generic interfaces for that, or not add those into the "base packages"...

    At least, I'm pretty sure the basic Kerberos, AFS, Zephyr stuff isn't that different... depending on what version you're using...

    (I'm pretty sure we're using Krb4 and Krb5 (using Krb4 emulation mode?) in different places, in an attempt not to murder compatibility, I guess)

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2000 @11:22PM (#1292965)
    You know, although I think it's good to give people copies of RedHat and StarOffice, I have to say that the MS college deal has been very useful to me. I've gotten MS Office for $5, Visual Studio for the same, and I've found them to be very good. I for one would like to thank Microsoft for giving colleges this opportunity, and giving away a high-quality office suite and reasonably good development tools to people that need them.

    StarOffice is a good product, but when one has the choice of getting MS Office for almost the same price, I have to say that MS wins hands down. Which is not to say I don't appreciate free software - I regularly use FreeBSD. But I think that "protesting" against a deal that benefits both students and Microsoft may be stretching things a bit.

    Just my $0.02 at 3:30 am. :)


  • Actually Stanford University has had a Linux distribution (RH-based) with some simple changes to allow cooperation with AFS, Kerberos, etc since the beginning of last summer. It works nicely, except for some "turn off every possible service we can get away with" "fixes" to attempt to impose security on people. Grrr... I usually "fix" this after I install - returning my system into my own capable hands :)

    The policies on Linux shifted from no official regognition or support to actually producing a (RH-based) distribution. This actually makes a lot of sense and is one of Linux's prime advantages. Its a *lot* easier for them to make their own distribution than to support the myriad others. What's also great is that they are willing to make requested changes...

    a) They were able to produce a CD/download that installs *preconfigured* for Stanford. This eases support headaches enourmously with tough things like AFS.

    b) This gives them more indirect control over the openness of boxes running on campus (remember - no firewall). This is important because a compromised Unix box could break security on even a routed internal network (such as my dorm).

    Anyway... Not all that exciting, but if you want to check out SULinux []. Actually the distribution should work very well for places like MIT and Cornell too (based on AFS/Kerberos too - and a similar strain). The specific RPMs they customized are available for seperate download.


    I am nothing

  • It appears to me that UNIX multiuser model is very well suited for school / institute / univercity environment, with users having own login, home directory and the programs installed centrally. As it is now, in the polytechnic where i studied ( has about 300 machines running win95. The probelms, as i percieve, are:

    • Students are installing a lot of programs - that litters the hd and plain old just takes up memory, as many of these programs want to sit in systray.
    • When you keep your files on a system drive (which you will want to do, coz chances are you don't get the same computer the next time), there always is a danger that your files will get deleted - there's just no way to protect them.

    There was an attempt to use winnt, but it took too much memory to run so that nothing much was left for programs. Besides, separate logins weren't created which essentially nullified the benefit of having a multiuser os.

    So, ability to have own homedirectory, login, and inability to screw anything up (beyound your ~/, that is) is something which is needed and that linux can provide. Sun ray 1 appears very attractive in such an environment as well.

  • The MIT network (Project Athena), is a Unix network. It evolved from Decs -> Suns/SGIs, to now mainly Suns (the SGIs are still around, but I don't think that they are getting new ones).

    IS has supported Solaris on Sparc/UltraSparc and Irix on SGI. These platforms were supported with the Athena software, which included the OS and a lot of software.

    SIPB (the Student Information Processing Board), the nerds of nerds, made a Linux distribution called Redhat-Athena, which was Redhat 4.2 (later 5.2, I remember it coming out of beta my freshman year, two years ago) with the Athena packages and AFS.

    Because of the popularity of Linux (and it's growing support for the Athena applications), IS now has a version based upon 6.1.

    This makes the supported MITnet systems: Athena/Sun, Athena/SGI, Athena/Linux(x86), MacOS, and Windows NT.

    Windows 95/98 is quasi supported.

    However, I hear rumors that MIT is working to make an Athena/Windows 2000 system that will become supported for home users AND clusters.

    All in all, we're working for a very heterogenous network with support for AFS, Zephyr, etc., on all major platforms.

    IIRC, the Athena stuff, like Zephyr, is available for others to get, so it's port to Win2000 and Linux are good things for all universities (or corps that want to run them).

  • What do you mean by "normal"? RedHat looks "normal" enough for me. It looks like they only "enhanced" it. All they did is add all bugfixes from the so that students don't bother downloading, more secure default setup, so that newbies don't get hit by script kiddies and probably added software used for their engineering claseses, staroffice, etc.
  • I think this is what many major universities that have not done so should do. They can freely modify the OS to taylor it to the University's typcial needs, use it for educational purposes, save money, and avoid the need to be bought out by big companies (not only Microsoft, mind you, but also Sun, HP, etc).

    A good deal of the faculty in the CS department at my school uses Linux. The first day here as a Freshman, our Prof told us to install Linux. A lot more people would have if he would have handed everyone a school-tailored distro.

    "You ever have that feeling where you're not sure if you're dreaming or awake?"

  • UCLALUG ( []) created their own distro, also. It's called Bruin Linux (for obvious reasons), and is basically Redhat + bug fixes, security advisories, and some development tools. It's also got UCLA networking stuff pre-configured. I think this is a great idea for users of big organizations where pre-configuring network stuff or custom apps is really helpful. UCLALUG also uses the distro for their install-fests - they've had a lot of sucess in that, and having everything in one easy ISO makes the install-fest a lot easier. I applaud their efforts, as they should be congratulated for what they've done. (You can find Bruin Linux here [])
  • Sydney University is currently using Linux (I don't know what distribution) as a teaching platform for CS students to learn OO programming. They are using BLUE [] with the compiler and IDE running under X to teach the basic principles. The default setup is using loadlin from a Windows desktop icon, which is a bit disgusting, but it is certainly encouraging use of an alternative language, and not just tying students to $VBC$ version of a compiler.
  • Here at Eastern Kentucky Univeristy [] last semester I tried and tried to get at least one linux box in our (one 24x7) computer lab to no avail. This semester even starting an EKU LUG [] has proven to be quite a task. Maybe one day we'll have our own distro. I just wondered how many other people have had this problem?

  • oooh, i like the sound of that... heh

  • At my College we have my own Linux distribution also.

    It's called Mi Linux. It's heavilly based on Debian Gnu/Linux. But it has some shell scripts that I wrote myself.

    There are some people that use other types of Linux and I try not to frown them too much. After all Linux is about choices and configuration. And plus if people like the suffering that is anything except Mi Linux that's fine with me.

    Mi Linux is becoming more popular among some of the people that I hang out with. They are typically windows users who are impressed by mi (currently 22 days) Linux uptimes. Also it comes with many open source tools like gcc and xemacs which just make sence.

    I think it would be cool to cooperate with other Universities to develope a university version of Linux. However, it would be handy if we could both agree that debian is probably the best place to start from.

    Many of the CS teachers have writeable files in their home directories on the Solaris boxes so security is not a problem at my school. But a lot of other things are probably similar.


  • They deffinatly have the nicest website of the bunch :)
  • <RANT>
    I was setting up a web server this weekend and I found it quite unsettling how much work it takes just to get a standard Red Hat 6.1 install to have decent security. When I think of all the people I know using Red Hat to connect to the labs and use X programs at home, I'm genuinely frightened by what a script-kiddie heaven this school will be. Obviously Red Hat 6.2 will solve some problems with updated packages (at least until the next round of bugs are found), but I'll be willing to bet that the same ol' Red Hat "features" will still be leaving machines wide open.

    And furthermore, are they are EVER going to put /usr/local/bin in PATH and /usr/local/lib in /etc/ Get with the program people. My friend went through about 5 Linux distributions last week, and out of them all he liked Red Hat the best because so much software is compatible with it "out of the box," but man, some of the stuff they do is so brain-dead, it just really irks me.

  • I'm a student at UCSD and consutant for their Academic Computing Services; here are some of my observations/thoughts on the matter, relating specifically to UCSD undergraduate concerns. I'll leave the consideration of other situations to those with the requisite knowledge and experiance. (So don't flame me with "what ifs") :)

    We use Linux (Red Hat specifically, I think) for some low-level operating systems classes, but that's about it. We get many of our engineering/cs related computer through grants, so we have labs full of brand-spanking new Sparc Ultra 10s and zippy Intel (NT) machines. Unless VA or Redhat decides to start giving us computers, this may not change much. Even so, there is a large "Linux following" within our dept and the school in general.

    Remember also, that (grants aside) the purchasing decisions are generally not based upon the wishes of the students (though they do have an impact), but upon the requests of the professors and departments. Most professors are more familiar with Solaris then Linux, so that is what they teach.

    Another consideration is what systems students should have experiance with when they enter the job market. AFAIK, most established cs/engineering companies use either a commercial Unix and it's accompanying development software or Windows NT and Visual C++ for their development workstations. Linux is beginng to make inroads, but is far from entrenched.

    As time goes by, Linux will likely become far more widely used for class purposes because it has some very appealling qualities (low cost of software and hardware, available and modify-able source, use by students at home), but there are quite legitimate factors working against it.

    Of course, I may entirely wrong and we will have new labs brimming with glittering new Linux boxen next year. I sure hope so. :)

    The above are my own opinions and observations and do not represent the views or policies of my employers.

    Any factual and/or logical errors may be blamed on Harry the Drunken Dwarf.

    -- Tom Joynt
  • Kinda sucks being a CS student at Unlv... *sigh* Ok.. so it's better than nothing... but then again.. Unlv isn't know for it's stellar CS program, eh? I don't live on campus... I commute... There are a few folks that go there that also belong to the local lvlug.... The rest of the campus seems dead as far as Linux is concerned. The guys in the Unix labs don't even have a clue about Linux... at least not the ones I spoke with on occasion. I've been using it for 6 years now... I love it... I recommend it when I feel it's appropriate.... I would like to be able to use it on campus computers. I'd like to run into at least ONE other person a week that runs Linux. The campus is dead. (all above statements have a modifier applied. I ama a cave dwelling computer/internet junkie. 3/4ths' of my time is spent on the internet or dinking with hardware I have on hand.)
  • <a href="">The UCLA linux users group</a> has had <a href="">their own distro</a> out for a while now. Members of the UCLA LUG have also pushed the physics and chemistry lab classes to accept student work in the StarOffice format, previously they only accepted word and excel documents. The UCLA distro is preconfigured to connect to the campus LANs and from home on UCLA's dialups. They throw regular install fests and have a mailing list to boot.
  • hmm.. instead of hosting the strong crypto-containing code onsite (like 128 bit netscape), why not utilize Fortify [] instead? Admitted, this has its own problems (not being in direct control over the foreign boxen, etc) but the idea is sound.. I'm not sure about the licensing behind their crypto-using software (besides SSH and netscape) such as kerberos... Regardless, I see this as a leap in the positive direction for umich. I hope they set up some public (for students) labs using this distro as well.
  • Actually, it's kind of wierd. If you look at the GPL [] in section 3 it seems to give you the option of distributing the source with the binaries, or of offering the source to anyone who asks. I'm not sure that this allows them to refuse to give the source to someone. Anyone have clarification?

    Here's the text in question:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or, ...

  • I was head tutor (approximately equivalent to a TA) for an introductory university C programming course. To allow students to work from home, we provided a CD including the Cygwin [] tools and a couple of other free development tools for Windows. It drove me absolutely nuts trying to provide installation support - and, being an Australian university, there weren't enough other staff to help. This was for a simple software package, not an operating system that has to cope with the vagaries of a huge variety of hardware and the joys of repartitioning and reformatting hard disks.

    While any IT student who is serious about their profession should install Linux or a BSD on their computer, without a large committment of support resources it's not practical for a university to provide Linux (or Windows, for that matter) for their students.

    Perhaps American universities have that luxury. If so, maybe I should consider a move :)

    Disclaimer: speaking for me only

  • /usr/local/ is the place for local
    packages that YOU install, i guess thats
    why redhat doesnt' put anything in /usr/local
    or set that in the path

  • Very good news indeed.

    There's a strong argument for getting software in front of students. If someone learns product x at school, once they're employed, they are, in many cases, more likely to recommend any employers purchase that product in the future.

    This is why all of the commercial app companies are always so desperate to get their products installed for use by students. Just look at all the educational pricing deals, etc., offered by these companies.

    I will get really excited (well, as much as one can about software) when I hear of educational institutions removing Windows/Office in favour of, say, KOffice, for use by their non-geek students.

    Ofcourse, with continuing budget squeezes, and the rapid improvement of various pieces of "free" (as in beer) software, it's getting to the point where the universities have to start seriously considering installing Linux and friends to keep the bottom line in the black (or to free up resources for other areas within their organisations).

    It helps that Linux is such a techie orientated product - everyone knows of stories of Linux slipping in the backdoor of organisations because one of the tech staff needed something done cheap, quick, reliably, etc. From some of the other comments posted it appears as though this has been happening at a lot of uni's, and is now reaching some sort of critical mass where it is being offically acknowledged by various university administrations.

    I will be _really_ suprised if we don't see announcements from the big Linux distro companies shortly regarding them offering favourable support deals to educations institutions in return for being their preferred supplier (if they haven't already made such deals).

  • You know, I don't really think it's taken all that long for linux to be adapted at the university level; I mean, it's not really that old an operating system, and these things take time to gain acceptance (unless, of course, your os is the only thing that fits the hardware, i.e. MS/Apple in the 80's). And most college CS departments I've encountered have tended to use either a UNIX flavor or VMS; linux isn't really a quantum leap here. I also wonder how much of this is a result of college linux users graduating and moving into the technical/administrative ranks of universities...
  • They should look at setting up a system like autorpm (which is for registered version Redhat) at the University to make updates for things like security problems. They could put all the files locally to avoid a huge amount of downloads from redhat when the updates come out.

    Only potential problem with this is if someone breaks into the machine with the update archive--instant r00t on all the boxes.
  • USyd uses RedHat. I was given a copy of RH4.1, IIRC, a few years ago after I attended a summer school there. I'd been thinking about installing linux for some time, and so that's what I used. That cd included source, but later distributions got too big to fit source+binary on the one cd.

    Unfortuately, they haven't updated much, and 5.0 + very few errata updates was what was given out last year. No idea what's planned for this year.

    There's actually two bits on the CD - a standard RH with errata updates, and an install batch file which runs a self-extracting zip of a loadlin linux. The whole thing uses umsdos. The first time you boot up it asks you to select your mouse/video card/etc. I think they use the standard RH *config for it now, but it was just a simple shell script in the first versions. The umsdos version is missing things like ppp setup - its basically only meant to be used for windows people to run blue, which is only available for unix. (We have sunos at the uni). It is useful though - there's an icon on the desktop, and when you quit it boots back into windows.

    I don't think its officially supported, but there is a CD with X 3.3.5 and a few other updates available for overnight loan to support newer video cards and so on. There's also a messageboard for cs1 students which fields questions about this sort of thing.

    Blue's a nice teaching language, although IMHO its limiting for people who have programmed before. (The CS courses don't assume any programming knowledge, even for the advanced class)
  • ... offering the source to anyone who asks. I'm not sure that this allows them to refuse to give the source to someone.

    Accompany it with a written offer ... to give any third party ...

    First of all, they can choose to simply supply the source with the binaries, so that clause 3b doesn't hold at all.

    Secondly, the clause explicitly mentions accompany. The GPL does not force anyone to distribute binaries, but if you do, and choose to use this clause, you have to accompany the binary distribution with the offer. Nowhere does it say that you have to give the written offer to anyone who asks.

    Summarizing, if you don't give the binaries, you don't have to give the source.

  • So you think MS are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts?

    Wake up and smell the coffee! They are doing it so the only software you know is MS...when school is done and you have to buy software for real $'s they are betting you will buy MS products.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, you are selling your mindset to MS.


  • <I>I found it quite unsettling how much work it takes just to get a standard Red Hat 6.1 install to have decent security</I>

    This is fixed in 6.2. Have a look at the current beta. We're now disabling all questionable services by default.
    Also, the servers and clients are now separate packages so you don't need to install a finger server just to do a finger

    <I>Are they EVER going to put /usr/local/bin in PATH</I>

    Yes. 6.2. Look at the beta.

    <I>some of the stuff they do is so brain-dead</I>

    So why don't you <a href="">report these bugs</a>? We're always glad to be told about problems so we can fix them.
    Especially when you can even include a fix.
  • Think about what you are saying. Here at the UK [www.uky.ed...ofkentucky] we run something like 1200 lab machines on NT and the cs/engineering dept that runs a variety of *ix/solaris/HP-UX has maybe 100-200 total.

    These machines are what the undergrad population are comfortable with and our computer labs staff are trained to assist with. Most lab assistants can't keep their head out of their ass or hand off of their crotch long enough to learn about Linux/X windows/Star Office, which for $6/hr is reasonable in my book.

    Admittedly, I would love to see a lab of linux machines created here that do not require you to be in the engineering dept. to get accounts, or perhaps offer a VMware/dual-boot solution, but for now NT/Office/Napster/AOL_IM offers more than most users and lab staff can handle.

    These are the teachings of Sadistic Yoda and may be copied freely under the Perl artistic license

  • Other distributions don't put things in /usr/local either, but they still include it in their paths. I think that's a sensible thing to do.
  • <I>Summarizing, if you don't give the binaries, you don't have to give the source.</I>

    Correct. And the select few (in this case, university people) who get the distribution are free to redistribute, so expect second-hand availability soon.
  • damn fag assed troll

  • I think it'd be very interesting to see what could happen if some of the universities got together and created a University Distro - designed to handle their security needs, and a shared resource site for help on running and learning Linux - what do you folks think?
    • It is least likely to happen. This means decreasing the spendings on Iron and Software and most Computer Science Departments are very non-interested(at best). This means decreasing their budget. Forget it, they will shoot anyone that suggests it if they can. Note that the department to do it is the Engineering, not CS.
    • If it will grow large enough in non-CS departments the moment it will try to go Cross-University it will be taken into the CS Dep domain and happily drowned there for same reasons.
    So do not expect it to grow. Unless someone funds it with an amount of money to compensate for the losses of budget due to less software and hardware purchases.
  • I didn't know that such obvious things could be considered "bugs," especially since they've been there for so many prior revisions. Regardless, if everything really is fixed in 6.2 then great; congratulations on providing the best, easiest to manage and (hopefully) most secure Linux out will certainly be installed on this machine (aged 5.2 box which I don't have the patience to upgrade).

    And as long as I have your ear, consider making Sawmill the default window manager. Thats just an opinion of course.

  • Well, this is already happening in some Universities. Mine certainly has
    full Linux support, a pretty large mirror, Linux CDs on sale at the
    Computing Services shop, a semi-official distribution,
    (RedHat+Updates+Bugfixes) and, best of all, a `Thin Linux' distribution
    - a centrally NFS-rooted service whereby I can stick my boot disk in any
    of the University's networked computers and reboot to a fully-featured
    Linux desktop. (And a nod and a wink to the one tireless and modest
    guy who's put the whole lot together.)

    Universities and Linux have been together for a long time. I'm glad this
    is yet another area we're not going to see Microsoft squeezing us out of.
  • Correct. And the select few (in this case, university people) who get the distribution are free to redistribute, so expect second-hand availability soon.

    Indeed. You can decide to whom you distribute, but you cannot restrict them in distributing further.

  • ... but, alas, it seems that many universities would rather kick a "hacker" out of it than support people working on security issues.

    Ahh, anyway - Linux in its best *is* an university thing.
  • Overhere on the Techical University of Eindhoven (The Netherlands) we have a group of students trying to do the same. All students can buy notebooks with a large discount, so pretty much every student (from the same year) has the same type notebook. This allows to completly preconfigure our (Debian based) distribution. Our goal is to make a completly handsoff network install (insert bootdisk, reboot, wait, enter root passwd). As we are using Debian we also consider creating a single configuration packages for those that want some more control over there install. For those that want to do everything by hand we are writing install guides tuned for our notebooks.
    Response was huge. Within in days after telling others about our ideas dozens of people told us they wanted to try it. Interest among students is really big.
  • They are not really bugs, but our bugzilla has an option to report enhancements.
    Just because something has been a certain way forever doesn't mean it's the right way. (And of course we always have the option to just add the comment &quot;we won't do this because it's not a good idea&quot; and close the bug report).

    As for sawmill, we're now including it in the main distrib; the default window manager depends on the desktop environment you choose.
  • I do tend to think about what I'm saying. Maybe I didn't provide enough information, so I'll give you some background.

    The machines I'm talking about *are* CS/Engineering machines. We have a lot of Solaris boxes, we've pretty much gotten rid of the old HP boxes. EOS is the computing system for Engineers here.

    Some of the regular NT machines might end up dual-booting NT and Linux. There are also lots of NT machines for business majors, etc.

    The original reason for the NT machines in the first place *was* so we could have popular applications like Office. Unfortunately, they don't have many apps that people really need, including the standard ones we've been using forever here (WordPerfect, gcc, Zephyrs...), and they aren't reliable. (who cares if I have Office? When the machine dies on me / reboots, the temp dirs are cleared, and I can't get my paper back!)

    So now we also have a Citrix server (four clustered machines, together with 1GB RAM, 2GB Swap, runs Office over the network, but it's *FAST*!) that works just fine if for some reason you want to use Office in Linux, and WordPerfect / StarOffice / Pico / whatever just isn't enough for you. :)

    Also, they might have been considering a VMware solution for the NT machines as well--I hope not. A lot of this is just rumor. And I'm perfectly happy with Linux/Citrix/Napster/Everybuddy... I'm not saying everybody should do that, it's just nice to have a choice.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Captain Zion ( 33522 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @02:01AM (#1293015)
    Humm... an University distro. iI probably has +2 bonus in research and -2 in probe (no prob, it's GPL anyway), gives a free network node in every site (great!), one free technology at installation time, extra drone for every four users (hmm, not good), and *may not use Fundamentalist policies* so no jihad penguins! (leave them for the Believers distro).

    OTOH a Morgan distro would be good for those who wanto to IPO, and a Hive distro would be good for security (since it already comes with a Perimeter Defense).

  • While any IT student who is serious about their profession should install Linux or a BSD on their computer, without a large committment of support resources it's not practical for a university to provide Linux (or Windows, for that matter) for their students.

    That's just not correct. All the support students need is freely available on the web, via IRC. Go to any irc network and join the #linux channel. Or #linuxnewbie or whatever. You only need ONE student connected to irc, via Linux, Windows, Solaris or whatever, and all the other students can get enough support to get their own machines up and connected.

    The way I got my Linux configured, starting as a complete newbie, was by rebooting to Windows, going on efnet, asking stupid questions about PPP, applications availability, configuration, whatever, then rebooting to Linux and trying it.

    Once you get your Linux connected to irc, things start moving faster - you don't have to reboot any more.

    Linux just doesn't require the same effort to support as Windows, because there's a whole community out there ready and willing to provide the needed support for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Actually it's not quite the same.
    What's the last time you downloaded a free update from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000? If you need to update to Red Hat Linux 6.2, just go to We don't force anyone to buy anything.

    Also, the issue is definitely not a bug. It's a questionable preconfiguration (enabling everything by default). How would you want to "fix" older versions? Re-Release 5.2 with a different installer?
    For real problems (bind rootshell exploit), Red Hat has issued updated RPMs for versions down to 4.2.

    As for bug reporting, nobody (including both Red Hat and Microsoft) can fix bugs/add changes they aren't aware of. Reporting a bug is always a good idea.
    The difference here is that, last time I checked, Microsoft didn't even have the beginnings of a bug reporting system. That's part of why they never get some trivial bugs fixed.
    Most Linux distributors do have a working bug reporting system - and most bugs reported there WILL get fixed (or at least you'll get the reasons why they won't be fixed).

    I wouldn't condemn Microsoft for telling their users to report bugs (if they had a bug tracking system) - actually that would be a good idea.
  • original reason for the NT machines in the first place ...and they aren't reliable

    Okay. If you guys are running NT machines with simple applications that don't change, and you're getting serious reboot and crash problems, then you have some very incompetent NT people. Myself- I run linux at home and introduced it into the network at work. But we are still mostly NT, and there's not been a BSOD since I mis-installed NT for the first time. And our few crashes are inevitably application crashes, not OS crashes. For the purposes you guys have, NT should be plenty reliable. Hire some knowledgable NT people.

    When the machine dies on me / reboots, the temp dirs are cleared, and I can't get my paper back!)

    Have you considered using AutoSave? Just set it to save every minute if you're that worried. Sorry, but this is such a lame criticism. NT is not the OS one would prefer, but you're making it sound like W95.

  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @02:53AM (#1293026)
    StarOffice is a good product, but when one has the choice of getting MS Office for almost the same price, I have to say that MS wins hands down.

    If you're not running Windows, copies of MS Office, Visual Studio, etc. are useful mainly as coffee coasters. The same $5 will get you a 5 complete Redhat or Mandrake CD's, 4 to pass on to your friends, and you can get Staroffice or Corel Wordperfect for free. Along with about 3,000 other programs. Or maybe 5,000, is anybody keeping count?

    Which is not to say I don't appreciate free software - I regularly use FreeBSD. But I think that "protesting" against a deal that benefits both students and Microsoft may be stretching things a bit.

    Actually, the deal hurts students because it gets them used to using MS's proprietary file formats, something that will cause them a lot of trouble later in life when they try to get connected with the rest of the world. My advice to students is to try to stick to HTML instead of MS-proprietary-format as much as you can - it's infinitely better for sending by email (documents are a fraction of the size and everybody can read them), you can post it directly on web sites, everybody can read it, etc. etc.

    Postscript format is much better than MS word format - it's much more stable, can be read on more platforms, and produces good camera-ready copy. Postscript documents can be distributed as .pdf (use ps2pdf) and then Windows users will be able to read them using Adobe Acrobat.

    Use MS file formats only as a last resort when you have to give something to someone who can only read MS files, and even then you should stick to Word 6 format if you don't want to have problems. Keep in mind that office suite file formats will all be changing to XML soon, even Microsoft's.

    Abiword already uses XML as its file format. MS file formats are obsolescent: avoid.
  • This is all true, and here's the links for MIT's linux-athena [] , Pismere [] ('windows-athena') and WinZephyr [].


  • NCSU has excellent NT people. However, there is nothing that stops anyone from going into a lab and becoming frustrated with a logon sequence or spawning an application in NT (or any OS for that matter) and either hitting the pretty power button or yanking out the power cord. The only systems that would be safe in this scenario are the HP's since they can powerdown gracefully. Some Dell precision workstations can do this for NT but you can get around it by taking out the power cord.

    Again, the NT boxes and Unix boxes are used by almost everyone at the Univ. The stabilty of the NT boxes would be higher if there was no application that leaked memory perhaps.

    Also, keep in mind that constant login and logout and clearing of temporary drive space makes NT performance lower over time. Tuning NT means getting it set up one way then leaving it alone and monitoring it. There is a vastly huge difference between a server and a workstation environment. Workstations take constant uncotrollable patterns of use/abuse. Servers run services that are known, constant, and are affected by load and have to manage resource availability.

    Proper NT installation only accounts for initial use after bringing the machine on the network. Why? Because there are upgrades to applications... there are changes to profiles... modifications to security models... gosh forbid service packs... logging to non ideal locations like c:\winnt\system32 by default with no easy work around for many ill written applications that of course provide no source code to allow for conformity to a sysadmin's standards...

    The only proper way I have ever seen NT run in a high churn environment is a stable build that is maintained and kiosk like features enabled only... i.e. you can only access a browser.

    I am the first to say there are people that talk trash about NT installations without merit... however, in this case -- a high churn user environment -- there is simply no way to keep NT boxes stable. They will be taken offline eventually and reinstalled. Also, how many uni's do you know that can afford things like TME10 or CA unicenter to take a totalitarian control over the desktop? Isn't it easier to hire $4.50 an hour ops that can recognize NT at a distance of 30 yards?

    In short... NT workstation is better than Win95/98 by a long shot... however, don't make it appear as though some "knowledgeable NT people" will ever provide the stability and avaliablility of a Linux environment in a high churn university setting.

    If someone can post numbers or papers that are relevant I will retract my comments.

    Jay []

  • "Mond Linux is designed specifically for PCs attached to the University of Cambridge's PWF networks." (Unix Support home page, University Computing Service)

    It's a centrally-administerable distribution. Each workstation has a UMSDOS root (which is checksummed on boot, for security) but gets most other stuff of a central server. This means the whole thing can be upgraded without having any access to the workstations, which is important because workstations may be geographically far apart, and since most of the time they run NT it wouldn't be possible for root to log in and make changes.
  • Do you think churches give away free bibles out of the goodness of their heats?
    I'm assuming you mean hearts, but...

    Yes, we do. Churches aren't in it for the money, I can tell you, as the son of a minister. We're doing what we do because we believe it's right, and part of that involves trying to get new believers - not so we can drain them of their money but so we can help them. You may not think we're helping, but we do.

    Some are inevitably bad eggs, but most are really doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.


  • Postscript format is much better than MS word format - it's much more stable, can be read on more platforms, and produces good camera-ready copy. Postscript documents can be distributed as .pdf (use ps2pdf) and then Windows users will be able to read them using Adobe Acrobat.
    As a Windows user, no.

    Postscript documents aren't that easy to create and view terribly. Windows Ghostscript is a rather unfriendly package that produces extremely poor output. And I've tried ps2pdf when I've wanted to distribute - it didn't work.

    If you want to send stuff like I needed to - simple layed out pages, basically - then PS is usable. But if you just want to send a report, it's crazy.

    My suggestion? RTF. I'm an ex-Amiga user and it was far and away the easiest way to move formatted text around.


  • When I went through college (Admittedly, over a decade ago now) out of a group of about 150 people who who I was rubbing shoulders with on a regular basis, myself and 2 others were really into computers. Of the rest, many had never even touched a computer before and were going into the degree program because of the sky-high salaries commanded in the IT sector.

    While it's been quite a few years since then, I've found the ratio to be about the same -- around 2 to 5 percent of the people I've worked with on a regular basis are really into computers. To the rest it's just a high paying job that they're not very good at. Encouraging these people to go into the field is doing everyone a disservice, so IMO giving them these development suites that do all the hard work for you is not in the best interests of the industry. Just give everyone Linux and reroute your support number to the career counceler.

  • by Hemos ( 2 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @04:50AM (#1293052) Homepage Journal
    I think that one of the most valuable places for Linux to continue to grow is the academic setting. Not in terms of profesors, but in terms of students using it - beyond the CS/Eng. departments. With distributions like the U-M of one, and it sounds like other unis are doing it as well, we can make our case clear to the general population. Linux is more stable, faster, and does everything that you need. With easy-to-setup packages for students, students don't have to muck with areas they don't know about, schools can admin networks more easily. The older generation is pretty set in with Windows - let's co-opt the younger entirely.

  • Regarding School and Linux, if I am not wrong, back in the old days when Linux was still _very_ young, there was a university in Florida which roll their own version of Linux.

    Let me first state that my memory _may_ be incorrect, but in the remote possibility that I am right, can anyone tell me what has happened to that Florida university's version of Linux?

    In the same School and Linux vein, there is a group of people actively developing and grouping GPLed school-related softwares that primarily run on Linux, their location is at

    If you are interested in academia and Linux, please check them out !

  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Wednesday February 09, 2000 @05:05AM (#1293059) Homepage

    We're working on just this at Boston University []. Our original plan, as reflected on the BU Linux web site [] was to base our distro on Bastille Linux [] -- that was back when Bastille was in super-early development and was planned as an actual distribution. They've gone the route of a hardening script, something we'd like to avoid. (We'd like all of our changes to be to RPMs, rather than pasted on afterward, for better system upgradability and managability.)

    So, we're starting work on a distro of our own, integrating ideas from Bastille with Red Hat, and adding things we need like Kerberos IV, AFS (Arla, probably), Amanda, etc. If this sounds like what you're doing, please contact me at [mailto]. It seems worthwhile to at least share ideas, even if we don't end up combining our work.


  • In the field I'm currently in (advertising), it's hard to convince people that Microsoft Word is not what was used to write the ten commandments, and that when the ancient Greeks did mathematics, they didn't store the results in an Excel file.

    It may seem tangential to the larger issue of free/Free software, but the thing that most excites me about campus-linux distribs (or as the case may be, a set of patches which to most students would seem like the same thing, but I don't need any "technical error" flames;) ) is the way they poke users in the eye with the fact that files and file compatibility are just as important as individual applications they might use to manipulate those files.

    It seems I spent a total of many hours as an undergraduate in those horrible classes that require "groupwork" trying to convince the others in my group of the benefit of using plain text or other low-level formats for exchanging information. Usual response: blank stares, slack jaws, and "... but don't you have Word?" And yes -- some of that time I did (the dreaded cheap campus software giveaways), but I still thought it was a bad idea.

    If it's accepted that people will be using different OSes as it suits their needs, the advantages of file agnosticism should become better understood.

    just thoughts,


  • MIT already has its own version of linux, based on Redhat. MIT's network is called Athena, and a student group called SIPB ported the essential Athena programs to Linux and created Linux/Athena a few years ago. Recently, MIT I/S created its own port of the latest version of Athena (8.3) on top of Redhat 6.1, calling it Layered Linux/Athena.

    But the really cool thing is that MIT has started putting Linux machines in the Athena clusters to complement the SGI O2/Indy and Sun sparc/Ultrasparc workstations that are already there.

    Very cool indeed.

  • You aren't paying $5. Student fees/computer fees/tuition/and maybe even tax dollars pay for the university wide liscence. Your $5 only lets you get a copy for your personal use. It's the same at my university. If your machine is on the network you can install and use any of the software that's in the computer labs. You just have to run the keyclient. If you're not on the network you can get a CD for a small fee. But we pay $100 a semester in computer fees and even more in other student fees. They (and other software companies) do offer eductional discounts on software purchased through the university book store, but nothing is $5.
  • Will we see any "I didn't get MS Office, but $80 of my tuition went to subsidize this guy's copy" posts in response?

    It's a beautiful setup for Microsoft. Lower the apparant price, and you reduce people's incentive not to buy MS software. But you've got a deal with the school, so you get paid for all that software anyway. Everybody wins, except for those people who still don't buy MS products.
  • Scientologists I know very little about but I don't think that many people would refer to them as Christians or Dianetics as The Bible. What they want to get out of it I'm not sure, though I'm pretty sure I heard L. Ron Hubbard say that starting a religion was the best way to make a fortune...

    Anyway, that's not all that relevant. I wasn't referring to them.

  • I'm sorry you think that, but I wouldn't regard my faith as either unreasoned or unquestioning. It's the result of actually looking into this sort of thing. I was moaning at exactly the attitude you seem to be complaining about, if you look again.

    The normal thing I'd say to this is fairly simple, though - who cares whether I'm right or not? It'd be nice if I am (and I think I am), but it makes me happier now. So surely it's a good thing?

  • You clearly haven't put much effort into getting postscript to work with your windows installation. the version of ps2pdf that comes with Mandrake works just fine...

    Wow, that's helpful.

    Believe me, I pored over all the documentation I could find, played with all relevant documented flags and tried them several times. I found no way to make the version of ps2pdf that came with Ghostscript work. Look at what you typed, though. Why should the Windows version automatically be fine just because the Mandrake version was? Doesn't follow at all.

    You have microsoft to thank for trying to keep postscript off of Windows machines... but hey, you get MS word files, whoopee!

    Oh come off it, that's just paranoid, What reason do they have to break a utility like that - and what mechanism do they have for keeping it broken?

    And no, I don't get Word files. I don't like Office, so I don't use it. I could if I wanted - I'm a student so can get it very cheap. But I don't.

    I can make a reasonable stab at loading anything up to Word 7 files via WordPad or WordPro - but my memory says that WordPerfect can do that, while I'm pretty sure Star Office could in the review I saw recently. So I'm no further down the road than you, unless I choose to buy some additional software purely for that feature. Sure, you haven't got the software available to you on Linux, but what percentage of Linux users don't have any version of Windows on their machine and never did? Some, but not many I'd guess.


  • Scientologists don't give away books, they sell you them.
  • from any good drug dealer :) then you come back, and back . . .

    There's lots of companies that give it away to college students. The first I remember was MS in the late 80's, with an "academic" version of word--the regular disk for about $30, but no documentation. At that stage it wasn't to hook you, but because they figured you'd steal it anyway.

    Look at apple's distribution of computers to schools. It's not due to their concerns about education.

    THe real biggie is Lexis & WesLaw at law schools--get you hooked for free, and then it's a couple of hundred an hour in the real world after law school . . .
  • "Do you think the networks make television free out of the goodness of their hearts?"

    "Do you think churches give away free bibles out of the goodness of their heats?"

    TANSTAAFL. There's always a reason for giving away something for "free". Networks make television "free" for indirect profit (revenue comes from advertisers). They don't sugarcoat it. Churches give away bibles as a vehicle for memetic infection. They don't sugarcoat it either.

    Open Source software is also free for reasons. Part of the reason is memetic infection, part of it is for indirect profit (see Red Hat), and part of it is for personal glory. There are probably other reasons too.

    Look at Microsoft is doing. Can you honestly say there's no motive of some kind there? Of course there is. The only questions are:

    • Can you identify what their motive is?
    • Is it something that you approve of?
    • Are you being manipulated against your own interests?
    If you can't answer those questions, then you better watch your back, before assuming that it's just out of the goodness of their hearts.
  • Yet Another Linux Distro. sigh...

    what's the point? there are already too many, which cause a diffusion in the field, blurring the diff between systems so that you can't just sit down on a 'linux box' and know which files are where, what to poke when things need doing, etc.

    I've been a longtime linux user (since the 1.1 kernel days) and I have to say, all this distro scattering is enough to drive me to FreeBSD. I'm serious - they (*bsd) have it right - one distro, a clean pkg system and a clean ports system. like irix 'inst' but done right ;-)

    so what was so lacking in redhat or debian (the 2 primary US-based distros) that they had to roll their own? pride? ok - I understand that. I see the fun in rolling your own. but not at the university level. is it because they wanted to be neutral between distros, not showing favoritism? well that argument went to hell when they chose M$ and stood that party line (exclusively) for quite a while.

    if they need local customizations, have them create tarballs or rpm files (or deb files, etc) that layer their own localizations on top of an already established distro. that would suit their needs just fine. but when you fork from a mainline, you have support costs, separate bugfixes and security checks to track; in short, its unjustified overhead - just for ego's sake.


  • any school who is afraid of unix should not be attended. (harsh words, but this is the educational system - not a bunch of corp IS guys who are afraid of their own shaddow).

    so they let solaris on the scene, eh? and only if you give them root? screw that - no way I'd hand over root to some huge body of folks that really don't have my best interests at heart.

    control can be gained in a lot of ways. my preference would be at the network level. if you are found to run your system incorrectly (cluelessly) and folks break in and screw the univ., then I can see them partitioning your repeater/switch port and cutting you off. that's fair and makes sense. but other than a port scan (from the OUTSIDE of the box) for a security test, I see NO NEED to hand over root access to them. that's insanity.

    I'd probably run a firewall and somehow make it seem that it was running 'doze only - but behind that NAT box, I'd run some form of unix. and only I'd have root control.


  • Sorry. Guess I underestimated how non-standard your setup is, and more significantly, how destructive your users are (as another response pointed out). Yikes. I'm blessed with intelligent users.
  • I work for the Engineering computing department at my school and we have mostly Sun UNIX workstations, but the labs are crowded and it would be kinda cool if more people used Linux in their dorm room and ssh'ed into the labs..

    Old PCs make great X Terminals in a pinch. This how it was up @school when we hit a shortage of terminals for our various Sun boxes, and we needed access for projects. They set up XDM to allow login to some of the servers and workstations. You couldn't actually login locally to the machine.


  • Here at Cornell we use Kerberos for authentication for virtually every network service. We've haven't really ever been able to maintain *nix support as well as Windows and Mac, which the majority of users have. We've sort of left the Linux bunch out in the dark because there are only kludgy Kerberos implementations for *nix. It would be great if there was an effort to create a standard University distro, catering to the more idiosynchratic university needs. - the Java Mozilla []
  • That's just not correct. All the support students need is freely available on the web, via IRC. Go to any irc network and join the #linux channel. Or #linuxnewbie or whatever. You only need ONE student connected to irc, via Linux, Windows, Solaris or whatever, and all the other students can get enough support to get their own machines up and connected.

    I'm going to have to disagree, for several reasons:

    • If you provide a resource for students, they expect you (with some justification) to support their use of it - particularly if you make it a course requirement.
    • You grossly underestimate the enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and dare I say it competence of the average first-year student. Particularly in introductory courses, you get a whole bunch of mostly engineering majors who are required to do the subject, don't like or understand computers, and whose goal is to scrape through with the absolute minimum effort. Letting these people loose with an operating system is just asking for trouble.
    • While students living in dorms help each other, there are many first-year students in Australian universities that continue to live at home with their parents, or live in share houses around campus with people who may not be doing the same course. Therefore, many students do not know many people in their course, and some do not know anyone in their course! Their only contact is the tutor (ie me)
    • Unix is hard for some people to grasp. Why these people are doing CS I have no idea, but it means that the silly question factor is *extremely* high.

    While integrating Linux (and students running Linux boxen) into CS courses is, IMHO, a very good idea, it needs to be thought about carefully, and properly resourced. An ad-hoc approach, handing out a few RedHat CD's without any backup, just won't work.

  • Everybody wins, except for those people who still don't buy MS products.

    No, the people who buy MS products don't even win. Many of them, because they get so locked onto Microsoft, will never have the power and efficiency that other operating systems provide. Most of those people will become especially dependent on the mouse (most people I know who use shortcut keys in Windows come from a UNIX background).
  • Last I checked, Andrew Linux didn't work _in_ CMU either. It gave me horrible errors about not finding an X server, which you had to manually configure. This was back when it was RH4.2-based, though -- I think they're up to RH6.0 now.
  • If I could write articles with decent formatting & dynamic supra and infra references in the footnotes & the occassional graphic in anything except MSWord, I would never boot-crash-reboot Win95

    Have you tried Wordperfect 8? It works fine - it's the standard for the legal industry, for one thing. It's fully capable of handling large, complex documents, and it's cross-platform.

    Abiword is coming along fine - it's useable now, in version 0.7.8 for simple documents (actually, it's a real pleasure to use) and by the time it gets to verions 1.0 it will be a killer app.
  • This is just crazy. Ghostscript has been around for a long time and there isn't a competing Microsoft product, so that one would look a little unlikely. Caldera's issue (well, Digital Research's issue if you go back to who had the problem rather than the current owner) was that they were selling a competing OS which looked rather better and was rather easier to squash with Windows than a silly little utility like this.

    The real killer, though, has to be ps2pdf itself - you get at it via the command line. Not via Windows at all.

    Sorry, but this is absolute paranoid rubbish. And, as for calling me a Microserf, anyone who knows me would be able to tell you I'm a long-term Amiga user who only reluctantly made the move in November '98. I'm also heavily involved in KOSH.

    My love for Microsoft is quite possibly less than yours - but I don't tend to accuse them of something without a mechanism or motive for the offence. They have neither here and it looks rather strongly like it's simply a duff copy of Ghostscript.

  • Well, ok...but we also use sidecar extensively which is a deamon that listens for callbacks on port on the client and prompts the user for their Kerberos passwd through the kerb libs. We have sidecar implemented pretty well on Windows and the Mac, but not so well, or not at all in *nix. I don't doubt that there are fine Kerberos packages out there, but integration is the problem. How exactly do we "prompt" a user at the command line, etc. - the Java Mozilla []

Loose bits sink chips.