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OSS Use Increasing in UK Education Institutions 118

zrq writes "OSS Watch has recently concluded its 2006 survey of UK Higher Education and Further Education institutions. From the report conclusion: A positive picture of the use of OSS (Open Source Software) emerges in both HEs (Higher Education institutions) and FEs (Further Education institutions). Although there are considerable differences between the two types of institutions, in general OSS is used more often than in 2003 and institutions have higher levels of skills and experience of OSS compared to 2003. This survey shows that it is likely that, in the future, use of OSS will continue and expand alongside the use of PS (Proprietary Software)."
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OSS Use Increasing in UK Education Institutions

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  • Acronyms... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doches ( 761288 ) <Doches@g m a i l . c om> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:46PM (#15843332)

    Why use the acronyms if you're just going to waste further space by defining them? Either use the acronyms, or don't.

    Or, for a change, define them correctly, putting the redundant acronym (RA) after the definition so we can read the summary without those ridiculous stumbling blocks.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:48PM (#15843341)
      TA (The Article) GO (goes on) to DNT (define new terms) that might be used for HE purposes, which TCL (the common layman) JWFU (just wont understand).
    • Re:Acronyms... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln ( 21727 )
      The article does it because it's common to define acronyms in such a way when you plan on using them extensively. The summary does it for no particular reason.

    • > Why use the acronyms if you're just going to waste further space by defining them?

      Or better, use the acronym and make it a link to definition. Use the Web for the original purpose. Or better, use some of the new junk to a good purpose and make acronym do a little yellow popup when the mouse hovers over them.
    • Re:Acronyms... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      For those who need an explanation...

      Futher Education (FE) = Last two years of High School (Ages 16-18, give or take), that can be taken at High Schools or at certain specialised colleges. Whilst High School is compulsory to 16 here, you are free to leave after this.
      Higher Education (HE) = A mish-mash of Universities, Vocational Degrees, Art Courses and god knows what else. Basically them years after you and got an got yourself edumicated at High School, but whilst you can still call yourself a student on ta
      • Actually, if you stay at school when you're 16-18, that would be counted as secondary education. If you went somewhere else and studied for a BTEC or NVQ or that kind of thing, then that would be further education I think.
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:03PM (#15843409)
    as the economy tanks and first world countries slip into the second world, mass education'll have to cut costs somehow.
    • Ironically it is mass education that's at the front line of getting us there; and the answer is not raising the national education budget by a factor of ten to double the size of the administration who raise the bullshit level by a factor of 100.

      KFG
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:04PM (#15843415)
    I could be wrong, but I find that Europeans are more pragmatic than we Americans. Heck they have the following items as better than what we can offer:

    • Better and more capable cell phones,

    • Better television experience,

    • Are way ahead when it comes to stanards, (think about their take on IE and ODF)

    • Seem to be ahead in auto technology,

    • Are way ahead in meeting the Kyoto Protocol goals,

    • Seem to get results when it comes to diplomacy arround the world

    • They were the first to propose and even act on eliminating `third world debt'

    • And now comes this OSS issue. Once again, these Europeans appear to be a bit ahead.

    But I could be wrong...though I firmly believe all the above points are correct.

    • Title pretty much sums up the topic. Just seems like America hasn't done anything exciting in the last decade, unless you count beating your chest about how exciting all the stuff you're doing is.
      • Other than Apple computer and a few medical advances that are only available to the supper rich, I'd say, yep. The environment is shit, millions have neither health nor even decent shelter, and kids are painfully ignorant of even basic history, science, literature, art, etc. While we may have few technical accomplishments under our belt we have peaked as a culture or a decent place to live for all but the upper 10% of the "middle" class.
        • Thanks for replying to a sincere post that was for some reason modded flamebait. I cite as the "cause" of our general cultural slide a rampant cynicism, an essentially amoral theory that states that anything one wants to do to "get ahead" (esp. in business) is acceptable. The "cause" of this cynicism is another question...
          • Cynicism is heavily promoted by the corporate media especially Fox, which makes sense from their standpoint, after all if people are made to feel helpless and complacent they won't agitate for higher wages, women's rights, the environment, net neutrality, an end to outsourcing, or other pesky things our corporate elite and it's handmaiden the government can't be bothered to deal with.
            • Meh. Fox is evil, etc. but I'm looking for subtler and more complex causes. This country used to have ideals, and used to attract the most brilliant minds from all over the world who values those ideals. Now it seems like "Only one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted!" (love Glengarry). In fairness, FOX found an unserved market (right-leaning media-haters) and is probably just trying to cash in on them. Other big media sensationalize and simplify everything, in order to
              • I think in some ways it IS is simple as Fox and Rush Limbaugh. After all how do you think people were motivated to change what used to be a small government Republican party that while I didn't always agree with it, I at least respected, into a right wing authoritarian killing machine that justifies torture and pre-emptive war? Simple propaganda, they repeated the same message over and over again, the classic big lie technique, and before you know it society CHANGED, and the Republicans were the one "capi
                • Wow, you clearly have a couple dozen axes to grind. For what it's worth, I liked Manufacturing Consent quite a bit, and in fact I probably agree with a good deal of what you say. But your style of discussion is impossible; you recite a litany of crimes perpetrated by a cast of rightwing villains in lieu of straightforward talking about what is happening. So I gotta let you roll.
                  • "Couple dozen," why that's just the ax to grind collection in the forier, my ax to grind collection stretches to the horizon and disapears into the twilight, and that's just the first dozen miles of a hundreds of miles long collection of axes to grind. Surely the sheer number of crimes committed by U.S. based multinational corporations, and our criminal government that has invaded or overthrown another countries government EVERY year since WWII if printed on very thin paper would stretch to the moon and be
                    • Yeah, see. I'm not saying you're wrong, just nonresponsive. This 15-page account of CIA abuses has nothing to do with the topic at hand. You're just talking about what you want to talk about. Do your friends consider you a good listener?
                    • You mocked me for having "axs to grind" and I pointed out using some actual evidence EXACTLY why that's the case.
    • by Zackbass ( 457384 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @08:15PM (#15843934)
      # And now comes this OSS issue. Once again, these Europeans appear to be a bit ahead.


      And here I thought that my school [mit.edu] was firmly planted in the United States. I mean it's not like we've had a whole lot to do with this OSS thing, but we've been at it for a pretty long time.
    • Are way ahead in meeting the Kyoto Protocol goals

      I thought many of them bought contamination credits (whatever they're called)
    • Eh? Where does it compare OSS penetration in Europe and the US? Did you even read the article. I'm sorry but your post was karma whoring, nothing more.
    • Why not move to Europe? Just for a year of two.

      I mean politicians are ignorant anywhere. And what policymakers do is often too conservative but civil society really makes inroads. The EU institutioons will soon standardise on ODF, just a matter of time. One or two EU Commissioners even run a weblog [europa.eu]. Microsoft lobbying alienates policians here as does Us foreign policy.

      The United States are strong in Social Software, the next big thing. Economic growth still looks good. And despite agrobusiness they are an i
    • From this page: http://www.skills-1st.co.uk/papers/afindlay.html [skills-1st.co.uk]

      I found this an interesting examination of the subject:
      "'Planning for an open-source entrant in the PKI interoperability trials' - the result of a feasibility study undertaken in May 2001. Details components that could be used to build an open-source entrant for the trials being conducted by CESG for the Office of the E-Envoy. The focus is on PKI functions to support signed and/or encrypted e-mail."

      The paper is available in HTML and PDF:
      http:// [skills-1st.co.uk]
    • Some of your points are possibly accurate, but as a Brit I do have to question the statement -
      "[Europeans] Seem to get results when it comes to diplomacy arround the world"
      We may be more keen to try diplomacy, but I am not entirely sure we 'get results' any more than the US in its attempts.
    • First, I am a Brit through and through. Now:

      Better and more capable cell phones

      What?! Motorola sells the same shit both sides of the Atlantic!

      Better television experience

      Maybe on UK terrestrial, but with ITV and BBC competing in the Reality market, any mark of quality is gradually fading.

      Are way ahead when it comes to stanards (think about their take on IE and ODF)

      Then again, here in the UK we'll do as anyone tells us.

      Seem to be ahead in auto technology

      Aesthetically, there's no beating a European mo

      • Seem to get results when it comes to diplomacy arround the world
        I agree -- there's a lot to be said for keeping out of other people's business. If only the jug-eared bastard currently in charge of the UK would do this and sort out his own rapidly deteriorating back yard.


        No, no, no. I hope and pray he keeps in other people's business, for a couple more years. Then he won't be able to fuck up this country anymore with things like ID cards, draconian laws against his idea of 'antisocial behaviour', ever-inc
        • Then we can get a slightly less-terrible leader in.
          I hear Saddam Hussain's got a lot of free time on his hands these days.
        • I have to agree, the distraction in the Middle East may yet save Britain from becoming a police state. It's almost as if Israel heard our plees for a distraction and started to make one causing Blair to hold off in the latest round of how much can I set Britain back into the dark ages. Hopefully it will end for Blair to push his nonsense and he will get a crushing defeat in the commons* and get his arse royally handed to him leading he who must steal our money (Gordon Brown) to think very carefully about NL
      • Are way ahead in meeting the Kyoto Protocol goals
        Which may never been enough anyway.
        WOW finaly an honest man, personally I don't buy the CO2 is destorying the enviroment thing, but if I'm wrong and it really is happening; then all Koyoto is doing is allowing the few who reach it's goals to feel self-rightious while destorying the world.
    • # Are way ahead when it comes to stanards, (think about their take on IE and ODF)

      Not the UK, which is consistently much lower than even the US, mainly due to Blair sucking up to Gates as much as Bush. The BBC's love for microsoft doesn't do any favours either.

      http://www.xitimonitor.com/etudes/equipement13.asp ?xtor=6 [xitimonitor.com]
    • Maybe because europeans tend to publicize global choices when american let people and institutions sort things out for themselves, wich they may do with an lesser, equal or greater efficiency. Not saying that its true for erverything, but it may add to that feeling.
    • 1. Evidence? You might be right, but we sure have a lot of cell phones. 2. I was under the impression that American television was very popular in Europe. And we have some very good shows (Lost, 24, The Office [which I understand is based off a british show]). But I wouldn't be all that surprised, with all of these ridiculous reality tv shows. 3. What take on IE and ODF? Provide some facts. 4. Sort of. I'll admit there has been something of a lack of inspiration is American cars. We've still got some goo
  • by hguorbray ( 967940 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:11PM (#15843436)
    IMHO any state school that isn't using Linux and OpenOffice at least for general purpose computing (ie. web browsing, paper writing, etc) is wasting the taxpayer's money. Properly locked down Linux machines should be virtually bulletproof.

    Likewise, Java dev and Oracle, MySQL and PHP can all be done on Linux, as well as some school infrastructure (forums, webpages, etc)

    The only place that Windows should be needed is for windows-based multimedia and graphics applications like Dreamweaver, Flash, AutoCAD, Automedia, Digidesign, etc

    And many of those are also available on the Mac.

    Other than that it seem like only Powerpoint, VBA, VisualStudio and SQL Server as well as Windows Admin classes (Active Directory, etc) would really require Windows machines or Applications.

    -What's the speed of dark?
    • MHO any state school that isn't using Linux and OpenOffice at least for general purpose computing (ie. web browsing, paper writing, etc) is wasting the taxpayer's money.

      You may well be correct, but consider this: when I asked one of the computer science lecturers at the univestity that my daughter attends about their use of OSS vs. MS software, the reply was that they get MS software free or almost free. So the difference in cost is purely related to admin costs, which are more difficult to assess. PHBs a

      • by Anonymous Coward
        You're quite right about the MS software costs. And it's not just the PHBs - it's the students too. Having Visual Studio/SQL Server/etc on the resume is perceived as much more valuable than any OSS equivalent. If you try and present OSS, you'll hear 'that's nice, but when are we going to do '. Very few students are interested in ideology ; most of them just want a good job and $$$ at the end of it.
        • Yeah, but don't forget Eclipse for Java, PHP, perl and other non Windows dev tools -sure there's a little lockin if you are programming for .NET

          There is no commercial equivalent for Eclipse -it is the current defacto standard -same for the others I mentioned and MySQL, etc

          and even if they're not interested in ideology they probably still understand that windows products are fragmented, incompatible and often buggy, as well as expensive -even $150 is a lot for a student to pay for an OS or an Office Suite.

          -W
      • "So the difference in cost is purely related to admin costs,"

        Not so. I just designed and am about to install a system in a school using GNU/Linux. I used these features to reduce capital costs and future costs:

        • thin client/server (no licence fees, no server CALs, fewer fans and hard drives)
        • some custom made thin clients seating six (Google for multi-seat X)
        • gigabit/s network to custom clients, so less cabling costs
        • HA (high availability cluster) and multiple terminal servers

        Basically, the money saved on

    • MHO any state school that isn't using Linux and OpenOffice at least for general purpose computing (ie. web browsing, paper writing, etc) is wasting the taxpayer's money

      Well, we aren't allowed to browse the internet* and we have to write assignments at home, so...

      *This started when they put new machines with properly locked down win2000. Before that we could browse the web and even see the transexual porn (I AM NOT KIDDING) in the vice-principal's computer.
    • Using Linux is all well and good, but what happens when students don't sign up for courses because employers want people who know Windows and Office?
      • Users don't need to use Windows to write term papers or do research. Nor do they need Windows to learn networking, java programming or any other general IT or General Ed coursework.

        Except for advanced users, Word (tm) and OpenOffice Writer are practically the same.

        Moreover, Office is completely fragmented -you have diehard Office 95 types and you have the people who are going to be dragged to what will eventually be an incompatible new version of Office -Office 10 or whatever it will be. Most users use such
        • I agree with you, however as we know, employers look at buzz words and titles rather than ability.

          For example from a random job specification I just looked up:

          Applicants are expected to have evidence of secretarial/PA experience at a high level and hold relevant typing, word processing and I.T. qualifications. Experience of using Microsoft Office is essential. You will be highly organised and have the ability to prioritise workload and work with minimum supervision. The post also requires excellent in
          • The bulk of Education is driven by employers and their needs

            If it was, then we would really have a problem. Fortunately, the 1984-type scenario where people are groomed throughout childhood to be a suitable drone to increase the GDP is not quite there yet.

            Speaking for the UK, the bulk of your education (perhaps about 70%) of your education will be (aimed at) providing you with basic building blocks of knowledge and skills for your life in general. A small amount is not, and is driven by outside interests
    • You have clearly never met a type which I shall describe as "agressively pathetic".

      By which I mean, "will go to such absurd lengths to avoid doing something new that it would have been less hassle to just do whatever it is they don't want to in the first place".

      "I can't use this new PC, I haven't been trained on it!"

      "It's exactly the same as the old one, only the case is a different colour."

      "Well I still haven't had any training on it!"

      Said person refuses to use the computer until such time as they have bee
      • When I was at university (in the UK) they had in the computer science department six large computing labs. When I started, two were running SuSE Linux and four Windows. The next year, one of the Linux labs was converted to Windows. The year after that, the remaining Linux lab was converted to Windows. During the year when there was only one Linux lab, it was rarely used. I used it often because it was quiet and there was no queue for the printer.

        In all my time there, there was only one class scheduled to b

        • Comp. Sci. students that won't use Linux. For shame.

          Here at [whistles].ac.uk, there used to be two large UNIX facilities on the main campus: one room full of Sun Ultra 5 workstations, another with SGI O2s. I used to like those workstations. I had no real reason to use them other than I liked UNIX (I was a Physics undergrad then) and found it much easier to code with (and I occasionally had Engineering and Comp. Sci. students asking me how to use it — another sorry indictment or what?!). One summer, a

    • I work in academia, and my box runs Linux. I'd love to never touch a Windows box, but in a university environment it just isn't possible. I currently have three major stumbling points:

      - Producing slides. When I present at an international conference, the standard specification is Powerpoint. Yes, I can produce my slides in OpenOffice, but we all know that OO and MS Office don't quite interact. I want my slides to look right and it's important that those diagrams and equations appear exactly as I int
    • You're falling for the common fallacy that all software is either "office software" (WP, graphics, etc.) or "Internet software" (e-mail, web stuff, etc.).

      In the academic world, this is far from true. There are countless specialist teaching programs out there, many of which run on Windows.

    • OK, here's how it works.

      Schools in my area get Windows XP for £30 and Office for £45 per seat. I'm currently setting every PC in the school to dual boot XP and Ubuntu as there are just too many apps that are Windows based that teachers would be lost (or at least very confused) without.

      We saved a fortune on Windows 2003 server licences and using E-Groupware saved £5 per seat exchange licences for 800 people. All of our servers run Redhat academic licences (£35 per server + no CALs) an
  • by QuantumFTL ( 197300 ) * <justin.wick@gma i l . c om> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:30PM (#15843509)
    I think it's great that OSS is being employed in educational fascilities, but what I'd really like to see is more educators teaching programming/software engineering via examination of the source code. There's more than a few projects that are actually coded very well, I know I sure learn something whenever I look at the sources.
  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:45PM (#15843572) Homepage
    I teach physics at a community college in California, and I wish I saw some evidence of the kind of progress the report describes in the UK. My school is virtually 100% MS. I bought my own Linux box to put on my desk, but the latest news is that IT is trying to push through a policy that would make it against the rules (and punishable by firing) to connect your own box to their network. If that happens, then I guess it's Windows or nothing for my desktop. I also have a couple of Linux boxes I use for labs, paid for with my own money, and I guess I'd have to pull the plug on those and take them home, too. All servers at my school are Windows boxes. The catalog has tons of MS-specific vocational courses. They seem to rely on Windows for pretty much all the real CS courses as well; there is one small Linux lab, run by a CS guy who is interested in Linux, but the upshot of this latest policy seems to be that he'd be forced to shut it down. Basically they seem to be so uptight about lawsuits, filesharing, MySpace, etc., that they want to lock down everything super-tight, which means MS only. Linux isn't even on the radar, really; the only people on the faculty who are kicking up any fuss are the Mac users.
    • Basically they seem to be so uptight about lawsuits, filesharing, MySpace, etc., that they want to lock down everything super-tight, which means MS only.

      Now that's just hysterical.
      btw, when my university told me about their "strict" OS policy, I a Knoppix disc at them, used ssh to connect to my server at home, and told them to bite me.

      I never heard a peep from the sysadmin again. Although you might not be able to do that, I really had nothing to lose at the time.
    • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @07:15PM (#15843712)
      I've seen what you describe. The people behind such policies tend to see alternative configurations as timesinks and distractions, rather than as amazingly useful education for their staff about how things really work and what tools are available. Also, I've noticed that competent Linux and open source admins at small sites tend to get hired away as their skills grow. We also tend to embarass the heck out of the Windows IT staff by bringing better knowledge of the underlying problems and protocols to the staff meetings, and pointing out fixes that they may not have been aware of.

      This is particularly true of middle managers who are worried about their jobs: the open source people tend to scare the tar out of them by blowing their pet projects sky high. It's incredibly frustrating to try and get them to loosen their grip: it takes presenting them, and especially their managers, with hard numbers on the benefits of open source software to their productivity and especially to their costs.
      • I've seen what you describe. The people behind such policies tend to see alternative configurations as timesinks and distractions, rather than as amazingly useful education for their staff about how things really work and what tools are available.

        Or they take the (not unreasonable) view that if they're responsible for the network, and it's their ass on the line if security is breached and damage is done, then having unknown (to them) systems with access is a vulnerability that should be addressed.

        Havi

        • Or they take the (not unreasonable) view that if they're responsible for the network, and it's their ass on the line if security is breached and damage is done, then having unknown (to them) systems with access is a vulnerability that should be addressed... Attitudes like the parent poster's from L337 geeks are exactly why, despite the geeks' ongoing protestations, competent managers still don't let them anywhere near the authority to set policy.
          It's interesting to imagine how history would have been diff
        • Or they take the (not unreasonable) view that if they're responsible for the network, and it's their ass on the line if security is breached and damage is done, then having unknown (to them) systems with access is a vulnerability that should be addressed.

          This is true, but there are certain tradeoffs involved in operating in a University environment
          (I don't know the Community College environment so well). The basic tradeoff is less money
          compared to what I would pull in in industry, and a (subjectively) more

        • it's their ass on the line if security is breached and damage is done, then having unknown (to them) systems with access is a vulnerability that should be addressed.

          Explain to me how have a Linux or Mac OSed machine sitting on a properly DMZed intranet is any more of a security threat than have any machine on the intranet.

          Whether Windows should be that standard is a matter for the particular organisation in question, but in academia, there may be strong argument that it should be since a lot of specialist

          • Explain to me how have a Linux or Mac OSed machine sitting on a properly DMZed intranet is any more of a security threat than have any machine on the intranet.

            <IT guy> No, you explain to me why they're not, sufficiently convincingly that I'm willing to bet my job on it. </IT guy>

            Please control your troll, there maybe a smattering of educational administration programs that are windows only, but that's about it

            Calling me a troll doesn't make a convincing argument, particularly when you'

            • Sounds like IT-Guy doesn't realise that all the good hacking tools available in linux are quickly ported over to windows where his darling students are going to smuggle them into the school on thumb-drives bigger than the hard-drive in most classroom computers. Any security gained through mono-culturalism would be quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of script-kiddies that would be totaly lost on a non-Ms computer. So if his MCSE ass is depending on security afforded by Microsoft products and memorised
              • Sounds like IT-Guy doesn't realise that all the good hacking tools available in linux are quickly ported over to windows where his darling students are going to smuggle them into the school on thumb-drives bigger than the hard-drive in most classroom computers.

                You're both deliberately ignoring my point and deliberately using a dubious counterexample.

                If Windows is an operational requirement, then you are forced to deal with Windows security issues, regardless of what else is on the network. This can be

    • One way around this monocultural attitude is to introduce courses or programs that emphasize non-MS technologies. We [dcccd.edu] have one of the nation's first Open Source Technology programs in existence at North Lake College, and it's a bit difficult to be denied network access to open source tools and machines when you're teaching OSS principles! There's contact info in my shameless plug if you want to know more about what we're doing to promote OSS and maybe exchange some ideas about how to counter this type of t
    • Are IT responsibler for all hiring and firing of staff? Seems to be a lot of power for a single department.

      Why don't you point out that to your boss (not IT) this new policy will affect your ability to do your job, the ability of the CS guy to do his job, and will gerneally work to the detriment of students?
      • Are IT responsibler for all hiring and firing of staff? Seems to be a lot of power for a single department.
        Yeah, it's a huge power grab by IT, and for that reason alone, they may not succeed.

        Why don't you point out that to your boss (not IT) this new policy will affect your ability to do your job, the ability of the CS guy to do his job, and will gerneally work to the detriment of students?
        Yeah, we've pretty much done that. The really insane thing is that, for years, the science division has been te

    • What do they say about booting live CDs, booting from USB or using Linux under QEMU for Windows? Where do they draw the limit between Linux and non-Linux? How about Cygwin?
      • What do they say about booting live CDs, booting from USB or using Linux under QEMU for Windows? Where do they draw the limit between Linux and non-Linux? How about Cygwin?
        They want to make it a firing offense if you even connect a keychain drive to your computer in order to transfer files. There is also language in the proposed policy that would make it a firing offense if you change the settings on your computer; as written, it would seem to state that if you, say, turn off the spell checker in Word, yo
        • You have my full sympathy. My workplace is almost as draconian as yours, which is one of the reasons I'm switching jobs soon. Surely, others must feel the same way as you? If you go together as a group, and tell the managment that you're thinking of switching jobs because of the regulations, surely they must at least listen? Just an idea. Good luck to you. :)
  • So you are looking at OS?
    What if you do not have the resources to give full computing support to all your students?
    MS would have just screamed at the offending government about freedom (to profit).
    Now MS can call in a new option.
    A 'foundation' that will help all fiscally challenged counties with just what they need.
    No more leaks about chats or rushed visits.
    All you get now is caring, understanding, embracing charity of 'free' quality software solutions.
    The extended upgrade path is not so 'free'.
    If d
  • My experience (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I work in a UK HE establishment, sadly we seem to be bucking this trend since nearly all new projects are deployed on Windows. The VLE isn't Moodle. VNC is banned because it's "insecure". The VPN solution was purchased from a major network appliance vendor. Not too long ago, they stuck an alternative browser on the standard desktop... Opera. Yes, the pace of change in the UK public sector is slow to snail-like. There are some bright sparks who preach the Right Way, sadly they are few & far between. Wyse
  • Education issues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @01:22AM (#15844918) Journal
    Let me tell you how UK educational establishments think. Firstly they get whopping discounts from Microsoft on site licenses. ~£17K per year for a reasonably large organisation (~2000 desktops) and they can install whatever is the current version of Windows and Office on all desktops, and CALs are effectively free.

    Most courses (and software used in courses) are written for Windows and Office. We still use Office 2000 because every time we try to upgrade you would think the sky is falling because a menu option has changed or the window looks slightly different. Lecturers are whiners and lazy when it comes to updating course material.

    Where Linux is mainly used in UK education is basically anything that the staff and students don't get their hands on and where you need reliability - in other words servers. Firewalls, proxies, email relays, DNS, DHCP, web servers, moodle, storage, network managment, spam filtering, web filtering, streaming media - you name it, if it runs on Linux it will get used as quite frankly it's free, and there are no stupid user license issues. User licenses can kill a project at a University or large college for one simple reason - an organisation with say 2000 desktops will have around 20,000 students enrolled. Many commercial systems will actually expect you to buy a license for every user rather than every desktop. For example a commercial web filtering system like Websense expects a license for every user, regardless of how many can actually use the web at once - simply not going to happen, especially when there are just as good free solutions like the superb Dans Guardian.
    • Gosh, where I am must be really unusual, then.

      Here, the undergraduate teaching is all done on Linux boxes running a customized version of Knoppix that includes all the important apps:

      • OpenOffice for general office stuff,
      • LaTeX for Proper Documents,
      • GCC etc,
      • Octave for data analysis and modelling,
      • gEDA & PCB for circuit design and layout,
      • QCad for simple CAD stuff,
      • and Pro/Engineer Wildfire

      And every undergraduate gets a copy.

      Not to mention that out of eight people in my research group, five use L

      • On EVERY desktop?
        • There are 12 Windows workstations available for undergraduates, but all undergraduate teaching activites that involve or require the use of computers takes place on the Linux workstations (about 100-150 of them in the Design and Project Office). (This only applies to the Engineering department here; I here the mathematicians use Windows almost exclusively).

    • The Open University now recommends OO.org.

      There was a time when they mandated Office, but I guess enough students talked sense into them.
      • You are aware that the OU is not a physical university right? It's distance learning.

        It's easy to say 'everyone use Linux' when you don't have to foot the bill and logistics of switching. Not to say that it's a bad idea, just that in the real world they are not indicative of a 'real' university or college.
        • "...just that in the real world they are not indicative of a 'real' university or college."

          Minor quibble, not directed at you: the OU is a 'real' university in the sense that it is a well-respected institution whose degrees are accepted as equivalent to other UK institutions (it would probably feature in the top 20 of the Sunday Times Good University Guide on aspects such as teaching quality, but can't be in the league table because other aspects don't really match the judgement criteria).

          (This is ju
  • Informing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WebfishUK ( 249858 ) on Friday August 04, 2006 @02:53AM (#15845109)
    Some of the biggest gains for open source applications are still to be had, particularly in areas with strong relations with IT but historically less technical backgrounds such as in libraries (both public and coporate). The mother of a friend of mine witnessed some very 'wolly' thinking when at a meeting to plan the next generation of IT infrastructure for a large part of Londons public library system. She was representing the libraries in one borough of London (despite having next to no computing experience). On the subject of which office package they should purchase my friend had already primed his mother with a suggestion of Open Office. However, the technical advisor (who represented a company which resold Microsoft products) told the committee that such 'toy' free software may be OK for smaller endeavours but wasn't appropriate for a professional and highly important environment as theirs. They all agreed, the matter was dropped and several thousand MS Office license purchased. Now whatever the truth of their needs and the total cost of ownership etc I'm still a little concerned with the sidedness of that debate. Bascially MS Office was bought out of habit and convenience. My friend informs me that, having spent time working in the library with his mother, he thinks there is actually little argument to deploy anything more than a good electronic typewriter.

    How do OSS representatives get to the table in situations like this? I guess the answer must be through ensuring that anyone at that table could represent OSS.
    • The mother of a friend of mine witnessed some very 'wolly' thinking when at a meeting to plan the next generation of IT infrastructure for a large part of Londons public library system. She was representing the libraries in one borough of London (despite having next to no computing experience). On the subject of which office package they should purchase my friend had already primed his mother with a suggestion of Open Office. However, the technical advisor (who represented a company which resold Microsoft

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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