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Killing Off Linux: It's All Academic 365

angelh writes "Here's a good article that I don't think we should ignore. It's about Microsoft's plan of attack against Linux... Make a better product? Of course not. Better marketing? Not this time. Looks like now they're getting serious about attacking UNIX/Linux at the root level... Check out the link for a good read..." The article is from Linux Journal. It's not new, and the thoughts in it aren't either, but it's well worth reading. Check out the bibliography at the bottom, too.
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Killing Off Linux: It's All Academic

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  • I can definitely see it happening. Here's the point I'm trying to make:

    I LOVE linux, both in principle, in $ savings, and in utility. But do you think M$ could develop a better OS if they put money into it? Oh hell yeah, and I bet they are already doing so in some deep lab at Redmond (that's my conspiracy theory for today anyhow).

    Look, pretend for a second you are Bill G. You've got a ton of cash up the wazoo, you -really- like computers and spend all your time thinking up ways for technology to advance in forms like wearable computers, worldwide internet technology, etc. Do you think he is dumb enough to just let Linux win? Not a chance. He's going to go balls to the wall developing and OS that takes things to a new level, learning from Linux and the thousands of developers that work on it for free and stealing the ideas behind them all without the slightest repercussion (how do YOU enjoy working for Microsoft?). He's not going to make huge mistakes in buggy software anymore, he'll soon stop developing exclusively for the AOLuddites and other technophobes and work on an OS that everyone can use, one that doesn't crash, is cheap, is portable, and can win.

    All the way through this he's going to look at the world that he is helping to create with the entire thought that he is doing us all a big big favour. And he's right. As much as Windows needs competition, Linux needs it more. In order to develop something that can compete, we're going to have to capture the workstation market.

    Now think about that...Windows has the workstation market by the balls. Linux is making very minor headroads in this, but is not yet a real competitor. Linux has the ability as it is to have the server market by the balls in the same way. Yet we're moving to a situation where Linux developers are just barely starting to move to the workstation market. Tie the two together, mix and meld, and you've got our Buddy Bill using Linux principles to develop a great operating system capable of taking over both the server and workstation markets.

    Will I use this new mix of OS? Damned rights. After seeing just how difficult it is comparative to get a Linux workstation up and running (setting up X anyhow) to the same level as a Win98 system, I'd have a huge temptation to use and OS that was completely usable in a 1/2 hour of installation without worrying too terribly much about hardware compatibility, that was stable for extended periods, and didn't have a learning curve that could stun a goat.

    TheGeek []

  • by morbid ( 4258 )
    I fail to see how cheap deals on NT could be cost-effective for universities and schools. There would need to be free or cheap hardware with the software for it to be even considered as competition with *BSD or Linux, and I bet the likes of Sun to mega-discounts for educational establishments.

    Why buy a quad PIII Xeon with 512MB RAM as a server when you could have a much more inexpensive box (or boxes) running a unix giving equivalent performance and much more functionality?

    I was introduced to UNIX at uni, (Solaris/SunOS) and it was as if my prayers had been answered! An operating system that does what you'd expect one to be able to do, in a simple, clear logical way. I was going to buy a PC with NeXTStep on it but then Linux came along....

    Why should the world take a gigantic backwards step to NT?

    Why pay $$$ for something when you can get something free that's better?

    Am I stupid or something? What am I missing?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    AS a matter of fact, most of the machines in my lab used to be IRIX machines.. Now, as you all know, SGI machines are very very expensive. Now our lab is phasing out all our SGI machines, and most of the new development in the lab is done using the donated Microsoft machines (onto which for obvious political reasons we cannot install linux).

    Most of this code is difficult to port since it deals with video streams (and most video APIs are rather different).

    Hopefully, soon we will have a few dual-bootmachines before all of our unix machines go away.

    And its not just the Universities... Many research labs are doing their research on NT... and for obvious reasons, the students who ome back from these labs continue to use NT back at school. (Again, I can't mention specific names for obvious political reasons)

    Its a sad state of affairs..
    If only IBM or SUN or some other large company would get off their butt and figure out that the universities can do quite well with pure hardware donations...

    We can install the OS ourselves...
  • I can guarantee that administrators wouldn't be talking to microsoft without M$ making VERY VERY VERY CLEAR that they'll give away thier wares at firesale prices in exchange for loyalty.

    This is not a situation where Prof. Shmoe walks up to an M$ marketer in a park somewhere and saying "I want (virtually) free software so I can teach our poor, impressionable youth the Joi Du Bill!"... it's more akin to the marketer standing around with a megaphone shouting "I'VE GOT FREE SOFTWARE TO GIVE AWAY TO UNIVERSITY TYPE-PEOPLE! JUST STEP RIGHT UP AND ASK!"

    Don't forget the debacle earlier on this year (late last year?) where M$ was giving a 'bounty' for teachers using thier products. Looks like that tactic backfired pretty bad and they're going for a more subtle get it in the back door approach.

    Hmm... maybe M$ is learning something from Linux after all.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • Besides $$, the other thing MS has on it's side is time. They can keep chipping away, giving away products. It doesn't have to happen overnight. Remember Netscape? They just kept chipping away, once they were determined to have that market. Fortunately, they have shown their cards one time too many. Everyone by now knows what their strategy is, but the scary thing is, with universities so cash strapped these days, wil it matter to the administrative people who handle the $$?
  • And even though most people in recent years used Macs at their high school, most of them went on to use.. what, Macintosh, you say? Of course not.. Windows!

    When I was in college, we had two large Mac computer labs, and people were using (and buying Macs) to use for their schoolwork. (There was also a PC lab, for people who had their own PCs at home or that they brought with them). I was friends with the IT person at my college, because one of my roommates worked for him helping to keep them maintained and we were all Apple enthusiasts. We not only helped people to use them, we were helping people to use them beyond "how do I change the font for my report?"

    Near the end of my college career, I began to hear comments like "why don't we use the machines that we'll be encountering in the real world?" I assume that someone in the administration took these comments to heart; I went back to visit this past summer and the two Mac labs are now PC labs, and the old PC lab is now the Mac lab.

    Jay (=
  • Purdue just recently signed a MSCA (Microsoft Campus Agreement). All students and faculty receive the main microsoft products (Win 98, NTWS, Office 97 or 2000), Frontpage, and Visual Studio 6 for $5 per product. So the 5 CD version of Visual Studio is $5 total. All of those same products are site licensed now for all lab PC's too. How many Univerisities are going to be to turn that down? That is definitely going to force the Mac's from the labs.

    I haven't heard any talk of having to switch servers to NT. I'm a Computer Technology student and NT is already used everywhere in CPT. The CS and engineering departments are heavily Unix, and don't seem to be wanting to change that anytime soon. I especially wouldn't want to lose our Linux mirrors.

  • Ironically, the biggest impediment to going back to Unix is that a few of the faculty don't know Unix and don't want to learn.

    i think it's not ironic but sad.

    because there are mostly more advantages when moving avay from MS than disadvantages but people are staying with MS just because they are not willing to learn anything new.

    and in academic it's not just sad but disastrous!!!

  • The University of Washington (just across the lake from the Redmond Monopoly) is under heavy "attack" from Microsoft:

    1) The old terminal payroll mainframe is being replaced by a server running Microsoft Windows NT. One could access the old, clunky system via a telnet session from just about any OS, but the new system runs over the "Web" using Micosoft Active Server Pages, yet requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher running Microsoft Windows 95 or higher to access it. Disgusting.


    2) Microsoft Office, normally available for $400+, costs around $40. (Assuming you get the purchase order version, that is). It sure would be nice if other companies offered an order of magnitude off the price of their products for academic use.

    There's probably a few more things going on, but the above two are my main pet peeves.
  • Universities ought to be using Windows and teaching the skills that are most in demand (like VB), so as to produce marketable graduates.

    They can teach whatever they want to teach to best equip their students (read as "produce marketable graduates" if you will) but they should use free software for their own infrastructure.

    Jay (=
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @07:36AM (#1673710) Journal

    I work for the computing department of a small Massachusetts liberal-arts college. Now you mightn't think that a school of those characteristics would be a haven for Linux-based systems, but we are.

    First off, all our central information services except the administrative databases (MacOS - FileMaker Pro), the library catalog (AIX), the voicemail system, and two legacy servers (one SunOS, one NT 3.51) run on Debian GNU/Linux systems. That includes mail, user accounts, DNS, Web service, Web proxy service, Web-based database applications, networked backup, file and print service (samba and netatalk), and routing / firewalling / network monitoring.

    Further, we have an extensive Linux (and to a lesser extent BSD) subculture among our students. My boss teaches courses involving Linux, Perl, and other related Unixoid topics, and is in the process of building a CS curriculum on the basis of students' interest in Unix. Our computing staffing situation is dependent on student interest in Unix, as we tend to recruit from our own recent graduates.

    We received last year an offer from Microsoft for cheap software in exchange for a mindshare monopoly. We seriously considered it -- for about five seconds. Then it went in the circular file. We may be liberal-arts flakes, but we're not idiots!

  • Cornell duplicates Los Alamos innovation after 3 years of brutal hacking []

    Researchers at Cornell University have demonstrated an NT-based cluster computer, the NT-O-Wulf, which offers some of the performance and some of the stability of its Linux counterpart for institutions interested in purchasing expensive commercial ports of freely available message passing software.

    Robert Constable, Cornell's new dean for Microsoft services (CMS) believes that AC3 and AC3 Velocity will be valuable assets in his strategic vision for whoring out undergraduate research assistants and underpaid faculty to offer free R&D to giant corporations. "Windows 2000 and Intel architecture-based cluster computing are the direction of the future," he said. "The Theory Center is an integral part of CIS and we're delighted that they are taking a leadership position in this arena."

  • Also, with Linux one can slip in a kernel module at any time. Is anything else comparable?

    On NT, there's application aplenty that require a reboot. For some unfathomable reason, apps designed for MS-Windows tend to pack their own libraries that they like to stick in the system directories, then make you reboot before you can use the application.

    Have you ever installed anything on Linux/UNIX that requires a reboot (besides a new kernel)?

  • Im still in High school, but one of my friends that goto collage, was before he went, into security, and stability, now he is just into useability, he dosent want to be bothered with security. I have noticed this of alot of my friends who goto liberal collages. just my .02 cents
  • Do your part to spread linux by offering copies, insight, and support. I recently met a CIS student who said his prof. thought NT was everything. After I scoffed, the student asked about linux and we discussed how they differ. I encouraged him to pursue linux, burned him a copy of RH6 and wrote urls for /. and deja. As long as we all share what we know and learn what we don't, new users will appreciate it and will be more likely to help others in turn.
  • Isn't this similar to what Apple did back in the 80's? They gave great discounts to schools if they used Apple computers, and so Macintosh's are the only things I used before I got to high school because the schools are cheap when it comes to computers.
  • > If young kids take MS software as drug, when they go to universities & colleges, they still take it.

    Office apps maybe, but not Server software.

    The [unix] sysadmins know better then to trust NT servers 100% to run the campus. Linux and BSD are big in the comp sci department (at least in my college/university.) The last thing they want is to be waiting 3 months for a service pack for NT to come out, when they can download the latest security fix for Linux within a day of the hole being found. The price thing helps too.

    Go ask the NT sys admins running SQL how many times they have had to come in the middle of the night because the database crapped out, or even ask them their uptime for NT?

  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @11:00AM (#1673722)

    The University of Indiana cut a "deal" with Microsoft for $6 MILLION. With Linux, there's no deal, and even better, no COST. I don't understand how "cash-strapped" university computing departments can justify this logic: "We don't have the money, so we're giving Microsoft $6 million for something we could have gotten for free."
  • Apple has been trying for 15 years to corner the market under the theory that if you hook 'em in school then it will bubble up into the corporate market. Funny, it hasn't happened, despite their high market share in academia. Seems that businesses don't care what new hires would prefer.

    The only difference in the argument in this article is that M$ is trying to replace the servers at schools, rather than the clients. But let's differentiate between the computers that are used to provide functionality to the school (administration, records, paper-writing, email) and the computers that are used to teach computer scientists. They're not the same. Where I went to school, the CS department was an entirely unix shop, while the rest of the campus happily used VMS and Macs-- a common setup in those days. Neither of those platforms, you will note, has gone on to take over the world.

    I think that the fear expressed in this article is partly due to the age of the author. This scenario would have been scary ten years ago, when you HAD to do programming work on the big central server-- but my desktop today is more powerful than a server was back then. The computer science department no longer needs to use the big expensive central computer to teach with in the first place-- it's cheaper to fill a lab with PC's running linux. And don't forget the CS students with "servers" in their rooms-- they're happily hacking away as we speak, sharing code with each other, and couldn't care less what the school's server OS is.

    No worries. You may continue with the revolution.

  • He's worth around $90 billion by last count I saw. MS stocks have done pretty well...

    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They say how microsoft will kill Linux by selling Windows for only Six Million dollars, but Linux is Free! Linux is 6,000,000 Dollars cheaper than Windows, and this person complains that Microsoft is underpricing!
  • LUGs out there that are concerned with advocacy need to burn distros and advertise a quick and easy way to pick them up.

    A proposal: Go to the people who run the computer shop on your campus (if such exists). Inform them of the existence of Cheapbytes, LSL, and linuxmall (add your favourite distributor of $1.99 Linux & BSD CDs). Get them to order 20 of the top three or four distros (that costs them like $50 per distro or so for a batch) from their favorite one, and sell them for $5 each.

    • yeah, that's the hard part. Print out some glowing reports about it and give them to the comp. shop manager. Or have someone give a presentation!

    It's likely that all it will cost them is the display space, but surely they can set aside one of the seven MS shelves to display row upon row of Linux CDs. When they see the CDs move fast, they'll hop on the bandwagon quick.
  • by coldfusion ( 59198 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @05:36AM (#1673728)
    Intel tried to do the same thing to kill usage of the MacOS @ universities & colleges. In several cases (I think Yale was one of them, but I could be wrong), the plan met with initial success and then backfired (gave them mega-bad publicity _and_ the universities retracted their pro-Wintel policy). Hopefully the same kind of backfiring will occur this time.

    It reminds me of the deals Coke gets with fast food chains and university cafeterias to only distribute Coke (and thus the university gets some kind of kick-back from Coke). Disgusting.
  • one diference is here:

    if you expose colege/university student to UNIX what is the probability of him staying with UNIX?

    if you expose colege/university student to M$ what is the probability of him staying with M$?

    i think that probability in the first one scenario is greater.

    reasons: IMHO more freedom

  • Seems like M$ is going the Unix way. Get exposed to students in their learning years and reap the benefits threreafter. How many of us were first exposed to unix in school/college? And how many of us use a unix now? The numbers speak for themselves.
    BTW, this is happening in India as well. My college rejected Linux and got a NT server because the clients were Windows machines! More FUD from M$.
  • Why would MS try to push down to the desktop? They already own it. You might argue, and successfully, that they are pushing up to the server, but not the other way, sorry.
  • The high school I used to go with had one of those deals with Coke. There were coke machines all over the campus, and the faulculty encourged us to drink them becuase they supposedly got a percentage of the money to spend on tech supplies. I never did see an result on that in the two years I was there, so I'm not sure I believe it.
  • And even though most people in recent years used Macs at their high school, most of them went on to use.. what, Macintosh, you say? Of course not.. Windows!

  • It really makes you wonder what "caveats" were placed on Bill's recent billion dollar "donation", doesn't it???
  • There's always the chance that if/when this does happen in universities, you'll have those psycho enthusiasts(sp) tearing down those NT servers left and right just to tick people off. I'm not saying it's the okay thing to do, but you know it will more then likely happen. I'd be suprised to see if the servers were left alone.

    Another thought. Will MS people be setting up/configuring the servers? Doubtfully. So they will have to pay the people to redo them. And a total overhall of many of the servers would seem to me, to cost more money then it's worth. How much would licensing cost for a university to do that? Why not stay with what they have, and keep the reliability and familiarity(sp) that they have? Who knows. Any thoughts?
  • I don't believe MS is even done with the planning for the attack on Linux yet. Right now they are operating under a ad-hoc plan designed to mesh with the current situation, their attacks on Linux are tailored as such and fit with the DOG trial. To them the threat right now is what is what I've heard called the "big three": Sun, Oracle and IBM. They don't care about Linux yet, it's not big enough and it's not impacting their revenue stream. (yet of course.)

    When Linux grows to the point of being a threat to MS which I have no doubt it will do then they will respond with their real PR, spin and flashy features campaign as per the situation at that time.
  • Reminds me of when I was going to Iowa State University. They constructed a Mac lab and a Windows lab side-by-side in the dorm. Early in the semester the Mac lab was always full and the Windows lab was always empty. Midway through the semester somebody discovered that you could install Castle Wolfenstein on the network. From that time on, you couldn't get any work done in the Windows lab because everybody was playing games!
  • My school has been doing this for a year or 2 now and I don't think it'll have that much of an effect on students using linux/UNIX. Sure I can go and buy Windows NT for $5, but I can also go and d/l linux for free.

    I think that another reason for MS doing this is they really don't lose much money. How many college students do you know who will pay $500 for MS Visual Studio? Many college students just get pirated versions of software like this anyway, so MS dosen't lose any money here. As a bonus they probably cut down on some distribution of their software being pirated, because it less hassle to fork over $5 then to try and get a warez copy. Although it is also possible this adds to piracy, because since it is easier to obtain a product almost for free, more potential software pirates have copies that they can distribute.

    Back to why this won't have a big effect on linux though, listen to this, the first OS I ever actully paid for was Red Hat linux. I have never paid for any MS operating system, before or after my university was giving MS products away. So it being free had no effect on my choice of OS. Also I know for a fact that many people in my school use linux. The people who know a lot about computers, choose between MS and linux and I don't think MS being free has much of an effect on their choice. These people who know a lot about computers usually have a way of getting software for free, either from a friend or the internet, and most people I know have absoultly NO qualms about pirating MS products. The people who don't know much about computers will likely not use linux anyway, for now at least.

    Finally I think for something as basic as an operating system , most people have well rooted preferences before they get into college, and so their OS preference is not affected much by this. Where i do think this will have an effect, is in the choice of an IDE(Interative Development Environment). Many students in CS who haven't ever programmed before, will not have used an IDE before and so will be more open to a free choice. I have to admit that the one MS product that I like to use, is MS Visual Studio. I think this was at least in some way tied to the fact that I was able to get it for $5. However I imagine that I will stop using this once I find an IDE that I like for linux (which sadly will probably have to be a lot like Visual Studio).

    So I think that while this may have some effect on college students using MS applications (now and in the future), I really don't see it having much of an effect on operating system preference.

  • Here are a few thoughts coming from a CS undergrad at Washington University [] in St. Louis, MO. There are a number of ways in which we college students, faculty members and consultants can react.

    1.) Start Linux/Unix User Groups and clubs on your campus. This is a great way to help students get started learning Unix and to show them that they do have freedom of choice. Lots of students have heard about Linux through various media, but don't know where to begin. Show them your Linux desktop, let them poke around, help them install Linux on their machine. Have weekly meetings where you can do installations, field questions, take on projects, etc.

    2.) Get involved (if possible) with managing the workstations and servers on your campus. There are usually opportunties to help out in this area, and if you get involved, you will have a better forum for voicing your opinion.

    3.) Sign petitions, make phone calls to the network admins, and do anything else you can to show the people who make the decisions, that you want freedom of choice. This may not seem like it can make a difference, but it can. If those in charge of making platform decisions hear students and faculty members voicing their opinions about freedom of choice in platforms, they will at the very least think twice about going the NT route.

    As for the state of things, at WashU [], I'm very fortunate to be going to a school that has long been a player in the world of Unix development. WU-FTPD [], the most popular ftp daemon on the 'net began development at WashU. Most of our servers are Unix-based. We have a rather large sparc station lab. We do of course have NT labs as well, but I don't see the Unix element going away anytime soon. There is too much Unix development that goes on here. I've had a number of professors encourage us to get Linux installed on our home computers so that we can gain invaluble experience working on that platform, and so we can do the projects at home that we would ordinarily have to do in the sparc lab. There are dozens of students in the CS department (and other departments) who have Linux servers running on their ethernet dorm-room connections. It's been a lot of fun to watch the growth on campus.

    --Jamin Philip Gray

  • After visiting the Penn State Collegian site, I was at first appalled, then gratified. As an older programmer (>35) I am happy to see that younger kids are learning nothing in school. This is great for us old guys, because now we don't have to worry about you young punks taking over our jobs.
  • okay - so all that's needed is one EXTREMELY disgrunted person to take that source to NT and release it anonymously on the net...this would be the best scandal in years!!! it would be great to see ALL the windows apis published and be able to fire up office flawlesslly using linux...
  • I like the "35 hours, 90 minutes, 93 seconds" part. :o)

    ANd btw, the trusted good ol' NetWare 3.11 servers that I started with after graduation, had/have often uptimes of 2 to 3 years. And the NW 3.11 server from a company in Delhi showed 10 years of uptime! The funny part is, noone knew where the server actually was, the admin accessed it through rconsole, evey patch could be applied remotely and without rebooting the thing. So when the consultants from Novell came to finally upgrade the thing, they had to first FIND the server!
    Yep, NetWare 3.11 was too good of a server, not many companies wanted to upgrade, which was bad for Novell. Microsoft has a much better strategy: make crap, so that companies must upgrade in vain hope of improvement. How sad.
  • How many perfectly usable clones for Windows NT can you name?
    Compare that to the P3...
  • by Dwonis ( 52652 )
    I don't use KDE/Gnome: it's too slow (though I do use kdm). When I log into X, I want in now, not in 15 seconds from now. WindowMaker does the job, Gnome/KDE do not. I'll use them when they're not so bloated.
    "I already have all the latest software."
  • Note that every even remotely sizable soft drink distributor does this (Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper)

  • hmm maybe this explains why Liecester Uni in UK is roolimng out w2k right now (basing the initail on RC1). Personnally I think there off their rocker, but it will be 'interesting' to see how they go. Seems they want to reduce the number of servers running each function (email, SMS etc) down to the bare minimum, but in order to do this they need huge great machines that only w2k can cope with (16 processors etc).

    Personnally I've have gone donw the *nix route, but the head of IT seems to have sold the Uni on the idea - so watch with care. It's the first big rollout of any size and lessons will be learned from this.
  • Isn't this sort of practice that has Microsoft in court for the antitrust trial? Correct me if I'm wrong, but insisting that Universities and other academic institutions drop all non-MS products in return for cheap software licenses is anti-competitive.
  • I am also a student at Purdue. Word is, that Microsoft approached Purdue a couple times before the current agreement was reached. Microsoft kept insisting that the University migrate to all Microsoft products, but Purdue faculty/administrators firmly stated that it was of utmost importance to give students experience in a multitude of operating systems, be it UNIXes, MacOS, or Microsoft Win's. Microsoft finally came around and agreed that it would be Ok for Purdue to also have non-Microsoft products and operating systems. Unfortunatley for the students of IU, it seems IU's administrators couldn't pull clout on Microsoft and caved in to Microsoft's demands. I have heard that there is intense pressure to migrate to Microsoft products
  • I know that Jay Sulzberger [mailto] of LXNY [] thinks that having Gates and Microsoft get tax deductions for donations to schools tied with restrictive clauses is grounds for a lawsuit.

    You never know with Jay how to take what he says, he is serious but he is not known as...put it this way...the most calm and rational individual in the world. OTOH he is pretty intelligent and does generally know his stuff.

    Ben Tilly
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @08:54AM (#1673807)
    Balderdash. One of the key functions of a real university is to provide a forum for diverse opinions aka academic freedom. "The University is the Watchdog of Society" This is why we have the tenure system, for example. Without these sort of freedoms society as a whole becomes endangered from 'mob rule' and being perverted into a totally consumeristic way of life. When University administrators start cutting deals for specific teaching tools at the behest of commercial interests our society as a whole is in danger. Unfortunately in publicly funded universities this is often a real problem. What is REALLY alarming to me is that we see similar trends in secondary and primary schools; for example companies providing free visual aids in exchange for the school requiring the students to watch commercials for the companies goods and services. The is Very Very bad stuff.

    I am really sickened by latter day 'free market' advocates that seem to have forgotten the history of the free market in the US. The free market brought us the Pinkerton's assassination of union organizers, the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, J. P. Morgan trying to face down the President of the United States (thank God it was TR) on the imposition of controls on large scale monopolies, Upton Sinclair's expose of food adulteration, a variety of environmental disasters, Company Towns, you name it. The fact of the matter is that Free Enterprise has been tried in this country and it Just Does Not Work for the simple reason that what is good for a company is not necessarily always good for the society as a whole. If you don't believe me, get any decent text on micro economics and look up the term "external diseconomy".

  • by cabbey ( 8697 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @09:04AM (#1673816) Homepage
    I've seen this ploy play out a time or three... you've got a nice view of how it would work if MS played fair... too bad they don't.
    First this deal is going to have to be approved by the head of the IT/CS department,
    You're assuming they are even asked... micros~1 tends to bypass them if they're *nix heads and go straight to the board or president. Once they've got them hooked on the idea it's too late for the MIS department that runs the place, or the CS department that teaches in it.
    then the students (who would have to learn a whole different OS to keep their jobs)
    most schools view their students employees as trained monkeys; if this happens and the monkeys don't want to play along then they will happily fire off all the cli heads who don't know what a mouse is and go over to the art department and hire a bunch of mac heads who only know point&click - afterall you don't need any special skills to admin a winblows domain...
    and finally - the budget committe or otherwise accounting (once they see what an MCSE goes for they will simply put a denied stamp on it).
    ahh... but that's the beauty of this.. winblows is so easy that you don't need any programmer/anaysists; everyone can write their own macros in Office. The micros~1 solution will litterally show 0 head count for programming, combined with the free software they're giving out this will appear to SAVE money so again the board or the president will overrule (and fire) anyone in accounting that tries to de-rail this.

    So yes, it will work... then it will be a matter of internal politics to get it situation fixed, and depending on how deeply the hook is set before they try to start reeling in it may actually do some serious long term harm. But I predict there will be some havens of *nix scattered around and that this will only make them stronger, as more good people get forced out of the schools micros~1 takes over.

  • FWIW, Sonoma State University, California (part of the CSU system mentioned in the essay) has one remaining NT server left in CS and IT of which I'm aware. The rest, in order of occurrence, are Linux, Solaris, MacOS and VMS. The IT dept is almost entirely UNIX people. CS is a mixed bag -- the programming classes are all taught on CodeWarrior under MacOS and NTW, but the dominant sentiment is that NT is a huge drag and not worth keeping around. Every PC in the labs has Linux as its default boot OS. There's a lot of resentment of MS and its products around the department, from both students and profs. I haven't encountered what some other posters have reported, where profs refuse to teach on NT -- but SSU is a heavily Mac-dominated campus and most of them prefer the Macs and teach on those.

    I would infer that an MS strategy to try to undercut the servers would only work if MS marketed to those parts of an academic structure which don't know anything about computers -- which is to say, the administrators, deans, etc., who make the decisions and spend the money and don't actually teach or do much of anything.

    Also at issue, of course, is money -- budgets for CSU have been getting cheerfully cut by the CA legislature for some time now, and CS has had its time-to-graduation increase by 25% or so because of restricted class availability (this works out to be more profitable for the institution, which gets paid by enrollment by the gov't plus tuition per student per semester). With some flag-waving, Linux can win out in that respect -- "discounted" can't compete with "free," though the problem is largely the same as competing for prestige with corporate purchasing execs who know little beyond what's written on advertisements.

  • by Slothy ( 17409 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @05:40AM (#1673829) Homepage
    now they're considering switching back to Unix, because they lost a lot of companies looking to hire grads... seems they don't want Windows programmers.

    Ironically, the biggest impediment to going back to Unix is that a few of the faculty don't know Unix and don't want to learn.

    Go figure.
  • It reminds me of the deals Coke gets with fast food chains and university cafeterias to only distribute Coke (and thus the university gets some kind of kick-back from Coke). Disgusting.

    Isn't it Pepsi that generally does this? I know it was Pepsi at my university (Humboldt State Univ.).

    Pepsi seems to get a lot of the governmental deals, at least here in the Pacific Northwest.

    Also, Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners' new ballpark) has only Pepsi...but at least they have Alaskan Amber to make up for it. :-)

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  • Universities ought to be using Windows and teaching the skills that are most in demand (like VB), so as to produce marketable graduates.

    There is a huge difference between education and training.

    Training is showing someone how to use Word/Excel/Gnumerics/whatever.

    Education is teaching someone how to think independently, solve problems and have an analytical mindset.

    A trained person may or may not be able to work outside their training. An educated person can and will constantly learn new things and add to their skillset.

    Personally, I don't think that you should come out of university 'trained'. You should have been exposed to lots of stuff: *nix, VMS, Win*, Mac and whatever weird things are lurking in the depts of the CS or Engineering depts. You should come out of university with the ability to sit down in front of something and figure it out damn quick.

    dave - just my hkd 0.16

  • The idea of a "Microsoft only" university, at least in the technical disciplines, reminds me of the occasional news stories about former students suing their schools for failure to provide the promised education.

    Schools develop reputations based on the quality of the student they turn out. Likewise, development environments develop reputations based on the quality of the developer that they produce. Linux hasn't exactly been the easiest platform to work in (although it that is changing)... but it's been an excellent training ground for developers that can handle almost anything.

    MS tools tend to produce developers that have glaring weaknesses. In my experience, a MS developer seems far less likely to consider possible failure modes and is far more likely to give up when confronted by difficulty. More than one, with handed a bug report, has shrugged his shoulders and said it's probably a OS error. Or a library error. Or a mismatched shared library. It's certainly not worth *his* time to investigate. Compare that to the average Linux/Unix programmer who generally accepts that the OS and libraries are probably correct and that the problem is his responsibility.

    So what, we should judge everyone as an individual? I agree 100% -- unless you're talking about screening 300 resumes for a single slot. Toss out the non-starters and you have no more than than 20 resumes. Still too many to interview all of them, how do you decide who's worth bringing in for an interview? For better or worse, in any non-MS environment there's a strong predictor of problems: primary MS experience.

    If that's a problem with people with general university educations but MS work experience, I don't want to think about what Micros~1 University will produce. And when I'm deciding who to bring in for an interview, or who gets the job offer, I won't. Once they're employed I'll worry about the individual, but until the offer is accepted I have to use the best predictors I have. A MS-U degree is definitely a predictor....
  • From my experience in Europe and Japan, this is largely a North American problem. So far, the use of Windows at the universities that I know in Europe and Japan is mainly on the client side - often for administrative staff and other users that need a simple interface. The servers are mostly Sun's and other Unix machines (no system administrator in his or her right mind would throw Solaris out for NT - ok, maybe at gun point ;-) Linux on PCs is increasingly used as a cheap client alternative.

    Nevertheless, there have been incidents like M$ attempt to get the German state Northrhine-Westfalia to exclusively use M$ software in schools (not universities, as far as I know). There is, however, heavy opposition. []


  • I stopped $$ support when I learned they standardized on MS at my almamater. Every time they call or write for $$ I tell them that if the school can be that careless by choosing solutions (MS) needing constant replacement of software and hardware, that they don't need my $$. I then ask the person on the phone how many different versions of MS Word had he/she delt with so far at the school. They then understand. Money talks.
  • Where universities are concerned, I think it's fairly safe to say that the Slashdot demographic is probably more representative of Computer Science departments than anywhere else (administrative, non-CS, non-engineering and non-science departments). The "anywhere elses" spend a lot of their computer time writing papers, doing spreadsheets and keeping small, simple databases to support their research. Computers in those settings are a means to some other end and not the end in and of itself. Most universities have full-blown Computing Services departments that make sure the basic services (printing, email, file serving, etc.) work. After all, how many arts and letters departments are able to staff an Associate Professor who can double as a system administrator?

    Computer Science departments, where a bunch of the industry's good minds come from, are a different story. Computing isn't just the means, it's also the end. There are far too many people at far too many universities doing far too much research that requires the use of operating system sources. (And by that I mean kernel source, not the sources for ls and grep.) Any CS department worth its salt will have at least one project like this going on at a time, and you can bet your bits they won't agree to using something for which there's no source license available.

    When I was in college (mid-to-late '80s), we had source licenses for 4.{1,2,3}BSD for our VAXen and Suns and SVR3 for our AT&T 3Bx machines. I can think of a half-dozen or so research projects that went on during my four-year stay that were directly OS-related. One in particular involved attaching multiple Ethernet interfaces to a host and bonding them into one big, fast interface. Today that's no big deal -- I can slap a Quad Fast Ethernet card in a Sun, load up the software and (thoretically) get a 400 Mbit/sec hose for my trouble. But this was over a decade ago, when your choices for Ethernet were "thick" or "thin," there were still less than 10,000 hosts on the Internet and the sophisticated routing protocols that would do effective load balancing over multiple links were still a few years away. It was damned cool stuff for 1987.

    The fact is that operating systems are excellent proving grounds for things in a number of CS research areas. It's very convenient to take a functioning system and transplant or graft a piece that proves a new concept. The Ethernet project I mentioned above and many others like it would never have made it off the ground had the researchers been required to develop enough software from scratch to make the thing run.

    I have my own theory about why you'll never see Microsoft completely take over any decent CS department. Based on the bloat and overall quality of its past and current product lines, I envision the sources to be large, generally ugly, difficult to work with and even harder to compile without sacrificing a couple of small farm animals. Just for the sake of argument, let's say that Bill Gates is replaced by an alien who decrees that from now on the sources for Windows will be licensed just like the sources of BSD were -- free to academic institutions. Three things will happen:

    • Despite NDAs, word will get around academia about what a mess Windows is internaly
    • The sheer unwieldiness of the code won't make Windows a first choice for research projects
    • Students with half a brain who are exposed to the code will probably not want to rely on it once they reach the commercial world

    My 2000 millicents' worth...

  • Why bother with learning about networking protocols, OS scheduling, or even OS design? That's Microsoft's job. When they want you to know, they'll send you to M$U (Sort of like "Hamburger U").

    College types don't need to know that sort of stuff anyhow. It just leads to cracking.

    (This post is smiley-impaired for the humor impaired).

  • You see, this is the exact behavior that makes MS a monopoly. It is giving a free incentive, which will cost MS lots of money to implement.

    millions of free copies of windows that could have been sold for millinos more for a smaller cost of having NT installed? The amount of support and everything that has to go into this as a project costs more money than it will take in.

    Its no longer a student discount to gain advantage and still make money, this is all about heaving your weight to knock your competitor down.

  • VA Tech has some really intelligent people on staff, most of whom are in the computer engineering department... the CS department, on the other hand, has from my experience left a little to be desired. Don't get me wrong, I've met some good CS professors, but most have a big note on their syllabus "THe only compiler supported by this course is VC++ 6.0 - you will only recieve credit if your work compiles on Windows NT with VC++ 6.0. All documentation must be submitted in MS Word '97 format."

    Really sucks for me; I've got to write program and docs, then reboot just to submit them. Of course, they made the submission app in Java2, and used some lovely Windows specific extensions.

    They claim to support *BSD, but in fact some profs have been actively discouraging it, with comments like, "well, use it if you want, but it's easier to use windows because that's what we have in the labs."

    Ok, enough of my rant. Gotta reboot to test build a project, then click "submit" in this applet :-(.


  • Let us examine why.

    Firstly, the greatest falsehood in the essay is that it equates UNIX with Linux. Because Linux is a UNIX-like system, anything that affects the position of UNIX in the academic environment is also a threat to Linux. This is false; the real tension here is between open source free software and closed-source proprietary software. Both Windows NT and commercial UNIX fall into one camp when we view things this way. In the face of open source competition in the academic arena, not only Microsoft should be cutting deals, but so should vendors of proprietary UNIX.

    Secondly, it is hard to believe that computer science and engineering academics could be persuaded to dump their True opreating systems (whatever those are) in favor of some garbage from Redmond. That is just not going to happen.

    Another insinuated falsehood is that Linux has always been accepted in academic environments, and it was accepted purely because it is UNIX-like, and that it is very widely accepted by everyone in all computer science departments everywhere. Linux has flourished in the academic environments *in spite* of commercial UNIX variants. It was perhaps most used among undergraduates, at least initially. It was a long time before Linux made its way into departments, by sneaky routes not unlike those that it has taken in the corporate arena. Many old timer faculty members would scoff at Linux, being BSD freaks or commercial UNIX die-hards. It was (and *is*) hard enough to convince the academics that Linux is any good! Good luck trying to push NT on these people.
    It's not like all of computer science went crazy over Linux overnight. Undergraduates flocked to Linux because it gave them a good development platform that was compatible with the systems at school.

    This brings me to my final point. Yes, to some extent, Linux did become popular in the university environment among computer science and engineering undergraduates because it provided students with a familiar enviroment. Students could perform computing assignments and then easily back port them to the UNIX machines at school. So it would appear that if the school gradually converts to a non-UNIX operating system, this advantage of Linux will disappear. That much I can buy; what I have a problem with is the logic of the next inference: namely that Linux is somehow endangered by this! Truth is, the students who depend on Linux to provide a familiar homework environment are not particularly significant to the Linux movement. At least, not any more! Linux has a much broader base of users now. Secondly, such users do not contribute to Linux; they are usually very junior programmers. Many of them dump Linux when it is no longer needed for doing homework, in order to make room for Windows games on their hard drives. ;) Those students who are capable of contributing to a sophisticated open source project, an are motivated to do so, will do so regardless of what hell breaks loose at their school.

    In short, I do not buy the view that Linux requires broad, grass-roots support in academia everywhere in order to survive. For that matter, I don't think that it *ever* did require that support, nor did it have that support, and that it has flourished in spite of *opposition* in academic circles as well as corporate environments---the only difference being that there is less UNIX ignorance in academia, which is a two-edged sword (less UNIX ignorance == more UNIX arrogance). I also don't think that the operating systems choosen by computer science or engineering academics have all that much impact on the real world. Otherwise you would see a heck of a lot more UNIX everywhere and far less Windows. The academics, along with their UNIX boxes, could all disappear overnight and it wouldn't make a difference to the future of Linux, nor to the future of anything.
  • Remember all those AppleII's and Mac's that we had in school growing up? (Ok, I'll date myself, I had a TRS-80, but still)... Apple (Jobs) gave free computers to schools throughout the 80's - with exactly the same intention. Get them while their young, keep them when they grow up...

    Ironic, how Microsoft can't even 'innovate' a way of exploiting people, without ripping off Apple. :)
  • Though Wintel won't soon be the exclusive platform here at MIT, there has been "cooperation" between faculty members (esp. Comp. Sci./EE) and the corporate hierarchy, including MS and Sun. The result is that many CS classes are using MS+Java as their development platform.

    Fortunately, the role that the Internet has played in the development of Linux will probably continue, and students (like myself?) who appreciate the aesthetic and technical superiority of Linux (and other *nixes) will use the Internet to continue to push and advocate the technology.

    Thankfully, physics groups are poor and love Unix in general -- all but one of the boxes in my research group are running Linux.

    *** Proven iconoclast, aspiring bohemian. ***
  • As the kids play with M$ software, they'll break it. It will fail them.

    The less savvy will lose and important homework assignment when the computer crashed because of error 89837:34975398. Their grade will go down, and they will remember.

    The more savvy will break it on purpose. They will be trying to tweak the school network, to chat with a friend, to get into a teacher's account, and they'll succeed. They too will remember. And when their time comes to choose the software their company will use, the memory will come back.

    Microsoft is standing tall in front of the young.
    "The emperor has no clothes!!!"
  • One of the grand traditions of universities is hacking on the servers. We all know how well NT can stand up to that...

    However, I don't advise complacency. Students will have to stand up for a real education and make sure the NT servers meet their doom. After all, NT is NOT a good operating system to use when teaching OS design and implementation. A 'school' that switches to it has screwed up priorities and isn't likely providing a quality CS education.

  • The anti-Microsoft sentiment is rather high at Georgia Tech. A few years ago, the administrators came up with a computer ownership policy, requiring all incoming freshman to own a computer with a certain suite of software. No big surprise, they wanted everyone to run Windows 95. After pressure from the students citing free choice, the revised (and current) policy allows for both Windows and MacOS. (The Linux user group is in the process of compiling a compatible package for Linux users.)

    I guess the situation would be vastly different in a liberal arts school, where the students wouldn't know nor care about their operating system. However, I find this to be a paradox. They wouldn't (for example) buy a car if it kept stalling every hour. Yet, they accept computer instability as a fact of life. One would think that, given their education in humanities and social sciences, that they wouldn't tolerate such a product.
  • I heard that PepsiCo was selling off its fast-food holdings; I don't know what the status of that is.

    Burger King had a deal with PepsiCo from roughly 1983-1988, if I recall correctly. After that deal expired, they went back to Coca-Cola, who they had dealt with prior to the Pepsi deal.

    OT: does anyone actually like those awful gel-coated "crispy" fries Burger King sells now?

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  • Frankly, that's what scares me. Currently, M$ is in antitrust legislation, which will drag on for the better part of a decade in appeals and whatever M$ can do to slow the gears down. And frankly, there is a huge debate as to whether M$ is a monopoly or not

    My fear is, by that time it becomes bloody well obvious to everybody that M$ is a monopoly, it will be protected because we will also realize that this country needs M$ more that M$ needs this country.

    There comes a point in addiction where you simply cannot detox; the addiction is killing you and detox would simply kill you faster. I've seen people go that way, and it isn't pretty. I don't want to see hexidecimal America do the same.

  • by Juggle ( 9908 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @05:53AM (#1673891) Homepage
    This is the same reason I am disgusted by what Bill Gates considers his contribuitions to "Charity". Giving MS software to elementary and secondary schools? It's worse than the whole IE integration thing.

    Sure he gives out some software that costs him nothing but could have been sold for several thousand dollars. And in return he gets a generation of kids who've been force fed his applications since the first time they touch a keyboard. If they don't get exposed to anything else then why would they even want to think about anything but MS solutions.

    Of course the one saving grace is that kids more and more are questioning what they learn in school and questioning the schools themselves. My only hope is that kids revolt and turn agains MS because it's "what they get in school".
  • I left Kansas State University earlier this year. At the time that I left, they'd signed a deal with Oracle to provide copies of their database server on several platforms (Solaris [both sparc and x86], Irix, NT and of all things, Novell). There was also talk about getting the Linux version so departments without a lot of cash could have a powerful database server. Found out the other day that the deal for Linux was killed because Linux was "too full of security holes". (sigh) I guess I'm glad I'm gone ...
  • Public universities and other governmental agencies should be forbidden from using any non-free software unless they can prove that there is no appropriate free software available for a particular application.

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Two points are worth noting.

    1. One of IBM's greatest marketing blunders was letting unix boxes take over in the university environment - the result was that every technically trained and degreed person in the last 20 years has unix experience. Their wonderful MVS OS with its beautiful JCL/Cobol/ CICS language environment is taught only in trade schools - and roundly despised by anyone with any other experience.

    2. M$ did something like this with the California state school system in the last couple of years. There was quite an uproar of opposition but I have forgotten the outcome. I have seen reports of other deals like this for at least a couple of years - maybe targeted more at unix than linux, at least until now.

  • I think the deal is $1 billion over 20 years. That would be the same as you giving $50/year to a charity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 19, 1999 @05:54AM (#1673905)
    I am both a student attending IU and an employee working for the Consulting department. The article had several inaccuracies. The free software is only for incoming freshman. But for every body else, it is $5 per CD. (ie the Full release of Office 2000, on 4 CD's is $20.) I can say one thing about that deal, it isn't going to change much.

    The CS department is still going to be on all UNIX (SGI's and SUN's) And the servers are going to remain that way as well. Mainly HP-UX. Our News server runs off of a Linux box. The only NT servers we have are a print server (for printing quotas) and an exchange server.

    As a consultant the majority of the questions I field are Microsoft related. Be it regarding PPP setup, or Office quirks. I have never fielded a question pertaining to UNIX/Linux. And if I field a Mac question it is usually about MS Office.

    So you make your own conclusion. As it stands, schools are really cheap. They are going to go with the most economically sound setup. And do to the maintenance variable, that setup is UNIX for servers.

  • by aheitner ( 3273 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @05:57AM (#1673913)
    by a university's choice to go MS -- it doesn't seem like they provide any solutions "big enough iron" so to speak.

    Here at CMU (which is not that big a university, ~6000 undergrads) we run a massive distributed filesytem, afs, which is commercially available and was developed in part here (if we reimplemented the "andrew" system today it would probably be around CODA, which is Free iirc). The distributed fileservers have always been Solaris (and also a bit of HP-UX), and I'm not aware you could replace them with NT if you wanted to. AFS is supported by a a wide variety of clients: NT, Linux (and the other Unices), Mac.

    The individual departments are not likely to give up their own special types of computers -- Design and Art want their SGIs, many of the professors (and students) use Macs, and the geeks all use Linux and Solaris. What solution based on NT can serve all those clients, for a system with tens of thousands of total users?

    I just don't see any other way to run a computing environment the size of a university other than Kerberos and heavy-duty distributed fs stuff. Perhaps I'm missing something?

    I certainly don't believe MS could provide anything like CMU's reliability. I've been here over a year now. Once or twice the routing has broken for a few minutes, and once the university blew a power feed and everything on the other side of the street shut down for a day (actually a lot of it was running on backup ... but the all-solid-state stuff probably wasn't)
  • Sure microsoft can give away or even pay universities to use their crap but they can't easily fight the ingrown Unix culture and the fact that Linux allows students to play under the hood. If you want to do research into a new network protocol or O/S scheduling algorithm, you are going to play with something that you can understand and change.
  • It's a smart strategy. Apple did this, now look how far they've fallen after they stopped seeding educational institutions. There's no reason, except possibly greed, why RedHat couldn't get some mileage out of its nice, hefty large market cap and do the same thing.

    The author seemed pleasant enough, although the promotion of his own personal agenda was fairly annoying. The worst part was that whole learning Unix from one's elders thing -- my eyes actually rolled when I read that.

    Since someone said that it was a redux of an old article, I'm curious whether Linux made its appearance in the original, or if they just added Linux as a shameless attempt to catch a ride on the bandwagon. Throwing Linux into the mix seems to make some of his paper contradictory, something better explained later when I'm not screaming at this football game. TTFN.


  • by PenguinX ( 18932 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:03AM (#1673949) Homepage
    Here are the facts, I live in Port Orchard - about 70ish miles away from Seattle. Microsoft is commercially strong and really does have a hold on the tech industry. I work for Xypoint [] - we're in the World Trade Center - the sister building to where Visio [] Microsoft owns the business market [] in this area --

    Here is the problem - Very few in the tech industry cares about Microsoft.... why? because it's a moneymaker - and that's all it is. Microsoft is setting themselves up for defeat in this arena why?

    Colleges don't want to spend money, and they haven't for years --- Do you think that Berkley pays for BSD? or that the UW pays for Linux etc.? They have a very long standing relationship with Unix -- the entire infastructure is built upon it... why would they for a couple of small products have to hire MCSE's (think about it folks -- they will need to do this the Microsoft way) when they have a whole bunch of Computer Sci students that can admin. the IT infastructure for pennies on the dollar, or free?

    This one is a good idea by Microsoft, but I honestly think that they better watch another commercial competitor -- yes Apple. Apple (from what I hear) is going to be striking some major deals with public schools and colleges using their normal client software and their (BSDish) MacosX The end thing here is that Microsoft (still) does not have a good server OS, and until Linux becomes more 'user friendly' most home users or clients are not going to want to use it... I made the switch years ago to Linux, and I have seen amazing improvements but -- they are meeting head on ... who will win?

    Well in this scenario Think of the nightmare of trying to get this approved just to begin with -- First this deal is going to have to be approved by the head of the IT/CS department, then the students (who would have to learn a whole different OS to keep their jobs) and finally - the budget committe or otherwise accounting (once they see what an MCSE goes for they will simply put a denied stamp on it). -- Some small colleges will go to this, the larger ones for example UW, Berkley, and CMU will not.

    What do you think?

  • At my school, in the CS department at least, the only thing they don't have are Macs. In fact last semester they purchased a whole lab of Pentium II boxes with Redhat Linux installed. At this point, that makes the Linux lab the most modern in terms of hardware in the whole dept. All the Win9x machines are aging Pentium systems. The school seems to like Linux because of its low TCO. It was significantly less expensive than a set of Sun/Compaq/SGI/IBM/etc. workstations, and the administration and support costs are much lower than for a comparably equipped MS setup.

    I guess I'm not too concerned overall. Some schools will buy the party line and go the MS route, but I bet that there will be plenty that will use their heads when making computer purchasing decisions.
    For anybody who cares, I attend The University of Akron [] in Akron, OH.

    Scott Banwart
    Better to stay silent, and let people think
    you're an idiot than to open your mouth and

  • There's two different levels of users at a Uni.
    The average joe and those that NEED computers for their course.

    I've recently just finished an MSc at an UK university and during the four years that i was there, there was a slow and painful change to WinNT as the major OS across the campus. During that time the uni backbone basically ground to a halt under all the unecessary crap that NT likes to send around the network.

    The computing staff said that this was because the majority of people coming into the uni only really needed to browse the web, send email and write essays, therefore Windows was best because EVERYBODY knows how to use windows....

    The departments that need to use computers for things other than browsing the web etc. such as CS, Electronics, Physics all have their own network of Solaris/Linux machines because they know that it's more reliable, efficient etc.
    I suspect that they will always maintain there *NIX networks because of this, no matter what MS does or tries to do. Let's face it. Is NT *really* up to the task of running a large CAD system, doing nuclear physics calculations etc.... I doubt people running a simulation that takes a week to complete would be too happy about having to reboot their NT box every day... you'd never get any work done.

    The thing that we need to do is make sure that people going into academia at degree level have already had exposure to *NIX so that they know the benefits, no matter what subject they are doing. Remember, the CS/IT students or even the Art History students of today are tomorrows sys. admins.... with the power to make purchasing decisions.

    Just my £0.02 worth

  • Yes, Microsoft and some other companies did try this with California schools about a year ago. They lost, thanks to a lot of opposition from students, faculty, and unions like the CSEA. I've been told by someone active in the fight that similar proposals were tried all over the country, but I don't know where or the results in those cases.

    The deal was basically very cheap prices on hardware and software in exchange for exclusive use of the services provided by the companies behind the proposal. Very Microsoftian.
  • If Microsoft is willing to give support to universities that no other vendor is willing to give, then why should we criticize them? One of the big ways that we all spread Linux awareness is by giving it away for free. With students especially, this is very successful, as it gets them used to UNIX-style tools, etc. If any other company (you listening, RedHat?) were do take a step like this, we'd laud them for helping out the University community, etc. But, of course, if MS does the same thing, it's a greedy attempt to take over the world. Hello folks, it doesn't matter which platform "takes over the world" - it matters that Universities have the resources they need to support what REALLY goes on there - pursuit of knowledge. That has nothing to do with this or that platform.

    Flame away...
  • I can see Universities going down the drain nowadays using the Dilbert principles. The latest trend is to bring business and corporate methods to schools and it's already showing.

    There are too many stupid professors already. They don't think about science or students. What's worse, they are distancing themselves from the real world just like bosses. So they decide to go all NT because they buy the marketing hype from Microsoft. It's ridiculous.

    A friend of mine works at a big university. The stories I hear all the time are worse than the daily Dilbert strip. Once he had to go to a course out of town for five days because the professor didn't want his course to look bad because of too little attendees. In the end the majority of people were there only to increase headcount. And the ironic part is that they didn't get paid extra but had to work two unpaid weekends to do the work they missed during the unnecessary course.

    Bottom line is: Many universities are already run by morons. If they continue to do bad decisions, all the brains leave and fast.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    From the article:
    The firm designs all of its products so that you don't get 100 percent functionality until you've gone to an all-Microsoft solution, and the company makes no secret of this.
    Since when did going to an all-Microsoft solution lead to 100 percent functionality? Calum
  • by Skwirl ( 34391 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:11AM (#1673972) Homepage
    That's the line IU administrators took in their more recent deal with Microsoft, and there was nary a whimper of protest--but there should have been.

    As an Indiana U journalism/computer science major, I've got to add that there was protest here when the big Microsoft deal went down. Ol' Billy came to give a speech here shortly after that and there were protesters outside Assembly Hall and fliers denouncing the deal.

    Here's the problem, though, joe average student doesn't care. Joe average student doesn't even know that OSes besides Microsoft Windows exist. When I need to print something, I always go to a Mac lab, because there's never a line. And forget about Linux, because right now the learning curve is way beyond most students.

    Here's the good news: The people who care about Linux are the people who code, right? Every CS professor I've had at IU hates Microsoft as much as the next geek. Furthermore, most of my classes so far have been java based. Also, as far as I know, 90% of the servers here are unix-based. I think there's a few NT file servers. _shrug_ We get our email with Pine like everybody else.

    The fact that students can get Microsoft software freely and easily on campus is a bit of a problem, though. When I first learned about Linux last year and searched around for a distro on CD, I couldn't find one. LUGs out there that are concerned with advocacy need to burn distros and advertise a quick and easy way to pick them up.

  • I don't think that this strategy will benefit M$ that much, for this simple reason: I would hazard a guess that many, if not most, of those who go into s/w development, network administration, etc. after graduating were interested in computing before they went to university, and probably were interested in developing software too. These people are the ones who end up running networks, creating products, and generally making decisions about which brand to buy. How can someone aged 16 (or whatever) afford to buy a copy of Visual C++? They can't. So they get Linux (or whatever) instead, for free, which comes with a plethora of development tools. They continue to use this through university, and when they graduate, their thought patterns are set and they love the penguin. So if you want to blame anyone for corrupting youth with their OS, blame Linus Torvalds ;)


  • by TeknoDragon ( 17295 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:22AM (#1673984) Journal
    ...and it's scary. Quite a few students were allready aware of M$'s buyouts of various departments:

    Student Computing Services and the Business departments get to offer MSCE for a grand total of about $3000 (wait! that's an $8000 discount compared to other places! gee i wonder how much they're actually getting charged?)

    The college of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is rumored to get anything they want from M$, but I really don't know much about that.

    Several other departments spurradically get software gifts from M$. Two years ago a department got over 50 license packs of both Windows 95 and Office 97. This year they're getting around 20 copies of Office 2K and 5 for NT Server.

    There are a couple of effects of this upgrade.

    O2K = hardware upgrade. I personally think it's insane to install it on anything with less than 64MB & W98 and difficult to install on something with less than 128MB. Furthermore O2K nixes full backwards compatability with Schedule+, which quite a few people in one department use. The only way to share scedules then is to get a funky M$ "postoffice" mail server ($$). Fortunately there was a way to reinstall Schedule+.

    So the department suddenly has $10,000 of justifyable need for upgrades because they're trying to install O2K on 20 P100's with 32MB and need a new M$ postoffice to share schedules.

    For me to endorse this is suicidal. My payroll budget is stripped and helping them utalize these wonderful new gifts from M$ would put me out of work, unless they can get more funding from the University when enrollment is going down.

    I wonder how long untill some SCS person complains about how slow Netware is making all the machines (and it does with Win95/98)... and M$ steps up, provides the software. Then suddently SCS spends a bit on hardware and M$ certification courses are required for your job growth in a career that will rarely break $15/hour & never pay overtime (state law that no student can work more than 40/week - i think).

    ...of course Gateway is pleased as peaches. They've just about got exclusivity for new system purchasing.

    It really hurts to be "#1 most wired public school"... now WSU's gotta live up to it.

    Fortunatly Linux provides a wonderful alternative to M$'s domination plan. This year almost every system that I've seen in EECS that was running some proprietary UNIX has moved to Linux (Redhat, none the less Linux). CS students are starting out on Linux, and Junior/Senior level students learn assembly by programming for the Unix system. This year the LUG at WSU has a regular gang of 15 to 20 and growing. All calculus students are forced to do "Mathematica" labs, on RH 5.2 boxes. Linux was covered once in the campus paper, and I'm hearing rumors about a few grad students working on cluster computing (Beowulf?!) for analyzing scientific data. Finally Unix System administrating has been taught 2 semesters straight and is getting a lot of attention from MIS majors.

    crazy place to go to school, that's for sure...
  • Mirsoft would love to heave researchers at the big schools working on Microsoft products. To encourage that they are providing not on NT source code (for free) to universities, but also full systems. Of course, part of the requirement to take the machines is that they only run Microsoft OSes.

    No, I'm not making this up. I know a few CS professors and researchers at the local universities that have these machines. Although they've thought about replacing the OS, the risk is too high. The threat is that all the machines would be taken away and that's significant value to the university.

    This gets Microsoft two big advantages. First, cutting edge research gets developed on their OS. Other OSes may get supported on other boxes, but that's more effort. At least Microsoft is sure the software works on their system. Unix development becomes the second choice.

    Second, and more indirect, is that these professors starting using Microsoft as their primary OS. The universities typically don't give the professors multiple machines. So, this influence propigates through the rest of the department and to the students.

    Most of the professors realize they are being used, and try to work around it as much as possible, but with research money and resource being scarce, they have to use the machines the best they can.

    - |Daryll

  • Yah, Solaris is a real fortress.

    "Who's this guy Bob?"

    I wouldn't wish an "education" from many of these universities on my worst enemy. I was extremely lucky to have recieved the exposure I did to UNIX without being a CS student, although even the professors who do cooperate with MS at Cornell routinely lambaste the company and its products.

    I wonder if students get the message -- "sure, we'll take their money, but the product still sucks". You'd have to be pretty thick not to.

    Solaris and Irix secure... god damn that's funny.

  • by rcgraves ( 10702 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:28AM (#1673996)
    Like MIT, Stanford's CS department has a new
    Gates building.

    As at MIT, there are no production Windows NT
    Servers in the Gates building.

    However, the Graduate School of Business (both
    Stanford's and MIT's) is heavily Microsoft-biased.
    Everyone *must* have a computer in the GSB NT

    It's a good strategy -- people who don't know any
    better assume that the best and brightest MIT and
    Stanford CS students have some relationship with
    Microsoft, and the future PHBs who will eventually
    make the real decisions get indoctrinated.

    Incidentally, behind the scenes, the Stanford
    GSB's entire infrastructure relies on two HP
    Vectras running ISC DHCPd. They were literally
    about to be thrown away because they weren't
    powerful enough to run NT anymore. Despite
    three months of effort by full-time Microsoft
    employees with the personal attention of Steve
    Ballmer (Stanford GSB alum), the high-end HP
    servers donated to the GSB could not be made to
    run Microsoft's DHCP server reliably. According
    to nmap, the primary server is still running the
    kernel I installed in December 1997. It's not
    unlikely that they haven't been rebooted since I
    left Stanford 18 months ago.

    My new job is more fun.

    Brandeis is small enough to lie below Microsoft's
    radar. For the most part, we get to make decisions
    based on merit. This means Linux, BSD, or OpenVMS
    on the server end, Windows NT on administrative
    desktops, and a mix of about 77% Win95/98, 22%
    MacOS, and 1% other in the dorms.

    Everyone's paychecks come from Oracle for Linux --
    pressure to move to Linux came from NT sysadmins
    unsatisfied with the reliability of Oracle on NT.
    Student records still live in 20-year-old software
    on the VAX (*probably* y2k compliant) because no
    off-the-shelf solution does everything the old
    COBOL hacks do.
  • > Apple did this, now look how far they've fallen
    > after they stopped seeding educational
    > institutions.

    Sure, my first machine was an Apple in high school (early-mid 80's) which I learned how to program in BASIC. Never saw an Apple in college. Never did any BASIC in college either. Been using Un*x ever since. Wonder why? Think about going under the hood on an Apple. Geez! Can't find a CLI let alone the frigging source.

    > learning Unix from one's elders thing -- my eyes
    > actually rolled when I read that

    You mean you never heard about the well known mentoring system out there? Most, if not all, Unix types I know, me included, learned the trick of "actually learning Unix" from a more experienced friend or associate. Roll your eyes all you want, _Tradition_ means transmitting the folklore in the oral tradition. Unix is a traditional philosophy. Linux continues in this tradition. You seem unaware of this.

    > ... just added Linux as a shameless attempt to
    > catch a ride on the bandwagon.

    Again, Linux is very much a part and a continuation of the Unix tradition. The article indicates this. You must have missed this.

    I wish you good learning.

  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:50AM (#1673999) Homepage
    To add to the earlier comment about Penn State and Microsoft, here is the campus newspaper's story:

    Microsoft joining Penn State family []

    The most frighting comment has to be this one:

    Steve Stigers (junior-political science) said he thinks the contract probably won't make much of a difference. "Microsoft's the only software that's readily available anyway," he said.


  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @06:34AM (#1674006)
    Ignore this? Are you nuts? This is Microsoft's solution to linux' long term threat to the server market. Go back and re-read the halloween documents and you'll note that they are very concerned about the long term threat linux poses. Their solution is also long-term.

    It'll be a long time - 3-5 years, before Microsoft starts to reap any rewards from this tactic. But they will reap the rewards. The best time to stop this strategy is now - at the beginning. Not four years down the road when we can all see first-hand the results of a unix-deprived IT community.


  • >> The anti-Microsoft sentiment is rather high at Georgia Tech.

    I'd have to disagree with you on this. While it's true that the current official policy is that both Windows and MacOS are supported, it's been my experience that the bulk of software used in my classes (I'm a CompE major) has been available exclusively for Windows, necessitating long hours in labs for myself and those others who don't happen to have a Windows box in their room.

    An even stronger indication of "how things really are" is the fact that the overwhelming majority of students on this campus have Windows machines, with a portion of that crowd (typically CS students) setting up a dual-boot scheme to run Linux. The MacOS is used (to my knowledge) by an extremely sparse number of people outside of computing labs, as I've yet to find more than a handful of other Mac owners on this campus.

    I believe the reason for this isn't so much platform prejudice (although that certainly factors into it, especially among the student body), but the undeniable fact that there just aren't the number of engineering-based applications for the MacOS (and possibly Linux/UNIX, though I may be wrong on this) as there are for the Windows OS's, thus making Microsoft's dominance pretty much a fait accompli at a school so devoted to engineering.
  • Actually, I'm a 14 year old who is interested in computers and I use Linux/FreeBSD on my Network. I program in a number of languages (PERL, C, C++, UNIX Shell). I am not a warez pup (though I do have friends who are (but, hey, I'm the one they call for tech support)). I think that this is a broad generalization, you can't say that about all 16 (or 14) year olds interested in computers

    That's my 1/50 of $1.00 US
  • Microsoft is legendary for their anticompetitive practices. In the situations I have seen, they are /delighted/ to leave researchers twisting in the wind once the benefits to Microsoft start to decrease. That's not charity. That's exploitation. And the administrative staff of Generic State University is typically a bunch of burnout slackers who actually believe in a free lunch, so they merrily march into this trap. "TCO through the roof? Too bad, so sad. Hire some MCSEs!"

    Microsoft will continue to arouse suspicion in every aspect of its practices until there is substantial evidence that they are doing something besides raping the intellectual capital of the world.

    Don't hold your breath.

  • >Ironically, the biggest impediment to going back >to Unix is that a few of the faculty don't know >Unix and don't want to learn.

    In a UNIVERSITY environment, there should no excuse for anyone not wanting to learn, be it professors, TAs, or students. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever instructor with an attitude like that has no business teaching at an institution of higher learning.

  • Hmmm, what about the bennefits of being OS bilingual... at you get a lot of joblistings in the upwards ends of $60-$80k when searching for "port"/"porting"

    Sounds like a good plan for me... I know a bit of Win32 API, learn X's API, and MacOS's too...

    Interviewer: "Say I wanted a new application for our clientell that will..."
    Me: "Sure thing, which OS do you want it for?"
    Interviewer: "Ah, I don't care. We're going to pay some culsultants big bucks to port it for us."
    Me: "Well, I could do it myself if you want. I've written... for Mac... for Win32... for Linux"
    Interviewer: "!!!"
  • by xyz123 ( 88549 ) on Sunday September 19, 1999 @07:07AM (#1674033)
    Who cares about the server anyhow? OK, I will give some advice to all Evil Businessmen (TM) who want to take over the world:
    • The server is not interesting. No one cares what operating system the server is running. The server is NOT run by the scientific staff, therefore it is irrelevant.
    • The client is not interesting. The client is used for low-brow stuff like e-mail and TeXifying documents. Since e-mail programs and TeX are available for any OS, it is utterly irrelevant.
    So then what IS important? Is there anything else except for clients and servers?

    Strange enough, there is. It is the very small category of computers that are used for Real Work. I mean the computers which are performing the Important Computation, which are running the Experimental Operating System, or the computer cluster running PVM which is doing the new Parallel Algorithm.

    That's only a very small part of all the computer systems, but that's the part that actually matters. And nowadays, if it is not running a home-brewn OS, it is increasingly often running Linux.

    This small percentage of computers on which real research is done isn't likely to show up in the statistics. However, this is the most important part. It's the part on which people are actually trained.

    OK, my 0.05$...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I started at Emory I got a shell account on a Unix (solaris) server cluster and a "LearnLink" account (basically a cute gui messaging system running on NT server). Nowadays they're "encouraging" Freshman to use only the NT system. These klunkers crash every week, and are always slow. Freshman ask me how I manage to always have access to my e-mail. "Ahh young one, ready yourself for the mysteries of telnet..."
  • My CS201 class which focuses on Object Oriented programming and GUIs.
    This year we started classes with a surprise from our buddy M$, free software! Every student got NT workstation 4 and Visual Studio. The Dept got a crate of NT servers. I thought to myself, Hmm how generous, i even considered installing NT so i could use it. Then I realized that the curiculum had changed over the summer, Object oriented programming in C++ and Java is now OO programming in MFC (Microsoft foundation classes) this isn't anti-linux but we all know how Mr Gates loves Java...
    coincidence? you tell me.
  • About a year or so ago UAA (U of Alaska, Anchorage) made a similer deal with M$ (and pepsi ;-) but I havn't really seen the effects. The CS dept still uses Digital Unix, same with the MIS dept at the School of Busisness. At the library ,where i work as a part time network tech, we have a pair of old netware servers and two linux servers (including a shiny new rack mount unit from Dell, of course the racks havn't arrived yet and the new server is sitting in a chair in a coworkers office...) We use netware for file and print sharing (and will continue to until NDS is fully ported to linux) and the linux boxes for everything else. We are currently using NT (blah) for the public access computers because 1) a few databases we serve up require a winblows client 2) NT is sorta sercure/stable compared to 95/98. Though we do use Novell's application launcher for the system shell ;-) Fortunately all of our databases will be webbased within the next year and we can move the public machines to Linux/X.

    We have also resisted a few attempts to put NT on the back end mostly by finding a better OSS/Linux solution faster than a NT box could be ordered! As long as our users get the services they ask for they are happy (and so is the brass, esp when we do it w/out asking for more $$$)

    "The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad" - Salvador Dali
  • two years ago, my girlfriend's school had the typical university setup - unix serverside, clients using pine or (if they're a little savvy) pop servers to get their mail.

    that summer they switched to NT and everyone *had* to use microsoft exchange to get mail. this didn't bother many people that much - it's a pretty artsy-fartsy school and it's something like 80% girls. not a high geek factor. other than the hassle of setting it up, people liked the pretty pictures.

    but then came the crashes. at least once a month the mail server would go down and nobody would be able to send or receive mail. sometimes this would happen two or three times a week - one of the most common conversations i had with my girlfriend was:
    "did you get my email?"
    "damn it, tania's mail is broken too.. mail servers must be down. AGAIN."

    so there was widespread dissatisfaction and anger at NT. but - and this is the important part - because NT is 'better supported, runs faster, fud fud fud' they're not switching back. so 4 years from now almost no one will remember how much more reliable the network was when it wasn't NT, but it will be too late to switch back. and then, if they like, microsoft can switch to a more costly licensing scheme.

    this entire thing is scary and ugly.. but it's also the move of a company that is starting to seriously worry about its own superiority. things will only get uglier.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong