[ale] Palladium/MS: ideas for retaliation

Geoffrey esoteric at 3times25.net
Wed Jun 26 14:45:10 EDT 2002

Jeff Hubbs wrote:

>>>I assure you the best you will do is replace server 
>>>environments at this level.  Currently Cobb County uses Novel Netware, 
>>>so they're not totally M$ shop.
> Okay, fine.  One of the strengths of having Linux server environments is
> the power of accommodation.  I would say, support Windows and Linux
> clients as equally as is practical, and let other practical
> considerations guide the supplanting of Windows clients. 

I'll go one better.  I'd say that once they see how well Linux servers 
work, they'll be more apt to consider Linux for the desktop.  Still, 
issues exist, primarily software replacements for current windows apps.

>>>Because of the investment in software these school systems have, and 
>>>the comfort level the average teacher has with M$ environment, you 
>>>won't be able to touch the computers in the classroom or labs.
> Let me stomp up and down on that "investment" word.  We are talking
> about a Government agency here.  These are not "investments;" these are
> EXPENSES.  COSTS!  This means that there is NO LOSS TO THE GOVERNMENT if
> the status quo is chucked out the window replaced with a more flexible
> and less costly alternative and 

Present to me the Linux packages that will replace:

Printshop, Type to learn, any of the various Magic School Bus packages, 
KidsPics and on and on.

> furthermore, am I wrong or does "the
> average teacher's" comfort level consist of clicking on icons to open
> apps (e.g., Web browser, mail client)?   My point is, how hard can the
> transition be??  I don't think the average teacher does much registry
> editing or setting up his or her own network drive mappings.

Talk to my wife.  Er, well I guess she's the exception. :)  I agree, but 
you still have the 'missing applications' issue.  If I could get a copy 
of Printshop that runs on Linux, I'd have my wife on a Linux box full 
time.  Until then, forget it.

> Setting all that aside, though, here's where I think the REAL obstacle
> lies.  Let's suppose that somewhere there is a statewide IT manager who
> has been approving these monstrously expensive MS/Checkpoint/Cisco
> procurements for quite some time now.  What you're proposing is that
> there is a group of people who can create equal or better IT resources
> that

> meet all the same needs

THIS IS THE KEY.  More then anything else, you'll need to provide 
replacement packages, not for word processors and web browsers, but for 
the learning packages I've noted above.  Until then, you won't see Linux 
on the desktop in primary schools.

> and then some for a FRACTION of the
> procurement cost.  This puts this manager in a considerable bind, for
> your mere proposal implies that the IT manager soaked the Georgia
> taxpayer by not researching alternatives in the state's best interest. 
> So, you'll get absolutely nowhere making a proposal to such a person. 
> The best you can hope to do is a) make a "groundswell" among teachers,
> principals, and administrators b)

You can forget the teachers for now.  They've got too much to do as it 
is without considering any impact on their daily activities.  I still 
say we focus on the server end.  Maybe you are too?

> make a case to state legislators and
> people above the level of the statewide IT manager.

Now this is the place to strike.

> Now, if we were in a position to do lots of work for free, we could get
> in tight with some school, work up an LTSP rig 

Won't work, at least not in Cobb County.  All the schools IT stuff are 
controlled at the county level.  You might get some skunkworks stuff 
going, but you'll not get a single school to go that route completely. 
I just lost the battle of providing a 30ft ethernet cable for my wife's 
classroom in order to have both her classroom computers sit side by 
side.  The county standard is nothing over 25ft, inspite of the fact I 
provided documentation on the standards of cat5 cabling.

> (FWIW, I have gotten an
> LTSP client/server rig to work and I know from having done that that
> even though LTSP represents a huge amount of work on the part of its
> creators, it takes a lot of additional work to make it truly
> deployable), and make it do something useful by way of a demonstration. 
> Then, the next step would be to parade as many decision-makers as
> possible past it and let THEM make the mental leap regarding the
> hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs that could be avoided.  

I have to research the LTSP so I know what it's all about.

> Make no mistake, I'm very enthusiastic about the idea of using Linux to
> power school systems; I want more money to flow to teachers, not
> overpriced spy^H^H^Hsoftware.  But, I also feel that even if we managed
> to switch off Sponge Bob long enough to put together a truly excellent
> LTSP rig as a demonstration, there won't exactly be a receptive
> audience.  

Unfortunately agreed.

> I have a personal issue here in that my daughter is about to enter
> Georgia's public schools for the first time and I care about the
> environment she and her classmates are in.  As far as my daughter's case
> goes, it isn't so much that I think that she needs the best IT resources
> at her fingertips at school (she can get that at home!  HAH!) but rather
> that I don't want my daughter's school system to be so cash strapped
> after budgeting for IT that the teachers are knuckle-draggers, the
> buildings aren't clean and well-maintained, and the lunch tastes like
> sand.  
> Basically, the school system would have to be willing to fund payroll
> for a group of people to research and lead Open-Source IT resource
> implementation.  I'd work in such a group in a heartbeat if I could get
> paid for it.  One thing that I have a real issue about in schools is the
> effect of all these old and/or donated PCs - machines that are donated
> PRECISELY BECAUSE they are effectively or actually USELESS in the MS
> regime.  My LTSP rig that ran here at the house had a 2xP/133 server and
> a P/90 client, and the weak link was DEFINITELY NOT the client!  It
> occured to me quite a few years ago that these donations are really
> liabilities - they can't run modern MS OSses usably yet their presence
> makes it more difficult for schools to lobby for sufficiently powerful
> PCs.  
> - Jeff

Until later: Geoffrey		esoteric at 3times25.net

I didn't have to buy my radio from a specific company to listen
to FM, why doesn't that apply to the Internet (anymore...)?

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