May 07, 2006

Warwick University – "an affiliate of M$"?

So I got looking through the IT services summer 2006 guide to training which is offered to students on the subject of computing. Well, I say computing, what I mean Microsoft branded computing. There are no less than 18 references to Microsoft products on one side of the A4 pamphlet. Why is it that our university seems to go out of its way to indoctrinate all students into their (proprietary) way of doing things? There are alternatives to M$ software out there… why doesn't the university consider Open Office… or Koffice (if they want to go all out for the open source and use KDE aswell… I'm a GNOME man myself)

Further; why do they insist on wasting so much money on buying the rights to use M$ software when they could get one source software, which would be more secure, faster and more stable for far less money. The FAA in America saved $15 million by migrating to Linux (see link). How many extra books could be bought for our library if we made that move within the IT services dept.?


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  1. Christopher Hinds

    Probably less than you'd imagine due to increased admin time. Linux, Mac OS.X etc all offer good local alternatives to MS software and I'll take them on the desktop day in day out, in fact I'm typing this from a Mac. However Open Office and say SUSE don't have the deployment tools that MS puts at the hands of the Administrator in Win2k3/Office 2k3 nor the collaborative working tools like Office Server, and when you are admin of several thousand computers and a hundred servers, they make a big difference. I don't think there are any silver bullets in computing, just different shaped guns.

    07 May 2006, 23:51

  2. Lee Davis

    Whether you like it or not windows and other microsoft products are seen by most people to be the industry standard. It is the software that most people will be required to use once they finish studying, it is also most likely preinstalled on any personal computer they may buy. Whilst it may be possible to move all the public access areas to linux and opensource software it would be virtually impossible to get the majority of staff to switch so rather than havin a single site license and relatively uniform enviroment throughout the university you would end up with increased support costs due to having to support two completely different enviroments, and overall costs would probaly increase significantly.

    I do use linux at home on my server, however for work I need to use some software tat is windows only and it is much easier for collaboration to be using comaptible software with all those I am working with so for day to day use I will stick with windows.

    08 May 2006, 00:25

  3. I'm amazed at the level of FUD which is being used here… you say that Microsoft if the industry standard… but it isn't for web servers; thats Apache. It represents, what I see, as a shift in the ideational standpoint of computer users towards one in which people value open source, and as more people become aware of the virtues of open source they too will switch.
    If we compare Office and Open Office the products are very similar, they have similar usable features (features your average user would use on a daily basis), but one is infinitely cheaper . In a free market Open Office will win, and as the situation gradually becomes more of a free market Open Offices share of usage will increase.
    Also, the level of change for the average user on a managed network going from windows to KDE will be very minor. They are sufficiently similar to mean that people will not find any change too great.
    So why don't they just do the sensible thing and move.
    It wouldn't be hard to maintain either, someone mentioned that not all the staff will switch, but staff already use a mix of windows/ mac O SX/ Linux, so there will be little to no change there anyway. And because Linux is safer then it would mean less effort chasing round after idiots who have the most incredibly bad security practices imaginable…

    08 May 2006, 08:29

  4. Christopher Hinds

    You are missing the point. Yes Open Office has similar useability features. But I can't patch it centrally and roll out the changes via a group policy. I can't use the LDAP structure of a linux domain to roll out features and control policy. Where Linux has been successful in servers is primarily in the web serving market where servers are essentially autonomous and not running a domain.

    08 May 2006, 09:18

  5. Matthew Jones

    I also think you're over–estimating how much time ITS has to educate its 1000's of staff. It does not have the resources to get all staff members up to the same technical proficiency level, of that that say you have. Laerning to use IT tools is not part of these people's jobs. It just helps them do it. Most staff would never refer to a 'word processor' or a 'spreadsheet'. They would say 'Word' and 'Excel'. That is the state of the wider world, not just the university.

    Also, you seem to have overestimated the number of Microsoft products. There are indeed many different courses that are using Microsoft programs, but a lot of them are on the same software. Going from the current staff training there are 5 microsft products, and at least 5 non–microsoft products, not including the internally developed software. That seems pretty fair to me.

    Also, just because software is free does not guarantee a cost save. When you buy a licence for a product you get a lot more support for it then open–source software, and thats a fact.

    08 May 2006, 09:55

  6. Also, the level of change for the average user on a managed network going from windows to KDE will be very minor.

    But the level of increased complexity for the administrator is very major. The simple truth is that unless you have extremely simple computing requirements, linux is just not yet ready for the corporate desktop.

    I'm a strong advocate of free/open source software, but I am also an advocate of easily–managed networks. And the two don't go together.

    As the other commenters have said, making a choice about what to install is more than "can I use this software? Can users use this software?" The TCO of gnu/linux on the desktop is typically not much lower than the MS solutions. The applications where linux really wins is where it might take over from unix; datacentres, servers etc.

    08 May 2006, 10:05

  7. "I can't patch it centrally and roll out the changes via a group policy"

    maybe you can't…. I'm only joking (I've spent too much time on /.). I will defer to you better knowledge of the workings of our university's systems and needs… although you know if if you really want other features you could always get the code and write in whatever you wanted… if you had a few months/years to spare (I've tried to convince people that they really want to do things like this before and it's never worked so I'm not convinced it will now)

    08 May 2006, 10:21

  8. I'm a GNOME man myself

    Despite understanding the reference this still made me giggle for a non–computing reason. OK, thread hijack over.

    08 May 2006, 10:23

  9. Helen Ryan

    From the perspective of someone who has a slightly above average knowledge of computers (mostly from the company I keep) and is by no means a techno geek, it makes sense to use microsoft products as they're what the populace in general know. It means that people can arrive here and get straight on with using the computer systems, without any need for expensive and time consuming reeducation.

    08 May 2006, 10:40

  10. re : Helen,
    One of the things is though that you don't need to be a l33t HaX0r to be able to use open alternatives, there is a barrier insomuch as you need to make people aware of this though but with a little prod most people would be happy.

    08 May 2006, 11:03

  11. Matthew Jones

    but with a little prod most people would be happy

    Sorry, but that simply isn't true. Only when you have actually worked with the full spectrum of end–users as (not to sound big headed) I have, do you realise that no matter how simple you might think it is, it may not be simple for all your customers. Helen is right. We need to stick to what people know. When staff and students come to Warwick (with the exception of ITS and certain courses), using computers is not their job description. The PC is a tool to help them. They need to be able to use it in the simplest way possible.

    Simply saying to people "It's ok, it's just like X" isn't going to hold water in the real world.

    As a former CS student I was expected to learn Linux. That is par for the course. But why should someone whose degree is not dependant on computers (English for example), be required to learn a new piece of software where it is not necessary.

    Also, OpenOffice is free. If you would prefer to use it, you can. However the reverse situation would not be true.

    08 May 2006, 11:19

  12. Helen Ryan

    People who are used to one system will tend to want training before having to use a different system, regardless of how similar they appear to be to the experienced user. This is particularly the case for women who tend not to fiddle and experiment with things to see what they can do. What the university doesn't want is first years, who already have to adjust to a different way of life, to have even more upheaval in changing the software they are used to using. I would guess that everyone – even the biggest fans of open source software – have used microsoft products before and are reasonably well aquainted with them. What with the almost all schools teaching on microsoft applications.

    08 May 2006, 11:46

  13. Christopher Hinds

    "maybe you can't…. I'm only joking (I've spent too much time on /.). I will defer to you better knowledge of the workings of our university's systems and needs… although you know if if you really want other features you could always get the code and write in whatever you wanted… if you had a few months/years to spare"

    I think that's the major stumbling block, people don't have years to spend coding for their organisation, whereas MS make a framework that can be adapted to fit most organisations quite happily. I agree completely, there's no way I could code an alternate to some of the things you can do with Group Policy… I can do network admin fine on 2k3, but I can't code at all beyond reading HTML/PHP for errors. I'm not anti open–source, in fact I run Virtual PC on my machine and have several builds of Linux (Fedora/SUSE) and Solaris 10 to start learning the Linux/UNIX ways a little more… it's just there's places where it's less than ideal. I agree completely that for home/small business use Open Office makes more sense, and it rightly replaced MS office as the suite to have for PC Pro's "A List" however within a couple of months MS was back as a corporate suite for network management reasons.

    Also I think the university pays fairly low licensing fees for its products to MS which undoubtedly helps tip the balance somewhat in that direction, ease of management and fairly low costs compared to 0 software cost and higher management cost. I must try building a linux virtual domain to see how it all plays out doing it properly and see if it is comparable. After the exams though me thinks!

    08 May 2006, 13:44

  14. I'd just like to say that I agree with the sentiment. In no other part of education are courses tied to corporations in this way. There is a highly non–trivial set of users out there for whom a world without Microsoft is inconcievable: I have seen it myself. I can't help but feel that the way IT training in this country works only serves to enforce MS's monopoly on the market.

    If people were taught word–processing on a variety of similar programs, something the university does have the resources to do, then at least the users would be aware of the variety on the market, and I wouldn't have to explain to any more people why their new computer doesn't automatically come with MSOffice.

    08 May 2006, 13:51

  15. "and I wouldn't have to explain to any more people why their new computer doesn't automatically come with MSOffice"

    this is part of the reason that I lament the societies who are directly interested or concerned with open software not being more actively involved round campus… would it kill them to get a stand outside of the library showing off some of the available software for both windows and Linux

    08 May 2006, 15:11

  16. Christopher Doidge

    How many people are taught word–processing (or spreadsheets) at University?

    Users' sense of 'Microsoft–is–best' is ingrained at school, not three years of university.

    08 May 2006, 16:08

  17. In no other part of education are courses tied to corporations in this way. There is a highly non–trivial set of users out there for whom a world without Microsoft is inconcievable: I have seen it myself. I can't help but feel that the way IT training in this country works only serves to enforce MS's monopoly on the market.

    To be fair – the courses being talked about here are essentially 'How to do X in Y' training. They're not a course in the commonly recognised University sense of being part of an academic programme of study. Better to compare them with the instruction you'd need if your degree course required you to use a complex electronic microscope (which would be highly specific to the equipment you're using) than to the module of study that you were using the microscope to complete. Instruction on how to use tools will inevitably – for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness – be specific, short and to the point.

    As to re–inforcing the monopoly? If I buy a PC, it comes with Windows on (largely). It may come with one of a number of pre–installed packages, Office amongst them. If I want to make effective use of that package, I seek out training for it. Does this re–inforce the monopoly? Perhaps, but to be brutally honest, at this point you've already lost – you need to intercept this problem (if you perceive it as one) much earlier on.

    If people were taught word–processing on a variety of similar programs, something the university does have the resources to do, then at least the users would be aware of the variety on the market, and I wouldn't have to explain to any more people why their new computer doesn't automatically come with MSOffice.

    It isn't the job of Universities to spend money addressing structural problems surrounding competition in the software and operating systems market. Despite what you say, we certainly don't have the resources to teach word–processing on a variety of similar programs with zero effect elsewhere – something else would have to give. Frankly, if you think people would turn up to those courses you're on a hiding to nothing – it's hard enough to convince people they need to go on a two hour session on using Word or Excel – tell them it'll last twice as long and cover three times as many packages all trying to do the same thing, and most will just not bother and continue bumbling along under their own steam.

    There are many roles Universities could be seen to have in society, but I personally don't think levelling the playing field for OpenOffice versus MS Office (which is in essence where this started) should be one of them. You may of course disagree.

    08 May 2006, 16:59

  18. I was thinking less of a university education and more a night–school education. There are many institutions that offer this sort of "how to do X in Y" course, but that the similarities between different office suites outwiegh their differences, especially the early stages. I really don't see why you couldn't replace a course on MicrosoftWord with a course on "how to use a word–processor", where people are shown the type of features offered to them by the format and taught how to use them. I just assumed that this university, with its comparatively larger computing facilities, was a lot better placed to implement this than the majority of institutions.

    I use my mum as an example. She was sent to computer courses by her employer, and struggled with them. This is only my opinion, but I believe she would benefit more from understanding the general concepts of the programs than from the memorisation of sequences of points and clicks currently offered by the local colleges. Even after going to her course she remained unaware that there was any difference between the operating system and the programs that run on it.

    The inclusion of MS office on a new computer is usually an optional extra, to allow for competition in the market, but what's the point in having competition laws when the only training available to your staff is Microsoft–specific. This isn't specifically the rôle of the university in society, but that of all IT training facilities, to provide an education that produces users who understand that the computer–software market is competitive, and are able to apply their training to whatever specific program they happen to be using at the time.

    I think of the ECDL when I say all this, which has gone half of the distance toward my idealist view by allowing candidates to take their tests based on Lotus as well as Microsoft, but I just think that if Europe is really serious about this, then there is still a long way to go.

    08 May 2006, 19:29

  19. 1. Network management issue
    I am pretty sure that its possible to have a centrally managed and updated server setup with a few cron'd scripts and running an apt repository on one of your servers. If you keep local machines automatically sync'd with your apt repository and then choose which updates to put on apt I think this is essentially the same thing as rolling out policies over the network for program updates. For updating user controls a properly configured LDAP server should allow you to do this. I just genuinely do not believe that this arguments holds true if someone who really understands how to operate linux is administering the system.

    2. Conversely the argument that Microsoft's software has to cost money again doesn't hold true for a university. Warwick university is part of the Microsoft Academic Alliance, correspondingly it would be possible to get free software for any academic activity it engages in. This, of course, comes with a restrictive EULA, but the university needn't actually pay any money for their Microsoft Software, or at least this is what I inferred from some discussions on the Computer Science SSLC last year.

    3. in response to #4 I would also like to point out that Linux has enjoyed great success in areas where its ease of customisation offers benefits to the users. For example, embedded systems and compute nodes in HPC clusters. (Though customisation tends to come on the more sophisticated clusters run in scientific computing that the embarrasingly parallel ones used a lot industrially.)

    4. One of the given reasons against the Singapore campus was 'academic freedoms'. The exact same freedom of choice is a good reason why the university should be supporting alternative operating systems. Would be too much to ask for some linux or mac machines outside of DCS/Maths? I would frankly rather that more admin time was spent on that than developing a custom blogging or forum system.

    Just my not very humble opinions, frankly I don't think you can really comment on the usability of any of these systems until you have used them day in, day out for at least six months, which is why I don't raise any BSDs or Solaris as an option, even though they apparently have similar advantages as linux.

    08 May 2006, 20:29

  20. Richard, i like your line of argument…

    I had avoided going off on one about the benefits of open software… but now I kind of feel like the conversation has got round to here so I might as well just go all out… (use open source!)

    1.It is far easier to find problems in open software than in closed source software. Open software means that anyone can look inside, review and improve on any part which they feel needs it, ideally this would then be sent back centrally and then packaged as part of an update so everyone can enjoy the improvements. As a side anecdote Linus himself is still involved in this, he personally wrote over 2% of the kernel (I make that about 50, 000 lines of code), a problem was discovered and he personally wrote the fix for it… there really is nothing that can compare to people who have real expertise and knowledge of software.

    2.Because everyone can see the code it is not the crackers (commonly, if incorrectly, referred to as hackers) who have the advantage – because it is relatively easy to probe for problems when you know how.

    3.On a more paranoid note: no one can hide information about you in it. I'll take a few example here. Have you ever noticed how if you open up a document in word and look round, maybe print preview and then close word will ask you if you want to save… what is it saving? The Metadata about everything you've pressed/looked at… do you really want that much information stored about you? Secondly if you install a Linux distro, or get something like SLAX/DSL and look round your windows partition you will find files called things like “tracking.log”. I have windows set up so I run as the super user, and have it set to view ALL hidden files… but I can only see this in Linux, what is MS hiding?

    4.It is pretty much always licensed under the GPL rules, a system which gives you rights, proprietary EULAs take away rights (have you ever read one? I wouldn't be surprised if they asked for your soul)

    5.There is no single entity on which the future of the software depends. This is really important, more than most people think. If the company who maintains that entity decides to stop supporting it then you lose all your files when you have to upgrade. Further they can kill software stone dead and no one can have the right to work on it to maintain it.

    That gives a little overview there… you should seriously consider using it even if you feel you want to stay on windows… great software which is open source includes: Mozilla Firefox (web browser), Mozilla Thunderbird (e–mail client), VideoLan (media player), open office (office suite), the GIMP (image editing suite) – if you have any other favourites, post them below…

    08 May 2006, 21:14

  21. I am pretty sure that its possible to have a centrally managed and updated server setup with a few cron'd scripts and running an apt repository on one of your servers. If you keep local machines automatically sync'd with your apt repository and then choose which updates to put on apt I think this is essentially the same thing as rolling out policies over the network for program updates. For updating user controls a properly configured LDAP server should allow you to do this. I just genuinely do not believe that this arguments holds true if someone who really understands how to operate linux is administering the system.

    Group Policy is a lot more complicated than deploying updates globally. Say I have an environment with a selection of different hardware and user types. With a proper group policy, I can deploy updates selectively to specific groups of machines, or deploy software to specific users. Further, ACLs are a lot more advanced in windows than in any linux I've seen. Solaris does it right, and FreeBSD has a go, but windows makes things easy. You want to give a specific group of users access to a specific folder on every machine? No problem. You want to give a subset of these users (or an intersecting set) access to a different folder? Or only to access that folder on a subset of your machines? No problem. That is a major ballache in linux.

    Gnu/linux is going the right way, slowly. The biggest problem with the current model of Free software development is that coders typically do what they're interested in, rather than fixing all the boring bits that are the real showstoppers.

    08 May 2006, 22:59

  22. "Why is it that our university seems to go out of its way to indoctrinate all students into their (proprietary) way of doing things?"

    I am lost with all this technical stuff but I do know that the reason Microsoft (and the leading hardware manufacturers) offer huge educational discounts to schools etc is to get people used to their brand so when these people eventually go to work they will expect to use it. Microsoft would be the first to admit this.

    'Indoctrination' is very much part of the marketing strategy of any major brand.

    09 May 2006, 09:36

  23. Ref. Jonathon Rose:

    "this is part of the reason that I lament the societies who are directly interested or concerned with open software not being more actively involved round campus… would it kill them to get a stand outside of the library showing off some of the available software for both windows and Linux"

    I'd consider myself pretty average at using computers etc, and I get a bit lost in all the jargon and acronyms used here, but I'd be more than willing to try out 'open' software if only I knew what was worth trying and what it could do for me. I don't even know what any of the programmes are called, and am perhaps a bit scared of downloading things that haven't been recommended in case of viruses etc. It seems to me that only CS students and computer enthusiasts know anything about these things, and if the University (or anyone for that matter) tried to educate us then people might begin to use it.

    09 May 2006, 15:33

  24. Bruce
    Software to try, in approximate order of usefulness

    1. Firefox instead of internet explorer
    2. OpenOffice instead of microsoft office.
    3. Thunderbird is an email client, if you only use webmail this will take a bit of getting used to (and working out how to set it up), but it works nicely with google mail and so on

    09 May 2006, 16:21

  25. Bruce made an interesting point about people being nervous to try new things because of being worried about viruses and just not having an idea of where to go to get things. I now use Linux pretty much full time so i don't really have to worry about viruses/spyware/adware/keyloggers/rootkits etc. (even if you do use Linux it's still worth taking some precautions, I use: clamav (virus scanner), chkrootkit and rkhunter (rootkit killers) and firestarter (firewall) – just getting a plug in) but it is a legitimate concern. Max posted some good programs; information on how to use all these programs can be found in the help files or online… You might also want to take a look at Videolan (it's a media player) it really is very good and supports loads of file formats (link)

    09 May 2006, 17:55

  26. Tim

    Wow,
    The number of people here who claim to be Open Source advocates here, yet seem to be ignorant to what tools ARE actually available is utterly astounding.

    10 May 2006, 01:59

  27. The number of people here who claim to be Open Source advocates here, yet seem to be ignorant to what tools ARE actually available is utterly astounding.

    Oh there's stackloads of software available, but it hardly seems sensible to suggest to someone who is totally new to it to install apache, emacs or gcj, don't you think?

    What do most people spend their time doing? Surfing the net, writing word documents, doing email. That's why firefox and openoffice, and to a lesser extent thunderbird are making inroads to general knowledge, but very little else is. People aren't ready to switch to linux, and linux isn't ready for them to.

    Which tools did you have in mind that a novice might want to install, Tim?

    10 May 2006, 09:50

  28. James Miles

    Jonathan did you consider that maybe…MAYBE…calling them M$ might make you look a little biased?

    It's been said but the reality is that most people are used to MS Office (and other products), took years to get used to them and are just too uninterested and unwilling to use something else. Even if they have to!

    11 May 2006, 13:18

  29. Ian Liverton

    Arrrggghhhh firefox. arrrggghhhh. Its shit shit shit. It gives me nothing but problems when its the default browser in ITS. Sites don't work, java doesn't work. It wont open bitmaps that don't have execute permissions. I hate it with a passion. IE just works. Why can't people see that that is what most people want in software – you press a button and it works.

    I run a linux box at home for what open source is good for – Servers. Trouble is even there trying to configure anything is a nightmare with hours of poking required to fix anything.

    I've seen enough of open source to know that most of it is not for anyone who doesn't have enough time or knowledge to fiddle. The only piece i've found that is exceptional is videolan VLC player. An excellent piece of software no one should be without! why? cos it kicks media players ass in that it just works. It plays almost any file format without arsing around with codecs and so forth. Its only problem is the interface. If all open source was that good, there would be no problem in getting people to switch.

    11 May 2006, 18:47

  30. Ian, my god, what are you on. IE "just works"? it is a terrible browser, full of security holes, it can't pass the acid2 test, it doesn't have tabbed browsing, you don't have the vast amount of extensions which Firefox does, it doesn't block ads… how the hell is this in any way better than Firefox?

    If people are too stupid to put together a website which works with the most used browsers in the world then that is hardly the fault of FireFox.

    IE is literally the worst browser on the market, in pretty much every way. The biggest of which is security: over the last few months there have been numerous extremely critical errors which could esily let someone take over a system just because an IE user visited an affected web page… so "just works", right?...

    11 May 2006, 19:10

  31. Ian Liverton

    Security is an issue i can't really comment on. i've never really had any problems, but then i know what i'm doing well enough to take precautions. but yes, generally it does just work perfectly. i go to a page. it comes up. great

    11 May 2006, 19:21

  32. Oh dear, a flamefest. Nice.

    Jonathan, I don't think the LUG would want to sit outside the library offering free software to everyone… unless you gave them an internet connection. It would feel like evangelising – I might as well join the CU.

    On the other hand, there's a LAN this weekend, so I suppose we could try to get rid of those last few Knoppix CDs we distributed (to just about every first–year CS student, much thanks to IBM).

    12 May 2006, 00:14

  33. Tim, there already is an internet connection outside the library, you should be able to get wifi in there. You say that it would feel like evengelising, but I'm not sure that that is a bad thing; it's just showing people what is good about the things that you like, this is what pretty much all societies do. I'm the chairman of the international current affairs society, and I like to talk to people about what I'm interested in, so I do, there's nothing wrong with that (by the way, join next year – it'll be ace – far better than even this year). As for your comment about the amount of flamebait/trolling going on… I feel I have to reply and don't really like deleting comments, so I guess it all looks a bit iffy, just be thankful there are no GNAA posts, or "FIRST POST!!!!!!!!" types… now if we had blogs built on the slashcode then maybe we could enjoy modding people down (and ourselves up); we can but dream… (see link)

    12 May 2006, 10:15

  34. blogs ≠ /.

    Thank god.

    12 May 2006, 10:34

  35. I went off on a rant^Wcarefully considered but overly long discussion, so I'll save posting that here. To summarise: pouncing on people outside the library might increase the free software movement's visibility, but this would not be a good thing if it came at the expense of casting them as nutters.

    Um, go read something on advocacy, would be my advice.

    12 May 2006, 17:38

  36. Firstly Max, /. grew out of a blog (Cmdr Taco's), so the format is really an evolution, and one I think is actually an improvement, you seem to disagree… personal preference maybe.

    Tim, you might have a point, I used to be a telephone canvaser, doing cold calling, so I guess you just get in the habit of grabbing people and then talking to them pro actively…

    I'm unsure that it wouldn't work, although it might not be the best way to do it – but it's still my personal preference. I do think though that we can't make advocacy for open source just a war on MS – but would a demonstration event really be all that bad? In reply to your comment about just handing out CDs I agree that that wouldn't work, no one would use it, but a demonstration could show people slowly, and if they wanted, what is out there.
    If there was a little stand with a couple of posters and friendly looking people who were just happy to answer questions as opposed to grabbing people might really work well. This tactic is pretty much what all societies use when they are in that spot (though some are really aggressive).
    Maybe I just have a romanticized image in my head… maybe it could work… either way I don't think it would turn anyone off.

    12 May 2006, 18:11

  37. I found this the other day while avoiding revision. Absolutely hilarious US Republican extremist view of linux. Originally though it was a satire, but having checked out the entire site it seems that these people actually believe what they are saying. Especially liked the comment pointing out that the site on which it was posted uses linux hosting. Check out the rest of the site for some revision–avoiding humour

    13 May 2006, 13:01

  38. Andrew, well funny troll article, well worth a read…. but you do know that they're just joking, right (on the internet it's hard to get if there is sarcasm in your post)?

    13 May 2006, 13:36

  39. dave

    "I can't patch it centrally and roll out the changes via a group policy"

    tried zenworks?

    "Sorry, but that simply isn't true. Only when you have actually worked with the full spectrum of end–users as (not to sound big headed) I have, do you realise that no matter how simple you might think it is, it may not be simple for all your customers. Helen is right. We need to stick to what people know. When staff and students come to Warwick (with the exception of ITS and certain courses), using computers is not their job description. The PC is a tool to help them. They need to be able to use it in the simplest way possible"

    Have you ever tried putting Linux or Open–Office on a Lecturer's desktop? The largest UK educational evaluation of Open Source software would appear to disagree with you…

    link

    13 May 2006, 17:37

  40. Jonathan, having read the rest of the site and followed some of the links, I'm not so sure they are actually joking. When I first started reading the site i was pretty sure they were, but after following things like the petition to have Jesus declared an american citizen, several rants about the "liberal media", the Germans, evolution, and looking at the links given on the site, suchs as the map of patriots and the Presidential prayer team. Generally, even with the best online satire, such as the onion, it slips occasionally, or just goes too far, but this doesn't slip once. Even if they are joking, there are far too many supportive messages for my liking, which suggest that there are quite a few people out there who do actually believe what's on the site.

    13 May 2006, 18:34

  41. sensible

    Dont be stupid

    Microsoft is used because its better. Its the best. Its easy to use and easy to learn (particularly for people who, unlike you, dont have an unlimited amount of time to sit in front of a computer)

    The reason all you open–source types are anti Microsoft (and by the way, its really really really tiresome to use a $ instead of an s when you type the name, and quite sad too) is because they are succesful. Yet another indication of the Left–wing anti–capitalist bias in the field of Computer Science (especially at Warwick).

    So just get over it.

    Microsoft is best – yes, they make a lot of money, but they deserve it because they make damn fine products. They also deserve it because Bill Gates is a genius who got in the market first.

    Ordinary people, unlike you, dont care about the process. They want results. Microsoft products deliver results, for ordinary users (not geeks). Open source products dont.

    So get over it.

    ( <– this is me being ironic)

    16 May 2006, 12:48

  42. sensible

    last line should have read

    (<– this is me being ironic)

    Bet if warwick blogs were a microsoft product it wouldnt have chopped it off.

    Peace out.

    16 May 2006, 12:50

  43. sensible

    For christ sake

    16 May 2006, 12:51

  44. sensible

    \

    16 May 2006, 12:52

  45. sensible

    Right i'm giving the fuck up.

    16 May 2006, 12:52

  46. I might as well address this old chestnut here…

    “Yet another indication of the Left–wing anti–capitalist bias in the field of Computer Science (especially at Warwick).”

    I'm just about the most neo–liberal (new right) person you'll ever care to meet. I support the open–source idea because it is the very essence of the free market idea. I am against Microsoft because they attempt to bastardise the market so that it suits them but not the consumer. They have a product, which they attempt to force everyone to use, and charge a price which is not related to its quality.

    In the free market everyone is able to acquire all the information they wish about a product, then make a decision weighing up costs and benefits. Open–source is a virtue which adds additional benefits. When looking at the costs and benefits then I will see that Linux can give me everything that I need, and that it is open–source, and has a cost of £0 for me (in a lot of instances). I look at Microsoft which can give me everything I need; however in terms of costs I see: 1) It is not open–source – so has inherent problems with security/bugs and 2) It costs about £250 with more for the office suite.

    Surely in the free market we would chose the first option? Doesn't seem very left–wing to me.

    If you mean that they make something and then let people have it at no cost I also fail to see how that is a left–wing ideal. Most people in the open–source community do not think that it is wrong to charge for things; they just make money in different ways. Firefox is given away for free, Mozilla makes their money when people use the inbuilt Google search bar (something I've made a conscious effort to do as a way of giving something back). This is just a different business plan to Microsoft – one which works more effectively over the Internet. I again fail to see what is left–wing about the idea of adapting to new situations and exploiting new markets. If companies don't innovate and keep up with the pace of the world then they die; it is as simple as that.

    16 May 2006, 18:19


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  1. Evangelising free software

    (This was originally going to be a comment on Jonathan Rose's blog entry, but it grew far too long, and it looks like I'm ranting. So, ideal blog material, then.) The trouble with evangelising is that it immediately makes you an outsider &ndash; you're the group&hellip;

    Nothing to see here - 12 May 2006, 17:11

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