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[wlug] DHBs to test open source alternative to Windows and Office

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Daniel Lawson daniel@m...
Mon Apr 11 11:43:18 NZST 2005

>>As long as this doesn't make the linux desktop users feel 'second
>>class' or give the impression of 'using cheaper inferior software'
>>then this seems like a smart move. $20million in saved licensing
>>could pay for a lot of new hardware, or custom software development...
> I bought this up with Daniel after the $10million school issue.  I said
> "wouldn't $10 million be better spent on development of software?"  He
> reminded me that the last time the government tried this it was called
> INCIS, and they weren't likely to be too keen on doing it again.

If I did, I was merely expressing a possible reason as to why they 
Ministry of Education wouldn't bite. I'd really love to see something 
sensible happen here.

The current round of MS funding for schools is approximately equal to 
$25 million dollars, and includes a range of MS software, a virus 
scanner, the use of Watchdog's monitored proxy service, and some Apple 
software which I can't comment on because I've not looked at the package.

The MS software includes *upgrade* licenses to WinXP Pro or Win2k (ie, 
not native license - you still need a license on the computer!), MS 
Office, MS Works, MS Encarta, MS Publisher, and the VS.NET development 
suite and MSDN library. You can also apply for server licensing, but 
they aren't included by default, and I believe you still need to pay for 
CALs yourself.

MS Office is used in schools because it's what people know. At primary 
school level anyway, there is no compelling reason to use MS Office over 
anything else (doesn't even need to be office software, they are only 
doing minimal word processing work anyway!). At secondary level there 
might be a greater need, but I doubt there is any particular part of MS 
Office that can't be performed in Open Office instead.

VS.NET is perhaps useful, for the few CS classes that might use it, 
which will only be one or two classes per secondary school *at most*. 
The other place it might be useful is for in-house development work, but 
that's going to be marginal.

The use of a comemrcial virus scanner is probably ok. I don't know if 
clamav is mature enough yet, although it's all I use on servers. Mostly 
because the commercial offerings no longer runs on the server since a 
glibc update, and a reinstall didn't fix it.

I think there could be a lot done with the $15 million NZD or so that is 
being spent on MS products, if the Ministry got a clue and decided to do 
something useful. $15 million would create a LOT of NZ oriented content. 
There are some good resources around for Maori language, but I've not 
see a huge amount of good quality software on NZ History / Geography.

By far the best reader software (teach kids to read) I've seen is made 
in Australia, and the voices have a slight Aussie accent to them! What 
are we teaching our young!

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