Teacher Threatens Linux Distributor: No Software Is Free

from the corrupting-the-youth-with-linux dept

Rich Kulawiec writes in to point to the rather amusing story of a teacher in Austin, Texas who supposed sent a threatening letter to the HeliOS Project, which builds and provides Linux computers to disadvantaged or “exceptionally promising” students. The letter complains that in distributing free software, the teacher believes it’s likely that something illegal is happening, and everyone should be using Windows. To be honest, the letter is so over-the-top that it almost makes me wonder if it’s real. It feels a bit like a put on of the drug wars (especially the whole “I along with many others tried Linux during college…”). However, if it’s real…

….observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization.

Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them…”

The guy’s response to the letter is equally over-the-top. But, if the letter is true, he’s right that supporters of free software still have quite a long ways to go in their education campaign. Perhaps they should start suing. After all, the RIAA and MPAA have been telling us that lawsuits=education campaign for years now…

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Comments on “Teacher Threatens Linux Distributor: No Software Is Free”

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102 Comments
Its not real says:

Re: Nope your probably missing the whole picture

I seriously doubt we are even seeing anything remotely close to the whole picture in this story. If I was to take a guess this is what it is really happening.

The educator not really fully aware of the networking environment his school is utilizing is probably aware of a potential security risk by allowing a rogue OS on the network. Again I would guess that the educator is using a Windows Server 2003 or later, based networking environment. Complete with Group Policies and all that kind of stuff. A user with some skill level could potentially bypass Mircosofts security restrictions with the OS. Or in some cases ignore them altogether.

Can linux be secure? Yes.. Is the educator aware of it? Probably in some small way. But my guess would be that his concerns are about managing users with windows based environment that are running the rogue OS in question.

The educator not fully understanding the whole picture elected to focus his concerns in a very unproductive way.

Better to be silent and thought of as an idiot.. As opposed to opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

Urban says:

Re: Re: Nope your probably missing the whole picture

I think your faith in people is rather naive.
There can be no doubt that the teacher is the type of person who makes procedures without questioning them and then follows them to the letter for the remainder of her life. Never questioning if it could be done better.

This teaching I am sure wanted to come across as if she knew anything about Linux and therefore states she tried it once. And if she is a young new bright eyed teacher then her college years really doesn’t have to be that long ago.

Mansellyn says:

Re: Re: Nope your probably missing the whole picture

Your answer actually highlights a good point. While the teacher isn’t probably all knowing, he/she is probably more concerned with how the student received the system and how it will affect the school.

I am a teacher and am not all knowing. Personally I would be thrilled to receive computers for all the students who don’t have one already, but I would have to exercise caution because of the security all ready in use at our school’s site.

I sadly, guess that the letter is true, just not fully explanatory or tech savvy.

Tom says:

Re: Re: Nope your probably missing the whole picture

teachers thinking about security risks to the network? As an IT technician in education that’s gotta be the funniest thing i’ve heard all day! Most of our teachers can barely check their email and turn on their machine let alone come anywhere close to thinking about network security. Most teachers don’t care about technology and just want it to work the way they want it to work and then bitch if it doesn’t. I guarantee you 95% of our teachers don’t know what linux is.

Parker (profile) says:

Joke?

I’m torn over whether or not its a joke – if so, it is hilarious, especially because of that Linux during college line.

I’d believe it if it wasn’t – while “brainwashed” might not be the right word, some people have very strong opinions about things, and who knows where they got them.

I can understand the teacher’s point about it not properly preparing students for a future in which Microsoft rules the business world. The teacher is probably thinking that learning Linux is akin to writing the same way they txt their frnds, as the young kids do these days.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Joke?

I can understand the teacher’s point about it not properly preparing students for a future in which Microsoft rules the business world.

The problem with that point is that Microsoft changes its OS and Office Suite. The way you did something in W2K is now completely different in Vista. And the way you did something in Office ’95 is completely different in the Office 2007.

In other words, it does not make a lot of sense to stick with Microsoft in order to prepare kids for the future when those tools will change by the time they graduate anyway.

And furthermore, because the tools will change, it makes much more sense to educate kids using an agnostic system/platform in order to avoid ingraining any biases into the kids which they’ll only have to un and re-learn later.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Joke?

Get a plane ticket to India.

The man who used to think of backwards compatibility was helpful is now on the BoD at Costco. Not that anything’s wrong with that, but I find it humourous that the people who know how to develop customer-friendly products, and understand basic concepts such as “backward compatibility may actually be helpful in leveraging an existing customerbase” are oft pushed out.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Joke?

Actually, no, the problem is that the Microsoft Windows code base HAS NOT changed in over a decade. Yes, they’ve gotten new interfaces, some exterior face lifts, an overgrown slew of patches and fixes and all the odd feature bloat you could imagine, but the same insecure, poorly organized code hides at the bottom of it all.

Drew (user link) says:

perhaps...

Perhaps it’s a big joke, but sadly, I think that first impressions really have this letter figured out. Yes, there really are people out there with a genuine hatred for anything they don’t use daily (I’m related to some of them, and yes, one of them in a teacher)… and frankly I have had SO MANY people tell me how “horrible linux is” (btw, I’m writing this comment from my laptop running Ubuntu 8.0… clearly isn’t compatible with the rest of the world…)
But frankly, I believe that for a child to grow up with a linux machine is a healthy experience; the basics (how to point’n’click, saving a file, loading a program, typing a letter in OpenOffice…) are all the same as any Windows machine, which is frankly more than I have to say for a Mac… which, by the way, is still a very common computer in schools. Are those kids getting prepared for the real world?

Petréa Mitchell says:

Cyber-lynching in progress

“The guy’s response to the letter is equally over-the-top. But, if the letter is true, he’s right that supporters of free software still have quite a long ways to go in their education campaign.”

And even longer now, with the later commenters on that post trying to dig up the personal info of the teacher involved so they can harrass her directly.

Reason #1 that Linux is not more widely used is that it’s very hard for the typical nontechnical person who’s used to Windows to make the switch. Reason #2 is that many people do not respond well when approached with the attitude that they are ignorant sheep.

Evil Mike says:

Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

Reason #1 that Linux is not more widely used is that it’s very hard for the typical nontechnical person who’s used to Windows to make the switch. Reason #2 is that many people do not respond well when approached with the attitude that they are ignorant sheep.

1) Technical skills are not required, only the ability to read, reason, and comprehend.

2) How do you suggest approaching an ignorant sheep? As if they were a polar bear, perhaps? Or does one approach an ignorant sheep as if it were a stale cookie? If it “bah’s” like a ignorant sheep, walks like a ignorant sheep, has wool over its eyes like a ignorant sheep, it’s probably a f%$#ing ignorant sheep.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

1) Try installing an MP3 player without ever using Linux before. Then after you manage that, try finding the executable file to run it.

2) That is the problem with Linux thumpers, they instantly assume that if you don’t understand the command console to the point where you know the difference between LS and DIR or you can’t compile your own drivers than you’re an “ignorant sheep”.

CVPunk says:

Re: Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

“1) Try installing an MP3 player without ever using Linux before. Then after you manage that, try finding the executable file to run it.”

This is extremely easy to do with Amarok.

“2) That is the problem with Linux thumpers, they instantly assume that if you don’t understand the command console to the point where you know the difference between LS and DIR or you can’t compile your own drivers than you’re an “ignorant sheep”.”

For most home users Linux is a breeze, no compiling or konsole work needs to be done.

I have Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE4.2 64bit running on my home pc and my laptop. The only thing I HAD to use the konsole for was to install a driver for my wireless card on my laptop that took all of ONE command.

People hear the old horror stories of Linux and assume the same is true today, which is very wrong. More and more companies are supplying drivers and open source code for Linux each day. Hell, even Adobe put out it’s new Flash Player 10 64bit for LINUX first.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

> 1) Try installing an MP3 player without ever using Linux
> before. Then after you manage that, try finding the
> executable file to run it.

You mean like an application? It’s already built in. There’s
no need to install something. Now something like Ubuntu will give you a “map and a flashlight” if you try to open something it’s now familiar with. An avi with h264 content is a good example of this.

The Ubuntu response to this situation is head and shoulders
above what Windows would offer.

Then there’s the “add and remove software” feature that
actually works in the manner that you would expect that
icon/feature to in Windows.

Your second point is just outdated FUD. (not worth repeating)

farkus says:

Re: Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

1) your problem is that you think everything should work like Windows. At one time you were new to Windows and if you had never used a Windows machine which would be easier Linux installation or Windows installation? I’m not going to say that Linux is easier, but I remember the first time I installed a product on Windows, I had to read the instructions cause I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. The first time I went to install something on Linux do you know what I had to do? Read the instructions. And people who are new to Mac have to, guess what, read instructions to install programs.

It isn’t that hard to figure out where the executable is in Linux if you know what to look for. Think back to when you first learned Windows. Things weren’t always so easy.

ToySouljah says:

Re: Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

When was the last time you tried Linux? I dual boot Ubuntu and Vista. I will admit that things are “different” in Linux, but nothing difficult. With Linux (referencing Ubuntu disros) the command line is rarely used anymore. Also, the community is EXTREMELY helpful in working out issues…all you have to do is ask or read. The repositories can pretty much handle your need for installing an mp3 player. You can get the codecs and software in one place rather than going to different sites to get them like in Windows…so in that aspect Linux is actually easier…lol. As for finding the executable…it isn’t too hard to go to your menu and click on the program or you can use a launcher to open it and put it either on your desktop (pick one) or anywhere you like it. If you have not tried Linux lately I’d suggest getting a Live CD and trying out for yourself. Do not judge the speed from the Live CD though since Linux smokes Windows as far as speed, but not fully realized through the Live CD.

anglofogue says:

Re: Re: Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

“1) Try installing an MP3 player without ever using Linux before.” Why would I want to? My Linux distro (openSUSE) plays MP3s straight from the box; I don’t have to do anything. “Then after you manage that, try finding the executable file to run it.” Why would I want to do that? I click on an MP3 and it plays, in an excellent player called Amarok.

“2) That is the problem with Linux thumpers, they instantly assume that if you don’t understand the command console to the point where you know the difference between LS and DIR or you can’t compile your own drivers …” In what century did you last try Linux? I don’t use the console, couldn’t care less about commands, and have never compiled a driver.

Are you from Austin, Texas, by any chance?

chris (profile) says:

Re: Cyber-lynching in progress

reason #1 is that the typical nontechnical person doesn’t know how to use windows to begin with. they don’t know what a partition or a filesystem is and since windows came installed on their walmart emachine, they will probably never find out.

the only difference between not knowing how to use windows and not knowing how to use linux is that you don’t feel alone when you don’t know how you use windows. you can also call your company’s help desk or pay the geek squad to fix your windows problems when you get lost, but consumer grade linux support is not a big market, yet. if you are afraid of learning, just go to your local linux user group’s installfest and get one of the LUG members to install it for you.

reason #2 has been irrelevant since ubuntu. the “attitude” you are talking about comes from people emailing the kernel developers’ and distro maintainers’ lists with “i can haz linux” type questions. windows users don’t expect direct support from bill gates, why would you expect that from linux developers?

you will get the same “attitude” on any forum, *ESPECIALLY* windows support forums if you post a new thread to the wrong group without having done at least a cursory google/forum search. that’s just basic netiquette.

http://ubuntuforums.org is full of people who are completely lost and asking absolute beginner questions. the mods there are patient and will refer you to the docs that you need. good luck getting that kind of community support from a VB.net forum or a gaming forum.

if you are afriad of forums and google searches, join a LUG and learn hands on in a more humane setting.

Teilo (profile) says:

Idiot commenters

Harrasment is right. Some idiot on his blog posted a list of all the Karens at her school. Moron. Ken Starks is also a moron for posting the name of the school. This should never have seen the light of day on his blog.

I feel really sorry for this lady. She may have been ignorant, but doesn’t deserve to be pummeled.

Note this, from his Twitter feed:

# Text received: can I call u? response: I guess who r u? received:Karen response:k. Talked with her twice that day. Tearful, frightened. about 6 hours ago

# 45 minute conversation with Karen. Educated her on FOSS/Linux. Apologies flowed, she is in awe of the Linux/FOSS Community. about 6 hours ago

# colleagues talked her into civil litigation for privacy violation, now on hold. Am installing Linux on her computer this Saturday. about 6 hours ago

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sure she deserves it

It did not say what subject she taught. Must everyone be proficient in Linux?

Of course….

“MOAR”

…pretty much explains everything. Grow up. Get a job. Then, when someone harasses you about something completely unrelated to your field, move far, far away for being the ignorant moron you obviously are.

Anonymous Coward says:

I smell something else

I dont think its a joke. The story has reference from Helios project, which shows picture of the kid from Austin who received and installed Linux running in the background. The response is pretty subtle and clear. I understand its the combination of ignorance and vested interest of the teacher involved that resulted in this situation. I am glad the Helios project intends to followup. I am with ya dude.

bitlifter says:

Teach open-mindedness not boundaries!

As someone who uses Windows, Linux, and OS X professional on a daily basis, the real answer is that this teacher should be teaching that an operating system choice should be based on the task at hand. I wouldn’t put an accountant on Linux but I would consider it for VisualFX software, engineering, or mathematicians. I wouldn’t put a upper manager for a large corporation on a mac because they need advanced features in Outlook, but I would put a regular employee on a mac that just needs to read e-mail and access his calendar. The teacher should be teaching open mindedness not finite boundaries!

Anonymous Coward says:

She absolutely deserves to get pummeled. If this is in fact real then this person is in charge of shaping the ideas of the future generation. This goes all the way back to the scopes monkey trial.

“We can’t teach evolution to children! It goes against God and the Bible!”

Sounds a lot like

“We can’t give Linux to children! It goes against Bill Gates and Microsoft!”

Ignorance that ingrained is destructive, especially when shown by a teacher who is paid by our tax dollars. She deserves far more punishment than she will ever receive.

Teilo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

An Anonymous Coward writes:

She absolutely deserves to get pummeled. If this is in fact real then this person is in charge of shaping the ideas of the future generation. This goes all the way back to the scopes monkey trial.

Add yourself to the list of idiots, then, who have no sense of scale. She was ignorant not evil. Don’t you get the difference? No, of course not, because you are an idealogue. She, at least, was educable. (Note the Twitter post). You, on the other hand, are ready to support, and likely engage, in harassment. People like you are far more dangerous than this woman.

She also sent a private email, not a public posting. Ken’s first response should have been to contact the teacher in person, and do his best to clear up the misunderstanding. Judging from the Twitter post, that would have worked, and we would have only heard the good news in the end.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Add yourself to the list of idiots, then, who have no sense of scale. She was ignorant not evil. Don’t you get the difference?

Oh, so you’re saying that those who don’t believe in evolution are evil? And just how do you know what her intentions were? For a teacher to try to spread ignorance to the children she is supposed to educating seems just a little evil to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Keep talking, buddy. You are making my point, however incoherently.
And for the record: Those who don’t believe in evolution are neither more nor less evil than those who do.

Your previous point being that the difference between her and them was that she was not evil. Backpedal much? Or was your point simply that you are an idiot?

mike says:

Re: Re: Re:

oh come ON, she immediately assumed it was illegal because it didn’t cost money? And no I have very little compassionn for dumb teachers who write knee jerk letters and then have to face some annoying consequences for opening their yaps without actually researching anything, she said what she said and will now get to suffer the humumiliation that goes along with it, and it is hilarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Ignorance is not a crime. Your inability to show any compassion at all and your complete intolerance aren’t either.”

If she didn’t know what she was talking about then she shouldn’t have been spouting off, confiscating discs and writing threatening letters. Those actions indicate either supreme arrogance or malevolence or both. I tend to be intolerant or those things.

“Aren’t you lucky?”

To not be in her class, yes.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re:

This MORON accused one of her students of a felony. Yes,
the sort of shenanigan she thought was going on is infact
a federal felony (courtesy of the RIAA and MPAA). These
sort of accusations are nothing to be bandied about lightly.

The teacher should have chosen not to spout off about those
things she doesn’t know about and given the kid some benefit
of the doubt. Perhaps a professional should act in a more
thoughtful manner.

StarNoStar says:

Neo Office

Neo office for mac can open docx files (and its free). Im pretty sure open office can open them too (although I just use the open office format when saving so I have no way of testing this)

My high school used red hat on all of its computers, they believed that students should learn how to use an OS that is built to work, not an OS that is built to make money.

I have converted many people who have only looked at my macbook (which dual boots fedora core and os x 10.5)…none of them have ever gone back. with wine/crossover/virtualbox I can do pretty much anything a windows pc can do without the headache.

To anyone who wants to/will try linux for the first time (moving from windows), dont give up on it, the first 2 weeks you use it, it will be the most frustrating thing next to installing a 90’s linksys router, but once you get the hang of it, you wont want to go back.

NullOp says:

Free?

I agree! No software is ‘Free.’ The term ‘Free’ implies no cost of any kind. For those of you who have used Linux, any distro, you know that it is not ‘Free.’ Even after you’ve learned enough to use it. There is always a small cost in personal time, frustration, learning curve, whatever. But, OTOH, you CAN download and run “NO $ COST” software, even a Linux distro!

Nismoto says:

Re: Free?

Regardless of your definition, Linux costs me far less in terms of price and headaches than Windows.

I started using Linux about a year ago and the only headache and grief I suffered was trying to get my wireless (Broadcom) connection working. I also had just as much headache with getting my wireless connection working in Vista (when it worked fine in XP).

After 12 years of Windows, I still spend too much time fussing with it.

Him ThatIs says:

Re: Free?

Nothing is “free” free, but that doesn’t mean you yourself let that stop you. You are using a computer right? So you had to invest personal time for the learning curve even after you bought it right? You’ve driven an automobile right? Did you “Just Know”? You will also have to spend “personal time” for the “learning curve” of many upgrades. My question is: what was your REAL point? seriously.

Anonymous Coward says:

On first reading this, even on second and third reading 9 different web sites) I thought the teacher was a joke and computer ignorant. BUT! Then on rethinking the issue after thinking about some of my own posts concerning Linux on various BB I am not so sure.

From a business prospective a computer is a tool to do a job. If the computer will not do the job then the tool is useless.

What do business want computers to do?

How about accounting, finance, engineering, CAD et.

Well when you install Linux do you get accounting packages of the caliber of Maple? Finance which allow financial evaluation?

How about CAD? Well there is Q CAD. Will it open a Auto CAD drawing. Current AutoCAD drawing I am working on has at least embedded drawing, First drawing is basic civil lot layout. Second drawings adds in building foundation. Third level adds in building mechanical. Fourth level adds in AC. Each drawing level has over 100 layers. Each device like lights, wall switch is on a different layer. Each layer in each drawing can be turned on/off as needed to produce desired results. Each drawing level can be turned on/off for the same reason. This allows for non interference between the mechanical, electrical. piping, plumbing et systems.

How many layers does Q CAD allow? NONE

How many embedded drawings does Q CAD allow? NONE

So if Q CAD is useless in this work environment and Q CAD is the top of the line Linux CAD program that is available then of what use is Linux since all Linux does is provide an operating system for the CAD program to run under. Linux is thus, regardless of all it great other features, is totally completely useless because is Linus is used the computer will dot do the job it was bought to do.

From this we can conclude the teacher is fully and completely correct. Linux is useless and a wast of time in a business environment and it is better for the kids to learn an operating system that does at least work some of the time.

BdgBill says:

Re: Re:

As another poster pointed out you could easily have the same problem with Windows. How many people paid thousands of dollars for CAD programs or plot printers that worked on XP but not on Vista?

I have been using Windows and MS Office since I was a teenager. I recently stopped into a Kinkos to print a document and could not figure out the Office 2007 interface.

So I guess all my years spent learning Windows and Office were for nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“From this we can conclude the teacher is fully and completely correct. Linux is useless and a wast of time in a business environment and it is better for the kids to learn an operating system that does at least work some of the time.”

With a phrase like that it almost sounds as if your trolling. Just in case your not:

Imagine a small business with these simple I.T. needs. Printing, Internet Use, Email, and Word Processing. An student with linux skills would be able to this up. Its open source and you can usually find versions of Linux at little to no cost. General Managers really hate it when you save em a ton of dough!

If your serious you have a very narrow viewpoint. If Bill Gates started out with that kind of viewpoint we would not be having this conversation. Perhaps you should research the history of DOS and Gates.. Its kind of funny. DOS the best OS Gates ever sold. Who cares if he owned it at the time??

If your still missing the picuture. Gates built Windows off of DOS. Who knows what the future holds. Perhaps a student could build an entirely different OS off of Linux. Do you really want to close that door????

Sorry, hit the wrong button says:

Re: Re: (Maybe that was my problem)

General Managers really hate it when you save em a ton of dough!

Huh? This maybe true where you come from. During an internship, I saved an ED $15K, and he called me up wanting to take me out of college and give me 15,000 shares in the company. Later, I worked for some big software company based in Redmond who didn’t recognize a need to, nor care for those who saved money.

I quickly learned I was working for the wrong company. Google is a better choice for fiscal conservatives.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So if Q CAD is useless in this work environment and Q CAD is the top of the line Linux CAD program that is available then of what use is Linux since all Linux does is provide an operating system for the CAD program to run under.

imagine a doctor’s office whose electronic medical records system is inaccessible because the windows PCs that run the client software have been crippled by malware. i fixed that last week. how much does it cost to not see patients for two hours?

imagine your uber-cad station rendered useless by the same thing, probably on the same day because since windows is everywhere, windows vulnerabilities are everywhere too. how much does a lost day of drafting cost your company?

in both cases, there are jobs to be done that can’t be done because windows is a giant bullseye on a company’s back.

also keep in mind that autocad for windows is it for now, but google sketchup, autocad.com, or some “cad in the cloud” render farm setup can’t be that far off. when that day comes, windows’ days of being everywhere are numbered.

i was a unix system administrator for a company that designed auto parts. they had windows machines for email and office, but high end SGI workstations for engineering. in recent years, wintel machines running autocad have delivered “good enough” performance for a much lower price. when a cheaper alternative comes along, the autocad PC will go the way of the SGI octane.

pixar and ILM used to use big SGI gear and irix for their renderfarms. now it’s all linux becuase the nodes are cheaper.

if you want to use windows, go ahead. if you want to pay a platoon of IT guys to fend off the hordes that seek out windows like no other operating system in history, go right ahead. if you want to replace your desktops every 2 years because of microsoft’s unreasonable system resource expectations… well you get the idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Linux skills are definitely useful in a business environment, you’re just talking about a business that still latches onto their security blanket (windows) and has very poor IT supporting it.

Case in point: AutoCAD not on linux? Sure. Catia does run on linux, and many unix flavors. Use a program that doesn’t suck.

Joe (profile) says:

Yep...sad but probably true

My guess is that the teacher repurposed a different letter from something else. I doubt it’s a joke as most people don’t understand the linux concept…which is that OS’s should be free.

I recently transfered over to linux. Not sure how typical my story is but I recieved a virus, needed to get windows to even operate and installed linux to reset my HDD so that i could copy my files onto an external HDD so i wouldn’t lose those files. Found out linux actually was very user friendly, and in a number of ways better than windows.

That isnt’ to say windows is worse than linux, but for my needs linux works and I don’t need headaches getting updated drivers for reinstalling windows. So i’m sticking with Linux.

slimcat (profile) says:

The first one is always free.

“I along with many others tried Linux during college”

Oh man, I feel for you. My first time was about thirteen years ago with Red Hat. It was great for a while but I, ya know, just needed something stronger. That was when I made the switch to Debian. Been hooked on that for twelve years. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s done to my life. Mindless hours configuring kernels and trying to get sound and printing to work in the early days, endless fiddling with C, Python, bash and emacs and the arguments with my wife over ‘special’ hardware. I know I need help. I’ve just gone too far and can’t quit now.

Anonymous Coward says:

has this one been run up the flagpole?

I know it is slightly off topic, but the remark of win95 costing 70 bucks brought this to the forefront of my mind. Copyright law shoudl be modified for media and software. The copyright is only active while the software and media is supported. Once the company gives up on the software, then it should be moved to the public domain for the community to maintain as their desire.

So once MS decided they no longer will support win95, they lose the copyright, community gets it.

Coyote says:

Nice, but the guy who writes that blog is a douchebag. You’re not supporting Linux by being a jerk.

There’s no need to refer to anything by MS as a virus, even if you don’t like it.

I have yet to see Windows spread from one machine to another… although there always has been the ususal Slashdotter rants of crafting Windows malware that would replace the copy of Windows it infected with some variety of Linux.

So who has ethics, again? It’s also perfectly doable, just use something like a weaponized version of Wubi to slowly trickle in the image, then hijack the windows bootloader.

Reed says:

Re: Hold on there!

“There’s no need to refer to anything by MS as a virus, even if you don’t like it.”

Windows XP is solely responsible for costing the US over $20 billion a year fighting spam from botted or zombied windows based computers.

In this respect Windows may not be a virus, but it is a breeding ground for the worst spamdemic in history! lol

Crazy Coyote says:

I tried to convince the technologically bankrupt school administration and the IT dept. in town to make the switch to Open Source to no avail. They could even reuse the technology they throw out in the dumpster. The reason I got was… To hard to learn. That’s what the frig school is all about. Learning!! Problem solving!!!! Microsoft offers instant gratification but at an extraordinary taxpayer expense. Hell I even wrote the governor.
Funny how the young kids are so technologically superior to thier teachers. They love Linux and fits thier budget very well.
The real world of computers is now, has been and always will be a heterogeneous enviornment.

Johan says:

Re: Re:

I tried to convince the technologically bankrupt school administration and the IT dept. in town to make the switch to Open Source to no avail. They could even reuse the technology they throw out in the dumpster. The reason I got was… To hard to learn.

I ran into this too. While at University, I volunteered at a local school to setup a basic website, nothing big. I wrote a 10-page argument for using LAMP, and after a few months, I heard nothing back. Nothing happened. In the paper, I proposed moving from a static WinNT platform to a system which relied on the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and provided a cost/benefit analysis for Linux.

So, yes, I valued the people over software, which seems to be an argument even to this day, Microsoft doesn’t want to hear.

When the district found my argument invalid, they decided to move back to WinNT. I asked if I could borrow the CDs so I could learn their implementation of HTTP server software.

Do note, this was a decade ago, and today, I am amazed at the accomplishments of the OpenSource community, and equally amazed at the non-accomplishments of Microsoft.

With commodity hardware, you coud use those old WinNT/Win2000 licenses to run XAMPP.

So last month, I came across those CDs and manuals. Maybe I should return them.

Anony Mouse says:

What most of you guys fail to realize is that ones choice in OS has so little impact on the grand scheme of things. Being a windows user, or even a microsoft fanatic, doesn’t make you stupid or ignorant or anything else. This teacher has no need to be aware of Linux in any aspect, legally, socially etc. It was introduced to her via a student and raised a flag, which is a result of a healthy suspicion teachers are supposed to have. Now I don’t condone writing a threatening and caustic letter whilst uninformed, but some of you guys make it sound like a hate crime, Get a life GO OUTSIDE, btw.. rockin Ubuntu 8.10 here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

@Anony Mouse:
“Being a windows user, or even a microsoft fanatic, doesn’t make you stupid or ignorant or anything else… It was introduced to her via a student and raised a flag…”

1) Harm (little, yes, but still…) was done by the teacher by reacting negatively to a non-existent negative condition. This reaction sent the wrong signal to his students, who in turn have learned a small lesson based on incorrect information (from the teacher), at least the ones who knew as much (or little) about Linux, and Open Source Software, as the teacher. The teacher was more than overly-cautious, he was wrong. And that harms OSS.

2) Now suppose that teacher took steps to rectify the situation by demanding that the student wipe his/her hard drive, destroying that child’s notebook. Should the teacher get off with an “Oops, my bad?” after getting set strait?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This teacher has no need to be aware of Linux in any aspect, legally, socially etc. It was introduced to her via a student and raised a flag, which is a result of a healthy suspicion teachers are supposed to have. “

A healthy suspicion she could have easily cleared up within minutes (much less than writing that letter) by using tools she should be teaching her class to use (Google).

It is simply surprising that anyone with a teaching credential would write such a letter without any cursory investigation beforehand.

Ryan says:

2 sides

Its important to learn how to use MS programs, as it will probably continue to be the most widespread system out there for many years.

On the other hand, MS continues to “simplify” its programs, making it impossible not to see how to do something. To us who grew up on 98 and XP, it makes no sense.

If it continues, kids wont even know what the difference between a monitor and a tower is (its already getting to that point). and it will only be another bit of knowledge lost, and everyone will be a bit dumber

interval says:

Re: 2 sides

@2 sides:
“Its important to learn how to use MS programs, as it will probably continue to be the most widespread system out there for many years.”

Yeah. Probably. Maybe. Although the signs that this single truth may not be built on the granite foundation everyone thinks. The cloud is coming. And a lot more people are using Linux than even I first thought.

Crazy Coyote says:

RE # 48

You don’t have to put the computers on the “school” network. Let the kids build their own intranet with donated equipment. Let them design it as a “real world” school credit. Then enjoy as the battle of the brains unfolds.

I’m not a teacher. I don’t have kids. I don’t even like kids but I sure do enjoy donating my old hardware and watching them work together to accomplish something. They are constantly building and destroying thier own network.

I do pity the poor teacher in the over structured enviornment though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Be very careful of what you say here. Especially that which may be construed as anti-microsoft. Ever since Mike went To Redmond, to meet whats his nuts VP of Intellectual nutsack, I have lost confidence in this blog.

Anyone that has been here for a while will also note that Mike never, never, NEVER posts any analysis that is anti-microsoft.

Because this thread went anti-microsoft, think about it.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Be very careful of what you say here. Especially that which may be construed as anti-microsoft. Ever since Mike went To Redmond, to meet whats his nuts VP of Intellectual nutsack, I have lost confidence in this blog.

Please get your facts straight.

1. I did not go to Redmond (I’ve never been to Redmond in my life actually). I met the guy here in Silicon Valley.

Anyone that has been here for a while will also note that Mike never, never, NEVER posts any analysis that is anti-microsoft.

Um. Are you nuts? The very link you pointed to was anti-Microsoft.

http://techdirt.com/articles/20081020/1938442601.shtml

I talked about how I spent the entire meeting disagreeing with the guy over their patent policy.

And, let’s just look at posts about Microsoft in the last month, almost all of which criticize Microsoft:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20081109/0144342776.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20081119/0056492875.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20081120/1149262901.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20081125/1653442951.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20081202/0314242994.shtml

So. Um… would you care to admit you were wrong at this point?

OldGeek says:

In Texas

Being here in San Antonio, right down the road from Austin, it’s not important what the teachers major was. When G. Bush Jr. was governor he made sure all the high school teachers had to do was prep the students for the TAKS test. Actually teaching a student something useful is the furthest thing from their mind, I discovered that when I decided to go back to school a couple of years ago. Most of my fellow students under the age of 25 couldn’t read or write comprehensibly enough to pass the basic courses. Now add on top of that, Dell, you can’t enter a primary or secondary school that has nothing but Dell PCs and Servers. And it’s the same with all the local and state offices, all nicely contracted to ensure bondage. Now let’s add to the fact that all Dell will service is Microsoft or void your service contract and warranty if you install a different OS, then you will understand how tight the blinders are on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: In Texas

“Now let’s add to the fact that all Dell will service is Microsoft or void your service contract and warranty if you install a different OS, then you will understand how tight the blinders are on.”

No, they won’t void your warranty for that, and yes I own one Dell machine just out of warranty which had linux on it for three years of its warranty (and they knew about it). They even sell machines with RHEL on them.

It is misinformation that is probably to blame for the blinders being on.

Anonymous Coward says:

If a linux distro was on as many consumer pc’s with internet connections as windows is it would be equally pummeled.

As for professional software, ANSYS, Pro-e, matlab, fluent and many other engineering programs all have linux versions.

Most younger professors and almost all physicists who wish to publish their work these days use some form of TeX, not MS word. MS office 2007 is very easy to use once you get used to it and it’s superior to open office, but for technical writing it’s still lacking.

I use windows XP, windows server 2k3, vista (ick), ubuntu and other linux flavors on an almost daily basis. Good luck finding a windows based mainframe or high performance cluster; none of the ones on campus use windows, and yes, we have multiple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“If a linux distro was on as many consumer pc’s with internet connections as windows is it would be equally pummeled.”

There would be FAR fewer attempts at compromising Linux machines even if this were true and there are obvious reasons why.

1) Linux has a community of volunteers that rapidly respond to security issues in the software, especially for security software. The patches generally get released within DAYS of the issue being published or detected. Contrast that with patches for Windows which are often delayed intentionally when the issue is not widespread enough to warrant immediate push to clients.

2) The codebase of a Linux distro is in constant flux and change and due to the differences between distros it is likely that malicious code for one targeted flaw would not effect all distros, and certainly not all recent versions of them. This severely limits the possibility of viral infection. The full 8 years that Windows XP was the leading Windows product is a very long time for that codebase to be nearly static (with service packs it certainly changed, but a huge portion of the supporting libraries did not).

Dega says:

I've met sheep like her so I'll believe it

Ignorance is the last critical thread that is holding the Microsoft empire up. Well, thread isn’t the right word. More like a steel cable. MS depends on brainwashed xenophobic imbeciles like this teacher to keep windows dominant on the desktop. It would be hilarious if every one of her students got one of the new Dell laptops with Ubuntu preinstaled and took them to class. Then when she contacted Dell she would be in for a surprise.

Rekrul says:

Reason #1 that Linux is not more widely used is that it’s very hard for the typical nontechnical person who’s used to Windows to make the switch.

No, reason #1 that Linux is not more widely used is that it doesn’t have the software support that Windows has. Until the average person can walk into Walmart and buy Linux software, that’s not going to change. And don’t try to tell me that people can download all the software they need off the net. The “average” computer user is lucky if they can handle putting a CD in the drive and clicking “Next” when the installer automatically pops up.

Yeah, I want to smack the idiot who decided to change everything for Office 2007 so that it can’t be opened with 2003 or below.

You realize that’s intentional, right? Microsoft doesn’t want you using old versions. They want you to go out and buy the latest version, whether you need/want it or not.

To anyone who wants to/will try linux for the first time (moving from windows), dont give up on it, the first 2 weeks you use it, it will be the most frustrating thing next to installing a 90’s linksys router, but once you get the hang of it, you wont want to go back.

Will all the software that I use on a daily basis work with Linux? Will the games that I’m in the middle of playing run under Linux?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things about Windows that I think were designed by a moron who’d never even seen a computer before, but until Linux can run all the same software as Windows, including games, Linux just isn’t a practical option for many people.

For most home users Linux is a breeze, no compiling or konsole work needs to be done.

I have Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE4.2 64bit running on my home pc and my laptop. The only thing I HAD to use the konsole for was to install a driver for my wireless card on my laptop that took all of ONE command.

You do realize that the “average” computer user today couldn’t manually change a Windows file association if their life depended on it, don’t you?

For the average person, owning and using a computer goes something like this; Buy a pre-packaged system from a company like Dell. Have tech-savvy offspring or friend set it up and install any additional software such as codecs, media players etc. Have said person place the icons for everything on the desktop. Learn to double-click icons on the Desktop and to put a CD/DVD in the drive so that Windows can present you with a list of actions to take. Tell everyone that they know how to use a computer. When the trial subscription to Nortons runs out, click “Cancel” each time they boot the system and it complains about having expired. If there’s a firewall and it asks them about each connection, click “Allow” until the scarey message goes away. If they get really adventurous, they might try buying a new piece of software and installing it, but 99% of the time this will be left up to the offspring/friend since “They know what they’re doing…” When something breaks, they stop using the computer until the offspring/friend can come over and fix it.

I have personally given DVDs full of Xvid AVI files to two different people who claimed to know how to use their computers. I included all the software they would need (in case they didn’t have the proper codecs) and I included a ReadMe.txt file on the disc explaining exactly what each piece of software did and how to install it. They were both completely stumped when they put the disc in the drive and Windows failed to properly play the files.

This teacher has no need to be aware of Linux in any aspect, legally, socially etc. It was introduced to her via a student and raised a flag, which is a result of a healthy suspicion teachers are supposed to have. Now I don’t condone writing a threatening and caustic letter whilst uninformed, but some of you guys make it sound like a hate crime,

What pushes people’s buttons in this incident is the idea of someone automatically assuming that there’s no such thing as free software. That’s exactly the attitude that the media industry would love for everyone to have.

A few years ago, a user on the IMDb was looking for an old movie. Someone replied and said that it was now PD and could be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Someone else joined the thread and put forth the opinion that this was illegal because “everything is copyrighted”. They had never heard of the “public domain” and the idea that copyrights eventually expire was a completely alien idea to them.

It gets on people’s nerves to see that the media industry has been so successful in brainwashing people about copyrights, that when confronted with a piece of free software, the teacher automatically assumed that it was illegal.

Dark-Star says:

Re: Re:

…And don’t try to tell me that people can download all the software they need off the net. The “average” computer user is lucky if they can handle putting a CD in the drive and clicking “Next” when the installer automatically pops up.

You do realize that the “average” computer user today couldn’t manually change a Windows file association if their life depended on it, don’t you?

For the average person, owning and using a computer goes something like this; Buy a pre-packaged system from a company like Dell. Have tech-savvy offspring or friend set it up and install any additional software such as codecs, media players etc. Have said person place the icons for everything on the desktop. Learn to double-click icons on the Desktop and to put a CD/DVD in the drive so that Windows can present you with a list of actions to take. Tell everyone that they know how to use a computer. When the trial subscription to Nortons runs out, click “Cancel” each time they boot the system and it complains about having expired. If there’s a firewall and it asks them about each connection, click “Allow” until the scarey message goes away. If they get really adventurous, they might try buying a new piece of software and installing it, but 99% of the time this will be left up to the offspring/friend since “They know what they’re doing…” When something breaks, they stop using the computer until the offspring/friend can come over and fix it.

I have personally given DVDs full of Xvid AVI files to two different people who claimed to know how to use their computers. I included all the software they would need (in case they didn’t have the proper codecs) and I included a ReadMe.txt file on the disc explaining exactly what each piece of software did and how to install it. They were both completely stumped when they put the disc in the drive and Windows failed to properly play the files.

You forgot to mention the proliferation of pathetic spelling errors and degeneration of writing skill in particular. My father regularly receives email from lawyers and top executives that looks like a fifth grader wrote it.

Windows has always been made ‘easy to use’ because the majority of users are such a bunch of dumbbells they make the Three Stooges look like Harvard graduates – and it’s getting worse over time. For decades the push has constantly been to add more eye candy for the masses to squeal over…and implement extensive idiot-proofing. Such ‘improvements’ usually are not only resource hogs but sacrafice security and stability in the process.

Among the worst offenders I’ve seen are gamers and the Facebook/Twitter/Digg/etc. crowd. Games expect their PC’s to work like glorified consoles – totally plug and play with no thought involved, and no trouble EVER. “WTF?! Half Life 2 has a sucky framerate on my el-cheapo WalMart machine!”

Online socialites run a close second. “Waaah! This antivirus blocks my favorite spyware-ridden websites! It’s tooooo haaaaard to add my POS AOL chat program to the trusted list!”

The average computer user too lazy/stupid/ simple-minded for Linux, and this ‘teacher’ is no exception. Until more Linux distros get simpler to use, or people start using their heads for something besides hatracks, Windows and Macs will rule.

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