eric on 13 May 2005 03:35:13 -0000

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[PLUG] Drexel MCS Society Debate

Good day!  

Several months ago I, among others(?), volunteered to take part in a
"Windows vs. Linux" debate at Drexel. 

The debate is now scheduled to take place on the 19th at Drexel between
5pm and 8pm. I'll post the exact location.  Pizza will be provided so maybe
I'll post the exact location on the 20th :-)

Long story short: I "won" and I'll be the debater for the Linux side.
Alex Daley, a self-described Evangelist from Microsoft, will be taking
the dark sid.., oops, I mean OTHER side. 

I received an email from Alex and he seems quite reasonable. He says he
wants to stick to the facts and avoid the "religious" type of arguments.
However, he goes on to say (in part):

>    Even though the event is structured as a formal debate, I
>    intend to approach it as an opportunity to bridge important
>    issues students need to be aware of like Trustworthy Computing
>    in the development, deployment, and communications of systems,
>    considering TCO along equipment, software, and most importantly
>    people, and other issues they often don't see in the classroom
>    but are present in the workforce.  

Sounds to me like he wants to deviate from the topic list a bit...

>    I know these debates often get religious, and I am going to do
>    my part to avoid starting that kind of argument.  It will have
>    no benefit for the students and just make us both look bad.  
                                                 I agree
>    I may on occasion have to use an example of a problem in Linux or
>    other open source software as a counterpoint, but I will always
>    preface it that it is an example of a possibility (not a norm)
>    or manifestation of an industry problem we all face.
>    Obviously both software stacks have their merits and problems.
>    We could talk the same way about OS X or BeOS or Next or OS/2
>    or Solaris or HPUX, etc. etc.  I will try to keep my discussion
>    on the merits of "my side" and try to avoid making apples to
>    oranges comparisons or spreading FUD.

While I agree the tone should be civil I don't know how I'll get through
the topic of security without saying that currently most of my income comes
from cleaning up Windows machines that are so infested they become
inoperable. Also, a number of my objections to Microsoft have to do with the
way they do business and not just the technology. Still, I'll try to stick
to the technology here. It is, after all, what the debate is actually

I've already started preparing. I'm a moderately capable public speaker
(having earned the Advanced Toastmaster Bronze award) and I've even
taught a debate class to a group of students in Delaware County about a
year ago. My problem is that I have to speak on a WIDE range of topics -
some of which I am not familiar. I need to study all of these issues in
depth. That's why I'm posting this info here... I'd like to work this in
an "Open Source" fashion and solicit contributions from you, the PLUG

These are, as far as I know, the 9 topics we'll be covering:
 1   Open Source vs. Proprietary 
         [Not just Linux but Open Source development, software
         like Apache, The Gimp, etc.]

 2   Security [ohmygod - takes deep breath... explodes in laughter.] 
 3   Tying OS to hardware 
        What they meant by this was how Linux can run on 
        several different architectures, while Windows 
        can primarily only run on x86, with the
        exception of CE and some versions of NT. 
        I get to speak for 3+1 minutes on this :-P

 4   64 bit computing 
        64-bit platform benefits and our/their approach. 
       [I have NOT followed the growing 64 bit market so I'm 
        nearly clueless on this.]

 5   Emulation 
        Interoperability and migration between platforms. 
        [Wine?  Open document and file formats?  DRM? - the 
        last 2 are hardly "emulation". I believe software 
        patents are going to impact this area most heavily.]

 6   Perception of end-user / User Interface 
        [I take this to mean how a user who is familiar with one
        could adapt to using the other.]

 7   Driver Availability and Compatible Software 
        This would include the issue of games. 
        [I don't use many computer games (well, okay, I own a
        copy of Unreal Tournament for Windows but that's all, I 
        swear!) so I'm especially in need of help here.]

 8   Installation / Uninstallation 
        This is in regards to both OS (including updates 
        and patches) and software, the difficulty level of 
        installation / uninstallation, and the user's experience. 
       [I've had some real screwed up windows installs and some
        REAL SMOOTH Linux installs]

 9   Portability 
        The versions of your OS available for handheld PCs. 
       [Again, I hear "Treo" and I think: "Father, Son, and Holy
The format of the debate will be as follows:
    lead 3 minutes
    follow 3 minutes
    lead 1 minute rebuttal
    follow 1 minute rebuttal

We'll take turns leading and following.
What I ask is if you have any insight, links, or other suggestions about
one or more of the topics please post it here. As a debater I need to
know, in particular, the strengths and weaknesses in our position and
the strengths and weaknesses in the Microsoft/closed source position. 

I'll post my research as it develops over the next few days...

Thanks for your help.
Hope you can make it on the 19th.  
Remember, NO HECKLING! It's in the contract! :-)

#  Eric A Lucas                        |             __|__
#   "Oh, I have slipped the surly bond |          *---oOo---*
#    of earth and danced the skies on  |    __|__             __|__
#    laughter-silvered wings...        | *---oOo---*       *---oOo---*
#        -- John Gillespie Magee Jr.   |
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