James Barrett on 17 Jan 2008 21:04:17 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] The One True OS, migrating to

On Thu, Jan 17, 2008 at 10:52:32PM -0500, Michael Leone wrote:
> I gotta tell you .. I quite honestly can't remember the last time I
> had to re-install Windows to correct Windows problems (as opposed to
> re-installing because a hard drive died). If you're really having to
> re-install Windows every 2 months, you really must be doing something
> wacky to Windows. No offense, but Windows really isn't *that* fragile
> (at least not for most people). I believe you, I'm just saying I never
> heard or saw anyone who needed to re-install Windows anywhere near
> that often. But maybe you do some esoteric stuff on Windows I never
> saw ...

On a network which is being shared with other windows machines, even a 
firmly patched windows machine will succumb to viruses, trojans and 
spyware attacking from other, less securely patched instances.  Don't 
you read XKCD? 


Seriously though, I just got a job (yay!) at an elementary school and 
have been given permission to install a local Linux server before the 
end of the summer.  Since most new machines come with Vista, and the 
faculty is keen on NOT switching to Vista, I think that switching over 
to a full Linux computer lab would be beneficial.  Yes, I got the job 
today and immediately started thinking about switching them over to 
Linux after inspecting their computer lab.

Most of the faculty does not know what Linux is, how it works, or what 
it entails.  They _are_ technically inclined, as they do know their way 
around Word, Excel and the such, however they have not been introduced 
to Linux yet.  Much has yet to be discussed with them, and much has to 
be discerned about what the needs are for the students.  Some things 
must be considered, such as "Will the children be confused about the 
software differences after the switch?"  Mind you, many different grade 
levels are currently using the machines.

I figure that this will not be a difficult thing to do, but it will 
take care and collaboration.  Windows XP will some day be out of 
service, and Vista is still not a viable option.  A sweeping 
generalization is that people do not like change which they do not 
understand.  Therefore, educating the faculty first is a good idea.  The 
major differences between the operating systems, advantages and 
disadvantages of both switching to Linux and sticking with Windows are 
all fundamental to this situation.  Then there is the bottom line, "What 
are the costs of doing such a thing, and are they outweighed by the 
benefits?", remembering that cost is not all about money.  Cost can 
include the topic of 'Will Windows software run correctly on Linux, if 
at all?', and benefit could be measured by the amount of time saved by 
not having to reboot for every problem, removeviruses, etc...  I could 
go on and on forever about that, but will not. 

It would be great to have a panel present Linux to the faculty, bringing 
in a few heavy-hitter, serious, knowledgable and professional Linux 
administrators and developers to help give a future presentation to the 
faculty.  I am just running this idea through the gears in my head and 
have not talked to them about it yet.  I still have not even figured out 
the design for the server I wish to implement.

James Barrett

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