[Gllug] It is not Microsoft

Lesley Binks lesleyb at pgcroft.net
Thu Jan 8 11:59:43 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jan 08, 2009 at 10:45:57AM +0000, Chris Bell wrote:
> On Thu 08 Jan, Alain Williams wrote:
> > 
> > On Thu, Jan 08, 2009 at 10:12:40AM +0000, Chris Bell wrote:
> > > Hello,
> > >    I have been trying to persuade my local Ealing Council to provide help
> > > for new users of Unix compatible Free Open Source Software, and the only
> > > real response has been that it is not Microsoft, so no. There is no help
> > > provided for any other system.
> > 
> > This implies that the council offers help for users of MS s/ware ... ?
> > In what context ? This doesn't sound like the sort of thing that councils should do ?
> > 
> > >    I am looking for any previous relevant cases where an organisation such
> > > as Trading Standards may have become involved.
> > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > Alain Williams
>    The council has provided courses for many years through the "Adult
> Learning" and Ealing Library services.
>    The Hanwell Community Centre (a listed old school building, once attended
> by Charlie Chaplin) is about to undergo a 2,000,000 renovation, and Ealing
> Council has also set aside 350,000 to convert five? of the largest and best
> classrooms to a Microsoft Only "Learning Suite", to be used by Council staff
> during the working day but be available to others at other times.

A number of activities spring to mind....

1.  Changing the Library system  - the support infrastructure is geared to 
M$ and supporting Linux may be an expense there is no budget for - in terms 
of training the council's IT support function to support whatever distro 
selected.  Before they even get to commit to training their IT support function 
they'd have to determine via a number of committee meetings what distro to use that 
would be regarded as a further expense.  So before a Linux machien can
be dropped into each an every Ealing library - there has to be a
willingness to consider it at committee level.  I'd suggest chatting to
your local councillor and perhaps MP to stir up a level of interest.
Taking along a Linux based netbook might play dividends because you
would be able to show them a commercially available non-threatening

2.  Pressure your council for support to build a Linux lab - if a media lab
makes sense anywhere in this country - it has to make sense in Ealing.
You've got a historical context.  Think of a project - maybe digitising
Carlie Chaplin movies or providing a facility for digitising people's 
home movies would kick it off?

3. Ask for room in the Hanwell Community Centre. Don't expect them to
divert one of their five flagship classrooms.  These have been earmarked
by people in the business of computer provision for their deployment.  That
business - whoever it is - may have a track record of IT classroom
provision and also have the ear of the deciders at the council.   Find
out who that business is and where and how they operate in terms of
getting the business in.  Look at what is provided and think how much 
the local Linux community could provide of that or would it be better 
to provide something different?  

4.  Think about the support function, how would you pay for someone to 
support the Linux lab?  It is infeasible to have a class and teacher waiting 
until someone finishes their day job before they can get the support
they need to deliver and receive the class.

5.  Back to that business that is providing the IT suite for the
classrooms - and no doubt the training of the support staff or actually
prviding support itself.  Think about what that business provides the
council and how it would regard any effort to introduce Linux as a
competitive element within its market.  Perhaps it might be better to
show signs of being willing to work with that company as a vehicle for
deploying Linux as well as M$?  I have long suspected there is a
business level tie-in between Microsoft and IT provision which prevents
most IT providers even looking at the Linux route.  You would need to get on
friendly terms with people in the IT provision trade to confirm that. 

You could also check with Trading Standards whether a Computer Learning
Suite contravenes anything by only focussing on training up council
employees.  However if the council isn't interested in using or
deploying Linux anywhere it is entirely unlikely to want to provide 
training for its people on Linux.


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