[Gllug] open source centric ICT in Schools from Sept 2012 ?

Philip Hands phil at hands.com
Fri Jan 13 11:29:11 UTC 2012

On Fri, 13 Jan 2012 10:39:33 +0000, Bernard Peek <bap at shrdlu.com> wrote:
> 65jkn 12/01/12 23:41, Karanbir Singh wrote:
> > On 01/12/2012 07:38 PM, Bernard Peek wrote:
> >> The BCS is putting together a few people to look at the situation and
> >> there's going to be at least one open-source enthusiast involved. If
> >> Microsoft want to compete they will have to provide software at less
> >> than zero cost and with much better support than they give commercial
> >> customers.
> > But its important that the idea of open-source not get muddled in with
> > 'free software';
> That's true. But there are two different arguments to be made.
> There's an emotional/philosophical argument for software free as in
> speech. That's something that should be part of the curriculum. It also
> needs to be explained to the people selecting the tools that will be
> used by students. That's going to be a hard argument to make. It will
> take a long time, possibly until the first generation of students
> exposed to open source reach the point where they make the decisions.
> The key problem is that for the current generation of decision-makers
> 'open source' is a feature with no perceived benefits.
> There's a rational/economic argument for software free as in beer. That
> is a tool for limiting the degree that Microsoft can dominate the market.
> Both arguments need to be made at the right time and place.

I find this reasoning rather muddled.  Software that's "Free as in Beer"
includes loads of software from Microsoft, and the reason they do that
is generally to tighten their grip on the market -- particularly in
schools, where they rightly think that it's important to get people

I tend to use the term "Free Software" rather than "Open Source" for
precisely the reasons that are behind the confusion in this case -- I
have a feeling that the announcement seen on the BBC was supposed to be
going on about open sources, by which I would then guess that they meant
that the teaching materials are going to be grabbed from places where
they are publicly available, possibly under something like a CC license
(taking into account that some of the things that would be considered
open sources under those criteria would probably include content in
proprietary formats licensed for non-commercial use with no right to
modify granted -- hardly what we'd call Open or Free).

I find that there are many people that are confused about what we might
prefer "Open Source" to mean, while also being adamant that they already
know what it means, to the point that they'll start listing the
differences that they believe exist that differentiate Free Software
From Open Source (I love being told that GPL software is not Open
Source, or that Apache is not Free Software because it's not GPL).

In contrast, people who don't already know what "Free Software" is all
about, when I tell them that I make a living out of Free Software are
sufficiently befuddled for me to get a chance to provide an explanation
of what I mean by that.

Cheers, Phil.
|)|  Philip Hands [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]    http://www.hands.com/
|-|  HANDS.COM Ltd.                    http://www.uk.debian.org/
|(|  10 Onslow Gardens, South Woodford, London  E18 1NE  ENGLAND
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