[Herts] OSSS

stormeagle at ntlworld.com stormeagle at ntlworld.com
Thu Jan 15 12:00:03 GMT 2004

Sorry for the long email, I thought some of you lot might be able to give
me a hand.

I started looking at open source at Stanborough after a particular teacher
left, because I knew she would be a major hindrance to any consideration or
deployment of open source software. Unfortunately, she returned after a one
term hiatus, and she hasn't changed one bit.

Even after claiming she has read the report, she still seems to think the
world is broken down into shareware/freeware (software that she thinks you
don't have to pay for [despite having to pay for shareware <could we have a
pirate here?>]) and proprietary (basically Microsoft) software.

She has a meeting with the head, who has previously read and expressed
interest in the report, on Friday afternoon. I visited her today in order
to clear up any misconceptions or clarify anything before she discussed it
with the head, and the games have already begun.

She immediately played the time card, and said that "there is so much going
on that I may not have time to discuss it with him". However, the initial
pilot could well go ahead without consultation with her, and I am waiting
for the head to meet with the network technician.

She also tried to downplay the benefits of open source, stating that she
could see no benefits in the source code being available to the school. I
tried to explain that the benefits were derived from the source code being
open, eg security, patches etc. I also reiterated some points in the
report, such as the possibility of MS moving to a software rental model,
and charging for patches, but she rebutted this, along the lines of "well,
it's not going to happen in the next few months is it!", to which I now
realise I should have responded "why the hell not?".

She also seemed to want to involved our network provider, CSE, in any
discussion: "before I install any software on those computers <voice rising
to crecendo> I want to know what its going to do!". I pointed out that she
isn't going to get an unbiased answer from CSE about installing a free
replacement to Office (for example), as this would bite into their revenue
stream, but again, she wasn't having any of it. She seems quite cosy in her
little Service Level Agreement'd world, as Woodrow Wilson said, "If you
want to make enemies, try to change something."

The fact is, the main implementations I recommend are server side, client
side ones come later. She doesn't seem to understand that they wouldn't
affect the students in any way. She would prefer to go and say to CSE, "We
are thinking about installing Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP [LAMP] on a
spare computer and using it as a intranet server. What do you think?" and
be told "We don't think thats a good idea".

How can I fight this apathy and inability to consider change? Any ideas?
[Particularly you Tony!].


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