[IOML] [Fwd: Raising Linux awareness]

Dylan Smith dyls at dylansmith.co.im
Tue Jul 29 12:15:00 2003

On 28 Jul 2003, John Mylchreest wrote:

> I personally feel this would be a good idea, any objections or specific
> questions you would like me to raise in the letter?

We should all write to our MHKs, too.

Argument: Government are going Microsoft for everything. Based on an
estimate of 3000 PCs, and 100/yr Licensing 6 fees per machine, that's
300,000 of taxpayers money leaving the island permanently per year,
en-route to Redmond. Over 5 years, that's 1.5M for desktops alone. Add the
servers and I bet we're talking at least 3-4M. If only we can get Peter
Karran fired up about this money going to Redmond, we might be able to at
least cause some publicity to happen in Tynwald...

If the Govt. spent just as much using open source software, supported by
local people, the money would be staying on the island, being spent on the
island, and guess what, the govt. would get a lot of the money back via
taxes. Even if people had to be brought in from across, they'd be living
here and spending the money here. This *has* to be better than this
taxpayer's money going to people in Redmond, WA. who already have more
than enough to get by. Even if the TCO for OSS in Government is higher, if
it's supported by people living here, it's infinitely better for the Manx

One of the big hurdles is knowledge. Many IT managers are still completely
oblivious to open source in general. I've recently had to educate people
at my main contract about the Perl artistic license, and how it explicitly
gives us the right to copy and distribute Perl across the company. They'd
heard the words 'open source' but had no idea what it actually meant.
We need to be thinking holistically - not just Linux, but development too.
We need to slay the dragon that is Visual Basic. There are superior OSS
programming systems around that can do everything that most use VB for.
We also need to educate people that OSS != just Linux. When I mentioned to
a firm that "wouldn't it be good if their system would work with Apache
instead of just IIS" (and explained that it would save us over 11 grand in
third-party licenses if their system could work with OSS webservers and
databases, and therefore they'd have got a sale) they seemed to think that
to work with OSS would mean they'd have to port to Linux.
Our long-term strategy might be getting more Linux use, but we have many
battles to fight (as it were) before that. I think the general strategy is
to gradually move people to OSS on Windows (Open Office, things like
Perl/Python for rapid development and scripting rather than VB, PostgreSQL
for databases, OSS groupware that fits the bill etc.) Then when someone
finds they need to upgrade Windows again, it's possible to demonstrate
they don't need to spend all that money since they no longer depend on

Microsoft fortunately have got it all wrong. They cite Linux as the #2
threat to the company (the #1 threat being general economic conditions).
The real threat to MS is OSS running on Windows, such as Open Office,
Perl/Python, PostgreSQL etc. Linux won't be a threat until the
aforementioned OSS running on Windows has become widespread. Then the
floodgates will open...but the knowledge must be spread. We need Perl and
Python courses at the college, so that people even in Windows jobs use
Perl or Python in preference to VB for their day to day scripting and RAD
needs. That sort of thing. Hopefully when I get a bit more time, I'll help
the college out myself with their Linux needs, but I think we're probably
gonna need just more than that!

Another hurdle is people like XKO, Datacentre etc. All they know is
Windows and proprietary software. Just look at what their webservers run.
Do a Netcraft lookup on all the IT concerns in the Island - they are *all*
running Windows/IIS - with one exception: the Manx Computing Bureau
(mcb.net). Funnily enough, mcb.net are the only clueful ISP on the Island,
and the only ISP who's MX is actually compliant with the RFCs.

I think we need another LUG drinking sess^W^Wmeeting sometime soon.
We also need a LAN party at some stage. There are enough games running
natively on Linux nowadays that this is possible :-)

Dylan Smith, Castletown, Isle of Man      | Code fast, crash young and
Flying: http://www.dylansmith.net         | leave a beautiful core.
FFE/Elite Universe: http://www.alioth.net |             -- JK (#afe)