[IOML] [Fwd: Raising Linux awareness]

Chris Bryden c.bryden at virgin.net
Wed Jul 30 00:00:01 2003

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At 12:14 29/07/2003, you wrote:

>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

I couldn't agree with you more - a few letters to MHK's wouldn't do any 
harm whatsoever. Pity we don't have faxyourmhk.org.im a la faxyourmp.com...

>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.

I agree, many developers and other IT staff are too busy to consider 
possibilities outside what the company MS line is, and even if they have 
the time and freedom to pursue alternatives, would have to go through so 
much red tape that it makes it's just too much effort.

One of the things that puts people off too, IMHO, is the evangelical 
anti-MS line taken by many OSS folks. Especially when many OSS packages run 
on both Windows, Linux, and the various UNIXES, follow open standards, and 
provide phenomenally good integration with MS products.

Integration is key, and a piecewise replacement with OSS when the cost and 
technical benefits make sense, and the change is operationally feasible.

>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.)

To me, the best place to start replacing proprietary software with OSS is 
in the back office - SQLServer & Oracle with PostgreSQL, replacement of 
proprietary mail systems and web servers, etc. The key here is support, we 
would need to provide a 24hr support network for OSS. People who will get 
out of bed at 4am and fix it.

Change on the desktop is a bit more of a thorny issue due to the resistance 
to change of non-technical staff - often to be found desperately clinging 
to battered copies of Word 6 and WFWG 3.11. Ask admin staff if they can use 
Word, they'll say yes, ask them if they can use OpenOffice.org, they'll say 
wtf is that?

Retraining, even if the OSS replacement is so similar to the MS alternative 
as to make it academic, is both necessary and expensive...

>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.

Bill, bless his little heart, is also the richest man in the world, so 
perhaps not entirely *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.

easy now ;-)

>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!

Too true, personally I couldn't teach a roomful of monkeys how to eat 
bananas, but I'd be happy to give it a go. The linux training, not the 
monkeys that is.

>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.

Quit our jobs and we'll start our own, make a bundle, especially with the 
inherent cost benefits of OSS...

>I think we need another LUG drinking sess^W^Wmeeting sometime soon.

I'm up for that, been moving house, and now perilously close to the 
Woodbourne if anyone fancies it. Haven't tried yet, but with a bit of 
effort could probably get a signal up there.

>We also need a LAN party at some stage. There are enough games running
>natively on Linux nowadays that this is possible :-)

Only things I play with any regularity are Quazatron on the Speccy and 
ELITE on the Amiga, so I'll probably get slaughtered, but it sounds like a 
laugh, plus we get to check out your new pad - let us know when would be a 
good night.



>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)
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